Posted in Community, Uncategorized, writing

World Book Day Lies

Serious question: is World Book Day today, March 4th, or Friday, April 23rd? Google and social media are conflicting sources of information right now. I guess they kind of always are.

Whatever day it may be, we’re going to talk more about Hollow Kingdom. I read another chapter. I’m really going chapter at a time here, guys, it’s hard. I’m stuck somewhere between absolutely despising every single word that comes from the narrator and absolutely loving some–SOME–of Butxon’s descriptions. This certainly is a book that showcases today’s type of modern fiction. A lot of contemporary authors who I’ve read, like Carmiel Banasky (The Suicide of Claire Bishop) and Dan Vyleta (Smoke) have intriguing plots with lackluster storytelling. What bothered me about The Suicide of Claire Bishop was the severe lack of understanding how delusions break. What bothered me in smoke is Vyleta could have went in so many different directions yet he went in the one he chose.

Ugh.

I’m a fan of Toni Morrison, John Steinbeck, John Irving, Tom Robbins, Louise Erdrich. I look for writing patterns, for dialogue development, for Easter eggs in the plot, for motifs, for meaning. I don’t much care for stories that just tell a story. I’m along for the ride, yes, but I’m also here for the art.

Back to Hollow Kingdom. I love some of her descriptions. For example, a crane fly with its “gangly legs and drunken flight” is simple but beautiful imagery. We all know how creepy those things look when they fly. In my house, we call them “Mosquito Eaters.” I have no idea if they eat mosquitos.

Some of S.T’s narration is entertaining. Take, for example, “I was in the basement, spitting pills down Big Jim’s gullet. How long did this go on for? Can’t say for sure–I’ve never fully grasped the concept of time–but I can tell you that I tried to follow Big Jim’s Big Boobs Hot German Girls calendar and that we got through one month (two whole German boobs).”

The problem I find with the narration is that a lot of the description is too often convoluted with the urge to sound deep. Sometimes simple is better. This line irks me in particular: “Dennis [the dog] even chased off taunting college crows and the malicious squirrels intent on tea-bagging the garden gnome.”

When the fuck have you ever seen a squirrel tea-bag a garden gnome? I’ve seen them crawl on the head and subsequently its balls might hang in the gnome’s face, but it’s not humping or squatting over the gnome, laughing like frat boys or ten year old children in Call of Duty.

Those kinds of descriptions are too rampant, and the only reason I criticize it is that they sound like they’re trying too hard to be humorous or stand out. You don’t need to push things like that on your readers. Let them get lost in your story and the way you write, not what you say. I’m damn near so focused on the weird narration that I forget a story is taking place.

For world book day, or fake world book day, whatever today is, I am intent on working more on editing my friends’ memoir, on editing my own manuscript, on submitting my short story to two potential publishers, and reading yet another chapter or two of Hollow Kingdom.

We WILL make it through this book, ya’ll.

We will.

Until next time.

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Posted in Community, Emotions, Questions for you, Uncategorized, writing

The Qualms of Writing

Update: I still haven’t read more than another page of that book.

You guys.

It’s hard.

I’m so invested in the plot line, that’s why I keep picking it up, but the writing style boils my tears and subsequently scorches my irises. Nothing against the author, but I hope she never writers another book like this as long as she lives. That being said, I’d still choose this work over anything ever written by Stephanie Meyer(s?) or E.L James. Stephanie reminds me of that one girl in seventh grade with popular friends, but who isn’t actually popular herself, and all her popular friends read a fanfic she’s written and hype up her skills just to fuck with her. And then it blows up in Wattpad and she considers herself a “writer.”

It’s not that internet clout or self-publishing is bad, it’s that people with little or no understanding of how language actually works keep getting these life-changing deals, and it’s quite frustrating for the rest of us.

I haven’t actually fully read E.L James’ anything (fifty shades, The Mister, etc.), just snippets, but she can also take a middle finger for the team. And if you’ve never read Stephanie Meyer(s?) blogs on her website: DEAR LORD. I feel like I’m reading the style of my own angsty teenage rants.

I used to think I was an amazing writer. When I was 11 and homeless, I started writing a novel I thought would go viral. My characters were actually very well developed, as my teenaged-beta-readers pointed out, but as I got older and learned more about language and how stories proceed and went to workshops and fiction classes and the likes, I realized what I wrote wasn’t any better than that shit on the bottom of your shoe right now. What that writing did for me was get out feelings, pains, and provide a save haven for my convoluted mind that was already descending into madness.

I pulled a side-character from that jumbled mess and that’s my protagonist in my current WIP. It’s much better than when I was 11, I promise that. Is it publisher worthy? Well, after I finish this edit, get some more beta readers, ask an editor, and find an agent, I’ll let you know.

I write short stories as well. I’ve got one written in the form of a letter by a woman in jail. She’s writing her sister to inform her of what REALLY happened. It’s just under 3000 words, so about 4 Word doc pages. So far my beta-readers have come back with positive feedback and have pointed out typos and grammar I’ve somehow missed in my two months worth of re-readings. I’ll be submitting it before the end of March to a small magazine, which is why I’m not sharing it online.

It’s true you don’t need a reputation to eventually publish a novel, but let me tell you–like for everything else in life, reputation helps.

I’m always looking for beta-readers for my work and I’m always open to being a beta-reader for others. I am reading a friends’ memoir currently and doing some editing. I’ve always been the editor for people, and I’m realizing how much I enjoy it, more-so when I get to work with them one-on-one to figure out their voice with them. I don’t always make the edits for them because I’m not a professional editor trying to get people’s work published, but sometimes I do.

What about you guys? Do you plan to self-publish? Do you have any works on display on your site? Have you won any contests? The last one I won was local and I was 17 years old. Do you consider yourself a writer?

I’m going to go mull over my thoughts on a bike ride. Until next time.

Don’t forget to hit that follow button and join me on Instagram @alilivesagain or on twitter @philopsychotic.

Posted in Community, Emotions, Questions for you, writing

Passion for Passion

I didn’t read last night. I’ve disappointed all 1.5 of you.

What keeps you motivated to do what you love? I’ve noticed sometimes it’s not enough just to like something or have passion for something. For example, I love my job, but I’m leaving this week. I still have passion for the field, but there’s something tugging on me, telling me that there’s something beyond it I must strive for. There’s also the fact that mentally I can’t handle it anymore, not with the same strength I had five years ago. I’m also craving something new, something shiny or something sooty, something rough or smooth, anything, really, that’s different. I’m very fortunate that although my finances suck at the moment, I will have enough to keep my bills paid for a few months before I need to look for another job.

I’m also a college student, if that makes things any better. It took me 7 years to get my associates degree because of medical problems, and now at 25 I’m not sure I want to keep the major I’ve persisted through hell to complete.

Another passion that I’m still fairly passionate about, lost.

I relate this to reading; I’ve read plenty of poor books that held my interest stronger than the exceptional ones. It’s almost as if when the analytic side of me isn’t challenged, I’m not interested.

My current job works with people. People often have problems, but not problems that are necessarily better helped with concrete solutions. I realize I need a position that challenges me logically, philosophically, and analytically. I also think I work better by myself. Do you ever feel that way about certain things? As if you’re not living up to your potential because you just haven’t found where you belong yet?

I feel like that’s angsty teen shit. Turns out it’s angsty adult shit, too.

What keeps you motivated to read a book is just as fair of a question. I’m reading another book called The Morality Play which I love every time I pick it up, but I’m having trouble staying consistent with reading it overt his last month. It’s a small book, about 188 pages. In contrast, I read The World According to Garp in just over five hours once. That’s about 609 pages.

Is it really just as simple as “it’s an off day” or “it’s a good day?”

Is it really that simple?

I’m both exhausted and mystified by the complexity of life. Maybe I should go read.

Don’t forget to hit that follow button and come join me on Instagram @Alilivesagain or Twitter @thephilopsychotic.

Posted in Questions for you, Uncategorized, writing

Beta Readers? Beta Reading?

Sometimes this is fruitless, but I’ve decided to put it out in the ether anyway: anyone out there in need of a beta reader? I love reading others’ works. I’m editing a friends’ memoir currently. I’m also looking for beta readers of my own for a short story I’m submitting to a competition in March. I’m looking for feedback and/or constructive criticism, as well as a fresh perspective for the content and/or any typos. I’ve had a few anonymous eyes read it already. It’s about 3.5 printer pages (word document) and is written in the form of a letter. It’s quite amusing if you ask me, but I’m the writer.

Although, I will say that not all of my writing amuses me. Most of the time I find it grotesque.

Maddening.

Irreparable.

I could go on and on.

Does any one else stay up late into the night contemplating their works’ successes and then wake the next morning only to realize it will inherently fail?

I’m being morbid. In reality, most of our writing will never be read by anyone.

Is that still too morbid?

A lot of people say that it doesn’t matter, that you just write for you, and that’s great for them and all, but I’ve never written something that I wouldn’t want read by someone else. I write as a form of communication, as a way to delve into the hearts and minds and souls of people I’ll never meet.

The point of this post is to ask for Beta Readers. So I’ll ask again: anyone want to swap writings or read mine or want me to read theirs? If so, you can comment down below, email me at alishia.dauterive@icloud.com OR reach out to me on Instagram @alilivesagain. That’s probably the fastest way. I had to erase my contact page on here to make space for other things. I’ve also forgotten how to work WordPress.

Thanks guys.

Posted in advocacy, Community, psychology

Friends, Let’s read

Hello friends, it has been some time.

Writing has been difficult. I hope everyone is staying healthy, safe, and inside their homes.

For those of us with mental health issues, all the panic, the uncertain information and unpredictable future can exacerbate our mind-states. If you are feeling effects from the global death, the misinformation and poor leadership (in some places), know that you are not alone. Many of us are feeling this. We are experiencing a collective trauma. Think of this as beautiful: we are stuck getting through this together as the economy flip-flops, healthcare becomes a war zone, and our sick family members and friends fight for their lives.

It’s obvious we lack some scientific understanding, as I mentioned in my last post, and that becomes scarily evident with the orange, diseased walrus in office (here in the U.S) barking empty threats to pull U.S funding from the WHO, lying about the amount of PPE and testing kits available, and tossing around ideas of re-opening public spaces against medical advice.

In the mean time, though, I browse mental health support pages on Instagram because they are recommended in my feed or I find them through other mental health connections I have on the app. It still baffles me that those of us who advocate for each other aren’t educated in the science of the brain. It’s great that we are experts in our own experience. It’s great that we leave space for others to be experts in their own, and don’t push drugs or not-drugs as an agenda. But how can we do that if we aren’t pulling from both sides?

Science and personal experience are how we exist in the world: our brains react to biology and environment, and both influence each other. Genes play an almost negligible role when it comes to the deciding factors of someone developing mental health symptoms, and yet we still push this idea that things like schizophrenia are inherited. They are not: schizophrenia in particular has a high level of heritability, meaning it swims around in the general population’s gene pool, and you are more likely to develop symptoms as a result of genetic chance than you are receiving it from your parents.

Now, before you say “well, I know that my mom. . .” or “well, my friend’s dad had schizophrenia and he does too . . .”, remember that your personal experience, or your friends’, are not common enough to generalize. Please stop.

As for environment, genes turn on and off in reaction to what the body experiences in this physical world. Brain structure changes. Trauma reroutes cells, wilts some, builds some in different, non-beneficial places. At the end of this pandemic, we will see noticeable changes in society and in the people living in areas hit the hardest. In the United States, New York healthcare works in particular may not be the same. In Italy, those who have been quarantined with the dead bodies of their relatives will not be the same. Trauma will change how they see the world, politics, life, friendship, and in their healing process they will learn new things, understand new things. Some will be okay. Others will not. And this variety of reaction is a testament to the way environment shapes us.

When we, as advocates, focus on spreading this disingenuous positivity, this overly positive positivity, as I call it, and we forfeit spreading facts, we are only harming our own cause. So, in light of that, I’ve been reading some research. Sleep is one thing I struggle with, and in my three-am database search for an interesting read, I came across this article here.

I had had access to a full text version, but right now can only link the abstract. If you have access to pubmed, or found it somewhere else, let me know.

But this article states they’ve found a consistent decrease in melatonin across those diagnosed with schizophrenia. Their participants had already been diagnosed and were not on antipsychotic medication (YES that is a possibility for some). Antipsychotics did not increase melatonin levels when introduced.

Nine people is a poor amount, and not very indicative of the population of us, but I assume a bulk of participants were just not available: how many do you know diagnosed with schizophrenia have the ability to take on their journey without meds? Not many.

This study however, has implications for how sleeplessness could be treated in patients with schizophrenia. What this also reveals is that the sleep you get from your antipsychotics (and I remember mine fondly, because I got LOTS of sleep, and I hadn’t had much in a very long time) is not restful. It’s more like a heroin knock-out, and less of your body’s choice.

Assessing those who were not on antipsychotics allowed these researchers to see a natural reduction in melatonin, not linked to the psych-drug usage, and although we could never say for certain that schizophrenia is the cause, the implication is there. What could be other reasons for the melatonin decrease? Perhaps large doses of antipsychotics when hospitalized had rerouted these patient’s melatonin years before, although unlikely considering doses of these antipsychotics int he experiment did not decrease levels of melatonin further. Perhaps their bodies adapted over the years as they got less and less restful sleep because of their symptoms. Perhaps their pineal glands had always secreted a low level of melatonin and THAT contributed to the development of their symptoms. We could hypothesize for years. We have been.

If you have something on the spectrum of schizophrenia, how would you rate your sleep? I rate mine poorly, particularly in times of stress. It takes me longer to fall asleep and it’s harder to wake up. I also attribute some of this to screens and my incessant need to play video games.

That study was from 1997: there may be updated research on this, or conflicting research. If you’re feeling lazy during quarantine, sad, anxious, scared, whatever your emotion, maybe some good old boring, informational research on schizophrenia could pull you out of your funk. It’d help your advocacy, too.

Also, welcome to the load of new followers I’ve received over the last few weeks. I promise I am much more consistent with my writing than I have been these last two months. Feel free to browse the blog for great past posts like this one about positive thinking and this one about supporting your loved one.

Be healthy, be safe, be mindful.

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