*weeps into her keyboard*… from the wonderful Tom Gauld.
I’m not doing too well at the moment. I got flu last week, and had three days off work (over a weekend, as well, so ended up being ill for about five days). A week later and I’m now off again as the lingering cough has developed into a full-blown raw throat and hurting chest, plus a mild bout of food poisoning yesterday, plus nightmares that mean I’m not sleeping well. My partner’s been ridiculously sweet about looking after me, but there’s only so much you can do when everything just needs to work itself through.
My mental state isn’t the best either. I know that I should be feeling really happy – I have a wonderful partner, a place of my own, a job I love – but everything’s feeling pretty overwhelming. I know that it’s mostly just brain weasels and depression talking; the point when I start thinking that I “should” be happy is usually the point that I know it’s not entirely me talking. But it’s also really hard to cope when I feel like my list is growing, and it all feels incredibly endless.
(…sort a plumber for getting the dishwasher out, and then sort them coming back to replace a part – and get the dishwasher fixed or replaced. Paint the shelves, and then again, and then sand and paint again. Email a solicitor about some niggly divorce financial stuff and then understand the answers – which I am seriously struggling with – and then have to do paperwork which is a task in itself, as printing and getting ID documents sorted and sending them is apparently a multi-day job. Get my boots fixed (again). Finish a formatting job for a client and then do six lots of corrections and then do the ebooks. Start another formatting job plus email a quote back to someone else. Sort a vet checkup for the cats, which involves ringing them as none of them put fees on their websites. Sort the council tax, which is in the wrong name and is somehow very confusing for them. Read five books for friends and give feedback. Think about the Grimbold Patreon because that’s getting urgent. Worry about my laptop screen not working in certain positions which means it’s going to fail soon, and have I backed everything that I need up recently? And this is on top of go to work, sort food, write blog posts, tell my partner I love them (not that that’s ever a chore), be nice to the cats, see friends, see family, email my Aunt, text my Dad about the latest thing he’s worrying about (although that was actually a new table he’s got, so that’s nice), work out which hug gif I haven’t used recently for my friend, book dinner with Badger, remember to ask another friend about their medical procedure, remind Otter that we’re baking eclairs and blues dancing sometime soon…)
I think one of the things that always gets to me is that it never stops. My task list will never be done; it’s quieter now than it has been due to my deliberately trying to throw some things out, but there’s always things. There’s always so many “shoulds” even on top of the task list – I should write more. I should see more friends, appreciate the people in my life more. I should read more. I should take more time for me. I should find space to improve myself or do more things that I want to do. I should be better at using my time than I am… I know it’s a familiar thing for a lot of people, and it’s something that won’t ever stop. I’m being whiny and silly. I do like being busy, I like having tasks – and I do this to myself! I could stop. I could just…say no. Stop doing it. This business and the subsequent tiredness is on me. It’s my own damn fault, and I shouldn’t whine.
But there’s reasons to do all of it. Some of it is shoulds. Some of it simply needs to be done. Some of it is for other people, for friends, for family. Some of it is expectations. Some of it is just because I don’t want to throw away a year’s hard work (the formatting) or 5 years hard work (the blog) or X years hard work (the writing). And some of it is because I do honestly want to do it.
I’m just very, very tired right now, and a lot of the tiredness is because there isn’t help available. I’ve asked for what I can; and now the only person who can do the rest of it is me. I just need to get on with it.
Anyway! I am going to be ok. I have a cup of tea, some sunshine, a fantastic sofa, and hugs promised this evening. I’m slowly doing what I can. One thing at a time, and I’ll be fine.
I (try to) do a little writing group on Thursday evenings – it’s just a Facebook chat with a few of us encouraging each other on. I missed the week before last due to work, so I was determined to try to write something. Problem is, I’m feeling stuck on the new No Man’s story; it’s bitty and I can’t get any sense of what I want to happen to the characters. I’ve got a vague plot but no detail, and that means no scenes.
So I picked a couple of prompts from the Wattpad #urbanfantasy, just on the offchance that they’d work; sometimes things do just fall into place for short stories, and I end up with a random one! However….neither really worked, and so I’m putting them on here to say – yes, this happens. This is my version of stop-start-stop, when the stories just won’t come, when something doesn’t fit. This is one of the stages of writing something; this is when an idea gets turned and twisted and ends up as one of the random hundreds of files I have in my writing folder, with a snippet that might end up in something else, or might not.
The first prompt was, “I would never bring my mobile to a demon hunt ever again.”
I picked my Dresden fanfic world for this, because a) snark, and b) demons. However, the specification was that the prompt had to be the last line (or paragraph), and frankly, I was struggling to work out what problems a mobile could cause on a demon hunt! Someone else trying to get in contact constantly? The mobile itself sends out signals that disrupt things somehow? I just couldn’t pin anything down as being the problem that needed to be overcome, and that meant that the story itself wouldn’t resolve.
“This is your idea of a date?”
I raise my eyes from my phone and look at the scarred, lanky, pissed-off form of the Winter Knight. From battered trainers to battered t-shirt, topped with a battered – well, scarred – face, he’s the picture of grumpiness.
“If I’d known it was going to be this romantic,” he continues, “I would have brought you roses.”
I open my mouth to say something snarky, but someone gets in ahead of me.
“This is not a date.” It’s laced with as much disapproval as a Fae Marshall can output – which is, it turns out, quite a lot.
“Dollface invited me here,” the Winter Knight points out, shoving his hands into his pockets and smirking. “And she didn’t state that she wanted to hit me. Therefore, it’s a date.”
“I can rectify that second criteria if it helps,” I say mildly.
“Your levity is out of place,” the Marshall grinds on, ignoring me. “We have a serious purpose.”
…and then I couldn’t work out what they were doing, apart from ‘fighting demons’. It may turn into a short with them fighting vampires, or just generally arguing, but the mobile phone was giving me problems.
However! That doesn’t mean that the prompt isn’t any use – and if you’re ever in this situation, my sincere advice is to go off the rails. Abandon the prompt! Write whatever comes to mind! It just so happened that I huffed, tried another prompt (see below) and then got caught up in something else…so I may come back to this one sometime.
“Couldn’t you have just broken my heart like any normal guy/girl?” I asked with tears in my eyes, leaning over him/her and his/her blood – so much blood.
I considered this, and considered how dramatic it was on the surface… so I promptly went light-hearted.
And I couldn’t hold back the laughter any longer.
[NAME] turned, her expression turning from shocked to bewildered, and then to horrified realisation.
And then she spun back to [BOY], dipped one long finger in the blood, and tasted it.
I sat down on the edge of the stage, my stomach hurting, yet unable to stop the howls of laughter that were shaking me. My cheeks were wet with tears, and I laughed and laughed.
Pippa turned and stormed out.
[BOY] started to pick himself up as I regained control of myself, and met my eyes as I pushed myself up and wandered over.
“Can’t you just break my heart like any normal guy?” I ask with tears in my eyes, leaning over him and his blood – so much blood. That should have been her clue.
He grinned up at me. “It’s more fun this way.”
“You’re a dick, [BOY].”
“And you love me for it. Here, help me up, and let’s go post the photos on the web!”
For this one, frankly, there’s no way anyone in the Dresden universe would go that light (I did play with some Kindred/Dini stories but ugh for drama and that’d be seriously depressing, and just…no) so it ended up being random. That said, I don’t necessarily like it. It doesn’t fit anything existing and it’s not a story that I want to tell in a new world.
And that’s the thing with prompts, for me. Sometimes they do lead to stories that I do want to tell, just from that one snippet – and sometimes, like these two, they just end up as scraps.
So it’s still writing progress, even if it’s somewhat dead-ended!
I borrowed the concept of Brain Weasels from Jim C Hines, because they’re just so apt. “They scheme against me, rubbing their tiny clawed fingers together and twirling their whiskers…”
They’ve been in full force for the last few days. I knew that having an overdose of People and Big City over the weekend at Forbidden Planet’s Small Press Expo (which was fabulous, and I’m very glad I went!) and seeing people in London would tire me out, but it really did a number on me.
It hasn’t really been helped by the last few weeks. I’ve had a few minor stresses that have all stacked on top of each other to make a bigger stress, and I’ve started to have problems eating again – I probably should do a separate post about that but I’ve got the fun combination of not really wanting to eat, and then when I do, feeling sick, which just reinforces the not-wanting-to-eat. I’ve trained myself over the years to force myself to have something (usually tea) which stands me in good stead whenever I get this bad, but it’s still not fun, especially when combined with other stress.
I think I’ve started separating the Weasels out more successfully, though – which isn’t entirely nice. It’s like falling over something: I’m coasting along on a “well, ok, things aren’t brilliant but I’m doing all right and I can do this” and suddenly I’ll trip over “everything’s shit and you should just kill yourself already and there’s no future and here’s some ways to do it” and it just feels so abrupt. And then I get ambushed by more Weasels and that ain’t fun either. Plus if I don’t want to eat then the Emergency Stash of Chocolate doesn’t help, so…
Yeah. My brain sucks.
The only thing I can really do when I get bad is push on through it: there isn’t really anything I can do to make it go quicker. I’m coming up again now, thanks in part to my wonderful friends and in part to the Weasels fucking off. If I get bad for longer than about a week, I’ll consider looking at medication again, but for now I’m just keeping on swimming as best I can.
On that note, one thing that does help (while also stressing me out, but in a better way) is work, so I’m going to go dive back into the pile! It’s currently mostly proofreading and things for other people, but there is some of my work on there…
And I’m still doing my Dresden stories on Wattpad twice-weekly, so please do hop over there and have a read if you fancy something new (to you) of mine!
Just a bit…grey, really.
I’ve had a pile of editing work, so I’ve been trundling onwards through that. Then I’ve got proofreading and some formatting to finish, and then just the rest of my list, really. It’s all ongoing, and nothing particularly special – I’m still enjoying it all, but it’s all become routine (which is nice in some ways!) The pile’s not really leaving any time for writing, but then I don’t really have any stories in me at the moment. I’ve got some ideas – I mean, check out the list of teas from the Nordic Cafe in Lymington (which, by the way, is excellent): I just want to write all those characters! But nothing’s really flowing, or fitting itself into a story. I’m just uninspired.
In the rest of life, it’s sort of ongoing as well. I’m waiting to hear back on a job I’d love to get, but I’m trying not to get my hopes up; I’ve had some friend drama, but I’m so tired of it that I just stepped away rather than try to fix anything. I’m still playing games on a Tuesday night, still trying to walk every day. I’ve been reading a bit, but it’s either old favourites (Martha Wells’ All Systems Red) or I’m halfway through new ones (The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach and The City of Woven Streets by Emma Itäranta). So nothing particularly new there.
There has been some good. I had a wonderful present through from my friend Pasty & Purls, which was brilliant and I’m currently halfway through framing – isn’t it CUTE? That was definitely a highlight in my week, as was Disney films with a friend – he hadn’t seen The Emperor’s New Groove. JUST WHAT. So we watched that. And I got to go out on a powerboat over the weekend in brilliant sunshine and a flat sea, which was fun (if cold!)
But beyond that…I don’t know. I don’t think it’s depression – or at least, it’s mild. It’s just grey. But I’m doing ok, just trundling along; just one step at a time and one thing at a time, every day.