Writing as Medicine

I’m glad to announce my new book of original Irish folktales, Beyont the Banjaxed, is available for purchase.

The format affectionately apes the short story collections of Lloyd Alexander, the grandfather of the YA novel…an author I knew and corresponded with in his last seven years. This is not to say my stories stray anywhere near Lloyd’s level, but my small book is a loving homage to my favorite writer/friend.

Writing the stories almost came to a standstill, however, when I started experiencing strange sensations and voices and was remanded to a psyche ward for three days. I’m not embarrassed by this–mental illness needs to be talked about and researched more than it is. They diagnosed me with having a psychotic episode brought on by lack of sleep for five days and being off my medication. They believe, as do I, that it was a singular event. (As long as I follow a structured sleep pattern, which I try to do.)

Being stripped of normal clothing–and bunking in an empty room (except for two beds) with a heroine addict–provided moments of terror, introspection, and anger. Anger at the world, my family for abandoning me in so dreadful a facility, and, most of all, mad at myself. Nighttime was the worst, as Red says in Shawshank, and the only thing that prevented my screaming in the dark was dreaming up the stories for this book.

Writing is a medicine better than any I’ve ever known, and I take a lot of medicines. When I’m sick, when I’m down, when the money or the love is not there, when the kid breaks a window or neighborhood cats mark their territory on my carport–writing takes it all away. It is both torture and tonic. While I’m in the midst of composition, well before a final edit/polish, I hate what I write. But (paradoxically) it helps me, all the same. It is the injection that rids me of the anger and the fear and the dread. Without writing, I would not need medicine…I would either be permanently interred in the funny farm, or I’d be interred six feet under. Writing is living; writing is life.

Banjaxed Manuscript

Beyont the Banjaxed is my favorite collection of stories, so far. They make me laugh, as they did while I was writing them. I think it my better work, and, if you’re so inclined, I encourage you to give the stories a try. Like all of Lloyd Alexander’s work, it is fit for adults and children. The Gaelic may strain your equanimity, but don’t let that deter you! If you come upon an Irish name that seems impossible to say, pronounce it any ol’ way you like. Once you pay the insulting price of $0.99 for a copy of the eBook, it’s yours to do with–and read–as you please.

And remember: Writing is more than an ephemeral balm. It is a physical remedy to the Universe’s little moments of hilarity. It is also my passion, my love, and, luckily, my vocation.

How sweet it is, even on the gray days.

Banjaxed Cover