Doing ANYthing

What is it like to do something, anything, with people, or DID, or whatever someone wants to label me as?  It’s pretty freakin’ hard.  Never mind the depression and anxiety that I already deal with on a day to day basis; DID can literally make it impossible to get even simple tasks done in the course of a day.

I’ll start with the simplest of tasks… getting up.  This used to be fairly easy for me, for many years, before there was much communication between my people and myself, and well before I knew what was going on.  Having major depression made it difficult some days, but I’d still get up to go to work, be on time (mostly) and have a (mostly) productive day.  Then I would go home to my fortress of solitude, maybe putter around doing this or that, maybe watch some TV, surf the web, or read a book.  Not bad really.  Then, there were the nights that I wouldn’t remember.  On those nights, dishes would be left everywhere, things might be rearranged, but mostly it looked like a bomb went off.  Those nights I would try to justify, until I started communicating with them several years ago, and learned what was going on.

When I started actually being able to hear my people, and vice versa (we kept a journal for some time until someone burned it) I have attempted to “bargain” and “negotiate” with them.  The “this is my body and my life” argument really does NOT work, trust me.  They all want their “out” time.  It got to the point where they were “taking” the “out time” at work, which made me too anxious to go to work some days, for fear something awful would happen.  This mostly occurred in my last two years of employment, and was concurrent with a medical condition I had going on at the time.  The weaker I am, so to speak, the more they come out.

The main players have changed over the years, and no doubt they will change again.  One of the most consistent, who can either be a help or one of my biggest hindrances, is J.  He is the one I first became aware of, as a small child.  I remember sitting in the back of my parents’ car one afternoon, going back and forth in my head with him, asking, “Who are you?” only to hear him repeat it back.  I don’t want to pick on any “particular” person here, but when J gets it into his head that he’s going to come out, he doesn’t need a trigger, he doesn’t need a reason… he just sneaks out when I start spacing out, or just start not paying attention.  I’m a vegetarian; he buys and eats meat.  I try very hard not to drink on my medications; he buys alcohol.  He “has fun.”  And when he doesn’t have fun, I can get hurt.

Usually, they will stay here.  I have asked that they stay here, because frankly I’m petrified of what they will do if they go out in public.  They have “come out” in public though, when I was already out and about (I already mentioned the coming out at work, which turned problematic very quickly… or they would simply call in for me and say they weren’t coming in to work), and sometimes they take it upon themselves to go out and “get things that I need,” which usually involves junk food, alcohol, and/or cigarettes.  Quitting smoking has been a constant battle not with myself, but with half a dozen people who will sneak to the store and buy cigarettes, or even bum them from random people in town, saying that they are quitting but “just need a couple.”  It also seems that housework has been put on their “to don’t” list.  Megs used to clean all the time; she was my little helper, and I was eternally grateful to have at least ONE person who was a neat-freak, organized to the point of OCD, and, well, a girl.  My head has been so full of guys lately I’ve missed my girls.  I think one of the biggest challenges is trying to pack right now, because none of them want to leave here.  I try to get them to understand that we will have to move, eventually.  It is inevitable.  I am trying to just make it until I can move to a place with all of my dogs, and that none of us has to be separated for any length of time, because I think it will be very detrimental to our system.  I’ve told them I’m working on it, but we still need to pack.  Whenever I try, however, I usually find myself, several hours later, in bed, or sleeping at the desk, and nothing has been accomplished.

Then, there’s fun things, like walking with/playing with my dogs, training them, spending time with them.  I like to give individual attention to each of my dogs every day.  Sometimes, when I go to take them for a walk, one of the others will take over.  Why?  Because he or she wants to walk them and do training.  That is MY time with MY dogs, and they are taking it from me.  Watching TV shows; I will sometimes go to watch a show that I had watched a couple episodes of, and it will be a couple more episodes ahead of where I stopped.  Again, they watched it without me.  They can still watch in the “in between” place, they can still enjoy the walks from the “in between” place, but it is a constant battle to keep them there and me here.  The more I stress about it, the more it seems to happen, so I try not to, but it is sometimes incredibly difficult.  My dogs know some of them so well now that they even have favorites.  J knows all of my computer passwords, and can buy a song on itunes without me knowing, which is why I recently emptied my checking account and just carry around the small amount of cash I have left with me; at least they can’t buy things online this way.

So, how is it that someone gets ANYthing done with this kind of crap going on?  If anybody knows, please enlighten me.  I’m sure I’ll hear about this post from them, and I just ask them, here and now, to please try to help me out with the things I mentioned above.  We need to cooperate, to work together, as a “system” so to speak (I know most of you hate that word, but I can’t think of anything else) or I’m screwed.  If I’m screwed, so are you guys, so, just think about it.

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How many do you have?

How many do you have?.

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Why is it…

Why is it that pets are considered so easily disposed of?  To just “relinquish” one to a shelter, even if the shelter workers tell you, straight up, that there’s a high chance that your pet will be euthanized in a matter of days?  Or, even worse, to dump them in some “country” area, figuring they will “make it” on their own?  Or simply bringing them out back and shooting them?  Where is the line drawn?  There is such outrage when a pet is beaten to death, which is, of course, a horrible death, but there isn’t enough outrage, there isn’t enough support, there isn’t enough compassion, to even make this a terrible offense. Most, if caught, get a slap on the wrist.  No no Tommy, we don’t skin the cat alive, or no no Suzie, we don’t beat the dog with a metal pipe until it draws its final, tortured, raspy breath.  Is that enough?  Is that fair?  Do the punishments fit the crimes even a fraction of the time, especially considering that animal abuse is so closely linked to child/human abuse?

What about kids?  Why can’t people just drop them off at the good old fashioned orphanage when they soil on the carpet, or your living situation changes and you can’t afford them anymore, or you’re having a “new” kid?  Because we, as a society, evolved.  Orphanages here have “evolved” into private foster homes, or small group homes for those children with behavioral and mental health issues that need work on.  You can’t just abandon your child, so why does our society make it so easy to abandon pets?  I’m not equating pets with children here, but surely our society here in the US especially has evolved so that better solutions should be coming, should be here, by now?

Millions of dogs and cats are euthanized in US shelters every year.  Millions.  Others live their entire lives in “no-kill” shelters or sanctuaries… is this better than death?  I honestly don’t know the answer to that one, it depends on the circumstances I guess, what kind of quality of life the animals have.  Others have a few short days to find an adoptive home or a rescue to pull them before they are euthanized.  Gas chambers are still a legal way to euthanize pets in the US in many states, although it has been proven to be inhumane.  Look it up on YouTube sometime.  I dare you.  We don’t gas people anymore.  Another inhumane form of euthanasia is “heart-sticking,” where a lethal dose of drugs are shot directly into the heart of a struggling animal.  Again, YouTube it.  Is it so difficult to hold each animal and comfort it while a vein is found, and the overdose of anesthetic can be administered to quickly and almost painlessly end their lives?  Hell, we give THAT courtesy to our worst criminals, who receive the “death penalty,” and jails are the Hilton compared to many US shelters.

Some will say I am using anthropomorphism here, but is it really?  Is it that difficult to give humane treatment to the animals that we, as a species, at least in this country, have given the status of “companion animal” or “pet” to?  As opposed to livestock animals, pets have garnered a “higher status” in our society in some regards, but why, as I stated before, is it so easy to “get rid” of them?  I realize that in other countries, the cow is benevolent, in other countries, dogs and cats are eaten, and animals are treated much worse, but I believe in learning by example.  If we can’t be an example to the rest of the world with regard to how we care for our pets, how will change occur in other parts of the world as well?

I ask this, in part, because I am eventually, I am assuming in the near future, going to lose my home.  I tried everything I could to save it, but, there it is.  So I am in the position of finding a place that will accept my almost ten year old Dane mix, my 8.5 year old American Bulldog, my 5 year old Pug/Beagle/Boston Terrier, and my 4 year old Siberian Husky.  The former two have been with me since pups; the latter two I rescued at 8 and 10 months, respectively.  I would never dream of “dumping” them at a shelter; I have seen first-hand the trauma that dogs experience when they lose their home, all that they knew and loved.  Hell, I was a case manager for children for eight years, I’ve seen what happens to kids too, when the lose everything they knew.  Even if it was horrible, it was what the knew.  Imagine if these kids, instead of going into trained foster homes, were dumped into a room, with a bed and a toilet, and maybe let out once a day to “play?”  There would be public outrage, it would be stopped immediately.  But it has become “accepted” for our pets.  Why?  Why has it become acceptable for our pets, those animals that we have chosen and bred to be our life-long companions, to be treated in such a fashion?  To be staked out in a yard with no human contact, to be used in dog fights, or simply to be abandoned, a once loved “family pet” now disposed of because of some “inconvenience?”

How is this fair?  Our society needs to make changes in the way we treat unwanted pets, and work on home retention and education, so that owners can’t so easily “dump” their former “best friend” at a shelter.  I won’t even get into the treatment of other animals right now, as I believe this blog is long enough, but please, think before you act.  You chose this companion animal, this pet, to be yours.  That’s not something that you should just be able to back out of so easily.  They depend on you, only you, for everything.  You ARE their everything.  They deserve for you to at least TRY to live up to that, for them.

-Gina

03/16/12

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Procrastination?

Not today

Not tonight

Don’t cause pressure,

or put up a fight

Don’t do it.

 

Write a list,

jot it down

Then put it somewhere

It won’t be found

Don’t find it.

 

Waste it away

All the time

that’s in a day

don’t make a dime

Don’t make it.

 

Start something

Put it down

Isn’t there another way

so you won’t drown

Don’t finish it.

 

When it becomes

a deadly chore

To dust the kitchen

or sweep the floor.

Don’t clean it.

 

Feeling safe

behind the lock

Just stay inside

and watch the clock

Don’t leave here.

 

Is it procrastination

or something more

that’s caught you,

writhing at the core

Don’t ask it.

 

Just leave it be

the status quo

Tomorrow pick up

the sword and go.

Just do it.

 

 

Tomorrow…

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-J

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Ramblings

Nothing breaks one out of a 2:30am internet scroll-fest faster than a dog fight.  I have four dogs, the smallest (Mojo) decided to pick a fight with the largest (Kirby) who out-weighs him by a good 85 pounds at least.  I had just said, “Let’s go out,” and tore my eyes away from the computer just in time to see Mojo walking up to Kirby, who was just getting to his feet, with “that stance.”  You know the stance I mean if you know dogs; that stiff, upright, posturing stance.  Well, this time Kirby decided he wasn’t going to take shit from him, and a scuffle broke out.  I must say, it is much easier to pick 30 pound Mojo up and end a quarrel than it was trying to break up the bitch fights between my 110 pound Great Dane mix Fiona and my now deceased 90 pound American Bulldog, Maisy, but even so, my heart is still racing, several minutes and a Xanax later.  I made them go out to “potty” separately, because I didn’t want something to happen outside, in the dark and snow.  I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get to them before Kirby killed Mojo.  He can literally put Mojo’s head in his mouth, and he did grab a bit of skin.  As I’ve told my Mom, who recently adopted two rescue dogs, “If there’s no blood, it wasn’t a real fight.”  So, it was a scuffle, I’d say.  Whenever something like this happens, there is internal clamor.  People wanting to know what’s going on, what happened, etc.  I think it’s hard for them to tell when I’m actually in danger and when something like this happens and my body reacts the way it does.  It’s hard, during these times, to stay “me.”  I did though.  I’ve been staving them off more and more actually, since my last post.  I don’t know whether it’s because I regret making the post, or because now they think it’s all well and good to just come out whenever they please, now that “people know.”

Sunday was my youngest nephew’s birthday party.  It was at a pizza place/arcade.  Within ten minutes, I was in the bathroom negotiating with one of my people.  I guess it’s a plus that I’m able to do that, at least sometimes; he reallllllly wanted to come out and play stupid arcade games, but he got to come out that night and play game cube and computer games instead.  I’m not ready to look like a total freak in front of my family… not that they haven’t come out in front of my family before, because they have, it’s just, well, different now, with some of them knowing.  And before, my people would pretend to be me.  Something tells me that isn’t gonna happen anymore.  So in the end, I got to eat pizza and cake, and hold my baby niece, and try to get my nephews to say more than three words to me.  Two hours and I was mentally and physically exhausted.  

Great, I just let Mojo in, and he’s still in “fight mode” with Kirby.  Honestly, Kirby (also an American Bulldog) is the most happy-go-lucky, doop dee doop dog you’ll ever meet, but I think he’s tired of putting up with Mojo getting all “up in his face” so to speak.  As someone who had to live with separated dogs, I seriously don’t want to have to go through that again.  It’s not fair for the dogs, and it’s stressful for me.  I need to de-stress my life, but shit like this just keeps happening.  I’m already envisioning waking up at 5am to the two of them fighting in my bed.  Now I’ll never sleep.  Having an imagination that just runs with things like this to the most negative possible conclusion isn’t helpful either.  I can’t seem to change that, no matter how hard I try.  

I tried making a “to do” list today, but even that was too much to deal with.  Some days, I swear, I’m lucky to be able to get up, feed/potty the dogs a few times, play with them, maybe make some food, and, well, yeah, that’s about it.  I hadn’t planned on writing a blog post tonight, or, well, this morning, but the whole Mojo/Kirby thing got me thinking about the past with Maisy and Fiona, how difficult it was, and then my brain just won’t stop.  I’m hoping getting some of this “out” will help it stop.  This is more like a journal entry than a blog post; I hope you don’t mind.  Now to get the bed made up and see if Mojo is going to get over himself and be able to sleep with us, or if he’ll be in a crate.  I don’t want to start doing that, because it really enforces the behavior in the end.  The less they see of each other, the more disdain they will develop.  They won’t feel like pack members anymore.  I know I’m over-thinking this, but I over-think everything, especially when it comes to my dogs.  I wish they could understand me; wish I could rationalize with them.  Hell, I can’t even rationalize with myself/selves.  This is going to be a long night.  

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“Coming Out” so to speak…

Sleep my elusive, fickle friend, come back and visit me again…

In the meantime, I’m going to use my blog to address something that has affected my life for, well, as long as I can remember, but at this juncture, I feel the need to just “come out” to the world.  I have no insurance, am trying to build a support system… but how do you explain something like this to people who really can’t grasp what I mean, can’t comprehend what is going on, or, the worst reaction I can think of… not believing me.

I’ve tried “coming out” in the past, starting in college really.  I sought out help at the free clinic, got therapy, got a shrink, got medication, but nothing changed.  College years were some of the worst years when it came to this particular “thing,” but after I graduated, things were okay, for a long time.  I still had the depression, the anxiety, and still dealt with what I am about to say (but am beating around this bush so much it might not come out in this post), but it was manageable.  Then, I killed my dog.  Anyone who has read my blog knows about Maisy, my 5 year old American Bulldog that I had euthanized 3 years ago this past January.  Once that event occurred, something “switched,” something changed, and I can’t get back to how things were between college and this event.  It triggered me in the worst way, because I saw my Maisy as the canine version of myself.  She always seemed like different dogs at different times; her mental issues were worse than her physical ones.  I feel as though I let her down, didn’t dig deep enough, didn’t try enough behavioral interventions, although my brain tells me I did.  When I killed Maisy, I began to think that I am the human version of her, and I’m probably not going to live very long either.

Okay… I have people.  I’ve known about them for a long time, hidden  them, which was fairly easy up until recently, because they did not want people to know.  I have Dissociative Identity Disorder.  DID; multiple personalities.  I’m not Sybil, I’m not that chick from United States of Tara… I’m a 32 year old girl who has people in her head.  Some of  them don’t even think that they are “in my head,” most think that the live in their own world, and that I am a “portal” to my world, so to speak.  It’s hard to explain, even to myself, because they DO have a world; I can see it in my head.  They have relationships, they have drama, the have all sorts of things.  Their world has castles and villages, vampires and witches.  Some of my people ARE vampires and witches.  There is a place, like a veil between their world and mine, and when they are there, that is when I hear them.  Sometimes there is only one; sometimes, there are so many that I can only describe it as “clamor.”  Imagine trying to have a conversation with someone with five people talking to you or to each other in your head.  It doesn’t end there though.  They take over my body; they do things.  My last attempt at quitting smoking would have been a success if not for one of them.  I’ve been to the hospital because of them.  I’ve also succeeded because of them.  Some are helpful; some destructive.

I’m not going to go into great detail at this point; I already feel like I’ve said too much, but I’m in the process of trying to get more help; at this point I have no insurance and no therapy.  I pay for shrink sessions when I can, and was officially diagnosed back in October.  At this point, things are so screwed up that I can’t work, can barely function and do normal tasks that normal people do.  I’ve become afraid to leave my own home; afraid one of them will come out.  It’s not always a bad thing when they do; some can really do a great impression of me, some help motivate me, some help me stick up for myself.  But, communication is spotty at best.  One of my people had a 3 hour session with my shrink, this last session, and I only know what he told me about it… bits and pieces have come along the way.  That’s the worst part, losing time.  Waking up to find my bedroom rearranged, or finding myself at the Canadian border, or on the floor, or outside, or at a store, and having no idea where the past few minutes, hours, etc have gone, and what the hell I am doing.

So, there it is.  I wanted to tell you, because some of my people like to write too, and you might be hearing from them.  Well, actually, you already have.  One of them actually wrote my last blog post, the one about the double-standard when it comes to mental illness versus physical illness.  I got triggered when I read someone’s flippant post about the voices in their head saying something was a good idea, and he decided to vent about it.  I’ll ask them from now on to write their names down if it’s their post and not mine.

Please keep me in your thoughts as I struggle to get some help; apparently I make too much money on unemployment to get medicaid, so, well, yeah.  My shrink was extraordinarily helpful in her session with Damon, and wrote me a great letter to send in with my disability paperwork.  I don’t want to go on disability, but I need to, to get the help I need, so I can go back to being a productive member of society.  I keep telling myself, “One day at a time,” but that line is starting to grate on my last nerve.

Also, it’s the meaning behind “Mercurial Scribes.”  Aside from the fact that Mercurial Scribe (singular) was taken, I thought it best described me, or, well, us.  So, there’s the meaning behind the plural Mercurial Scribes.  I’ll be happy to answer any questions anyone has, if I can, but I’m still really learning about it myself, and each individual is different.

That’s all for now… but do I publish or hit the “move to trash” option… ?

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Double Standards; or, Let’s Try Posting Something Original!

I have been absent from my blog for some time, and I will tell all of you about it soon.  Suffice to say that things are in a tumultuous state in my life at the present time, and writing has drifted to the back of my “to do” list, which is quite lengthy.  (I do not actually have a to-do list, just one in my head, but if I wrote it all down, I would likely just crawl into bed, assume the fetal position, and never get out of it again.)

However, I wanted to address something that I see on my Facebook news feed all the time; in part because I find it insensitive and offensive, and in part because it simply is not funny.  At all.  I am talking about joke-type quotes regarding the “voices” in someone’s head.  Such as, “Four out of five voices in my head say ‘Go for it,’ or, “The voices in my head tell me you’re stupid.”  I could go on, but you get the idea.

Firstly, for anyone who actually has to deal with mental health disorders involving auditory hallucinations, it is offensive to trivialize what s/he has to go through on a daily basis.  Secondly, like 99.8% of the constant stream of “quotes” people put up on Facebook or other social media networking sites, it simply is NOT funny.  It’s not funny!  If you want to make a joke, why not come up with something on your own, instead of “sharing” a quote that makes the rounds in my newsfeed a dozen times in a day if it becomes popular?  Better yet, post an actual, original thought, rather than some regurgitated “wisdom” or “humor” with a “cute,” “funny,” or “pretty” picture attached to it?  Why not actually use your BRAIN and make up your own statement; write your own damn quotes!  Do you honestly think that nothing original can be said anymore?  Has it truly “all been done” before?  Perhaps, perhaps not, but at least make an attempt instead of chuckling or thinking to yourself, “Ooh, that is inspiring,” and clicking the damned “Share” button!

If I seem a little pissed off, it is likely because I am.  In particular, the “jokes” making the rounds daily in my news feed regarding mental illness are just uncalled for, and they offend me.  I would not make fun of someone’s cancer, or his heart condition, or her paralysis; why is it morally acceptable and “PC” to poke fun at mental illness, but not physical illness?  I would not post a “cutesie” quote on Facebook saying, “I’d kick your ass right now, but I’m paralyzed from the waist down.”  So why do YOU think it’s okay to poke fun at people with mental illness?  Some people DO hear voices.  It is not funny, and it is not acceptable to joke about.  It is a serious symptom of several mental disorders.  I’m sick of the double-standard when it comes to physical versus mental illness.  Sick of it.  You can call me “too sensitive” or “overreacting” if you wish, but that is how I feel about it.   This double standard has existed for decades, but, truth be told, mental illness can be and is just as debilitating as physical illness.  There should be no double-standard, whether from doctors, family, friends, or social media sites with their “cute” little quotes.

Rant over.  I hope to get back to at least a weekly blog, if not twice weekly, very soon.

02/20/2012

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Thank You

Thank You

Thank you for bringing me into your home, and for keeping me forever and for always, not just “until” something happened.  Until you had a baby, until you got a new job, until you got a divorce, until you moved, until I got old.  Thank you for treating me as I should be treated; as a member of the family.  I got to do so many things, meet so many friends; there is so much I want to thank you for.  Here goes…

Thank you for giving me yummy treats, soft beds, fun toys, walkies, and good food.  Thank you for never forgetting to feed me and give me fresh water every day.  I know these things didn’t seem like much to you, but they meant the world to me.  I never went without, as I now know many dogs did.  Thank you for making sure I always had what I needed for my body to thrive.

Thank you for your patience.  I know that I made a lot of mistakes, and I know you were upset with me sometimes.  Thank you for teaching me instead of hitting me when I did something wrong.  I learned so much from you, and I was able to be a better companion for you because of it.  Thank you for making this training fun for me, with lots of attention and more scrumptious treats.

Thank you for taking me with you to places, so I could get used to new things, and meet more people and other dogs.  Thank you for teaching me that the world is not just the house and the back yard, but that there are many other places; the world is big, but doesn’t have to be scary.  You taught me that I could make friends in new places, that the car meant we were going to one of these special places, and making me so happy when I got to go with you.  It was always better, for me, when I got to go, instead of having to watch you leave without me.  Thank you for understanding that I sometimes got upset or bored when you left, and made more mistakes.  I just wanted to be with you always.

Thank you for playing with me.  Oh, the fun and games!  Balls, sticks, toys; chasing, fetching, finding.  Thank you for always taking time out of your day for a game of tug, or fetch, or teaching me a fun new game.  Games were so fun, and so were you.  Thank you also for keeping me safe.  Fenced in yards, leashes, and safe places to roam free with the condition that I return to you and not stray out of sight.  Although I sometimes felt bothered by this, I know now that it was better than being hit by a car, or stolen, or shot.

Thank you for taking me to the vet, even if I didn’t seem to like it.  You took me not only when I was feeling bad, or when I was hurt, but to make sure I was healthy and stayed that way.  Thank you for the medicines you gave me to keep the itchy bugs away, and to keep me free from those icky worms.  Thank you for keeping me healthy for as long as you could.

Thank you for understanding and helping me when I got old.  I still wanted to play and “go” with you as much as ever, but my body would no longer cooperate.  Thank you for helping me by adding things to my food to make my joints not ache so much, and thank you for slowing down on our walks.  Thank you for making sure I was comfortable, and for holding me when I was sore and tired.  Thank you for doing everything that you could to keep me keep me happy in my old age, and for not forsaking me in a shelter because I wasn’t as much fun as I used to be.

Thank you for helping me, when it was my time to leave my body.  If I could have, I would have stayed with you forever, but a dog’s body doesn’t last as long as a human’s.   Thank you for knowing, when I looked at you, that it was “time.”  Thank you for releasing me from my sick and aged body, which could no longer support me.  Thank you for the tears you shed, for your reassurances, and for holding me until I had left my body.

Thank you for grieving me; as I certainly would have grieved you.  Thank you for giving me the best life a dog could ask for.  And thank you, most of all, to opening up your heart and doing it all over again, so that more doggy souls will be thanking you some day.

With Love Always and Forever,

Your loyal, adoring former Dog

In Memory of Sparky  07/17/1995-12/05/2011

02/06/12

 

Sparky, age 16

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The Bat

The Bat.

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My (very unfinished) “list,” entitled “It Builds Character”

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Since I seem to be experiencing writer’s block, but want to keep this blog going, I am posting a short paper that I wrote regarding the authors/books who have influenced me, as a writer, and have helped me to develop my writing.  There are many more that I could add, but, for brevity’s sake, I kept it rather short and to the point.  I hope to have something “new” by the end of the week.  This will no doubt occur if I continue to not be able to sleep, so we shall see how the week progresses.

“It Builds Character”

The works I have chosen, thus far, to include in the list of works that have influenced me as a writer, vary quite drastically in some ways, yet are extremely familiar in others.  The reasons that most of these works struck a chord with me and influenced my developing style and preferences were normally similar, and involved character, setting description, the development of a “timeless” quality, a “following” or series (the development of an ongoing story with a devoted readership), speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves, feminism, and unique points of view.

At first glance, one might not see many similarities between Anne Rice’s “Interview With The Vampire,” James Herriot’s “All Creatures Great and Small,” L.M. Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables,” or J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” but the reasons that these works made my list are quite similar.  Rice, Herriot, Montgomery, and Rowling all successfully created a devoted following through their initial novels that sparked a subsequent series by each author.  Whether enchanted by a young country vet’s adventures, the lives of a complex mix of vampires throughout the centuries, the trials of a hot-tempered, red-haired orphan girl, or the destiny of a young wizard in a secret world within our own, each author developed a devoted following.  They ensured the success of their future works through their superb character development and interesting story lines throughout.  I strive to develop characters as “real” as those created by these three authors, as easy to become totally involved with and longing to know more and to continue on.  I want to be the type of writer whose readers cannot wait for the next book in my series to be released.

Other works on my list influenced me in different but no less emphatic ways.  Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” and Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” are both works that I didn’t initially like upon my first read, but when I re-read them in college, I found myself struck by how important the “time” is in a piece of creative writing. The time period in which each of these works occurred is a very important factor in the way that the stories play out, and brings more understanding to the world of Gatsby and Holden.  Not only that, but the character development of Gatsby and Holden, although the point of view is different in each work, is superb, something that was a must for every work on my list.  It is important for the reader to know time and place, and I always try to remember this in my writing.

I put S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders” separate from every other work, because this work inspired me differently than most others.  I was struck at what a young age Hinton was when this novel was developed, and inspired me, even as a young writer, to believe that I had something in me that others wanted to hear.  Hinton’s piece also offers sound character development, as well as the “period piece” aspect that is so important to the work; the early years of “gangs” and “cliques” made this story possible and successful.  Hinton showed me that authors can be respected no matter their age, and that if you believe you have “something” with a story you are creating, you should try your hardest to ensure it “makes it.”

Another piece on my list standing alone is Jack London’s “White Fang,” made my list for the reason the unique perspective it presented, even in its time frame, of the value of the lives of animals.  Herriot’s works also address this, but London’s portrayal of White Fang as a thinking being, with emotions and feelings, inspired me to also speak for those who cannot speak for themselves; the animals we share our world with.

The final two works in my anthology, Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” and Lamb’s “She’s Come Undone” are rather feminist works, taking place in very different times, one chronicling the life of a black woman in the days just after the end of slavery, and the other is a modern-day story of an obese girl.  Both characters must overcome loss, trauma, prejudice, stigma, and their own insecurities.  The perspectives of these female characters are raw, real, and evoke a lot of emotion in the reader.  The plight of women’s rights, of prejudice, whether race or weight, are heavy topics, and topics that continue in their need to be addressed and improved upon.  These works influenced me in that, in addition to writing to entertain my audience, more can and should be achieved through creative writing at times.  This is not to say that a work produced solely for entertainment is lesser than a work that addresses a current, major societal “issue,” but that, at times, it is important to address these issues.

First and foremost, in every work I have included on my list, character development is absolutely key.  If the reader does not care about the characters, she or he will not care about the next book in the series, won’t care if Gatsby’s dreams are achieved, if Holden gets the help he needs, if Ponyboy is able to continue on with life, if White Fang can find trust and love with a human, or about women’s rights and prejudice in society.  Without character development, the reader cannot become truly invested, which is why character is the most important aspect in my writing.

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