Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

This post is late. Not only in that it’s 9:59PM as I sit down to write it but in that what are you truly grateful for and thankful for sense I didn’t really have a post for that in that in some ways I feel blessed beyond measure and in others I feel like God is dumping the good on it to make up for some stuff that’s not so cool that I got stuck with. But let’s be positive. What I’m truly grateful for in my life right now is my recovery. And my recovery is three fold. I’ll break it down.

I am a survivor of childhood sex abuse. It was severe and stranger than fiction and my mother and stepfather while they know some of the details I choose not to share most of it with them. In fact I’ve shared more about the abuse and my recovery from it on this blog than I have anywhere else save my therapist’s office. It took years to do the work and it wasn’t easy. Confronting those particular demons dredges up all kinds of dark and powerless feelings. And I was always supposed to be gentle with myself, but my mom and dad(John, NOT the predator(s)) didn’t always make it easy.

Coming out of one of those sessions I almost always felt raw and vulnerable and they almost were always cranky or mad at someone else and I became a convenient target. When I tried to put my boundaries in place with them they made it very difficult. While in many ways they are supportive, i.e. letting me live in their house rent free and supplementing my grocery bills while I pursue my creative endeavors, they have no true comprehension of just how damaging their carelessness or anger can be.

In the long run the lesson I’ve learned in coping and dealing with them is that they don’t understand the first bit about what I’m going through and it’s best if I tell them nothing of my recovery process. They fail every time I expect them to act a certain e.g. they zig when I fully expect them to zag.

As it is, I have more interest in pouring my heart and soul into my work than into a romantic relationship. I like the love stories where I can control them. On paper. LOL. But the nightmares have for the most part have stopped. Although last night I had one so vivid I had to wake myself up several times to make sure I wasn’t being raped again.

So, I’m thankful for the demons that have haunted me in that arena have receded for the most part to the background and only seem to bother me when I’m especially tired, or have faced an especially trying day the parent units.

Secondly, but I think of most importance to me, is my mental health recovery in regards to my bipolar diagnosis. If I’m honest with myself high school was when the symptoms started, first with the depression, then with the mania. In college the lack of sleep started and the night terrors were horrendous. Over the next five or six years I cycled like clockwork, but I didn’t really start to lose my grip until I was 23. I was sleeping an hour a day. Every little thing set me off. And said awful things to the person who was in the thick of it with me: Missy.

My writing suffered as a result to the point I wasn’t writing anything. And when I was it was crap. Flat. No real life in it. I didn’t write on my own anymore. As good and as great as it was to work with Missy I had effectively crippled myself to only writing with someone. As my recovery progressed I realized my mojo had left me. And in my desperation to get well I had turned my back on the one thing that brought me more joy than anything else. Writing. And it was Missy who noticed an ad for a contest in 2003, NaNoWriMo 50,000 word book in 30 days.

I took the plunge and HANDWROTE the novel. It took me until the beginning of February to do it but I did it. And boy did my hand ache when it was all said and done with. Was it a great book? No. Was it going to win any awards? Certainly not. But it proved to me that I could do it.

In 2004 Missy and wrote, directed, and produced a movie, one too messed up to be edited. Half our cast were divas the other half couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there because of it.

These steps among others helped in my healing process. And then, a breakthrough. In 2011 my sleep cycle righted itself. I scored three publication contracts and won an award. I kept writing. I kept getting better. I kept racking up contracts and in 2012 I had my first Amazon Bestseller in GLADIATOR: The Gladiator Chronicles. More awards followed. In 2013 I appeared the front of the city newspaper and my screenplay adaptation of my bestselling Bounty Hunter won the Best SciFi Screenplay Award at Fright Night. More than that I graduated from therapy to case management. I have been asked to present my recovery to the board of directors. I find that to be an incredible honor, and even when my memoir based on this blog, and Gemini’s War became bestsellers on Amazon I find that it is what I am most grateful for. My recovery. Because without my recovery I would have none of the success that I have now.

I am fond of saying I wrote my way back from the brink of madness. But it was with the help of Anita, Rose, Ronnie, and Missy and Pam that I can sit still long enough to enjoy a television show, a movie, a book, and even yes the ability to sit down and write any of these is due in no small part to the roles these people played in my life over the last twelve years. It was a long road. But somehow I made it back to tell everyone else who may be at different points in their road to recovery that it can be done. Because if I can do anyone can. And that is truly what I am most thankful for this year.


Amy McCorkle

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,
On dreary, icy cold days like today and the tired creakiness is just so bone deep all you want to do is sleep. For me the reasons are many that I sleep on days like today. My mood disorder is linked to the weather at times. I’ve been extraordinarily happy these last few days. When an actor or actress you admire says they desire to play a part in your work you’re trying your damndest to the television screen it makes for a delightful day. They give you a name of someone they want you to send the treatment and pilot to makes for a joyous day. I had one of those days yesterday for BELLA MORTE. But if you want to read about it just follow the hyperlinked Bella Morte and see where (hopefully) I’m starting to get a buzz going for the work. Another actor, Jon Lindstrom, favorite a tweet of mine which said I thought he would make a perfect Kravitz. So huge strides. An agent discovering me? Not exactly. Still waiting to hear back from two others with the treatment and pilot.

No, what has me happy today is the fact I’ve lost 10 pounds! Down from 302 to 292! The steps, the fruit, the vegetables, the meals. All started around Halloween means in a month’s time I’ve lost 10lbs.! The holidays always prove to me to be the hardest so Thanksgiving, I know the British don’t celebrate this holiday and I wonder what my ancestors on my father’s mother’s side think of all of this really think of it. Full blood Apache my great grandmother was and my great grandmother on my mother’s father’s side was biracial. Part Cherokee, part African American. 

But boy do my modern day relatives cook up a feast on my mother’s side. How can I say this politely? A friend of mine, his family plans fell through, I won’t give names and I won’t give details because well, this blog is essentially about me and my trials and triumphs. I figured if I asked my mother if he and his wife and daughter could come she shocked me and said no because my Aunt Debbie’s kids were coming. This angered me to no end. I wanted to eat to it. So instead I said I would make dinner for him and his family at home. She immediately asked sarcastically who’s going to pay for it? I scoffed there was an extra turkey in the freezer that would feed four just fine. Missy was making me some of her grandmother’s cornbread dressing with chicken livers. And I could get green beans and a pumpkin pie and cool whip with my EBT card.

The long and short of it, I invited him, he had others volunteer faster and I’m making dinner for my friend whose daughter has an extreme form of autism that doesn’t really allow them to celebrate the holidays like everyone else. And by only making three things with one dessert and one cocktail (white zinfandel and sprite zero) I keep the caloric splurge to a minimum.

Besides, if truth be told big family events bother me and crank my anxiety levels up to sky high levels. And then what do I do? I do what my mother did after our conversation about Thanksgiving I’d grab a bag of chili cheese fritos and down the puppy to its crumbs.

I simply went to my room and wrote. I had a word count to get and I simply didn’t have time for her hypocritical bullshit. I understand my aunt almost died and it has freaked my mother out in a big way. It freaked me out. It gave me what many would say was a ‘coming to Jesus’ moment. Where my aunt was (open heart surgery, her kidneys shutting down, her coming thisclose to death) was where my habits were taking me. I didn’t want to be on that path anymore. I think of where I want to be and that’s what I’m going to do. I couldn’t continue eating late at night. Snacking and sneaking and grazing and pigging out to the point of sickness.

My mom’s not there yet. And I suspect she has her own mood disorder issues as both my sister Sara and I have bipolar disorder, and Brandy deals with depression. The only common like dna wise that we have is my mother. My mood disorder isn’t her ‘fault’ it isn’t anyone’s fault, but there’s a lot of anger in me. I feel it stir every time I write an emotional scene in a book or screenplay, or the teleplay I wrote for Nashville based on the book I’m writing.

I’ve stripped the excuses away. Yeah, I had a crazy, dysfunctional childhood, and mom and dad and Jerry are a good part of that. But the point is, and my mom likes to think she knows me (she doesn’t) and she thinks she knows my mood disorder (she doesn’t have the first clue) and she tries to command me not to face those issues, not feel them. But the reality is, if the weight is going to stay off I’m going to have to face those emotions that I’ve covered up. The pain, the anger, the anguish, the fear, the rage, it’s all to going to come to the surface eventually, I just pray for the strength not to eat to it.


Amy McCorkle

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

Here I am 25K+ from my goal on NaNoWriMo. For those who read this blog don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. And I’ll be honest Daniel, you don’t know me, and the reality is will never know me, by that’s not what this blog has ever been about so I’m going to talk about my current state of mind and my mind’s current state is this. It is exhausted.

Let me explain. NaNo is 50K in one month. However, I am attempting 70K overall. I’ve never done that before. Ever. The furthest I’ve gotten is 60K and that was after trying to get out of it, several times. It lead to my first advance, which I gave back because they wanted to strip my voice out of the manuscript.

Don’t get me wrong they were nice people and it’s a fabulous indie publishing house but it wasn’t the kind of fit I was looking for. It meant turning down a 500 dollar advance. Which in this world was very hard to do.

But as I said it’s a year later and I know 70K is within my grasp but I’m very, very tired. When I tell my parents I’m toast after a day’s work they think I’m nuts. Point is after all the tweeting, FBing, and blogging one should be sick to death of even being on line, yet, it’s part of the daily grind.

Now, I love writing. Penning tales is kind of my thing. I feel like something’s wrong if I’m not writing. Like maybe I’m fidgety and my skin starts to jump. I’m restless and without direction. I wonder if it’s like that for other artists, that is you’re not creating you feel like perhaps something is just off.

Which brings me to the flipside of that, the exhaustion. My parents are tolerant of my pursuit of my creative endeavors. In my dad’s eyes my mother is a saint. And to some degree she is. But no one is perfect. 
Especially her or me. Dad is pointed in his assessment of this. He says living at home bothers me more than it bothers them. Of course it does. I spend two thirds of my time in that room. Partially because it’s conducive to writing and partially because it protects me from whatever particular mood they’re in that day.

Back to #NaNo. I struggled in the beginning. I thought, how am I going to make it to 50K? And then I realized what was blocking me. I had never written an EPIC before. A book with varying viewpoints. Flashback fully realized. And characters, even the bad ones, could have humanizing qualities. Innocents turned bad due to circumstances beyond their control. Heroes who are inherently flawed making them more anti-hero than hero. And with only one true heroic character, the heroine, I suddenly realized somewhere between 5K-15K that this book could go the full 70K distance. Which truth be told was still a little too short for NY but it just might wiggle through if it was good enough.

What makes things so awesome is I have my own personal cheerleader in someone I will not mention because I don’t know how they feel about me using their name. Of course there’s a part of me that doesn’t want me to share her. She simply too awesome.


Amy McCorkle

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

I want to share something with you and those who read this blog. The handful who’ve graced me with their readership know that my recent trajectory is nothing short of mind boggling. I’ve been writing since I was five. Been watching t.v. and going to the movies before then. One of my first memories is being in a let down hatchback of a Pinto. Yes. I said hatchback and Pinto. And my mom, dad, sister Brandy and I were at the drive-in. And yes, I realize I said drive-in. The movie we were seeing was The Empire Strikes Back. I can’t remember if I made it through the whole movie since that was 78 and that would make 3 at the time. But the experience I remember distinctly.

The speaker you hung on the window. The warm night air. The way you had to walk all the way back to the concession stand. The stickiness of the floor. Honestly one shouldn’t probably eat anything that came out of that place. Every now and again we had the money for it but ultimately we had large paper bags and this was before the advent of microwave popcorn. We popped our own popcorn. When I got older my aunt and uncle did this, brought a cooler of cokes and lawn chairs and we sat outside the car and watched the movies that way. It was a cool and special way to go to the movies.

Growing into adulthood I found I wanted to be a part of the magic. I wanted to write movies. But being in the middle of nowhere when it came film (I live in KY) and being part of a blue collar family I didn’t know anything beyond NYU and USC and  UCLA film school. And the competition for those scholarships it seemed was way out of my league and my parents didn’t have the money to send me anywhere. I went on a partial scholarship to a theatre arts program school where the focus was on acting. My mental health problems were already raring their ugly little heads so I dropped out after the first year.

After a brush with cult called Amway and bouncing around to several nothing jobs, I began to write. Not particularly well. But I played in my sandbox alone, playing around with the kinds of stories I wanted to tell. No one told me  what I was doing was right or wrong. I was pretty much allowed to develop on my own. Reading books, going to films of all kinds from Batman to Muriel’s Wedding.

For the longest time I resisted moving out of my family’s house, funny, right? I’d been on my own, living with a boyfriend and his problematic family. I loved him very much, but I couldn’t handle being cut off from everything I’d ever known, and after 5 months in New Mexico I moved back to Kentucky.

My voice was allowed to develop freely. And when I met Missy she approached me about writing a romance novel together. I, in my arrogance and ignorance told her sure let’s write a romance novel for the money. She loved the romance genre, and what I found was that love stories are hard to craft. Especially ones that demand happily ever afters where I had a penchant for killing off one or both of the lovebirds. Nicholas Sparks likes to blather and blither on that he writes love tragedy. The reality is he writes women’s fiction. Where romances don’t always end happily ever after. Honestly, I read how he treated a female writer for even suggesting this and I think he was just being a jerk.

That being said, my twenties were filled with learning the art of the pitch, which I hate to brag but I’m really good at it. And co-writing scripts and shooting short films. Some of which I would never show the light of day. But here’s the thing, my voice was developing over that time. And in my early thirties I exercised my novel writing muscle. I needed a break, and Lea Schizas of MuseItUp Publishing gave it to me for my romantic suspense short novel, Another Way to Die. (Yes, I know, I stole the title from Quantum of Solace’s Bond Theme. Bad Amy.) And proceeded to go through the most grueling edit ever. I now have five books with them. Each better than the last. I was 35. It was 2011. I am now 38, and have books spread out across three other small presses.

Then last fall I got the itch. I wanted to write a screenplay again. Just to see if I’d gotten any better. I hadn’t gone near a screenplay in 5 years. They say it’s a young person’s game, but at 38 Missy and I, women, no less, scored our first win ever with Bounty Hunter. This past spring Missy and I watched Kevin’s Burn In Hell tour. She asked me if I wanted to start down that path again. Why not? What did we have to lose?

In the span of 4 months I penned two short novels and co-wrote two screenplays. Since as you may have noticed I penned a pilot and developed a treatment. Wrote another short novel and now I’m working furiously towards a 70K length novel. My first one that I can actually take to agents.

For what it’s worth I know drive-in’s are dying. That New York will look vastly different on the publishing landscape, but I already have found an agent to submit to quite by accident. But first to finish that book, Bella Morte.


Amy McCorkle