Tag Archive | PTSD

The Drifter — Reflections

Well, I am done with my Drifter trilogy, which, of course, is not technically of much significance to anyone but myself. If I had the 1st of the 3 stories published- that might be different. But no matter what, it was a huge step for me, because- in a way- this was the first story I took seriously. It’s the first story I imagined myself publishing, not because I think it’s good enough (for some reason I’m constantly finding problems with it, even if I can’t figure out precisely what those problems are) but because I just kind of aimed that direction more than usual.

I researched the Civil War for this story, I looked into a few different kinds of diseases, I read old stories I normally wouldn’t bother with, I studied PTSD (am still studying!) as well as numerous other, small things that have changed and affected my life more than normally.

Now, of course, I know about these things, I will have to put them into other stories. I may even go on with Mark Kingston’s story, if I can figure out enough reason to do that. In another story I’ve already invented a machine that helps retrieve memories, often helping in cases involving someone with PTSD- though I don’t know if that would actually help!

Anyway, yes I am done with the Drifter trilogy. Of course I’ll have to edit and probably change a lot of things (adding about 2 weeks to one story, due to a sickness that takes much longer to develop than I had them there!) but editing is just not the same as creating! I’ve already gone on the journey, now I have to look over the photos I’ve taken and choose what I want to remember from the journey, and what needs to go.

I had a misty forest as my background during the last of November and I would gaze for a long time into the distance of the forest, thinking about my story- and wondering why I was thinking about my story. I don’t have misty forests in my story, especially not this one- just smoky forests if anything. Then I finally figured out why I’d think about my story (and it very well may be the reason why I think about it, though it took me a moment to fix up the beautiful idea)

I was standing in the misty forest- a beautiful forest- and I was watching as my story was swallowed up by the distant mist, being shrouded behind all the other ideas that will come up in my head that will eventually form to become a new story. Other stories have sunk into that mist until I can’t see anything of them.

I don’t know if this story will fall back into the formless gray- until even the outline is indiscernible. I never do know what will happen to my stories, either the good or the bad, the favorite or the much-avoided. In a way, it’s much the same as the last scene in my story- where my main characters are in a burning building, having accomplished their task, they think they’re going to die, and actually I don’t know if they do or not.

So there I was, listening to the playlist for my story on the second to the last day of NaNoWriMo, when I suddenly realized that I’d come to the end of the Drifter’s story. I wondered about all sorts of things- mostly: why did I call it Drifter when I almost never refer to that name in my stories? I think it’s actually more of a state of mind that I’m talking about, rather than I title.

But I did start to wonder if this story would sink to the background as many have done before- even when I thought they were so important I would never even come up with a new story (yeah right). As usual I wondered how I could possibly forget about this story- as I’ve done several times before.

Fortunately I don’t think that will happen. After all, I have to use what I know about the Civil War and PTSD. That’s not quite the same as the storyline itself, but I don’t think I can forget this easily.

And then there are the things that you don’t expect to change you. Like Mark Kingston. He’s a pretty normal guy that I don’t even like that much, and yet I think he’s the type of character I can’t get away from easily. It will be a while before I can let him fade in the mist, which may prove problematic for my other characters!

Yes, the Drifter’s story is done for now, except for editing, and I don’t know what’s ahead for me in the forest. I admit it, it’s scary. I’m a hopeful person and I can almost always say in this sort of situation that there’s still more ahead, which is true- the adventure is still coming- but sometimes I just need to stop and know that what’s behind me is something I’ve been working on for several years, something that was a part of my life for a long time- and still will be. It’s behind me, I can’t go back- the Drifter’s story is done.

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Further Bloopers…

In case you’re wondering, the title of this post was given it because I had a post that was scheduled to come up on the 1st of December. For some reason it hasn’t shown up, much to my disappointment because it had some fun stuff on it.

The explanation of this post is that one often makes mistakes on one’s story- naturally- and now I can publish my bloopers! So here are the ones that aren’t missing (maybe it will show up next year)

Mark stopped strubbling…”

I wasn’t paying attention to the screen. (I’m pretty sure strubbling is walking through slush)

“… Throughing him to the ground…”

Same problem

“… without the air being sucked out of my lunch.”

It was supposed to be lungs.

Context: the scene is from Mark Kingston’s perspective: “But the only reason why he thought about this- the last thing he’d heard Mark say…

I’m wondering if Mark has a problem with split personality as well as PTSD!

… He wanted to slow or stop Shelby from making a movie he disagreed with.”

It was supposed to be move.

… That snot a solution.”

Originally it was supposed to be: That’s not a solution, but I’m apparently writing the 4 year old boy version here.

“… making everyone reacted…”

I wrote the sentence at two different times. Not a good idea!

 

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo

I should probably give a quick explanation for what NaNoWriMo is. It’s short for National Novel Writing Month, takes places in the month of November, during which time you try to write a novel- which is about 50,000 words. That’s the quick explanation. You can do a lot of variations, because it’s a wonderfully relaxed challenge- though fortunately not so relaxed or bizarre (for me) that I forget about it. You can go on working on an old story, do poems instead, write several short stories and, of course, challenge yourself to a different goal.

I always look forward to November, or the last few Novembers, since finding out about NaNoWriMo. It’s actually the reason why I realized I wanted to write as a profession, because I was looking forward to it a great deal.

Obviously it takes a lot of preparation. You want to know what you’re going to write, know enough of the steps you want to take to get to 50,000 (or the end of the story), which could be anything from basic character developments and plot turns, to extensive and obsessively detailed outlines of everything from the plot, to characters to every scene.

I will be writing the third part of a trilogy about the Civil War and time traveling. It’s been a little more complicated because I have to know enough about history to be able to be comfortable (which is technically still an issue) among many other details.

This story was even harder because my main character develops Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s a fascinating and complicated subject, but I wanted to know it well enough so that I didn’t have to look at my notes every single page, as well as- more importantly- being able to write it so it didn’t sound staged.

So, I started studying PTSD some time last year, hoping to be able to write this story last November. That didn’t happen, because I still didn’t know the subject well enough, and it’s taken me that long to feel comfortable with it and like I vaguely know what I’m talking about, which is much longer than it usually takes me to study a subject. (I’m actually sorry to admit that, sense it seems like I ought to be studying such things for years, all the time, as well as editing for months and months)

It’s been interesting working on it, actually. I’ve had to go back and change several things to fit with this final, unpleasant development. Here is a short example of what I had to change. My main character, Mark, is outside the battlefield of Gettysburg, it’s nighttime:

“The young man laid down against a tree. He covered his ears and tried to get some much needed sleep amidst the fighting.”

That was the original. Here is the revised version:

“The young man laid down against a tree. He tried to get some much needed sleep amidst the fighting.”

Leaving out the part about him covering his ears I think implies that he is mentally blocking out the trouble around him. He is in a state of mind where he’s been put into a situation he’s certainly never faced and isn’t used to dealing with, and he doesn’t want to fully deal with the idea of the magnitude of death, so, whether he realizes it or not, Mark is shutting off a part of his brain so that he can act and work in this situation. He doesn’t fully realize what’s happening.

Hopefully this makes sense according to the symptoms of PTSD. Of course, if any of you that read this know anything about PTSD or know someone that does, please let them see this and tell me what they think.

So, anyway, I think I know enough so I am going ahead and writing the ‘fun’ stuff next month. I encourage anyone that’s interested in NaNoWriMo to plan for it, even if you’re not writing a character that’s dealing with PTSD.

Now this next month is going to be even more interesting than usual. My Dad is out of a job. Enough said, I think. Basically, my fellow author sisters and I will, in addition to the usual craziness of writing a novel in a month and of course Thanksgiving, we will be dealing with the emotional and mental problems of unemployment. November’s going to be interesting, but I want to enjoy it.

I have only a few important things to say before I finish this post. First of all: to all those people with PTSD or who had PTSD or know someone that has it, especially veterans, I have a new understanding of it. I cannot express easily or quickly overall everything I feel about it. God bless you and I am praying for you.

And secondly, to anyone that’s experienced unemployment, basically I owe you an apology. For some reason I never thought I would have to go through it- it was one of those things that happened to other people. Now I know how hard and unpleasant it is, especially when there’s no end in sight. So sorry, and I pray, for those that are unemployed, that you will soon get a job.