Friday, May 30, 2014

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

I took a chance today. Actually two chances. I want to release a second volume of letters. I plan setting the first volume of letters on permanent FREE on Amazon. What started out as place to initially thank you and everyone else who has every helped me. Or to let off steam whenever I needed a place to be emotionally honest with myself. Or even just get something off of my chest so that I could get in the frame of mind to work. Became something bigger. I started getting comments from people saying that I really helped them understand what they were going through. That I was giving them hope that they too could crawl out of a tunnel that seemed to be pitch black and it was all they could do to feel along the walls to find their way out. In the sense that your work and Maurice’s advocacy and been my way out of the darkness I was acting as theirs.

I didn’t really know what to do with that. But I was touched just the same. I had been where those people had been. I had been struggling to just get out of bed, get in the shower, keep from having a hair trigger temper. I had needed heroes who understood me. And while I laude you and Maurice there have been so many nameless people on this blog. Those who have fed me when there was no money. Gave me a place to stay when there was too much friction at home.

Then the army of one named Missy who, along with the doctors and therapists put me back together. And Pam who has unfailingly been steadfast in her support (even if she is half evil). And of course the parental units who run hot and cold on me in their support. I am ever grateful to them for what they do take part in, even if they don’t really understand what it is I do.

No, the two chances I took today were calling Maurice Benard’s management and your publicist to see if I could get introductions to my second volume of letters.

Maurice because he too has bipolar disorder and copes with it on a daily basis and his advocacy got me into treatment, and you because, well, your work got me a career I have always wanted. And as I sit here writing this I’m well aware that the chances of either of you actually saying yes to this is slim to none I had to take the chance that you might. If I didn’t I would have lived with the kind of regret that nags at anyone who dreams big then fails to capture any part of that dream.

The documentary is something that has really just blossomed into something I could have never dreamed of. But it all has to start somewhere. And for me it starts with you and Maurice Benard.

I hope you can understand this isn’t me just fangirling and hoping that you will pluck me from obscurity. Letters to Daniel has NEVER been about that. It just hasn’t. And what may have started out as something as intensely personal has kind of taken off like a rocket. 

I have secured bestseller status with the first book, so I’m not looking for that kind of thing. Even the blog was never about that either. The film? I thought I might get into 1 festival, Imaginarium. And that was a huge IF. But then they said yes and that they wanted to make it a premiere event of the Con. And then Film-Com accepted us. And then The You Rock Foundation came and along and showed interest.

This second volume is my way of keeping the blog alive in it’s grown purpose. To help people. To make people see that even in the darkest of circumstances that they too can break through their obstacles, whatever they might be and make their dreams come true.


Amy McCorkle

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

I often talk about you and how you gave me a publishing and film career. And I credit your work being my inspiration. And all of it is true. But in some ways this blog could have just as easily been called Letters to Maurice. As his impact has been just as big.

Fifteen years ago I was an aspiring writer and wannabe screenwriter and filmmaker. And for my film I wanted the one and only Maurice Benard to star in it. For those of you living under a rock, or perhaps don’t know, Maurice Benard stars in General Hospital as Sonny Corinthos and in the forthcoming film The Ghost and the Whale. He also happens to have bipolar disorder and is a tireless advocate for those suffering with the illness in hopes that they (we) will seek out help.

At the time I suspected that I had it. But you know Maurice and his lovely wife Paula had the guts and the courage to talk about their journey when it wasn’t in the mainstream or very trendy to talk about. Although, that being said, mental illness isn’t trendy, it’s something that is still, to some degree talked about in whispers and shadows. The only place where I see it being used as ‘trendy’ is when the media outlets mislabel a misogynistic a-hole who shoots up a college campus.

Maurice had the courage to fight for the storyline on General Hospital. The courage to be open with his struggles. And honestly it gave me the courage to seek help sooner rather than later. His courage gave me the courage to keep going back to the doctor when there was a misdiagnosis in order to get the right diagnosis.

To keep taking the meds even when things weren’t perfect. He gave me hope that one day I would be well and that success in the creative industry was possible for someone like me the night he accepted his Soap Opera Digest Award for Favorite Lead Actor and said ‘for anyone out there with bipolar disorder if I can do it so can you’.

I remember crying that night. Not because I was sad, but because it struck at the very heart of me. I hadn’t written anything in months and I didn’t know if I would ever write anything again as I struggled to get to a stable place where I could do my best work. But those words, his words re-lit the candle of hope that had seemingly been snuffed out.

Recently I read his account of the audience’s reaction to his speech. That there had been some laughter in the crowd at his words. It angered me. That was his moment to shine up there. He had overcome so much and yet they would laugh in the face of it. I didn’t understand it then and I certainly don’t understand it now.

If that speech were given today it would be met with applause, not laughter. But fourteen years ago people were barely talking about mental illness. His work as advocate has saved many lives, including mine. So, even though I can’t afford to fly out to LA and see The Ghost and the Whale, his film about a man struggling with bipolar disorder, I support it one and ten percent from KY. And today he tweeted I deserved the success this blog/book/ and documentary was bringing me. Well he certainly deserves all of the joy, success, and stability he has fought so hard for.

I used to not understand what he meant by his words he couldn’t do it without his wife Paula. And while Missy and I are not a romantic pair I understand perfectly what he means by that now.


Amy McCorkle

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

I talked about Missy yesterday. Today I want to tell you about Pam. Her full name is Pamela Turner. Just so you know. Her books, Death Sword and Exterminating Angel are freaking brilliant. I don’t even read that genre as a rule and I love her stuff. Death Sword is a Chanticleer Review Finalist!

She also writes terrific short fiction and has been included in several of Rayne Hall’s anthologies. Her stand-alone piece, Family Tradition was an EPIC Finalist for short fiction (the Oscars of the ebooks).

She is also an award winning screenplay writer for her short screenplay Cemetery. See what talented company I keep? Between her and Missy I am seriously blessed.

But that’s not why I’m writing about her today. I’m writing about her because I want her to know just how grateful I am to have her as a friend. That I appreciate having her in my life. And that I couldn’t do half the things I do without her there.

When I am broke there have been times she has provided me with the cash for the medicines I so desperately need in order to stay sane. When everyone else bails or simply ‘cannot help me’ she’s the one who takes me to the doctor be it the psychiatrist, the emergency room, or the clinic.

Missy and I met her when she came in to audition for a film yet to get off the ground. She didn’t get the part, but when our DP bailed on us to work with a big Hollywood guy (in retrospect I can’t really blame the guy, who were we to Cameron Crowe?) but at the time we were desperate and it was Pam who stepped up to the plate.

And the irony of ironies, of ALL the people we worked with on the set for that disaster of a film she is friend who stuck. Not because she’s not a good person deserving of every success she gets or will get in the future. But because she may be rough around the edges and I think people forget she has a very soft heart.

She is wounded by things that others may easily brush off as nothing. Even I’m guilty of it sometimes. But that being said she all kinds of AWESOMESAUCE.

When I first met her I wanted to be her when I grew up. When I needed direction she kindly showed me the way. She introduced me to Savvy Authors and digicon where I found my first publisher. She introduced me to the comic con scene and Stephen Zimmer and Fandom Fest. Where it seemed each year brought me more success than the last.

She seems to be my Golden Buddha. I rub her belly and good things happen. When I thought all hope was lost with the Letters to Daniel documentary it was she and Missy who rode to the rescue and in effect gave me a more powerful and a more moving documentary to premiere at Imaginarium to pitch at Film-Com and to talk to the You Rock Foundation with.

Pam is the kind of friend who, if you show her loyalty she will have your back in ways you never dreamed possible. She often suffers the idiots around her in silence. She’s much too professional to ever gossip or talk trash about colleagues, even if they couldn’t be more deserving of it. She takes the high road and this can be hard on her.

She came into my life in 2001 as a colleague and quickly became so much more. She has been a great friend, and if anyone deserves good things, no, great things, it’s her. She recently had her first print book come out via Blackwyrm Publishing, The Ripper’s Daughter. If you get the chance buy it, it’s on Amazon. I was a beta reader on it and it’s a terrific tale.

If anyone is privy to a friendship like the one I have with Pam you should consider yourself so lucky. They don’t come around often. So when they do, cherish it. Don’t fritter it away.


Amy McCorkle

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

I talk about Missy and how awesome she is a lot on this blog. That’s because we have truly been through the fire and then some. When I experienced my breakdown in San Antonio fifteen years ago it was just us down there. Mom and dad sent care packages. Jerry sent nothing. He disapproved of us moving down there to begin with. Why? I don’t know, the man is a chronic alcoholic who is a real asshat at times and I was so hungry at times and I called him once and he denied me any help. He simply told me to move back home.

Here’s the truth of it, Missy calls Texas our grand adventure. It was absolutely nuts the way we packed up everything we owned, shoved it into her Ford Escort and drove from Bullitt County, KY to Bexar, TX all in an effort to make it in the film industry.

Yep. You heard me. Because we couldn’t afford LA or NY we opted for an area rich in independent film country. We were going to make it in the film industry. We attended the 6th Annual Austin Film Festival on producer’s badges. That’s right. We quit our jobs and moved clear halfway across the United States when I was already exhibiting signs that I was not a well girl.

Once at the Festival we thought we were the shit. Good Lord we were dangerous. We happened to encounter a man by the name of Jim Vaughn. I only wish we could find him now. He was the best thing about that Festival for us. We commuted two hours each way during the course of the Festival. Once, leaving the headlights on, forcing us to walk back to the Omni hotel where the clerk refused to let us use the desk phone and pointed us in the direction of the pay phone. (Russell Crowe, we feel your pain) and call a tow truck. I asked anyone if they had jumper cables and heard someone actually utter the bullshit phrase, we jetted in.

We had no furniture. Only air mattresses to sit and sleep on. A tiny 13 inch, yes, you heard me right, a thirteen inch television on which for a good deal of the time we were down there we had no cable or internet. Yes boys and girls you can survive without either. And meals consisted of spaghetti five days a week and hot dogs the other two.

My condition, fragile to begin with, quickly deteriorated. Common sense would have sent us home much earlier than when we finally broke and returned.

I heard my name being called from a distance. It sounded like fingertips tapping on glass. I saw shadows out of the corners of my eyes. A lot. Sleep deprivation was my enemy. Each night sleeping less and less. Until only getting an hour, only to be awakened by Missy opening the refrigerator.

The breaking point came when I became so enraged I wanted to destroy everything in the apartment, (and we didn’t have a hell of a whole lot). I walked in circles, pulling at my hair, crying, raging through clenched teeth. I needed to get help. I needed it badly. So Missy called my Aunt Rosie (a Roman Catholic Nun who is the coolest bitch you’ll ever meet) and she and her fellow Ursaline Sister Norma, who didn’t speak a lick of English came and picked us up and took us to the University Hospital.

So I waited and after an eternity I went numb, just absolutely the opposite of what I had been feeling. I was taken back to be seen. I have an extensive family history of bipolar disorder. I talked about how I had felt earlier. I talked about how I felt then. I talked about my family history of it.

The younger psychiatrist said yes, you have bipolar disorder. Her boss said no, it’s all in your head. I shit you not, that’s what the lady said. Only they didn’t call it bipolar disorder then they called it manic depression. Honestly I didn’t care what the fuck they called it as long as I got the treatment I needed. But I didn’t and by midnight I was crying and depressed and on the other end of the spectrum

Rosie took me and Missy home. But it was Missy who, at midnight, in a city she barely knew, in an area of the city that could be a little scary for the most brave of souls took me to the mental health clinic where they diagnosed me as dystemically depressed and put me on Zoloft. Folks, do you have any idea what an anti-depressant does to a rapid cycling bipolar chick. Let’s just say it doesn’t help.

After three days of torture my sister Sara instructed me to go back and ask to be evaluated for depression and manic depression. It took all day, but I got the diagnosis I needed. I got the medicine I needed and thanks to Patrick, an angel whom Missy and I worked with at Northwoods Cinema we had a wonderful Thanksgiving after going to bed hungry and waking up that way for a good chunk of time.

There are many other stories of how Missy was the kind of friend anyone should be so lucky to have stand by them. But sometimes I get so busy helping everyone else with their work, listening to everyone else about their stories, that I forget to help the one person who has been with me through thick and thin.

Today is Memorial Day here in the United States. I honor those who have served and sacrificed so that I can have the life I live today. But I also honor Missy, because without her perhaps, there would be no career, no festivals, no films, no books, and no Cons. You should know she is a brilliant author, screenwriter, and filmmaker in her own right. She is an award winning screenwriter and short story writer. The success with the documentary is due in no small part to hers and Pamela Turner’s hard work alongside me. So as much as the blog and book are mine. The documentary is truly ours. And I hope you tune in tomorrow when I talk more about Pam.


Amy McCorkle