Writer’s Notes: Brain Chemistry & The Dark Valley of “Middlestory”

My body doesn’t really react to things the way an “average” body
does. You know that
scary looking list of side effects that an insanely small percentage of
the population gets when taking some medication or herbal supplement?
I’m usually in that small percentage. Either it won’t work at all, or it will be
far, far too strong for me, even at a low dose. With herbal/natural
supplements, I often have to take a quarter or less of what’s
recommended for the average person for the same results. And artificial sweeteners of any kind are an automatic trip to the loony bin for me, by which I mean they make me both physically ill, and the most crabby, insanely angry person on the planet. Even just one accidental run-in and I’m impossible to be around for the next 12-24 hours. Worst feeling ever.
a few years ago, I read about coconut oil, and decided to make it part
of my diet. I overdid it, felt *miserable* for a week or so (google
Herxheimer reaction), and decided it wasn’t something I could continue
with. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when I decided to try to
slow my dog’s cancer down with coconut oil (which does seem to be working, BTW), and decided that I should
try again for myself, with a very small amount. Everything was fine for a couple of
weeks, and then I decided to increase my own dosage by a quarter.
a sore thyroid, foggy brain, and extreme irritability. Like I said –
sensitive chemistry here. Worried that I’d ruin my thyroid function, I
cut the coconut oil right then. Of course when you stop something like
that, you have to wait for the effects to wear off. Monday I found
myself with a very foggy brain and a tingling scalp and neck that felt
like someone’s creepy fingers were crawling around under the skin on my
head all day long.
Monday night, I had a scene to write.
And no story to tell. 
suck anyway for me – I’m don’t have a problem writing short, but it’s a
challenge for me to keep the story going to 50k words (which is what I
like for novels – I have no idea how people write 100k plus tomes. I
couldn’t do it. I don’t think. Though maybe I should try…). And I am
smack-dab in the middle of The Minister’s Maid, and at that
point where I feel like a total hack who can’t write, can’t tell a good
story, and should just put down my proverbial pen and go find something
else to do. This isn’t really helped by the fact that one of my pen
names is selling better than me this month. Dang it.
In any case, my brain chemistry was screwed
up, I was in my least favorite spot of the book, and I did what any
self-respecting writer would do – I whined about it on Facebook. Then I
went and stewed for awhile, and reminded myself of one of my hard and
fast rules for writing:
Just Keep Going.
internalized that doing NaNoWriMo for years, and it’s served me very
well ever since. So I sat my addled brain down and opened the WIP, and
started typing. I normally let my subconscious lead, but that
didn’t seem like a great idea given the circumstances, so I wrote the
predictable direction I’d been trying to avoid. And the more I wrote,
the more my brain cleared, and the more the “rest of the story” started
to form in my head (see, the thing about letting your subconscious mind
do most of the writing is, it tends to take over whether you want it to
or not).
There’s only one thing I really screwed up, and I blame that on the brain chemistry issues because
it’s not something I’d normally forget. I forgot that my hero isn’t
fully aware of the complete situation with my heroine yet, so there’s an
entire scene that needs to be added in the middle of what I just wrote (read, “giant plot hole”).
I hate that…I am a linear writer, so missing scenes bugs the crap out
of me. But all in all, it’s not as bad as it could have been, and the
scene that’s missing will be easy to write.
all’s well that ends well…my brain is nearly back to normal (or what passes for normal, anyway), I am going to
try coconut oil again but I’ll be sticking with insanely small amounts
on a not-so-regular basis, and the story has a direction once more.

I still hate writing through the Dark Valley of Middlestory, though. I doubt that’s ever going to change. I probably won’t stop whining about it either.

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