Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

(writing) Depression, demons, and morning pages

I’ve started my morning pages again, because I’m feeling the need to write in the morning, but my brain isn’t really speaking to me except in nasty tones, so I figure if it has the chance to spew itself out in my journal before I have to see people, I can actually function. This is the aim. We’ll see how it works in practice. We’re coming up on the second anniversary of my mother’s death, and I loathe the time change (seriously, who thought this was a good idea????), and it’s still winter and I hate snow and cold and grey. So yes, my depression is solidly entrenched and I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, because then I have to adult, and adulting sucks.

 

Also, I usually have a Bear purring in bed with me in the morning, and the cat gravity of a 26-lb cat is immense. We’re talking Jupiter-scale. But sadly, my bills won’t be paid if I don’t get up.

 

So I was working on my morning pages this morning, and found a new character that I am also documenting here, because I want to write something about her. She’s a middle-aged woman (yep, me, totally me), and she lives with a bunch of cats who happen to be demons. Like, real demons, and they’re supposed to be tormenting her, but since demons have to conform to your perception of what they look like, she perceives them as cats, and they kind of like it. So she’s a crazy cat lady who isn’t actually crazy, and her demons have to go out and do demon things occasionally and then they come back, and she bandages their wounds and feeds them and snuggles them, and demons like to purr. I don’t know much more, but she totally knows they’re demons, and they know she knows, and they’re all pretty okay with it.

 

Now that I’ve gotten that down in several places so I don’t lose it, I’m going to look at resubmitting Requiem and then keep working on the prewriting for Seeds.

(sca/writing/inspiration) It’s not all just sitting and typing….

I’ve been writing again, which is cool, but I’ve been doing other things as well, and I think that’s WHY I’ve been able to write again. I get so wrapped up in “I am a writer and writers need to write and dear gods, why am I not writing, I should be writing!” Then I feel like the woman in that Little Caesar’s commercial who feels the need to sit down. And then I can’t seem to get out of my own way. It’s a vicious cycle.

 

In one of the SCA groups on Facebook that I’m in, there was a challenge going around – 100 Days of Arts & Sciences. Basically, the point was to do at least 10 minutes a day of some sort of art or science practice. So for the last 60 days, I’ve been trying to do this. Today is Day 60, and in that time period, I’ve finished seven crocheted pouches for the Birka largesse baskets, I’ve knit two pouches for Gold Key that I need to finish, I finished up an overdress that needs to be taken in, and I’ve done about 3 feet of a kumihimo cord in my heraldic colors (black, red, and white) for tokens. It’s been a soothing two months, and I’m enjoying it.

And I think, in my quietness, that it’s been refilling my writing well. I’m also realizing that it’s okay to walk away from an idea at the moment, if it’s not working. I want to write Resonant Frequencies, but it’s not the right time to write it now. I don’t have the fully-formed idea, just a kernel, and it needs to lie fallow for a bit. The same is true for the Advent story for last year.

So I’m writing something completely new. Space opera. Pirates. Quantum physics. Galleons that sail on the Cosmic Web. And magic. I’m rather enjoying it.

 

 

(writing/personal) February 14th is just another day to me at this point

Maybe one day, I’ll be able to deal with today, and even be happy on it. Today is not that day, so I’m glad to not have to be at work.

 

Instead, I am drinking good tea at my favorite bookstore (Gibson’s, for those who don’t know it), and I’m writing. I’m making the decision that I need to step away from last year’s Advent story, at least for a while. I can’t deal with Carter’s Cove right now – I’m not in that head space, and I don’t like forcing out the story. I will come back to it, and I may rewrite a bunch of it. We’ll see. So I’m moving to a different story, and perhaps there will be Advent in July or something.

 

However, I have put in the stuff for the cover for Winter Storms, the second book in the Advent series, and we are still on track for this to be out in April. Which means I’ll have it for RavenCon! Which means I need to come up with something cool for the freebie tables. I’m contemplating either book marks or book plates. Because stickers are cool.

(personal/writing/food/health) Yes, I can eat salads – in short, a month on Whole30 with Crohns

On January 4, 2018, I started my second attempt at a Whole30. I had made it 9 days in September before my guts rebelled, but I was determined this time (and better prepared, to be honest), and I completed the 30 day reset on February 2, 2018. I’m in the re-introduction phase now, to see what foods I’ll be adding back into my regular eating rotation, and what foods will be saved for when it’s really worth it.

 

I have Crohn’s disease, which is typically a disease that restricts your eating to very bland, very easy to digest foods. I personally have lived on the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) when I’m having a flare. The Whole30 involves cutting out all grains, all legumes, all dairy, all alcohol, all added sugar for 30 days. Doesn’t really sound like they’d go together, do they? I was skeptical too. Trust me.

 

It’s an honest worry. For the Whole30, your meals consist of protein, vegetables, fruits, and a plated fat. I could still have potatoes, and cauliflower makes yummy rice. I couldn’t put honey in my tea when my throat was sore. I couldn’t use my beloved gingerbread syrup. It wasn’t easy.

 

No, that’s an understatement. It was damn hard, and I almost gave up a couple of times. I was lucky to have K-J, Shannon, Amber, and the rest of my friends in my Food Freedom Group talk me off the ledge a few times, mostly when I was frustrated with life and wanted nothing more than to crawl into a bottle of rum and not come out. They pointed out how far I’d come, how good I was feeling otherwise, and how I would sabotage everything I’d done in one moment of frustration. And they were right.

 

You can’t do Whole30 without a strong support system, in my personal opinion. And not just for the frustrating moments. Your support system is there to suggest new recipes when you would rather spork your eyes out than eat another damn egg, or to help you with ideas for what to eat when you go out. They cheer you on with all the non-scale victories that you see along the way. And they help you soldier on when you feel like you should just give up.

 

The other thing about Whole30 is that it’s NOT a weight loss program. It’s about changing your relationship with food – learning what affects your body in a good way and what doesn’t, and learning not to reward or comfort yourself with food. The weight loss happens, but it’s not the point of the program. You actually are not supposed to weigh yourself at all during the 30 days.

 

So, back to the Crohn’s. I was a little apprehensive, but I decided I was going to do it. All of it. No hedging. At the beginning of my first one, I hadn’t been able to eat many raw veggies or fruits at all in years. Most of my meals were carb-heavy, and I hated the way I felt. As I sit here now, after the reset, I’m eating salads almost every day, with no issues. I have vegetables at every meal. I have discovered my love of coconut butter and I don’t even miss chocolate. And I have kicked my caffeine demon and my sugar dragon into a deep cave, where they are sleeping peacefully.

 

I’m also down 18 pounds, but that’s kind of beside the point. I have energy again. My guts don’t hurt. I sleep better. My mind is clearer. I feel more connected to people, and more compassionate. I have the ability now to stop and think before I say or do something. I don’t use food as a reward.

 

This isn’t over, though. I know this is a journey, and the only “end” is when I take my last breath. I’m not on a diet. I’m changing my relationship with food, and relationships continue to evolve. While I had a very positive experience with it this time, I still take my Crohn’s medication daily. I checked with my GI and my PCP before I started this. I would recommend you do the same.

 

But I would recommend, if you think it would help, and your doctors agree, to give it a try. I’ll be there to cheer you on. I’m already looking forward to this summer, when hopefully my dad will be doing this with me. If you decide to try it, please let me know!

 

In other news, I’ve decided that I need to start writing again. My friend Robert has called this year the Year of Teaching for his embroidery. I think this year for me is the Year of Writing. I have books and stories to tell. And honestly. I just feel better when I write. I did delete my Patreon account (I might set it up again later, but I don’t feel that I can do it now) but I did start a Ko-Fi account. You can donate there if you’d like. The link to buy me a cup of tea or whatever is here. I’ve set it up on the website as well.

 

I’ll be at RavenCon in April, and Balticon in May. I’m not sure what else I’m doing for cons this year, but we’ll see. Want me at your con? Drop me a line and let me know.

(writing/personal) The cycle of grief isn’t linear

There are a lot of books about how grief works, and they all talk about there are different stages and you progress through them. And maybe some people do actually progress through them. I don’t.

 

In two weeks, it will be one year since we found Brian in the bathroom. I’ve gone through all sorts of feelings, and to be honest, right now, I’m approaching the anniversary kind of dispassionately. I suspect it’s numbness, rather than acceptance, and according to many of the “experts,” I should be past this stage. It may be overload. The last two years have been so jarring, so out of what I expected from my life, that I don’t know if the wound is actually healing or if it’s just settled into a quiet phase, husbanding its pain for just the right time to burst forth with another explosion of acid and tears. I suspect the latter, because I can still feel a heaviness within me.

 

I suspect I always will.

 

But I can’t live within the past, yearning after what might have been. I can’t. I watch others I love do that, and it hurts just as much as the loss of Brian and Mom does. Time is a river, and no moment lasts forever, and if you try to make it stop, it resists. And it breaks. And your world breaks, in horrible ways. Photographs are an illusion that you can stop time, freeze it forever, but you really can’t, and all the photographs do is drag you back into memories. And that can be good, but it’s not healthy to live there forever. Time was meant to move, a sinuous, winding path that we walk down until our steps falter, and then….

 

I don’t know. Maybe we drop to another path, and start again. Perhaps we get a time of rest first, or perhaps it just all ends. I really don’t know, and I don’t think anyone else does either. I guess we’ll all find out in the end.

 

So what am I doing? I’m still on Whole30 (day 11 today, despite everything), and I’m sewing – my first cross-stitch project in over a year, if I remember correctly. I’m working on crocheting for Birka largesse as well. I’m writing. I’m starting my proofreading again.

 

I’m trying to live.

 

And that, in the end, is all any of us can do. Grief isn’t a straight-forward process: it’s a path of its own, and it doubles back, veers to side to side, heads off in directions that only seem possible once you start moving. It brings you to places you thought you’d lost, places you wish you had lost, and sometimes, it seems to be standing still, even though you know you have to keep moving. It’s a fog that surrounds you, lifting sometimes just enough to remind you that somewhere, there’s a sun that could warm you, but you have pull your cloak tightly around you, re-light the lantern that the wind blew out, and push forward through the clammy dankness. There’s nothing else to do.

(personal/writing/advent) Deep thoughts

Two posts in one week. Wow, I might actually be getting into a groove or something.

 

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about writing lately. And streaks. And self-care. Shocking, I know, but bear with me, because it all ties in together. I’m still picking at the Advent story, but I’m paused as I need to figure out some plot things that were just thrown up at me. There weren’t supposed to be more people in this story, and now I need to figure out where they are going. This means stopping writing and actually doing some plotting.

 

I’ve got two books that are now in my calendar to proof-read, but I’ve got room in February and March right now, as well as further out. I’m also starting to plot what else I need to do this year. I’ll be at RavenCon and Balticon with new books (yay, Winter Storms is finally coming out!) and calendars. I have to get stickers done too.

 

In addition to rewriting Molly’s 3rd book (and no, I don’t have a title yet) for publication for December 2018, I need to decide my next book as well. I believe I’m going back to Resonant Frequencies, and there will probably be a ghost story or two as well. The Sapph universe isn’t working the way I want it to, so I’m going to try again. With brand-new characters, and a different kind of feel. There’s too much magic leaking into Sapph and while she’s fun, it’s a little bit of a Mary Sue. So I need to try something else.

 

I also have a project that I can’t talk a lot about here yet (but I will be working on it, and it’s cool! I promise!). In addition, I have some friends with some neat books coming out, and I’m thinking about inviting them to come on over and tell you all about it.

 

Last year was about surviving. This year, I’m looking to step back into the sunlight and try to thrive.

(personal/writing) Long days and not giving up

It’s the beginning of the year, and in my day job, I answer questions about 401ks, pensions, health savings accounts, and health and insurance benefits. So needless to say, I’m working long hours, because Annual Enrollment just ended, and tax season just started. Yay, OT! Boo, long hours!

 

I’ve also started my Whole30 (I’m on Day 5!), which has meant a lot more cooking and a lot less convenience. Do you know they put sugar in steak fries? You know, the kind you buy bagged in the store and bake in the oven? Yeah, look at the list of ingredients. Dextrose. Sugar. Blows my mind. But anyways, I’m having to cook again, and my roommate is being awesome by eating most of it with me. It should be another added stress, but oddly, it’s not.

 

It’s something I’m in control of, and it’s helping me gain control of other things in my life. Like doing 10 minutes of Arts & Sciences for the SCA (I’m working on a dress for me and largesse bags right now, and I’m up to day 21 for that), and writing 100 words every day (today is day 7). I’m not pushing hard, but I don’t want to break any of my streaks. They make me feel like even though things are tough, I can get through it.

 

I got my very first tattoo this past December, and it’s really helping as well, reminding me to continue, even if it seems like the darkness is closing in. If you don’t follow me on Facebook, this is what it looks like:

Every day is a journey. It’s one more step along a path that I’m beginning not to fear again. Maybe I’m starting to finally heal. I’m trying to blog at least twice a week, and we’ll see how that goes. I’m also trying not to wear myself out.

 

It’s a fine line sometimes.

(personal/writing/advent) 2018 – my first full year alone

I swear this year is going to be better. I won’t let it be the same way it was last year. I won’t.

 

But things are going to have to change. I’m realizing how hard it is to do things on my own – not just in terms of emotionally (because it IS hard, even if you are okay with being alone, which I am), but in financial terms. My hat is off to all you folks who have been doing this all along. I thought it was hard with two incomes. It’s so much worse with one. And it doesn’t seem like the bills get any less.

 

There are a few silver linings for the year coming up: I can work from home when I need to, which means no more real days missed due to weather or illness. My Crohns’ disease is under control, and I’m getting healthier every day.

 

I start my Whole30 food program today, so there will be random posts about that. I’m still trying to figure out how to post automatically to Facebook from here, but I’ll just have to do it manually until I can get into the guts of my website. Which I will have to do anyways, because I’m going to redesign the entire site.

 

In writerly news, I did cancel my Patreon. I’m contemplating several things, including maybe putting a tip jar out here on the site for right now. I don’t feel that I give enough right now to make a Patreon practical for me or fair to my readers. I might also get a Ko-Fe page, but I don’t know right now.

 

I’m working on the new Advent story – I will finish it by the end of January for you all. I promise. Then there are the proofs of Winter’s Storms to go through, the cover to finalize, and that will be out by April 20, which is RavenCon! And I’ll be there that weekend, with calendars and copies of both books, and Schrodinger, of course. He might even get a new hat or vest for the occasion.

 

I’m also now accepting new clients for proofreading only. My rates are:

-Up to 10k is $25

-Every additional 5K is $10

I do fiction, non-fiction, whatever. Poetry might be weird, but I’ll give it a shot. Here’s what I do for proof-reading:
I go through and pick out any misspelled words, missing words and/or phrases, and make sure your heroine’s hair hasn’t gone from blonde to brunette without a dye job in the middle of the story. I also tend to correct punctuation, mostly commas and things like that.

 

If you’re interested in that, please drop me a line at vgford@gmail.com and we’ll talk. Turnaround is based on how big your project is.

 

I guess that’s it. Happy New Year folks.

(personal/writing) Why I’m saying goodbye to Patreon

I deleted my Patreon page tonight.

 

I did it because with the new fee structure, and the changes going on in my life currently, I didn’t feel it was fair to my patrons (most of whom were at the $1 a month level) to continue. I don’t disagree with why Patreon did it – they have a business to run. But it’s not one that I feel I should be a part of right now.

 

I just don’t produce enough to ask people to spend money on me every month. I have a day job, and my writing is definitely secondary to my day job. I’m not going to stop writing. I’m not going to stop posting stuff for people here. (In fact, I knew there was a reason I was loathe to get rid of this blog)

 

I’m also looking at maybe putting up a tip jar, or a Ko-Fi page (I need to look more into it). I’m going to be make some changes in the coming year to this site as well, but in the end, while I wish Patreon and those who continue to use it luck, it wasn’t a good idea for me. Maybe it will be another time. I don’t know.

Thinking about changes

Most people think about changes this time of year. It’s the turning of the seasons, I guess: as the world settles down to renew itself during the cold winter months of the Northern Hemisphere, thoughts turn to what we could do better. I’m helping Dad adjust to the new hip (he’s a terrible patient, but he’s trying), and thinking about my own life.

 

I recently interviewed for a new position at my day job, and one of the questions that the interviewer asked me that struck a nerve was “Where do you see yourself in 6 months?”

 

My honest answer was “I don’t know.” A year ago, I could have told you guys exactly where I was going. I was going to continue writing, working at my day job, and saving for retirement. Brian and I were going to spend a year following the Red Sox after we both retired, and then we were going to buy a used bookstore and open a combination bookstore/gaming store to run in our twilight years.

 

And then Brian died. Now I have no idea what my plans are. I’m kind of adrift in a sea of possibilities, and not all of them are pleasant. While I’m lucky that I have an amazing roommate who is perfectly willing to fulfill the Red Sox/bookstore plan (and let’s be honest, I probably will run a bookstore, and I’ll probably call it CrossWinds Books), I’m not sure I’ll be wanting to do it the same way. A lot of those plans were tied up with doing it with Brian, and it hurts to think about them now.

 

I am working on the Advent story for this year, which will start going up on December 1. This year is a special treat as well, since my lovely friend Kiaya is working on something for you guys to enjoy. I’m not going to say more (yeah, I know, tease, tease), but I promise you, it’s going to be awesome.

 

And Winter’s Storm is in process, so yes, the second book should be out in time for Christmas! I’m working on the final stuff with that, and to celebrate, I’ll be doing a giveaway. A very special one.

 

More later. I’m still processing things.