Still here. Still going. Finding everything very grey and tiring; I usually love autumn, but I just don’t have any capacity for appreciation this year. The colours are beautiful, the sunshine is lovely, and I just… meh. Yay, depression! Always fun.
Anyway, happy things? I should probably find some happy things.
I made chutney! And pear jam. I’m making notes for what went wrong so I can do better next time… (Mostly the jam had too much sugar, and I wasn’t entirely sure about the chutney. I just need to experiment there, I think.)
I planted a tree! A neighbour was digging up their plum tree and offered it round, and it’s now in our Close to replace one that was there but died. I’m hoping that it’s going to survive the winter – it’s had compost and food and a lot of rain, so we’ve done all we can…
One sort-of happy thing – I had an awesome story dream! And then forgot it, of course. I keep getting the occasional story idea, too – nothing that I can write, but it’s reassuring to know at least the ideas are popping up.
Smol Grumpy Black Cat is currently a pumpkin; he’s officially Stout (whoops) and has been sitting under our Hallowe’en banner like a small black pumpkin, so I’m currently calling him Grumpkin. Other than that he’s well, grumpy, yowling and generally extremely happy – although he doesn’t have enough biscuits. THERE ARE NEVER ENOUGH BISCUITS.
I’m on hooooliday! As of tomorrow, anyhow. I’ve got a week-and-a-half off; unfortunately I’m not in Canada as planned, but I am going to be doing a bunch of DIY, planting some nice bushes in the garden, and sleeping a lot. Maybe if my brain will co-operate, I might get some reading done too…
…and that’s because the author has planned for it to fail.
So why are we still having this discussion?!
Ok. Deep breath, and let’s start at the beginning.
You’ve opted to go into science fiction and fantasy (SFF) because it provides a breakout from the boring structure of reality or history, where only men have speaking parts, and women are love interests. You want unicorns! Spaceships! Time travel! Magic! All the exciting stuff that doesn’t exist in our current universe, or is an extension of it, or is somehow a flight of fancy from our boring reality. That’s what makes it fiction!
And somehow you still fail to populate your world with anything other than men.
WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU.
Ok. Another deep breath. Caaaaalm.
The Bechdel Test. It’s got four parts: two women must have a conversation about something other than a man. So that requires a) two female characters, b) talking c) to each other, and c) about anything other than a man. It’s pretty damn simple.
The Bechdel Test is, frankly, a baseline that should be easy to jump for anyone. And this takes us back to the start: that there is only one reason why your book should fail the Bechdel Test.
That is because you, as the author, have deliberately chosen for it to fail. For example, your narrator is isolated – in which case, they’re not likely to be having conversations with anyone, so that’s fair. Your narrator is a single POV (although do they never overhear any conversations? Or see anyone else have any?) Your narrator is, for some reason, surrounded by men for plot or narrative reasons and this makes sense in the book.
What is not cool is for you to apparently completely forget that women exist outside of a love interest – or, even worse, a “very helpful NPC who points the way to the (male) hero”. You should not find it difficult to include women in the plot. You should not be making excuses as to why there are no or very few female characters. You should not be completely forgetting that maybe you need to make some of your important characters female. (If you only make a couple of NPCs female I will judge that even more harshly. Women are not bit players only.)
It is The Year Of Our Space Mom 2020 and two women having a conversation somewhere in the course of an 80,000 word book SHOULD NOT BE DIFFICULT.
And don’t even get me started on LGBT, trans* and non-binary – or, horror of horrors, what if you wanted to write aliens? I mean, it’s SFF. You couldn’t possibly think completely outside the human gender box, could you?!
I will now go and write an extremely polite rejection letter, pointing out the SHEER IDIOCY, and then fume in a corner. Thank goodness there is good writing out there to soothe my soul!
In this update: cosmic foxes, roses, horrible cthulu-type monsters, kites (the bird type), a farty cat, cakes, donuts and witches. These may or may not be related to each other.
Firstly, the important news! Bobble is sleeping, farting and ordering everyone around with happy abandon. He spent six hours on Friday asleep either on my lap or next to me, so he is one spoiled cat, and is obviously demanding cuddles at every opportunity. He is also a pile of paws and will reluctantly let us touch his toe-beans, is ridiculously fast (I may have a few small scars from trying to play with him) and has the most adorable little snore.
Also in work news, I’m reading exciting things that I can’t talk about yet…. WHEEEEEE!
I got sent a late birthday present by a wonderful friend of a voucher for roses. I have spent several hours leafing through (no pun intended) the catalogue going “SO PRETTY” and “climbers? Or a bush? What sort of soil do we have again? We’re mostly shade, so…” It’s been a lot of fun and I still haven’t decided. We think an in-person trip to the centre might be needed!
The kites have been keeeeee-kee-kee-kee from the tree behind the house; there’s two of them floating over most mornings now. They had a bit of a tough time with all the wind last week (well, I say that, but it wasn’t like they were having to flap… it was just the “getting to where they wanted to go” bit that seemed to be giving them issues) but the current sunshine is doing wonders for the thermals, and they’ve just been drifting over on the hunt for kite-sized snacks.
If anyone’s in Oxford, Jericho Coffee on Osney Estate have started doing coffee & donuts on Saturday mornings… and Patron Oxford are also delivering said donuts (and brownies!) to the city! (I think this is incredibly dangerous and haven’t ordered any, because they are FANTASTIC. Once a week is dangerous enough!) And if you’re not in Oxford, they do postal coffee beans. The smell coming out of the roastery is always fantastic, so I would recommend based on that alone!
On a pretty-things note, Lynsey Luu does amazing quirky stuff and I am still trying to decide what I want to buy! I’m somewhere between a cosmic fox, the cutest otter ever, or EVERYTHING ELSE. Currently I’m defaulting to the latter. The flower pendants are beautiful, too! Sigh.
I am currently on an Agatha-Christie kick, because it seems to be what my brain needs. Having Miss Marple sweetly pronounce that the world is horrible and evil and it just reminds her of so-and-so the butcher’s son who came to a bad end… it seems to fit the current world, somehow. Incidentally, if you like Agatha Christie, try Sexton Blake – we’re publishing collections of the best stories, and they’re the same sort of mystery and derring-do: Sherlock Holmes mixed with Poirot and Indiana Jones. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying them!
I am sort-of writing again! I was leafing through PetiteCreme‘s sketchbook (with her permission!) and spotted a witch on a bridge… and it reminded me of Necromancer’s Charm. So I hauled it out, and – SO. MANY. NOTES. I mean, I wrote three versions of the start because I couldn’t get the voice, and two documents of other notes because Thief & Seer is sort-of related and…. ARGH. But I really enjoyed reading the start again, which felt good! I’m sending it over to Otter for them to read, as they’re my current “is this any good?!” reader, and then… well, we’ll see if anything comes back?
In general Kate news: I’m on my third week into changing medication, and it’s… not really fun. I had one week of complete exhaustion as one withdrew, and then a week of complete ups and downs as the new one kicked in, and I’m currently in the fine-for-three-days-crash-for-a-day cycle that’s still underlaid by grey. I’m just trying to do as much as I can while manic, and then take the crashes as they come, and trying to ignore the weasels. Animal Crossing and re-reading books are getting me through, plus Bobble cuddles and chocolate. I know I’m in the best position possible to be going through all of this, and I’m just trying to keep stepping forward. If anyone spots the shops getting restocked with new brains, though, let me know. I might be in the market for one.
Also! In happier news, if anyone’s near Fairford in the Cotswolds, or can get there, the 7a Coffee Shop do SERIOUSLY GOOD BROWNIES. Sam dropped some off for me and oh my goodness. SO GOOD. Collection only, but so worth it.
…I feel like I am fixated on food and books at the moment, which… is fair, I think.
And on a final food – and cat – note, I have been watching Jun’s Kitchen: the most adorable cats, and really nice-looking food!
Still here, still going. Still grey. I have lots of posts I want to write but get halfway through and can’t get the words right. (Also, my hands won’t do what I want – I keep typing words wrong. It’s made emails a lot of fun.)
I just made almond & orange cake, and chocolate & orange cake (I had oranges to use up, ok?) The taste test hasn’t yet happened, but they smell good!
Bobble is asleep in his veggie box; his second-favourite place is on a different box, and his third is on his piece of packaging paper on the floor (maybe it’s cooler?). He’s still shouty, opinionated, loves cuddles and loves his new food. We aren’t so keen on the farts from said food, but hopefully they’ll decrease over time.
(Note the pigeon in the window above… we had a nest for a month! We got to see two chicks grow from fluff to pigeons, and then learn to fly. Bobble was Distinctly Unimpressed, and I think the pigeon was also Unimpressed. They mostly interacted nicely though.)
I’ve given up on the garden. The Otter has taken over it for me, as I have deemed it too large a use of spoons and just generally too much stress. However, we have finished painting the fence! At the moment I’m just letting everything grow – the irises in particular look gorgeous.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is my current go-to for brain-turn-off.
I have managed to read a couple of books – reviews to come, I hope! I’m also managing to get through full days at work, and not (always) needing a nap at lunchtime. I’m still sleeping badly, though, or at least waking up feeling exhausted even though I’ve slept.
Haven’t got the spoons to do a Happy Things post, but there have been happy things. I got some great card games for my birthday, and ate cake; I’ve been for some good cycle rides, and chatted to friends, and read some good books, and had plenty of Bobble cuddles. Work’s been going well – I get to reference Avatar The Last Airbender! – and I’m enjoying cooking.
On the downside, the grey has been getting worse, in some ways – I’m definitely not as bad in terms of emotion as I was, and I haven’t been breaking as much. But everything is still very flat and has now become more dream-like; I’ve been wondering where I am, or forgetting what the view outside the window looks like, or trying to remember what I did yesterday. (The last is a bit more of a problem for everyone with days all being the same, I suspect, but it’s still frustrating.) Grey and fluffy, maybe, rather than just grey? But I am being hit with random memories at odd times, which I think is a good thing; hopefully it means my brain is slowly healing. I’ve got another six months minimum on the anti-depressants anyhow, so it’ll be interesting to see how the summer goes.
So: still here, still going, still got Bobble snorkles!
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