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Weekly Wrap: Joy and Pain.

By Posted on 25 4 m read 1.9K views

Here’s someone I like a whole lot, and it happens to be his birthday today. Maybe you can drop by his blog and wish him a good one.

Also, a shout out to those of you who made the jump from LitPark to Brad Listi’s fabulous Nervous Breakdown!

And one last thing before I get to the Weekly Wrap: Here’s a link to the conference I’ll be a part of this summer at NYC’s Algonquin. Go ahead and click it to see who’s on my panel …because if you’re a LitPark regular, you know I have footage of one of those panelists during his 80’s rock star days. And you know that person was wearing a shiny button-up with giant polka dots on it.


Am I the only one at LitPark who owns this album? You know it, right? The song worked its way into my head this week and got stuck there, and now it’s also the title of today’s Weekly Wrap. But if you’re me, you don’t just sing the chorus because you know the whole damn song….

Joy and pain
Like sunshine and rain
Joy and pain
Like sunshine and rain

Well I’m the new kid, I’m just comin’ up
A lot of rappers think that I can’t tear it up
Well I’m ‘a show ’em and ignore ’em
And when they think I ain’t lookin’ I floor ’em
I mean take ’em out I keep groovin’
A slick bass line keep the beat movin’
They can’t take it they just fake it
They wonder how the Rob Base make it
I get ill, you know the deal
Cuz this is how the Rob Base feels.

Um. I could go on, but I’ll stop there. It feels different singing this song when you’re forty.

You’re waiting for the tie-in, I suppose.

At first it seemed odd that the week I planned to feature an interview about artists and depression would also become the week I announced my book deal. It seemed like it would be difficult to talk about joy at the same time as pain, and I didn’t want to water down either one. But as I think about it now, it’s very much the way of the world. Weddings and proms are classic occasions to remind people they’re alone. One wins a race at the exact moment another loses it. An artist creates a masterpiece that leaves him feeling exhausted and bare. Life is filled with these moments where joy and pain live side by side, and certainly that marriage of opposites is a part of the life of writers and artists.

Oh look! The spontaneous joy of Neil Gaiman! Wait! You can’t have him. The torture!

What a fearless and inspiring interview Daryl Darko was! I shared more of my history of depression with Daryl than I will here, but I can tell you that, for years, I had to chart each day in 15 minute intervals and check them off as I lived through them. I hated myself, hated sleeping, hated waking up, hated the thoughts I had, hated the way I behaved, hated the sense that my life felt both meaningless and too intense – all at once. It was the writing that saved me, but I can say equally that the writing nearly killed me.

I’m in the middle of filling out an author questionnaire for St. Martin’s (HOW F**KING COOL IS THAT?!) and they asked a question about my experience writing this novel.

I’m not sure what my answer is yet, but I know that creating my novel was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I had to go to all the places I feared. I took a long look at every dark place in my soul. I created characters I didn’t like and followed them until I respected and understood them. Writing the novel felt like entering a tunnel with no assurance that I’d find my way out the other side. And the only thing harder than writing this book was for this rejection-phobe to gather the stamina, courage, and blind faith required to send it out. Connecting with that editor who’s moved by my characters and their story: Pure joy.

All of this is to say that you can come to LitPark to celebrate, to vent, or to hang. Come when you’re feeling giddy, sarcastic, drunk, hopeful, cranky, frustrated, or joyous. Moody artistic types are my favorite company!


Here’s a hard truth: You will never be Neil Gaiman’s cat.
But, like Rob Base says: Keep groovin’!

Thank you to those who answered the Question of the Week and for the nice things you said about my book deal and about each other. I am so genuinely grateful and happy to know you. Okay. I can’t do all the links for a thread this long, so I’m going to link those who are new or irregular or share names: amy, Jordan E. Rosenfeld, Terry Bain, Robin Slick, mikel k poet, Claire Cameron, Renee Rosen, Anneliese, Betsy, Ric Marion, lance reynald, Lori Oliva, Roy Kesey, Jonathan Evison, Kirk Farber, Myfanwy Collins, Richard Cooper, Tish Cohen, Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Julie Ann Shapiro, Jody Reale, Carolyn Burns Bass, Richard, Gail Siegel, Margy, Maria Headley, Nicole, ellen meister, Carrie Hoffman, Grant Bailie, Amy Wallen, Noria, Trisha Mortimore, NFD, Sarah Roundell, Kimberly, Katrina Denza, Juliet deWal, Nathalie, Elizabeth Alan, Karen Dionne, Richard Lewis, daryl, Pia, patry, maryanne stahl, Bruce Hoppe, Mark Bastable, Jason Boog, and Sheila.

See you Monday!

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  • Robin Slick
    March 30, 2007

    What? I can’t have Neil Gaiman? I can’t even be his cat?

    Now I really am depressed. Thanks a lot, Mrs. Henderson, for destroying the fantasy — especially the feline aspect — though now of course you’ve inspired me to write a short story called “I Want to Be Neil Gaiman’s Pussy” so all is not lost.

    All kidding aside, this was an absolutely amazing week at LitPark. Brilliant sensitive writers with geneorous hearts, the fabulous Daryl, and Susan gets a book deal. I’ve been smiling for the past several days.

    Until I just heard on the news that Bono was knighted, that is. Har har.


  • Robin Slick
    March 30, 2007

    Geneorous? Hahahahaha – I don’t suppose you’ll edit that for me, huh.

    Nope. Didn’t think so.

  • Nathalie
    March 30, 2007

    Robin ! I want to read that story ! PLEASE…

    Thank you so much Susan, for the interview and all, and for the Neil Gaiman picture spamming. Including the cat.
    Can I use HTML on this page ? Because I would like to share this with you.

  • Nathalie
    March 30, 2007

    Weee ! It worked !
    (life is all about small pleasures)

  • billie
    March 30, 2007

    LOL – the Neil Gaiman photos/caption. 🙂

    I just discovered Litpark this week – what a great place.

  • Paula
    March 30, 2007

    No! No. No! I’m going to NY — visit to the Algonquin a required part of any itinerary there because I’m creepy like that — sooo close, but later in June.

    I’d like to celebrate and vent the joy and pain a little, since you said I could.

    I cannot wait to travel again this year, especially to New York, as it’s been a couple of years since I could afford to go anywhere. And one of my best friends — who truly appreciates the joy of at least five or six hours at Strand Books and the required pilgrimage to the Algonquin — lives in Jersey, so we get to hang out and do the weird things that we cannot wait to do together. Celebrating the joy there.

    Frustration vent: I’m still just a couple of good raises or freelance jobs away from being able to afford conferences, such as this or the New Yorker conference that rolls around near my birthday each fall, and they are usually just days away from my scheduled vacations. It pains me.

    And … mood swing: I freaking love LitPark. Frankly, I was a little bit shocked that this is your first book deal, Susan. I honestly just assumed, from lurking & whatnot for a couple of months here, that you had your own chunk of real estate on bookstore shelves already. So I’m joyful for you that things are moving in the right direction there!

  • Betsy
    March 30, 2007

    Susan, I’d never have imagined you had such a debilitating depression like that, you truly seem like such a ray of sunshine now. I don’t know that mine was ever that extreme, but I’ve been there like everyone else.
    It was a great week. Happy birthday again!

  • Amy Kiger-Williams
    March 30, 2007

    I haven’t popped over here in a few days but I wanted to let you know how THRILLED I am for you!!! What an awesome birthday present! Congratulations!!!

  • Julie Ann Shapiro
    March 30, 2007

    I cried last weekend. The rejection dance got to me. Then I got happy because it’s so gorgeous spring time and the beaches are empty still. The birds singing also helped put a smile on my face. They sing every day and that’s how I feel as a writer. Pick myself up and smile and enjoy the beauty no matter what. And now today in my email I received not one, but two rejections on my first novel which I submitted to small presses. This is after it’s two a two year long journey filled with rejections from the big publishers.

    I could cry again over this latest round of rejections. The real life photographer who has a collection like the guy in my first novel and I planned to do all this marketing together, that is, when One Shoe Diaries, the novel was to be serialized and I had something to market.

    The funny thing is neither one of us knew about each other and developed our art. I found out about him when I sent a press release about the novel being serialized. He called me one day, rather Twilight Zone like. Since then, the publisher – Pulp Bits that was serializing the novel closed their doors.

    Now I’m getting all said again. Time to put the happy face back on and go running.

  • Julie Ann Shapiro
    March 30, 2007

    “said” I meant sad!!! Oh well, my typo made me laugh.

  • LaurenBaratz-Logsted
    March 30, 2007

    What a great week on LitPark! What a fantastic community this is for sharing joy and pain. Love to all.

  • Nicole
    March 30, 2007

    I can honestly say, I do not own that album.
    Don’t know the song either … but I’m old enough to call it an album, so that’s good.

  • Carolyn Burns Bass
    March 30, 2007

    Why is it the creative souls are so often tortured with depression?

    Is the need for creative expression born from the soul’s desire to overcome the depression? Or does the depression come because the creative soul is not satisfied? Can the creative soul ever be satisfied?

    The world needs to accept that depression and mental illness are not curses; nor are those who suffer from them inferior beings.

    Thank you, Daryl and Susan, for sharing your battles and your victories. In my world saints are not the perfect ones, but those who’ve faced and subdued their demons.

  • Jody Reale
    March 30, 2007

    The best parks have rollercoasters in them, right? Thanks for installing one at yours this week; it inspired me to get out there and comment when business would have been lurk-y as usual. What a reward I received in return. So, as I also say after sitting down at all the best parks, “Grassy ass.”

  • Kirk Farber
    March 30, 2007

    It’s true what you said about the joy and the pain.

    I got a “nice” rejection from Storyquarterly this week. They passed, but said lots of nice things about my writing. So it’s disappointing, but it’s all good.

    To quote Rob Base: I’m not internationally known, but I am known to rock the microphone.

  • Gail Siegel
    March 30, 2007

    Robin wants to be a cat? Now, that’s depressing. And I do love cats.

    I missed most of the chatter here this week, but I’ll be back again soon.

    Keep on writing…

  • Sarah Roundell
    March 30, 2007

    Wow that song takes me back to school dances and big hair! I’m positive it will be in my head for the rest of the weekend.
    This really was another awesome week here in the park with so many people rising to the challenge of saying something nice about those we share this space with and such a raw and honest interview with Daryl.
    Nothing beats a day in the park and thank you again to Susan and Daryl and everyone who stopped by this week.

  • Tom Jackson
    March 30, 2007

    Sorry I’m late to the party on this, Sue — hectic week, as you know — but again, congratulations on the book deal. Just as I always told you: It was gonna happen. I’m absolutely delighted, my dear!

  • Elizabeth Alan
    March 30, 2007

    Many congratulations on the book deal Sue. We’re patiently waiting and hoping that one day that feeling will be ours to know as well.

    Elizabeth Alan

  • Noria
    March 30, 2007

    I’ve been amazed by the posts here these past couple weeks–in my experience it’s rare that people can feel safe enough and welcome enough to be so open. Thank you, Sue, for creating this place where we can come as we are, up or down, dark or light.

  • n.l. belardes
    March 30, 2007

    I still don’t get the Gaiman fascination. I mean, I haven’t read anything by him yet. Maybe when I do I’ll suddenly think he’s the next Johnny Depp too. oo la!

  • Karen Dionne
    March 30, 2007

    “I still don’t get the Gaiman fascination. I mean, I haven’t read anything by him yet. Maybe when I do I’ll suddenly think he’s the next Johnny Depp too. oo la!”

    Gaiman’s cute, all right, but it’s his writing that makes him a god. He’s a genius – everything he writes is golden – fantasy, film, comic books – check out his website and then sit thyself down and read American Gods. I guarantee you’ll fall equally in love.

    Congrats again, Sue! Still floating up there by the ceiling? (It’s been two months since my first novel sold, and I still haven’t come down!) 🙂

  • Anneliese
    April 1, 2007

    Chicken & Egg Question: What comes first the depression or the creative soul?

    Does a depressed person have more of a need to creatively articulate the human experience, or does a creative person become afflicted by depression while struggling to express themselves through the art?

    Now, another part of this to consider, is that the non-creative types, those corporate raiders, those administrative assistants and Directors of, they are just as similarly afflicted, but the business world and office environment allows for a different form of expression. Just watch a couple episodes of “The Office” for good examples of crazy behavior, or, be a fly on the wall at my office job. 🙂

    Bottom Line: We are all “normal” in some way, shape, and form. Yes?

  • Susan Henderson
    April 1, 2007

    Robin – Ha! Yes, you go write that one. And I am really looking forward to seeing who buys YOUR book because it’s going to make somebody rich!

    Nathalie – Those are some beautiful photos over on your blog. I even stole one.

    billie – I’m so glad you’re here!

    Paula – A best friend who can do 5 or 6 hours at Strand Books is my kind of friend. And Paula, don’t you know the trick to conferences is being a volunteer?! You have to volunteer to register guests or set up tables or pass out brochures or set up tables, and soon, you’re standing in the doorway listening to Seamus Heaney read about potatoes like you paid $400 for it. New Yorker Festival, here you come!

    Betsy – Yep, every experience that doesn’t kill you helps you build more character. But enough character already!

    Amy – Thank you, Amy!

    Julie – I’m sorry about the rejections. I know that feeling of holding the thin envelopes and just knowing… Maybe the next envelope will hold great news.

    Lauren – Thanks, Lauren. And thanks again for your big hand in my book deal! xo!

    Nicole – Well, if you need to borrow the album, now it looks like you can ask both me and Kirk.

    Carolyn – That’s a great question! Would make a great PhD dissertation.

    Jody – Ha! Yes! I never looked at it that way, but seeing the rollercoaster as a plus puts a nice spin on things!

    Kirk – And about that SFarber
    Posted March 30, 2007 at 1:42 pm | Permalink (Edit)
    It’s true what you said about the joy and the pain.

    I got a “nice” rejection from SQ, a quote from Rob Base: Bring all the suckers ’cause all them I’ll stomp.

    Gail – Not just any cat. Neil Gaiman’s cat. That’s different.

    Sarah -Now I’m trying to imagine Sarah with big hair and her bangs in a claw.

    Tom – Tom Jackson! That was an awesome football-geek present you gave me. Thank you. And you know you’ll be in the acknowledgements section when my novel comes out!

    Elizabeth – Here’s to my luck spreading to you!

    Noria – Thanks, Noria. And I hope everyone gets a chance to read your piece over at The Nervous Breakdown. There are a whole bunch of good stories there right now.

    n.l. – Karen said it.

    Karen – We both have much to celebrate. We’ll have a toast at the Backspace conference!

    Anneliese – Does a depressed person have more of a need to creatively articulate the human experience, or does a creative person become afflicted by depression while struggling to express themselves through the art?

    There’s that PhD topic again.

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Susan Henderson