winter berries



This is the journal I use almost exclusively for posts related to the therealljidol competition. My general journal is elsewhere; I may or may not link folks to it when my participation in the competition comes to an end.


This journal was originally called hideforshame, because it was an old account that I had left over from the days before Basic accounts came with ads, and I thought it would therefore still have no ads. As it turned out that was inaccurate (thanks, SUP!), but by then I'd entered the LJ Idol competition and I didn't want to change usernames in the middle of the competition. But I had a rename token hanging around, so as soon as I got kicked from the competition I switched. The thing about this journal is that I'm trying to write about myself openly and honestly in a way I haven't done online before, so "hideforshame" didn't seem appropriate. Of course, I picked "winterberries" just because I like the name and the image it conjures up, so maybe it isn't much better; but I like it.
winter berries

LJ Idol... somewhere else!

Hey, I just realized I should probably post this: after a couple years' interim, I'm playing LJ Idol again this year -- but under my primary LJ, slammerkinbabe. I think there's, like, five people following this journal who are doing LJI this year who knew me back in the day, and I don't know if a single one of those five people remember me, but what the hell, any amount of name recognition is good, right? Complicating things further, back when I competed in LJI the last time I used the username "hideforshame" the whole time. Yeah, there is definitely no point in posting this. BUT I AM ANYWAY, I DO WHAT I WANT

Good day, all none of you who are reading this. ;)
winter berries

LJ Idol Week 3: Bye Bye Bye

For LJ Idol, I'm taking one of my byes this week. I wrote a piece but I'm not sure that it's strong enough for the competition; I'll post that later in the Home Game, probably. Good luck to everyone!
winter berries

God, I hate doing this, and yet

Every time I do LJ Idol, I swear to myself I'm not going to pimp for votes. I tell myself, look, you'll get as far as you get on your own skill and appeal, and then when you get kicked you'll know it was fair.*

This all sounds very nice and mature and all. And then I write my Week Two post, and as the votes tally it turns out that I am in last place by a decent margin and am very likely to get kicked this week. The first week that anyone is being eliminated. Right now it is looking like I will be the very first one to go.

I am not sure how to describe quite how pathetic this makes me feel, but let's just say the prospect is not making me very happy.

So, basically, if you liked Annabelle's Story this week and would like to see me stay around for another week to write about another teenager from Annabelle's town whose story intertwines with Annabelle's in some way, I would love you to the moon and back if you voted for me in the poll. That in itself is complicated this week because Gary decided to make it a community-only vote, so if you're not in the LJ Idol community, you have to join in order to vote. (Joining doesn't mean you have to do anything wrt the competition; it just allows you access to community-only polls.)

Therefore, if you are not in therealljidol community but would like to throw a vote my way, you go to the community profile, hit Join, hit whatever confirmation button they make you hit on the next screen, and then go back to the Week Two Tribe 8 poll and vote for winterberries, down near the bottom. (I think part of why I am getting so few votes, honestly, is that I submitted my post very late, so a lot of people may not have even gotten around to reading it, and then my name is alphabetically so close to the bottom that it's especially easy to miss. This is what I tell myself, anyway.)

Anyway, if you are already in the community, the link is the same as above: vote here.

I hope I get to hang around for another week, anyway. I like this competition/writing project. I don't want to be the first one to go home.

*The stupid part is that I do know that fairness doesn't really enter into it, because almost all the participants do at least post to their journal reminding/asking people to vote for them. But my head is still stubborn in saying I shouldn't do that myself. I do not know why.
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Short piece: Annabelle (LJ Idol topic "Three Little Words")

This week I wrote my piece about Annabelle Delany, a girl who'd probably be classed as a "mean girl" in Tina Fey parlance. The main character of my second book is named Beth; Annabelle is a girl who has bullied and tormented Beth at school. Most of what I knew about Annabelle before I began writing this story is that she was a popular girl and a drug addict, so I've tried to flesh her out some here. (Also, please note that the language is stronger than I would use in an actual novel for teens; this isn't meant to reflect that style is writing.) This is my LJ Idol entry for Week 2: "Three Little Words."

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LJ Idol Week 0: When You Pray, Move Your Feet

In the last year or so I haven’t been doing a lot of praying or moving my feet, either. Depression has a way of doing that to you.

For those of you who didn’t know me/don’t remember me from a few years ago, my Idol ‘nym is Ciara. I’m a married lesbian living in Massachusetts. I’m a writer, and I’m bipolar.

Unfortunately those last two traits don’t go very well together.

Because depression doesn’t go well with anything. I’ve spent most of the last year in a depressive stupor, with very inadequate treatment and a doctor who wouldn’t raise a finger to help me when I was screaming for help. (This sounds melodramatic but was in fact literally true at one point.) I might have prayed for help then if I could have found the words or believed that it would help, but I couldn’t. And as for moving my feet, forget it. They might as well have been welded to my bedsheets. I could not move.

Then something changed, and I turned manic instead of depressed, and it was the best thing that could have happened, because it got me *out* of that headspace. I could finally understand how depressed I had been. I could finally understand that spending every day wanting to die because you think you are a complete waste of space is not an okay frame of mind. I went into a hospital. I got help. I came out of the hospital – three days ago, actually. I decided I wanted a life again.

And I could write again. I hadn’t been able to write a single paragraph of my professional work – contemporary novels for teenagers – for nine months. I finished my second book and sent it off to my agent. Then I looked around for another project, something to ease me back into the writing world.

I saw LJ Idol being promoted on LJ’s main page. I had an idea.

I decided that Idol would be my new writing project, as I wait to hear back from my agent about the book. I decided to do it differently than I did the last time.

All of my novels are set in a fictional town in western Massachusetts named Denton. The main characters of each book are rarely the same, but they all live in the same town, some of them know each other to nod hi to in the street – sometimes more. Kind of like Stephen King’s Derry, but with fewer homicidal clowns.

For Idol this time around, after this entry, I’m writing all fiction. Each week a different teenager who lives in Denton will tell a bit of their story. It’ll change every week and it will rarely be a teenager who has been spotlighted as a protag in one of my books so far. Each week I’ll delve into another little piece of life in Denton, and in so doing I hope I’ll figure out which characters I will be focusing on in full-length projects, and who will wait more quietly in the background for the time being.

I see this both as a method of prayer and of moving my feet.

The prayer: God, let me be able to do this. Let me be able to work.

The feet: I’ve got to get up and do it. I’ve got to move.

So I’m trying this.

Get leave to work;
In this world ‘tis the best you get at all.
For God in cursing gives us better gifts
Than men in benediction.

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning
winter berries

Maestro, my exit music please

So the long ride of my LJ Idol experience has come to an end. Some of you know that this isn't my primary journal, and that I really only began using it for Idol. A few people have asked where my primary journal is, and I said that I wanted to keep the two journals separate for the length of the competition, but that I'd let people know what it was when I was kicked. Accordingly, then...


Something of an Internet chameleon. I switch in and out of different usernames and find different personas as I go. My longest-running LJ and the place I think of as my Internet home is slammerkinbabe. I went through several metamorphoses over there before arriving at the current version of me that you'll see there, which is a sort of capslock-prone shiny silly person with a propensity for getting overexcited about things like Cabbage Patch Mini toys and the possibility fact of a lesbian love affair between Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett that has somehow skated below the tabloids' radar. That was initially fun, pretending that I was happy all the time, but eventually it started to wear thin. I used to write thinky posts on slammerkinbabe that I had begun to feel less comfortable writing as my friends list over there expanded and I began to feel like I was expected to perform in a certain way. So I decided to do LJ Idol this season to break out of that persona and see who I'd become outside of it for awhile. I enjoyed it, but more than that, I found it pretty meaningful, and it's been an important part of my life these last five months. So while I'm sorry to be leaving the competition, I'm happy to have had the chance to do it.


Anyone who'd like to friend me on slammerkinbabe is welcome to, with the caveat that, as noted, that journal is very different from this one. I think it will stay that way, too. I'm going to keep this journal around, and although I'm not 100% sure what it will consist of, I am going to keep trying to be a little more real over here than I tend to be in other spaces. I may play the Home Game on and off, depending on the topics. As well, I suspect that discussion of mental health issues and my own experiences with them will be a big part of what this journal comes to be. Right now I'm just beginning the process of trying to get some disability benefits based on the fact that my mental illness makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for me to hold down a full-time job long-term. Getting on disability's a long, complicated process that's full of red tape, but more than that, I have a whole lot of emotions surrounding it -- should I really do this? Am I really disabled, or just a lazy slacker? How do you define disability? What services do I need, anyhow? Could I hold down a job with appropriate help, and if so, how do I go about getting that? I'm going to have to prove my disability to other people while simultaneously grappling with these issues myself; most of the people in my life think I'm "too smart to be disabled", or that I need to "push through it." I think it will be useful to me to write about that as I try to sort it through. I would like to think maybe it could help some other people who may be going through what I will be going through, as well. Either way, that's probably at least part of what this journal is going to be. So if you're interested in reading that, feel free to friend me here, and if you're not, feel free to do as you like. :)

Anyway. Playing Idol has been great and I'm really glad to have had the experience and to have met so many great people and great writers. Thanks for reading.
winter berries


I am no longer hiding for shame! I never liked the username to begin with (as noted in the header post), but I figured I ought to hang onto it for the sake of continuity in LJ Idol. But I am slightly less concerned about that than I was ;), and I had an old rename token hanging around from a time when I'd meant to rename my other journal and then couldn't quite go through with it. But I like this username! So. Here I am. Shamed no longer, and if you were wondering who this strange new person on your flist was, wonder no longer.
winter berries

this day is sorta my bread and Waterloo

So, unless something astonishing happens, it's pretty clear that I'm going home in LJ Idol this week: I'm in last place by something like twelve votes, one day into the voting, and five people are going home. So, yeah. It's been a good time, and I'm so glad I did it. I could write more farewell stuff, but I think I covered it all in last week's premature good-bye post. iLose. ;)

Anyway, I would truly love to stay another week -- I'd had my heart set on making the top 25, and I've enjoyed the game too much to be blithe and carefree about leaving. So if you enjoyed my entry this week and feel like throwing a vote my way (note the username switch to winterberries! and note also that it's still between hexkitten and imafarmgirl, the poll having been made before the username change), I'd certainly appreciate it. I am resigned to leaving if that's what happens -- I'm happy to have made it this far -- but it would be nice if the margin were less than, like, 25 votes. Heh.

At any rate. I am watching Annie in the background, and I gotta tell you, you can't really be depressed or upset about anything with Annie in the background. So I'm cool. Thanks, y'all!

(Incidentally -- if I get kicked I'm not sure what's going to happen with this journal, whether I'm going to play the Home Game or not. I am pretty sure it will be staying around, though; I had some other thoughts on what I might do with this journal, but I will elaborate on them as developments warrant...)