The work in progress that I’ve codenamed “second chance divorce romance” is officially done! I just typed “the end” a few minutes ago. I’ve written a lot of books at this point, but this feeling never gets old. It’s even better when you hit publish, but there’s still something special about finishing a first draft.
The book clocks in at 56,405 words. I didn’t realize the last line was the last line until I typed it. Then I realized it was perfect. No need to pad my word count for the sake of reaching a silly goal. Done is done.
I can’t think of a better way to kick off the new year. This one doesn’t count toward my goal of writing four novels this year, but now I can move forward with my production schedule. By the way, it took me four months to write this baby.
I’ll be announcing the title and release date soon.
Up until November 2015, I had no idea that the events I’d experienced were considered traumas. In fact, I was so determined to believe that they were no big deal, I’d repressed them almost completely. Any time you bottle something up, though, it almost always explodes on you.
And explode it did.
It wasn’t until I started seeing Dina*—a trauma-certified therapist—in November 2015 that I realized the things I’d experienced were not only traumatic, but also the root of the depression and anxiety that I’d been fighting for the past 15 years.
Trauma is any event that shatters your sense of safety and what you thought you knew about the world. Trauma is subjective, meaning that what might be traumatic for me may not affect you the same way, and vice versa. Examples of trauma include:
being bullied as a child
becoming sick with chronic illness and/or pain
getting into a car accident
having your area hit by a severe storm
being sexually or physically assaulted
serving in a war
having a miscarriage
the death of a loved one
None of these examples are more or less traumatic. Everyone responds to stress in different ways.
For example, if you’re driving during a snowstorm and slide on ice, doing a complete 360° turn and nearly hitting a wall, you feel afraid. Your hands shake, your breathing and heart rate speed up, and your brain kickstarts the fight/flight/freeze response to help you get through the incident.
If you’re able to process the event—driving, snowstorm, icy roads under snow, spun, stopped before hitting the wall—you’ll realize you’re safe and your brain will shut off the fight/flight/freeze response.
If you’re not able to process our example event, though, you may start having nightmares about the incident (re-experiencing symptoms, or flashbacks). You refrain from driving yourself anywhere whenever it snows (avoidance symptoms). You snap at the people around you for seemingly no reason and have a hard time sleeping (arousal and reactivity symptoms). You may even completely forget that you nearly hit a wall while driving in the snow, but still believe that you’re a terrible driver when it snows (cognition and mood symptoms).
For years, all of these things were happening to me, and I had no idea why. I experienced recurring episodes of severe depression and anxiety. I saw nearly a dozen mental health professionals, who repeatedly misdiagnosed me. Many of them asked questions about my past, such as “Have you ever been raped?” But none of them ever mentioned that my past traumas could be causing my present symptoms.
I tried medication after medication—all of which affected me adversely, either intensifying my depression and anxiety or causing unusual side effects. One antidepressant, Viibryd, caused waking dreams, extremely vivid nightmares, and severe anxiety and depression. Still neither my therapist at the time nor the APRN who was prescribing me the medication ever realized that my problem was not chemical, which explained why antidepressants were not helping.
I hit my lowest point in October 2015 when, against my will, I was hospitalized under a physician’s certificate.
My APRN had recently taken me off one of my antidepressants, Wellbutrin, without weaning me, and I had a really hard time coming off them due to rapid withdrawal. Within days, I become barely recognizable.
I’d walk into a room and, unable to move, burst into uncontrollable tears.
I kept having weird thoughts that were not my own, like “I wonder what would happen if I filled the tub, got in, and then threw a toaster in with me? Wait. Where the hell did that come from?!” The thoughts freaked me out, because I did not want to die.
I wasn’t able to eat, sleep, or shower and I spent every day on the couch watching TV shows and movies that I later wouldn’t remember.
It was absolutely terrifying, because I knew this wasn’t like my usual depression and anxiety.
I told Grace* (the therapist I was seeing at the time), and she told me there was nothing more she could do for me. I also told the APRN who prescribed the medication, and he decided I should also come off Abilify, the other antidepressant I was taking. When I asked if I should wean off, he insisted that I should be fine.
In June, I participated in a challenge called #WIPjoy. Every day, authors tweeted about their current work in progress, using a daily prompt.
The goal is to share tidbits from your work in progress with other writers and readers.
I’m not good at challenges, mostly because I forget to post. True story. I’ve abandoned more challenges than I can count because I fall behind every single time. Often, I won’t even start one because I know I’ll inevitably forget. The thing is, challenges like this are good for many reasons:
they help you meet readers
they allow you to look at your work from another angle
they put you in touch with other authors
The second point is the most useful to me. Writing often feels solitary and when I’m elbow deep in a draft, I have no idea whether what I’m doing will work or not. I only know that the story is interesting to me. #WIPjoy convinced me that Just One More Minute is just as exciting to readers as it is to me. Most of my tweets received some kind of positive feedback, whether in an enthusiastic tweet back, a like, or a retweet.
Not that I’d stop anyway. I’m having way too much fun hooking up Rowan and Matt!
For those of you who aren’t on Twitter or who missed some of the days, here’s a recap!
Tell us about your WIP!
I'm currently writing a sweet bakery romance about a waitress whose childhood crush steals her dream job. #WIPjoy#amwriting