Our Warren Stories series turns the spotlight on writers, readers, and artists within our community. Here, we’ll share their work, artistry, and personal stories in our effort to uplift every member of our community and make their voices heard. Have a story you’d like to tell? Contact us today!
Today, we’re going to hand the mic to Illinois-based writer I.L. Green. I.L. reached out to us in early January 2019 with a fascinating story of the emotional process of writing their first novel, Redemption Story, out with Czykmate Books. As a mental illness recovery specialist trained and certified in the state of Illinois, and a human who suffers mental illness symptoms, I.L. has found reprieve in their writing. While writing for them is fun and adventurous, they still manage to include some of what they’ve learned and experienced over the years recovering from Borderline Personality Disorder that triggered their depression and anxiety.
I.L. published their first novel while working on their BS in English/Literature studies at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. For the Warren Stories series, they wrote about the emotional process of completing that novel.
My therapist was very excited when she learned I was publishing a novel. As an avid reader she felt especially thrilled as I was the first published author she had ever known. This was in spite of the fact that we had spent years working on my emotional trauma while writing, querying, and ultimately having my manuscript accepted for publishing by a reputable indie publisher.
The title of the novel has nothing to do with the story or plot. Redemption Story is meant to be my redemption story. With some success as a short story writer over a period of many years, I looked at my list of accomplishments and had the revelation most artists have at some point in their career; that my body of work was complete shit and I wasn’t writing the way I wanted to write.
The protagonist I developed for my novel, as well as her supporting characters, resembled and mirrored my own personality and mental health issues, which is what I intentionally set out to do. Iris became the me I perfectly wanted to be as a female. Hence I fell in love with her and took her name as my pen name. So in a way Redemption Story is a fictionalized memoir that shows the steps that were required for me to recover from symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder, which include depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Written in first person, Iris tells her story as Iris the narrator and author.
When I finally held a physical copy of Redemption Story in my hand, the moment was bittersweet and not filled with elation like I pictured it would be. I can liken my reaction at that point to many previous authors like Anthony Trollope of Britain's Victorian days, who fell in love with the characters they devised and suffered depression and abandonment issues when the work was finished and the characters out of their lives.
Iris was gone. Her and her paramours were missing from my daily life. Reliving the struggle to stay alive and recover through a number of suicide attempts and psych ward stays were history that I would never have to revisit.
The advice from my therapist gets lost in her gushing over the creative achievements possible by patients recovering from BPD. I don’t tell her that my only salvation is the blank page. That I must continue my redemption story over and over again, word by word with different characters to fall in love with and new plots to design. Because at this point writing is an addiction more than a vocation.
I.L. Green has been published in Slice Magazine, Foliate Oak Online Literary Magazine, Downstate Story, Bluffs Literary Magazine, Everyday Fiction, and CaféLit. Their debut novel Redemption Story was released in July 2018. They are an English major at Bradley University and hope to use their learned skills to enhance their writing ability. I.L. currently occupies an empty nest in the same town as their university with their wife (Bonz), five dogs, and three exotic, though unwieldy, birds. Follow them on Twitter here: @IrisLansinGreen.