I Love It When Things Fall Into Place!

I haven’t been blogging much lately because I’ve been working very hard to finish our book, Despair to Deliverance: A True Story of Triumph Over Severe Mental Illness. I remain very grateful to the people who read the final draft and gave us their honest feedback. What an enormous gift!

The feedback has led to some restructuring of the book. The story of Robin’s meltdown year in 2003 previously comprised the first five chapters. I told the story part, and Robin then wrote her reaction and thoughts about the story at the end of each chapter. This blog is basically the first draft of those five chapters. The final draft of the book included more from Robin than is on the blog, and lots of “tightening” of what we both wrote. The last chapter of the book included Robin talking about how she got from where she was at the end of that terrible year, to where she is now (stable and content with her life)…with me commenting a bit at the end.

Many of our readers thought the chapters were too long, and wanted to hear from Robin more frequently during the course of the story. They were right. The content from the first five chapters is now eight chapters, with more additions from Robin.

The readers thought some details were left out of the last chapter, particularly in terms of what I had to say. I had shifted from writing in great detail during the first five chapters, to writing in complete summary version in the last chapter. So, I am working on consolidating the story a bit in the first part, and adding some detail in the last part.

It amazes me how completely right all the feedback felt when we got it. And, now that I am making the suggested changes, it actually feels like the book is falling into place the way it needs to be. I will be much happier with the final version once I incorporate the feedback of our trusted readers.

The lesson for us writers, from my perpective, is the importance of getting out of our own heads and letting people we trust tell us their thoughts. It is crucial to keep ourselves from being too rigid, or to be too tied to our own version of how our writing should be. Leaving our egos out of the process allows us to hear what we need to hear without being defensive or protective of our original way of thinking.

As some of the people who commented on my last post said, this is about the journey and not the destination. The journey of writing this book has connected Robin with her people, me with my people, and Robin and I with each other in a whole new way. It will be a group effort when the book is finally complete. Now that I can actually envision the final version, and am clear that the feedback we received is going to improve it dramatically, it is starting to get exciting. The journey has been great. But, the destination is important too!

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About Sharon DeVinney, Ph.D.

Sharon DeVinney, Ph.D. completed her doctoral degree in clinical psychology at Purdue University. She spent ten years doing full-time clinical practice at a community mental health center with primarily adults. She then spent eight years working as an administrator at that same community mental health center while continuing to maintain a small caseload of therapy clients. She now provides clinical services in long-term care facilities in addition to writing and spending as much time as possible with the people she loves.
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6 Responses to I Love It When Things Fall Into Place!

  1. Sirena says:

    I can imagine it being really hard to get even constructive criticism about something you’ve put your heart and soul into. This must be so exciting for you both you. I know when I’ve read books written by therapists and clients, I always really like to read about both the client and therapist’s perspective of each situation. I don’t like the therapist to be too cerebral in their explanations. I’m not interested in how knowledgeable they are, I want their felt experience, their personal thoughts and feelings, the good the bad and the ugly! 🙂

  2. dyane says:

    Hi dear Sharon! I’m sorry that it took so long for me to comment but please know that I’m thinking of you and your book and I’m so incredibly proud of you for sharing such profound progress with us. How is that for a run-on sentence? Reading this post inspires me to get ready to start asking people for feedback. I’m not at that point yet but I’m getting there so I’m thrilled that the feedback you received is resulting in a better book. Sending you hugs as always, and thanks again for your absolutely wonderful support with the Huffington Post ECT brigade! 😉

    • Dyane, I am very grateful for your support too! I am so proud of you that you are now a HuffPost regular! Some day, when you are famous, I will be able to say “I knew her before…”

      As far as the ECT brigade goes, you know from Robin’s story on this blog that ECT was a crucial part of her recovery, as was your experience. I have very little patience for judgement from people about ECT who have not been in the position of having to resort to it!

      I look forward to seeing your finished book, as I look forward to you seeing ours!

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