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.

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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.

Once again my body betrays me

Yes it’s a very dramatic title. Unfortunately it’s also true.

I am typing this very slowly because there is something horribly wrong with my right thumb. Yes I am right handed. How did you ever guess?

My thumb is swollen, itchy and sore. It won’t bend properly and it looks like the knuckle has somehow slipped round the side of it. It’s incredibly distracting and it means that I can’t do any of the things I normally do to fill the day. No computer games, no crochet, chores are even harder than usual and typing anything takes ages.

Yes I have sought medical attention. The current working hypothesis is that there’s an infection under the skin and pressing on the joint. I’m back on antibiotics. If they don’t work by Friday there will be blood tests. It might turn out to be gout. Because my body never met an embarrassing and poorly understood health problem that it didn’t want to try out.

Which is all very annoying because I should be working on the novel I want to pitch for Blood Scotland. Or the pitch. And I’m not. Because just typing this little bit has fucked my right hand up even more.

The consequences of falling down.

Last week I fell in the shower.

My able-bodied readers will probably be a little worried by that statement but reassured that I must be fine if I’m blogging about it. My spoonie readers will be wincing. Us spoonies know how particularly awful it is to fall in the shower.

Allow me to explain. I fall over a lot and I’m rarely injured because I know a little about falling safely. But when you fall in the shower no amount of breakfall technique will save you from injury because there just isn’t the room. When you fall in the shower it will be awkward, you will hit something hard, your body will get twisted.

The second big problem with a shower fall is getting up afterward. You’re on a smooth, wet surface that’s covered in soap. You are also wet and covered in soap. And so are all the hand holds. There’s not enough room to roll over and get onto your knees so unless you fell that way round you’re going to have difficulty getting to your feet. That’s assuming it’s even possible to get up.

In my case it was a close run thing. I twisted my right leg badly and injured my good knee (let’s be honest it’s really only the slightly less shitty knee). I couldn’t get my weight onto my feet. I couldn’t roll over. I had to inch out of the shower stall on my bum, get to the top of the stairs and use the top step to get to my feet. It was horrible. It’s been more than a week and my knee might actually be getting worse.

You might wonder why I haven’t been to the doctor for treatment. That’s because there’s no point. I know from experience that they’re not going to do anything. If I had been forced to call an ambulance to get me up they might have x-rayed my knee but since I haven’t broken anything nothing would have showed up. I’ve probably done some horrible soft tissue damage but since I’m not a hot young athlete there’s no possibility of surgery. Nobody cares how much pain you’re in when you’re an impoverished, fat, old woman.

My knee will either get better or it won’t. There’s not much I can do either way.

Dispatch from planet pain

It’s been a while since I wrote anything about living with a chronic pain condition so it’s time for another update. What fun!

The thing about a variable condition like mine is that while the pain never truly goes away it can sometimes lull you into a false sense of security by being less horrible for a while. And then it comes back full force and you remember why your life sucks.

I’ve been having shoulder trouble for a few weeks because I had dared to enjoy myself by playing video games. I cut right back on that and stretched more and just put up with the pain which is how pain management actually works. It doesn’t solve the problem it just helps you to live with it. Which usually means living less.

That’s not the pain I’m writing about now. Though now I think about them my shoulders do feel like I’m wearing lead epaulettes and I wish they’d stop.

Today I woke up and rolled over in bed and I really wished I hadn’t because it feels like some psychopath filled my pelvis and lower spine with broken glass. Holy crap it hurt. It’s still hurting. It’s hurting a bit less because I’ve taken paracetamol (acetaminophen for American readers) and vaped some CBD (cannabidiol, and yes it is legal in the uk).

What I want to say is that if you know someone with chronic pain and you see them smiling and moving around and apparently fine that doesn’t mean that they’re not actively in pain right now. It just means that compared to how much pain they have been in it’s no biggie for them.

If you also have chronic pain and you’re wondering about the CBD here’s the details. It’s legal in the UK. In the US it’s more complicated. In theory it’s legal at the federal level as long as there’s no THC in it but local laws vary.

I get mine from CBD Life, which is a UK based company though they do ship to other countries. I can recommend their vape liquid and their customer service but I have no first hand experience of their other products. That is an affiliate link. If you buy stuff from them I’ll get money off my next order, because I do buy and use their stuff and I want to buy more.

 

And if you want to buy me a coffee, because coffee does help with pain management, you can do it through Ko-fi.

Alternative Win Conditions

Today I closed my online shop (that’s today as I write this on Tuesday 8th May 2018). It didn’t make any money. It barely paid for itself. Just the latest failure in my continuing quest to get paid for literally anything I’m good at.

I’ve been thinking about my definition of failure. Not ever making any money is only a failure if your goal was to make money. I think we can all agree that I am never going to make any money so I can either roll over and die or I can redefine my goals so that they don’t include making money, paying bills or even covering my costs.

One possible goal would be to continue writing stories that please me and the three other people who actually want to read them. That would be a bit disappointing because I feel that I owe it to the books I’ve written to get them in front of more people. I could give them away for free in some format but that just makes it harder for other writers to get paid so I don’t want to do that.

I definitely want to help my friends to get their books finished. Obviously I can’t help them get published since I have zero expertise there but at least I can humorously threaten people until they write more words. It’s not ideal as goals go because the success or failure isn’t under my control.

I feel like there should be more than just those two but I don’t know what to aim for. I need to do something with my life. I need purpose. And I need to stop including financial success in my win conditions because that’s just not going to happen. That’s hard for me. I’m a working class person. I’ve never had elevated ideas of producing great art. I just wanted to be able to support myself. It doesn’t seem like that should be beyond my reach but it appears to be.

I’m open to suggestions.

Reasons why I’m not writing

Ok, technically I am writing because I’m writing this blog post but I should be working on my novel and I’m not because…

In this case I have a very specific plot hole that needs filling. It’s not a plot hole in the ‘oh my God my plot doesn’t work’ sense. It’s the plot equivalent of a pothole in a road. It still needs fixing if I want my readers to have a smooth ride but it’s not major building work.

You’d think that would make it easier to fix, wouldn’t you? Just patch over it with the narrative equivalent of bitchumen and go onto the next scene. But the problem with this sort of fix is that it needs to be seamless. I have to slot a little scene-ette into an already existing scene without breaking the scene or losing the mood.

Specifically I need one character to call another character so that they can have the brief conversation that will signal to the audience that they are moving beyond a disagreement. I can’t skip the scene because it needs to be resolved. I can’t cut out the disagreement because other stuff relies on it. And I can’t work out why that one character would pick up the phone rather than fuming silently about it. She tends to be a self sufficient silent fumer. She needs a reason to call.

My mind is a blank. There are literally millions of things that could precipitate that call but instead of coming up with one my brain is doing the brain equivalent of turning circles on the spot while singing snatches of every song I’ve heard in the last month.

ME: Ok so could she have found something in the files?

MY BRAIN: the last, the last, the last…

ME: But seriously there’s bound to be stuff in there that she’d need to talk about

MY BRAIN: How big, how blue, how beautiful…

ME: That way I could set up the later revelations…

MY BRAIN: Somebody once told me…

ME: Oh for fucks sake

So… Chocolate? I’m thinking chocolate. And possibly booze. And maybe a brain transplant.

 

If you have enjoyed this pointless rant maybe you’d like to support this blog by buying me a coffee with Ko-Fi. Or alternatively today is the last day that you can buy stuff in the Shop of Doom.

It’s never just one thing.

So in my last post my laptop had died and I discovered that I’d wasted 3 months preparing for a nonexistent competition. How can things get worse?

The good news is that my laptop is fixable and for a reasonable fee. The bad news is that after paying for that and buying Scrivener for the iPad my spouse and I went to the optician to get our eyes tested. I need new glasses and my other half needs two pairs (distance and reading glasses) and my eyesight is so bad that my one pair costs more than both of theirs.

I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow. I dread to think what that’s going to reveal.

In addition to being impossibly broke yet again I also have to work out what my writing plan is. Until the debacle with the nonexistent pitch competition my plan was to prepare my current work in progress for the competition then when it failed to garner any interest I was going to query it while trying to fix whatever is wrong with the first one then pitch a third novel at Bloody Scotland in September.

I suppose I could still do the parts that don’t involve the nonexistent pitch but it’s feeling pointless. I can’t work out if it’s my usual terrible self esteem talking or if there’s something wrong with this plan that I’m not letting myself see. There’s this voice in the back of my head that keeps telling me that this can’t possibly work because that’s not how my life works. And it’s not wrong about my life so far. It is kind of insane to expect anyone to value anything I do enough to pay me for it. They never have so far.

I hope I’ll be back with a new blog post about Infinity War soon but it probably wont be until I get my repaired computer back. In the meantime if you want to donate to the fix the computer fund or the actually be able to see fund then you can do it via Ko-Fi. Yes it says that you’re buying me a coffee but I’m allowed to spend the money on something other than coffee. Also coffee is a vital part of the creative process.

There’s also the Shop Of Doom. It’s still closing on May 8th because nobody is buying anything. Which is a pity, I have a couple of the t-shirts and they’re lovely, but I get that they’re pretty expensive and not to everyone’s taste. At least I tried. Having tried is not as much consolation as you’d think. It really doesn’t ease the sting of failure much at all.

Cursed

Let me tell you how my weekend went. On Saturday I took my son to see Infinity War. I was traumatised, I tell you. I’ll talk more about it in another post.

Then I got home to work on my pitch submission and found that my Laptop would no longer charge, probably because the internal socket for the power cable is damaged. So I tried to use the remaining battery life to put in a hurried submission. I did my best and I got something that wasn’t as good as what I would have had if I’d had more time but might have been good enough and I tried to send it in. I filled in the form on the website and it sent me an email with a link to a service to upload my files to XPONorth’s dropbox account.

And that link led to a discontinued service. A service which, according to the copyright date on the page, was discontinued last year. So I emailed XPONorth. And posted on their Facebook page and sent them a message using Facebook Messenger and tweeted about it and mentioned them in the tweet. I’ve heard nothing from them. But I know they’ve seen at least one of the tweets because the official Twitter account liked it.

It would seem that the Writers Pitch to Publishers and Agents event at this year’s XPONorth has been cancelled. But they didn’t do anything sensible like taking down the webpage, disabling the online form or changing the automated email. I have wasted three fucking months preparing for a non existent competition.

And of course my laptop is dead. I hope to get it repaired but that means spending money I shouldn’t be spending. I’m typing this on my iPad which means I’ve had to delete a bunch of apps I was using so I could fit the WordPress app and the Scrivener app onto it. Oh and I had to buy the Scrivener app so I could try to continue work on my novel only the app version doesn’t have the split screen feature that I use to re-write with.

On Sunday I went to Dundee to meet my mother for lunch and chat and a bit of shopping. Well, she shopped. I watched her shop because I need my money for repairing my laptop and buying expensive writing apps.

For some reason my Mother had her laptop with her. I don’t know why she had it. She never mentioned to me that she had it even when I told her about my laptop having died. I only know she had it because that evening, when I was at home, she called me to ask if I remembered at what point she lost it. Well obviously not. If I’d have known that I would have told her at the time.

I’m cursed I tell you, cursed.

If you’re feeling like donating to the ‘repair the computer assuming it can be repaired’ fund then you should use the Ko-fi link. I can’t add it while I’m using the iPad but there should be one on the sidebar or below this post or you could go back a couple of posts to get it. You could also find the link to the Shop o’ Doom in an earlier post. It’s still closing on the 8th of May. Assuming I can close it using the Shopify app.