*splutters some more*
In other news, first prompt of watsons_woes July Writing Prompts is out, and we're off and running. Still not sure how seriously I'm going to take this month, probably less seriously than last year. Then again, last year was so incredibly fantastic for me in terms of my writing fluency, confidence, and in terms of managing anxiety issues, and besides, I don't know how to do anything without doing it all. So I guess we'll see.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to see about injuring John. Mildly incompetent sidekick indeed.
Pell is Australia's most senior Catholic and, being in charge of the church's finances, is considered the world's third most senior. He did not return home from the Vatican last year to provide evidence to the Royal Commission on his knowledge of and involvement in the systematic cover-up of sex offences within the Australian Catholic church, citing ill health. Given my father flew from Los Angeles to Australia on a commercial 747 flight while in an actual coma, I find this reasoning personally uncompelling. There is no extradition treaty with the Vatican, although Pell states that, pending approval from his doctors, he intends to return to defend himself from these charges.
Tim Minchin said it best last year, and as always makes me proud to be Australian.
(If the tone seems strong, by the way, consider that Pell has been been implicated in shuffling repeat offending priests from parish to parish to escape accusations, and in bribing and silencing victims, a shocking number of whom have suicided. In his 2014 testimony regarding the institutional response to abuse allegations, he claimed that the church bore no more legal responsibility for its priests' unconscionable actions than a trucking company would if one of its drivers had picked up 'some woman' off the side of the road and assaulted her. He's also on the record as saying that abortion is a far worse moral crime than priests abusing children. He deserves his day in court, and a fair trial--but even without being personally implicated as a perpetrator, a many very angry Australians feel that 'scum' is putting it mildly.)
Late last night I worked out what this is really about. It's not about the stupid thing I was overreacting to at all; that's just the straw that broke my back.
About six months, maybe a year ago, our neighbors from up the hill dumped some rubbish in the corner of their yard at the top of the retaining wall which separates their property from ours. And a stack of torn out plasterboard sheets fell down from this into our yard, into a rock garden near the washing line where my boys play. Given some of those boys are given to destructive impulses that damage our house and car if not channeled appropriately, I do try to give them free reign to destroy things that are okay for destruction. And these torn out sheets of plasterboard tumbled down among a set of handy rocks... well, lets just say they've spent the last six months joyfully reducing them to fine powder and I have been more than happy for them to do that rather than attacking things inside the house.
A couple of days ago one of the builders we had around, fixing up a corner of our house where the eaves are falling down, asked me: What're all these asbestos sheeting fragments doing in your garden?
... oh no.
Um. That would be, that would be the asbestos my very young children have been deliberately grinding up and whacking with rocks to make clouds of dust to play in?
Yeah, I kind of preferred it when they were cutting through power cords and car seatbelts with scissors.
They haven't exactly been doing lines of the stuff, but they've basically been doing the worst thing possible apart from that.
A sample's gone off for testing to confirm what it is, but they're pretty certain. Next week the removal company comes to look at what they need to do to make it safe (for our eaves as well, which turned out to be asbestos, which is how the whole discussion got started and I want those eaves so fucking far away from my family right now). I need to write a letter to our neighbors up the hill, who have young grandchildren who play in their yard, too, and I have to work out what the tone of that letter will be, which ranges anywhere from 'Hey just wanted to let you know and ask if you wanted our guy to quote on the removal from your garden while he's here' to 'YOU DUMPED ACTUAL FUCKING TOXIC WASTE IN MY KIDS PLAYGROUND YOU BASTARDS'. I could go and visit them instead, but. I've been having enough trouble finding words for a letter, without facing the additional difficulty of actually making those words come out of my mouth. I want to know, if they knew. Surely, surely, they can't have known. Surely.
And you know what? Feeling like this about the asbestos? Yeah. That's, actually... actually reasonable. I'm allowed to sit here and cuddle my cat and cry about that, cause it sucks and it is fucked up and it is really probably not actually a big deal--plenty of kids have been exposed without complication far more than mine for the very many years when no-one knew it was harmful--but my mother-in-law is a world-renowned lung pathologist, and so I'm probably more informed than many about the precise nature of future complications. Asbestos isn't just a scary word to me, the results of exposure are something that's been discussed across the dinner table. A lot.
It is still reasonable to be afraid that in ten or twenty years, one of my children--whom I was supposed to be protecting--will develop complications as a direct result of this exposure, and I will outlive them. And it's still reasonable to look that fear in the face and tell it that it has no need to take over my brain and suck away all my processing power and emotional energy to deal with feeling bad over something that will very most likely never matter; to tell it to save that energy for something that's actually real and can be changed right now.
Because it will most likely never matter. And it wasn't anything I could have helped, because I didn't know any more than they did, any more than my parents did when they let my four sisters play in the cutting dust while they worked together up on the rooves building houses--none of whom, by the way dear Brain, have asbestos complications, which has to say something for the statistics no one one can give on exposure risks and the perspective you get from the dinner-table stories of a lung pathologist at the very far end of the causal chain. And for the moment I'm doing everything I can to minimise the risk going forward.
But for now it's still entirely logical to feel bloody awful anyway. And in that light, also to overreact to stupid things.
Am having an attack. I know I'm being an idiot over something and overreacting. So, I reach down inside and I go *squelch* to those emotions, because they're not logical.
Has this ever gone well, in any story ever?
No. But I don't want to feel them. Why would I, nasty things that they are, all overwhelming and confusing and pointless and spinning and unreasonable and illogical and yuck inside my chest. And my mind's strong enough to squash them. So squash them I do.
Oh look, more emotions.
God, I'm lucky fan_flashworks is due in a few days, because I'm going to have to woman up and stop squelching by then or I won't be able to write anything.
First original story to an original story competition. It's been a ridiculous psychological roadblock; I know perfectly well that people are just people, and fan-people are just the same as snobby-original-writer-people (and possibly even less snobby than some snobby-fan-people), but... yeah. It's been difficult, and scary. Absurdly difficult for something that's only 320 words long. I'm hoping, through practice, it will become less so.
I'm really proud of the work I wrote, and I think it fits the brief. Most of all, I'm super, super proud that I did it.
I have completed my 36th challenge in a row for fan_flashworks, which makes an entire year of challenges I've posted at least one entry for, notwithstanding rain, hail, shine, real life, or severe lack of inspiration. I've always been pretty good at writing when the inspiration takes me--less good at maintaining the effort over the long haul, but I've found it's been really good for me, for my output and for my mental health. In a year of entries I've earned the following badges:
( Badge goodness )
That second last badge there, the crown? That's the Hardcore Finisher, for earning six different skills training badges for writing different genres, all with different fics. Apparently earning that one gives me the right to brag about my superior badassery to my friends for ever and ever. :D (Honey, you should see me in a crown. XD)
Wonder Woman the second: I went to see the movie, and it was brilliant. I'm a sucker for superheroes, Superman's always been my all time favourite, although I've been less than impressed at DC's latest movie efforts: too smashy-fighty-collateral-damagey and completely devoid of plot or believable character arc. Anyway, despite my love of supers, until now somehow I've never really seen or read any Wonder Woman at all, although my sister is a BIG fan. (And if you're wondering how that works, she's 11 years older than me, so by the time I was old enough, she was way too cool for superheroes, and by the time she was old enough to realise that she didn't have to be too cool for superheroes, we weren't living in the same house anymore.)
( Anyway, I loved every moment of it )
Highly recommended. :D :D :D
Wonder Woman the third: I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned the superhero naming convention our cats? All cats in our vicinity have always got a formal name and an informal name. So, a couple of years ago, the old lady next door got a kitten, and she would regularly wander over to play with our boys because she needed a bit more stimulation, and go mental in the way kittens do, and so we used to call her 'Supercat'. Then we noticed from a white Persian visiting from further up the street, and we dubbed him 'Supervillain Cat'. When we got our new kittens, they had to follow the convention. Officially, they are Cassandra and Diana--but being Siamese, they are fully fitted with built in masks to hide their secret identities--and unofficially, we refer to them as Batcat and Wonder Cat. (Cassandra, for those who are not up on their DC comic heroes, was one of the Batgirls.) Now that the new movie's come out, I'm even more glad we've got a Diana in our house. :D
( Cat Picspam )
Anyway, we put cart before horse and I did the work first and now I'm going through all the stuff that they need to actually hire and pay me, and apparently I need to submit a resume for their HR department to verify my level of qualifications and thus what level I should get paid at on their standard scale.
And I'm like... okay? I'll see if I can blow the dust off it...
So I found my most recent resume and the date on it was 2003, which isn't too bad, only a couple of years old.
What's the date again?
Oh. So, only fourteen years old.
Fourteen years ago, I hadn't finished my uni qualifications, I hadn't worked for ten years as a programmer, I hadn't spent nearly seven years entirely out of the workforce raising young children. I had a different address. I even had a different name.
Anyway, that stuff's easy fixed, so I brought it all up to date, and then I was faced with a conundrum.
Because this is a writing job, and my experience writing and editing is actually extremely relevant. That's the entire reason my friend thought of me for this job, because I have zilch in the way of formal English qualifications. But all my experience is in.... You know. Fanfiction. And--I don't know if any of you are brave enough to put writing fanfiction on your resume when it's going out to actual real world people, but... well, it still feels to me like the kind of word that's immediately followed by the deafening sound of crickets.
But thinking about it, if I was going for a sewing job, I'd mention that I'd sewed my own wedding dress, that I sewed bridesmaid dresses for three separate friends' weddings, and I would also--if that was the sort of fannish work that took my fancy--mention that I'd made this or that cosplay costume for various fannish events. That would be relevant. And so is this. But how to word it?
I eventually settled on putting in a "relevant experience" section below work history, and putting in the following:
All true, and none of it mentions the dreaded "f" word. Close one. And of course I've already got the job, and the actually important thing to the HR department of a university will be that I have an honours degree and ten years industry experience, so it doesn't matter at all. Still. I'm glad I managed to actually put it in there in a way that I could feel comfortable with.
So, I'm in one of those odd periods where my focus has gone away from writing/reading/fantasy onto actually doing a whole stack of little things that I normally let slide because real life ugh. I've been going around the house with a can of WD-40 fixing all the seized or squeaking mechanisms, ordering replacement ceiling fans for the ones that are broken, getting the locksmith in to look at the side door we haven't been able to use for five years, clearing out the piles of artwork that have built up on every surface, culling and sorting them into specific kids' folders. That kind of thing.
( Wardrobe )
( Mending )
( Health )
Yes, by the way, my credit card always gets a hammering when I'm manic like this; shoes, clothes (this time they're even for me!), mending supplies, tradespeople, medical appointments. But that's okay because this is a blue moon occurrence; our bank accounts don't get used for anything except groceries and utilities and things the kids urgently need the other 98% of the time. Hubby will freak out in a month's time (despite knowing what's going on) that our mortgage offset amount has gone down and we are LOSING MONEY OHNOES and I'll remind him to measure the account balance not from last month, but from the previous time I went mad and got all the jobs done, three years ago, and that if we actually managed to make more money in a month than I spend in a Jobs Month, that would be truly frightening. (If in a way we all dream of. :) )
There's one more thing, but I'm going to make it a different post when I get to it, because it doesn't deserve to be lumped in with the rest of the stuff. Not trying to be a tease, just. It's so much at the root of everything on my mind that it would feel like tiptoeing around the elephant in the room not to at least mention that there's more I'm not saying. Nothing bad, just thinky-thoughts about thinky-things.
My journal's in the import queue, I guess in the current backlog it'll arrive when it arrives. I've managed to recreate my journal style, which is good even though I've never been particularly fond of white on black, because the background metaphor still suits me in so many ways.
Journalling has become the best thing I can do when I'm drowning, when I feel like I'm struggling to reach the light at the surface and breathe. Groping blindly for the distorted reflections of who I really am through the medium of fiction. Things may seem calm and serene from above but here, beneath the surface, you can see some of my frantic paddling--as well as glimpsing the other nine-tenths of the icebergs floating through my stories. And of course, even when I'm at my most calm, my very favourite thing is to go out late at night and lie on the bottom of the pool, looking up through the water at the darkness and the stars. It makes me feel... peaceful.
The journal is dead. Long live the journal.
Final numbers for 2016 are:
Words written: 142,266
Words posted: 125,089
New posted stories: 41
% posted: 87.9%
Lifetime words written: 803,446
Lifetime words posted: 348,018
Lifetime % posted: 43% (up from 33% at beginning of the year)
Lifetime posted stories: 58 (counting an old drabble series as a single story)
My goals for 2016 were:
1) Write and increase my portfolio, posting at least one work every month, and working on fluency and finishing things rather than half writing and wandering away when the going gets tough. (I'll have to call this one success beyond my dreams!)
2) Read fic, when I read, like a member of a community and not a 'next fic' zombie (success mostly)
3) Read one book per month (fail--I think I managed five in the year--but that's still a massive increase on last year)
4) Finish Futureproof (fail)
5) Finish NaNoWriMo (fail)
All in all, I'm happyish. I'd have to say, I'm doing great as long as I stay in fanfiction. As soon as I head off into original, I fall apart, and I need to prioritise my mental health. I'm pretty pleased with the sheer quantity of new stories I've written. In the pretty much exactly 18 months since I came back to fandom again, to today, I've written 72% of my lifetime posted work. But only 31% of my total words written. It's the result of an incredible concerted effort to follow through, and I'm very proud of myself for acheiving it. Given my trouble last year with original, and the way it did my mental health in, I'm not as certain anymore that my eventual path is to transition to original fic. I'd still like to try, but I think I'm happier with the idea that perhaps it's not for me and I'll be okay if that's the case.
My goals for 2017 are:
1) Write and post like the wind as the new season of Sherlock was coming out and increase my fandom visibility.
Very much acheived. I wrote and posted 16 new stories in January, and I've got a number of new followers as well as a number of new fandom friends. :)
2) Keep writing for fan_flashworks every challenge
Going well so far. I've even started properly claiming my badges, which is very satisfying, and I'm (given the mods asked me to only claim three or so at once) two or three challenges off being completely up to date. Keeping up my challenges-in-a-row streak most motivational for keeping writing, and a couple of times having to pull myself up and write something to post has really saved me from disappearing into an anxious huddle. (Although given the nature of my deadline-driven motivation and the time offset in Australia, I've woken up in cold sweats quite a few times in the horrified conviction that I've accidentally missed the deadline.) The streak currently stands at 30.
3) Keep trying out writing different things: female characters, descriptive pieces, different genres, different fandoms.
Doing pretty well, I've got two pieces from female POV so far, and I think they worked well, and a couple of metas. And I wrote my longest humorous story ever, which was in a bit of a different format breaking the fourth wall, which was absolutely tremendous fun and has been very well received. Most different of all, I've accepted a position for at most one day per week as a research assistant for my best friend the university lecturer, writing up her papers for her. We'll have to see how that goes.
4) Try out writing some original short fics, rather than staying all in on fandom all the time, to stretch and build up the original fic muscles without launching straight into a novel and hitting the trigger for a nervous breakdown.
Mmmm, sort of. I've written two biographical short stories for fan_flashworks, which is a start. And I have avoided giving myself a nervous breakdown thinking about it. I've done a bit of research for short story competitions that seem doable. Deadlines, prompts, etc. Which made me realise the Vogel awards deadline is at the end of May and--it occurs to me that given I'll turn 35 in October, this is the last year I'm eligible to submit. I'd always thought I might submit Futureproof for that when I finished it, but... less than two months away. Hello, nervous breakdown. I keep thinking... I could try. But I'm pretty sure at this point I could only fail, and that would be very much not good for me. I'm also pretty sure that what I write isn't really the right genre, so... let it go. Let it go. Focussing on some short stuff is, I think, very much the way to go.
There's a couple of competitions coming up--one I'm thinking of in particular which is for maximum 1500 words on the theme of "light" open only to Australian residents and a first prize of $5000, due in in two weeks. It seems like an extremely attractive competition and should be well within my capabilities to finish something to submit, and best of all the winning entries available from previous years seem like my style. I'm going to give it my best shot.
5) Don't obsess and have fun
Yeah, going pretty well! I've been having anxiety issues touching a couple of other things--but I've been writing mostly freely and without too much obsessing. Fingers crossed I can keep it that way.
Still stoked about how amazing these look, and what a lucky lucky girl I am to know such an awesome person as vampirekitty! :D
Presenting... Surprisingly Okay:
I've been thinking for a while, how cool it would be, now that I'm active in at least the fanfic side of fandom and clearly capable of churning out flashworks, how cool it would be to actually take advantage of the new-season rush and write a fic-a-day challenge or similar during January. I'd love to create a whole lot of new content, and it'd be fun to contribute to the early speculations of what everything means. And I got a whole lot of new followers while I was doing JWP solely for spending so long near the top of the 'recent additions' pile--I would imagine the result might be simlar while there's new content being actively paid out that people want to start exploring.
I'm thinking about it, anyway. I don't know if it would work, or if I could spin stuff out while I'm still reeling from being hit with it.
And I don't know how the new season will strike me. I'm a bit concerned, to be honest, because one of the things I like best about Sherlock is how much of the angst and character development lives under the surface. How the craziness and the fun and the physical and intellectual action of the cases almost drowns out those fleeting glimpses of deep soul underneath the masks and in between the cracks in the relationships, leaving the fans freeze-framing and spinning crazy theories to prove it was real, and gasping for more. The S4 trailers... do not look like that. Which is somewhat of the nature of a TV show as it goes along. The network of interelationships between every character becomes more complicated, the deep dark secrets become deeper and darker, and the whumps need to be whumpier to register. Still. I'm hoping--very much hoping--that they've cherry-picked the trailers for a particular effect, and that the Sherlock I love is still in there.
I should trust the Moffat. And, I should remember to approach it in the best way I've discovered to approach any new instalment of canon in my current favourite fandom: as another layer of fanfiction--which does not have to provide me with the perfect canon anymore, because I already have that (hint: they had me at Reichenbach). They can't take that away from me just by outdating it--that's the best thing about fanfiction. If I want, it can always be 2011. Season 4 will not automatically be better than every fanfic idea I've ever read, nor will it even be better--to me--than many of the ideas I've written. But what Season 4 will provide is a whole new set of fresh, alternate ideas to explore about the characters, stories and ideas from the best freaking author in fandom, stories that I'm allows to play with too, if I want! Yes. In that light, I am very much looking forward to Season 4.
And we can just see how the writing idea goes. I'd like to produce some new content as it goes, let's just leave it at that.
In the meantime, it is the last week of December, and Hubby's got the week between Christmas and New Year off. It's the only time of year it ever happens. We don't go away: the end of the year is the time to take a load off, relax, blob around at home, eat pizza and fish fingers, let the kids watch as much TV as they like, and let the house get messy. Last year I had a whiplash injury and spent the whole time laid up in bed while Hubby raced around like a frantic chicken trying to keep the kids out of my hair and ended up less rested than he'd started, which was... not ideal. This year, it's absolutely perfectly blobby for both of us.
And I've been getting wonderfully into some writing. Mustn't forget to post Hubby's song for the flashwork amnesty before the end of December--but mostly I've realised I should be getting onto crossposting some of the fics I've been hoarding before S4 puts them Officially Out Of Canon.
Throughout this year I've been doing flashworks, and a lot of them. It's been awesome, for keeping my hand in and keeping my head out of my rear end. Publish or perish, as they call it in academia. And a lot of them have been pretty short--I've been increasingly managing to make them pretty short, which is good for my sanity--but a few have taken my inspiration and run with it and ended up a little longer. (The Wrong Kind of Snow, I'm looking at you.) I've fallen into a pattern, which I've liked, of tidying the fics up before crossposting one when I get a spare Saturday morning. Which is lovely, and I've been enjoying, for the little fics, but a couple of the longer fics (The Wrong Kind of Snow, I'm looking at you!) have sent me into panic attacks at the idea of going back to edit them, so I've left them to simmer in their own juices until I'm ready.
And this week, I've been ready. I was brave enough to open up The Wrong Kind of Snow, among others, and do a readthrough and realise it's really not as bad as I remembered. Too big a concept for the time limit, is the only problem. When I edit it, it'll probably double or treble in length. That's fine. It's got some great content, and the bits that I thought dragged weren't nearly as draggy as I thought. (Which is good because when I edit it, those bits in particular will probably expand tenfold.) There's things it's missing, narrative absences and character motivations that haven't been set up. But it's a solid framework. Thumbs up me, I'll be back there, and I'm looking forward to it.
Mostly what I've been working on this week is Good for the Soul (as I titled it on fan_flashworks) or (as I accidentally copied it according to my working title on AO3) Five ways to confess to your flatmate. I'm still not sure if I should go to the trouble of changing the title, for a few reasons. First, because as it turns out it's got seven, maybe eight chapters? The next one due to post has absolutely zero confession content in it. Which, I could smush into the next chapter and post them together, but the story is screaming CHAPTER BREAK at me and sometimes you just plain have to listen to a story when it says that. Perhaps I could subtitle it as an interlude. Okay that at least works, and further excuses the slight shift in tone for that section.
I also kind of like the idea that it's a spiritual successor to Five ways to look after your flatmate (although I haven't set up a series), and look, a few weeks ago, it kind of was. But then everyone got so excited when I posted the first chapter, and I kind of freaked out at the thought that what I had mightn't be satisfying, or... no, less than that. Just that I knew it could be more satisfying, and I could just tidy up a few obvious things and make it a bit better.
Famous last words for The White Lily.
So I thought, why don't I fill this case out a bit better, flesh out the OCs, pay out my clues a bit more carefully rather than dumping them all in the second to last paragraph, stop treating this as a silly cracky thing and give it some substance. And I did. Oh, I did.
Except all the oomph I found is angsty oomph. (Colour me surprised.) And now my fic has schizophrenia. Instead of light silly loveably-oblivious-narrator stuff going on--or alongside it--the case has gritty true-life issues and Macbeth references, and I have absolutely NO idea to bundle up the ending in a neat little go-away-now-case-because-it's-time-for-
See, here's what I'd kind of forgotten in my zeal to make the case worthwhile: investing John in some of the characters was a great way to bring some life to them and set out the dramatis personae of the case... but the previous resolution kind of hinged on John (and the reader) being substantially emotionally UNinvested in the case. It was a side-note, and it worked that way. But now it's more than that, and unless I change the way this thing works somehow, this case is going to rip John's (and the reader's) heart out--and a happy-silly ending simply doesn't work anymore. Something's gotta give. This story ain't big enough for the both of them.
The next chapter due to be posted--the one with no confession content in it--is the point of no return. It's entirely new content, and it's good. Or at least I like it. But then I've got a bit of a sour-tooth. *grins* I want to make this story work somehow, without having to lose any of this new substance I've given the characters and new material I've given the story. And also without losing the lightness. And--thanks to some of the disconnected rambling here that's still here, and some that's since been deleted--I think I've worked out how to do it, in a way I'm pleased with. A way that will even have a happy ending. *fist pump*
Thanks for listening to my incoherence, folks, as always it's been a pleasure.
I was awesome.
I even managed to have a pretty relaxing Christmas Day all told despite the lack of sleep. Hubby loved his song (although I'm still going to tweak a line or two before I upload it). Visiting family are gone. I had 9 hours sleep last night. Hubby's taken the kids out to the coffee shop, and I'm blissfully alone for the morning.
( Pics or it didn't happen )
(In the photo at the table, I (in the purple shirt) and my three children, my mum, and my four sisters are sitting closest to the camera. The rest are two of my brothers-in-law, my nine nieces and four nephews, and one nephew's girlfriend. Oh, and Hubby's in there too hidden away at the middle-back. He's the strikingly handsome one in the white shirt sitting at the left of the second photo.)
Always a pleasure to drink white wine in the sun with these fine people.
Now, I'm going to sit down with a cup of tea and do some writing. :)
Am a headless chicken at the moment. Too many projects, as is usual for me at this time of year.
1) Writing (well, re-lyricing) and recording a song for a Christmas present for Hubby. (No soppy stuff, he wouldn't like that anyway.) Stay tuned, I'll post it for the fan flashworks amnesty at the end of the month, it's gonna be awesome. :D But of course this means that I'm fiddling around with:
a) writing lyrics (I've got three out of four verses written, a couple of concepts/lines for a fourth, and there's a few dodgy lines throughout that could do with improvement--but I'm so distractable by process-orientated stuff that I'm having difficulty focussing past the smorgasboard of distractions available),
b) learning my way around the software and post-production filters I'll need to get the sound right and blending in with my backing track (Audacity, which I've used before many years ago, third party high-pass, de-essing, compression, autotune and reverb filters, which I haven't; it's a song for programming to, so I want to do my best to make something that'll sound all right in with the rest of his playlist),
c) pulling together and learning my way around the hardware and setup I need for recording (an at least forty year old microphone from the cupboard which I hope will work better than my phone microphone solely because it will have a decent size diaphragm (although the phone mic I've been testing on sounds pretty decent for the style already, so I can fall back if it's no better (ETA: Hubby asleep, the old school mic is working and I think it does sound like it's got a rounder tone even if I don't want to try singing too loudly with the house asleep, and look I'm still not writing)), pop-filter made from a coat-hanger and a stocking, account created for Unspecified Purposes on Hubby's computer (which has an audio card with an actual microphone jack, what a blast from the past)),
d) finding time with no one in the house to actually record it (Saturday morning, I've got a couple of hours and I'll need to get everything recorded in the one session, which I KNOW will be aggravating because I don't know what the hell I'm doing with a microphone, so the chances of recording anything clean are almost nil and I'll only really find the dodgy parts in post-production when it'll be difficult to do more takes--also I really really need to have my lyrics finalised and given some time to cook before then),
e) explaining to my four year old what the word "bitch" means after he's heard me singing along with the original song one too many times in the car, and
f) repeatedly thwacking on the head the idea that, given I will be an enthusiastic participant in two Kinect dance parties in the next week with my large tribe of awesome dance-loving nieces and nephews while they are all in town, and I have access to the dance game that covers the song I'm covering, and wouldn't it would be super super awesome to go all out and make a music video to go with it (What the hell, brain? It's hard enough overcoming the self-consciousness to sing all out without thinking about actually dancing! Plan: first, write lyrics! Then, do other jobs! Then and only then, if there's time, think about taking over the world with DANCE!!!)
So, yeah. I always promise myself I'm not going to get obsessed with some kind of creative endeavour for a gift for someone this year. And I ALWAYS go back on my promise. Always. Sigh.
2) Not getting too caught up in the above project (ha!) because the prompt at fan_flashworks this week is "Naked", for which the very very obvious fill means another chapter in the Were-John verse (he loses his clothes when he transforms, thus the nakedness), which I soooo want to write. But I always find sequels are sooooo much harder than pulling something out of the air, so who knows if I'll need to pinch-hit for myself.
3) Also Psycho!Jim is on my mind, of which I want to write more of but is getting too big for its britches. Much like the protagonist. *forcibly removes Jim from brain with crowbar* And The Wrong Kind Of Snow is still living in my brain wanting to be cleaned up and cross-posted, but now is NOT the time.
4) I'm also cleaning up and crossposting "Five ways to confess to your flatmate". After the first chapter, everyone seems so excited about where it's going that I've been driven into a kind of anxious despair that where it's going isn't good enough, and I don't want to disappoint so I've got in a vicious editing loop that I have not the time to break myself out of. *puts aside for now, people will have to wait for the next chapter*
5) I have a whole stack of wonderful new comments on Living Conditions, which I still think is the best thing I've ever written, and I always want to get right into the meat of replying to, but it is an all-consuming universe when I go there, so I'm just going to leave that until the new year.
6) Christmas. Apparently I have children? And all sorts of responsibilities for thinking of/buying/wrapping presents for other people as well? *headdesk* I think I'm only missing one christmas present, assuming everything I've ordered online on the last possible posting day arrives, plus a visit to the cheap shop to get stocking fillers. Late night shopping tonight; maybe I can do it then and it will be off the stack.
7) Speaking of which, Christmas holidays. All the kids (who I love very dearly) in my face, all the time. Aaaaaghh!
8) We've got some christmas craft projects. Decorations, and presents. At some point in the next week, I'll have to make time to do that with the kids.
9) All four of my sisters and all of their families are in town at the same time for the first time since before I had children. Obviously I want to see as much as I can of them. I'm hosting two lots of Christmas parties, one of which will have 27 people, the one on Christmas day only 21. I have to feed people. And keep the house clean. And organise enough tables for everyone to sit down together, which hasn't happened since we grew too big for that, but I am keen to do. Our pool is safe to swim in (it's 35 degrees out at Christmas in Brisbane), but the water is still a little hazy--only to be expected because we had to replace the filter earlier this year, and they don't clarify the water as well until they're properly dirty--but I'm babying it in the hopes that it will start properly sparkling before everyone comes around, and that is So. Much. Work.
Right, so that's my brain dump. I always laugh when people wish me "peace" at this time of year. No time to lose, stuff to be done. In the last thirty-six hours, according to my fitbit, I've done 34,000 steps and got 4 hours and 3 minutes sleep. See you on the other side. Or not. Because I may well be unconscious.
So, this year's NaNoWriMo's going to be a little different to the other years. (For the record, I've attempted three times: won in 2006 and 2007 and bowed out for health reasons 2008.)( Read more... )
For some reason, I've been writing the opening scene, which is not at all my style to start with, but it's the most vivid thing in my mind. One of my characters is living in a treehouse, skulling vodka and trying not to acknowledge that the other has climbed up 60 feet and is banging on the trapdoor trying to be let in.
There's words coming. 1,149 of them today, which is a start. And at least some of them are the right ones. NaNo 2016... let's see where this one goes.
And so of course it's completely diverged from the drabble I'd originally envisaged where Sherlock has a mildly metaphorical dream about being a bee trapped outside the hive in the cold and back in Baker Street John pulls a blanket over him, and it dived *straight* for grief and mourning and angst and there is no freaking blanket in sight. At least there's no Reichenbach. Yet.
And it's refusing to end, so I'm going to have to keep writing until something vaguely resolvey happens.
Perhaps it's not surprising that my writing's off track, because I'm having... issues at the moment. Mental health ones.
I should have known it was getting out of hand after what was happening with The Wrong Kind of Snow. I'm having what I might call an episode, and it's been quite bad for the past few days. It's getting to the point where the nameless dread just overwhelms me until I feel like I'm choking. Where the procrastination gets so bad that I can't achieve anything at all until the very last minute or into overtime. Where I can't stop what I'm doing and go to bed because somewhere in the whole falling-asleep process there would have to be a non-zero period of time where my mind would have to stop focussing on something and sit at its own mercy, so I stay up all night reading fanfic and not enjoying any of it because I feel too awful for even that to blot it out--to blot me out--but I can't stop because if I do then it'll all come rushing back all at once and that will be so much worse. Where when a bad thought comes--and they come often--I confuse the kids by shouting or having a mini-fit at myself with my attempt to drown it out of my head before I can feel it. Where I don't even know what I'm so desperately mortally afraid of because it's too terrifying for me to think. Where I stop actually feeling like a real person so much as a robot inside a puppet body. Where I sit next to my kids on the couch and read them a story and I can't feel them touching me and I can't feel any empathy with them and I can't do anything other that wish I that didn't exist.
Yeah. Last few days it's got pretty bad. To be clear, I'd never harm myself (or my kids). I'm not that particular kind of unwell. When I get like this I'm just... paralysed. And empty. I blot myself out mentally, any way I can. And I still appear completely functional from the outside even when everything's gone white on the inside.
I know what the solution is, because I've been through therapy for this before. The time when I went convinced I was going to have to be medicated for OCD, but the solution was simpler than that. I don't need medication, I just need to be brave enough to let the monsters out into my head and look straight at them. To let them do their worst, and put them in perspective so I can see that it's only the brain chemistry feedback loop that's winding them up to seem so bad. And then start practicing mindfulness again, because as much as I hate doing it, it works. But it's hard to get to a state where you can face being mindful when it physically hurts to consider stopping what you're doing long enough to let a genuine emotion cross your mind. And it's hard to make myself do it when I know the solution's so simple that I could do it any day. Perhaps even tomorrow.
It's not even the things themselves that I'm worrying about, it's the chemical state I've worked myself up into by being too frightened to let myself worry about things for fear of discovering my worries are right.
Futureproof has such awful power over me. Awful, awful power. But it's just a book. In it and all the other decisions that I'm trying to make that have brought me to this, they're just decisions. Not about anything that matters. Not about anything I can get wrong.
Opportunity cost versus the opportunity at hand. Those are the worst kind for me.
There's a pair of gorgeous Siamese kittens that I've found. We've been looking for a while for some that suit us. In personality and colour and gender and location and the environment they've been raised, these are simply perfect. They're both blue point, which are definitely among my top three colour preferences (being tabby point, lilac point, and blue point). Blue's possibly my favourite, my favourite colour is that edge where a soft seagull grey fades into white, which pretty much describes a blue point siamese down to a tee. (But then again, stripey tabby point is so striking, and we've already had a blue point. There was a lilac tabby who we almost got, but... reasons, which I'm still a bit devastated about.) Possibly it's even nicer that they're both the same colour. (Although, high speed cat chases, and not being able to tell who is who at a distance. Although... two identical kittens curled up asleep together.) Seriously, brain, why are you worrying about this?
Colour doesn't matter, because personality personality personality, and personality these two will have in spades because they've been raised by a family with small children and regular handling, they sleep in a six-year-old's bedroom, they're a bonded pair of only two in the litter, and they're not the least bit skitttish at chaos. (Although who knows with cats, are we doing the right thing going for a pair of girls? Last time with a boy and a girl turned out disastrous, and they grew up to hate each other. Like, really hate. Two girls are meant to be more trouble than mixed pairs--but I never want a cat that expresses itself by spraying ever again. And Siamese really do best with a partner, even in a high-stimulation household like ours.)
They'll be ready to go home on my birthday. My actual birthday, despite not looking for them for that particular purpose. Clearly, they're meant to be ours. This should be a happy thing, because we want them, because the kids will be over the moon to have their begging finally pay off. But I can't enjoy the excitement because I can't stop turning it over in my mind. And what's worse, I know it won't stop when we get them home. Choices suck because they literally never settle in my mind. I'll always look at these two and think... we could have got different cats. Maybe we should have got different cats. Maybe different cats would have been better. Or maybe they wouldn't. And maybe I should have called them by different names. Because naming them, that's going to be a whole nother kettle of worms. Which so doesn't matter because in the past our cats have always ended up being actually addressed by a pair of easy-identify monikers such as boy-cat and girl-cat or white-cat and grey-cat. (Only these two will be almost freaking identical. Thin-cat and thinner-cat? Lighter-cat and darker-cat? Who knows what they'll end up with.) We've got three pairs of proper names, the kind that actually go on collars, as frontrunners, and I just can't face the idea of choosing despite how very little it matters.
Because there's something fundamentally wrong with me that I can't even look at our children and call them by their names without thinking "I could have called you something else, maybe I should have called you something else, is it really really too late to change your name, I mean I like your name, but I'm not sure I liked it more than some of the other options, but now it's too late isn't it, I can't change your name, I just wish I knew whether it was the right decision."
Writing, at the moment, is like making that choice on every single word. Like walking through a world where every choice screams its potential to get it *wrong* at me. It's hard. And it's not fun writing like this.
Fuck anxiety. Seriously, fuck it. What right does it think it has to intrude on my ability to love my kids like that, and with my ability to do the things I love? To make me feel like a passenger in my own body?
Only the right I give it.
So yeah. I'm going to have to stop being such a wibbling wimp, face my shit, and put mindfulness back on my daily habits list. *sigh*
I've sort of been writing this in parallel with my flashwork, which is now finished and posted. I was hoping that finishing a sweet little flashwork might help settle my mind, but despite making a very conscious effort to restart and go in a different direction and writing the start of literally twenty different takes on the prompt, still the only place I got to was angst. But it's good angst. Apparently I was carrying around more feels about the end of our last cat four years ago than I realised. I was the one who took him to be put down when his heart failure progressed, and I held him while he died. Possibly that's one of the things that the prospect of new kittens has been bringing up for me. But I wrote it and--as happens for me--after people started reading it, I started feeling it, properly. And maybe that's better for me than writing something happy.
And then, this evening, I made myself take an hour-long bath with no reading material and no urgent tasks or plot point obsessing, and I let the thoughts come. And they were yuck. And it felt awful. But they were just thoughts, and when I let them come they really didn't make the anxiety worse. Because it really isn't about them, it's about me, the way I work myself up to be more terrified of what I might think than I would be of the thought itself. And even if I don't feel much better yet, I thought the thoughts and I'm still here, and that has to prove something.
This is better, this is perfect, this makes sense of everything, both narratively and structurally, and this stupid scene that hasn't been working for me? Poof! It's awesome now! AND I've got worldbuildy threads to pick up later for a couple of other bare scenes I know are coming up. Things that make me build this world up more are veeery very good.
Of course, it means some rewriting but not actually that much, just tweaking a couple of mediocre scenes one chapter back in ways that should actually make them better, and maybe sliding a little more worldbuiding in earlier on my next pass. The research I had to do to get to this point also meant I got to spend last night's approximately biannual date night debating awesome sci-fi concepts with Hubby, which was great fun since we're both massive geeks and... well, the way we get when we're talking about this kind of stuff? Well, there are many, many reasons he's the love of my life, but this is definitely one of them. :)
High five, Brain.