Tag Archives: anxiety

Pardon Me, Have You Seen My Mind?

Alethea MermaidGrace Under Pressure.

I wish this is how I could describe myself. But my parents named me “Truth” — “Grace” is my cousin. (Technically I have a couple of cousins named Grace, one of whom worked on the Hubble Space Telescope.)

The “Pressure” part, though? Shoot. I’ve got that down pat.

i was that kid who did all her school work at the last minute, even though my parents offered to help me do anything I needed. I was the author who promised to write a book in four months when the first one took me five years. I was the nerd who ran the light board and memorized everyone’s part in the play, qualifying me to understudy for anyone at the drop of a hat.

Even now, looking back, I’m not entirely sure I could chalk all that up to laziness or procrastination. Yes, I put things off…but in doing so I turned that last minute into a powder keg. That fire under my butt forced me to come up with new, fresh ideas in a short amount of time and execute them to the best of my abilities. Some of the results were pretty amazing, too.

I would have totally rocked on a Reality Show.

The up side to all of this? I am incredibly flexible and open-minded, and I am enthusiastic (aka: “stupid”) enough to say Yes to just about anything.

The down side to all of this? Anxiety. Oh my GOSH, the anxiety.

It fuels me…but it sometimes makes me feel like I’ve lost my ever-loving mind. I even have all sorts of fun anxiety dreams to go with this pressure…only they happen after the event is over. Hey, if I can keep it together when I need it, I’ll take it.

It’s also amazing to see what happens when I’m on what I call “Manic Autopilot.” A perfect example happened this past Monday: I was in the middle of packing up my apartment to move to Florida. I was getting phone calls from my mom to discuss new options for places to rent, and phone calls from my agent to discuss brainstorming new story ideas with a new publisher. It was all GREAT AND GOOD STUFF, but it was all happening at once.

Oh, and did I mention that we’re leaving for Niagara Falls on Thursday? Yeah, that too.

In the middle of all of that an email came through, and I misread it. Manic Autopilot took over and I wrote an essay, posted it to this blog, and shared it on social media all in what felt like 3.5 minutes. I dusted off my hands, made some coffee, and moved on to the next thing.

Only…the email wasn’t about posting a blog. The Mermaids don’t even POST on Mondays anymore. *sigh* At least I wasn’t stepping on anyone’s toes…I was just performing on an empty stage.

Part of me thinks it’s hilarious that my default stress reaction is to do MORE work. Part of me wonders if I should be worried about this.

What about you? Do you guys have any interesting reactions to stress or anxiety?

Golden Heart and Rita nominees, oh my!

SusanMermaidFriends, this is the LAST DAY in 2014 when RWA members will be in the dark. Yes, tomorrow is The Day for the announcement of Golden Heart and Rita finalists!

Hi, Rita! <3

Since you all know I’m incredibly helpful in dealing with anxiety (first lie), I offer these ideas (gleaned from the incredible brains of the young men I teach).

– play video games
– watch movies
– go to the gym
– play sports
– listen to music
– lock yourself in a dark room and avoid talking (really!)
– get your guitar and rock out
– there is no such thing as anxiety in my world (yes, he really said that)

courtesy Darien Times

This, as opposed to the usual stress ideas I see on other blog posts, which usually I include references to cookies, ice cream and alcohol consumption.

Also, I have two family members who are entered in the Golden Heart this year.  Just imagine the free-floating anxiety at home today…

So, GOOD LUCK to all our GH and Rita entrants!  Throwing copious sparkles in your direction today and please allow me to offer an online fruity drink.  With parasol.  And fresh fruit garnish.




Fear is good.  It keeps you safe.  Fear keeps you from going down the wrong street, trusting the wrong people, taking risks that are bad for you.  Fear that runs amok and takes control of your life, though, keeps you from enjoying some of the most productive and marvelous moments possible:  working on your chosen craft and enjoying the fruits of your work.

Witness my inability to contribute to the Mermaid short story effort this Fall.  I was silent, unable to compose even a scrap of an idea for that wonderful festival of creativity.  Yes, I was trapped in a web of fear, a crawling, deadly hive of poisonous fear that kept my fingers frozen for weeks that stretched into months.  Why?

Because I was silly enough to trigger a word count on my Lake Effect manuscript instead of just keeping on with the writing.   Argh!  I wasn’t going to finish by my self-imposed deadline!  I’d failed!  Again!   At which point I took refuge in endless edits of material that I wrote last year, instead of taking time to reflect and re-evaluate, to mourn and then do the brave thing:  work forward.

Even now, I get distracted by the details of my story.  Is the father alive or dead?  If I use the alternate opening for Chapter One, will it be possible to achieve the light-hearted style I’d embraced in the original?  Is there a sister or not?  And should Desmond and Nicole break up at the very start of the book, or should I shift that scene back to Chapter Ten (which remains suspiciously blank)?  Do I need to take a break and do my makeup?  Isn’t there laundry that has to be put on?  How tidy does the house need to be before the plumber arrives?  And, oh yeah, how about registering for the RWA Anaheim conference?

my life on jan 18!

You know what that is?  Uh huh.  It’s my fear, taking it out in the sneaky distractions of every day life.  I’m not going to see anyone today, I have clean clothes, the plumber already called and said he can’t be here until next week, and Anaheim isn’t sold out.  Stop making excuses, girl, and get back to work!

Do you make excuses?  I do.  Let’s share and see if we can unsnarl the distractions and excuses we make to justify not getting our work done.




Deadlines can be disastrous.  August 2 for Congress.  September 1 for School.  December 25 for Naughty or Nice!  No matter what project is at hand, any deadline can be gracefully accomplished, or utter disaster.

I wish this post could be about the Great Debt Ceiling Feud of 2011.  I have plenty to say about that little shootin’ match going on in Washington this week.  But that’s for other blogs.  No, my own personal deadline has been on my mind lately.  You see, I promised myself that I would finish my book this summer.  And I’ve cobbled together all the bits I’ve written on my current WIP into a “master file” document.  It currently stands at 42,000 really messy words.  Am I pleased?  No!

I’m terrified.  And my writing has slowed even more than usual (and I’m not a high-output writer in the first place).  My personal deadline when school let out was to have a 90,000 word rough draft by September 1.  Realization: ain’t gonna happen.  Maybe I should run for Congress!  Wait, I’ve already said that’s a topic for other blogs..  So, I have to accept where I am (not good at that) and reframe my ambition (definitely not good at that!) or abandon the effort altogether (never).

But, as I fussed about this last night, I commented – “I remember when I first started writing full time, I started the day by ‘going to work.’  I wrote from nine until twelve every day.  Then I had lunch, and the afternoon was for the home-improvement projects in the house.”  And that realization, that long-buried memory, was very freeing. I’d had the discipline to write, and I’d been successful at completing a book and seeing it in print.

So today is calmer.  Once I post this, I’ll set a time limit for how long I’ll be at the keyboard today, working on my book.  Once that’s over, I won’t go back.  I won’t dwell.  I’ll certainly think about my writing.  I might scribble some notes.  But I will NOT obsess about that deadline.  It’s history.  I’m not going to make myself sick over it.

So – do you obsess over deadlines?  How do you handle the stress of these demons?  Avoid?  Negotiate?  Reframe?  Or embrace?

And remember:  Christmas is just 5 months away.  Start those shopping lists now!  Every minute counts.