Someone sitting in a park with a notepad and pen

Stop procrastinating, start writing

I’m pleased to report that I’m continuing to write almost daily, though the amount I get through before it becomes a battle to remain focused is still much less than it was earlier this year, when writing was an established part of my daily routine.

There are some skills, like cycling, that I can put down and pick up again as if I’d never spent a day out of the saddle; others, like knitting, require a conscious retraining of my mind and my muscles if it’s been too long since I last picked up the needles. Writing as a practice – sitting down to do it every day, without procrastination, and, having sat down, being able to keep my fingers moving even when I’m not feeling particularly inspired – is a skill it’s all to easy for me to lose.

After four months of writing not very much at all (a combination of going on holiday, coming back and looking for work, and then dealing with starting a new job), it’s taking a lot of conscious work to get back to place where writing is something I just sit down and do, not something that requires me to wrestle myself into the chair.

Experience tells me that the key here is practice – just keeping going until I build the habit again. But since I can’t just fast forward to the point where habit is enough, here are some tricks I’m using in the meantime to help me sneak past the desire to procrastinate:

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Late 17th Century illustration of the Werewolf of Ansbach being hunted and later hanged

This week I learned: the werewolf trials of early modern Europe

Just a short* post from me today, for the best of reasons – I’m busy writing! I’ve found an anthology to get excited over, which is always a great way to spark ideas – I get a lot of my inspiration from having a topic to brainstorm around. In this case, delightfully, it’s queer werewolves.

Here’s a historical titbit I’ve learned while researching my submission:

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Typewriter with a blank page on a dark background

Rejecting success

Earlier this month, I resigned as Senior Ranger and departed the organisation and the field in which I’ve worked for the last decade of my life. “Park ranger” is no longer a key part of my identity. I’ll have to update my profile here – and elsewhere – once I can actually figure out what my identity looks like now.

I’ve started work at a customer service call centre, on casual hours. I’ll have the chance to move to part-time – and a more stable routine – once I’ve been there a few months.

The complete rejiggering of my life has been greeted by friends, family, and workmates with all kinds of supportiveness, and for the most part I’m really appreciating it. But I want to talk about one particular sentiment that’s been cropping up a lot in certain people’s words of support:

You’ll have so much time now to focus on your writing.

It’s great that you’re taking the next step on your writing journey.

Congratulations – I can’t wait to see your name on the cover of a book!

Here’s the thing, though: since handing in my resignation – blog posts aside – I’ve barely written a word of fiction.

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Hear The Miller’s Daughter in audio – limited time only!

Words have failed me – never a good sign in a writer.

I have just listened to the audio of my story The Miller’s Daughter, as narrated for Remastered Words by the talented Diana Croft, and I’m in awe, plain and simple, over her ability to make words I thought I already knew delight me, surprise me, and even move me to tears. What is this strange magic?

The audio is now available online, along with an author interview in which I ramble on about inspiration, self-doubt, and fairytales, and apologise to no less than two different authors. The interview is there to stay, but the audio is only online for a limited time, after which if you want to listen you will have to purchase the 2018 audio anthology when it becomes available.

So what are you still doing here? Go have a listen!

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Asexual Awareness Week logo

Asexual Awareness Week 2018: have some resources!

Happy Asexual Awareness Week, folks!

This week is the perfect time for you to learn more about asexuality – by attending an event if there’s one near you, or simply by checking out some of the great ace content that’s available for free online. Here are my top picks for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in ace:

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A smartphone screen lit up in the dark, displaying an image of hands reaching for one another

Writer’s review: ‘Heart Emoji at the End of the World’

Why do we keep telling apocalypse stories? Surely there are only so many ways to write the end of the world. So why is it such a fertile subject for speculative fiction?

There are multiple answers to that question. As a predictive tool, apocalypses let us highlight the hazards we see in the world today or imagine in the world tomorrow. As a setting, a world gone mad provides plenty of fodder for daring action sequences and thrilling near-misses. But the apocalyptic story that reached out from the screen and grabbed me this week contains neither prediction nor action.

Instead, Shauna O’Meara’s ‘Heart Emoji at the End of the World’ demonstrates another reason the apocalypse is such brilliant writing fodder: it has a potential for emotional impact like no other. Catastrophic events lend unprecedented urgency and depth to personal interactions – and O’Meara’s story takes the broad-scale tragedy of a society coming apart and makes it deeply, achingly personal.

Like my other writer’s reviews, this will be about what I took away from this story as a writer as much as a reader, and as usual it won’t try to avoid spoilers – so if you’re interested in experiencing the story as a reader, I highly recommend you go and read it before you read my analysis of it. It’s well worth it. I’ll wait.

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A white carnival mask covered in musical symbols and extravagant feathers sits in front of a more subdued, black carnival mask.

Does mental health treatment change who you are?

I’ve been getting some really lovely, thoughtful comments recently on my brain weasels post. One comment particularly struck me, from someone who is being treated for their own brain weasels for the first time in their life. I’m scared, they said. I don’t remember ever being any other way.

I recognise that fear. When I began taking medication for my mental health, I was nervous too about how it might change me. What if I became a completely different person?

It wasn’t just concern about side effects, although that was part of it. But on a fundamental level, it was acknowledging that this person with all her worries, her relentless thinking and planning for possible outcomes, her bursts of intense creative energy and her inevitable burn-out – this was the person I saw as me.

This was the person I was used to being, the only person I had any experience of being. How much could I change without becoming essentially someone else?

The answer to that, as it turns out, is both more complicated and simpler than I could have imagined.

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Two paper boats, one with a red heart drawn on it, the other with a purple heart drawn on it

Asexual in love pt. 3: navigating an asexual-allosexual relationship

While some asexual folk are in relationships with other aces, there aren’t that many of us around (~1 in 100 people, statistically speaking). That means, for most of the ace folk I know who are in relationships, their partners are allosexual – they feel sexual attraction.

In my first post in this series, I promised to talk some more about the specifics of how Ben and I have made our own ace-allo relationship work. Last week I went off on a bit of a side-track about the nature of love and attraction, but for part three of this exploration I want to delve a bit further into our story.

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