Winter is coming

2014-08-16 13.27.20I can smell it in the air, taste the change in the seasons. This is only made more obvious by the fact there are blackberries on the hedge and the Lovely Baristas have started using the phrase PSL in sentences. Oh and I just got out my winter boots and retired my sandals for the year.

I don’t like winter, I hate the cold and the snow but most of all I hate the darkness, the way the nights draw in. The cats are still out for most of the day but D in particular is being very snuggly, which only means doom is on the horizon. Worse he keeps trying to help me write by sitting on me or by my mouse hand.

My anaemia is back with a vengeance which is not helping. My iron tablets feel like they’re actually made up of shards of glass and not … well iron. I am endeavouring to eat proper meals (usually burgers or one-pot roasts or just eating out) but it’s hard when you’ve got £30 a week to live on. That amount sounds stupidly harsh but I’m trying hard to get out of debt and so this is necessary if I plan to be out of it by Yule. It doesn’t help that August means bill season … I have my ground rent to pay (£150), then my service charge (£400) and, somewhere between that the last of the Kickstarter money goes to Jason, along with an extra £150 to various miscellaneous places to cover backer regards. It just feels like a little too much.

The rent bill came this morning and they want a cheque, of all things. I don’t have a chequebook so I need to ring the management company to find out other payment options (they must have some facility to accept BACS, they must) or see about getting a chequebook ordered. I don’t think I have time so am hoping for the easy option, plus I really hate cheques. I had my first once bounce last week (not one I’d written, I hasten to add) and I’ve never had that happen. I actually had to check with my branch to make sure I wouldn’t be charged for it, even though it wasn’t my fault. The silly things you now have to check but if I don’t, my brain won’t switch off and small uncertainties like that will drive me mad.

I hate depression. It sounds silly but depression isn’t helped when it’s splashed over every newspaper and new site on the net. Depression is bad enough but being forced to think about suicide because the news outlets have no shame and are revelling in the juicy details of someone’s passing because it’s in the public interest. Eugh. Getting drunk hasn’t helped (not that I expected it to though) and I’m now on the max dosage of my anti-depressants, which don’t feel like they’re helping either. The problem is that as long as you don’t dwell on the darker thoughts, you can cope. Once people start talking about suicide, it becomes really hard to ignore the thoughts and not tip yourself into an even deeper, darker hole.

She looks like she's having fun and she's earned it!

She looks like she’s having fun and she’s earned it!

On the same front I’ve been battling the selfish voice in my head all week, the one which goes ‘oh so you’ve coped without your guide dog? Why do you need her then?’. It’s a simple matter of we needed a break, she deserved a holiday and I still don’t regret hugging the Lovely Barista who, instead of asking where Uni was, asked me how I was doing and what I was up to. I get so used to being the invisible woman holding the dog that it was nice to be asked, even if my answer is often on the sugar-coated side. I have missed her, my wrist hasn’t, but I have. I went to lunch, chatted with friends and haven’t needed to constantly go outside into the cooling air to let a canine out to pee. That alone is wonderful, the escalators just seal the deal.

The nice thing is I think I am going to make this whole ‘Uni having a holiday’ a regular thing. My desire to get on a plane and go somewhere sunny is tied into the depressing knowledge winter is, indeed, coming. I want to go to the States and Ian and his wife (who have Uni) seem happy to a) take her for a decent period and b) give her back, though I might have to fight them for her. Today she’s ‘working’ doing collections at a supermarket which I know she’ll love. Uni is at heart a tart and so the chance to be fussed over is never something she’ll pass on. She’s back Monday and it will be nice, the cats have been ruling the roost way too much since she’s been away. D, in particular, has forgotten his place in the household hierarchy and needs reminding.

On the book-related front, things are going okay except the whole process is stressing me out. Ellen and I are double proofing the e-book at the moment (it made more sense to do a final pass before the book was actually made into an e-book) but we’ve come across some glaring mistakes, and half a chapter which got moved from place A to place B and needs to be restored. It’s driving me nuts but I promised Ellen I’d not worry about it if she just let me get it placed where it needs to be. I spent Thursday and Friday reading, dismaying over a number of missing dingbats and having to remind myself no human is perfect. Jason does an awesome job, so does Marina, so does Ellen and it will be okay in the end. I just need someone to keep pushing me towards the light at the end of the tunnel because I can never, ever see it.

Everything is just getting to that point where I want to cry, or bury my head in the sane or just quit for a week. My muse has wandered off and most of it feels more to do with me than just a lack of inspiration. It’s been hard to write anything this morning and inspiration was there, until I read one of my trunk novels and despaired. I know it will be okay the day the proofs arrive and that the expenditure will be worth it. I’ve been worked out how much left I have to come in this year and it’s actually more than I need to clear my debt, eat and exist. This year Yule is going to be an orgy of nothingness and party food with no guilt or a need to do anything but wave 2015 in.

So, tonight I have a reflexology treatment booked and tomorrow I plan to be in the city early, with a steaming Reverse Mocha, and the peace and quiet which comes with Sunday morning in the city. Monday will sort itself out and things, as always, could be much worse than they actually are. I just have to cling on that that obvious realisation and wait for things to improve.

On Robin Williams and depression …

Screenshot 2014-08-12 11.32.19Normally I don’t post on stuff like this. It makes me uncomfortable but today I’m making an exception. Just this one time.

I’ve lived with depression my whole life, I’ve been suicidal and I’m not saying that to brag or boast, merely as a statement of fact. I’m still here but there have been days when I’ve not wanted to.

Depression is a horrible thing that sinks it’s claws in an doesn’t let go. People suffer from it and I mean that literally. You’re seen as being weak, as giving in, and yet it’s suck a struggle to hold on. Sometimes people simply run out of fight and decide enough is enough.

I was talking to a friend yesterday who, like me, suffers this horrendous disease and she’s just twigged that she’s likely to be on medication for life and I told her it’s okay to grieve, because it is. It’s a natural part of coming to terms with the horrendous realisation that chronic illnesses, be they physical or mental, don’t go away.

Today we lost someone. A lot of people seem stunned that a great actor could kill himself. Let me explain a few facts:

  • Station means nothing. Wealth means nothing. Popularity means nothing. Depression doesn’t come with a get out of jail free pass if you earn over £x per year. It will strike anyone without caring a jot for personal circumstances.
  • Depression is as much an illness as diabetes except no diabetic is ever told to snap out of it or that their reliance on insulin is a choice. It keeps you alive, pure and simple, yet if the deficiency is in serotonin (the chemical which depressives run low on) somehow that means it is, literally, all in your head. It’s not.
  • Suicide is not cowardly or selfish. It’s the last true choice anyone gets to make and no one has any right to judge someone for making it.
  • When you’re depressed, you are so bogged down by in the mire that you don’t realise you’re drowning, much less get help. This is why I call depression the Swamp of Sadness and not a black dog.
  • Sometimes the darkness is so complete this feels like the only option. It’s why I have cats … so I have something to tether me.
  • Most depressives self-medicate in one way or the other. I drink, which appears to be the commonest thing. Other people I know smoke weed. In truth I’ve discovered a creative outlet helps and writing has kept me sane when I should have gone mad.
  • Depression is an illness, you cannot snap out of it or cheer up. Days become good, bad or terrible. Sadly the latter two are the most common.
  • Like any disease, it’s a matter of managing it day to day and finding a way to cope. Any way.

Ironically, I’ve been writing about suicide a lot this week. It’s a strong theme in The Parting of the Waters and I’ve been working on a scene where Maros is considering it as an option, after being talking into the belief that his beloved An’she is dead. Only the Lady of the River, Jaisenthia, talks him out of it because sometimes Death is nice like that.

This morning it seems a little more poignant.

Current Projects — August 2014

The Ashteraiverse

The Changing of the Sun — So nearly done …

The Parting of the Waters — August update: Writing!

The Shadow of the Stars — August update: Randomly dabbing …

Lesser Evils — June update: Officially started on draft one 30/5/2014. Huzzah! This is Chaya and Josh and Contact …

An Inherited State — This is the sequel to Lesser Evils … am to sure on who is narrating but it will probably be Chaya. If not her then Josh. This one feels like something a lot more political thriller-y with an Ashterai twist. This is where we get into the bowels of BEAR and meet the Van Buren Group properly for the ‘first’ time. Outlining will begin shortly. August update: Staring at the file

Blood and Starstone — Waiting … impatiently ….

A Star-Filled Sea — August update: Now on draft two, about half way and entering chapter thirteen.

One in Blue, The Other Green — August update: We have flow!

Sweetness in Sorrows and The Breaking of the Circle are being redrafted prior to editing.

Short stories and novellas

Solace — A short story about space travel, mermaids and first Contact.

“The Barn That Hanna Built” — Finished and submitted.

The inspiration of art and Sand

Screenshot 2014-07-31 10.06.34Earlier in the year, I bought a signed print of Ben Adams’ Sand print. Yesterday I finally got it framed … and now it’s sitting on my desk being oddly inspirational. Without Sand, I wouldn’t have known Ben existed, I wouldn’t have even considered what else I could do to make The Changing of the Sun the most beautiful book I could make it. Between that and ‘meeting’ Michael Bunker … chance is a wonderful thing and it’s happy serendipity like this which makes sure the universe isn’t quite as random as we think it is.

This has been a hell of a year. Today I’m done. It feels kinda good … I’m not used to seeing things though, to accomplishing and finishing projects. Normally I run out of steam but this time, in this race, I had Michael and Ellen, Penny and Sophie, Karen and everyone else waiting for me at intervals with kind words, cold water and encouragement.

I’m so lucky.

The Parting of the Waters: The first paragraph …

The sea called Andellashe from miles away, singing to her blood. She was more comfortable in water than walking across unmarked land searching for the ruins of a forgotten town. It had been nine days since they had left Kasan, another three since Nehriam and now the tides were wearing heavy on her soul. From high in the too-clear sky, Thaeos was blinding her, the breeze hot on her Salve-slick skin and there never seemed to be enough water to quench her inner thirst.

Talking without speaking …

The sun is out … the last time I spoke to a human was twenty four hours ago. My home phone rang yesterday and I spent three minutes it would stop before picking  to discover it was my lovely GDMI who wanted me to know that Uni’s new harness has arrived. I feel like I’ve swallowed my own vocals cords and my tongue, I don’t want to go out, I don’t want to go near Morrisons and if I do order in, in my head, having a stranger (albeit it a polite one bringing food) invade my home is easier than going out myself.

I hate it when my phone rings, I feel like I have to answer it. I won’t, most of the time it’s not even a call for me but a spam autodialler. The noise of it though, it makes me stressed.

I want a drink but I don’t want to go out, nor do I have the money. Plus it really does mess with my tablets.

So I don’t speak instead. It’s easier to just knuckle down and write, to let others speak on my behalf.

I’d not speak as a child and my parents were quick to make this a bad thing and there’s a thing which brought punishment. As an adult, I am happy going days without speaking and if it weren’t for the Menagerie, I probably wouldn’t.

I’ve had the same beautiful playlist on repeat, as loud as the volume will go, for five and I don’t care.

The internet has made it easier; communicating via Facebook and Twitter is easy. It doesn’t rely on forcing myself to talk and I can carry on a conversation easily enough, I’ll even initiate them. I need to be close to people but, at the same time, keep them a certain distance away.

Selective mutism is a part of my autistic diagnosis. Now, in this modern age, you don’t have to talk to people directly. You can email and text, IM or tweet and that makes it so much easier.

I’m okay, I just want to be left alone while being intensely lonely. I’m not even sure how that works.