Memoir, Mental health

Behind the Writer

I’m sitting here in my office with the pellet stove roaring away. It’s comfortably warm in this room, but inside me is a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions. You see, I’m not just a writer. First and foremost I am a child of God and I suffer from PTSD, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression. Why am I telling you this? Because I am going to be making blog posts about mental illness that will relate to my upcoming book about my journey through mental illness. And because I’m not afraid to admit that I have a mental illness.

Sometimes, I think that having a mental illness can make us more creative individuals because we look for creative ways to work out the pain that is deep inside. So deep it stays well hidden until we are alone and then we can contain it no longer.

Open the flood gates. Our emotions either come out as a trickle or a roar whether through tears, or through creative means. Or both.

So now you know more about me. But you’ll learn even more as I go along. 😉

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Memoir, Reflections of the Heart

In the Morning Hours

The early morning hours beckon me to awake. I’m not sure why but here I am taping on the keys to my keyboard. These seem to be the the hours where creativity kicks in. And all before the birds and sun awaken.

It is 3:46AM EST on this last day of November, and I have a couple of hours before I have to get my daughter up for school. These hours are mine and so the words must pour forth from my soul for I cannot hold them back. I have much to say on many topics. I have a couple of articles I’d like to write and then work on my memoir, Reflections of the Heart.

In Reflections of the Heart, I share my story of losing my mother as a teenager at 17 and how my faith in God saw me through the pain of loss and moving forward with my life even though it was difficult. I want to write this story to give hope to those children and adolescence who have lost either one or both parents. You are not alone and there is hope. There is a bright light at the end of the tunnel of grief.

Have you lost a parent while in your teenage years, or younger? What things did you do to see you through the grief and to help get yourself back on your feet? I’d love to hear your stories if you are comfortable sharing them with me. If you don’t want to leave a comment you can email me at jisoucie@hotmail.com.

Also, if you’re a writer, when are you most creative, early morning, mid morning, late morning, afternoon, evening?

My best to you in all you do today! God bless!

J. Soucie

Memoir, Reflections of the Heart

Fear? What fear?

Alright…I have to admit fear has been a big factor and has kept me from writing my book and yes, even writing on this blog and my other blog Voice 4 Butterflies. But over the last several months, there have been some changes and I am learning to kick fear out the door and write anyway. I can’t tell you how freeing it has been.

Fear was making me think any idea I had wouldn’t be good enough, or I’d second guess the idea I had going and completely stop and go to something else. And so I would jump around to other projects and could never focus on one.

You may have noticed this in my blog posts how I’ll talk about one project, and the next post will be about something else, and the next one a totally different project. Wow! Talk about a head spin! I probably left you confused as well as myself. I’m sorry for that.

I guess it’s just part of a writer’s journey in figuring things out for herself and working through creative anxiety and learning how to squelch it and move forward regardless. I think we all have to deal with this at some point. If not, that’s great! I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. It’s tough to go through and then really focus on one project and go through it no matter the anxious thoughts one has. Do you deal with creative anxiety? If you do, how do you work through it?

For me it’s about prayer and leaving fear behind when I set out to do something. When I start to feel it I do my best not to accept it. I really had to learn that I could allow myself to feel fear, or say “No! Not today not ever again!” and move one with my project.

So…you may be wondering what project I have jumped back to this time.

I’ve gone back to working on Reflections of the Heart which was previously titled A Daughter’s Reflection. Reflections of the Heart is a tentative title. If you have forgotten what it’s about it’s okay. As much as I have probably confused everyone I don’t blame you.

Reflections of the Heart is a memoir based on my experiences and journal entries as a 17 year-old who finds out her mother has late stage ovarian cancer. The story takes you on my journey to learning the horrific news, to being my mother’s main caretaker, to losing my mother, and then trying to find my way through grief, discovering who I am, and stepping out in faith. My faith was a huge part in how I got through everything. It may be a sad story it is also an enlightening one. I have over 1400+ words done in this rewrite and that’s not counting what I wrote longhand this morning. After this post, I’ll be going back to writing. The writing bug has hit big time and I’m relying on God’s strength to help me fight any fear that may try to deter me again. With my fists up, I’m going in!

Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNo Wri Mo Day 17

Number 17

Today is day #17 of Camp NaNo!! How are you doing on your project?

I must admit that yesterday I didn’t do much writing. Instead, I printed out my book and I plan to go through it and reorganize and rewrite it. Yes, I know. The Inner Editor is having time in the spotlight BEFORE the whole books is even in a first draft. Well, let’s just say I tried to make the book go the direction I wanted but found I was repeating a lot of what was said and I was just getting so confused. I had to make that decision to stop moving forward. Trust me it wasn’t an easy decision. It was quite painful. But you know I’ve decided to look at Camp NaNo as a stepping stone. It helped me get to where I am so I have something to work with. Plus, it gave me motivation.

I did some research on how to structure a memoir and often I kept running into the same information about how to decide what to write about out of our life and how to get started. I didn’t need that. I was looking for something a little more in depth and just before I was going to give up searching I stumbled across Wendy Dale’s blog. She has a great piece on how to structure a memoir and the different methods other memoirists have used.  This has been so helpful to me and I finally have a way to write my memoir that can be exciting and draw readers in instead of just the plain chronological chain of events. I was getting bored writing that way. Just event after event. Now I know of more interesting ways to write my book. Now I just have to decide which way I want to go.

Wendy broke things down into Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3 and tells us what to write in each one. So helpful and clarified a lot for me. If you’re writing a memoir, or even thinking about it, I encourage you to check out Wendy’s site.

So that is where I am right now. Rewriting and organizing my book.

Well, it’s time for me to be off and my daughter off to school. Best of luck today. May the words flow forth and fill the blank pages before you.

Writing Updates

Crisp Cold & Hiding Away

Many of you may be asking: “Where have YOU been?”

Ah yes, where have I been? Good question.

I am still here. Looking back I can’t believe my last post was in November. Yikes! My plan was to post a LOT more often. Life has given us a few hiccups which are stressful and my part time job as an editor has kept me away from my own blogging and my own writing. Between all that has been going on I haven’t been able to keep up with my work, hence, the amount of posts I’d like to make have diminished.

Christmas is almost here. I have Christmas music playing and I may wrap a few presents today. But then I have to get back to my editing job. I’m almost finished going through the book so my job is almost done. (sigh) That’s the way of it though. You have a project and can make a steady income for several months and then when the project is complete, it’s back to relying on one income, which, let’s face it, this day in age, is very hard to live on. But, looking at the bright side, I’ll be able to get back into my own writing. I’ve had ideas spinning in my head for months for like three different books. Question is: which one will I work on after this job is finished? Isn’t that always a stumbling block for us writers? Do you ever struggle with which project to work on? I’d be surprised if you didn’t. I swear if it’s not deciding which project to work on, it’s having chosen a book and once you’re into it, getting strong ideas for another book! Ugh! lol A writer’s mind is never quiet, always thinking, dreaming, scheming.

The three books I’m thinking of have to deal with the following topics: 1) discovery of having celiac disease (how it affected me, what had to change, and how I’m doing now), 2) discovery of having fibromyalgia (how it’s affected my life, my family, and how my faith has helped me deal with setbacks) 3) losing my mother at the age of 17 (how I was her caretaker, the effects it’s had, and how my faith helped me as a teen to get through that difficult time and I wish to inspire other teens who have lost parents.)

Okay, so there is a fourth about having PTSD, but, even if I wrote that one, I’m not sure about publishing it. So that one I’ll probably write for myself, at least for now.

I just have so many ideas and insights for those four topics and I feel being brave and sharing my experiences will encourage others.

That is my update for right now. I don’t have much to say about my writing because of the editing job, but I will keep you posted as this job winds down.

Have a great day!

A Daughter's Reflection

A DAUGHTER’S REFLECTION – RELEASE DELAY

A couple of days ago I had just about finished writing A Daughter’s Reflection and was going to re-release it on Amazon. However, I started reading The Power of Memoir: How to Write Your Healing Story and it has some great advice on how to write your own memoir and what you should and should not include.

Since when I write, I like to make sure I produce a good quality piece of work, I thought I would finish reading this book and take any advice from it that I see might be helpful to my my book. I don’t like doing anything half way, or if I think I can improve on something then I will, but I am going to take my time to make sure I do it right. I may not do it right the first time (who in this non-perfect life can?) but I will work at it until I think I have done as well as I can. This goes for anything I write, whether it be a nonfiction novel, article, poetry, short story, or fiction book.

Please bear with me as I go through this process. A Daughter’s Reflection WILL BE released this year (2013), just not within a few days as I was expecting with my last post.

I will keep you all updated with any further developments.

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“To craft a memoir means wrestling with the nature of truth and the muscles of story structure. It means that you travel back in time come back with treasures of memory that must be strung together like beads on a string.” ~ Linda Joy Myers, Ph.D – The Power of Memoir: How to Write Your Healing Story.

A Daughter's Reflection

A Daughter’s Reflection – Updated Publication Time Frame

This past week and especially this morning I have been hard at work with this re-write and last night I had hit a block. I was so confused where to go, so what did I do. I literally just dropped my papers and pen on my desk and prayed for guidance. God has answered my prayer and more quickly than I had expected. I not only know what to do next, I am almost finished with this re-write and this will be the last re-write because I finally, the first time since 2007, feel comfortable and happy with how my story turned out.

So I am going to finish working on the last chapter of this book and then it will just be making the corrections on the manuscript on my computer and then I will be releasing the book for publication. I am looking to have this posted to Amazon by tonight and it should be available in Kindle form by tomorrow. The paperback should be available by the weekend. I will keep you posted the closer I get to publishing the Kindle version and then the paperback.

Keep your eyes open for the updated release!!! Free Kindle promo will be coming soon.

A Daughter's Reflection

A DAUGHTER’S REFLECTION – REWRITE

Today is a good day for writing, I think. I am working on a memoir I started in my late teens but never fully developed because I wasn’t sure where exactly I wanted to go with it.

A Daughter’s Reflection is my account, as a teenager, of having a mother who was ill with cancer, and having to take care of her for several months both day and night. The book consists of several journal entries. I don’t think I had ever kept a journal until that year. I know, I know. A teenage girl without a journal. Strange, right? I just had never thought of writing until that year when so much was happening and becoming overwhelming I needed a someone to talk to when no one else was around and a place to vet everything. A notebook became that place and God was that person I talked to.

This book will serve to relate my story as a teenager going through grief, depression, anxiety, and a sense of loss, not just in losing a loved one, but not knowing where I stood in the world, you know, where I belonged. In my story you will see changes of the teenager I was while caring for my mother, then through depression, anxiety and loss of self, and then through finding myself in Christ.

I have written a new preface and reorganized the chapters. I have to go through them for some editing. After that, I will need to determine the last chapter or two of the book. I am hoping to have this book out by summer time. I am aiming before that. I will keep everyone updated as I go along. God bless.