Monday, May 18, 2015

The RID List: DEPRESSION

I have written and rewritten this post at least five times.  Then I got sick with one of those evil little stomach bugs and haven't been able to think about anything except sleep for the last four days.  Now here I am, reading what I last wrote and realizing I need to rewrite it.  Again.

I guess this is a harder post for me.
Ready for RID Post #2?



DEPRESSION

When I made my first post announcing this crazy RID List, I had labeled this category as "Motherhood."  A few different tongue-in-cheek friends asked me if I was planning on getting rid of my kids (you know, because I am "ridding" myself of these things...)  I just replied with a good chuckle, then sat back and thought.

No.  I did not think about actually getting rid of my kids.
But I did realize this post was about more than just motherhood.

I am a mom.  In fact, my main job is being a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom.)  I always knew that once I had kids, this would be my career.  And boy is it a career.  I cherish every moment and never want it to stop, but at the end of each day I usually find myself happy that that day is over.

When you are a SAHM, your life revolves around it.  You are a teacher.  A chauffer.  A school volunteer.  A chef.  A maid.  A doctor. A tutor.  A coach.  An artist.  A historian.  An alarm clock.  A displinarian.  A friend.

You clean more than you sit.  And just when you are done cleaning you have to clean again.
You never stop.  Ever.  Ever ever ever.
This sure does test you.

The idea of "me time" disappears as soon as you first hold their little hands and kiss those chubby cheeks.  You sacrifice so much, but it is so worth it.

Like I said, I love this job and wouldn't trade it for anything.  But the total sacrifice of yourself does something to you.  And for someone like me, it can really take its toll.

I don't talk about it much, because I don't feel like it needs to be flaunted.  I don't try to get pity or special treatment.  I know I am not the only one.  I am not going to dive into it too much, because this is the internet and the exact details of this battle are personal.  But it is something that really does control my day to day life and does need to be acknowledged. 

Depression.

I know, I know.  An author who suffers from depression?  Such a cliché.

I have been battling issues with depression since middle school.  I have never been into an actual doctor to get the "real" diagnosis.  And I cannot bring myself to turn to medication to "fix" this.  It has just become a part of my life.  A dark, scary, all consuming monster that randomly flares up and tries to take me with it.  

I cannot drive myself, I cannot get off the couch, I cannot think of happy things.  I just cannot.
Sadly, this word has also become a stigma.  Something people roll their eyes at or freak out about or just plain don't understand.  Because of that, I don't want to acknowledge it.  I don't let myself see that it is there.  It isn't really there.

So I let routine take over.  I am Super SAHM and that is all.  My kids need me, so I give them everything I have.  Then I lay in bed at night and lose myself.

That's what happened.  That's the reason I disappeared.  I let the craziness of motherhood, the darkness of depression, the busy ways of life overwhelm me.  And with that, I stopped writing.

I don't have the time.  I don't have the drive.  I am tired.  I would rather veg with a binge watch than sit and write because come on, I'm not that good at it anyway so why should I waste the time?

Yes, that's where my mind goes.
And I hate it.

I have learned something though.  Yes, depression is a part of me.  But it is not who I am.
I daily have come into the habit of reminding myself of this.  (Along with trying to live a healthier, more active lifestyle and totally diving into the doTERRA oil craze.)

Depression isn't my truth.  These are my truths:


1.  My life is great.  Yes, I am a stay-at-home mom.  I chose this path.  So I cannot let it get me down.  I have two amazing sons.  A husband I love more than anything.  A home we adore, friends that are just right for me, family all around.  I am lucky.  My kids test me, my clean home falls apart.  But life is good and I cannot let my thoughts sway that truth.

2.  My writing is great.  It is normal to doubt yourself.  Especially when in the depths of editing or accidentally stumbled upon a rather nasty review.  But at the end of each day, as long as I wrote something, my writing is great.

3.  I am great.  I am worth it.  I am worth everything.  I am not nothing.

I cannot just rid myself of my depression.  But I can stop letting it control my life.

When I write, I feel free.  I feel the weight lift off my shoulder.  And I need to stop stopping myself from that therapy.  I need to write.  It is my way of life.  It is so awesome seeing so many other authors out there saying the same thing, feeling the same thing, escaping and healing the exact same way.  We are a strange breed.  But here we are.

I am writing.  And it sure does feel good.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The RID List: PHOTOGRAPHY

It's about time to dive into this RID List of mine.  (For those of you wondering, here is the explanation of The Reasons I Disappeared List.)  I figured I might as well go in the order I had listed these reasons.  Meaning today is focused on RID #1:


PHOTOGRAPHY

When I was in elementary school my dad introduced me to photography.  I started with disposable cameras and snapped away rather haphazardly.  Come middle school he noticed my obsession and got me a simple little camera that took click in film.  And I snapped more than ever.

Dad, I don't know how much money you spent on developing film for me.  But thanks.

Towards the end of high school my dad got a digital camera.  I played with it when I could and found I was insanely jealous of the fact that he owned it and I didn't.  (It didn't help that my best friend showed up one day with a digital of her own.)  I drooled over these non-film wonders.  So of course the excitement that overwhelmed me when my dad gave me my own dinky little digital camera was beyond words.

I filled my computer with useless shots.

Honestly though, I didn't think of doing photography as more than a hobby until after I had my first kid.  I took way too many photos of him.  (That's a lie.  I didn't take enough.)  Soon friends were asking me to take photos for them.  I had started to fiddle with editing, and it wasn't too shabby.

Before long, I found myself investing in a DSLR camera, creating a Facebook page, and taking on clients that weren't just family members and good friends.

Somehow I had created a name for myself.
And I loved it.

Little did I know that it would take over my entire life.


Photography isn't just happily clicking a trigger and seeing the wonder that is.  You need to take the time to learn your camera, learn proper settings for the image you want to capture, learn the proper way to edit them to produce the best product...

That is just the start.

You set up the Facebook page.  The website.  Create the logo and watermark and business cards.  You reach out to people to spread the word.  Host contests.  Advertise.

Then you book the sessions.  You spend 60-90 minutes taking the photos.  This is the part I love.  You spend time with these people, some you know and some you are only just meeting.  You make them smile.  Get some tears.  Become a small part of their lives for that moment in time and capture the memories.  It is honestly magical.  And exhausting.


Then you go home with a filled memory card.  Sift through all the photos you just took.  Shrink the list down.  THIS alone takes time.

THEN (do you like all the "thens" that are happening?) you start in on the editing.  You create just the right preset for that session.  Apply it.  Tweak it.  Correct things.  Beautify the work.  Depending on the session, this can take hours...or days.  Weeks if it happens to be a wedding.  (Oh, don't get me started on weddings.) 

And most of the time, I had a few sessions in a row.  Meaning the backlog was getting worse and worse.  I still needed to burn DVD copies, upload to the private galleries, create sneak peeks, breathe...

I loved it.  I did.  But with each additional session, I found my time for writing was disappearing fast. I was swallowed up in the the all consuming photography world, and leaving the writing world  behind.


I had to make a decision.
Did I want to mainly be a photographer...or an author.

This was a huge decision.  These were two passions that I loved.  That gave me joy.  That I couldn't just leave behind.  So how would I decide?


I tried the classic "Pros vs Cons" list.  
I had been writing since I was three.  I got out and about and met people with photography.  I have so many stories still to share.  I made actual money snapping photos.  My writing was solely about me.  My photography was about giving memories to others.  The list never ended...This wasn't helping.

I had to figure something else out.  Because I could no longer do both to this extent.
It really came down to:
Which one would it break my heart to leave behind?  Where was my joy?

And without thinking, without weighing options and pondering, I knew the answer.
I tried to fight it.
I tried to rationalize.
I tried to change my mind even.
But my heart was stuck on one thing, always going back to one thing, missing one thing.

Writing.

So 2015 hit and I made my decision.
I am a photographer.  I always will be and will never deny it.
But my heart decided something for me and I couldn't fight it any longer.  I stopped taking on new clients, stopped advertising, stopped seeking sessions.  I thought it would be hard and the withdrawals would kill me.  But know what?  They didn't.

I guess this is my round about way of announcing that Jenni Merritt Photography is closed.  Not completely.  Not forever.  But as of today, I will only be shooting for family/friends and return clients.  And even that will be with extreme discretion.


TO ALL MY CLIENTS: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. The moments and memories you have given me are all so priceless.  I loved being given the chance to photograph you.  I loved that you trusted me with this job.  I STILL love photography.  Who knows what the future brings.  But at least I know that those moments of the past that you gave me are forever captured in my art.  Never doubt your beauty.

I have just learned that life is short, and you need to do what you truly love.  I love photography.  I love writing more.  I cannot sacrifice my writing time any longer. 

So here I am, sad but smiling.  Regretful but complete.  And excited for tomorrow.  This is a hard post to write.  But this is a good decision.  A good RID to rid.  Now, go after your own dreams no matter how hard they are to follow. 

And remember...Just smile.

Curious and want to see more of my work for the fun of it? GO HERE

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Public Announcement That I Do, In Fact, Exist

Hello.  My name is Jenni.  I used to actively post on this blog three days a week.  I would host giveaways, interview fellow writers, review books, share thoughts and tips.  Even talk about myself at times.  It was a magical time.

Then I disappeared.

I honestly think I let myself forget that this blog existed.  A lot of things fell on the wayside as life got a hold of me.  And now it has come to the point that I either need to discard this entire thing, or come back to it full force.

If you know me, you know I am not a quitter.

So...Hello world!  Jenni here!

Man, this actually feels fantastic.  I missed my blog.  We have gone through a lot together and I cannot wait to see where we go next.  I think the best next step for me would be to clear my head about the things that kept me away.  I will be doing it in a series of posts, just so I can keep them "short" (nobody wants to spend their entire day reading one post, right?)

To give you an idea of what is coming, here are the reasons I disappeared.  Or, since I am oh so very clever, The RID List (Because, you know, I am ridding myself of these reasons.  I know.  I am awesome):

1.  Photography.  Say cheese.

2.  Depression. Yes, I said that word.

3.  The Internet (Netflix, Facebook, and Pinterest, you evil yet awesome creations)

4.  Theatre.  You read that right.  Curtains, costumes and all.

5.  Lady Justice.  Yes, that book I wrote that is long past due for publication.

Intrigued?  I am too.  I still have to write the posts, which means I still have to have the epiphany about each subject.  But after lots of thinking, I have realized those 5 reasons are the biggest.  So here we go.  This may be interesting.  The first post will be up in the next day or two, depending on when RID #2, 3, and 4 let me sit to write.

As for tonight, I am going to sign out for now and let RID #3 win.
(I know.  I am weak.  If you agree to not judge me, here is a photo of my cat smiling in her sleep.)




Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Catastrophe Theory: A Progressive Story

Remember back in school, when you would write a sentence then pass it to your friend and they would add on?  You would take turns until some crazy, odd-ball story was created then you would giggle as you read the insanity of said story?

Well, we authors still do that.

The Hunt For Tomorrow was the digital scavenger hunt that led readers through 23 author stops and ended with an immense grand prize.  Part of that prize pack was letting the winner choose certain facts that we authors would then create into a progressive story.  

And we are doing it.

Each day, a new author posts a new chapter to the story, solely based off what has been written before.  There has honestly been no brainstorming, no planning.  Just a little bit of banter and the facts given to us by the Hunt winner.  We read the new chapter, then the next author has 24 hours to create the next installment.  That's it.   

It is insane.  We have no idea where this is going.  And we are loving it.

Today is Chapter 7.  And it is my turn.  
If you have already been following along, read away.  If you are just getting started, go to Chapter 1 and enjoy!  



Monday, July 21, 2014

The Hunt For Tomorrow WINNER

And the winner is...

Gayle Noble!

Thanks to everyone that participated. We hope you enjoyed The Hunt as much as we did.

The fun, however, is not over.
The progressive story begins this Wednesday. Each day, a chapter will be posted on this blog. All we're starting with is Gayle's title, trope and characters.

Title: The Catastrophe Theory
Trope: Technology Catastrophe
Characters: Jared, Eve and Cas

We have no idea where this is going...

20 authors.
1 story.
Begins July 23.







Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Hunt For Tomorrow















23 Authors.
1 Grand Prize Winner.
Tons of free stuff.

  • The Hunt will take you to 23 dystopian authors giving away ebooks, short stories and swag. 
  • Collect answers at each stop to enter the drawing at the end. 
  • The grand prize winner receives an autographed paperback from 22 authors, 3 dystopian digital boxed sets, and a progressive story written by all 23 authors.

Hurry.  The Hunt ENDS 11:59 PM, July 20th EST




Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Hunt For Tomorrow (Stop #8)

Welcome to THE HUNT FOR TOMORROW, a virtual scavenger hunt through 22 fictional dystopias.
Stop #8


by Jenni Merritt

In the Nation, no one is innocent - not even the children born behind bars. Millie 942B has spent her entire life locked away with her criminal parents and countless other inmates. She believes in the Nation, in its strict laws and harsh punishments.

But when Millie is released on her eighteenth birthday, she finds things are nothing as she was taught. People vanish, never to be seen again. Lies cover every word. Trust is as fragile as ice.
And then there is Reed. Born and raised outside the Prison walls, his dreams and thoughts cause Millie to doubt everything she has ever believed.

What is truly worth fighting for? If she pushes too hard, she could lose her freedom. If she stays silent, she could lose herself. The clock is ticking, and Millie must find the truth before it is too late.

QUESTION: Who causes Millie to doubt everything she has ever believed about the Nation?

BONUS: Subscribe to my newsletter then email me at jennimerritt.writing(at)gmail(dot)com to enter.  TEN randomly selected subscribers will win a little stack of surprise swag.  Some of my own.  Some from other authors I have met.  Who knows what you will get!
SUBSCRIBE NOW


-> OFF YOU GO! STOP #9

(For more about The Hunt For Tomorrow, CLICK HERE)


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