I’m going to Cymera! (CoronaVirus allowing, of course.)
It’s in Edinburgh, June 5-7th, and I am VERY EXCITED about the events. The panels all look really interesting and I’m going to have to ration my spoons if I want to go to all of them. And I do want to go to all of them. ARGH. There are so many cool people talking about cool things!
I’m also on a panel (DOUBLE ARGH) – I’m taking part in Pitch Perfect, and feeling complete Imposter Syndrome because John and Lee are both amazing and I have to try to haul my brain up from the depths of my shoes on a regular basis. It’s going to be great. *chews nails*
I may also be involved in Other Things but they’re still being worked out, and I’m definitely going to be hanging around various panels and people and chatting to fabulous people, so if you are coming, give me a yell. I’m hoping to get my space skirt finished, and I’ll also have my fox fabric skirt, so keep an eye out 🙂
And also also – the icing on a cake of what looks like it’s going to be a really fun festival – is that Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities, I’m going with my partner, and we’re staying with a very dear friend – I’m going to have to resist spending the entire time talking about vintage roses, llama, cacti and tea! I’m hoping to take a few days off either side to spend with them both, and also get to see more of Edinburgh than the inside of a writer’s head – which, while absolutely amazing, usually contains more dragons/spaceships/giant spiders (lookin’ at YOU, Adrian Tchaikovsky) than Edinburgh does.
Super nervous. Super excited. Luckily it’s a long way until June and I don’t need to start worrying quite yet!
(Pssst! – on the subject of conventions, my colleagues are also at StokerCon and Harrogate Crime Festival, I’m hoping to attend British FantasyCon and possibly BristolCon, and I’ll be over in Canada in October for Can*Con! It’s going to – I hope – be a busy year.)
TL;DR and content warnings: mental health stuff, depression, suicidal thoughts.
I can handle depression. I’ve had fifteen years to figure out what my moods are and how to cope with them, and what works best for any given problem. That’s not fun, but it’s cope-able. I know what to do with it.
What I’m currently struggling to handle is depression + medication.
I’m trying to work out what’s new, and what’s the same. What’s me, and what’s the medication. I’ve got a handle on depression, anxiety and emotion storms: I don’t have a handle on depression that feels like a black hole, anxiety that gives me the nevousness but not the fear, emotion storms that come and go as quickly as a passing cloud.
Medication throws everything I’m used to up in the air, and I have to try to catch it all as it falls.
I’ve still got the thought spirals for anxiety (why do you knead bread? what do we have for dinner? what would happen if there was a solar flare apocalypse and do I need to learn how to make an oven? I should be reading books. I should be working. I should be resting. I’m not sleeping. I need to sleep. I should be working. I have bread flour to use. do you knead it for the gluten or the yeast?) but none of the fear. None of the restlessness. None of the whirlpool. It’s just my brain going THINK THINK THINK without any reason.
I’ve still got the emotion storms, but I can’t feel them build; they’re like a sudden rainstorm from a blue sky, rather than the build-up of thunderheads that they were before. Then, I could see them forming: I could understand the situations and emotions that were going into them, and get myself to safety before I broke down (or just broke). Now, I get a few minutes’ warning and then I just break, crying uncontrollably – and then it’s gone. I’m ok again.
I’ve still got the depression, but it’s got no punch, because all of its feeling has vanished. The black hole that has formed under my ribs is just sucking all my emotions; I can do surface reactions, but I can’t feel anything more. No tug of the heartstrings. No stomach-hurting joy. No gripping sadness either, and no whirlpool of fear, but it’s just sucked…everything.
It’s also given me pretty bad suicidal thoughts; there’s no emotion behind it so I know it’s not actually me, but it’s still pretty frustrating when my brain throws up “oh yeah, kill yourself!” as a solution to small problems. Gee, thanks, brain. That’s not a good solution. Eff off. (I’m fine, by the way – zero intention. I think someone referred to them as “passive thoughts” which is a good way of thinking about it; versus the active intention, which if I ever had I would certainly do more to get help. At the moment I’m just fighting weasels.)
On a random sidenote, I was reading Neil Sharpson’s blog, and he mentions (understandably) freaking out over sudden suicidal thoughts. And I just thought.. well, hey, it’s just another day for me. That’s pretty scary if I look at it from one point of view, but it’s actually also reassuring. I know my brain throws them up, and I know how to deal with it. (Kick the weasels. Hard. It’s not easy or fun but it works.)
I can also understand the thing about the first six months being the most dangerous, because you still have depression but you also have energy. I do still have depression. I can feel it. But I don’t have any of the emotions behind it – and that makes it harder to understand, and to cope with.
But for now: I’m keeping going. I’m holding onto my routine, and my partner, and my friends, and everything around me, and just stepping forward. I’m trusting that if I just keep on a bit longer then everything will start to settle, and everything will start to balance again. I’m trusting that the medication will work and that despite the difficulty, this is going to make me stronger.
(I mean, that’s excluding the ones at work where I read about twenty so it’s not like I’m NOT reading, but…)
I shall now sing a happy little song, which is called “Where Has All My Motivation Gone?”
I just couldn’t get the concentration. I seem to have time in five-minute bursts, and I just ended up skimming pages, then putting the book down again. I was playing games a lot (they’re easier for me to not-focus on, I think?) and mooching around the internet, and generally not being productive,
I want to read, that’s the thing! I want to get into the stories. I just keep finding that I drift off or get antsy or just… dunno. It’s indicative of my general bouncing mood at the moment, though; I’m definitely unsettled.
I’ve got a few days holiday now though, so I’m taking some books with me. Whether they’ll just sit and look pretty or whether I’ll actually read them is another story…
Just a few things to get off my chest that seem to be common misconceptions… all views my own and not from BookPolishers, Grimbold or Rebellion! Just me rantin’. Also, none of these are aimed at anyone specific – they’re a compilation of the past year or so in publishing, both on the professional and freelance sides!
On the editing side:
Talk to us if you’re struggling
We’ve got deadlines, sure. We give you those deadlines for a reason – we usually need the text by then to do little fiddly things like turn it into a pretty book and make sure there’s no spelling mistakes.
Those deadlines are usually fairly flexible. We build in some spare time, and assume that everyone will take six months to do an edit.
But, for the love of everything, if you’re going to miss a deadline – TALK TO US.
We don’t (usually) care too much. We’re not going to yell at you if it’s a genuine thing. (If you’ve had to do an emergency repaint your car for the sixth time then I might raise an eyebrow and cross a square off my Author Excuses Bingo Card.) But if you tell us, it means we can talk to the publishing machine that sits behind us and get various deadlines and dates pushed back.
And that’s so much easier to do when we have notice, rather than as the deadline goes whooshing past everyone’s head.
Seriously, we’re not that scary. Just let us know, and we’ll figure it out with you.
You can say no to edits
Your relationship with your editor is a dialogue. It’s a discussion. It’s a negotiation.
Admittedly, there’s some degree of coercion on either side, with “if you don’t do this we won’t publish your book” versus “if I pull this book you don’t have anything to publish” but still….
We’re all aiming to make the book better. Editorial notes are suggestions, and you can say no. What we’d actually prefer you to do is explain your reasoning behind saying no, and open that dialogue with us: maybe there’s another way of achieving the effect we want? Maybe that thing needs to be in there because *reason that doesn’t quite come out later in the text and just needs more explanation*? Maybe the editor’s just got the wrong end of the stick? Or maybe you’re hung up on something and just needed a kick from an external reader to realise that actually, you could burn half your plot in a fire and it would make the book a phoenix? (It happens to everyone, including Kate-the-writer.)
And on the formatting side…
Ebooks are not easy to make.
Yes, you can do one by “just running it through <converter>” but it won’t look good. That’s sort of the point of formatting things properly.
Ditto for formatting.
It’s a lot of tiny little tweaks and changes and most of them you won’t even notice once they’re in – but you notice when they’re not!
No you cannot “just make a small change-“
And while we’re on formatting, you know those domino videos where they’ve got this huge run and it’s looking awesome and then someone places one wrong and the whole thing goes? That’s what happens when you add words.
If you get a copy to “proof”, that is NOT the time to “just change this one thing-” or “just add-”
Small changes – spelling mistakes, wrong genders, wrong places, that sort of error – YES! CHANGE THEM! Now is the time! DO IT! (Much better to do it now than when someone emails you with “did you know your book has an error?” and you’ve printed 5000 copies what that error in. Yeah. Not fun.)
But “oh, I don’t like how that sentence is written…” – NO. STEP AWAY FROM THE KEYBOARD.
(Apparently that one is a proper bugbear for me! It’s one of those things you don’t realise until you start formatting, and then OH FFS IT’S SO FRICKIN’ ANNOYING.)
Also on the same subject: InDesign. Someone buy me a beer, I need one if we’re having this conversation…
Is that it? Probably not, but I can’t think of any more off the top of my head. Stay tuned for another Publishing Minion Bugbear post!