Some years ago, I went to see a physio about recurring headaches brought on by neck tension. When he was done poking and prodding me, he taught me a set of neck stretches. “Do these for five minutes every day,” he told me, “and you shouldn’t have to come back here.”
Years later, I still do those stretches religiously as part of my morning routine and my neck is much happier. In theory, it would be brilliant if all my problems could be solved this way: take up some small, daily habit and never have to worry about mess, stress, health or happiness ever again.
Recently I went back to the physio with lower back problems. But this time, when he finished up with, “Let’s look at some simple preventative exercises…”, my heart sank. The very thought made me want to execute a hard reverse out the door.
So what’s changed? Simple: I’ve hit habit overload.
Continue reading “The horror of small habits: handling habit overload”
One of my favourite podcasts is The Futility Closet, source of weird and wonderful historical minutiae. An episode I caught recently put me on the trail of a truly fantastic, if short-lived chapter in the development of long-distance communications: the 19th Century pasilalinic-sympathetic compass, otherwise known as the snail telegraph.
Continue reading “This week I learned: the snail telegraph”
For the last few years, I’ve been a slush reader for Aurealis speculative fiction magazine, and it’s done wonders for me as a writer.
What is a slush reader, you ask? Simply put, open-submission publications like Aurealis receive hundreds, possibly thousands, of submissions every year – far too many for their editors to read through every one when choosing what to publish. So they rely on (usually) volunteers to sift through this virtual mound of unsolicited fiction – the slush pile – and figure out which stories are of high enough quality to pass on up the chain.
I joined the team at Aurealis on a whim, but haven’t regretted the decision for a minute. In fact, slush reading been integral to improving my abilities and confidence as a writer.
Continue reading “Improve your writing – become a slush reader”
Something I’ve become really aware of, as an asexual person in Western culture, is the weird way that sex is both hyper-visible and constantly hidden away.
I’m hardly the first to comment on this unhealthy dichotomy in our society. But it takes on a different (though equally damaging) significance from the point of view of someone who’s completely uninterested in sexytimes.
Continue reading “Sex is everywhere, sex is nowhere; observations from an ace perspective”
This isn’t the blog post I thought I was going to write today.
I have a whole thing started about asexuality and the simultaneous prevalence and absence of sex in Western society that I though I was going to finish. But when I woke up this morning, I knew it was going to be one of those days: my gut hurt (something bad I ate yesterday? Or just my old friend, referred stress?), and I had a long list of things I needed to get done hanging Damocles-style over my head.
I didn’t even want to get out of bed, let alone write something pithy and thought-provoking about how our society treats sex.
Continue reading “How to get things done when you’re struggling: start with the easy parts”
And I’m back!
I hope your Christmas season (if you celebrate) was a happy one or, if your circumstances mean that’s a hard ask, a resilient one.
Christmas for me is bittersweet, for reasons I might write about some other time, but the new year is a good time to stop and reflect on where the old year has taken me. I’m not a fan of new year’s resolutions – I’m always working towards goals and trying out new strategies for achieving them, regardless of the time of year – so here instead are my new year’s reflections:
Continue reading “New year’s reflections 2018-19”
A quick note before I start: Folks, for a number of reasons December is always the busiest and hardest of months for me. So in the name of self-care – and, hopefully, of finishing another story before Christmas – I will be taking a break from blogging until the new year (barring any writing-related announcements). It’s been great to have you with me for website year one; I hope the end of the year is kind to you, and I’ll see you in January.
CW: suicidal thoughts
Yesterday I had a conversation that broke my heart.
I was asked to have a chat with an eighteen-year-old first-year university student whose doctor had prescribed antidepressants, but who was hesitant to take them. I’m not a doctor, nor a mental health practitioner, but I did my best as a user of antidepressants to answer questions about my own experience and based on that experience, to give advice that would help them understand the positives and negatives of the medication when making their decision.
Continue reading “Mental illness: stigma and silence”
One of the questions that comes up in writerly circles is: are you a planner or a pantser?
Planners like to know exactly where their story is going before they begin. They’re the writers who create outlines, spreadsheets, scene planners, character maps, etc ad infinitum.J. K. Rowling? Definitely a planner. J.R.R. Tolkein, with his volumes of world history and mythology, his carefully crafted languages, was possibly the ultimate planner.
Pantsers prefer to just sit down and go, and let the story fall as it may – in other words, they write by the seat of their pants.
There’s a lot more appeal, to me, in being a planner. Planners have plans. They know what they’re doing. If they get stuck, they can just look at their plan and figure out where they need to go next – or, if that’s not enough, they can do some more planning. Right?
Continue reading “Figuring it out as I go: on pantsing with anxiety”