The brilliant and radiant writer Beth Mader, featured columnist and blogger for BP (Bipolar) Magazine
Every Saturday morning I’m in the habit of reading Beth Mader’s blog at the BP (Bipolar) Magazine’s website. I was drawn to Beth’s blog because of her raw, original and relevant writing. She never attempted to hide the dirty laundry of her life, but she was adept at avoiding “T.M.I.”. Her blog was definitely not ho-hum in style. Eventually we became Facebook friends and I occasionally asked her for writing advice.
Last Saturday was no different in terms of my routine, but imagine my surprise to see that Beth had briefly mentioned me in her blog post du jour! I got a kick out of the fact that she found me to be rather spunky. In her post “On Bipolar Memoirs and Writing” she writes:
“I am currently writing a memoir, and I refuse to make having bipolar its primary theme. My journey across this planet, this existence, is far more complex and rich than what the role of mental illness plays in it. That said, of course my having bipolar is a part of my memoir as it is woven throughout the fabric of my life.
Writing a memoir is hard. Having mental illness on top of it makes it even more challenging. Bipolar blogger and forthcoming author Dyane Harwood writes in a recent piece about how difficult it is to stay focused when we have bipolar, saying “Many people with bipolar have attention challenges and/or struggle with sedation due to medication side effects. I have both of those issues, but I won’t let them stop me.” Even without the side effect of meds, bipolar symptoms get in the way, I’d add to her thoughts. I like Dyane’s pluck; it’s the kind of spirit we need to keep in order to get anything done, let alone writing.
Someone who did get it done is our bphope.com blogger/BP Magazine Columnist colleague, Melody Moezzi, whose book I just finished. Her Haldol & Hyacinths, a memoir about her struggle with bipolar disorder, and also about being Iranian-American, an activist, and proudly intelligent, is brashly honest. I like Melody’s story because she tells it in way that illuminates a full life — one with pain, struggle, and both mental and physical illness—and a life with goals, dreams and pursuit of the same. And she doesn’t whine about it. Along with Dyane, Melody, and numerous others, I am keeping my nose to the grindstone, and working on my story. I have things to say.
What do you continue to do despite your symptoms?”
I bought Melody Moezzi’s book Haldol and Hyacinths as soon as it was available. The book made for riveting reading, to say the very least. It was totally unique as Moezzi vividly depicted how her Iranian culture played such a significant role in her life. The book is among my favorite bipolar memoirs, and it has earned rave reviews everywhere.
To view Beth’s original blog and meet some other BP contributors (including Melody Moezzi, & cartoonist Chato Stewart whose cartoon is in my 3/4/14 blog post) please visit:
On a separate note, every few days I discover a new bipolar memoir on Amazon. I kid you not. I simply do a general book search with “bipolar” as the key word. My latest find took place last Monday, when I spotted L.E. Henderson’s A Trail of Crumbs to Creative Freedom: One Author’s Journey Through Writer’s Block and Beyond.
Henderson released this relatively short book (88 pages) for only 99 cents on Kindle. In Trail of Crumbs she analyzes the creative writing process and how her bipolar disorder adversely affected her writing. She ends the book on a high note in sharing how she was able to let her creative juices flow again. I just started reading it, and I’m finding it interesting and well-written, so it was quite a deal for less than a cup of coffee!
The Amazon.com description of A Trail of Crumbs reads,
“Writing is hard. Toxic ideas about the need to summon a particular mindset or to force yourself to write cause pointless suffering. A Trail of Crumbs to Creative Freedom proposes a more playful approach.
Part narrative, part instruction, Trail chronicles the creative recovery of the author, a bipolar novelist. After a manic episode, she swings toward depression and block. She longs to re-experience the creative rush of writing her first novel and imagines a trail leading back to it.
Henderson asserts, “More than anything, I wanted to go back. Back to the time before my episode when the ideas has flowed freely. I needed a road, a path, a map. Anything would have been welcome.“
L.E. Henderson’s blog is http://www.passionatereason.com/
Tomorrow I will post part two, in which I discuss how a brand-new memoirist (someone who I frankly never imagined could write anything worthwhile) influenced me to “keep my nose to the grindstone” with my own writing.
Until then, have a great day, and thanks for reading!