Am I Legit Depressed or Just Being a Self-Obsessed Emo Faker? a novel by me

Well, not really. I’m writing a different book right now.

Although that does sound like a good title for a memoir come to think of it. Has a catchy ring to it.

If my major depression feels like something that constantly nags in the back of my mind, like a wedgie or an itch I can’t reach, that’s a good day for me. Those are the days I can distract myself just enough to forget all the negativity. I can function, feel like me. I can hold onto ideas and thoughts.

Today was not a good day. Valentine’s Day is never a good day for me. I spent the last one watching TV Land in a hotel room, shaking with the flu.

This is where I start to wonder if I’m just being one of Those Guys. The ones who moan and groan about being “forever alone” and are so self-observed they don’t see all the apparent flaws that make them horrible date material. Maybe I really am that loathsome. Maybe I’m so obsessed with getting through the day that I don’t realize I’m doing a bunch of nasty things, and then I have the gall to wonder why I’m alone. But that’s the thing…I’m not alone? I have family. I have friends. How hard is that for me to realize? I. Am. Not. Alone.

But I feel alone. I feel like I’m the card in a euchre deck you feel stuck with and hate having to use. I feel like the dirt left on a welcome mat. I feel like people whisper behind my back, “Ugh, why does he follow me around? I wish he’d just leave me alone. I can’t wait to get rid of him.”

And all the Valentine’s decorations remind me of that. All the heart shapes just say “See that? No one even wants to give you their heart, much less hold yours.” All the candies and flowers say “Look at all those nice things you don’t deserve.” Again, here I go sounding emo and self-observed again…what a surprise.

I hate that my depression makes being happy for others an impossible feat. I can’t look at someone with their significant other/fulfilling day/lucky things without a deep, ugly sense of jealousy which soon translates into self-loathing. I really wish I could genuinely be happy because other people are happy. But depression blocks me from it. All I can see when I look at their happiness is my own unhappiness reflecting back, reminding me of everything I don’t have. I know I have a lot of good things going for me, but I still feel empty. My brain and my heart send mixed signals, and it ends up forming a murky cloud around me.

Depression makes my head physically ache. It makes my whole body hurt. It pins me down and makes it hard to move. Which is probably a good thing, because I’m afraid that if I was able to move I might do something I regret, like hurt myself. So I sit here and type out this gruesomely personal blog entry and wonder if I have it in me to force out another chapter in my book.

I don’t know why I’m like this. All I know is I got those signals when I was a kid, from other kids around me. And to this day, no matter how hard I try, I still hear those signals all over the place even when they are not there. I am repeating the same bad day from almost eleven years ago over and over.

Like the movie Groundhog Day, I am in an endless cycle of the same words being said to me. Once by others, now by my mental illness. I don’t know how to break free. I wish I knew how.

Book Title Announcement

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Official announcement: the title of my upcoming book has been decided.

Tales From the Last Great Lake. Coming soon. A gothic story of what lies beneath the frozen lakes of northern Minnesota and why we should be afraid of what we cannot see.

Follow my blog, my Instagram, and Twitter for more juicy teasers about my book (including exclusive insight into characters, setting, and more!), as well as updates about the book’s release date!!

Book Character: Lootah ‘Ruger’ McClarnon

 

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Ruger’s Pinterest Board

 

“Do you believe in God?”

“I believe in death.  And, every now and then, I believe in monsters.” – “Ruger” McClarnon


Lootah McClarnon, nicknamed “Ruger,” is an older middle aged Lakota-Irish fellow who is a newcomer to the small town my book takes place in.  He plays the role of the silent observer. Someone who more describes the events around him, rather than actively participating in them. That was one character idea that stuck with me years after reading The Great Gatsby in high school. And I knew someday I had to try it out for myself.

I created Ruger because I needed someone who serves as little more than a witness to the story. Someone who watches how the dark events surrounding him shape people’s hearts and dig up forgotten graves. He offers his own personal commentary on the influence that fear and prejudice have on friends and enemies alike. But don’t worry, it’s not all terrible. Hopefully some of Ruger’s thoughts on life in the American midwest will offer slight comic relief.

And as you read the book you’ll also come to know that Ruger has a brooding, existential, pessimistic view of the world (see the excerpted quote). Think overdose on Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche. Now wash that down with the cold Norwegian-German Minnesotan culture that keeps strangers at a distance, avoids confrontation, and is in a state of perpetual isolation and loneliness.

Ruger is also an unreliable narrator. And, sadly, there are scenes when I had to write him misgendering and deadnaming a transgender character (don’t worry, before I upload the chapter I will let my readers know when it’s coming, in case some of you may be triggered by that sort of content). I even triggered myself writing those scenes (but what mentally ill artist hasn’t done that?). Truth is, Ruger is not written as someone who understands LGBT+ issues, and he is insensitive to anything he doesn’t understand. He is not the only character like this either. But as much as I try to make that element of small town life realistic, it’s not the main focus of the story. After all, transgender characters deserve so much more than an entire narrative focused on all the bad things that happen to them!

But I digress. Despite these flaws and more, Ruger has really grown on me. He’s the sort of character I could write a whole series about.  See what he finds and gets into.  There is still a lot I don’t know about him. But I like to keep him full of secrets, even to myself. It makes my time writing him a forever unsolved mystery.

One last thing you might like to keep in mind. Nowhere in the book does it state that Ruger is human.

An Illustrated Poem

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My first poem put to illustration. I might color the drawings digitally at some point, bu for now the black and white suffices for me.

Full poem below:

I dream of antler and gasoline
Metallic shirtsleeves
And orange eyeballs
Does it say that all?
Even on the good days
With smiles and lemon tea
Says the spider to the stag,
“It’s not enough! It’s not enough!”
Running around before the fall
Who spreads his wings to pass away
Until it’s gone to dust
Even when I’m happy, I’m not
Even when I’m lively, I’m not
In another galaxy
Someone snaps my pelvis like an expired chip
Where does it come from?
Where does it lie?
So drink the gasoline like fire
And fix the hurt until it bleeds
Even when I’m me, I’m not
I’m not

The Paperback Orgasm

This year – 2017 Anno Domini – I plan to offer my followers some sneak peeks and teasers on my current book project (once it’s done that will be a whole other story!) It’s still a work in progress, with an unforeseen due date. But these sorts of babies must not be made in haste.

You, the Reader, get your own free samples, right here on this blog, of what to expect if you decide to read my book when it’s done. Not only will I introduce you to some of the characters, but I will also touch on some of the elements and themes present in the book. You’ll be offered some imagery of where the book takes place. And if you’re really lucky you might even unlock some clues that will come in handy later on.

In other words, except lots of foreplay, with a paperback orgasm.

So, let’s begin.

My book. It has no title yet, since titles are my personal kryptonite as a writer. As soon as I have one you’ll know about it.

This book is my answer to the cliche writing tip, “Write what you know.” I’ve seen this sentence interpreted from east to west, and I think however a writer takes it is the way it should be taken. But for me, it meant that I needed to go back to my roots.

See, I was raised in very very small towns my whole life. For a decade we lived in northern Minnesota, where forty below is not unheard of and long car rides across the flat lands were accompanied by Garrison Keillor cassettes. The next decade of my life was spent in northern Wisconsin, a paradise for me one month out of the year, National Dairy Month. As a kid I fantasized about living in a big city like Chicago. And since the only times I had been to Chicago were for trips, it seemed better than anything. I wanted to run away and go there instead.

So all my stories were set in big cities. It was an escape for me because I wanted to be anywhere but where I was (I would bore you if I explained why). The problem was I had never lived in the city so I had no idea how the stories worked. The ending results were scrambled, confusing, and sometimes just plain ridiculous.

What was I doing wrong? I wondered. I loved the characters, I didn’t have bad story ideas. So why weren’t they working? Why did the stories just plain suck?

Then I remembered. “Write what you know.”

About 18 months ago I finally took the advice I had heard time and time again to heart. I decided to write a book that went back in time, back to my earliest childhood memories. And from those memories, I would draw out the unseen, the obscene, and irrational. I would dare to open up dusty boxes and old wounds and see what hid inside them.

The aging, mentally ill, bitter, disillusioned adult in me is writing my book.  But so is the Northern Midwestern bred child who grew up too fast in some ways and not fast enough in other ways. The child with blind trust for grownups and institutions and no trust for what lay in the woods. It is the first time these two persons in me have ever collaborated on a single project. And I have to say, so far the results have been therapeutic and terrifying at the same time.

Anyway, I begin to hope the book will have the same result on her readers. Only time will tell.