It’s been awhile, huh?

I’m terrible at updating my website, but here I am, and I don’t know how to really say what I need to.

Things are going well enough, I suppose. I still love my job, married life is pretty much the same as before we were married…

Anxiety and depression have made a resurgence. I guess there’s that.

These last several months have been difficult for me. I’m currently in the process of switching medication, which anyone who has done so before knows it’s not as easy as stopping one medication and starting the other. I have to be weaned from one slowly because I’ve been on it for over seven years. I’d say the process is going smoothly, but it’s not.

Lately I’ve been very unhappy. Depressed. I can’t function like I used to. I get up, work, and go back to sleep. If it’s a good day, I make dinner for Andy for when he gets home. If it’s a bad day, we either don’t eat or we get take-out, or if he manages to call on his way home, he stops to grab something. I try to force myself to have good days to at least get dinner made, but again, it’s not as easy as it seems.

Anxiety is terrible. It completely wipes me out for at least a day. I hate panic attacks. They’re awful and debilitating, and I would do anything not to have them.

I joined the local pool, which is nice. I enjoy the swimming. I go when it’s quiet and only older people are there, so I pretty much have the place to myself or at least my silence. I need to go again, but I’m so tired after work by 10:00 am I feel like I’ll just drown if I go.

Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning on land. Everything is too much. Moving is too much. Breathing is too much. But if I don’t do something, I feel like a failure.

Actually, I feel like a failure all the time. It’s a constant. There’s a voice in my head that always tells me I’m a failure, that I’m fake, that the only reason I have some modicum of success is because I’ve fooled people for long enough or they pity me. I’ve had those thoughts a long time, but I feel like I need to get them out again. People tell me it’s not true, but if it’s not, why do I feel so lonely? Why when I need people, do I feel so alone? Abandoned?

I love my job, but working remotely at my house has shown me just how few friends I really have. I thought I had more. But I guess out of sight, out of mind. I want to reach out, but I feel like I’m just an annoyance, because when I reach out, sometimes it’s because I’m having a bad day and need to talk to someone, and I feel like that’s too troublesome for most people.

When I post on Facebook – or my website like this – to be honest, it’s because I’ve gotten to the breaking point. My therapist called it a crisis point at our last session. Or was it the session before? I don’t remember. I’ve wanted to write this post for days now, but I was too afraid to. I was too afraid to write it because I didn’t want to upset anyone. But then I figured hey, no one will probably read it anyway, right?

So yeah. I’m depressed. I haven’t written a book in several years. I feel like a failure. A joke. A fake. But I try so hard to give everyone the best part of me, to listen and be there, but I leave nothing for myself. And I’m afraid no one will give back what I need in return. Most don’t, I’ve learned.

I get that I have my husband and family – though a lot of my family, I feel, has abandoned me, too – but it’s not the same. I wish I had friends who lived close by, who would stop over and visit and just sit with me when I needed it. I want to get out of my house, but I can’t leave it sometimes. Leaving it is too much and just thinking about it exhausts me or sets me off. Am I turning agoraphobic? Who knows. Maybe a touch.

Anyway. This post is rambling and raw and probably makes no sense, but it is what it is. I’m not editing it to make it pretty because quite frankly, I’m a mess, and my writing reflects that. Maybe someday I’ll get myself back. Or at least a self that can function to some degree.

Your burning questions answered!

Do you ever wonder how an author gets their ideas? What inspired certain stories or scenes? What their favorite spot to write looks like? I know I have wondered that many times for my favorite authors! It’s interesting to find out about the people we read and what inspires them.

So I’m asking you, dear readers, to submit your questions! What do you want to know about me? What burning questions do you have that you just need answered? Feel free to post a question on my blog, the Facebook page, or send me an email!

The first question comes from Shelley, who asks:

What got you started writing? Why young adult specifically? Why GLBT themed?

 

All great questions! And it’s a long answer. Sort of. So sit back, folks, and listen up!

I’ve always considered myself a writer because I enjoy crafting stories. I was imaginative as a child, and would play with dolls and toys like a normal child did and create stories for them. I have a very specific memory of my first grade class. The teacher would post the lessons we had to get through for the day on the board, and some of them were at our own pace. At the very end of the list was free-writing. I loved to rush through my work to get to that because free-writing involved a box of pictures cut out of magazines pasted to card-stock. We had to pull a picture out of the box at random and write a story around it. It wasn’t often that I got to the end of my lessons, but by the end of the year I had a thick folder of stories I had written.

After that, I continued writing. I would keep composition notebooks full of stories. First I started with writing fanfiction. In sixth grade I started reading the Animorphs series, which had just come out, and I was obsessed. I wrote stories with those characters in new situations. Then I discovered Sailor Moon. I wrote crossover stories featuring the Animorphs kids and the Sailor Scouts. (I think I might still have one of those notebooks somewhere…)

Once my family got on the internet, things took over. I discovered fandoms and connected with people who wrote fanfiction. I read fanfic, I wrote fanfic, I posted it on different websites and started getting feedback. Then one day I had this brilliant idea to do a crossover with Final Fantasy characters…and original characters. I had written OCs before, but usually they were Mary Sues… ahem. This new crossover had dozens of original characters, and eventually I started writing it on my own, taking the Final Fantasy characters out and creating my own mythology. I started that when I was 18, and 12 years later I’m still tweaking that world. Eventually I will finish it.

About that same time I fell into other fandoms and discovered the magical world of online RP (role-play) writing. I was hooked yet again. I made some great friends, some of whom I still talk to today. I wrote with them, interacted with other writers, created complex stories and worlds that started with characters from a series, but evolved to becomes its own world.

By now I’m in college. I know I’m going to be an English teacher. There are certain courses that you must take. The one that truly started all of this was Literature for Young Adults with Dr. Cappella. In that course we had to read between 2-3 YA books a week and write about them. But we also had to write our own book. He said, “The only way to really know how to teach and understand young adult literature is to write it.”

Back up a semester. I was hanging out with a group of friends in the student center, eating a chicken ceasar wrap, and we were talking about TV shows. I had recently discovered Queer as Folk and I was extolling its virtues, when one of my male friends told me how much he loved the show. I didn’t think anything of it. We started talking about Justin and Brian, and it never clicked to me exactly why this conversation was significant until my friend pulled me aside after and came out to me. Talk about a “duh” moment. He had been giving me signals the entire conversation, and I was just completely oblivious! After, we became close and often wandered away from our group of friends. I introduced him to my favorite place on campus: Stack 2.

The library on campus at the time had LGBT books in a separate stack. I thought it was great because I could just wander down there, grab a book, and read. I visited almost every day and I only saw another person there once. It was warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and had a couch. Basically, heaven. I had discovered I enjoyed reading about LGBT protagonists much earlier when I was about fifteen and had read Aristoi by Walter Jon Williams and had been reading it since.

So, going back to the YA class, when Cappy told us we had to write a novel, I talked to my friend about the assignment. I had no idea what to write. And he said, “Why don’t you write a book about a gay teen? I wish there had been books like that when I was younger.” And I thought…. huh. Why not?

Andy Squared was born. The first draft was incredibly rough and it took my seven years from start to finish to get it where I wanted it, but I kept going because my professor encourage me to keep going because he saw something important in the pages, and my friend read it and loved it.

I could have stopped there, but I had always wanted to be published. So I wrote, and rewrote, and rewrote some more. I eventually found a home for Andy and Ryder with Bold Strokes Books.

By the time Andy was accepted for publication I was teaching. I had students I worked with come out to me, and it meant so much to me that they would trust me with that information about them. When that first student honored me with that trust, it reminded me of my friend from college and I thought, “This. This is why I teach, and this is why I write. I need to keep writing these stories. These kids need voices. They need to see more characters like them so they know they’re not alone.”

It’s getting better out there. From the time I started writing in college until now, hundreds of LGBT books have been published for teens by small publishers and the big houses. But we can still do more. Stories need to be about more than just coming out. I keep writing because I want my students to see queer teens in the same positions as their straight counterparts. I want them to be the heroes and heroines of dystopias, fantasies, and scifi novels. So I’ll keep writing until the ideas run out. And that doesn’t seem to be anytime soon.