Tag Archives: memoir

Writer’s Digest Book Awards: The Result

17 Oct

Hello, lovely readers, from me and my welcome-overstaying sinus infections germs. It’s a tissue party over here.

But at least I’ve got something to really celebrate! As some of you might remember, waaaaaaay back in March, I sent my memoir, its ink freshly dried after a mere two months of official existence, to compete in the “life stories” arena of the 21st annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Books Award. You know, this post: https://thequillwritings.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/writers-digest-contest/

Well, the results are in! No, I didn’t win. But I did get something pretty damn cool: a FANTASTIC score AND an AWESOME review from the judges!

Books were evaluated in five different categories along a scale, with 1 meaning “Needs Improvement” and meaning “Outstanding.” A 0 was given if the category wasn’t applicable.

Here are my scores:

Structure and Organization: 4

Grammar: 4

Production Quality and Cover Design: 4

 Plot (if applicable): 0

Character Development (if applicable): 0

All 4’s for a first-time memoir that I wrote, edited, and published entirely on my own? I’ll take it!

But what I was even more excited about was the review:

The best part of Drop Dead Gorgeous by author Miceala Shocklee is her passion to write her own story about her eating disorder.   She writes about how eating disorders hold a deadly attraction.  There is the attraction of winning, of reaching “ultimate thinness” but there is also the attraction of playing.  There is a seductive temptation in the eating disorder game.

But eating disorders are not beautiful.  They are not pretty.  Eating disorders are not just an attraction, an addiction, a disease.  They are not just a way of life, they are an obsession.  How could I want such a deadly disease so much?  Good question.  You see, it’s not the disease I wanted–it was the promises it made.  The promises of superiority and power, of satisfaction and happiness.”

Perhaps one of the deadiest facets of eating disorders is that because you can always go farther and farther, there is always, always a competition going on.   The author realizes how through therapy her recovery is not done.

A must read for those who are going through an eating disorder and or recovery.

                – Judge, Writer’s Digest 21st Annual Self-Published Book Awards

Seriously, the only feedback I got was this amazing review, and a suggestion to possibly add pictures to increase readers’ understanding of the disease. I totally respect the judges’ feedback (have I mentioned yet how SUPERBLY GRATEFUL I am for their review???), but I don’t think I’ll be adding pictures – at least, not the kind they mean. There was a reason I didn’t include pictures in the first place. Too much emphasis has been put on the way that eating disorders look. To be sick, you must be stick thin. But that’s not true. Even technically “overweight” people can starve themselves. Some people can eat next to nothing for a week and lose three pounds. Some people can eat next to nothing for a week and gain two pounds. Sure, a lot of the danger of eating disorders is on the physical toll they take on a body. But the media, whether we’re talking tabloids or medical websites or individual blogs, have done a fair amount of showing what eating disorders can look like on the outside. The whole point of my book was to show what eating disorders look like on the inside. And that’s not easily done with pictures.

I want victims of eating disorders to have a voice out there who says, “yes, I have lived this life too,” but even more than that, I want victims of eating disorders to have something they can hand to their friends and family, the ones who never be privy to that world of eating disorder mind, and say, “this is what it’s like.” In all my years of encounters with other victims, there have been just as many ways as there were victims that eating disorders looked. For the most part, however, there was really only one way that eating disorders feel.

And besides, do you know how daunting it is to have to sit down in front of those who mean the most to you and try to explain yourself? Oh god. What are you even going to say? What if you can’t explain it right? What if they don’t perceive it accurately? What if they keep interrupting you while you’re trying to tell them things? What if as soon as you open your mouth you start to cry?

I hope that maybe, my book will take that burden from some people out there who find resonance in my words and can just hand all those loved ones my book and say, “here, read this. Then we can talk.”

So. Long story short, I think I’ll pass on the pictures.

But seriously, Writer’s Digest judges, I’m tickled pink. More than pink. I’m tickled fuchsia.

 

And by the way, in case you’re interested in checking out this book that I’ve just spent half a tonjillion paragraphs going on about, it’s currently available in both print and kindle form:

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Drop-Dead-Gorgeous-Miceala-Shocklee/dp/1300583037/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382045551&sr=8-1&keywords=miceala+shocklee

Lulu – http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/miceala-shocklee/drop-dead-gorgeous/paperback/product-20635940.html

A Dying Dreamland

17 Oct

dreamland 1

I think I have forgotten how to dream. There is a dead and dullness in me that can provide no spark for the shell of my imagination. My soul has gone silent, weary.

When I lay down at night, my head is filled with the noise of the words I was meant to think during the day, when only the repetitive, solid clunk of sandpaper phrases like “job search” and “paying rent” were heard instead, because no matter how I try, I do not have time to sit and think. Not when there are textbook chapters from a week ago to be read. Not when there is neurology homework to complete. Not when I woke up too early, stayed up too late, been too sick and too tired for too long and my brain is too slumped from fighting itself or too hazy from illness. Not when there’s always one more thing to get done.

I am empty. I have written myself – what more can I do? I have faced the truth of myself, found the cathartic relief, the cathartic release of turning myself into words. I have written my pain and written my cracks and written the rawest understanding that I have of myself. I have written my memoir. I have written my truth. Now, all else feels a sham.

I have always been too much in my characters. My heroines, they are vessels of my dreams set out upon a sea of words. They are the stories I could not tell in my life, the adventures, the happily ever after. They were the stitches for wounds I had no other way to heal.

But it was all subconscious before. Sure, to some extent I knew I had been projected into my characters, but now – there is an awkward consciousness that what I am trying to write is just one more shadow.

Do I have no more dreams? Every time I set my mind wandering, the worlds all feel thin and shabbily built. Nothing feels like a good enough premise. Nothing feels good enough to be made real.

And so I toss the frail wisp of narrative away and watch it drift off, flimsy and sticky on the wind of being forgotten.

There is a ghost of a girl mourning within me. She holds a pen. She thinks that I have forgotten how to dream.

On Silencing

8 Sep

face in hands

Hello lovely readers. Today, September 8, is the start of National Suicide Prevention Week.

So, let’s do some talking.

I’ll likely write a slew of articles this week. Book reviews, rants and ravings, maybe a poem or two. But to start it all off, I thought I’d start with a more personal article.

Because for me, suicide is a highly personal topic.

I cannot point to a single day, a single moment, and say “that’s when I first became suicidal.” I cannot even say when I first learned of suicide. It’s one of those things – and perhaps that is sad – that I have just always seemed to know about. I can remember being six or eight or maybe even as old as ten (though I think that is less likely), sitting on the couch of my house’s “play room,” surrounded by the trappings of a middle class American childhood, and wondering about running a knife from the silverware drawer downstairs across my throat. I don’t remember what in particular I was wondering – perhaps how much it would hurt, or what it would feel like, or how long it would take to bleed out – but I do remember hastily shoving the thought back to some dark corner of my mind and thinking no, that’s not a good thought. Jesus wouldn’t like it, because suicide (according to what I’d been taught somewhere along the line by my Catholicism) was a sin. And because suicide was a sin, it was out of the question. Period.

Again, I don’t know why I was thinking about suicide at the age of six or eight or less-likely-ten. Perhaps my father had gone into an alcoholic rage at my mother again. Perhaps there had been yelling. Perhaps there had been crying. I’m not really sure. You see, at that young age of six or eight or just-maybe-ten, the thought that something might be “wrong” with my household hadn’t really registered in my consciousness yet. Things like parents’ having separate bedrooms and the sound of yelling echoing upstairs after bedtime – that was just the way things were. That, for me, was normal.

For years, all I had was the occasional twinge of a particularly painful cramp in my soul that made me wonder if the constant vague sense of unhappiness that colored my life was, perhaps, something out of the ordinary.

Why do I go into so much backstory? To make the point, perhaps, that when over my junior and senior year of high school I progressed from “vaguely unhappy” to “clinically depressed” to “self-injuring and suicidal,” it was so much a progression of the natural order of things for me that there really are no milestones to remark at. One year I’m unhappy but still counting on that future tense. The next I’m going home every day after school wondering if it will finally be the day I kill myself. Try to rewind or fast-forward or pause somewhere between those two, and it’s all just a blur.

I suppose I mention all of this to give grounding to my opinions when it comes to suicide. No, I cannot speak for everyone on this point. But hey, I’ve had a fair amount of first-hand experience (not to mention second-hand experience in the way of mental health counselor training and acting as a peer mentor), so I do know a thing or two.

If you really want to know more about the nitty gritty of what my experience has been like, I suggest you look into my memoir, Drop Dead Gorgeous (more info here). But I suppose that what I want to say in this particular thought stream is that if I were limited to making only one statement about suicide, it would be this:

We need to talk about it.

Suicide should NOT be lauded, but neither should the dead be scorned. I know it’s scary as hell to say “I want to kill myself” and scary as hell to hear, but the taboo that so pervades most society and leads people to die silently so they don’t have to face the disapproval and disgust that appears all too often in other’s eyes – THAT is unacceptable.

I know suicide and depression are excruciatingly tricky to tackle effectively. I’ll write more on that later. But hey, practice makes progress, right? Parents and friends and doctors and teachers and police and janitors are never going to develop muscles capable of supporting someone if they never try to use them.

So first off, let’s ditch this condemnation of people with mental health struggles as “weak” or “weird” or “incompetent” or “lazy” or “untrustworthy” or “to be avoided.” I know that suicide is horrible and awful. But that doesn’t mean that people thinking about it are, or that talking about it is.

So let’s talk, people. What do you have to say?

DDG Kindle Edition

18 Jan

Hey Kindle people! Drop Dead Gorgeous is now available as an e-book. Happy reading!

Check out the Kindle version of Drop Dead Gorgeous here!

Drop Dead Gorgeous

15 Jan

DDG cover

It’s official! Drop Dead Gorgeous, Miceala’s memoir, is now published and available for purchase through LuLu.com. “DDG,” as Miceala fondly thinks of it, will be available in print and as an e-book through Amazon and LA-area bookstores soon!

Here’s the book jacket description:

“This is not a pretty book. It is a book that contains all the mess and grunge of a real life. My life – with an eating disorder.

This is a look from the inside. Written while I am still recovering, this book is an attempt to give all those who have never had to live within the war zone of an eating disorder a real look at the battleground.

So welcome, then. Welcome to the inside of my own head. Welcome to my land of thin thoughts and fat fears. Welcome to my attempt to become drop dead gorgeous.

Let’s hope we make it out alive.”

Buy it now on LuLu.com!