Or that I just can’t do it any more, it makes me feel sick to my stomach.
Imposter syndrome at the start…What was once something I used to refer to as a cross between imposter syndrome and writer’s block as evolved in some ways into a similar feeling I get when trying to leave the house. I’m perfectly capable of doing the things I plan, but there’s a lack of… willpower to stay on track instead of just stare off into space. It doesn’t hurt – my heart, the lump in my throat, my head, if I just check out, you know? But, I’m letting so many people down now and I just can’t keep doing it, so, I’m slowly pulling myself back together, or trying to. It’s not an easy path to slog up and down, if I’m honest.
Reorganising starts…where it startsOne thing I’ve discovered is mindset is everything with me. If I’m feeling positive, I manage so much better. But, getting myself motivated is one of those difficult things that I’ve found tiring, exhausting, annoying, hard.
I don’t think this is something unique to people with mental health challenges though. I think we’re all kinda feeling this way, and, coupled with imposter syndrome is probably one of those things that is difficult and tiring at the best of times, but right now? It feels insurmountable. But, I’ll get there, slowly but surely.
We’ll be doing a tonne of stuff to get me organised – starting with some cleaning in our room. From there, I’ll be arranging my dining room and creating a new office space. Woo?
I need to build up enthusiasm.
Lifting, lifting…In the UK, lockdown is mostly lifted – non-essential shops have opened, and we’re a year on from our first lockdown plus a few weeks. The weather is nicer, and while I can’t say ‘all’s well in the world’, things are feeling a lot more bearable, knowing that I can go back to the library, that we could do what we did yesterday and grab essentials and continue organising. Books too are starting to come together, and though I still really miss my gran, life has to go on. So, we’re going home and spending a bit of time with family, then I’ll be doing a lot of working on stuff.
The ‘little thoughts’ blog…WHile I was away, I realised that one of the things I used to do quite a bit, just for an internal group of us, was to share my ‘little thoughts’ for the day. They usually weren’t actually that little but gave people a jumping off point to … reason through some of the stuff they’ve been feeling. A few of those little thoughts grew up into big books. And I’ll be focussing on bringing the little thoughts and the books to the fore in the coming weeks.
How I’m doing that…Gotta be honest, there’s no one way I’m doing it. I sat down while at my MIL’s (she’s got a very peaceful house, and a very boisterous puppy which is the best combination to
Planning books, making goals and more. I’ve tried out several planners, and am trying this one. I’m not sure I’ll like it, but it’s looking ok so far. I’m not entirely certain of how I’ll use it, but balancing publishing, work, Uni, promo and family needs a legendary system. This might be it, and it was on offer, so win-win.
(You can get it on Amazon*).
Over to you guysI do really want to start featuring reads – of my blog and my newsletter – so it’s over to you. My next newsletter is 1st June and you can apply by getting in touch on my form, and I do mini ones on Twitter between Friday and Sunday, so, if you’d like to talk to me about exchanging project mentions, please get in touch! I have a few rules about it, which is why my exchange page explains a few things. If those rules aren’t to your liking, we just don’t exchange. I can’t bend these rules – having done so in the past, I’ve found that people take it too far. And while I don’t like to think some of it is deliberate, sometimes it totally is, so thank the people that didn’t follow through last time if you’re not able to swap with me because there’s a boundary you don’t meet. The option is always there though, and I always make room to pay forward.
Finally, some recommendationsI’ve got some tool recommendations, and reviews I’ll be offering in the future. Some are free, some are affiliate linked (marked with *). If they’re marked with *, I’ll earn something or get points or similar from them. If I can, I donate to charity, or give away what I earn, but if I can’t, I offset it instead.
Enjoy! K-Lytics - while many of my readers are, well, readers, some of you are authors, and I’ve found some really neat information in their reports. The latest one is sci-fi and fantasy, and it’s absolutely amazing. Their research and analysis is really interesting, and there are always nuggets in there that are really crucial to a great head start with planning books, either written to market or improving your writing. Evernote – Evernote is proving to be critical to my work, for more reason than one. It used to have a referral plan, it’s currently suspended, so I’m just recommending it I use this for organising study and storage. Scrivener – Might have an affiliate scheme, can’t find it, highly recommended regardless. I’ll always complain I can’t use it on Dex (Android, specifically my Samsung tablet) but it’s a minor annoyance for what I do. Remember, Nanowrimo participants get vouchers for participating sometimes, so if you’re looking to take part and do those projects, there’s always that option.
But now…Well, now, I’m travelling home for a week. This will be the first time I’ve travelled, really, since last September/October, but, more importantly than that, it’s the first time I’ll have seen our family since Christmas 2019. We never got to travel when lockdown was loosened, Christmas 2020 was just a clusterf*ck for so many reasons (I had shingles, the youngest needed to self-isolate for CV19 contact, and to protect as many people as possible, the rules kept changing to the point we just couldn’t go home. Which I bitterly regret, as we lost my gran in February.) So, that’s part of why we’re going home. Another part is none of us have done anything remotely ‘holiday’ since….well, before Christmas 2019. Christmas 2019, I was kinda distracted with my son’s health and getting him to a place where we could support him. Tempus and I did go on a small trip late 2020, but it was his work and I was too sick to be left alone. Go me?
So…home?Home, for those that haven’t been around for long, is Edinburgh. Shockingly, the gaelic speaking girlie comes from Scotland (anyone that’s seen my videoes will not be surprised. I have a recognisaibly Scottish accent). So that’s where we’re going. If I’m lucky, I might get to go get some reference photos for a book I want to write, but, if I don’t, the place I want photos of is easy to get to when were in Edinburgh, so it’ll keep. Mostly, I’ll be spending time with family, and, as I do when we travel (it’s a six+ hour drive), I’ll think, and do some planning. I’ve got a ‘Legendary’ Planner, which I’m going to be trying out. And I’ll be doing some decluttering and house re-org, planning books, and getting ready to do some study for Uni. AND reading some books that I’ve been putting off for a while. In short, I’ll be ‘off’. Buuuut…blogging more First though, home. I’ll be sharing in real time on my Instagram, and I’ll do roundups as I can. Be good without me The featured image? Well, one is me working while I go, the other?
That would be a view of Edinburgh, with an inconvenient lamppost.
Lifting, lifting…In the UK, lockdown is mostly lifted – non-essential shops have opened, and we’re a year on from our first lockdown plus a few weeks. The weather is nicer, and while I can’t say ‘all’s well in the world’, things are feeling a lot more bearable, knowing that I can go back to the library, that we could do what we did yesterday and grab essentials and continue organising. Books too, are starting to come together, and though I still really miss my gran, life has to go on.
Enjoy some books!Before I get to my books and some release updates, I’m going to tell you guys about some really neat giveaways. All are through StoryOrigin (review coming, as they’ve come out of Beta, and if you upgrade before the 25th April (if you’re an author), there’s discounts in the offing. But for now, I thought I’d share these group projects and invite you to enjoy.
Then, there’s my booksSo, the original plan for this month was to set up and release a set of books for giveaway, and then to talk about the books coming next. So I’ll refer you back to the post talking about my books I’m running behind, but I’m still moving forward, which is important. A lot of it is actually to do with redesigning my whole workflow, since I inherited, of all things, a case for my Galaxy Tab, and suddenly, I can actually choose to feel like I can’t make it downstairs to work, so, I can write here. In theory, it should be …. In practice? Scrivener is where I write on every other device, so I’m having to alter my workflow to let me work on my Samsung (Android), and, all that really means is that I find an editor that plays nice with everything, doesn’t annoy Scrivener on both my Mac and PC, and lets me write. And there’s also the fact that I’ve got all of my books in two dropboxes, and I need to make sure there’s nothing that’s lost in the merge, which, over 500 Scrivener files is a headache. It’s all – really – procrastination, but important too. I will write up exactly how I sort it all out because I think it’s important – and hey, being a bit of a platform hopping techie, if I can help others like me, then that’s great. For now though, I feel as harried as that gif looks.
Over to you guysI do really want to start featuring reads – of my blog and my newsletter – so it’s over to you. My next newsletter is 1st May and you can apply by getting in touch on my form, and I do mini ones on Twitter between Friday and Sunday, so, if you’d like to talk to me about exchanging project mentions, please get in touch! I have a few rules about it, which is why my exchange page explains a few things. If those rules aren’t to your liking, we just don’t exchange. I can’t bend these rules – having done so in the past, I’ve found that people take it too far. And while I don’t like to think some of it is deliberate, sometimes it totally is, so thank the people that didn’t follow through last time if you’re not able to swap with me because there’s a boundary you don’t meet. The option is always there though, and I always make room to pay forward.
Societal versus compassionI guess this is something that clicked recently, along with some of the concepts I’ve finally worked out about toxic negativity in the people I’m around, and about how my saying ‘no’ isnt the same as being negative, and that anyone that pushes back when I say no to preserve boundaries for my health, whether they agree or not, isn’t compassionate, nor understands what I mean by toxic negativity. The thing is though, if I were talking about this and a friend asked me, I’d say with compassion and care, that it’s ok, society’s pressure to be always achieving is partially linked to captialism (I’d argue that daydreaming is productive, but others would say no, and it’s often described as a bad thing, not a good, even for writers. ‘Being bored’, a bugbear of mine, is another one of those things that’s often talked about now as something of a luxury. A first world problem. But, honestly? I sometimes think we describe being still and stopping as ‘boerd’ because it’s an alien concept to us. And none of that self-talk is compassionate. Not really.
Sitting still, and stoppingI was, as I always do, trying to meditate this morning and it hit me that my mind KEPT wandering to the fact that I feel like I’m so behind. No matter how gently, how often I pulled myself back, I saw that thought, inherently ‘judgemental’, inherently negative, and I couldn’t reframe it. I’m behind because I’m tired, I’m not well, I’m struggling. A lot of that is possibly to do with the fact my brain made an audible snap when I worked something out, metaphorically, and the shockwaves from that ‘click’ is just making my head and heart hurt. It changes how I relate to people, and I don’t like that, but it’s… important. There’s another blog coming, because there’s books to touch on, and more, but the biggest thing is my brain just isn’t as compassionate to certain toxic negativities. Nor how people in my circle of friends sometimes bounce off that. So. I thought about it. I can reframe this. I can gently let go of the expectation of doing the AtoZ during April. The planning and research aren’t going to waste, and neither are the friends and reading I’m getting to meet and do while I’m joining in too. But, this is my last AtoZ post, except, maybe a summary on May 1st of the stuff I did get done.
There’s a lot I could say right now, but, I’m just going to be honest and say a few things that my new friends coming in from AtoZ might get, and those of you that are my fearless readers probably know about me already.
Mental health is my limiterI wish I could say positive things all the time about my books and stuff, but the reality of my world is I like to present this whirlwind, usually of joy and all sunshine and rainbows. The truth is though, like most people online, I curate my experiences – and in my case, a little more than I should.
I talk about mental health in certain terms, but today, I’m going to talk about it in a different way.
And I guess that’s ok, because there are books coming about it, so I had to do it sooner or later.
But I find the words faltering between my fingers and the keyboard. They’re jamming in my chest in a way – thick in my throat.
And it’s all because I’ve lived with, by level at least, severe mental health issues all of my life. I’m ‘functional’. I look ‘normal’. But as you can see from those quotes, they’re bitter descriptors. Normal and functional are mechanical descriptors I’ve always said ‘normal is the setting on a washing machine’. And it’s because we use words like normal, nominal, functional, functioning, intergrated … as if we all match up against one level, one actual checklist. We don’t. Humans are as varied as snowflakes.
The thing with me is I’m actually a bundle of contradictions. I deal with a set of cognitive dissonances daily because I’m creative and I’m techie, so when I describe this stuff now, it’s always as if I’m describing a computer of sorts. But I’m not. It just puts a bit of distance between myself and the things I’m talking about.
The dissonance though…it comes from, I guess, the normalisation and on the flip side, the stigmatisation of mental health. And of course, I talk about not accepting stigma, that I’m accepting. But it doesn’t change that there’s some internalised stuff that we were raised with. And it becomes a bit of a mess there, which I guess I’ll talk about more, but for now, all I want to do is acknowledge that I’m not acting at my best right now. And while I’m ashamed and feel bad pointing at the fact that I am effectively, severely disabled, there’s…a bit of me that doesn’t like to say that. As if it belittles those living with things I can’t even begin to understand. But it’s true. I have what is considered to be a severe set of mental illnesses. I’m not able to function at my best all the time. I really need to stop being stubborn and trying to pretend I do. It’s not as if people will be mean about it (actually, I also know that not to be true, but the nastiness that comes from talking about this stuff is, by and large, the way I weed people I don’t want in my community out. Not to create an echo chamber, but who in the hell attacks someone for having mental health issues anyway?)
It’s not been an easy yearI know many people can say that. But my year started (well, 15 months really), last January with a septic son (three kidneys, that is an adventure I’ll discuss on my personal blog when I get over all of the fear and lay a few issues I’m still having to work though), then February and his major kidney surgery. We got him through that, and the afternoon his stent came out, we started the first lockdown in the UK. That was, 13 months ago.
The last 13 months has seen me lose friends and family to Covid. And my gran, who was one of the sick and vulnerable due to chonic illness. That was in February, and I’ve soldiered on, because she’d want me to, but I manage a few weeks then break down in a wreck of crying and misery. It’s just not fair to inflict it on people and while I had high hopes for the AtoZ, I did kinda go overboard.
Mistake? Or future posts?I’m being hard on myself calling this a mistake, but for me it is the end of the line. But, the posts I had planned, because I did, on all the blogs I was doing it on, will still appear at some point. Deirdre, at These Our Fandoms and I have discussed it and between feeling bulldozed by vaccines and life (as both of us have had a rough few years), we’ve decided it was too much to do on such short notice, so planning will probably get us through next year.
The rest of this year though? I’ll get the posts up. I’ll be writing up similar posts on the other blogs (even, ironically, my mental health blog) and I think I’ll just spend the rest of the year making new friends and visiting with others, if that’s ok with you?
And the books…?I can’t lie and say I wouldn’t love it if you followed me on my “books” journey. I am writing and reissuing a tonne of them, but if you wish to follow, there’s a lot of places you can – with different levels of engagement for everyone’s comfort. My street team gets my ARCs, everyone gets giveaways, I answer sometimes on social media. You can follow the blog, or Authorinterrupted, when it’s back, you can join me on Twitter, on Facebook, or my street team, or you can subscribe to my newsletter. I’m even on Instagram, though that really is more about what’s behind the books, and my personal life. No matter what, I cherish each and every person that follows me. As to what I write?
Everything. Literally, I’ve got a book for every genre, just about now. My next project, the one I’m going to put the energy I’ll get back, the spoons I’ll retrieve, I guess, from the AtoZ, is a romantic comedy. But I write and love sci-fi, fantasy and all sorts, as the first few blogs showed. Thanks for reading, sorry if I’ve disappointed you by stopping. And good luck if you keep going, I’ll read what I can!
SleepscapesHands down, by far and away, my favorite aspect of the app is their Sleepscapes. They are 45 minute guided meditations/mindfulness exercises to fall asleep. I’ve enjoyed all of them so far, but my favorites are the Midnight Laundrette, The Slow train and the Lighthouse. They’ve got a few ASMR guided meditations, and the latest update added some extra features.
The daily rundownA new feature they’ve added recently is a daily plan you can follow. The Wakeup is part of my day already, but they’ve added extra – I like that it’s showing me more of the things are available – from meditations and courses to focus music. You can check out the app for a trial period, at Headspace. Watch “10 Minute Relaxing Deep Sleep Sleepcast and Sleep Story: Midnight Launderette” on YouTube
But it’s a negative concept?The act of surrendering or giving up on something is often percieved and portrayed as negative. You’re quitting after all, but its that whole perception that’s part of the problem.
Bit of a mind-teaser huh? The pereception of something that you’re doing that’s perceieved as negative in itself is the issue. Not the act.
Yeah, it took ne a while too.
Sometimes though, you just have to give in and surrender to the process. Especially when meditating…
The act of surrender as an act of compassionI’m still wrestling with this now myself, and I’m still working on it myself, so if you’re not quite sure about this concept, trust me, I get it, even though I’m talking about it myself. But sometimes surrendering and letting yourself go with the process is absolutely the most compassionate thing you can do, for yourself and your mental health.
It goes for almost every area of life too. If your friend isn’t respecting your boundaries, it might be an idea to give up on the closeness of that freindship, and recategorise them. If you’re struggling to get passed a behaviour, or reaction, finding out what you’re holding on to – even if that’s ‘I’m not ready to address that’ – is an act of surrender and compassion in itself.
My biggest ‘surrender’. Asking for help, or telling people I don’t know.
Turns out that my reaction to fear is almost identical to anger, because that’s what I was taught. You don’t show weakness, you don’t give people an in, you’re not vulnerable, they can’t use that to hurt you. So. You show no fear. you instead make yourself as intimidating as possible (I am completely aware that this may or may not be your experience of my personality, and if you’re really close to me you’ll have seen both, and it may have given you whiplash. Sorry about that).