Sunday, December 13, 2015

I'm Still Here

Hi, it's been a while, I know. I haven't posted here in nearly two years because my life has moved into a new season and I simply don't have the time. But I will catch you up a little on my life these last 21 months, and at least tell you where I've gone.

I finished graduate school in August of 2014 and shortly thereafter began working full time in behavioral health as a case manager. I enjoy it and (at the risk of sounding not humble--which is fair because I'm not) I will add that I am really darn good at what I do. With that said, work now consumes 40 or 45 hours of my week, and when I am home I try to put my attention and energy toward my family.

Also in the spring/summer of 2014 my depression reared its head again. It has done this periodically over my life, but certain spells are worse than others. This time however there was something that helped. It was unexpected, but it was the right thing at the right time and has made an enormous difference in my life: Glee
Yes, I do mean the TV show. I had started watching the episodes on Netflix that spring, and yes it's a cheesy dramedy and sometimes the writing is terrible, but the musical and dance performances are amazing. And more than any of that, Glee reminded me of something: It reminded me of my own love for music and dance. Somewhere along the way I had forgotten how much those things mean to me. Somewhere along the way I had stopped singing and dancing around the house (or anywhere else). I had gotten so busy with the many things I had to do that I had forgotten what it was that drove me to major in theater only a decade ago. 

I started singing again. I downloaded music and I started singing along with it. I had fallen out of touch with the arts so gradually that I hadn't realized how far I had moved. But now I sing again. I dance again. I feel more (dare I say it) glee than I did for years.

The other thing that Glee did for me--or helped me to do for myself--was writing fiction. For years I've said that I'm a good writer, and a good storyteller, but that I didn't feel that I had any original stories to tell. (So much for writing a bestselling novel, right?) But then with Glee--because it was impacting me so significantly, and because I wanted more of it--I learned about the phenomenon that is fanfiction. And lest you be too judgmental (because I was too at first), I will clarify: Fanfiction is original stories--sometimes really impressive ones--that just happen to borrow characters. But do you know how helpful it is to be able to practice writing with borrowed characters? Without having to create everything from the ground up? Did you further know that authors do it all the time? Shakespeare hardly wrote anything original, and how many novels or movies are "based on" or "inspired by" another story? Yeah, so everybody writes fanfic. And, for me, Glee fanfic was a gateway. Reading it was a gateway to writing it, which in turn was a gateway to something else... Because dabbling around with borrowed characters gave me confidence to build my own. And now I'm writing my own fiction (working on two different novels actually). The practice with fanfic helped me build up my writing chops--I can write longer things than I ever used to. It also gave me the chance to get feedback on my writing from readers and other writers, and that's invaluable (and good for the self-esteem too).

So the time that used to go to writing nonfiction (blog posts and then grad school essays) has now turned to fiction. I plan to submit my novels for publishing when I finish them, but I also know that now I'm not going to stop writing either. Writing (along with dancing, music, and knitting) are my antidepressants, and they are working pretty well so I'm sticking with them.

At first I felt silly, saying that a TV show had changed my life. (Sounds crazy, no?!) But it did, and it does, and I'm better off for it. And you know, I'm not going to be shy about saying it either. Because maybe it will help someone else.

So no, I haven't written here on the blog in a long time. The truth is that I don't know how often I will write here in the future either. I am spending more time in the real world and less in the digital one. I do still see comments that are left, here, and I will reply to them and to emails. I'm also on facebook fairly regularly. I don't know how much I will post here, but I am not going to take it down because I believe that the archive here can be useful to others. I know it is useful for me: both as a reference, and as a reminder of where I've come.


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