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.
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.
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.
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.
Don’t panic. I’m not going anywhere I’m just unlikely to be posting any time soon because my computer is dying. It’s a laptop and the battery will no longer charge via the cable. I have maybe 3 more hours of life in this thing and then that’s it. Goodbye writing.
I can’t add much more because I have to get on and post my submission for the pitch to publishers event at XPONorth. There’s zero hope I’ll be accepted though because there’s no way I’ll do a good enough job in the time I have left before the battery runs out.
Maybe someday I’ll have enough money to buy a working computer. Until then farewell.
No begging links here. I know that I don’t have enough readers to buy me a new computer.
My experiment in e-commerce, The Shop of Doom, will be closing on May 8th.
I’d like to keep it running but it’s not paying for itself. That’s not so much a failed experiment as a negative result. One of the benefits of e-commerce is that it’s possible to
fail experience a negative result relatively cheaply, but only if you have the discipline to resist the sunk cost fallacy.
What I’ve learned from this experiment is that I suck at self promotion and I have virtually zero reach. This tells me that if I do ever decide to self publish that I shouldn’t invest any money in it, because I’m not going to sell any books, because I suck at self promotion and I have virtually zero reach.
That information is probably worth the small amount of money that I put into the Shop of Doom. Therefore I declare it to be money well spent. Therefore this experiment was a net positive result.
Yay for me. I do not regard this as the latest in a long line of failures that invalidates my value as a human being. I am definitely not depressed about it. I am totally fine. Please enjoy this complimentary image taken from the Shop of Doom.
Yeah it’s not convincing me either.
It’s very hard for me to get anything done. With depression, ADHD and chronic pain all pulling me back it takes a tremendous effort to achieve anything. Anything I want to do seems to involve far more steps than it should and each one of those steps requires a run up and that run up requires overcoming my executive dysfunction. Something that should take a week ends up taking six months.
I’ve been assuming that this inertia was the big problem with my life. I thought that if I could just do the things I wanted to do that I would experience success of some kind. I thought that it would be possible to get something back out of life if only I could work out how to put enough in.
I’m starting to suspect that I was wrong and that the inertia was really protecting me from the inevitable disappointment. I look back at my life and I see a lot of me working hard on something, fighting to overcome the inertia, doing the thing I wanted to do, and then nothing. It never goes anywhere.
Presumably I’m doing something wrong. It’s tempting to blame the inertia. It’s tempting to say that the inertia leaves me too tired to make the thing into a success. But maybe it’s not that. Maybe it’s that I’m just not very good at anything and the inertia knows. Maybe the inertia is trying to save me from the pain of being deeply mediocre.
On Saturday my compression tights finally arrived so I can finally begin to manage my lipoedema. I read the instructions carefully but I didn’t put them on because I was already dressed and frankly, the instructions scared me.
On Sunday I tried them on. It was torture. The fabric is so rough and requires so much force to pull into position that I developed a blister on one knuckle and tore the skin red raw on all the others.
My arms were shaking. The tights weren’t pulled on properly. My legs were on fire and I was filled with an irrational rage caused by a combination of exertion and body dysmorphia. I felt useless and weak. I decided that maybe I was doing something wrong, even though I had read the instructions and done my best to follow them. I was only able to wear the tights for an hour and a half because I couldn’t get them back on after using the toilet.
I asked for advice in one of the Facebook support groups for lipoedema. It turns out you’re supposed to use gloves. There are even special donning gloves made for the job (though most of the members use either disposable latex gloves, rubber washing up gloves, or gardening gloves). How is it that I didn’t know that? If it’s well known that this kind of compression garment will tear your skin off and there are gloves made for the job why didn’t anyone tell me that?
Today I tried to put them on again with mixed success. I used some disposable vinyl gloves that we had in the house and I tried lying down to get them above the knees. As I result I’m typing this while wearing the tights (though they’re still not on properly) but I’m also wearing a lot of plasters because I tore the blister right off and added four new blisters and that was with the gloves on. I think I might have blisters coming up on two of my fingertips. I’ve ordered better gloves and finger tape.
You know how I often complain that my life is unreasonably difficult, that there are always more steps between me and where I want to be than there should be? This is that. This is just another example of the endless multiplication of obstacles between me and any goal.
Today I got a report from a beta reader about the opening of the novel that I’ve been querying and it’s making me wonder if I really am deluded about being a writer.
There’s a grammar problem right at the beginning that’s bad enough to drive off an agent and I can’t see it even now that it’s been pointed out. Also it’s apparently unclear who kills who. Which is a huge problem. If I can’t make that sort of thing obvious then what hope do I have for the more complicated and nuanced stuff.
I don’t know how to fix any of this. I don’t know how to build the skills necessary to fix it. I don’t even know if I should fix it.
I have so few spoons on any given day. Maybe I should stop wasting them on something that I have so little aptitude for. My house is a mess. My body is a wreck. Maybe I should be concentrating on those instead. But what’s the point of a tidier house and a slightly less fucked body if I’m not making or doing anything?
Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe I’ll look at the comments tomorrow and I’ll know how to fix it. Maybe the beta reader is wrong about some of it.
Maybe. But it seems much more likely that I just suck at writing. I suck at most things so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I suck at this too.
And so we close out the year with another email from an agent who isn’t passionate enough about my novel to represent it. More than a year of querying and I haven’t even got a detailed rejection yet.
I know that there are famous writers who got rejected a lot before they got their first agent/publisher. I also know that there are a lot of deluded people sending terrible novels to every agent and publisher on the planet and wondering why no-one is backing a dump truck full of money up to their house to publish it. It’s getting harder to believe that I’m in group one and not group two.
From here I think there are three options. Keep querying this novel in the hope that further down the list there might be an agent who’d be interested. Give up on this novel for now, finish something else and query that. Give up on traditional publishing and self publish it.
There are problems with each of these options. I’ve already queried most, maybe all, of the agents who’d actually be interested in such a weird novel. It’s the first in a series and most of my other novels are in the same story universe. If I can’t interest people in the first one they’re unlikely to care about the rest. I really don’t want to self publish and once I’ve self published the first in a series I’m unlikely to find representation for the rest unless the first one is a huge success. I don’t have the resources to ensure that success.
Am I nuts? Could it be that I’m just not very good at writing? Are my novels bad? Have I been deceiving myself? How do you know if your novel is bad?