About Me

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Hello! I'm a writer from central New York who has bipolar disorder. Among other topics, I write about mental illness and writing. I have short stories published in Lynx Eye, Lost Coast Review, The Outrider Review, Sliver of Stone Magazine, The Mondegreen, The Linnet's Wings, Cobalt Review, Breath & Shadow, The Round Up, Postscripts to Darkness, and several other journals. I have essays about mental illness in The Ram Boutique and Amygdala Literary Magazine, and an essay in Parts Unbound: Narratives of Mental Illness & Health, a book that was published by Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective. In December of 2016, The Mondegreen nominated my story "Santa Lucia" for a Pushcart Prize. I've written a novel entitled Purple Loosestrife and a novel entitled Hoping It Might Be So, both of which I am submitting to agents and publishers. I'm working on a novel called Dark and Bright as well as a book called Violets Are Blue: Essays About My Bipolar Life. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in English from SUNY College at Brockport. I hope you enjoy your visit to my blog!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Very First Novel... So Bipolar!

My very first novel, which was tentatively called Broken Vows, was a bipolar disaster. I wrote the entire first draft while in a manic/mixed episode. I wrote this draft very quickly--often staying up all night to write. I was in a very bad place when I wrote it. It was about a love triangle that took place in the New York Finger Lakes region in 1910. Sounds like an interesting enough idea, but it was an incoherent, convoluted mess.

I've kept it, and it now collects dust in my study closet. I don't like to look at it because it brings up bad memories of that time, but nevertheless, I can't bring myself to throw it away. I edited it more slowly than I wrote the initial draft, but since it was such a mess, editing was essentially useless.

I'm writing about it now to show how important it is for me, as one example of a bipolar person, to be balanced while writing. I believe this to be true of bipolar artists in general. When you're in a manic episode, you tend to think that everything you do is brilliant and that all your ideas are golden. But they're typically not when you're in that state, and you see this when you're in a better place and not viewing the world, yourself, and your work through a manic lens.

One good thing about this very first novel is that I showed myself that I could write something novel-length. Up to this point, the longest work I had written was my master's thesis, which was 82 pages long. Another good thing is that I used the two male characters in the novel, Spencer MacGowan and Vincent Ravenaugh, as the two main characters in Purple Loosestrife, the novel I'm working on now. My novel now is contemporary so I updated Spencer and Vincent accordingly. The one thing I did a good job with back in the manic days was to develop them as characters. So I plucked them out of the disaster and put them into a new novel of their own. I think Spencer and Vincent are much happier now!

I suspect that a lot of writers, not just bipolar writers, have a profoundly bad first novels collecting dust somewhere. I think it's all part of the process of learning how to write a novel. So I don't regret this very first novel. I just don't think about it very often because of the negative time I associate it with.

2 comments:

  1. my husband was very creative. he worked on several projects at once at a snails pace. this past year, when he was in probably the worst phase of his life, he also filled journal after journal with his writings, drawings, ideas, etc...When he went on his meds and starting controlling his bipolar II his journal entries slowed down and he went back and reconsidered a multitude of ideas he had had during his manic stage. i appreciate what you have to say here and wish you luck with the novel! thanks for being you!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words! I'm glad your husband is on his meds and controlling his bipolar disorder better. I hope he's in a good place now, but still creative. It can really be tough. I hope he hangs in there!

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