2020: The End of the Beginning

In three days it’s going to be not just a new year but a new decade. I’m going to be 30 next year (*shudders*), and so this New Year feels more landmark than usual, and new years always make me maudlin and retrospective.

I began the decade failing out of one university and I’ve ended it having dropped out of another. I’ve gone precisely nowhere or at least that’s how it feels. I suppose I could reframe it and say that I’ve had a few false starts which have been learning experiences. For instance I now know for certain that higher education doesn’t suit me.

The last few years broke me to be honest, My mental health was bad to begin with, I had a breakdown in 2011 and if anything got steadily worse over the next few years. Returning to uni was my desperate attempt to make a change, the old cliche “if you don’t like your life, then change it”. However, it was a bad move. My depression, anxiety and general stress levels which were already high have gone through the roof. My confidence was always very low but it’s now absolutely destroyed. I’m utterly terrified pretty much all the time.

That’s why I titled this post ‘the end of the beginning’ because if there’s rock-bottom then this is it. Yes I have a past but I really am starting again – something else which adds to the landmark feeling of this New Years. It really is the close of one chapter and I’m trying very hard to think of what’s coming next as the start of something new, hopefully something better.

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Yesterday was a bad day

I wrote a couple of “I don’t know what to do” posts because I’m not being productive how I would like.

Then it got worse.

You know how sometimes it’s not what happens, so much as what it triggers? Well what happened yesterday shouldn’t have been that big a deal but it felt like the final nail in the coffin. I have been feeling very hopeless and despairing and what happened felt like validation of those feelings. I haven’t got even close to halfway with NaNo, I’m writing less in a year than I used to do in a month – I feel like I’m losing myself.

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Trying to find a solution

My 2019 creative resolutions mostly boiled down to “be kinder to myself” but after the utter trainwreck that was January I need to remind myself of what I said because I’m not applying it..

This was an actual line I wrote:

forget what I ‘should’ be working on and rediscover my joy in just working on what I please 

and this one

.. to forgive myself when things don’t go according to plan

You see it’s the old ‘I know it intellectually but utterly fail at putting it into practice’ dilemma.

Now half the problem is that I wrote these resolutions during christmas break and even when I try and be reasonable I always underestimate how much of a toll university takes. I hate it, I literally do, there is nothing about it which I like but I’m committed and I wish I knew how to shut off. How to partition my life better so that the negativity about uni didn’t spill over into absolutely everything else making me feel awful all the time. I don’t know if it’s because of my mental issues that I struggle so much at this, or if it’s this hard for everyone (it probably is and I’m just being a wimp).

But anyway, it is what it is and I can’t change the uni part of the equation. I need it too much. I need the student loan and I need the time that loan buys me to get my shit together, which is terrifying me beyond measure because what if I can’t? What if being this utterly miserable and stupid means I don’t, what if this is just a wasted exercise? I feel sick just thinking that. I need to not think about that because it’s too big, it’s too scary and I can’t deal.

Moving on – back to the point of this post which wasn’t to indulge in a pity party, it was to find a solution – “rediscover my joy in just working on what I please”

I was explaining ideas to my friend Marie last night, and I used the words ‘shouldn’t’ and ‘can’t’ several times. I’m still limiting myself, still denying myself, still saying no and it’s logical for me to do so but it’s not working. I’m not working on what I’m supposed to – I’m doing nothing – and so at this point is something – anything – better than nothing?

2012 NaNo comes to mind. I didn’t want to work on Perfidy, I wasn’t feeling it, so I just started typing what was in my head. I wrote 5k of a story which I then abandoned because I went back to Perfidy and wrote the first draft (of that version anyway). So a diversion doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it can lead back to the main road, and if it helps at the time then maybe that’s ok? I can’t even convince myself here.

I still don’t know what to do.

2019: January Report

I started this post on tumblr but I just can’t bring myself to post it. I never posted my goals for 2019 on there because I had an attack of the self-consciousness and kept them to myself. I’m desperate for support, desperate for somebody to say something, but I can’t put myself out there. I’d be screaming into the void anyway, as I don’t think there’s a community in the world that could actually put up with me. I just want someone to tell me it’s not my fault I guess, even though I really do think it kinda is.

Anyway, things aren’t going well, things are going pretty damn awful actually and I don’t really know what to do with myself. My goals for January were:

  • Word Count: 2,363/16,000 (15%)
  • Chapter 11 of Painting Layers of Love
  • Divided finished
  • Big Bang Art finished

And you can see what happened ^^ which was not a lot basically. Those words were on Painting Layers of Love so I have half a first draft of the chapter. I guess you could argue progress was made but it’s nowhere near what I needed, and I was being super lenient with the goals in my opinion. They should have been achievable so this failure is all the worse for that.

University is going terribly. I’m not attending my lecture as I can’t cope with it, and I missed doing my first formative assignment for one of the modules. In another module I’m finding a project incredibly hard to deal with, and so I’m barely coping with that. I think #NotCoping or #BarelyCoping is kinda the theme for the month which is just pathetic.

So let’s try this again. February Goals:

  • Word Count: 0/16,000
  • Chapter 11 of Painting Layers of Love
  • Divided finished
  • An art piece finished

I’m not exactly reaching for the stars there as it’s basically the same as January but I don’t know what else to put. I have to do the January stuff, and as I didn’t do it in January it gets shifted. I just hope to merlin I put my big girl pants on and February turns out better because I can’t bear the idea of shifting the same tasks to March. I mean that completely undermines the point of a deadline. I suck so much, I really do, I’m awful and just yeah, this is hopeless really but I’m going to try.

Creative Resolutions 2019

I enter 2019 with:
– 1 shockingly neglected WIP (didn’t update once last year *guilt, guilt*)
– 6 fic ideas on the ‘to be written’ list

One of those ‘to be written ideas’ is for a rare-pair, from a cancelled TV show and … I don’t care. I was out of fandom for 10 years, I started writing fanfic again because of Rumbelle – Rumbelle is literally why I am here typing this! The other five ideas on that list (plus the WIP) are Rumbelle, I’m not going anywhere, but I did far more for other shows this past year than I did for Rumbelle and I’m ok with that.

My first resolution is..

.. to do what makes me happy.

Nobody likes feeling invisible but the response to my other show stuff has been, well muted at best, and I’m ok with that. I write and draw what it is in me to write and draw. I like making other people happy but the first person I have to please is myself. I need to do what I want, what I feel good about doing, and forget about ‘should’. I talk a lot about guilt because feeling guilty is a permanent state of being. In 2019

my second resolution is..

.. to cut myself a creative break.

I’m never going to stop feeling guilty about life but I can try and stop beating myself up over things I choose to do – things that should make me happy. For instance I find it difficult to choose what to work on because if I pick project A, then I feel guilty I’m not working on project B, even though logic does tell me I can’t work on more than one thing simultaneously (only have one brain and one set of hands hehe). Therefore in 2019 my resolution is to forget what I ‘should’ be working on and rediscover my joy in just working on what I please.

My third resolution is..

.. to institute a routine and stick to it.

I respond very well to a routine. The only reason why I go to class 95% of the time is because I’m supposed to, it’s on the schedule and so I do it whether I feel like it or not. For the past week I’ve set myself a task for the following day and miracle upon miracles – that task has got done. So in 2019 I’m going to do the 4thewords 444 word minimum everyday. I’m going to go with that rather than a potentially more punishing ‘update schedule’ because if words are happening, then things will be being written and that has to be enough.

I know myself and it’s all very well to set a bunch of deadlines now, during christmas break, but come January 14th I’ll be back at uni and instantly exhausted and stressed out from having to be around all the people. So as much as I would love to say I’ll update once a week, or even twice a month, and as much as I’m desperate to do other things like I would love to start a comic, I want to do it so bad, but it’s just not realistic. Which brings me to

my fourth and last resolution is..

.. to forgive myself.

I want to do so much and I get so frustrated because I continually fail. I need to accept that things will not get done as quickly as I’d like, and they won’t be as good as I want, that improving is a process and it takes time. I need to accept that good enough is good enough. When things don’t work out how I want I beat myself up and that is very counter-productive.

Basically in 2019 I need to be nicer to myself

/the end

New Year Retrospective and Art Update

Back in September I said that I’d had a bit of a revelation. It was probably a doh revelation but I can be quite dense. Basically I stated that “I’m an artist” whereas for years (all my life really) I’ve been saying the opposite, that I’m no good at art etc. I then did another post about Where I start and this is the follow-up to that.

It’s a lot later than I’d intended and that’s why this post is also my New Year post because September-December last year didn’t go at all according to plan. I think I said a bit about that in my NaNo post, where I confessed to writing only 11k (my lowest total ever). True I had gone back to university so I was busier than I’d been in years but time wasn’t really the problem.

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Short Post – NaNo is my main fandom

I just had a random thought and I felt like sharing. I would never consider NaNo to be a fandom really, if I was saying what my main fandom was I would probably say “Once Upon a Time” because I participate in that fandom online BUT in terms of swag NaNo comes out way ahead of everything else.

I show my NaNo pride year round with my three framed posters on the wall. I also have a word count tracker up on my magnetic noticeboard which works year round. I have 2 coffee mugs but I don’t use either as the handle of one arrived cracked so it’s not safe, and the other isn’t dishwasher safe. So they are like ornaments on my table and I use them to hold stationary etc.

Those mugs might not be used for their true purpose but I have two NaNo thermos flasks which I use year round. One is brand new so I haven’t used it yet but I will! I have a cold weather beanie hat which I’ll use in the winter (also new), half a dozen winners shirts and the NaNo hoodie. I tend to only wear the NaNo clothes during November but I could wear them at other times.

That it? Nope! I have two NaNo books – No Plot? No Problem! and the 52 Pep Talks. I have a USB bracelet, and a regular rubber bracelet. I’ve got a ton of stickers and bookmarks. Basically, when it comes to swag – NaNo has it covered!

In contrast I have coffee mugs for other stuff and t-shirts but that’s pretty much it. I used to have sweaters but I don’t any longer. I do have some card collections and one cuddly toy but these items are split over multiple TV shows. Whereas NaNo is one thing and has so much!

So what’s the point of this post? I don’t know. It’s just that this is going to be my 11th year/10th November event, my 19th event if I count Camp’s. It’ll be 10th time getting 50k or over in a month (failure is not an option) and well – stuff accumulates over time. I have loved and participated in NaNo for more years than I’ve loved any particular TV show. NaNo is forever.

Yeah that’s basically it – NaNo is my forever fandom.

No plan survives first contact

Otherwise known as the road to hell is paved with good intentions, or variations of that cliche. No matter what we plan, or intend, quite often things don’t work out that way. Life twists and turns in mysterious ways and nothing ever turns out as expected. I think I might have said that in a recent post, about how a year ago I would never guess I’d be sitting here. I think 2017 could be termed “the year of the unexpected” because basically since this time last year, nothing has been the same.

This time last year I was in a self-loathing pit because I’d had my first ever review on my published book. Admittedly it was pretty mean and dramatically written but reviews like that are par for the course. I thought I was prepared to deal with it and I wasn’t. So I couldn’t face continuing with Book Three, it knocked me for six, and I decided to work on something else until I stopped feeling like an abject failure.

My ‘plan‘ was to pick up Book Three in December, and I was still aiming to publish March/April at the latest. Well some life stuff happened, I could go into details but I don’t really like to do that on the internet (even though this is password protected) and besides it feels a little like I’m making excuses. Basically in many ways I checked out of life and didn’t really get my footing back until the summer, when I suddenly got the idea to change my life completely and go back to university.

Anyway, this post isn’t about what did happen – it’s about what didn’t happen.

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Reflections, Revelations and The Future

Knowing and feeling are two different things. I think I’ve said that before but it bears repeating. In this post I’m going to talk about some realisations I’ve had but that doesn’t mean I won’t backslide. Sometimes lessons have to be learned more than once before they stick. I might ‘know‘ some things now but whether I have truly accepted them is still something of a question mark.

I’ve spoken before about “blogging resolutions”, and how I wanted to blog at least once a week, and feeling bad about it when I failed those resolutions. There are a lot of reasons why I didn’t stick to blogging more but the one I want to talk about today is that I simply didn’t care enough. My head had made it a priority as “something I was going to do” but deep down I just didn’t view it as important.

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Status Post – Year in Review

I know it’s the 31st and this is very cliche but I didn’t blog around NaNo so I’m overdue one of these posts. In a post after Camp NaNo I said what I was intending for November, and it really didn’t work out that way and I was loathe to make a post, just to say how disappointed I was.

In 2016 I wrote 500k, or 500,180 words to be precise. Well, actually it’s not necessarily that accurate as I only started tracking properly in June but I’m reasonably certain I did half a million. That’s huge for me as it’s not that long ago that I only wrote in November and struggled to write much of anything the rest of the year. Since July I’ve done at least 50k a month, usually doing 60k+. The only slight fly in the ointment, is that it’s not been all original novels. A lot of it was fanfic, but again a lot of that fanfic can be turned original so it’s hardly wasted effort.

It’s also kept me going, kept me productive which is the biggest battle I usually face. I quite often get in spirals where I don’t do anything, I feel bad about that, and then I do even less. It’s given me a lot of ideas and so yeah generally in writing terms 2016 has been a damn good start. I’ve published two books, and a free short story/prequel. The couple of reviews I’ve had, aren’t great (well they are bad) but I’m still getting sales/borrows and I’ve had 3 people sign up to my mailing list. It’s a start and I always knew that this was going to be a long journey.

In 2017 I want to continue to average 60k+ a month. If I do that then 750k should be easily doable. In terms of projects I need to write Book Three of my Military Science Fantasy series. Before I do I need to decide whether I want to continue with Book Four straight away, or take a break and write something else, probably the related sci-fi series. I need to decide this before March as that’s when I have my next cover booked. I’m hoping to release Book Three by April at the latest. Ideally I would like to bring out something every 3-4 months but we’ll have to see how I get on.

I also want to work on my pen-name. I have the covers for three books, and I’ve half-written Book Two. I need to write all of them and decide on a strategy and what I’m doing with it marketing wise. I already know I’m going to have all three books finished and ready to go before I press publish on Book One, so I will have flexible options on what I do in terms of frequency. I might even wait and write more books, as it’s a pen-name and nobody is waiting for it, I can try and make a splash.

There’s fanfic, that isn’t a priority of course but I do have WIP’s that I want to finish, and then more stories that I want to write. I just love writing generally and I want to do a lot of it in 2017 and hopefully publish several books and maybe, just maybe, it’ll start to turn into something I might make money with. Money is after all what makes the world go round, and I could kinda do with some. That’s a bit mercenary I know but it would seriously improve my life and isn’t that a New Years goal everyone makes? For next year to be better.

Apart from writing, I want to get back to going to the gym regularly (even if lazy me disagrees) and hopefully that will mean I lose a bit of weight. Ultimately I just want to be fitter but being less fat would also be nice. I want to procrastinate less, so I can generally do more and not just productive stuff. If I actually got on with things, then I could spend my evenings watching TV or playing video games without guilt. I haven’t really played many video games this year and as backwards as it is, playing more is a goal for 2017. I enjoy it, so I should make time for it.

This is usually the point where I say that I would like to read more, but you know what, I totally give up on that one. I know that as an author that is totally backwards but I am so damn picky about what I read, plus books cost money (even more backwards seeing as I want people to buy mine) but I just can’t make it a priority right now.

So yeah that’s what happened that’s worthy of note (that isn’t really personal, as I don’t talk about that here) and a tentative plan for 2017. This year sucked for a lot of reasons but for me in terms of writing at least, it was a good start. Now I just need to build on it and try and do better, be better. Here’s to 2017!