It’s been an interesting year. November and the beginning of December 2011 have been particularly rough months. I’ve undergone a lot of changes, some for better, some for worse, and some…I don’t even know yet. Maybe those I’ll figure out a little farther down the line.
These past few weeks I’ve been suffering from depression and some serious mental lapses. (As in, “I forgot to go clean that house today” kinds of mental lapses. Which is bad when half of my income is from cleaning.) And while I don’t think I’m clinically depressed, I haven’t been very chipper either. I feel like…I’ve lost my place in the world…or found out that I never actually had a place to begin with. I haven’t felt like a writer, a reader, or an otaku…just a failure. Yeah, it’s all very strange and muddled and I’m hoping that some of the bright spots that have happened within the past few days will pull me out of this grey tide back into a place where I’m content, even if I’m not happy per se.
I do think that, on this, the eve of the Winter Solstice, I have reached one of those turning points, thanks to my friend and fellow writer, Foxglove Zayuri.
She and I got together on Sunday for sushi and then went back to my house because I needed to clean and she wanted to play with the hordes of kittens currently over-running the place. We talked a lot about depression and politics (it’s amazing how often those topics coincide), and then, as it always does, the topic of writing came up. Foxglove recently made a breakthrough with her major project Mistatem Pangeshi and shared it with me. (Breakthroughs are like crack for writers. The emotional high from untangling a snarl is unparallelled.) In return, I also talked about some breakthroughs with Ravens and Roses. Then, I gave her some sections of my rough draft to read.
I’m usually very wary about letting other people read parts of my rough draft, mostly because it is so rough. Plus, I’ve always found it hard to give proper feedback on part of a larger story when I haven’t read the rest of it to give that fragment context. But Fox and I have been friends our entire lives (literally from the cradle on up) and have spent a lot of time giving each other background, so while I was a little embarrassed to show her something so unpolished, I was also eager for her feedback. I cleaned my house while Fox read my story.
She liked it.
Fox is hard to please, so if you are a friend and she tells you she likes your story, she means it; it’s not empty flattery. She said that my characters “came alive” and that there were “some very original elements” in those few pages. Being told that your characters feel alive and that you have original ideas is the greatest compliment a writer can receive. I was shocked and pleased and flattered…since lately, I haven’t felt like any of my writing has been alive or original. So I was very, very happy to hear those words from someone I trust, admire, and respect.
Please…do not underestimate what kind (or harsh) words can do. Deep down, I think I can write. I know I can write. But at times like this, I don’t feel like I can. Just a little kindness and honesty can make a huge difference. Thank you, Fox.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Blessed Winter Solstice, and have a wonderful Holiday-Of-Your-Choice, everyone.