Tag: writing fiction

Episodes 1 to 4 Inclusive of Living with Depression by Ken David Stewart


Living with Depression by Ken David Stewart

I have had to live with major depressive disorder for most of my adult life. I would estimate that this disease has consumed about forty percent of my productive years.

A few of the symptoms of depression are much more disabling than others. One of the most frustrating symptoms in my life is the severe and chronic fatigue that is commonly found in persons with this disorder. The chronic fatigue may be significantly prevalent for weeks and even months. Sometimes, I find that the fatigue and heaviness appears to go into remission for part of the year.

Why this happens, I am not sure. I am just extremely grateful to get these short seasons of relief. I tend to perk up a bit when the summer season comes along. This could indicate that I also have seasonal affective disorder.

The chronic fatigue that often accompanies depression may cause financial distress. Unless you have good group insurance benefits at work, you may find that your household income can be significantly depleted for parts of the year. When this occurs, worry and fear will usually appear.

I should state at this point that all chronic fatigue may not be attributable to the disease of depression. I have often found that a severe lack of energy may ensue after I have a serious viral or bacterial infection. When my cold and flu symptoms dissipate I have often found that my debilitating fatigue will continue for weeks or even months after. It is quite likely that I suffer from another illness known as CFS or chronic fatigue syndrome.

Episode two

Chronic fatigue will almost always negatively impact one’s relationships with other people. Especially if they have a significant other. The depressive’s spouse finds that her husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend chooses not to go out with them or do much of anything, especially if the activity involves other people and socializing. The partner that is unaffected by major depressive disorder may find that they are spending an inordinate amount of their time alone, or are doing many extra curricular or social activities by themselves.

 

It’s not always that a person suffering with depression does not want to attend the occasional social function. Sometimes they wish they could go to an activity with their partner, but simply don’t have the energy to do it. Even if they occasionally feel that they may be able to ‘push themselves’ to go out, they may be worried that they will bring other people down. Who really wants to hang out with a depressed individual anyway?

When I am in my worst phases of depression I feel that I don’t have the energy to carry on a conversation with anyone. When the depressive thinks about going out for social or group or church event, all they can think about is how much of their already depleted energy it might take to shave, shower, brush their teeth, select and put on clean clothes, etc. The contemplated energy consumption may seem overwhelming to the depressed person. If the depressed individual owns a car they may ask their partner to drive as they believe that they may be too fatigued to operate a vehicle safely. Worry and guilt are two emotions that a person with depression will frequently encounter.

Episode three

 

For the past two weeks I have been feeling relatively well. For most people there should be nothing special about this. For a person suffers from major depression disorder one good day is a day to be celebrated.

 

When I experience one or more happy days strung together, I started to get uncomfortable. I struggle the feeling of happiness in my life. It seems to be such a rare phenomenom for me. I’m so used to feeling depressed, without hope and having very little faith that my life will ever get any better. I was on my default setting when I was feeling exhausted and plagued by physical and emotional pain. I’ve have often thought that this was just my lot in life. I believe that this is why I am probably happier than the average person when I ocassionally experience a good day.

 

I went through a very rough winter season that seems to have started in November of 2016. I suffer from what my doctor termed a mild case of COPD. This illness appears in a mild form when I don’t have an upper respiratory infection. When I catch a bad cold or flu, everything changes for me. I’ve become so ill that I barely have the strength to get out of bed.

During my episodes of severe COPD in the past, I’ve been able to continue with my fiction writing, but not my substitute teaching. This time, however, even my writing was a ‘no go’. Not only did my body feel shut down, so did my mind. I couldn’t seem to string together two cohesive thoughts. I have been writing fiction novels and plays, oft and on, for several years now.

Although I am technically retired, I work part-time as a substitute teacher. I enjoy subbing very much and take as many assignments as much as my health and energy and energy levels allow. Presently, I’m on holidays and have been enjoying the last two weeks immensely.

I’ve experienced long periods in my life where I cannot feel joy in anything that I do. This affects every area of my life as why would I want to pursue activities that no longer give me any pleasure? This is what is known in the psychiatric literature as a condition termed adhedonia or the inability to feel pleasure in the ordinary experiences and activities of daily living. This is a very painful place to be.

Feeling somewhat better in December 2016, I returned to my work as a substitute teacher. The Christmas holiday season actually went relatively well for me and that is highly unusual. This was probably due to the fact that I had quality time to spend with my wife and my goddaughter. I will never forget the night all three of us watched Christmas videos. Most of them were very funny and I ended up doing something I haven’t done years. I laughed out loud.

 

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Excerpt 92 from The Lake Demon by Ken David Stewart


Chapter Ninety-Two
John woke up during the night and couldn’t get back to sleep. He went downstairs to make himself a coffee. He tried to motivate himself to think up some ideas for a new novel that he planned to write.
John walked over to the coffee table to get his pack of Pall Mall cigarettes. Due to his low and unstable income John only bought the budget brand cigarettes. He knew that he should try to beat his tobacco addiction, but he loved to smoke cigarettes when he was working on his writing. John sat in his red leather easy chair that was much the worse for wear. The leather upholstery was wearing out and there were cracks on the chair where some of the stuffing was starting to stick out. John didn’t let the condition of his chair worry him too much. After all he bought it for twenty dollars at a garage sale. He took a cigarette out of the pack and lit it up with his lighter, the one with the Harley Davidson logo. As John glanced at his lighter he thought about how much he would like to have his own Harley Davidson motorcycle.
Right now John would have to settle for finding pictures of Harleys in biker magazines. As he looked at these advertisements John would dream about riding his red custom built Harley along the highway. In his imagination he could see himself with a cigarette dangling from his lips and the wind blowing through his long hair as he passed cars and trucks along the way.
John enjoyed a few minutes of his reverie until he could hear the sound of the coffee percolator. It was now time to face the real world. John didn’t like living in the real world that much. He was happiest when he was living in his own imagination and was sitting at his desk writing his novels. John wanted his next novel to be about Ogopogo.
He was starting to envy the fact that his son, Ryan and his girlfriend, Monique would soon be going on an expedition to search for Ogopogo.
John Richards knew that this was his opportunity to make his dream come true. He often thought about having a close encounter with Ogopogo and proving the creature’s existence once and for all. Heck, if he could gain access to a camcorder he would love to make an amazing video of the creature at close proximity.
John was rather timid and introverted by nature and had never had too many friends due to his being painfully shy. He was also very much a lone wolf by nature. One of the reasons that John chose writing as a career was that he liked to work alone, without a supervisor looking over his shoulder.
This time he knew that he would have to step out of his comfort zone. He needed to be part of the expedition. John especially hated having to call people up and ask for their help. He knew that he would need to just bite the bullet and phone Dean Sanderson.Picture 82 Picture 81

Infinite Realities Episode Sixteen


Episode Sixteen of Infinite Realities:

“What are your books about?” asked the industrial psychologist.

“Nothing- and everything,” Rick said.

“That doesn’t make sense. What do you mean by nothing and everything?”

“That’s a good question,” Rick began. “I’m not sure that I completely understand the writing process. Especially mine. I guess it could be described as some form of stream of consciousness writing like James Joyce used in The Portrait of a the Artist as a Young Man.

I find it very difficult to envision or to plan out my books before I write them. I suppose I use the fly by the seat of my pants approach. I am definitely not a plotter nor a planner. On most days I have a burning desire to write something. I have a great need to spill out the ideas that are in my head on any given day. I like to get up early in the morning around four or five AM. I have my Frosted Flakes and coffee for breakfast and then I sit down at my word processor and begin to write. I usually find it to be a very enjoyable experience. I find it to be more efficacious for my mental health than talking to my therapist. No offense to my psychiatrist. I believe that she sincerely wants to help me put my fragmented psyche back together and to get me back to work.

In my opinion writing is much like talking to yourself. The writer pulls down to earth some of the fascinating ideas that are buzzing around in the universe and transfers them to paper as best as he can. The hard work comes when you get near the end of the first draft. That’s when I try to find some organic unity in what I have written. I look for a unifying theme and start the painful process of deciding what to keep and what to throw out. Sometimes I have to give up the whole novel if I find that there isn’t anything that I can do to save it.”

“That sounds like hard work,” said Michael who at one time had aspirations of writing his own novel.

 

 

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Episodes One to Seven of Infinite Realities by Ken David Stewart


Infinite Realities Main Draft

Rick Chandler was a few feet from the door to his apartment. He was in a hurry to find his key as he could hear the phone in his apartment ringing. His son was probably calling him to see if his dad could take him to the next WWE live wrestling show. As Rick fumbled for his keys he was startled by an odd looking man that had come up behind him. The man looked very old with his long white hair and beard. He was very short and his face was deeply etched with the wrinkles left by living the hard life and his clothes looked like they were obtained from the Salvation Army or a thrift store. Maybe this strange little man had found his wardrobe in a dumpster.

Rick turned towards the man and said,” Look old man. I’m kind of in a hurry. The phone is ringing in my apartment and I need to answer the call.”

“I understand sir. This will only take a couple of seconds. I’m giving you a present, a new piece of technology that you will never wish to part with.”

Rick grabbed the object from the strange man’s hand and unlocked the door to his apartment.

When he got inside his apartment his phone had stopped ringing. All his attention was now focused on what he was holding in his left hand. The object appeared to be an eight inch Android tablet that did not have any logo or brand name. The borders of the tablet were florescent and changed color every two seconds. The colors were bold and beautiful. Rick was sure that he did not recognize some of the colors. He watched in amazement when the borders of the tablet turned translucent. The touch screen contained many apps with icons preinstalled. Rick was startled when he heard his phone start to ring again. He stumbled over a pile of books on the orange, threadbare carpet as he attempted to find his red mobile phone on his old, well- worn coffee table. The mobile phone was buried under a haphazard pile of magazines.

 

Rick figured that it was probably his stepson Blake calling. Since his recent separation from Blake’s mother, Rick made it a high priority to visit his stepson on a regular basis. He and Blake had formed a strong bond while Rick and his mother were together. This bond had remained intact with the now thirty-two year old Blake. Rick didn’t like living alone in his apartment and he missed his family.

As he was very curious about discovering more about his unusual tablet, he had to force himself to place it on the coffee table while he answered the phone.

As he punched the talk button and said ‘hello’ Rick could hear the excitement in his step-son’s voice.

“Hey, Dad. Did you hear about the next wrestling card on August third? It’s going to be at The MTS Center.”

“No, I didn’t hear about it until you told me. Who’s in the main event?”

“Roman Reigns against Brock Lesnar for the WWE heavyweight championship.”

“That should be a great match,” Rick said. “Do you want to go?”

“You bet Dad. Can you take me?”

“Absolutely. I like wrestling as much as you do, son.”

Rick Chandler loved professional wrestling, truth be told. He was actually continuing a family tradition. Rick’s father took him to watch wrestling matches. He still had fond memories of seeing wrestling legends like The Undertaker and Ric Flair.

Rick walked over to the coffee table and picked up the tablet. As he examined it he knew that this electronic device was a very new and advanced technology and could not as yet be purchased at your local Best Buy or Future Shop. He could not recognize any of the apps or icons on the touch screen. Rick wondered how the disheveled old man he saw in the hall acquired such a sophisticated piece of technology. Was he the inventor? And why would he give it to Rick, a total stranger?

Rick decided that he didn’t need to know the answers to these questions right now. He needed to see how the tablet worked and what it could do. It didn’t come with an owner’s manual so Rick would have to figure things out by randomly touching the icons on the screen.

Rick looked forward to the challenge. He didn’t consider himself to be a geek but he was very interested in technology. Rick owned an HP desktop PC, a Dell laptop, a PS4, a smart phone and a Samsung Galaxy tablet. When he wasn’t working or spending time with Blake, Rick was usually engaged with one of his electronic toys.

“I understand sir. This will only take a couple of seconds. I’m giving you a present, a new piece of technology with which you will never want to part.

Rick hurriedly grabbed the object from the strange man’s hand and unlocked the door to his apartment.

Rick walked over to the coffee table and picked up the tablet. As he examined it he knew that this electronic device was a very new and advanced technology and could not as yet be purchased at your local Best Buy or Future Shop. He could not recognize any of the apps or icons on the tablet. Rick wondered how the disheveled old man he saw in the hall acquired such a sophisticated piece of technology. Was he the inventor? And why would he give it to Rick, a total stranger?

Rick decided that he didn’t need to know the answers to these questions right now. He needed to see how the tablet worked and what it could do. It didn’t come with an owner’s manual so Bill would have to figure things out by randomly touching the icons on the screen.

Rick looked forward to the challenge. He didn’t consider himself to be a geek, but he was very interested in technology. Rick owned an HP desktop PC, a Dell laptop, a PS4, a smart phone and a Samsung Galaxy tablet. When he wasn’t working or spending time with Blake, Rick was usually engaged with one of his electronic toys.

Rick Chandler was sixty-two years old. He was five feet ten inches tall and weighed approximately three hundred ten pounds. He kept himself in tip top physical condition up until his early forties. At age forty-three Rick stopped smoking cigarettes and started to take medication for his depression. Despite working out with weights and going for daily rides on his beloved Giant mountain bike Rick continued to gain weight often at a rate of ten pounds per month. Although he still looked powerful and physically intimidating Rick was now obese and no longer took pride in his appearance.

Rick was on long term disability. His estranged wife Janine had dumped him about the same time that Rick encountered the most difficult class of his thirty year teaching career. Like a perfect storm, Rick’s’ life and mental health began to fall apart. His principal was aware that Bill was struggling with his new class of grade eights. He called Rick into his office. Worried about Rick’s health he told him that he should go on stress leave.

The first thing that Rick noticed on his new tablet was an orange and red icon that was noticeably larger than the others and was flashing off and on. The icon read ‘Press Here First’ and Rick complied. A rather soothing male voice began to speak.

“Hello Rick. You are one of the lucky individuals selected by our corporation to try out this amazing advanced technology that has come into your possession. We have only manufactured five models so far. We have selected four other people and yourself to give our amazing product a test run. After a predetermined period of time we will bring all five of you to a top secret location in which you will all provide us with valuable feedback on the efficacy of our product. All of the tablets are somewhat different. We are trying to ascertain which of the tablets will be chosen as the elite model for our first run of production targeted for release to the general public. We want to make sure that we have worked out all the bugs by this time based on the group’s feedback.

You are probably asking yourself, ‘what’s in it for me?’ As you get more familiar with your tablet the answer will become obvious. Also at the end of our experiment everyone in the focus group will get to keep their devices. The corporation estimates that these tablets will initially have a retail price of ten to fifteen thousand dollars. I know that by now your innate curiosity is sufficiently peaked to give your tablet a test run. I will not be providing you with any instructions or direction as to how to use it. You will have to find this out yourself through the process of trial and error.”

As soon as the audio message was over the touch screen changed. The background color changed to black and a new set of apps and icons appeared. Rick briefly scanned the touch screen determined to figure out how this unusual tablet worked. The first app that caught his eye was one called Time Traveller. After Rick touched this app a menu screen appeared that displayed a series of options. The first option that appeared was Select the Date. The next option was Select a Location in Your Universe. The app then asked whether or not Rick wanted to be part of the experience. The next question asked if Rick wanted an historically accurate experience or if he wished to alter it using his own imagination and input. Rick picked the option of using his own mind to alter and rearrange the experience. Rick typed in a message that indicated that he wanted to be at the Altamont Speedway in December of 1969 the day of The Rolling Stones free concert

Rick noticed another option on the drop down menu of the app that he had selected. It said, “What age would you like to be?” He typed in ‘twenty-two; on the virtual keyboard.

As if no time had passed Rick was on the grounds of the Altamont Speedway a few feet away from the stage. Standing to his right was a short girl with medium length blond hair. Rick guessed that she was a few years younger than him. He was not immediately attracted to her.

On stage The Jefferson Airplane were playing ‘The Other Side of This Life’. Rick found it strange that the main stage appeared to be only about three feet above the ground. A scuffle broke out among people close to the stage. There was a lot of pushing and shoving and a few punches were thrown. The short blond haired girl was pushed into Rick’s chest. She wrapped her arms around Rick and held on for dear life. He could feel her trembling with fear. Rick’s tablet had fallen to the ground in front of him. He quickly picked it up and stuck into one of the pocket of his jean jacket.

Rick dragged his new female acquaintance to a small open space in the crowd. For the first time she spoke to him.

“Hi, my name is Athena. I don’t know you, man, but I’m scared. Something’s wrong with this crowd. They’re not peaceful at all and I heard some freaks saying that some people are selling bad acid. I want to get out of here but I can’t see a way out of this crowd.”

Rick immediately thought of his tablet and pulled it out. He typed, ‘Can I take this girl with me if I choose a different time and location?” The tablet began to type an answer, ’Yes, you may take Athena with you. Where would you like to go next?’

Rick typed in, ‘Memorial Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada July 10, 1969.’

As if no time had passed Rick found himself in Memorial Park in Winnipeg with Athena beside him.

“What just happened, man? Where are we?” Athena asked as she looked around the park. She could see a band she did not recognize on a stage at the west side of the park. An audience of close to two hundred people were there to watch the concert. The vibe that she got was that this was a very mellow crowd that were probably stoned on the ample supply of joints that were being passed around the audience.

“Oh, by the way, I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself when we were at Altamont. My name is Rick Chandler.Picture 51

New Book Available in Paperback Shortly


New Book Will Be Available in Paperback Shortly:
My new book, The Wild and Hilarious World of The Roswell Gang will be available in a paperback edition shortly. My sample copy arrived yesterday evening. My wife, Martha Peters, read my play last night. Both she and I were very surprised that she liked it. I didn’t think that she would like the kind of humour in the book, but she actually laughed out loud a few times while reading it.
Martha said that she liked the book and saw it’s potential.
I also can see the potential that the book has. Most people will find the book to be both funny and entertaining. It makes for a good reading experience if you would like to escape from reality for an hour or two. For example, if you had a rough day either at work or at school, reading this play just might cheer you up. I think that a lot of middle school and high school students would also find it highly entertaining. Both middle school and high school ELA and drama/theatre teachers might like to have their students act out The Wild and Hilarious World of the Roswell Gang. Speaking as a retired teacher, I would definitely use this play(with some discretionary tweaks) with my class.
Check out the price. The Kindle version is now selling for only $1.12 as an introductory offer on Amazon. The paperback copy should also be released to the public shortly. The paperback edition also comes with a beautifully designed glossy cover.
My goal in publishing this book is to have people read it and to be greatly entertained.
Thank you for checking out my book and keep on reading!
Ken David Stewart
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The Indie Writer’s Corner Episode 2


The Indie Writer’s Corner Episode 2
When I started to see writing as having the potential to generate income, my whole attitude towards writing changed. I learned that I would have to take it more seriously. Somewhere along the line it started to dawn on me that writing is an art form in which I would need to learn the craft.
To learn the craft takes both time and a lot of study. Most people cannot become successful writers without learning the trade and studying the techniques and strategies of the writing process.
When I first started writing a few years ago I just assumed that because I read a lot, I would intuitively know how to write fiction. This turned out to be only partially true. To become good at writing one must read a lot and write a lot. This is what Stephen King says in his book, On Writing. I don’t think that anyone can argue with Mr. King’s commercial success although a few of the unenlightened have questioned his artistic abilities. Personally, I have enjoyed reading Stephen King’s work for decades. I used to read his novels, novellas and short stories for pure entertainment. Now I am re-reading many of Stephen King’s novels with the goal of trying to figure out how he writes so well. There is real value in this approach but the aspiring writing must use other strategies beside this one.
By the way, I’ve come to hate the term aspiring writer. If you write either fiction or non-fiction on a regular basis start calling yourself a writer even if you haven’t published anything or made any money yet. We shall meet again for episode 3 of The Indie Writer’s Corner. If you like to comment on this blog or share some of your own insights on indie writing please email your comments to kendavid stewart7@gmail.com. I would like to see this blog turn into an interactive forum for indie writers.
Keep on writing,
Ken David Stewart
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