Archive for August 25, 2020

Can’t Always Compartmentalize

Can’t Always Compartmentalize

Truth One: A writer’s personal life definitely affects their writing. Whether it be such a hectic schedule that the writer has no time or energy to write, or negatives bringing them down and making all the free writing time seem too intimidating to even start. Like writer’s block, often we need to work through it, to press on to conquer the problem. What I like to do is channel negative energy into productivity. Maybe it means I write something darker than I intended, or I start a side project instead of pressing on with my current one. Sometimes it fails. Compartmentalizing can work, too, but you can’t always compartmentalize.

Truth Two: A therapist’s personal life definitely affects their professional life. Countertransference is something for a therapist to be aware of. Don’t want to project your own issues onto a client/patient/individual. Don’t want to see them as someone there to help YOU. There are costs to be in a helping profession. Usually it’s obvious what your ethical responsibilities are. Sometimes the lines get blurry. While no human can completely compartmentalize their life, therapist have to do their utmost to avoid countertransference.

TEN THINGS (about the past week):

1–What I’m reading: Lovecraft Country. They say it’s a novel, though it isn’t. It’s a series of stories/novellas/novelettes in a shared literary world. It’s intriguing.

2–I’m watching Lovecraft Country–some changes from the book, but I’m tentatively hopeful–and Designated Survivor. Way too predictable at times, but definitely fun.

3–There’s a wild hunt story in the works–I’m focused on writing the first draft.

4–Not much research happening right now, because I’m up to speed for my current projects.

5–Bureaucracy can be…frustrating.

6–Deciding to ride out the rest of the summer without working AC in my van is seeming like a dumber proposition by the day, but I’m kind of all in by now.

7–Friendly fire isn’t lol

8–I’ve got to lay off the late-night snacking.

9–The thought of having to leave good people behind, no matter how necessary, is daunting.

10–Waking up, putting on TV in the background during the morning routine, and finding it tuned to the start of Shatner’s famous Twilight Zone episode is WINNING!

And, for all my fellow Army vets out there, I’ll leave you in training:

You Get the Idea

No need to beat a dead horse on this blog’s topic. You get the idea 🙂


Truth One: Querying is icky. It sucks. Unless you’re self-publishing, it’s necessary. Writing the query letter is hard. Cold emailing agents is hard. Waiting is hard. Writing synopses is hard. Folks, querying is HARD. Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Many of us are struggling with it, and many more will in the future. Together, we writers can support each other and be there for the community, through the good times and bad.

Truth Two: Mental health disorders are hard to diagnose, and difficult to treat. Even in a perfect world, with providers who are constantly on the ball with your best interests at heart, and with insurance systems designed only to help people, this would be the case. In an imperfect field, it’s incalculably harder. Patience is key, as in so many things. Patience with providers, your own body, your family, yourself. And patience, too is hard. I won’t offer useless platitudes like “hang in there” or “knuckle down.” I will, now and always, offer empathy, my services as a professional, and my help as a friend.

TEN THINGS (about the past week):

1–I’ve been reading We Are Legion (We are Bob) [audiobook], which is a delightfully twisted tale, with a great narrator, and Lovecraft Country, which is hot in media and in literary criticism right now. So far so good, but a little too light on the supernatural for me so far.

2–I’m working on tightening up some parts of Collateral Healing.

3–Research-wise, I’ve gone into a deep dive into Caesar’s actions late in the Gallic Wars.

4–Tacoma FD. Because I didn’t realize there was more to the second season out, and yay!

5–Umbrella Academy did NOT end with the lousy ending I expected, but rather ended on a cool twist. Sadly, the finale was otherwise awful, IMO. Bad writers. You should be chained to your typewriters (or computer desks) until you learn the basics of avoiding gaping plot holes.

6–A friend mentioned the idea of Caesar as Vader marching through Gaul murdering millions. It…wasn’t far-fetched.

7–So much board game therapy!

8–With friends in need, just being there and hanging out with them can be massive.

9–C’mon, USPS. C’mon, Mr. President. You can, and should, do better.

10–Squirrels are so cute–that’s for you, Mom. Squirrels can be tasty, too–that’s for you, wild game eaters. Mm, squirrel gravy!

Settling In

This week marks the second of what will be many TWO TRUTHS TUESDAYS. I think it’s time we settled in to a nice, familiar format. Two truths, followed by TEN THINGS. Short, sweet, simple. So, without further eloquence…

Truth One: Setting. It’s an important part of fiction writing. Whether your story needs a short, pithy jest about the color of the floor tile in the asylum, or your doorstopper novel demands paragraph upon paragraph and scene upon scene of setting, measuring how much to expand or how little to dribble out is key. That’s why you must know your audience. If you’re playing to Tolkien lovers, the more the merrier. Writing YA romance? Three pages of exhaustive setting infodumps is probably not going to work out.

Truth Two: Therapists sometimes need the same help as the people they’re helping. Whether you’re like me, and you experience empathy drain, or like other therapists who experience secondary trauma, you might need therapy yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that. Whether it’s having someone to spew life’s burdens to, or a mental health professional to delve deep into personal issues, the helpers are allowed to need help, and not be stigmatized for it.

TEN THINGS (about the past week):

1–What have I been reading? A lot of articles, blogs, and web content. I want to read Lovecraft Country before I see the show, and I don’t want to start-stop another book, so I’m waiting for that to arrive.

2–What have I been watching? Sadly, no more playoff hockey, but more Madam Secretary (no spoilers!), which I’m quite enjoying, and Umbrella Academy (no spoilers!), which I’ve slowly been getting into. (Spoiler warning! Read at your own risk or skip to #3) I have to admit, season 2 has some tropes I truly despise. The whole stuck in an asylum trope ended fairly quickly, but the HIDEOUS (not just in this show) “how we got here” trope almost made me stop watching. It’s been done to death, and I can’t stand it. I also don’t like that every season will be the team all scattered to start out and then dysfunctionally coming together. Still, I’m enjoying large parts of Umbrella Academy, and alternating between it and Madame Secretary.

3–What have I been researching? Fun internet finds like web comics and short reads, blogs and whatnot. Also, more fairy tale stuff.

4–What have I been writing? Not enough! I got down a few rough scenes in Collateral Healing, but simply haven’t had the time or energy to devote to making large progress. This must change!

5–Farmer’s markets are so crucial to my getting enough fruits and veggies.

6–Family is everything. Given a choice between all-day gaming and catching up with a cousin and his family, I chose the latter on Saturday. Got to see a lot of other family, too, including the kiddoes, and, hey, a swimming pool doesn’t hurt either!

7–Then again, gaming is important therapy for me, and a friend whose wife is out of town has some extra time, so card-driven war gaming was a welcome use of Sunday afternoon and into the evening.

8–I miss Mom. I usually get to see her every week, so a sucky side effect of a busy weekend is not getting to visit with her.

9–Fast food = not a good dinner strategy. On occasion, it won’t hurt you, but on multiple evenings, it’s a real killer. As if I didn’t already know that, but…

10–…if you can’t be smart, you gotta be tough 🙂

Talk about tough, this guy’s supposedly bad to the bone. I mean, his band is the Destroyers.

Opening Week

Welcome to the opening week of my new blog entry, TWO TRUTHS TUESDAY. Bet you can’t guess how often I’m going to be sending these out! Just remember, you can’t stop the signal. You’ll be getting a new blog post every week, rain or shine, come hell or high water. Okay, let’s not make you wait, as I’m sure you’re dying with anticipation.

Truth One: In publishing, writers fail more than they succeed. Unless you’re one of those big-name writers that gets solicited for anthologies or contracted for future books, you’re going to strike out more often than not. Like in baseball, where you’re considered a rock star for failing to hit the ball more than a third of the time, you’re going to strike out a lot. That’s okay. It comes with the job description 🙂 You just have to keep on swinging (submitting).

Truth Two: Depression is real. A lot of folks will tell you that depressed people just need to get motivated, put themselves out there, or–and this one’s the worst–“pick themselves up by their bootstraps.” Um, no. As a mental health professional, I can definitively say that that’s not how it works, That’s not how ANY of this works. If you know someone who suffers from depression, help them; lend them an ear or a shoulder or your time; be a positive in their life. Don’t stigmatize them; empathize with them.

And now (drum roll please)…

TEN THINGS (about the past week):

1–What have I been reading? The House of Shattered Wings (Dominion of the Fallen #1)

by Aliette de Bodard. Started slow for me, but is picking up steam.

2–What have I been I watching? Madam Secretary (no spoilers) and Umbrella Academy Season 2 (no spoilers), which I hope is better than season 1. Also, playoff hockey!

3–What have I been working on? Collateral Healing, my work-in-progress about an Army vet with PTSD with dissociation who gets infested with, rid of, and fights a body-possessing demon. Sure, her mental health might have opened a door for the demon to get in, but it also gives her the necessary weapons to take that demon down!

4–What have I been researching? Background for two short stories: a fairy tale mashup and a wild hunt story I want to submit later this year.

5–I’ve had empathy drain, through my work as a behavioral health therapist. My clients are from the mental health and drug and alcohol domains, so I expend a LOT of energy at work.

6–I discovered that blueberries and grapes go great together, then realized it isn’t a groundbreaking discovery, because fruit salad.

7–I’ve been upsetting my mother even though I was trying to be helpful. That’s a whole “road to hell/good intentions” thing right there. Sorry Mom!

8–Dungeons and dragons to de-stress!

9–…And fog of war block war games to de-stress!

10–I’m the only one allowed to complain about this oppressive heat, because I never complain about how cold it gets in the winter. Low temps FTW!!!

With that, I will leave you with a song that reminds me of better days, when the words did flow, the queries wrote themselves, and we lemonade-ed life with pure ease.

Yep, I rickrolled all yinz right out of the gates ?


To anyone who reads this blog, and who can hear (read) over the sound of the (imaginary) crickets, I have a fun announcement. Tomorrow I am beginning a weekly blog entry entitled TWO TRUTHS TUESDAY. Each week, I will share one truth about my occupation as a social worker and behavioral health therapist, and one truth about writing.

As a bonus, each TWO TRUTHS TUESDAY will feature TEN THINGS (not all the things, sadly), or, to be specific, ten things about the past week in my oh so interesting life.

So, here’s hoping you tune in to hear (read) the good word and pass it along on whatever social networking platforms you deem necessary. And, you know, hopefully you get something out of it for yourself 🙂