I’m A Writer, I’m Not Mentally Ill, Now What?

I write. I don’t write consistently enough. Sometimes it’s like I have to push through heavy layers of emotional reticence just to get to work on a project.

I must have some kind of mental illness, or emotional damage, which is making it so hard for me. That’s got to be the reason I find it so hard to just sit the frak down, open my document, and get to work. Or to open a Chrome tab to AgentQuery.com and search for more agents to send my completed novels to.

I must have some kind of problem. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have so much difficulty doing this work that I love (mostly– querying is awful) and that I want to spend my life doing.

Except. Except! I CAN sit down and just get the frak to work. I can talk myself out of being stupid, procrastinating, watching another episode of Brooklyn 99, or just vegging out to games. I can reason in my head why I need to get back to this grind. I can push away the fear, the emotional accoutrements, and whatever else is stopping me from working.

I can do that. And I can get to work. Every time, if I try.

And when I do get to work I feel great. Everything’s better. My fear’s gone. My obsession with getting the best word in Word Chums vanishes (for a time). My life feels like it’s in order.

Sure, I still have emotional baggage from my entire life that is sometimes hard to cope with.

But I CAN cope with it. Without the help of medicine or doctors or anything. I can do it.

I’m not mentally ill, much to my own surprise, considering my history. If I were mentally ill, the slight depression or laziness that I feel would be something that had a personality and a hold on me– and it would be me! It would affect my sense of self in every way as it tried to drive me deeper and deeper into a miasma of self-defeating diatribes I hurled at myself.

And I wouldn’t be able to talk myself out of it all of the time.

And I would feel like a passenger in my life, and that is a very difficult place to be. A passenger. Every day. Fighting every day to get control of the train ride of your life and the control room of your brain. And you win that fight sometimes, but the war is never over and sometimes when you don’t win that fight, it gets bad. Scary bad.

But I’m not mentally ill. I’m kind of an anomaly in the writer world, when you think about it. Honestly, and this might get me in trouble, I sometimes think that writer types might even be tempted to find/manufacture a mental illness in order to qualify as a writer.

But that’s dumb and lame. Because mental illness is real and people I know and love, and people you know and love, have to deal with it every day– every moment of their lives.

Can you imagine being mentally ill? I can. Barely. Really only a smidgen. And that’s because I know a guy who is determined to remove the stigma from mental illness and get people to understand that it’s an illness in the same way as MS or cancer is–and mental illness presents serious challenges to treatment. This guy, this friend, is also a writer– a pretty good one when all is said and done. He’s a husband and a father too. He’s incredibly mentally ill.

And while being ill, he’s churned out multiple novels and goes on book tours and to conferences and he works his butt off to support his family and cope with his mental illnesses. He has panic attacks. He suffers from severe OCD. He’s got a lot trying to stop him from being successful and productive– and worse– it’s all in his head. Biologically in his head. Chemically in his head. And it’s expensive to treat this stuff.

I admire Robison Wells a lot. I am so grateful to know him, because he’s really helped me understand what mental illness is. He’s also helped me understand what it means to make a Herculean stand against the worst kind of foe and win a lot of the time.

Granted, Rob and I disagree a lot about political stuff, mainly because he’s a pinko commie, but I value my association with him.

And I want to do everything I can to help him.

I’m not the only one who wants to help. Famous people like Ally Condie, Aprilynne Pike, Brandon MullBrandon Sanderson, Shannon Hale, and Larry Correia are helping him, along with other people you might know or have heard of, like Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, J. Scott Savage, Jessica Day George, Mary Robinette Kowal, Josi Kilpack, Sarah M. Eden, and Sara Zarr are helping him too. All of these people, and many more that I really ought to list but my fingers are getting tired, are working together on one of the single coolest anthologies you will ever buy.

Because you will buy it. This IS the anthology you are looking for.

They are doing this to help Rob Wells get out from under the crippling burden of IRS and medical debt that he’s under, and hopefully help him get his feet under him. I’ve heard the story of the situation that he’s in, and you would struggle to find a nicer, more honest and straightforward and hard-working guy who is absolutely deserving of a lift.

This anthology is being funded by an Indiegogo campaign. I’ve donated and can’t wait to get my copies! Here is the link: Altered Perceptions Anthology.

Will you take a minute and a credit card right now to help Rob? You get what is going to be a really cool, truly unique book. And you’re helping in a good cause.

So I’m not mentally ill. My “Now What?” is to help who I can where I can. I hope you’ll do this too.

Don’t bother sharing this post. But absolutely DO share the link to the Indiegogo campaign.

About jaredgarrett

Jared Garrett is the author of Beat, a YA scifi thriller, and its forthcoming sequel, both published by Future House Publishing. A new series, debuting in January 2016 and also published by Future House, kicks off with Lakhoni, a fast-paced rescue adventure in a world reminiscent of Aztec culture, to be released in January 2016. He self-published Beyond the Cabin, a novelization of his childhood in a cult, in December 2014. Both Beat and Beyond the Cabin were Whitney Award nominees, and his story Song of the Wind, received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. In addition to writing, he's spent fifteen years in adult education and is an accomplished public speaker and workshop leader.
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