Friday, August 29, 2014

Things taking shape

I'm rather enjoying blogging about writing a book, even though there has been a severe deficit in blogging about everything else.  Mark it up to pouring all of my writing energies into composing manuscript.  This is something that I have spent most of my waking hours doing, with varying degrees of activity, since May.  And now on the tail end of August I can look with some pride at more than 66,000 words of text composed for my little tome about having bipolar disorder.

I'm finally seeing the shape of it forming, coming together.  But there's still a lot of work to do.

My target is between 75,000 and 100,000 words.  And as I've been writing this the scope of it has shifted from my original intent.  There is now much more autobiographical information within it than I had initially thought would be included.  And I don't know if that's a good thing.  But friends I have shared that sentiment with have told me that anyone can read (or write) a textbook about manic-depressive illness, but only I can write about what bipolar has done to me personally.  I'm the only one who can convey the real pain and frustration that this disease brings with it.

So if you guys won't mind reading the life story of Robert Christopher Knight, I guess you will get to do that.

Things are still moving around though, and I don't know how much they will continue to do that.  There have been a lot of chapters that had false starts and wound up deleted.  Other chapters have been consolidated with each other.  There are a few that I'm considering tearing out completely.  I wouldn't be surprised if this book ended up radically different from how I first envisioned it to be.

I do have an ending for it, however.  It eluded me for the longest time but how to wrap it all up finally hit me earlier this week.  And the title has changed by one word.  Two if you count the subtitle.

And Lord willing, my first book will be completed by the end of this coming month.  And then we shall see what we will see...

Monday, August 18, 2014

When God gives you what you want more than anything else...

I'm not the same man that I used to be.  Not since I was finally given that which I have wanted most of all.

For a very long time, and we are dealing with years, there is something that has been on my heart more than anything else.  Something I have longed for.  Something I have not actually wanted, but needed.

I needed it more than I needed any other element that could possibly lay within the boundaries of my life.  I needed it so much that it was no matter of satiation of desire for the sake of happiness, but rather something that I required to have, for since longer than I can readily remember, a sense of life itself.

It was the thing that I had prayed to God, more than anything else, that He would let it happen.

Two weeks ago I was experiencing a very deep bout of depression.  The medication wasn't working as well as it should have.  Neither was anything else.  In such times I turn often to prayer, to reading from my Bible (especially the Book of Job and the Psalms), to focusing on some shred of happy thoughts.  Anything that can give me something to grasp hold of and climb up and out with.

It wasn't just the clinical depression, however.  There was a certain situation that had come about, how I'm still not quite clear on how it happened.  But it brought me into contact with that which had been what I had endured a tremendous amount of suffering.  The thing that I had prayed to God about for so long.

Once again, I asked Him to bring whatever He would know best for it.  So that I might at last know how to go on living.

That was on Sunday and Monday.  On Tuesday I had an appointment with my counselor.  I shared with her everything that I had been going through, including my prayers to God.  Especially how it was that I didn't know if He was listening, because I had been praying for so long to Him and it was like He didn't care.

I came home at 1:30 that afternoon.

It was about 6 that night when I checked my messages and was startled to find something awaiting me.

And at long last, after needing it, after crying for it, after praying for it for so very long, I have that which I have wanted more than anything else.

I have closure.

I can move forward with my life with no regrets now.

Except that I've gone so long with needing this, it became the focus of my earthly life.  And now that need has been fulfilled.  I don't have my heart burdened by it.  I am finally free.  God set me loose from that bondage: the captivity of a desperate heart.

And now, I don't know what to do.  It's like the song says, "I ain't changed, but I know I ain't the same."

The book is the biggest thing that I'm concentrating on right now, but I've no doubt that this is going to impact it.  It has to.  But, I think it will be in a good way.  The chapter that I had finished and was previously the most difficult (before I started working on the suicide one), I've let a longtime and trusted friend read it.  It has to do with an aspect of bipolar disorder that does not get a lot of discussion.  My friend read it and she gave it her hearty approval.  If I can write about something so intimate and it can pass muster with my friends, I think that the rest of what I'm working on will be more than okay.

Other than that, I don't know what the heck it is that I need to do, or even want to do.  Not even things that I've long been interested in seem to sparkle anymore.  I know there were some serious developments on the Star Wars front this past week but they don't faze me.  And I don't know why that is.

Maybe I'm growing up.  Or growing more.

I suppose I'll just have to now wait for God to present something new to me.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Regarding Robin Williams...

It was a grim irony that last night, when Dad told me that the news had just broke that Robin Williams was dead, I was working on my book and the chapter on suicide.

I haven't blogged very much lately.  It's because I've been devoting myself to writing my book about bipolar.  I'm going to take time to post some more fun stuff soon (we do have the return of Doctor Who coming up after all).  But this is something that put a lot on my heart and I was feeling led to get it out of me and into a blog post this morning.

Robin Williams was a huge part of my childhood and adolescence years and then on through early adulthood.  He may have had the widest spectrum of acting talent of our generation.  Good Morning Vietnam comes especially to mind: an amazing display of Williams' repertoire with comedy and drama.  Dead Poets Society and Awakenings solidified his dramatic presence.  Later on in his career he pulled off some astoundingly dark work, in such films as One Hour Photo and Insomnia.  But it was always his comedic work that will be remembered most.  Just as an aside, when our local theatre guild was mounting its production of Peter Pan earlier this summer, I had Steven Spielberg's Hook playing in the background often as I worked on my book and other projects.  If Peter Pan was going to be portrayed as a grown-up, there was virtually nobody else who could have pulled that off than Robin Williams.

The man was an engine of innovation and creativity.  And now it looks like the price to pay for that was only too high.

Depression is something that unless you have it, you can't understand it. And I have not met anyone with it who has wished depression on anybody else, for however brief a time, just so they can "get" what this is like.  I have also never met anyone with depression who seriously wanted to die.  I don't think Robin Williams wanted to die either.  He was just trying not to feel the absence of feeling.  I know that doesn't make sense to some, but those with depression will understand all too well.

1 out of 5 people - at least - with bipolar disorder will attempt suicide and too many will succeed.  I am one of those who has tried, though I didn't realize it at the time that it's what I meant to do.  I was just wanting there to be an end to the pain.  What caused me to fail in that attempt?  That's something I'm writing about in my book right now.  It's something that I'm still exploring, actually.  In a very horrible way I was trying to feel something, as opposed to wanting to escape life completely.

Winston Churchill had depression: he called it his "black dog". I have a name for my own depression: "the dark fountain". It erupts when I am manic. It erupts worse when I'm depressed.  It smothers and suffocates and leaves you desperate for the tiniest breath of hope.  And when there is no hope you become desperate to escape, and more often than not it's without any real understanding of what it is that you are doing.

I know.  I've been there.

This is something that can't be "switched off" and medication often BARELY keeps it in check.

With someone as creative and passionate as Robin Williams, I can only imagine the intensity of his depression.

Just some thoughts that I'm having this morning.

Thoughts and prayers going out to his family.

Friday, August 01, 2014

I never want to have to do that again

I just finished writing the very most difficult chapter of the book yet.  No doubt it will be the hardest of the book when it's all finished.

Lord willing that this is published, you will know which chapter it is when you read it.

I am really opening myself up here.  With things that I would have never imagined I would be writing about, not in a million years.  But, there it is.

I've spent the better part of two months working on this one chapter, on and off.  Now it's done.  I'm going to go watch The LEGO Movie again now and distance my mind from this thing.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I've fallen in love with Lindsey Stirling

No, not like that!  I mean her music!

I've come back from a week in the mountains, staying in the abode of my best friend/filmmaking partner and using the time away from things to work on my book.  I definitely needed it after being absorbed in work and projects and whatnot for... wow, the better part of a year now.  Sometimes you just need to break loose from your routine and find inspiration from new surroundings.  I got a lot of work done!

I was also introduced to a few neat surprises, courtesy of "Weird" Ed.  Because of him I've finally at long last watched The LEGO Movie, and it's now one of my favorite movies ever!  On my way through Asheville I just had to stop at the Target there and buy the cheapest LEGO set that's out which has Emmet and Wyldstyle minifigs.  They are now sitting next to my monitor as I work.  Can't beat LEGO minifigs for inspiration :-)  I also got caught up on Game of Thrones: we went through Season 3, now I just need to find Season 4.  I've read all of the books and Ed's watched all the seasons, it was odd to watch it like that with each of us knowing what was coming from different directions.  When it came time for "the Red Wedding", I knew it was getting close and when it finally happened, Ed said that my mouth was hanging wide open for a solid ten minutes!  Sheeesssh that was harsh to read about, but to see it happen on-screen...

I'm also caught up on the Marvel cinematic universe, having now seen Thor: The Dark World.  And 'course there was "Weird Al" Yankovic's new album Mandatory Fun.  Which the more I listen to it, the more I'm increasingly convinced that this may be his best album since Bad Hair Day.  There is one song on Mandatory Fun that I wasn't sure about at first, but even that is growing on me.  My favorite song/video from the album is probably "Foil": Weird Al's parody of "Royals" by Lorde.

If this really is Weird Al's last studio album, he is pulling out all the stops with Mandatory Fun, even releasing a new music video each day for eight days (the final one comes out tomorrow).

A new Weird Al anything is reason to rejoice.  But there is something else that I brought back with me from my trip, and I'm counting it as one of the most delightful discoveries I've ever made so far as music goes.

I had never heard of Lindsey Stirling until this past week, when Ed introduced me to her music.  Stirling had been a contestant on America's Got Talent and was told that she wasn't right for the show with her "dancing violinist" act.  I don't know what the heck they were smoking but Lindsey Stirling is unbelievably beautiful as a musician and dancer... and after watching some of her videos and listening to her while we were riding around the area I just had to have more.  So I bought both of her albums - her self-titled debut and Shatter Me, released three months ago - at the same Target as I was headed home.

I've been listening to them like crazy since.  And watching many more of her videos (Lindsey has like a billion subscribers on YouTube so I'm coming late to the party a bit :-) like this Star Wars medley.  I never thought I would have fallen so madly in love with violin music... but here I am, and I have!

So if you haven't already, you really should look up Lindsey Stirling on YouTube and check out her work and if you're like me you'll be enchanted into wanting more.  If you don't believe me, here is the video for "Beyond the Veil" from Shatter Me:


And then the in-every-possible-way beautiful video for "Shatter Me", also with Lzzy Hale:


So I came back refreshed, re-invigorated, a lot accomplished on my book, and with the most amazing new music that I can remember finding in a very long time. I'm feeling inspired and firing on all cylinders again!

I give Lindsey Stirling my highest recommendation.  If she ever comes to town for a concert I'm absolutely going to be there first day to buy tickets!