There may have been swear words when Tom asked if I wanted to be involved with the same event. I mean, I only loved The Vagrant and The Malice and the short stories (one of which, The Hammer & The Goat, he’ll be reading from) and I haven’t yet got my sweaty paws on The Seven but it’s top of my list.
If you’re in or around Bristol on the 19th June, come along and hear a snippet of the next GreenSky book, Empty Skies & Sunlight, and get a chance to ask me random questions – and hear Peter Newman read, and get to ask him random questions too!
I still miss him. I talk to him every day – my commute takes me past the railway bridge, and I always say hello, or call him an idiot, or just smile. I write something I think he’d enjoy, or glance at my phone to see if I’ve got a message, or think of something I want to put in a game.
His favourite was Pinkie Pie, but I never entirely understood that, because he didn’t seem like a Pinkie Pie. He was either Twilight Sparkle, or more frequently – when he’d just drilled through a pipe, or tripped over nothing, or nearly dropped the tea, or done something stupid in-game – Derpy. And so it felt entirely fitting to have a small smiling Derpy sitting on my desk to remind me that my friend will always be around; it’s nice to have the memory just there. It’s also helping me when I think of him – it means I’m not dwelling on the memories, as I can just attach them to something and then move on. It’s been really hard recently, and I’ve hated having time alone to think (despite time with people being equally hard) so I’m hoping this will help.
I’m learning more about him too, which makes me miss him all the more – I wanted to discover the things with him, and have that beaming smile. He could shoot well, had his own airsoft pistol, and enjoyed doing it – something I wouldn’t have expected from the Ryan I knew. I can see facets of his personality in his interactions with others; his profile picture with his brother always makes me blink, because they’re both pulling faces – that was the Ryan I knew, but it’s just a reminder that I only knew a slice of him, and he relaxed so much with others, too.
I do also have another friend at work…he was left behind by one of my colleagues’ daughters, and so he’s been helping me with my anxiety days! He now has a post-it on saying “Free for bunny hugs” as I don’t want anyone to think he’s just mine. Everyone was incredibly chilled at the fact I was hugging a bunny for most of a day last week, which is brilliant. I think one of the major facets of making people in general more aware of mental health is just normalising the coping mechanisms. If I need to go for a walk or hug a bunny, then hey, that’s fine – and I really hope that’ll extend to anyone else in the office who needs the same thing for any reason.
And there’s the puppies, of course, who are always up for hugs – or pulling the head off a stuffed cow, whichever one seems more exciting. Both come with equal amounts of slobber!
I was lucky enough to get to go to the Eden Project this weekend with two amazing friends (and their cameras). Let’s just say straight off – I spent most of the weekend being a packmule and waiting for them while they took photos of EVERYTHING. This was usually my view…
But then I knew they were going to do that, so I just found a bench and got to appreciate everything 😀 and they did get some amazingly arty shots! (The ones here are all mine – they haven’t sorted through theirs yet).
We saw birds, and a lizard (who was SUCH a poser) and lots of trees, and plants, and rocks, and sculpture…we did all spend quite a bit of time going “what’s that? It looks like an X but not. Hmmm.” And then the photographers would take a picture of it with artistic raindrops and I’d just wander along with my rucksack, appreciating the sculpture and plants and landscaping and thinking how bloody weird it was to be in the middle of the Mediterranean while someplace in a quarry in Cornwall.
I didn’t get many pictures – weirdly, I didn’t really think of it – but my favourite thing was the Rainforest Biome, because they have a rope bridge! I loved it. And I liked the secret garden too, because it had a willow arch. We got to feed a robin, and eat ice cream, and sing in an echo chamber, and see a lot of aloe plants, and just wander. I went on the zipwire (“Hell NO I am NOT going on that thing! Feet firmly on the ground, thank you!” from the photographers) so that was cool, and the food was really good too. We stayed in the YHA which has shipping containers for bedrooms – apparently people make entire houses in them? I could actually cope with that, I think. It was a lot more spacious than I’d expected, and the bed was really comfy. We were intending to do the Lost Gardens of Heligan on the Sunday, but ended up stopping early on the Saturday and having an early night with Chinese takeaway, and then going back to Eden on Sunday. I’m really glad we did, as it made everything a lot more relaxed, and we got to visit favourite spots again. It was awesome, and really quiet – and we got a nice mix of weather, so it felt nice being outside in the sun and breeze and then retreating to the rainforest when we got the proper English summertime back again! (aka. it tipped it down).
I had Monday off (hence no post – I did intend to write this one and then fell asleep) and then went to see Emma Newman at the Bristol Fringe, which was fab. I haven’t yet read Planetfall and After Atlas, but having heard an extract from After Atlas, they’re both on the top of my list!
Warning: long post, and contains an update on me. Tl;dr – new job, separation from my husband, health issues, still writing, still sane (mostly).
It feels like everything’s happening at once, or has happened over the last few months. But I finally feel that I’m swimming forward, instead of just treading water. There’s a few bits of good news and a few bad, and some that are just…things.
It’s hard to write all of this because I don’t usually share my problems; I don’t like spreading worries around. I am a private person – some close friends knew some of what’s in this post, but I didn’t want to talk about it more widely. For anyone reading who is feeling left out, or upset that I didn’t talk to you; I am sorry that I have upset you, but I hope you can understand why I preferred to keep it private.
Please don’t feel that you need to comment, and in fact I’d rather you didn’t; I wanted to put this out into the world because there has obviously been something going on with me, and this is my personal blog! I’m not asking for sympathy or help; I simply want to explain and update, and let people know some of what’s been affecting me for the past few months and years, and what’s going to be affecting me for the foreseeable future.
So, the good!
I’ve started a new job
I’m doing web development in Gloucester. We have two office puppies (who are SO CUTE) and I’m doing mobile app work, front-end development and marketing (including Google Analytics) and so far, I’m liking it! I’m going to be learning so much; I get a walk again for my commute, which is awesome; and there’s a really nice little coffee bar on the way in so I may end up spending some of my paycheck on tea every morning…oh noes. And I have become a sleeping spot for the puppies…double oh noes. It’s such a hard life! Although it is going to be hard for a couple of weeks (months) while I settle in, so far it’s good. And involves puppies. (More pics further on – aren’t they CUTE?!) They’ve also been told about my depression and had one taste of an anxiety day (turns out, cuddling puppies helps a lot) and they’ve been really good with it, so I’m hoping I’ll actually be able to have some sort of normality on the job front with that.
I did have a very frustrating couple of weeks in February/March, because after nothing from the jobs for several months, I had four (!!) interview requests in the space of two weeks, and they were all for different fields! I had to decide whether to continue with my library career, go into web dev at the bottom of the field, take a more graphics/copywriting route, or get into professional editing…I’ve gone for web dev with the company in Gloucester, and I think I’ve made the right decision. It’s one of those things that I will always think “what if…” but on weighing up the fields and talking to people I trust, I think I’ve gone for the field that will bring me most pleasure and let me do what I want to.
Editing and writing
I’m also still doing freelance editing work for Grimbold Books and privately (Scritto Editing, for anyone interested!) and I’m really enjoying that. I did wonder if doing professional editing would make my ‘other job’ feel like a chore, so that was a major factor in not continuing along that career path. I am also apparently a Senior Editor at Grimbold (*mad dances*) which makes me ridiculously happy. I must be doing something right! I’m loving the stories I’ve had – I’ve had one of our new writers, one sequel to a book I loved originally, and I’m currently working on a book that both Jo Hall and I have dug our elbows into. In addition I’m getting to beta-read and slush-pile read books, and it’s fab. One of the best things about being an editor is getting to read (and have input!) on stuff before anyone else!
I’m still writing; I’m doing new things, I’m still submitting No Man’s Land to agents and I’ve got projects (like No Man’s Sky) on the go. I am reading again, and reviewing, and I want to get some more short stories done. I’ve also got projects with Cake Club, and reading for friends…so my writing and associated stuff is continuing! Obviously more news on all of that as I do it because this is primarily my writing blog, and I’ll always keep you updated on the mad plans that seem to come out of my brain and onto paper.
I miss Ryan like hell, and we have the inquest coming up soon (as he was killed on the railway, they automatically open one) which I’m sort of dreading, but also want to just get it over with. It feels like a final thing hanging over us, stopping us from grieving, bringing up the questions again and again…so I’ll be glad when it’s done and we can start accepting it. But even though I miss him so much, I have had the pleasure of getting to know his family; I’m in touch with his mother almost every day, and I’ve been visiting the family (and their mad puppies!) – I had a wonderful afternoon over there the weekend just gone, which was bittersweet. It’s really hard going over when he’s not there, and being at the pub is still so difficult; there’s an empty space, a missing friend, someone I’m just waiting for…but I am grateful for the memories, grateful that he knew I loved him, and grateful for the new friendships that I’m making thanks to him. I’m still crying every time I think of him and I know the hole in my heart isn’t going to heal anytime soon, but in some ways I think that’s good; I’m not forgetting someone I loved so dearly.
And the not-so-good
I’m separating from my husband. It’s my decision after two years of anxiety and stress and trying to work out my feelings, and it’s currently amicable. We’re keeping our mad old pub and continuing on with the renovations, so that’s going to be (fun) chaos! Beyond that, we’re just taking things as they go. It’s really hard for both of us, but in many ways I’m happier because I’ve finally made a decision and it’s not hanging over me – and the burst of relief, horrible as it was, suggests I’ve made the right one. This may be the first you’ve heard of this – I don’t publicise my personal Facebook, although my author page is here – so if you know my husband, I’d greatly appreciate your support for him. It’s a shitty time for both of us but I’m really lucky to have some brilliant friends around me, and he doesn’t have as much of that support network. I still care about him so much, and it’s been a really horrible decision to have to make…but I think it is the right thing to do, much as it hurts.
I’ve also had some health issues in addition to the depression over the past few years that have left me feeling broken, for all that I’m (as far as tests show so far) physically ok. It was mostly just routine but included one rather bruising encounter with a specialist who basically informed me that I was lying about everything, and then declared that I should have done X, Y and Z…well, if my GP had told me to do X, Y and Z originally then I would have done it! That was incredibly frustrating and hurtful, but luckily my regular GPs have been awesome. It’s all settled down for the moment, but it has been several years of additional ups and downs that haven’t helped with anything. Again, some people know the details of this, but I hope you can appreciate why I prefer to keep it private. It may be something that I do open up about further in the future, but for now it’s just too painful.
On the mental health front, I did start medication again for a month but I’ve now come off it again – against the advice of a lot of people, I should add! Being on the medication meant I had artificial ups (I was singing! Baking! I did grumble that if I had small birds trying to help me do the chores, I’d feed them to Frankie) and felt like an alien in my own skin. I haven’t been sleeping well generally, with a lot of vivid dreams that mean I don’t feel rested. While medication does make the downs less violent, I was hating the changes, and so I chose to come off it again. I am hoping that I’ll be able to weather the ups and downs more naturally – I may still go back onto it, but I’ll see how I do.
So. That’s a snapshot of the current chaos!
I’m giving myself three months (my work probation) to settle in to everything, and see how things go on both the work and home front. I’ve set myself a deadline of Christmas before I make any more big decisions; I want time to just settle into myself again, absorb the changes, and feel like me. Beyond that…I’m just taking things as they come.
I’ve also got some scarier long-term plans in the works – I don’t want to say much as it all still feels like a “what-if-maybe” dream, but let’s just say that they’re big and scary and I don’t know if any of it will even work! But I’m taking small steps towards them and if it works out, it works out! It feels odd having a long-term goal, as the depression means I often find that so hard, but…it feels good, too.
If you’ve got to the end of this, congratulations! Thank you for reading, and also thank you to everyone who does read this blog for your support. I really value your contributions and views, both from those of you I know in real life and those I don’t. Thank you.
Again, don’t feel the need to comment; just thank you for reading, and for your understanding. I really appreciate it 🙂
*goes off to hide under the duvet with chocolate for a bit*