The Writer’s Pursuit of Health – Writing Down the Emotional Rabbit Hole

 

The Writer's Pursuit of Health, Writing and Working Out, Lissa Clouser, Rabid Rainbow Ferret Society, health, writing, mental health, emotional health

I’ve never been properly, officially diagnosed with any sort of mental illness, but let’s just say that I’m well aware my emotions and sometimes coping habits range outside of the norm. This makes it very, very easy to get “stuck” in a non-productive, unhealthy mental state. We’re talking about more than “I had a bad day at work” stuck. We’re talking about sitting in the bath tub crying because you are vividly imagining the aftermath of the deaths of everyone you know and you can’t stop. There’s no ‘off’ button once the process starts. Sounds fun, right? Thankfully it’s not something I deal with all the time.

The emotional rabbit hole is deep. It’s deep enough on the good days, extra deep on the bad days, and when you’re a writer who delves into the emotional for a (hopefully one day) living? We’re talking black hole deep if you aren’t careful.

Over the last several years I have learned to twist this toward my advantage. Several of my poems deal with some extra sticky (think big, fluffy, stab-you-in-the-leg-when-you-walk-through-it field of burrs sticky) memories. Things I have lost sleep over. Things I could have filled a bathtub with tears over. Things that to this day make me feel like a chunk of my insides are missing. And yet I write. Continue reading

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The Art of Guestbooking

How often do you fill out the guestbook when you stay somewhere away from home?

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Click me to read full entry!

Many people may shy away from filling out the guestbook simply because they aren’t sure what to write. If you clam up when it comes to words, at least jotting down where you came from and what brought you to your current location will be appreciated by the guestbook owner!

As writers (and generally goofy people) we have a lot of fun taking our guestbook entries one step further. For example, instead of saying “the goats were cute, but the bugs sucked” in this entry from our stay at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, we opened with, “We were much pleased with the use of goats in your meadow; the use of bugs, however, left something to be desired. (With the exception of the Lunar Moth package we received.)” Continue reading

The Off-Balancing Act: Making Time for Art

ff-balancing act, creative balance, healthy boundaries, fictional ferrets, rabid rainbow ferret society, writing, writers, advice for writers

We created the lovely banner with the picture Lazy Limbs by Michael via Flickr’s Creative Commons with the CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. The image was slightly resized, and our text added. No other changes made.

You might notice that for this series we posted out of our normal order. This would be because on May 7th I jumped on an airplane to leave the country for awhile and wouldn’t be back until very late the 25th. I believe it was sometime on May 5th that I panicked and finally realized amidst working my day job, packing, and cleaning house that there was absolutely no way to make this post happen before I left. Quick messages went to Serena and Eris and they kindly agreed to each post a week early, giving me the spot to wrap up this whole series… how appropriate!

I have the exact opposite problem of Serena (at least in some ways) when it comes to balancing art vs. life. (Click here for her post if you haven’t read it.) I find it extremely difficult to allow art any time in my life when there is laundry to do, errands to run, dinner to make, and a puppy to cuddle. In short, if there is literally anything I should do (or think I should do) that is not art… I am convinced that must come FIRST. Let me tell you how many times I have gotten every corner of my house in perfect order so that I had time to write…

I’m not quite sure why I’m this way, but it’s been me for as long as I can remember. Responsibilities come first, and I’m brilliant at coming up with an absurd number of responsibilities. I guess I feel like I’m ‘cheating’ at life when I take time away from all of the ‘should do’s’ to do anything creative. I have a hard time convincing myself that making art a ‘should do’ is okay. Encouraged even, when one wants to become a creative artist of some kind. It’s hard to be a poet when all one does is dishes…

On my personal blog I brought up this topic back in January. (You can read that post here if you’d like.) When I began this year, I wanted to devote time to trying to find a happy creative balance in my life. The first step in doing this was figuring out when I was spending time on creative things (reading, writing, blogging, other creative pursuits) and how much time I was giving to them. That’s what I’ve been tracking for the first half of this year. The numbers are dismal. No wonder I’m not getting anywhere fast!

But it’s been good for me to see what I’m accomplishing and what I’m not. I’m starting to notice a trend of when I do creative work most easily, how long of a single sitting still gets me productivity, and what things I am and am not giving time to. It’s hard to set new goals when you don’t have a firm grasp of where you already stand.

I’m going to keep up with tracking stats, so to speak, through the end of June. Beginning with July and the start of the second half of the year, I’m going to do my best to give myself new challenges to start altering the allowances I give creativity in my life. I don’t expect to ever achieve perfect balance. No one has that. But by being aware of the time I am spending on creativity out of the available time that I have, I can learn to be more productive in chasing my dreams.

All creative artists look for some sense of balance between their ‘real’ life and their ‘creative’ life (although each artist has a different sense of where they want that balance to lie). How are you supposed to achieve that personal sense of balance if you don’t even know how your time is being spent?

Do you know how your time is being spent on the creative pursuits in your life? Are you anywhere near the balance of life vs. creativity that you want to achieve? What are you doing to find your own balance?

You Don’t Have to Change the World with Your Words

I shared my newest poem with one of the other Ferrets this week. She read it and told me she liked it, that it painted a lovely swirly image for her, but it just didn’t have the one-two punch that some of my other work does.

Now this did not upset me in the least. Firstly because I always trust that the criticism coming from my Ferret sisters is given honestly and with the intention of making me a better writer. Secondly because it was still wonderful feedback. I am confident that my words didn’t fall flat if I successfully painted an image in someone’s head upon reading them. But it did get me thinking…

I know what she meant when she said it didn’t have the same impact as some of my other work, but I think a lot of people, a lot of readers and writers both, have begun to use this as a negative comment. Much of the writing community has fallen under the impression that all of your words must matter. And they should matter… to you. How they affect others, well, that’s on them. Continue reading

Becoming a Published Poet – The Evolution of a Writer: The Middle Years

In my early years I was a novelist. That’s exactly how confused I was. To think I dreamed of banging out 100,000 words on the keyboard when today a solid piece of work might not even break the 100 mark.

(I still have ideas. Notions. Inklings… maybe one day I’ll return to playing with the “big stories”.)

The Evolution of Becoming a Writer 3

Noveling actually taught me, by accident, that I was a poet.

My early years as a poet consisted of a few key points:

  • Entering every contest I could find that I thought I could “win big” at and preferably cost less than $30 to enter
  • Thinking up all of the amazing titles I could use for future poetry collections (I have whole lists in some of my poetry journals)
  • Writing only when the mood, the air, the sunlight, the whatever seemed conducive for poetry
  • Figuring out what exactly qualifies as “real poetry” (Hint, it isn’t always perfect end rhyme)
  • Wondering how on earth someone “finds their voice”
  • Somehow still being certain that I was pretty damn special and the world just had to find me to see it

Do you see a pattern here? In the early years we want to make it big with as little effort as possible as we romanticize the glamour of being a mysterious writer.

The early years are like writing with a fabulous feathered quill by candlelight. The middle years are a Bic pen that only sometimes works while you sit next to an uncomfortably dim lamp.

Continue reading

Movies for Writers

We are just past the halfway point of November, and NaNoWriMo insanity is ramping up to a whole new level. Sometimes when you’re struggling to hit your word count, the best course of action is to step away for a little while. Clear your mind. Regroup. And what better way to do that than watch movies… about writers!

I’ve listed four of my favorite writerly movies below. Did I name yours?

(Also, this is our 101st blog post! Oh my goodness! If you need extra time to procrastinate this month… why don’t you wander around our site for an afternoon? Share your favorite post from us with your writing friends and make us smile even more!) Continue reading

Ferret Favorites – Halloween Movies!

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays and not just because it coincides with the Eve of NaNoWriMo. For us it is a celebration of fun and spooky decor, fall colors, cool temperatures, and pumpkin-flavored delicacies (at least for some Ferrets).

Each of us has our own unique traditions for the holiday, but watching movies is something we all enjoy when getting in the Halloween mood.

Do you agree with our favorites below or have something new to add? Drop us a comment and let us know!

(And please make sure to have a fun and safe Halloween!) Continue reading

Ferrets on the Road: Broken Bow, OK

We survived! And with surprisingly no terrible mishaps! (Unless you count the discovery that the A/C drain in my car is clogged and will therefore flood the driver’s side floorboard if left on… but that wasn’t the trip’s fault at least.)

This year’s retreat took us to a little cabin in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. Everything about it was gorgeous. The road trip was easy with very few directions to follow, the weather was brilliantly cool at night and warm but not sweltering in the afternoons, and as we mentioned in the guestbook… we met no one and it was lovely.  Continue reading

Concerning Deadlines and Derailment

This post was due three days ago, as Tuesday is our normal posting day. I unfortunately waited until a few days before it was due to plan time to write it.

autoimmune-01Normally, this would have been no issue. However this time I had a ‘flare’ (a spontaneous bout of all-over ick feelings courtesy of my body attacking itself) that began on Friday, and that meant not only did I not feel like doing much physically, I didn’t even feel up to the mental energy of making words happen in any form fit to read. So my deadline came… and went. And now, here I am, three days late. (Though I feel almost like normal me again!)

Not everyone likes deadlines, but I do. At least in the world of creativity. They help keep me focused. Keep me motivated. Keep me working. Even when I have fallen behind. And man, have I fallen behind!

I am learning that poetry open submissions, as a whole, come in two seasons. You can find someone, somewhere, accepting things at just about any time of year, but a large number of journals tend to open submissions sometime in the spring and sometime in the fall.

My personal goal for the year is to submit to 25 journals. This is not an overwhelming number, but it is a lot of work. I have spent quite a lot of time researching and reading journals this year, and plan to spend plenty more as I have a list of hundreds of places I haven’t checked out yet.

I have submitted 10 times so far.

My plan had been to spend a great deal of time writing this summer so I could focus again on submissions for a couple of months in the fall. But just as plans for this post got derailed… so did my grander plans of completing new work.

That isn’t to say I’ve been lazy. I’ve been reading more poetry. Finding things I love, and things I don’t, and generating new ideas for myself. I’ve been reading non-poetry. I’ve been learning how to relax and appreciate the art of not-doing. I have also been making drastic progress in the state of my house as I follow the KonMari method in tidying absolutely everything, once and for all. (You can follow posts on that on my personal blog.)

But I haven’t been writing. And that makes me a bit sad.

Sometimes when your deadlines don’t work out you have to step back, evaluate what happened, and create a new deadline.

I still hope to submit to 15 more journals this year. It is still possible. I have enough work to put on submission, I just have to keep up journal research and find more places that may be a good fit.

But more than that, I hope to write. I want to write. I want to create so much more.

And with that in mind, I have a new set of deadlines. But this time… I’ll allow time for a few derailments along the way.

Diary Entry: Messes of Minds and Houses

From time to time you may see a ‘diary entry’ from a Ferret. The majority of our personal things may be found on our own individual blogs, but sometimes we just don’t have any grand advice to bestow or funny antics to relate. When that happens and it’s our turn to talk for the week… you just might get a page out of our ‘diary’.

When I have a cluttered mind I can’t create.

There have been plenty of people to tell me, “Push past the rough-and-tumble of your daily life! Create anyway! Do it every day!”

That may work for some, but it certainly does not for me. And on those days when I force myself to create (and not just remind myself that it is okay to actually take time to create)… I not only hate what ends up on paper, but I begin to hate everything about the process. I find myself very depressed about writing at all. And that, my friends, is the very last state I need to push myself to for the sake of art. Continue reading