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Emergence

“Emergence” was the theme word for my birthday. My best friend flew down to visit and we spent four amazing days together hanging out, catching up — and healing each other. She very patiently and lovingly helped me explore the glass walls of the maze depression built in my mind until I could jump out and walk free.

A few weeks prior to this I was in another bad depression spell. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was spiraling in a feedback-loop of dead-end thinking and avoidance. I prayed in my journal to stay focused on holding out my spiritual hand, waiting for the help I believed would surely arrive.

Within the space of a few days several dear friends serendipitously offered up the advice I was looking for, showing me I’d been tangled in my own head for far too long. I need time spent among people. I need movement. I need more time living in the body instead of the air above my head.

Now that I’ve broken free from the chains of my own making, I’ve realized how silly it was to be bound like that for so long. Hindsight is 20-20, right? Here’s what I discovered:

A lot of my unhappiness stemmed from the incredibly high standards I set for myself, and the crippling need to perfect details and planning before moving forward with the things most important to me. I have so much creativity I’ve bottled up inside, and so many projects I’ve put on indefinite hold because I wanted to ‘save’ them for when I had a book deal, so they could be used ‘appropriately’ in expanding my platform.

And everything I wanted to do ancillary to novel-writing, I was withholding because I view everything from a monetizing perspective. Why bother learning to crochet, or make jewelry, or carve wood, or do so many other things I want to do, unless I’m going to launch product lines and set up marketing plans and launch Etsy stores, and, and, and…

Such competitive, unrealistic thoughts, right? Art makes me happy.  And I don’t need a business plan or financial reasons to make it. I don’t have to devote my entire life path toward a set of products. I can just… make stuff. For the joy of it. That’s a GOOD ENOUGH reason.

And as for writing… one of my most favorite things to do here lately is write little poems about my wonder for life, the universe, science, and God. In the back of my head I figured I’d write in secret for a couple years, and hopefully after I’ve had a few YA books come out I would have enough street cred to justify a small poetry chapbook, and THEN maybe I could start sharing them.

But in some ways that’s putting the cart before the horse. Art comes first, THEN platform. And my fears about ‘wasting’ the sharing of new work, or ruining my chances for copyright or traditional publishing just doesn’t really apply these days in this share-first monetize-later environment. I don’t need a contract to be a real creator, or to start sharing my work.

So, now I am.

I still feel very anxious about ‘muddying’ the waters of my online brand, but I’m trying not to care anymore. To that end I want to  make this website more inclusive of EVERYTHING I’m doing, so I’m adding new sections and changing things around some more. I would really like to start updating this blog more frequently and have more conversations. Here are the other things I’m doing:

Poetry on Instagram (& more!)

I started a secondary account for my poetry and poetry-related art. If you like my style, come follow!

I’m adding these poems and graphics on several mediums, most notably Pinterest if that’s more your thing.

Art, Art, Art

I’m finally learning Illustrator! I’d love to make in-person art but I’m still too perfectionist, and computer programs allow me the unfettered ability to tinker. Check out this happy polar bear! I’m very proud of him because he’s the first original illustration I’ve made on my own, instead of copying other people’s art to practice Illustrator functions.

I also made the graphic at the top :-)

Twitter

I’m back. I was gone for a long time because it was OVERWHELMING. But now I’ve unfollowed a lot of people, especially industry-people, so I don’t get that panicked “I’m falling behind and everyone is doing so much more than me!” feeling. Now my feed is a trickle instead of a river, and that’s way more enjoyable. Plus, several of you have been SO nice and welcoming. You’ve really made me feel wanted.

Writing

I’ve been stuck on Nameless for a while. Not because I don’t know what happens, but because of Unrealistically High Standards (TM). Done is better than perfect, right? I’m trying to let go of that itchy perfectionism and get through it (while still having FUN).

Depression + the Future

I’m feeling WAY better. This week. I hope it lasts, but the past nearly two years have taught me I just can’t know for sure when the depression will come back. I have a book ready to query (Shotgun Girl) but I don’t know if now is the right time. I’m in the last semester of college (graduating August!!!!) and sort of reclaiming my artistic self, so I’m unsure this is the best time to go down that road. I think by the end of the summer I’ll have a better handle on things.

Thank you, as ever, to everyone who has reached out with encouraging words. It still amazes me that we can communicate so lovingly across so many miles. The future is wonderful, isn’t it?

Talk soon,

Savannah

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A Walk Through the Country

After a week of ice and snow (both wearying and exasperating in the winter-weather-adverse South) the temperature finally picked up and Saturday was in the 60’s. The dogs and I took advantage and ventured out into the country.

We had a lovely time, but Bella is getting older, and she can’t go as far as she used to. I dropped them back home, but I wasn’t done yet.

I have been reading so many fascinating things, about spirituality and brains and the universe. I craved to go out into nature and try to feel that right-lobe magic. To give myself the gift of movement and outside and quiet thinking. But because I am also a creature of narrative and connection, I documented the journey, telling myself the story of my walk and planning to recount it here for you.

Continue reading “A Walk Through the Country”

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A Happy Update

I didn’t want to let the rest of the year slip by without an update, so here it is. As hoped for in my last post, things are good! Here’s what’s up:

Mental State

I’ve felt mostly ‘normal’ since September, which is awesome. Unfortunately I’m not all the way ‘cured’ and I won’t be getting off anti-depressants anytime soon. I feel it there sometimes, seething below the surface. At this point I don’t actively experience the feelings of depression (despair, apathy, etc.) but it has made itself known in an unusual and difficult to describe way:

It’s really, really hard to talk about myself.

Just writing that sentence makes me cringe like fingernails on a chalkboard. But I suspect this total aversion isn’t ‘real’ and should be pushed through. Right? So here goes.

My brain thinks just fine. In fact, I’ve been enjoying a complex and growth-focused inner life, but communicating those thoughts and ideas is excruciating. I am fixated on the thought that everything I have to say is painfully boring to other people. I really can’t over-emphasize how much I am forcing myself to write this. It’s the emotional equivalent of sticking your hand into a bucket of wriggling eels and holding it there.

(Deep breaths. Practice ‘being with’ the discomfort. It’s only feelings. Let it go.)

I have a really hard time interacting with social media, especially Twitter. Going on there makes me feel so out of the loop, left out of the communities I once enjoyed, and ‘behind’ in the race of life. I know logically it will be easy to slip back in, but trying feels impossible right now. Couple this ‘left behind’ feeling with the difficulty of saying something I can convince myself others will find interesting, and I just can’t engage.

want to reach out to my friends, but even composing messages to say hey makes me feel so worthless and trite. Isn’t that weird? I deeply desire to connect with people and hear about their lives and problems, but even saying, “Hey I can’t really talk about myself but I’d really like to hear from you” sounds so self-fixated, and just ugh. I think I also feel guilty about not being more of a presence in my friends’ lives, and now it feels ‘too late’ to reach out to people? It’s a mess.

But everything else is great! I myself am just hard to talk about :-) So do please say hi, because I love it.

Instagram is easiest to update, but I also feel guilty because I don’t interact with my feed. So I guess the guilt stems from wanting attention but being unable to give it. And it makes me feel so bad and selfish. I shouldn’t impose on others and ask for their time and energy, when it feels like I have so little to give.

It’s a perplexing state of mind, and I really hope it passes soon.

Whew, okay, done.

Writing

I’m working on Nameless again, and this time it has me super engaged and interested. The non-fiction I’ve studied this year has been SO helpful in showing me how societies, politics, religions, and technologies all interact with each other to create change. It’s made me realize that everything I studied in school was so myopic I didn’t really grasp the big picture of history. Now it’s fascinating to study political movements, and how societies change. I finally feel ‘grown up’ enough to finish Nameless out properly.

Injecting these new concepts into it has also helped me get over the stumbling block of the previously-planned plot. It’s hard to describe, but I’ve been working towards a particular plot line for several years, and now I realize it’s unrealistic both for the politics and the characters. Revamping the plot has allowed me to re-engage with the character emotional arcs in a more advanced way. I don’t feel bogged down by the weight of previous emotional plans, if that makes sense. Things are new, and consistent, and advanced. And awesome!!!

It’s also a wonderfully refreshing break from Shotgun Girl. I basically struggled with the same two chapters for six months. SIX. MONTHS. On TWO chapters. Miraculously I still love the story, and I don’t feel I was ‘hate writing’ (as I’ve done with Nameless in the past), but I just. couldn’t. get. the edits to connect. Finally I threw in the towel and passed the manuscript, schism and all, to a dear friend. Hopefully getting more brains involved with help me fix this plot snag.

I forget that lesson a lot: manuscripts need friends!! Everything is stronger with more minds and hearts aimed at it :) It’s just been hard with this self-isolation thing. If I hadn’t promised Shotgun Girl to this friend months ago I probably wouldn’t have been able to reach out and ask for help with it.

I’ve also finally set up a writing battle station in the new house, which is a huge mental relief. I hadn’t really settled on a location and it was definitely impacting my mental writing game. Trying to get work done in locations my brain associates with relaxation and entertainment is a surefire recipe to getting distracted, and more often than not taking a nap. BUT NOT HERE.

Finally set up a writing area at the new house

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Dogs

It’s been 6 years of Bella, and 1 year of Grace! I love these puppy dogs so, so, so much. They are hilarious and sweet and a constant joy.

I am home sick but puppy magic is helping.

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Tucked in puppies

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Work Life

I don’t usually talk about my work life on here, but I feel like I need to right now. While I’ve struggled with edits to Shotgun Girl over the past few months, I fed most of my creative energy to my day job. I made many beautiful plans, presentations, and projects. I am so proud of what I created, and it’s also so difficult to describe. For the first time I was able to create organization-level objectives and plans to execute them, then start putting my plans into action. Working on my degree has assisted with this type of thinking more than I ever thought it would.

I’m super pleased with my work-self, but it also made me feel guilty for not putting that same level of energy into my writing life. Thankfully, with the buck passed on Shotgun Girl and Nameless spinning itself up so pleasingly, I hope to assuage this guilt soon.

(Susan Dennard recently had a great article in her newsletter about the ‘cult of busy.’ I so agree, and I’m trying not to feel guilty. And to not feel guilty for feeling guilty. So much absurd guiltiness!)

Life Life

I still love the house. I’m working on an art project for it I hope to be able to share soon. I am trying to create and live the life I want. This means more reading and less TV watching, more art and less passive consumption, eating for a healthy life, exercise through engaging with the natural world, and habits and cycles I’m proud of.

More and more I come back to what my goals were at the beginning of this year, especially the part about being my true self. In a way my disengagement from social media seems like it furthers that goal: living my life instead of documenting it. I am trying to be mindful of my actions and pursuits, and how they add to or detract from the person I want to be.

If you are interested in a Manifest session, Andrea is offering a self-guided course for only $20, though of course I also recommend her $100 over the phone consultation. She is a wonderful human being.

Reading

These are some of the non-fiction books I read this year that helped inform my view of history:

The Ancient Engineers

I love how this book demonstrates how governments, societies, and resources affected the development of technology, and in turn how those technologies affected society back. Super great overview of ancient technologies and how social systems used them.

The Life of Elizabeth I

I’m trying to get a better handle on UK history and politics, and I’ve always been fascinated with Elizabeth I. This book was great for describing the politics of the day and all the threats and opportunities for rulers.

Becoming Queen Victoria

Another amazing book summarizing the politics of the day. Survival is precarious, even for royalty.

Rumi: Past and Present, East and West

This book takes an incredibly deep and academic approach to Rumi’s life and philosophies. Frankly it’s wonderful to read just before bed, but I’m also loving the insights that come with it. It’s got me interested in other religions in a way I’ve never been before. It’s also helped a ton with interpreting the meaning behind Rumi’s poems, as I make my way through the big red book over the course of several years.

A People’s History of the United States

I’m not done with this one yet, but what I’ve read is fascinating (and hard to take. Sometimes I have to take breaks). This book has a reputation for being super leftist, which you may love, hate, or feel ambivalent about, but whichever way you slice it, it’s a fascinating take on history. Again, I love the summaries and showing how social opinion evolves over the years.

If you know of any other great historical non-fiction I am allllllllll ears!

A Special Moment

Recently my friend Kat Zhang gave me one of the biggest honors of my writing career by dedicating a whole book to me. I still melt when I think about it <3

 

This beautiful book is coming to you in May, 2018 :-)

Speaking of friends with books, I want to give a special shout out to Susan Dennard’s upcoming Sightwitch. As Susan struggles with some personal life stuff, her wonderfully creative project was itself dealt a critical blow. Let’s help get the word out that this multi-media, fun, special project is coming next spring, and we all can’t wait for it to arrive!

Until next time,

<3, Savannah