Notes from an Obsessive Writer

Although I did sign a contract with a new publisher (thanks Down and Out Books for reviving The Rook!), I have been writing a lot of short stories and personal essays in addition to working on my novel.  The stories have been largely autobiographical, just tidbits that stuck with me from childhood. I was fortunate enough to have two pieces published lately, one called “Family History,” which you can read here at gravel, and another entitled “Cool Friend,” which you can read here at The Citron Review

As for the essays I’ve been writing, those are of the extremely personal variety. For whatever reason, I feel compelled of late to muse (read: obsess) about my three decades long struggle with OCD and Panic Disorder; my loving but complicated relationship with my father; and my attempts to stay sane as a new stay-at-home dad.  As I’ve been writing about my life, I realized something: I’m getting better. Not smarter. Not richer.  Not better looking. Not taller (certainly not taller). I’m getting better.  Example: finally, after more than a quarter of a century, I no longer feel the need to refer to myself as a “neurotic,” an easy and ugly term to hang on one’s self.  Finally, now that I am jobless and in the presence of a hilarious and difficult and intelligent four-year old all day, I no longer feel such extreme anxiety. I feel at ease. I feel calm. I feel capable, which would never have cracked the top 50 adjectives I would’ve used to describe myself even one year ago.  Maybe I was not (or am not) cut out to have a “career,” and without the pressures of a job, I feel lighter. Or maybe I am just getting older and wiser.  I don’t know. I do know that these essays I’ve written  lately have brought up some painful memories–some of them very recent memories–but the pain has been twinged with humor. . .

Which is a longwinded way of saying that I sold one of those essays, a piece called “Time to Get Clean” about me doing something extremely gross (and extremely funny) in an effort to not pass on my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to my son.  I’m proud to say that sometime in June my essay will appear in OC87 Recovery Diaries, an excellent publication that focuses on stories of mental health and recovery. If you suffer from some type of mental illness or you know someone who does, I’d encourage you to check out OC87 Recovery Diaries here. Some of the stories are funny, some are sad, all are true and meaningful. 






4 thoughts on “Notes from an Obsessive Writer”

  1. Congrats again on the contract, Max. I’ve been reading many of your “Harry” posts and enjoying them. Hope to check out the shorts you’ve listed. My own writing has gone down the drain. No desire, no inspiration, nothing of late. Still hoping.
    I’ve also suffered from mild OCD for as long as I can remember. Didn’t realize what it was until I was an adult. It is a real struggle at times. Thanks for the URL. I’ll check it out. Enjoyed this post.

    1. Thanks, Mike. Sorry to hear about your writing frustrations. For talented writers like yourself, my advice would be to get back on the horse and write. Something. Anything. The Proud Bastards is great. Maybe go back to writing non-fiction for a bit, take a break from your novels?


  2. Hi Max sounds like you are writing up a storm. Glad the panic has subsided. I suffer from panic disorder as well and it is somewhat better. Sometimes I am having a panic attack and don’t realize it until later. When the feeling I am about to break in two comes upon me I really feel it is true. Later I realize this feeling is part of panic mode.
    Writers are odd by nature. I like your strange books. I like the stories about Harry. Have a good holiday and keep writing.

    1. MJ, I’m sorry to hear that you, too, suffer from anxiety. I’ve finally found a combination of medicine and therapy that work for me, but it was a long time coming. For years, I suffered, and now, I’m honestly grateful at how much better I feel.


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