Oct 26

Contact form broken

I just noticed that my contact form is broken. I really don’t have the time or inclination to fix it right now. You are welcome to drop me a note at carter at carternipper. com.

My doctor and I are battling to bring me back out of a long depression. Depression sucks. Bi-polar depression sucks a lot worse. We are making progress, but I am still not back to the point of being able to write. I will post some more of my backlog here soon.

 

Feb 13

Quick Update

As best I can figure it, I’m suffering a delayed reaction to my mother’s death. I’ve never been very good at grief; I’ve always been successful at suppressing it. This is too much, though, and it’s overwhelming me. I’m getting counseling, but I may be a few days getting back out into the world.

In the meantime, here’s a link to a literary agency that I stumbled on over the weekend. If you need a good laugh, check out their “Markets” page where they brag about some of their “sales”. You’ll see 3 books by Larry Parr listed there with lnks to Amazon.com. Look him up and check out the publisher on those books. Then, answer the following questions:

  1. Why do you need an agent to sell to this publisher?
  2. Who pays the agent in this case?
  3. 15% of what?
  4. Who in the Hell would be stupid enough to sign with these turds?

Cya later.

Feb 11

Back in a Few

Having some inclement mental weather. Heavy overcast with occasional showers. I plan to spend the next 48 hours doing some journaling and heavy thinking and see if I can come to some decisions.

I also have to work on my income taxes. That’s always good for 2 or 3 months of bitching, moaning, and cussing. This time of year also brings to mind the old saying: “Taxation without representation is tyranny.” Yeah, I know we supposedly have a represntative government, but those bozos are only representing themselves and whoever writers the biggest check.

Back next week. With a sunnier disposition, I hope.

Dec 07

Eliot Was Wrong

“April is the cruelest month”
T.S. Eliot — The Waste Land

That’s a load of crap. December leaves April snorting its dust.

The grass and leaves are brown and dead. The air has gone from cool to raw. The days are short, and whatever sunlight there is is too weak to help. On top of all that, a lot of us see Christmas hanging over us like Poe’s Pendulum while we lie bound and helpless to avoid it. I have several reasons for disliking Christmas, but I will keep them between me, my wife, and my therapist for the time being.

To top it all off, my dreams the past two nights have been the unholiest I have had in months. They have been imbued with dark dread for the future and raging demons from my past. Let’s just say that I am not very happy right now.

So, what to do? Sleep is pretty much out of the question. Eating is an option, but one I would rather avoid, since depression brings with it an insatiable craving for simple carbs like chips and cookies. Super-high blood sugar does not help anything. Basically, all I can do right now is sit under the sunlamp every chance I get, pull myself up far enough to go to work, and write, write, write. And wait it out. Things will turn around in due course.

Progress on “A Time to Every Purpose” has been outstanding. I am on what I hope will be the penultimate editing pass. After this one, First Reader gets her crack at it. She’s seen this one twice over the past several years, but not since the last radical rewrite. She also understands the necessity of honesty, even when it’s not what I want to hear. Even in this kind of mood, that’s a good thing. It gives me something to focus on, something I can do something about.

I am also working on a synopsis of Washed in the Blood for Miss Snark‘s Crap-O-Meter at the end of the year. How can I write a synopsis for a novel that’s not even half-finished yet? The same way I’m writing the novel itself: make it up as I go. So far, I have found a couple of interesting ideas to work into the plot. A peculiar way to focus, maybe, but I have a reputation to uphold, after all.

I am also working on “That Others May Live” from time to time. Now is a good time to explore Jenna’s pain, since I can sympathize so deeply right now. The key to this story is getting down to where it really hurts and getting that into words. Again, now is a good time for honesty. If I’m going to be crying anyway, I might as well have something to cry about.

Enough with the self-pity. Half a league, half a league, half a league onward. Or something.

Side note apropos of nothing at all: Why are such a high percentage of drivers of Chevrolet and GMC SUV’s morons? Do they have to show proof of flunking an IQ test to qualify for ownership? Or is that just in Georgia?

Nov 29

Yea, Though I Walk…

A friend of mine is lost in darkness and despair today. Please light a candle or say a prayer or do whatever you can to send her a thought of peace and comfort. If you would like to leave a thought for her here or e-mail me with it, I will make sure she gets them.

If you have never been suicidal, you cannot imagine just how heavy and impenetrable that darkness is. It weighs you down and wears you down, both physically and mentally. Light and hope and joy may abound in your life, but you cannot see them. All you can think of is relief. Please make it stop. I can’t. I just can’t any more. Your vision becomes so restricted that the only thing you can see is death. You stumble around in the blackness, knees weak, mind spinning, hearing only the siren song of sweet peace and surrender.

That is a horror from which most people are blessedly free. It is a horror I have lived. I was lucky. I survived. Unfortunately, the thoughts survived as well. Sometimes they rise to the surface, and I have to renew the battle to subdue them. I don’t know if they will ever go away completely. The temptataion to just chuck it all, end the struggle, rest from the toil of life, is strong and seductive. “The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” Shakespeare knew. He had been there. He stood on that same precipice and looked over, the same as I have, the same as my friend does today.

People say that suicide is a selfish act. It really is the ultimate in selfishness. To the suicide, it is a means of taking control of a seemingly out-of-control life. It is the single positive act they can see to take. How heartbreaking that the illusion is so strong that many act upon it.

Life is full of surprises. You never know what tomorrow will bring. The only thing we can ever bet on is that the sun will rise again, and even that is not a completely safe bet. The thing is that hope is always there. Hope never dies. It never deserts us. It waits by our sides with the patience of eternity. Sometimes we have to have help to see it, though.

Aug 10

My Mind is Not My Friend

If you don’t like whining and self-pity, you shouldn’t read this post. Check back later for more interesting stuff. I hope.

—–

“You’re a worthless piece of shit, you know it? Not even a real turd, just a dingleberry.”

“Yeah, I know. Shut up.”

“Hey, you remember back when you worked for ____________? You know, that time _________ asked you about that problem?”

“Yeah, I remember. Shut up.”

“Man, you really fucked that up. What you should have said was…”

“Hey, I’m trying not to think about that any more. It’s done. It’s gone. Let it go.”

“Yeah, but hink how much better you could have handled that. Man, they all think you’re a real sorry-ass now. Especially since you went crazy and left them in the lurch like that. You really aren’t worth a shit.”

“I know. I know. I’m trying to deal with that. It’d be a lot easier if you’ld just shut the fuck up.”

“And this writing thing. Who are you trying to kid? You know you can’t do it. You’ve never done anything worth a shit in your entire life. Do you really believe you’re ever going to write anything anybody else cares about? You never had an original thought ion your life, and besides, you can’t write for shit.”

“I write very well, thank you, and I will be successful one day.”

“Oh yeah? If you write so good, how come you ain’t rich, huh? If you could write, somebody’d want to publish your stories. Give it up, already! Try to something worth a damn with your life, like earn a living.”

“It’ll come. I just need some time.”

“You don’t have any time. You’re old, tired, and sick. You’re going to die before you ever accomplish anything. The only thing you’ll be remembered for is for fucking up everything you ever touched. You should have killed yourself when you had the chance. You fucked that up, too. Damn, you’re useless! If you had any sense, you’d go ahead and kill yourself now. At least then you’d at least get a little sympathy.”

“Uh-uh. You ain’t pulling that shit on me again. I’m onto that.”

“What have you got lose? You’re so tired you can hardly get out of bed in the morning. You hate to exercise. Give it up. Just sit and eat potato chips and watch TV. It’s all you have the strength for.”

“No, I have to keep going. Yeah, I am tired, but I have to keep exercising. I have to get that habit fixed.”

“What for? You can’t win. If the heart attack doesn’t kill you, the stroke will. All you’re doing is putting it off a few days. Hell, you might just drop dead today. Don’t you feel that pain and tightness in your chest?”

“That’s just anxiety. You did that. It’s not a heart attack. We’ve been through this a lot of times already. You can’t fool me anymore.”

“Bullshit. This time it’s real. You’ve farted around and wasted your whole life, and now you’re going to drop dead in the living room floor, and everybody’s going to come to your funeral and laugh at what a failure and bad joke you were. Nobody even likes you. What the hell good are you?”

“Shut up. I mean it. You’re lying. The doctor and I have all this worked out. None of that is true, and you know it. I’m changing. I’m changing the way I think and the way I live. I’m not going to be self-destructive any more. You can’t make me.”

“Bullshit! You know it’s all bullshit. You can’t change. You’re just deluding yourself again. Just like all the other times when you thought you were going to do something like make money or do something well. You’ve never been anything but a fuck-up. Remember that time when…”

—–

And on and on and on. I can’t wait until that rat-bastard wears himself out and goes back to sleep.

Aug 08

What She Said

Mir, at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, has a great post about what she calls “Ghost Days”. I know exactly what she means.

That’s the kinda of day I’m having today. I’m completely disconnected from the world, like I’m watching a movie. It’s not a very exciting one, I’m afraid. My life is definitely not in the action/adventure genre. There’s a psychological term for this, I know, but I can’t think of what it is, and I really just don’t care right now. :-b

I hate depression. I hate being so out of control. It’s also a major pain in the ass to lose days out of my life being so damn worthless. Days like this, it’s all I can do just to go through the motions. I’ll be glad when I get back on the upswing again. Hope it’s soon.

An unexpected side effect fo all this internal strife is that I got some good progress on a short story named “Sea Change” that I started a couple of years ago and never quite figured out where it was going. Bad news is that I ripped out about 2/3 of what I had. Good news is that I got all that back and more. I now can see a couple ways to get to the end, and one of them looks really promising. That helps. Being on the verge of tears all the time helps me cut loose and just let the shit flow out. It usually winds up being some pretty decent writing.

Now I just have to live through 4 more hours of work, then try to get to the gym and sit on the bike for a half an hour. No way I’m going to be able to do the weights tonight. I already wasted 2 hours messing around with HaloScan so I can do Trackbacks. Hope that works. This is the first post I’ve tried with that, so we’ll see. If Mir’s site crashes, it’s probably my fault. Hell, the way things are going right now, I’ll probably crash Blogger and HaloScan, too. Fuck it, we’ll pick up the pieces tomorrow.

Jul 28

It Was Fun While It Lasted

I’ve been riding the crest of a big wave tha last couple of months, but it’s starting to break now. Time to pull in my wings and concentrate on not losing too much ground. It’s been around 9 months since I had a really major downturn, and I hope to extend that streak even further. Blogging will be a little sporadic for a while, though I will still drop in and leave my usual snide comments on other people’s blogs.

I’m expecting some good news soon, so I’m using that as my safety net right now. I have also just about convinced myself that “doing it right” is not an issue as far as the novel is concerned. Anything that gets words down is what is right. I am planning on cutting back on that, too. If I can just get the main plot written, I’ll have something I can expand and enrich later. I just need to get something finished on that front.

See ya when.

Mar 17

The Downward Spiral

Here I go again. I’ve been trying to fight it off all week, but I guess it’s time for my semi-annual “episode”. Every day I get more lethargic, more emotionally fragile. I’m irritable, and the dreams get worse every night. My synapses are clogged with Jell-o, and my thoughts move with the speed and grace of a three-toed sloth. It’s twilight; darkness will fall soon.

Damn, I hate this! I feel completely helpless. Hell, I am completely helpless. That blck, stinking muck just keeps sucking me down. Slowly, inevitably down. I’m scared that one of these days, I’ll sink, and I won’t be able to come back up.

I’m rigging for silent running, and I may disappear for a few days. If this gets much worse, I will need to concentrate on just maintaining from day to day, or from hour to hour. A couple of times, I have had to just try to make to the next breath. That’s hard. I have to constantly keep distracting my mind to keep it from considering its options. I don’t need to be making life decisions when I am emotionally impaired and mentally blind.

I have to spend some hours this weekend searching for any specific issues that I can find that might have triggered this and try to deal with them. That’s tough, too. I have so damned many issues it’s hard to tell which ones are currently bugging me the most.

The potential silver lining: sometimes I get some great story ideas.

A sad goodbye

Andre Norton died today in Murfreesboro, TN. She was 93. Last Friday, she was able to hold a copy of her last novel in her hands. She liked the cover.

My first exposure to Ms. Norton’s writing was Moon of Three Rings. I first read it in elementary school and have loved it since. I still get it out and reread it every few years. She really had a way with words. There was beauty in every sentence. She left a mark on the world that few have or will equal.

Thank you, Ms. Norton, for sharing your beauty with us.

Dec 15

110314891633924410

Baby steps

413 words on Washed in the Blood today. That puts me over 1000 for the week and gets the total over 18k. I would like to go over 20k this week. I’m off work Friday and Saturday, so I’ll be able to put on a push. Just on a whim, I’m going to try for 25k by the end of the year. It will be a stretch, but isn’t that what goals are for?

“The Easy Way Out” was rejected by Conversely. The score is now 22-5. That’s an 18.5% acceptance rate. Not too bad, I think. This one did put me into double digits in the Great Rejection Slip Contest at Forward Motion. One goal down for this year! I still have some things out, so it may go even higher.

Mouth shut; ears open

My wife and I (actually just her, I just helped) started a support group for people with clinical depression and/or bipolar disorder that she runs locally. Nothing spectacular, just a group of people getting together and talking about things once a week. It’s been a real benefit to some people, and that’s all she expects to get out of it.

I threw together a quick and cheap Web site at OrgSites (a truly great place for small non-profits). That site has put me in touch with people all over the country. They all tell me the same things, and they are the same things that I have experienced.

People who are deeply depressed feel very much the same things: loneliness, isolation, hopelessness, muddled thinking, lack of energy, etc. I have found that most “normal” people are afraid to talk to someone who is depressed, even a loved one. They are afraid that they will say the wrong thing and push them over the edge, or they just don’t understand how someone can feel so bad without having physical symptoms.

What depressed people need (besides professional assistance, of course) is someone to talk to. I did not say someone to talk to them, i said “someone to talk to”. Sympathy and understanding go a long, long, way to helping them feel a little better. I have spent a lot of time on the telephone just listening.

Depression isolates people by reinforcing their feelings of low self-worth. They can’t stand to be around other people, because other people all seem so happy and well-adjusted. They wonder why they feel so bad when everyone else feels so good. “What’s wrong with me?” is a frequent thought, as is “Why can’t I be strong like…?” Withdrawing serves two purposes. It takes away the torment of seeing other people’s happiness, and it allows the feelings of worthlessness to feed and grow.

When someone is depressed, they need to hear that they are worthwhile, that they are valuable just as a human being just as they are. They need someone to believe in them. Many of them also need someone to give them permission to feel bad, to lie in bed and cry when the darkness is just too deep. They need someone to care whether or not they get up in the morning.

They also need to talk. They need to say how badly they hurt and have someone believe them. They need someone to hold their hand and tell them that it will be all right, that the darkness doesn’t last forever, and that they do have the courage and strength to pull through. They need an ear to bend and a shoulder to cry on, even if it’s over a phone line. Knowing that you are not alone is very important. The feeling that you’re all alone in the world and no one understands you is the killer.

What if they’re suicidal? What if they say that they have nothing left to live for and don’t want to go on living? First, take that statement as absolute fact! People don’t talk about suicide until they have given the subject a lot of thought. By the time they get to that point, they already have a plan and are only trying to get up the courage to put it into motion. They need intervention immediately!

While you’re waiting on the paramedics, ask them to talk about the reasons they feel the way they do. These are probably things that they have never talked about with another person. Sometimes the very act of talking about it lets them see that their thinking is skewed right then. Do not patronize them! Don’t pooh-pooh their feelings and their reasons and try to laugh it off. For that matter, don’t joke around at all. These people need for others to take them seriously and pay attention to their concerns and to know how they feel.

The biggest thing to keep in mind when dealing with depression is that depressed people do not think the same way that others do. Depressed people can only see the down side. When you show them sunshine, they see the tornado that is inevitably coming. When they hear birds singing, they hear a grating, irritating noise that is almost unbearable. When they look at themselves, they see ugliness and failure and weakness. It is easy to lose patience with someone in this state. Encouraging them to see the good things in life seldom works, if ever. The depression blinds them to that whole side of the world.

Understanding. Sympathy. Listening. These are keys to dealing with depression in others.
Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Happy Kwanzaa, a Joyous Yule…Screw it, y’all just have an extremely pleasant Winter Solstice.