My Writing Room


*brushes off journal cover with a feather duster*

Hello, writing world! It’s been ages since I wrote in this journal. I’ve been swamped with author, mommy, and promoter duties, so please excuse my lengthy absence.

Today I would like to show you my “writing room” as part of an Authors Blog Challenge I’m participating in. Unfortunately, it’s nothing Instagram-worthy or inspiring, but it might lend some insight to the struggle a toddler mama goes through to find even the smallest sliver of time to write.

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Yep, that’s the gist of it. We live in a small modular home in the country that has only three bedrooms, one of which is our office/game room. The office makes me feel claustrophobic, so all my writing is done right here on my living room couch. All I get is my couch, my music, my laptop, and my pretty throw blanket. Everything else belongs to the 2-year-old love of my life. As you can see, even down to the cardboard slab in the corner with his crayon artwork all over it, he is the true owner of this house. We merely pay rent, cook his meals, and provide items for his entertainment.

He’s a bit spoiled, but not a one of us would have it any other way.

Someday, I dream I might own a lovely house with several bedrooms, one of which has a gigantic window and can serve as my writing room. You can’t see in this picture, but the back door has a view of the deck and I get to watch plenty of birds flitting to and fro throughout my writing time. If it’s raining, I can listen to the tinkling of raindrops on our deck’s tin roof. If it’s at night, I can chuckle wickedly at the sound of beetles meeting their demise via our trusty bug zapper.

Lots of wonderful ideas and chapters have been born on this couch. Another place I like to sit is the chair next to it, which is near a window and allows a cool breeze to sweep in whilst I’m soaring to worlds unknown.

That’s all for today! Keep an eye out for The Sister Code, DORK Series Book Two, coming August 2, 2016.

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Ttyl!

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Writing Through Depression and Anxiety


“I have to get this book done. I have to. I have to!”

“But no one’s going to read it. You suck compared to all the other writers. No one even gives a crap about you.”

“It doesn’t matter, this book has set my brain on fire. It needs needs needs to be written. Now now now!”

“Shut up, lay down on the couch, and do absolutely nothing. It’s not like anything matters anyway.”

“Everything matters! All the freakin’ time! I never get a break! I’m gonna explode!”

“You’re such a loser. You’ll never amount to anything. Just lay down on the couch and give up, because that’s the only thing you’re good at. It’s all you’ll ever be good at.”

“What if…what if you’re right? What if everybody hates me? What if I lose all my friends and end up a bitter loner for the rest of my life?”

“It’s bound to happen. You might as well just quit while you’re ahead.”

“No…no! I need to do this! It’s in my blood. It’s burning my veins! I need to get this done!”

“Ugh, you suck. You’re so wishy washy and weak. It’s no wonder nobody cares about your stupid book.”

***

That drama, combined with an occasional interruption from my voice of reason, is on a constant loop in my head all day long. Depression and anxiety is no joke, folks. That lethal duo can honestly drive a person to insanity. If you’re unlucky enough to suffer from either or both of these mental illnesses (or any others), believe me, I feel your pain.

Writing requires an extra burst of fortitude whenever my illnesses both rear their ugly heads at once. It’s paralyzing. I’m afraid to write, yet I have to write, yet I don’t feel like writing or doing anything else for that matter. Wanting to do something and doing it used to be so easy as a kid, and now it’s all I can do just to get out of bed in the morning.

Depression is mean. It sucks the life out of you. Anxiety has good intentions, but it ends up being a pain in the ass. Caring about getting things done and keeping your friends is great until it turns into excessive, out-of-control, panicky worrying. Reason is good. It’s grounded. But sometimes it’s hard to keep around. It fades into the background whenever it sees depression and anxiety stalking down the alleyways of your mind, ready to strike.

Mental illness has many causes. It could be a hormonal imbalance, a result of trauma from your past, or it could be just the way you’re wired. I’ve always been kind of an anxious person, and certain difficulties in my past brought that tendency out and magnified it. At least, that’s my self diagnosis. I’m sure there’s more to it than that.

It always gets worse when I have a deadline, though. Right now, I’m desperately trying to get pre-edits done, but it’s not going as smoothly as I thought it would, and I’m panicking. What if I don’t get it done on time? What if I ruin the book while I’m trying to fix it? What if I piss somebody off by cutting out a part of the story they liked?

Truthfully, in the end, all I can do is try my best to do right by myself, my publisher, and my future (and past) readers. If I mess up, I mess up. I’ve got the “human being” excuse to fall back on if some faulty detail slips past my perfectionistic eyes. Also, now that I have an editor, the pressure is not all on me. An extra set of eyes will come in very handy for catching small details and smoothing out the kinks in my writing.

The best thing to do as a depression/anxiety sufferer is STOP, take a deep breath, and let reason take the front seat. Reason won’t steer you wrong or make you want to tear all your hairs out one by one. Reason will guide you to the solution. Reason will save your life.

Thanks for reading! Follow me here, on FB, and/or on Twitter for news about my upcoming series with Limitless Publishing, Diary of a Rocker’s Kid (DORK).

-H.D.

What It’s Really Like to be a Mother, an Author, and a College Student


People ask me how I do it. How do I raise a 16-month-old, write novels, and go for a Bachelor’s degree all at once? Let me just say this: If you’re prepared to hear the truth, read on. If you’re reading this to hear some kind of “Wonder Woman” story about a person who has it all together, move along. People who know me and my writing know that I keep it real. I do not claim to be a superhero or supernatural. Believe me, there are days when I fall apart and ask the universe why it trusted me with so much. However, I am thankful every day for the great opportunities I have, and I wouldn’t change a thing. So, for those who are curious, here’s what it’s really like trying to have it all.

17-hour Work Days.

Yes. 17. And that’s on a good day. From the moment my sweet toddler wakes me up at 7 AM to the moment I crumple into bed at midnight (again, if I’m lucky), I am working. If I’m not taking care of baby, writing, editing, marketing my work, networking, or doing homework, I’m desperately trying to get some kind of household chore accomplished or working out a troublesome scene in my head. I even consider listening to music to be work now, because I’m studying it. Analyzing it. Figuring out how I can work its themes into my novel somehow. Yes, I really am that crazy and obsessed. Deal with it.

No Weekends.

This shouldn’t be any surprise to any parent out there. Of course I don’t get weekends. I have a kid. I’m also a student, which means the weekend is the perfect time to hand off my kid to someone who’s kind enough to watch him (usually my husband) and get some homework done. Sometimes I’ll get a couple hours of free time (which only serves to make me want more) but rarely a whole day to myself. That’s laughable, actually.

Perpetual Dry Eyes.

I am constantly looking at some kind of screen. I’m an online student and I do all of my writing on Microsoft Word, plus my correspondence with my publisher and other authors is online, and I use Facebook and Twitter to connect with said authors and other students. What does all of that equal? A lot of time on the damn computer or iPhone. Going to bed with bloodshot eyes is now par for the course.

Truckloads of Mommy Guilt.

I wish I could explain to my son why Mommy is not the ever-present, bow-at-your-feet, wish-granting magical fairy princess that some SAHMs seem to be. I get distracted. I have deadlines. Sometimes I have to go away for a few hours while I work on a project. I wish I could split into three (at least) and give one copy of myself solely to him and meeting his seemingly constant need for Mommy’s attention, but regrettably I have to do the best I can with the version of me that currently exists. I shower my love on him when I’m taking care of him and when I take out time just to play with him and make him feel loved, but sometimes it just doesn’t feel like I’m doing enough, and that sucks for any parent.

Judge-y, Judge-y People and their Judge-y, Judge-y Comments.

“What do you do on that computer all day long?” (Answer? None’ya.)

“How can you say you have a job when you’re not making any money?” (…really? That one is seriously a low blow, y’all.)

“Why are you taking time away from your child to work and go to school?” (Answer? Another low blow. And also none’ya. And also, I mean, I’m like ten feet away from him right now.)

“Why does your mind keep wandering while I’m talking to you?”

“Why are your eyes glazed over… Haley? Haley?! Earth to Haley!!”

Okay, yeah, so the last two questions might be justified, but seriously, people? I’m exhausted. I’m fried. My head has been spinning like the spin cycle in your washing machine all day, so give me a break. As for the other digging questions and snide remarks, I could really do without them. Trust me, there’s no way I could ever explain my insatiable drive and passion to someone who doesn’t understand.

Forgetting to Eat.

This one happens a lot, especially in the morning. I always make sure my son is fed, but I somehow forget that I also need sustenance. I usually remember around noon when I start feeling like a zombie.

Looking for Any Excuse to Get Out of the House.

Seriously. Can I please see four walls that are not the interior of my own home for once? And I’m starting to actually enjoy talking to strangers, which could prove problematic if I’m not careful… (Jk, I have a little more common sense than that)

***

These are all I can think of at this late hour, but I’ll add more to this list if I think of them. Now it’s time for one of my favorite parts of the day: crumpling into an exhausted heap in my snuggly, warm, screen-free bed. Night night, all.

-H.D.

Crushing Self-Doubt


I’m about to get really, really real up in here, so if you can’t handle feelings, you might want to exit stage right.

Being a writer is almost more than I can handle. Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredible to be the creator of worlds. I love my characters almost as much as I love my own flesh and blood relatives. Sometimes I wish I could enter their world and live with them, even if it’s just for one day. But that love for my creations comes with a lot of pain when people scorn my work, say it’s not work, or simply don’t care at all.

I understand that not everybody is going to “get” authors, and people always judge what they don’t understand. It just seems to me that people could be a little gentler when you share a piece of your soul with them. The viciousness with which some people tear into books they don’t like has my nails in a horrible state lately. I’m just waiting on that first one-star review with scathing criticism… Even though I honestly believe the work is five-star worthy, and that has been confirmed a couple of times, I just know that one angry person is coming, and it gnaws at me day and night.

I guess I can be thankful in a way that if that does happen, it will mean I haven’t sunken into the depths of utter obscurity… Competing with millions of other books and writers makes you feel about as small as an atom sometimes. I never dreamed as a fourteen-year-old, bright-eyed, naive new writer that it would be such a struggle just to find 100 people that are interested in actually reading your book from start to finish. Writing a book does not equal #1 NY Times Best Seller. Usually it equals tedious hours of editing, even more hard work marketing, and an ass-ton of self-doubt. Clawing your way through all of that feels a bit like digging your way out of a coffin in the ground.

I haven’t given up hope yet, and I never will. I’m just saying it’s hard, folks. Really, really hard. If you’re new to writing and you think writing isn’t hard, you’re probably not a real author yet. Just wait, because writing the book is actually the easy part.

Thanks for reading this depressing post. Here’s hoping the next one is a little more celebratory.

H.D.

P.S.-My free promo is going well so far, but I still need a lot more people to pick up this book and review it. Find your free copy here! http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B012KXYCLC