Since writers don’t have employers we don’t get handy annual performance reviews to tell us how we’re doing. So I’ve decided to do one for myself.
My primary focus for the last year has been to move toward getting published. So that’s a fail then. I have queried some agents. Not as many agents as I could have so that’s something that I could improve on next year. All the ones that have replied have said no. There’s still one I’m waiting to hear back from but I don’t expect to hear anything now until the new year. I did pitch my finished novel at Bloody Scotland and while I got some useful feedback to improve my query letter it hasn’t led anywhere.
Since my main focus is about being a professional writer rather than simply publishing one book I’ve also been writing. I’ve been re-writing and editing a sequel to my finished novel. I wrote the first draft of a novella and for NaNoWriMo I wrote the first draft of a straight crime novel. That’s pretty good but there’s room for improvement. I think I should aim to write at least one first draft and move at least one novel to the completed stage every year.
My secondary focus was to build the skills I need if I have to self publish. I’ve have been moving in the right direction but not nearly far enough. I’ve taken up calligraphy, which can be used to do cover art, and I’m improving my design skills. If I absolutely have to I could probably create a professional looking front cover.
I also wanted to build up this blog. I think that’s been fairly successful. There are more people reading it regularly, I’ve been posting at least 3 times a week most weeks since the beginning of April. Hopefully if I do publish a book at least one of you will actually be willing to pay to read it.
Since July I’ve been trying to get something, anything, done about my Lipoedema. After 4 Doctor appointments and 2 nurse appointments at my local practice, a trip to the leg ulcer clinic in Dunfermline and another to the Lymphoedema clinic in Kirkcaldy I may be only a couple of weeks away from trying on my first compression garments.
Since September I’ve been dieting because apparently you have to if you want to get your Lipoedema treated even though calorie restriction isn’t a treatment for Lipoedema. I’ve lost 11.5 kg and I’m hoping to get back into weight training. I’m just waiting for my equipment to be delivered.
So I haven’t been entirely useless this year but it still feels a bit unsatisfying. Perhaps that’s not surprising given that this year has felt like someone raised the corpse of 2016, decked it out in leather and spikes, stuck it behind the wheel of a steamroller and then pointed it at democracy.
This week I lost the weight that I put on last week. That’s pretty good really because I know I’m still retaining a lot of fluid so there might be some more concealed fat loss.
This week my eating has been a bit weird. I’ve had a couple of days with very little appetite and a couple of days when I was ravenous. I tried to have a cheat day on Saturday because my Mother was visiting and we went out for a meal but I ended up only eating 3 chips and half a cheeseburger.
My sleep cycle has been messed up too. Which is saying a lot given the state of my usual sleep cycle. I suspect I’ve been fighting off a virus or something which might explain a few things.
This update has been a bit meh so I’m going to try and post something more fun tomorrow to make up for the lack of entertainment.
A while back I had a bit of an epiphany about the rising tide of #metoo allegations.I was watching an interview with British MP Diane Abbott on the subject of sexual harassment and abuse in UK politics.
She was asked why there hadn’t been any allegations of female politicians abusing their staff and after pointing out that there are a lot fewer women politicians and that allegations against women tend to be treated less seriously she gave a truly fascinating answer. She said something like “In general middle aged women tend not to be convinced that much younger men are irresistibly attracted to them.”
Bam! There it was. The interviewer should have passed her a mic to drop.
Powerful men have got used to the idea that sexual access to women is part of the reward package of power. And that’s partly because of the idea that women, even young attractive women, are irresistibly attracted to wealthy and powerful men simple because those men have money and influence.
I was a teenager the first time someone told me that women are attracted to gross old men if those men have enough wealth or power. It sounded like bullshit to me at the time because I knew that I absolutely was not. I didn’t start to understand this supposed attraction it till I watched the original British series of House of Cards.
The central character, Francis Urquhart, was weirdly magnetic in spite of his age and the fact that he was most definitely the bad guy. Here was I, a young woman, feeling attracted to a much older and morally dubious man of wealth and power. Therefore people were right. Powerful men were attractive. But looking back that’s not what was going on at all.
Francis Urquhart was played by the late Sir Ian Richardson. He was a man of genuine beauty and grace and a tremendous actor. He created a monster but Urquhart was a charismatic monster with a voice like honey and brilliant mind. I can overlook a little matter like relative age when the rest of the person has that much going for them. And regardless of attraction I hope that I would have had the good sense not to sleep with him.
I’m not saying that money isn’t attractive. It’s a lot easier for a man to be charming when he can spoil you. Fame has its attractions too. But they don’t make a man irresistible. I’m 46, fat and ugly and no matter how irresistible he thinks he is I wouldn’t fuck Donald Trump with a borrowed vagina. Some women do find him attractive but it’s becoming clear that there’s a lot less of them than he thinks.
Rich and powerful men have been largely insulated from the negative consequences of their actions until now. This means that they’ve never had to learn that people just aren’t that into them. We are all living through the consequences of their unexamined privilege.
When you’re a Spoonie ( person with a chronic life limiting illness but see the link for more details) people tend to assume that your problems all come directly from your illness without ever seeing how the secondary problems proliferate.
You’re in pain and the pain means you can’t sleep and the lack of sleep causes its own problems. The constant mental work of managing your very limited mental resources end up costing more of those resources. Your coping mechanisms have coping mechanisms.
At least once a year I burn or scald myself because my brain is on automatic pilot and I’m trying to do something that’s necessary for me to function.This time I stuck my whole right hand into my coffee filter cup while it was full of near boiling water. Then tipped the whole thing, grounds and all, all over the kitchen. Then I forgot I was wearing rings and had to strip them off after my fingers had started swelling.
I got lucky. Most of the swelling went down with a combination of cold running water as long as I could stand it and then sitting with an ice pack on the remaining swelling. But it’s annoying. And I never got my coffee. And I have a enough swelling on my right ring finger that it’s put a serious dent in my typing speed.
Now there’s no obvious line between Fibromyalgia and a burn. But I’m pretty sure that this burn happened because one of the consequences of Fibromyalgia is having to go about my day with a considerable portion of my brain either distracted by pain or working to manage my symptoms or my spoons.
Most of the Spoonies I know pick up multiple injuries a year as a result of their primary condition. Falls because their balance is wrecked, scrapes because they’re not fully aware of their surroundings, self inflicted cuts caused by trying to prep food while half asleep. And the worse bit usually isn’t the physical injury. It’s feeling like an idiot. Here I am, a full grown adult, and I stuck my hand in scalding hot water out of my own incompetance.
I have one halfway valuable talent and it’s writing. It’s not the only thing I can do but my other talents are either valued even less or require even more investment or are just too exhausting for a Spoonie like me.
In theory it’s never been easier to get your writing in front of people. Getting paid for your writing is another matter entirely. I’ve been lucky so far, if by lucky you mean basically cursed, because I’m disabled enough that the government gives me money. That means that I’ve been able to write without needing to get paid immediately. I could look on my writing as an investment that would pay off eventually.
I’m now getting to the point where eventually needs to be soon. But I’m starting to feel like eventually is going to end up being never. With each passing day I have less and less hope that I’ll be able to get published via the traditional route. My only other option is self publishing badly and sending my precious story out to die with all the other half assed self pub books. I don’t have the skills or the money to do it properly.
Every time I think I’ve found a way to turn my skill into income it just evaporates as soon as I get close. Self publishing in’t the cake walk that some people would have you believe. Patreon have just said they don’t want people like me, if you don’t already have a huge following they’re not interested, Kickstarter is for people with plans, I’ve yet to find an even slightly ethical way to make money from any blog that I’d be able to write.
I spent more than half my life desperately wishing that I knew what to aim for. And now I know. And I’ve been working towards it steadily for 12 years and it feels like I’m no closer than I was at the start.
So I don’t know what to do. I’ll keep writing as long as I have a device to write on and I’ll keep blogging as long as I have a device and internet access. Maybe the problem is just that I’m not good enough yet. Maybe I’ll stumble into something interesting enough to say and everything will change. Probably not though.
It might be time to stop editing what I write. I write because I have to. I edit because I want to get paid. If I’m not getting paid now and there’s no hope of getting paid eventually then why am I editing?
The time has come for me to glance meaningfully in the direction of the tip jar. In this case that’s a new link in the sidebar that says “Buy me a coffee“. If you’re on mobile the sidebar is beneath the post.
I am broke. Which I’m sure I’ve mentioned before. If you’ve been reading this blog then I hope you’ve been entertained by at least some of it. So if you’ve been entertained and you’re feeling a bit flush perhaps you could click the link and spend the equivalent of the cost of a cup of coffee to support me.
In all honesty the money probably will go towards coffee. I have an expensive habit. I rely on it for it’s appetite suppressant, pain management and neurostimulant properties and I don’t buy cheap coffee because it’s usually produced unethically. Also cheap coffee isn’t very nice, not once you’ve developed a taste for the good stuff.
I had been thinking about setting up a Patreon and offering additional material but Patreon have just changed their fees and a lot of people are cutting back on their pledges. It seems like the wrong time.
Please don’t feel bad if you can’t afford it. We all have financial commitments and priorities. Perhaps some other time.
This week I put on a kilogram. I stuck to the diet all week long. I was well under my limit most days. I still gained a kilo. FUCK MY LIFE.
I suspect that it might be down to fluid. My right leg is really swollen at the moment. Like having difficulty getting into leggings that fit just fine 10kg ago swollen. It feels like a fucking balloon and my right knee is being a whiny bitch about it. I’m used to it complaining when I stand or sit but now it’s complaining while I’m in bed. Bitch, I am literally horizontal what more do you want?
It’s so frustrating to spend so much time and effort on this damn diet and get so little back. I don’t know what to do. I don’t have a plan except to keep going. The only other thing I could do would be to cut back on the carbohydrates even more but I really don’t want to do that because it’s just so miserable.
Hopefully it won’t be too long before I get referred to someone who can do something about the fluid.
Every year I write a first draft in November and every year I try to learn something new while doing it. This year’s first draft was a straightish crime novel with the working title Project Cecil. The name doesn’t mean anything I just had to call it something and one thing I’ve learned in previous years is that I suck at titles.
This year’s big lesson is that I can write a novel without relying on fantasy, science fiction, or the supernatural. I’m just not entirely sure I want to. It’s really too early to tell if the story is any good. That wasn’t the point. A first draft doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be written. But I am starting to question the logic of writing it.
I wrote a straight crime novel because a friend challenged me to write it. She challenged me because my attempts to get an agent or a publisher are hampered by the kind of stories I normally write. It’s not that they’re bad it’s just that they’re hard to market because they don’t fit easily into any single genre. My friend suggested that if I could write a regular crime novel I would have more chance of getting an agent or publisher interested and once I have something published I might have more luck with my weirder books.
My friend might be right. But I’m starting to think about the long game. My ultimate aim isn’t to get a single book published or even to get paid for a couple of manuscripts. My aim is a career as a writer and to do that I need to concentrate on the books I actually want to write. I like the story I’ve been telling but it’s not representative of most of the stories that I want to tell.
Of course it might still be worth taking this novel to Bloody Scotland next year and pitching it. Even if it doesn’t lead to the career I want it might at least lead to enough money to pay to self publish the other stories well enough to build a career that way.
This doesn’t mean I regret this experiment though. I’ve met some interesting characters while writing this story and I think I’ll probably come back to them at some point and finish telling their stories properly.
This week I lost 2kg. Of course some of that was the half kilo I put on last week so it’s only a net loss of 1.5kg (about 3 pounds). This is for a total weight loss of 11.5kg (25 pounds).
Still not much of a visible change though. In fact there’s so little change in my forearms that I’m starting to worry that I might have lipoedema there as well. At least I now have an appointment for the next stage of assessment for the lipoedema and it’s less than a month away.
With the end of NaNoWriMo approaching I think it’s time to think about a proper exercise plan. Going to a gym just isn’t practical but I do have a rowing machine. Now I just have to work out how to use it. I’ve got a bunch of weights for weight training but no bars to put them on, no bench and no squat rack. I suppose it’s a start.
My final post for those in the midst of NaNoWriMo.
Here we are. Just four days left and this one is partially used. All that’s left is to keep writing whether we do it from habit, or stubbornness, or desperation, or hope. What else is there to do?
We look ahead to December and we think of reasons to party. What we don’t do is take our scrappy first drafts and send them off to any agents or publishers. We’re not even going to look at them until January. Christmas holidays at the very earliest.
What are our reasons to party then? If you got your 50,000 words and an official win then you have my permission to party. If you wrote more than you’ve ever written that’s a reason to party. If you wrote every day, or at least every day until your story was finished then it’s party time. If you turned up to an in person meeting and met new people then break out the paper hats. If you supported other people online then pour yourself something nice.
For some of you the work has only just begun. Some will have to keep writing next month to finish the story. Some have discovered that they are slow writers and they need to write a little every day. Some will spend the next 12 months cleaning up what they wrote during November. I myself will be going back to rewriting and editing the story that I was working on in October.
But regardless of where we are on our journeys December is always the right month to pause, to look back on the lessons we’ve learned, to look ahead towards new challenges, and to party.
There’s only going to be one more post on the subject of NaNoWrMo 2017 and that will be about the things that I’ve learned this year. I might keep up the playlist posts though.