bibliophile

Anxiety and the Writer

I figured it was time for some real talk. About that thing that no one seems to want to talk about: anxiety.

It's real, it's stressful, and it's overwhelming. Sometimes it feels like it wins the battle. But it doesn't have to win the war.

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The Beginning

When I started on this book journey over a decade ago, I never knew what would come. I just knew I wanted to write a book, and, though I had no clue where to start, I somehow did. It was a long journey, but I finally got to the point where I wanted to release my book.

So on June 1st, 2018 (has it only been two months??), I announced my book release. I was so excited (and still am) and I couldn't wait to see what would happen. Little did I know things would start happening, that very weekend.

I freaked out.Like crying, near panic attack freaking out.

Fear, anxiety, the constant what-did-I-do mantra that swirled through my head sped up my breathing, made my chest tight, consumed my thoughts. My husband, being the amazing man that he is, talked me down, calmed me down. He was, and still is, my rock. I'm convinced I couldn't do this without him.

I wish that was the end of it.

My Journey

Nearly every weekend since (I suspect that this is because I work on book stuff the most on the weekend and that's when I try to tackle the hard stuff), I've had some form of a panic attack. I even had two in one weekend (and even two in one day). They're scary, overwhelming, frustrating, annoying, and make me feel like I'm the only writer in the world who doesn't think they could ever get a book out into the world.

But I'm not, right?

I know I'm not. Despite what my brain tells me in the moment, the highlight reel I see on Instagram isn't the whole story. Because mine isn't. I don't want to show my weekly panic attacks, the too-many-times-to-count crying sessions that leave my eyes puffy and red and my throat dry. I only show the happy things, the things that I'm convinced everyone wants to see. Who wants to be depressed? The world is depressing enough as it is.

So that's why I'm writing this post. To show that we're all human, that what you see on social media is rarely the whole story, and that we all struggle. Sometimes it's depression, sometimes it's anxiety, sometimes it's a host of other things. Mental health is important and is lacking in our incessantly busy, constantly distracted culture.

But There's Hope

And that's the other reason I'm writing this post: you don't have to struggle alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are those of us — the ones that you probably see with a smile on Instagram — who struggle like you do. Who think that they couldn't possibly make their dreams come true. The ones that don't see sometimes how they could manage another smile.

Don't get me wrong: the smiles I put on social media are real. I love my life, and I love my online community. But that's not really the point.

The point is that life is sometimes overwhelming. Sometimes we don't think we can keep working on our dream. Sometimes anxiety seems to win.

But it doesn't have to.

We keep going. We keep trying. We never give up. We look anxiety right in its vicious, angry eyes and tell it that we are stronger, that we are better than what it says we are, and that even though it might seem like it has won the battle, we will win the war.

WE. WILL. WIN. THE. WAR.

<3 Melissa

P.S. If you are struggling with mental health issues and need help, please reach out to someone. You may email me at any time, or connect with me on social media. If you are contemplating suicide, please, PLEASE know that there are people, like me, who care about you. If you need immediate, 24/7, free help, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. I am not a medical professional and this post is not meant to taken as medical advice. I merely wanted to offer a free resource to those who need help, and to reassure them that they are not alone. You are not alone.

The Music of the Codex

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Happy Saturday!

When I first wrote The Secret of the Codex (it was just called The Codex back then, until I found another book by the same name! Spoiler: I like my new title better) way back in 2008/2009, I started collecting music inspiration in the form of a killer "Codex" playlist. I thought it might be interesting for you all to hear the songs that inspired the book as I wrote it. Some songs even fit a specific scene so perfectly that I got chills!

Ready? (If you want to skip my commentary, I recreated the playlist on Spotify and the link is at the end. Feel free to scroll.)

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First up... The original Twilight soundtrack. Obvi.

Next up, RED. These guys are my theme band. (If that even makes sense.) Especially their second album, Innocence & Instinct. I still get chills when I hear "Never Be the Same" which I've unofficially dubbed the Codex theme song. Probably more on that later. :) Also, "Start Again" is another one of my favorites, which fits in well toward the end of the book. (No spoilers!)

Then some random songs—Fall Out Boy then a couple from Bones (which I loved)—and my Snow Patrol faves. "Make This Go On Forever" came on just as I was writing a pivotal scene in Chapter 6 and it was one of my first WOW moments when writing. The song fit the scene PERFECTLY. I realize now I'll probably have to go into more detail with these after the book is out!

Next up is Boys Like Girls. Not sure how I discovered them, but I'm glad I did. So many of their songs take me back to that first draft. This song especially, though I don't have a clue why. I probably just like the drops in the chorus. :D

Then The Fray, which I realize now I haven't listened to in forever. *goes and listens to The Fray*

Okay, I'm back.

Some other random songs, but notable ones.

  • "A Man I'll Never Be" by Boston—the band I listened to with my dad growing up. (Awww!)

  • "Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence—takes you back, doesn't it? Pretty sure I heard them on the radio today on the THROWBACK LUNCH HOUR. I AM OLD.

  • "Never Alone" by Barlow Girl—if you've never listened to this song, or this band, before, go listen now. Spoiler: the Spotify playlist is below. Makes it easy.

Then my rock phase shows up in the form of random bands (Rise Against, Saving Abel)...

After that is A Twist in My Story by Secondhand Serenade, another album that really takes me back to my first draft. It's great to have albums like that, so you can listen to something if you need inspiration and you're right back there, creating the first draft. Makes you want to get right back at it.

Then a random movie score, you know, to keep things interesting (Angels and Demons by Hans Zimmer—probably for those times when I just couldn't concentrate with words in the songs)...

Then Anberlin! This band is great. Their new stuff is great too. Go listen.

More random stuff (Sixx AM and a couple of others), 30 Seconds to Mars (awesome), a random Natasha Bedingfield selection, lots of Good Charlotte (must've been another phase), then more random songs by Papa Roach, Saliva, Story of the Year, Sum 41, Three Days Grace. Yes, I listened to a lot of rock. Must've edited out a lot of the angst in the editing. Haha, just kidding—it somehow managed to not be angsty! By some miracle...

So here's the Spotify playlist I've been hinting at!

https://open.spotify.com/user/melissamaewrite/playlist/7vXXjShJjuz1j8SFQb9Qu4

Enjoy!

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I've found I can listen to just about anything when I'm writing, but when I'm editing I need silence. Which makes me a little sad, but that's how it is.

Do you listen to music when you read or write?