Corners Untouched by Madness
When I began writing my debut novel, Corners Untouched by Madness, I had just been sentenced to a six month civil commitment. I completed the rough manuscript sitting on an upside down garbage can next to a nightstand in a mental health hospital. It took me six years to polish up my story and it was finally published in October 2019. It felt as though things had finally come full circle in life.
I was recently asked to write a short article about my book for Author’s Lounge. I immediately jumped at the chance. What a wonderful opportunity to talk to other authors, like myself, who suffer from some sort of mental illness. I would categorize my symptoms as chronic. There is really no other way to put it. I have a chronic mental illness. After my stint in the mental hospital I went to live with my mother. Getting my book published seemed just a pipe dream, but I stuck with it. Now here I am, talking to you.
What’s it like to write and publish a book with a chronic mental illness?
It’s not my intention to talk your ear off about the plot of my book, or even about myself. I want to talk about you, your writing goals and how you cope with your illness during your writing experiences. For me the prospect of success made me extremely nervous, even scared. What can you say back to some one when they say your dreams are mere delusions of grandeur? To be honest, everybody wants to be a Stephen King, to have their book sell a million copies or for our stories to be made into a movie one day. It’s not mental illness to think you will be successful! For me it was more about being optimistic and not really buying into the ideas until I was closer.
Secondly I have to say that no one is going to believe you can do it. They will all have their doubts and you will have double that! Some days I found it difficult to get through the uncertainty, the vulnerability, the sheer and utter anguish of putting my life, my ideas, my deepest and most sincere thoughts out into the open air. The overwhelming emotions of hope, fear, joy and sorrow were like a constant roller coaster that I am still riding! I don’t know if it will ever end now that I am an author. My advice would be to figure out which coping skills work for you and use them often. If you don’t know what that means ask your therapist and they can point you in the right direction.
Lastly, and this is the big one, just keep going! Get knocked down? Get up and keep going. Have an episode, a relapse, a hospital stay? Keep going. Write about it! Stories about vulnerable communities are desperately needed. Be passionate. Be sincere. Pour your heart out as though it were ink on the paper. Don’t stress yourself out with deadlines. Write at your own pace. When you finally finish your manuscript edit in your own time or if you have money find some one professional to help you. Then, when you finally get to the real slog of becoming an author, query query query! Take personal days when you need them. Give yourself time to heal and calm down. Learn to relax but just keep going. I implore you.
Now I will talk about myself and my personal story. Corners Untouched by Madness is a memoir about my personal life. How I graduated from College with honors and then within the span of a couple years, nearly lost everything and became homeless. Those of us who experience chronic mental health problems early in our adult lives are a special breed. We think differently. We feel things differently and when our differences don’t match up with the rest of the world, we become frantic, depressed or paranoid. We don’t know what to do or how to react because we aren’t built the same. I like to think of my symptoms as hyper-empathy. I just feel things so strongly that I become easily overwhelmed. So in a nutshell, Corners Untouched by Madness is a testament to overcoming our differences in perspective and how we view the world and ourselves.
I would like to take this chance to tell you about my next writing project. During the process of editing Corners Untouched by Madness, I was caring for a quadriplegic in Downtown Minneapolis. Of course I was still suffering from my mental health problems but with therapy and proper medication I found I could recover. I still suffer but I can function again! I wanted to make a difference in the world. I spent my down time volunteering at the Salvation Army shelter where George Floyd was a security guard. During the pandemic I cared for my paralyzed client but by the end of lockdown our relationship became hostile. We all know about the tragic events that followed. The book is called “Burn This City to the Ground” and it will be for sale on Amazon in November of 2021!
Until then check out my website below and buy a copy of “Corners” if you feel so inclined. Thanks for spending this time with me and may you always be blessed by the greater good. Until Next time.
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