Good Enough

Something my anxiety is always trying to convince me of is that I’m not good enough.

It’s a feeling I end up having to fight a lot on any given day—especially when it comes to my writing.

Author X Audience is here for you to read because I embrace one rule about my writing constantly: finished is better than perfect.

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Self-care

Well, March certainly didn’t go the way I expected it to. 2020 really started with a “maybe we’ll have WWIII, as a treat” and has kept on kicking right up to “maybe we’ll have a global pandemic while we’re at all the other mayhem too.” My anxiety’s at an all time high. How about yours? Also high? Take a breath in, and a breath out. Practice those coping mechanisms. Here’s a bunch of free yoga and a bunch of other fitness apps that are completely free until May 1st to help you keep your body and your mind healthy.

I’m going to get to talking about the chapter, but first I just want to take a moment to tell all of you that it’s going to be okay, and we’ll get through this, and what we build on the other side of all this will be worth surviving all this now to witness. I also hope you’re being gentle with yourselves. Existing is enough. Persisting is enough. You don’t have to do anything with this time except care for yourself and stay home to help slow the spread. I know it’s hard—I myself am a giant extrovert and going stir crazy at home—but it’s what we need to do to protect each other.

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The Crafting of Something New

When my beta readers were reading the manuscript for the first time, one of them had just finished Chapter 13 and sent me a message.

“Theresa,” he said. “I’m really enjoying the manuscript so far, but… It kind of feels like nothing cataclysmic has happened? Is something climactic going to happen soon?”

I asked him where he was. When he told me he had just finished Chapter 13 and was about to start Chapter 14, I had to take a moment to cackle—you know, that evil way Disney and anime villains do. Then I told him, “Don’t worry, something will happen soon.”

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When It’s Not Your Fault

One of the things my anxiety loves to do to me is try and convince me that everything is my fault.

Of course, this only applies to the bad things. When good things happen, anxiety brain likes to remind me that I just got lucky or that this stroke of good fortune can’t possibly last. Good things are a fluke, and bad things are completely and utterly my fault—and if it’s my fault, it must also be my responsibility to fix them or be punished for failing to fix them. Anxiety brain can really get out of hand with what qualifies as “bad” and “my fault.” I’ve had to pull a slew of coping mechanisms out of my tool box to deal with anxiety brain trying to punish me for the actions of the American government barely three days into 2020.

We see those tendencies crop up for Alexis in Chapter 13 of Author x Audience as well, especially in relation to her relationship with her mother and being home again. 

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Novembers Old & New

November is a pretty big time of year for me, and for Alexis.

Like her, I always went to my grandparents’ house for Thanksgiving to celebrate with my mother’s side of the family. Any turkey less than 18 pounds was “just a big chicken” by my Papu’s ruling, and my sisters and I would peel potatoes with our Nana and set all the tables while my four male cousins cleaned up after. Everyone was involved in Thanksgiving, and it was great. We spent the whole week lounging around, enjoying each other’s company. It was a warm and happy space.

Then, when I got to college, I stopped wanting to go. It was great to see them, but now people were doing things like asking me what I was going to do with a fine arts degree and guilt tripping me into coming because, what with my Nana and Papu’s advancing ages and their brushes with cancer, “we didn’t know how many Thanksgivings we had left.”

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Trauma Informed

This chapter of Author X Audience is about trauma.

Trauma is difficult to nail down. It’s difficult to know what it looks like, what will trigger it, and even who is suffering from it. The thing about abuse is that one often doesn’t know that they’re being abused when it’s happening. Women don’t stay with abusive husbands because they want to, they stay with difficult partners because they believe they’re the only ones who can help them. Similarly, I knew I didn’t like being hit by my father as a child, and I certainly felt it was wrong, but no one did anything to stop it, so I assumed it must be normal.

That abuse of my person left me traumatized, and it’s only within the last five years that I’ve really understood how much.

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Working in A Dream

There are a lot of ideas that can turn daily existence into a mental hellscape. Especially when you have anxiety. Alexis deals with one in particular in Chapter 8—but before I get to her experience, I need to walk you through mine.

When I was a child, my parents put me in therapy at a relatively young age. I was placed in therapy because I was hitting other children. One might wonder why I was doing that, but one wouldn’t have far to look. My father had been beaten by his father, and though he considered himself far less of a tyrant than his father (because he used his open hand instead of his belt), my father still seemed to think that hitting my sisters and I was the best way to get through to us when we did something he didn’t like.

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Letting Go

Something I struggle a lot with as a writer is when to call something “done.”

My process is first draft, second draft, third draft if necessary, then beta readers round one, beta readers round 2, and then submitting/releasing.

Author X Audience went through all of that, and there are still things about it that I want to change sometimes. Makes sense, though. I wrote it three years ago. In that time, I’ve grown a lot as a writer and changed some of my process to be more efficient.

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Double Whammy

Last month’s blogpost got bogged down in a lot of real world issues that didn’t have much to do with the actual manuscript aside from why I actually needed to write and release it.

So this month I’m going to back track and talk about Chapter 4 as well as Chapter 5!

Chapter 4 has us opening with some pretty interesting concepts. Alexis argues with some voices in her head that have different formatting, gets really uncomfortable that someone she admires seems to suddenly know more about her than she’s told him due to some minimal online detective work—even though she knows tons about him via the same method—and eats some really good soup.

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Anxiety Spirals

There are a couple of things in Chapter Three that are very real.

First, I did indeed spend time in Japan studying abroad because I wanted to become a manga editor. Alexis’s experience there was probably better than mine, because mine ended halfway through the year I intended to stay when my anxiety and depression got to be too much for me.

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