Thank you Karen and Anonymous for your comments. Much appreciated. I wanted to say that after I did all that writing yesterday I began having some psychotic symptoms last night. It's embarrassing to admit it, but admit it I must in order to stay healthy and on track. It's the same old story for me, I try something creative, do it halfway well and then start falling into the egotism of delusion. Most people can safely fantasize, but due to the schizophrenia, I cannot. I get pulled into the vortex of something that threatens to consume me. So I talked into my taperecorder and then aloud to myself and tried to ground myself and then I got a good night's sleep and am feeling a lot better today. Reading your comments, especially yours Karen, gave me further ground under my feet. So if you can, keep the constructive criticism coming. I'm printing out your comments and keeping them in a folder to review from time to time. It's such a privilege to get your feedback and to read your insights into what I've written.
The truth is that I am a beginner and have to go through the slow, careful process of creating a story. I read in one of my writing books that often beginners are good at either the beginning, the middle or the end of a story, but not all three. Right now, I think I have a sense for a relatively strong beginning, but whether I can fabricate a middle and end, whether I can complete what I started, only time will tell. I also need to read a lot more short stories, of which I have many collections, and learn from those with talent and the skill of their craft. All in all, I'm still very pleased with my early attempts and it feels so good to publish pieces of the work here in this blog. That's a big step for me and opens the door to me letting other people in my life read my work and hopefully give me constructive criticism.
Anonymous, you asked what the difference is between showing and telling. I'm not so sure myself. I think showing includes more description and some dialogue. I lay it out there okay, but I will have to learn to use these other skills. I feel as if in my writing that I am making lists to describe the characters and sometimes that's overkill. The stories I've read from other authors leave more to the imagination and are structured more ingeniously. So I'll keep plugging away and see what I can learn from other writers, from you who read my pieces and from myself in trial and error.
Karen, I think you make some very perceptive points about "Cold Comfort". I do need to add physical description and it is unclear the switch between the present and the past. I don't know yet the answers to your questions. I'll have to sit and brood about it. I do know that I'm setting Johnny up to be a hero figure, but is he handsome? My idea is that at twelve he is short and undeveloped. His physical appearance changes radically at puberty, so much so that Jamie doesn't recognize him in the street later on. I also think it is too easy to make him handsome. It might be more interesting if he had imperfect (but perhaps endearing) features. Maybe the reason he's drawn to beauty is because he's not striking looking. On the other hand, Jamie is particularly attractive. She stands out that way. Two beautiful characters might be too much.
Anyway, despite the minor setback of my psychosis rearing its ugly head, I feel good. As they often say in 12 step meetings: Live and Learn. Eventually, if I keep up with the writing, I would like to write about what it is like to be psychotic. That's the ultimate challenge because I have to have insight into my own illness and sometimes I struggle with that.
A Recovery Blog
This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.