On Being A Writer With Agoraphobia & PTSD
+ NaNoWriMo & Feuding Gypsies 

On Being A Writer With Agoraphobia & PTSD 
+ NaNoWriMo & Feuding Gypsies 

So, I was over on Reddit, you like I often am, and found this question. And answered it, like I do. However, the answer I initially gave was a simple generic answer. If you want to read my original answer unaltered, simply click on Reddit's embed feature links which Reddit provides for webmasters to be able to post their answers on their websites, while linking back to the original thread on Reddit (if you didn't know Reddit offered and encouraged the use of this feature, look for it in the "share" features underneath every post, comment, and reply on Reddit).

I am answering random questions today about world building, over on Reddit and decided to take my answers from there and expand upon them even further over here. So that's what this page is. Me rambling on about various aspects of world building techniques I use when writing the Quaraun series. The questions I am answering are embedded here. Clicking the link in the embedded question will take you to the original Reddit page where you can see the original answer along with other people's answers. If you wish to comment, you can do so on the Reddit page where a place to do so is provided.

In any case, as with all of my Reddit answers found on my site here, my original post on Reddit is much shorter then the article here.

On Being A Writer With Agoraphobia & PTSD 
+ NaNoWriMo & Feuding Gypsies 

Perhaps not what you want to hear, but when you say this:

>>I have a severe anxiety/depressive disorder that makes it incredibly difficult for me to hold down a job

>>having such difficulty working doesn't exactly do wonders for my self-esteem

followed by this:

>>Are there any online competitions that one could recommend me? 

I'd actually say to avoid writing competitions, as they will likely increase your anxiety and make your depression worse. Competitions of any kind (sports, music, art, writing, etc) are high stress, because you're constantly thinking about how you need to do better than the next guy. Before you know it, you start worrying and fretting and telling yourself your not good enough. And that's people without anxiety or depression!

I've dealt with both anxiety and clinical depression and also suicide, so I know from personal experience, that while writing can help relieve stress and depression, the act of writing for a competition can make the stress and depression worse and can send anxiety levels through the roof, because now you have to worry about your work being judged, and then no matter how good your work is, you are 1 of possibly 1,000s of entrants and only 1 winner out there, so, then if you get your hopes up of winning and then don't win, that'll send your self esteem crashing lower then ever, with you now going: "What did I do wrong?", "Why was this no good?"... even though you did nothing wrong and it is good, but your mind will go down that depressed morbid road and tell you otherwise... like I said, been there, I know.

My suggestion instead it to start out by writing for fun. Don't even think about publishing at first (but do keep it as a long term goal). But at first, write things you are excited about, create hot characters you would want to date in real life and write about their lives/adventures/romances/etc. Build a world you'd love to explore, then send your characters lose in that world. Just have fun with writing. Write stuff that you think is fun to write.

Find someplace you feel safe and comfortable... a beach, your rose garden, in a beanbag by the back window, curled up under a blanket tent in your bedroom.... doesn't matter where it is, just someplace you feel totally safe, a place where you can sit for hours, and write all those fun things to write.

The goal here is to get yourself feeling excited to write, to the point that you jump out of bed each morning burning to rush to your little writing den and get writing away. Believe me, developing this sort of daily writing ritual in your own little "safe zone" is going to do wonders at relieving anxiety and soothing away depression.

You want to know why I became an author? I'll tell you: it was because literally could not do anything out.



I am recovering from agoraphobia. I didn't set foot off my land from the time I was 14 until I was 31. That's 17 years, with a phobia so bad that I couldn't leave my yard. So I know exactly what you are talking about when you say:

I have a severe anxiety/depressive disorder that makes it incredibly difficult for me to hold down a job, so I'm trying to focus on something that I can do from home

having such difficulty working

I went through 17 years of not being able to have a job, because I couldn't get to the end of my damned driveway. The panic attacks at times got so back that they triggered seizures, fainting spells, and extreme long term mutism.

Agoraphobia is a horrible thing to live with, and a lot of people don't understand it. They think you can control it and get upset and bully you and say how, "You can do it, just take one more step."

Most people, like myself, who have Agoraphobia, also have PTSD, and in most cases, there was a traumatic event that triggered both illnesses. In my case it was a shoot out. Two feuding Gypsy clans, about 70 adults, with very illegal military guns, shooting each other. I live at 146, One clan lives at 142. The other lives at 139. And they frequently gather to shoot at each other from their driveways and front lawns. My driveway is in the crossfire between them. They started having these shootouts in the 1970s. If you go to my YouTube channel, you can find their five most recent shootouts, caught on camera, in 2016 and 2017. One of which, happened, with them, standing in my driveway. Welcome to Maine, where everybody and his cousin owns at least one machine gun. My neighbour at 148, her house is full of bullet holes. She's also in the cross fire.

Do you want to know, how I was able to, at age 31, leave my house? A bomb blew it up. Fastest way to leave a house is to not have a house anymore. Ever heard of the Lobster Wars of Maine? This is it. My neighbour at 142 is a lobsterman, the one at 139 is a clm digger. They are fighting over fishing territory. The feud started with their parents in the 1950s, before I was even born. Did I welcome you to Maine yet? I think I did. If you ever drive up here to visit Old Orchard Beach, be sure to wear your bullet proof vest. You'll need it.

The thing is, every one around here has guns, You go to WalMart, you see women rifle in one arm, baby in the other, doing their grocery shopping. WalMart sells the guns. No permits. No background checks. Ten year old can walk in and buy a gun on their way to school, take the gun to school, and no one bats an eye.

This is the culture of Maine and what I grew up with... like everyone in Maine, I didn't bat an eye at guns, I had my own rifle at 8 years old, every kid around here does.

And now? The sight or sound of a gun, sends me into PTSD meltdowns and seizures. Why? I was standing on my lawn one day, when my 10 year old cousin got his eye blown out of his head. He was standing 3 feet beside me. They were not aiming at him. It was the fueders. He was shot in the crossfire. Just standing in the wrong place at the wrong, on my front lawn, 10 feet from my front door. And ever since than, you couldn't get me to go outside. The backyard was okay, but not the front lawn, not the driveway. For 17 years. You always hear me say there's nothing that terrifies me more then The Cyr Clan. It was the Cyr Clan that shot him, and the woman that did it... the police never caught her.

I can leave my yard today, but after I started leaving my driveway, it took another 15 years, before I could get far enough from my yard to get a job.

That's why I'm an author. Because it doesn't require going outside.

So when you say:

I have a severe anxiety/depressive disorder that makes it incredibly difficult for me to hold down a job, so I'm trying to focus on something that I can do from home

having such difficulty working

I feel your pain. I know, better then most, what it's like to live with anxiety that is so bad, you can't have a job and need to find a way to work at home. Not many people understand what it is like to live with anxiety on that level, to the point it takes away your ability to work outside the home. I know what it is like to WANT to have a job, to WANT to go outside, to TRY to walk to the end of my driveway, only to be reduced to a a screaming gibberish mess that then locks the door and can't set foot outside at all again for weeks, sometimes months to a time.

Where's a good place to get started?

Writing. Just writing. Write a lot. Write enough to bury the fears. That's what I did. It's why I write so much. It's how I published 130 novels in that same 17 year period. It's not like I had anything else to do.

For years, I'd do NaNoWriMo, and the local members were constantly emailing me asking me to sign up to be the local ML, saying I was the only published author in the area who was a NaNoWriMo member and that my being at Write Ins would "boost moral"... but they held writing meetings a 2 hour drive from me... and me, I had no car or driver's license, you know, because, I couldn't leave the damn house, and I'd try to explain that to them and they'd be: "We'll all you gotta do is find someone to give you a ride." Then they started doing this whole "EelKat's arrogant, she won't come to our Write Ins" on the NaNoWriMo forums. No. Finding a ride was not the issue. Wanting to spend time with fans of my books, was not the issue. The issue was being terrified of being gunned down while trying to get from my front door to my mailbox. To this day, not one of them has yet to be able to grasp the concept of what agoraphobia is. One has only to look at the "anti-EelKat" posts the current Maine ML posts all over the Maine NaNoWrimo Regional forum every year since 2013.

This is WHY, I warn against writing competitions... because, other members, do not understand that you join them for the need of social interaction. They don't understand that you literally have NO ONE to talk to face to face in your every day life... they have school and work and girls night out, and hanging out at the mall... they will never understand that you are home alone, all day, all night, day, after day, week, after week, month after month, year after year.... a lone, with not one single person on the planet who cares enough to even visit you.

Only 1.7% of the planet, deals with anxiety levels that are so bad, you can not work and are stuck at home. 98.2% of the planet can not even begin to understand what you are going through. And while I understand the desire to find writing competitions to join, so that you do not feel alone... I'm also the first person on NaNoWriMo to write 200,000 words instead 50,000 and then I was the first to write 500,000... and every year I also get 21,000 hate emails from the members of NaNoWriMo, their raging inferno, their death threats, bomb threats... in my 12 years doing NaNoWriMo several THOUSAND members of NaNoWriMo have threatened they would blow my brains out, because I wrote too many words in 30 days.... me... who can't go outside, because I have a phobia of guns.

Do you know, that BECAUSE in 2010 I got 21,000 death threats sent to my email, by NaNoWriMo members, that since November 2010, I've not opened my email. I haven't opened my email in 7 years. I have a phobia of reading emails now.

THAT is why I say avoid writing competitions.

It's not the way to go. It WILL make your stress worse, not better.

So for now, I say just write. Write what you love. Write to your heart's content. Write for fun. Write for you. Write to heal your soul. Now's not the time to worry about publishing. After you have finished your first draft. Re-write it, edit it, rewrite it again, edit it again, and only then, start to think about publishing it. But for now just write.

>>No, because most publishers know it is unrealistic to expect and author to wait weeks or months before being "allowed" to submit to other publishers if their work is rejected. Agents work with new authors all the time. In fact, many publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts and require all submissions come from literary agents working with the authors. Not sure where you are getting your information from but it is inaccurate.

Actually, it's your information that is incredibly inaccurate. When was the last issue of The Writer's Market you've read? The info you are citing is VERY 1990s and extremely outdated.

Many publishers DO in fact state in their submission guidelines that they will not look at a MS that was submitted elsewhere at the same time. Only a handful of publishers have "accepts simultaneous submissions" in their guidelines. Most say to wait 6 weeks after submitting to them, before submitting to another publisher.

Very FEW publishers these days require agents. Submitting to agents has been "out of fashion" since about 2005. There are over 20,000 publishers in America alone and fewer than 50 of them require agents. The big, big, BIG houses do: TOR, Baen, Scholastic... but even then, some of biggested of the mega giants did away with the agents requirement nearly a decade ago: Harlequin and Avon for example, even go so far to tell you NOT to submit via an agent, saying they will NOT look at anything sent by an agent.

You might want to brush up on CURRENT trends in the publishing industry.

The advice you stated here was true in the 1980s and 1990s and started fading in the early 2000s.

The thing to remember is that EVERY publishing house is different, and yes some do still do as you say, but they are usually the older, bigger, old school publishing houses, and the bulk of the newer, younger smaller publishing houses do not go with the old-school style of submissions.

In the end, no two publishers are alike, each has their own guidelines, so never assume that you MUST do this or CAN'T do that. ALWAYS read the publisher's current submission guidelines and follow them to the letter.

If they say they require an agent, get an agent; if they say they do not accept agented submissions, don't get an agent. If they say simultaneous submissions are okay, send it to everyone at once; if they say to wait 6 weeks before submitting elsewhere, wait 6 weeks. If they say they only accept Romance, don't send them Horror. If they say nothing under 120,000 words counts as a novel, don't send them a 50,000 word NaNoWriMo draft and expect them to to accept it. Simple as that.

Authors can say, publishers do this or publishers do that, and each is right, because THEIR publisher did the thing they described, but that doesn't mean ALL publishers do the same thing. That's why it's very important to read the submission guidelines for every publisher before contacting them. No two publishers are ever going to have the same requirements.

Read the guidelines of your chosen publisher and follow them to the letter.

There is no one method fits all publishers. Every publisher is different.

Wondering how authors find publishers?

Writer's Market -  it's a giant 1,000+ page book, costs around $40, is like a yellow pages style phone book directory of every publishing house, magazine, anthology, newspaper, and literary agent currently seeking submissions. There are around 20,000 publishers listed in it.

They come out with a new edition every year, so get the 2018 edition which comes out in a few weeks.

It's not easy to get listed in the Writer's Market. They do a major amount of rigorous filtering, to make sure no scams get in.

The Writer's Market has been the #1 way authors find publishers since the 1940s.

Here's their website: http://www.writersmarket.com/

They have an online directory that is the same as the print book, but it costs around $70 a year to access it.

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