Here is a guest spot by a writer I admire, not only for her writing, but for her blatant honesty about her struggles, something I have trouble doing publicly. Her blog posts have at times transformed my day from rotten to grand, or at least added the feeling that in some of the craziness of what we do, I am not alone.
I hope she inspires you as well. (See her bio and the links to her work below this post) Be sure to check out her latest release, Paper Souls.
Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.
Artistic expression may or may not be supportive for a healthy mind—it depends on who you ask—but I am inclined to believe it is, in some ways. I’ve talked before about how the writer life—the seclusion, the alcohol, drugs, the introverted lifestyle—can and will be damaging like it has been to so many writers before us, but that’s a whole different thing. There is positive passion and there is negative obsession and I can say I have been too far away from the line on both sides. The universe requires balance, and so does writing along with everything else.
However, like my most-of-the-time skewed reality, my thoughts on this specific question are backwards. I don’t think writing helps with my mental illness or helps work towards an ultimate recovery from Paranoid Schizophrenia. I write purely for artistic expression, to give something back to the world that has given me so much and to make people think in a capacity that they normally would not.
Nicholas Denmon, Bestselling Author of For Nothing, once dubbed me The Queen of the Surreal. He had read my charity piece The Sandman, which is a very short excerpt from my literary novel Paper Souls, and the nickname caught on pretty quickly. It’s an honor really, but to say that I don’t enjoy being called that would be a blatant lie.
I’d begun writing somewhere around two years before I’d been diagnosed with Schizophrenia, and quit writing for about just as long during my campaign to not fall into the cracks of the illness like so many schizophrenics before me—the cracks being suicide, of course—so I hadn’t ever really made the connection of schizophrenia and the surreal style of my pen until recently. I mean, people have always said this about my writing—#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Courtney Cole once said that Violet Midnight, my debut, read more like a piece of art than a piece of writing. I never could have imagined the fulfillment a compliment like that could have given me, and even with as many books as I have under my belt these days, I still can’t describe the feeling one gets from that kind of thing. I guess I was so happy that I had made something of myself at the time that I didn’t really think about it. I was just lucky or gifted, I guess. Maybe I am. I’m making the indirect statement now, but I may or may not be offended if someone came out and said some shit like “she’s only a good writer because she’s fucking crazy”. I’m inclined to lean towards the definitely offensive side. It’s true, though, as much of a hypocrite that makes me. I don’t take psychotropic medication (anymore). I really do see and hear things that are probably not there. Like, every day. I have heard things that no one wants to hear, seen things that would scare the living shit out the most well-adjusted human beings, and I still do. How could hallucinations not positively support the literary style of a writer who goes through that kind of a thing on a daily? I swear to you that I have really seen most of my fictional characters standing right in front of me at one point or another. It’s not normal, but neither is my writing, and that’s probably why I get some of the reviews I do. Anyone who tells you Paranoid Schizophrenia doesn’t have perks is lying.
It is my mental illness that helps my writing, not the other way around.
TRUTH IN FICTION: Paper Souls by Allie Burke
Los Angeles, CA
Bestselling Author Allie Burke, diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia in 2011, is announcing the release of Paper Souls, a literary fiction novel that exhibits the reality of psychosis in the surreal style she has come to be known for.
Burke uses Paper Souls to shed light on an illness that is so often shoved under the rug and forgotten, by utilizing her own experiences with the illness and producing a fictional account of one woman’s struggles to appear normal in a world that never seemed normal to her in the first place.
The novel holds nothing back against its raw, emotional backdrop, telling of Emily Colt’s damaging experiences in mental institutions, her attempts to hold on to her failed relationships, and follows her from one city—and country—to the next in her quest to find normalcy. It keeps a close eye on her recovery through holistic healing, and falls backwards, as Emily falls back into psychosis, again, and again.
“Literature is about awareness,” Burke says in an interview. “Writing in any form is about awareness, to keep society aware, and no one seems to be aware of the trials the people with this illness have to navigate. No one seems to be aware of how many schizophrenics commit suicide every year, or care. That’s why I wrote Paper Souls.”
Paper Souls is available in e-book and paperback from Booktrope Editions on Amazon.
“THIS NOVEL IS BEAUTIFULLY DISTURBING. BURKE IS A GENIUS.”
–Melanie Karsak, Author of Chasing the Star Garden
About the Book
From the author of the bestselling genre-defining Enchanters series, comes a new literary tour de force about Emily, a young woman balancing two worlds between her fingertips: the one that is real to her and the one that is real to everyone else…
The question is: which one will she choose?
Never romanticizing what it means to be a twenty-something schizophrenic in a world broken by normalcy and half-baked fairytales, Allie Burke’s latest novel unites Emily and her world at large spanning from the streets of Russia, to the sheets of her bed, to the idiosyncratic comfort she gets from worlds that don’t exist at all.
Woven with angst and darkness, bursting with heartache, Paper Souls tells of the irreparably damaged and broken, and how they survive.
About the Author
An American novelist, book critic, and magazine editor from Burbank, California, Allie Burke writes books she can’t find in the bookstore. Having been recognized as writing a “kickass book that defies the genre it’s in”, Allie writes with a prose that has been labeled poetic and ethereal.
Her life is a beautiful disaster, flowered with the harrowing existence of inherited eccentricity, a murderous family history, a faithful literature addiction, and the intricate darkness of true love. These are the enchanting experiences that inspire Allie’s fairytales.
From some coffee shop in Los Angeles, she is working on her next novel.
Visit Allie at http://wordsbyallieburke.com.
“BURKE CAPTURES THE ESSENCE OF THE HUMAN CONDITION.”
–J.L. Gentry, Author of Syn: Fin