Sunday Update 27/01

This week my main challenge has been trying to get back into the habit of writing. It feels like I’ve forgotten how to write regularly if I don’t have a deadline of some kind hanging over me. Did I ever know how to do that? Have I always relied on an external pressure to keep me writing?

It’s not that i’ve been avoiding writing. I’ve written a couple of blog posts, done a short writing course on skillshare, discovered the Story Grid system for editing, started a skillshare course on essay writing run by the glorious Roxane Gay and spent a lot of time looking at my writing planner. But that’s all writing adjacent activity and not the writing I actually want to be working on.

I’ve also been ill. I’m fighting off an infection, taking antibiotics, and dealing with a rash on my left hand that’s affecting my ability to type. I can’t tell if the rash is contact dermatitis, or an allergic reaction, or something else. I hope it’s not shingles. At least I know it’s not caused by the antibiotics because it predates the first dose. I’ve also been struggling with spasms in my arms that not only affect my typing but also my ability to crochet. It’s as if my own body is trying to keep me from doing anything useful.

I have written a bit this week. I have continued to make things in the face of my own body’s attempt to stop me. I’m just dissatisfied by how little I’ve done. I want more. I want to be productive. Why am I stuck with this recalcitrant body and semi-functional brain? It feels like I’m wasting my life because I get so little done. I know I could make great things if I could just do stuff. It’s so frustrating sitting around waiting to be able to do… just… anything.

It’s hard to communicate how angry I am that my life is like this. My creativity is constantly hamstrung by my frailties and every attempt to overcome these frailties backfires and makes things worse. The more I push myself the sicker I get.

I have a duty to all these characters that I have swimming round in my head. When I die I’ll take them with me unless I can get them out of my head and onto a page. But I also owe it to them to do a good job so I have to keep going back and making what I’ve already written better. It all takes so much time.

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Sunday Update 09/12

I am still fighting off a virus and it has robbed me of most of my spoons so apologies if this post is short and incoherent.

Everything hurts. I am exhausted. I’m even too tired to be angry that Jack Dorsey of Twitter thinks that mediation might help people with chronic pain. Today it took me an hour of meditation to martial my resources enough to close the blinds.

I have to go to an education meeting at my son’s school tomorrow. That means I have to be awake and vertical and dressed and if at all possible showered as well. Today it took me an hour to close the blinds.

I have to go to the meeting even though there is literally no point in me being there. Nobody in the meeting will care about anything I have to say. None of the information they give me can be used for anything. My only purpose in being there is so that I can say I went. If I didn’t go then the meeting would be slightly shorter and that’s the only difference my absence would make.

When things are this bad it’s like being trapped inside a giant robot body that you don’t understand and can’t make work properly. There’s a million things I should be doing right now but I’m stuck in here trying to get the alarm signals to turn off at the same time as working out why the arms won’t do anything.

But at least I have a new writing chair so that’s a thing I’m trying to feel good about.

NaNoWriMo 2018 Update 3

I am continuing to write. I’m well ahead of where I need to be to hit the official target of 50,000 words but am slightly behind on my personal goal of 60,000.

My story is feeling really episodic. Not so much a coherent plot line as a series of scenes that don’t really connect to one another. That failure to transition properly from one scene to another is something that I can fix in the edit but I know that it’s going to be really annoying. I’d like to save future me from that soul destroying task but I can’t do that without slowing down. And I cannot afford to slow down.

I’m also having trouble with one of my characters. I have a character that I’ve described as a ‘trans boy genius’. Throughout the story everyone treats him as a boy and I always use male pronouns. How do I show the readers that he’s trans? My main character is meeting him for the first time at a point in his life where he’s already on puberty blockers and everyone he knows has got used to using his male name and male pronouns. You could argue that I don’t have to bring it up at all, trans boys are boys, but if I don’t then I’m concealing a part of who he is and denying my trans readers the representation they deserve.

I’m also having intermittent problems with my finger joints. Following my last appointment with the doctor I now have anti-inflammatory gel to apply when they start to swell and hurt but it’s not magic. It doesn’t work instantly and it’s not fixing the underlying problem. Can the underlying problem even be fixed? Is this just another example of life kicking me in the teeth? My continuing existence is going to be more unpleasant and there’s nothing I can do about it?

The worst thing about the finger pain is that it feels like a betrayal. I’ve never been pretty or fit or anything but I used to be able to rely on my hands. My hands were always steady and quick and strong. I could touch type, and crochet, and make jewellery, and I could learn new things to do with my hands quickly. My hands looked good too. They looked considerably better than the rest of me. And now my little fingers are crooked and the joints are swollen and it’s probably only a matter of time before the rest of my fingers look like that. Eventually I won’t even be able to paint my nails to cheer myself up.

I’m going to finish this post with some pictures of that time when I accidentally co-ordinated my nails with my iPad case. I don’t know how many more pictures I’ll want to take of my hands.

Belated Sunday update for 28/10

I wrote a Sunday update post as usual but I threw it out because it just devolved into a rant about injustice all triggered by the additional pain I’m in because of my broken writing chair. I don’t like myself very much at the best of times but I hate who I become when I’m in that much pain.

I genuinely do not know what I’m going to do about writing. I’m always in pain but there’s only so much of it I can ignore. I need to be relatively comfortable in order to write anything other than semi coherent rants. You can’t build a novel on semi coherent rants unless you’re a famous, rich, white guy.

I also don’t know what I’m going to do about this blog. While I can write it in shorter bursts there’s kind of no point if I’m not writing anything else.

Anyway. Here’s my Ko-Fi link if you have a desperate urge to send me money.

Are my Wednesdays cursed?

Last Wednesday I had an incredibly shitty day and I wrote about it here. This Wednesday I spent the day in crippling pain. The kind of stabbed-in-the-hip-with-a-rusty-breadknife, 50-point-IQ-drop, can-barely-spare-the-brain-cells-to-speak sort of pain that people really don’t want to hear about when they ask you how you are. It was the kind of pain where sitting hurts, standing hurts worse, and laying down is by turns either much better or much worse.

And then my chair broke. My writing chair. The only chair in the house from which I can type and put my feet up. I was too tired and sore to work out what was wrong with it so I went to bed. This morning my other half tried to fix it and found out (by sitting on it) that the central post it swivelled on was completely sheared off.

So my writing chair is broken beyond repair. I have no money for a replacement. It’s NaNoWriMo in five days. I don’t even know anyone I could borrow the money from. I can’t ask my mother. She’s still in hospital and she’s gong to have to spend thousands on handrails and a stairlift so she can go home.

The most annoying thing is that I should have a chair. Local Councils are supposed to supply equipment to disabled people who need them. I used to have a rise and recline chair that was perfect for my needs but I had to give it back to the Council when I moved. In my new area there are so many people who need them that the Council only lends them to people undergoing end of life care at home.  You need to be literally dying to get a comfy chair.

If you’re wondering why I don’t just go and buy one of these fancy chairs it’s because the kind I need starts at £1800. That’s why I had to pay for a cheap and shitty one that lasted just under two years and now I can’t even afford a cheap and shitty replacement.

So here’s my Ko-fi link. But don’t feel bad about not clicking it. Even if every single reader clicked through and donated the cost of a cup of coffee I still wouldn’t have enough to buy a new chair. I’m only doing this so that when I complain and people ask me if I’ve tried asking for money on the internet I’ll be able to say yes.

A day in the life of a Spoonie

Let me tell you about how yesterday went.

I woke late in the morning and debated having a shower. I wanted the shower, I probably needed the shower but I didn’t have the shower because I needed to save the spoons for getting dressed and going out. I eventually persuaded my aching and uncooperative body out of bed around lunch time. But only because I had an appointment.

I had spent a week trying to get an appointment with a GP at my local practice but ended up settling for an appointment with a nurse practitioner. It’s not that I have any problem with nurse practitioners it’s just that I wanted a potentially complicated problem diagnosed and I think that’s something that doctors are better trained for.

I walked to the surgery even more slowly than usual because my left ankle decided to be a whiny little bitch. It was swollen and painful and it was like walking on a leg that has a spike through it. It’s the kind of problem that I often have to deal with and while it doesn’t stop me from going anywhere that I really need to be but it does slow me down and make me regret being alive. In the end I was only 3 minutes late which is not bad given that I’d got the time mixed up and thought my appointment was 10 minutes later than it actually was so in my head I was 7 minutes early.

Because my appointment was with a nurse practitioner I decided to shelve my original plan of saying something like “my hands are messed up and I’d like to know why” and risk raising the spectre of self diagnosis with “I think I might have rheumatoid arthritis in my hands and I’d like to find out and maybe get it treated while my hands still work”. The nurse asked my why I thought that and I was able to answer with some reasonable basis for my hypothesis – pain in my fingertips, leading to swelling in my finger joints, and hey this finger is crooked and no longer bends properly also my mother has rheumatoid arthritis.

I left with an appointment in 2 weeks to get blood tests and another one a week after that to discuss the results of the tests with a GP. The nurse also told me to try a low dose of ibuprofen to deal with the inflamation.

So I hobbled home and got some ibuprofen on the way. I don’t normally keep it in the house because I’m asthmatic and on the whole asthmatics should avoid NSAID painkillers like ibuprofen.

As I entered the pharmacy to buy the Ibuprofen I passed an older white man who said, in a petulant tone, “You’re welcome”. At first I was confused. Was he talking to me? There wasn’t anyone else around? I hadn’t asked him to do anything. I hadn’t spoken at all. He did stand back for a couple of seconds to let me enter before he left. Was he expecting me to thank him for waiting two whole seconds to leave the pharmacy? For allowing someone with a walking stick and in obvious pain to enter instead of pushing past me to get to the carpark? Who knows.

Got home. Now in absolute agony. Like incoherent with pain levels of agony. Decided that it was a good time to try ibuprofen, and also paracetamol (acetaminophen for American readers) and tramadol (synthetic opioid). That succeeded in killing most of the pain but then my eyelids started swelling up in a clear allergic reaction to something. Maybe the ibuprofen but maybe just pollen, I do have hayfever and I had just been outside.

Which was when I realised that I hadn’t bought any antihistamine the last three times I went to the shops. Because I’m a fucking idiot.

We searched the house in the hopes of finding some antihistamines somewhere but there were none. Which meant that one of us had to leave the house and go and buy some. And by one of us I mean me. I’d just spent more than a week trying to talk my spouse into leaving the house but social anxiety and agoraphobia is a nasty combination and the fact that walking anywhere causes them terrible back pain doesn’t help.

So I went back out again. Yes I went back out on my ankle that felt like it had a spike through it. Now with added swollen, horribly painful and not really working very well eyes. And I walked back to the pharmacy where I had bought the ibuprofen.

When I got there it was full of bastards. No, not really. Just full of people. That’s just how it felt to get there and discover that it was suddenly packed with people all of whom were in the queue ahead of me. And the reason for the queue was that the pharmacy was short staffed. So the queue wasn’t moving much. And everyone in the queue ahead of me wanted to complain about the queue. Which meant that the staff had to explain, yet again, about the staffing issue and then apologise for the wait before they could begin to deal with whatever the customer actually wanted.

And of course all the time I was waiting i was standing. On my ankle with it’s imaginary spike through it. Eventually I got to the front, spoke to the pharmacist and she sold me eye drops and tablets that I could safely take together. And then I just had to get home.

I’m fine today. Well fine-ish. Ok it was gone 3pm by the time I got out of bed, I still haven’t had that shower and it’s going to be days before I’m able to do much in the way of housework but I’m not actually dead and apparently that counts as a win.

Everything is terrible.

It’s not just my imagination, is it? We are all fucked. And not in the good way. Politics is fucked. The climate is fucked. The economy is fucked.

In theory it’s not too late. All these problems are fixable. Even the climate. We’ve fixed similar problems in the past. London fixed its killer fogs. China fixed its population growth. Europe fixed its acid rain problem. The world reversed the damage to the ozone layer. It’s not too late to reverse some of the damage, reduce some and prepare for the rest.

But that’s not going to happen. Have you seen the people in charge? Those that are competent enough to do something either lack the will or the power. Our politics is so badly fucked that it will take a generation to fix it and by then it will be too late to do much about the environment.

I don’t think we’ve destroyed the planet. We might have made it uninhabitable for humans but I don’t think so. As a species we’re pretty adaptable. I do think we’ve destroyed our current civilizations though. We might be facing a huge collective loss of technology.

Most of us alive today will probably live through horrible and traumatic change. Our lives are going to be a lot harder and much shorter. I say ‘our’ but since I’m reliant on modern medicine I don’t expect to live through any kind of societal breakdown.

Of course I could be wrong. We could turn it around. We’re pretty smart when we’re not being incredibly stupid. There is still time for someone to come up with something brilliant.

I wish I could believe that it would happen.

Sunday Update 16/09

I’m updating on the right day. Go me.

I’m back home from my trip to the frozen north to see my mother in hospital. She’s doing remarkably well for a woman her age with osteoporosis but they still haven’t operated on her broken shoulder. My youngest brother, who is coordinating the family response, is having trouble finding out what the doctors actually plan to do about it and when they plan to do it.

We’re also all still having trouble getting my mother to answer her damn phone. The mobile phone industry needs to get to work and develop the perfect phone for her. It would have flashing lights like a police car and an alert with the volume of an air raid siren so she knows when someone is calling. Also handcuffs so she can’t lose it.

I’m back home but I’m discovering that I used up a reservoir of spoons I didn’t know existed on my trip. As a result I feel like I’ve mined out new veins of exhaustion. I’ve also spent a week without wearing my medical grade compression leggings. I can’t walk anywhere without feeling like I’ve been stabbed in the calves and my left knee is being a total bitch. It is just not a team player. Still, it’s better than a couple of broken arms.

I haven’t done any more spinning so I can only assume that I continue to be crap at it. I have done some Tunisian* crochet and I’ve discovered that I’m really out of practice with it. I feel like I might be ready to really get into Tunisian because I’m starting to see the possibilities.

I haven’t done much writing but I am listening to a new audio book and that’s writing adjacent. It’s High Rise by JG Ballard, read by Tom Hiddleston. I might write more about it later because I have thoughts but it’s probably a good idea to finish it first.

I did finally get back to looking at my completed novel again, the one I tried queering but then gave up on because I started to suspect that either I’d fucked up the opening or it just wasn’t the right time. There might be a couple of things I can do to it to make it better. I still don’t hold out a lot of hope but it’s something to do while I wait for the inevitable stupid apocalypse.

*Tunisian crochet is halfway between knitting (two long needles holding a lot of loops at once and working the whole row of stitches) and crochet (one short hook working a single stitch at a time). It’s one long hook and that picks up a whole row of loops and then works each stitch individually. The finished fabric is similar to knitting and has a clear front and back but is thicker, like crochet.

The other kind of plan

In my previous post I talked about my writing plans. This is a post about my real life plans.

I don’t do a lot of planning. I’m very bad at it and my experience of life has led me to conclude that it’s mostly pointless and will only make me miserable. It doesn’t matter what I want, what I plan, or what I work for because I’m not going to get it no matter what I do. It hurts less to just accept whatever hellish hand life is going to deal you and work from there.

And since we’re on the subject of hellish hands it’s time to talk about Brexit. Britain is getting closer to crashing out of the EU with no deal. I know that some people say that wiser heads will prevail and it won’t happen or that it will somehow all be fine. I don’t believe in either of those.

I believe in preparing for the worst. Scotland will be dragged out of the EU along with the rest of the UK. There will be no deal. International trade will slow to a crawl. There will be food shortages. There will probably be some sort of rationing but the people organising that rationing are going to be the people who got us into this mess so I don’t expect it to be competent or organised. At the very least I expect shop shelves to look pretty bare for a couple of months.

I can’t afford to wait until the new year to start my food stockpile. As we get closer to the deadline the prices of canned and dried foods are going to rise. I need to start putting aside food now. I need to work out which foods my other half is prepared to eat, what we can afford and where we’re going to keep it all.

I’ve chosen to begin with noodles. Dried noodles keep for ages and can easily be combined with stock and frozen, canned or dried ingredients to make something filling and tasty. Noodles can also work well with pickled foods and home pickling is something I also plan to look into.

I’m open to suggestions so if anyone has any ideas for recipies feel free to share them in the comments.

I’m not dead I just don’t have anything to say

I’ve been so quiet recently because I don’t feel like I have much to say. This is unusual for me but then these are unusual times. It’s hard to find something to say when just looking at the state of the world makes you want to scream.

I try not to be distracted by all the horrible stuff that I can’t do anything about but I can’t pick something to focus on. I’m drifting. I was working on a novel but then I put that on hold to work on something that I could pitch at Bloody Scotland. I’ve submitted my short pitch but I’m not working on that novel just now because I don’t really expect them to want it. I started work on the prep for a new novel so I’ll have something to write for NaNoWriMo but shouldn’t I go back to finishing the one I was working on?

I suppose the real problem is that it all feels pointless. Everything seems pointless. I am one of the little people and there’s not much I can do about anything. I’m at the mercy of events driven by people with so much money and power that they don’t have to worry about the consequences of their actions. I’d be better spending my time learning more about growing vegetables and stockpiling cans so we can survive Brexit.