This weekend (and Friday) I will be at the Algonkian Write To Market Conference in Corte Madera, California. I am looking forward to a great conference, as well as the opportunity to meet many new people! Here are my responses to the conference pre-event writer assignments with regard to my memoir, Never Give Up: Buddhism, Family & Schizophrenia.
Algonkian WTM – Pre-Event Writer Assignments
First – Story Statement
In August 2011, I created a blog to chronicle my experience dealing the mental illness I was diagnosed with in 2002: schizophrenia. This diagnosis was based on the symptoms I described to psychiatrists: hearing voices, paranoia, and the belief that I was being persecuted by the mafia. In reality, I never believed that the “voices” I heard were symptoms of schizophrenia. Instead, I believed that a form of communication which has never been scientifically proven – telepathy – was what allowed me to hear the “voices” of my enemies in my head, and which also allowed my enemies to “hear” my thoughts.
These bizarre set of circumstances, combined with the demented insanity of everyone involved created a horrific set of circumstances for myself, my husband and our families. Ultimately, the situation devolved into chaos for the people and surrounding communities who were forced to become involved. I challenge my circumstances and find hope, courage and strength in my Buddhist practice. I turn to my husband and family for love and support. Writing and photography are my creative outlets and emotional therapy. I never give up in my fight. My memoir is a source of hope, inspiration, and encouragement for everyone.
Second – Antagonistic Force
There is more than one antagonistic force in this memoir. Specifically, the antagonistic force(s) are people. They are the people who began stalking, harassing and persecuting me in 2002. The people included a former roommate from Oxnard, CA in addition to a man whom I initially believed was associated with the mafia (it turns out he was former CIA). Initially, there were 3-4 people involved, but over the years, the number grew and now this group probably numbers around 40-50 people (although it could be more than this). This number includes the people [government employees/agents] who may not have necessarily been stalking me this entire time but were (and still are) nevertheless involved [by using me as a scapegoat] in an attempt to avoid their own indictment.
Third – Breakout Title
Never Give Up: Buddhism, Family & Schizophrenia
Fourth – Genre & Comparables
Genre – Memoir
Comparables – Cheryl Strayed’s Wild
Fifth – Primary Conflict
My struggle against the people (devilish functions) in my life who constantly torment, stalk, persecute, and harass me. Initially I believed I had done something wrong and that I somehow was at fault for their behavior. I eventually realized that [from a Buddhist perspective], this was my karma and I needed to be able to change it. I had certainly never done anything to warrant this type of persecution and harassment directed at me by complete strangers.
Sixth – Additional Conflicts
My inner conflict was coming to my own understanding of why this happened, using my Buddhist practice as a guide.
Trying to understand why no one ever felt comfortable enough to approach me with questions about this situation, or why no one I knew (i.e. friends, family, Buddhist friends, etc…) ever discussed this problem with me.
Seventh – Setting
The primary setting is the San Francisco Bay Area, in the cities of Sunnyvale and Gilroy. There is also one chapter that takes place in Oxnard, California.