challenges, lessons, life, Uncategorized, writing

Not everyone is an asshole

My friend (and valued member of my crit group) Richard Parry has some thoughts on his blog about the state of things. About the way people interact, about the negative feedback loops we sometimes get caught up in (go read it now, then come back. I’ll wait).

Some days, it seems like everyone in the world is just trying to annoy me, but then I remember that everything is relative and if I’m struggling I’m more likely to interpret other people’s behaviour in negative ways.

Everyone is doing the best they can, but sometimes that looks like being an asshat because they are totally tapped out.

I am trying really hard to remind myself of this. Having moved about 6 weeks ago, I am still getting my head into the right space. Still struggling to get a routine in place. Some days the dishes pile up and we resort to takeout, some days I forget to brush my hair, and the kids hang out in their PJs all day (who doesn’t like PJ days?) and all I can really manage is basic meals (ie: toast!) and to bury myself in a book. It might not look like it from the outside, but on those days, that is the best I can do.

Not every day, of course, and on fewer days the longer we’re here (for which I am grateful). But this being kind to others, and assuming they are trying their best means I have to try and believe that I’m doing my best as well. Which is interesting.

 

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Can giraffes be assholes? 

 

As I get back into writing, I am struggling to really disappear into the story and I have a long held habit of writing myself in-text notes. Historically these have looked like [WTF Cassie?!] or [this is such shit, you can do better]. And now, I hold back on berating myself. Now they are more along the lines of [while this is an inelegant solution, I can see you’re feeling your way through introducing this element to the story, it’ll clean up later] or [bring it back on track, Cassie. You’ve got this]. It might not be as hilarious when reading it through again, but I’m certain it will be more helpful, and in the now? It means I don’t feel so crappy about my attempts to write.

I’m not really sure if I have a point here, other than maybe we all need to be a little kinder to ourselves, and to others. We can never tell what’s happening inside another person’s mind or body. We don’t know what they are going through. Sometimes we can’t even tell what’s going on with ourselves!

Of course, some people are just assholes. But not everyone. And not me. I’m just struggling.

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April, challenges, lessons, life, monday check in, Uncategorized

Kill the Hare! I am the Tortoise.

For years I have been running on deadlines, on sleepless nights (child and study induced), on jam-packing my whole life with ALL. THE. THINGS. I studied, I wrote, I raised kids and played the perfect housewife. I raced everywhere, mostly against the clock, and against my emotions.

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE my life. My husband is my best friend, my kids are fucking epic. We’re incredibly lucky, and I am so blessed to be able to stay home with them. None of that changes that my brain is a bit wonky. I’ve always overcommitted and then burned myself out delivering. I have always taken on more than I can chew in an endless battle to fit more into the day/my life. I’d get so stressed out trying to do all the things that I resorted to binging everything. Work, study, housework even (yes it’s totally possible). I was the Hare, rushing rushing rushing to the finish line. I can go so fast! I can do it all!

Until now.

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Just because. Flowers are cool.

I’ve tried many times over the years to stop these self-destructive habits – hell, I do so well juggling all those balls that people just kind of assume I’ve got it all under control most of the time – but I have tried. I learned how to say ‘NO’ more often, I put my own stuff first. I started saying ‘I’d really like to do that, but I need time to think about it before I can give you an answer’. Even then, I would still rush and push myself harder than I could. Well, until I fell apart and just couldn’t any more. And let’s be honest, I did that a bunch of times on a smaller scale over the years. Collapsing into a heap, exhausted, drained, unable to function well.

 

So in some ways this last round of major depression was a really good thing. I had to stop. I took my meds, and they wiped out my motivation so even though I kind of felt like I should be doing more, I just couldn’t. I could not. Nope. None of it was happening.

I think I really needed the break. All pressure was off, and if I felt tired and unable to do stuff, then I knew it was the meds, and that was a lovely thing to fall back on. Nope. I’ve just gone up a dose and am adjusting. Nope. I’m not quite where I need to be. Nope. Nope. Nope. No, I just can’t right now. I can’t.

And that was good for a bit. It was. And then I recovered, and now I am off them and OH DO I BURN. I want to do all the things. My brain is firing again. It gets excited and goes down rabbit holes and it feels all the wonderful pleasure of the world again. It’s a beautiful thing. The creative drought is over. I’m back, baby!

But the Hare is dead. I know I can take a breath. I know I can say no, and I can consider things, and I can put my needs ahead of others. My brain may be diving off, exploring options, but that incessant need to do ALL. THE. THINGS has dulled somewhat. I’ve got a voice in the back of my head, the ghost of the hare that tells me to run and binge and doitallnownownowNOW.

But I am the tortoise. I’ve looked at my daily habits, I’ve assessed my goals, and I know that burning out isn’t going to get me where I want to be. Since the beginning of the month I have written and revised more of my own work than in the last four months combined. And I’m not even working that hard. I’m writing a little bit. I’m revising a little bit. I’m doing my paid editing gigs a little bit. Each of those three things, every day, and the progress is delicious.

I’ve found a new, far more rewarding addiction. One I’d never thought would ever work for me. It’s called… pacing myself.

WTF. Yes. I’m still getting my head around it myself. But here’s hoping it serves me well for a long time – long live the Tortoise!

becoming, books, Burn, challenges, change, editing, etherhart press, Fantasy, Goodreads, new zealand independent book festival, NZIBF, Sun-Touched, The Way the Sky Curves, Uncategorized

2015 Year in Review

2015 has been a massive year of ups and downs for me – mostly downs, but I think that’s changing. Despite that, I think I did pretty well with my goals for the year.

While I haven’t yet reached my ‘books read’ goal for the year, I’m pretty close, and I *think* I read more published stuff than pre-published. I did do a reasonable amount of editing work, but it was primarily for cash, and that was a nice change. After much consideration, I have decided to cut back even further on the number of clients I’ll work with in order to really give my own writing time to shine. While I love having some cash I made all on my own, and it’s meant I could cover all my costs without digging into the family income, I’ve come to realize that it’s sapping my creative energy, and that’s not good for my writing (or my mental health).

IMG_20151223_145519638I think this year has gone a long way to the ‘reconnecting with myself’ goal. It’s quite intangible, but I think people can look at me now and SEE that I am more comfortable in myself now. I got my nose re-pierced, and I dyed my hair awesome colours. The general consensus is that I should have done it years ago, and I look more’me’. Glad I’m not the only one who thinks so 😉 Though to be honest, it wouldn’t really matter if they thought that anyway – I did it for ME.

I did some other things that were a little outside my comfort zone, such as attending the Independent Book Festival in Auckland. I had a much better time than I expected, and learned that actually, I can totally be a people person when I need to be – AND enjoy it! (even if I need, like, a week off life after to recover lol).

Alongside these things I published three new pieces. Two novellas, and my first full-length novel. Sun Touched has been a long time in the making, and it’s been amazing to get it out there and have people read it. The most common thing I hear from readers is that they could barely put it down, and just had to keep reading – mission accomplished! Dad doesn’t always enjoy my stories, but he loved Sun Touched, and gave it to a friend of his to read while she recovered from a hip operation – and she is going to try and get it in at the library near her! lol

I have LOTS of hopes for 2016, but primary among those are to treat myself more kindly, give my writing the time it needs, and continue to build on the things I started this year. More on that in the new year – until then, enjoy the last of 2015, hope you had a lovely Christmas, and have a happy New Year.

challenges, life, new zealand independent book festival

NZ Indie Book Fest: Part One – thank the gods for medication

Well, I am home from a crazy busy weekend and functioning a lot better than I imagined I would be! I learned so much, met so many amazing people – new, and previously known only online – sold some books, hung out with some of my besties, and had a (generally) really good time.

Which isn’t to say that the weekend was without issues. Friday, at any other time, might have reduced me to a quivering mess. I’m more grateful than ever that I asked the Dr to increase my meds because without that I don’t know if I’d have been able to have a good weekend at all.

So, I am going to break down my recap into a couple of different posts! Because I havNZIBFe SO much to say, and I don’t want to leave anything out.

This one will be about Friday – if you follow me on twitter or FB you might know that it was quite the day. It began at 515 am when I woke up (before the kids). I turned on my computer only to face the blue screen of death. I spent the next few hours trying different things, but not completely losing the plot over it, and thankfully my husband was able to fix it for me once he woke up.

I hit the road at 830 and had a really great drive to Auckland, and a lovely catch up with one of my besties before picking up Leigh from the airport. It was after that when things went downhill. My car started steaming and the heat went through the roof. We were on the motorway at peak hour Friday traffic and I was freaking out a bit about not having anywhere to pull off. When we did, we discovered a pool of water under the car, and a bone dry radiator.

An hours wait for AA… who basically could do nothing but call a tow truck… Tee picked up Leigh and our gear and went to the event centre while I waited for the towie, and then in the rain, we drove over the bridge and attempted to find the service centre that the AA insisted was at a specific address but was most definitely not. The towie was very nice, but still, after all the waiting and worry, and twenty minutes of driving around the block in the dark drizzle, I asked him to just drop me and the car at the motel. I was done.

And all the while, I didn’t break down. It had been almost 12 hours since I left home by the time I got to the motel, and I had a little cry then – not knowing what was wrong with the car, or whether it would be able to get me home was worrying. I hadn’t had anything to eat other than some chocolate since lunch time, so I think that’s pretty normal. Leigh and Tee had both commented on just how calm and together I had been throughout the ordeal, and I was! Leigh and I had sat in the car and laughed, and joked, and I had been fine 🙂 I was fine. I AM fine. Leigh kept recalling how last year when my flight was cancelled I’d had a complete meltdown at the airport and all I could feel was gratitude that now I’m more balanced. Now things don’t knock me over the edge. Having that comparison was awesome because it helped to really highlight how different things are now, and I am SO happy about that.

I am grateful for my antidepressants, and the balance they are helping to bring to my life.

Tomorrow, I’ll blog about the good and the bad, and then probably on Thursday I’ll tap into the people, because I met some awesome people, and they were what really made the weekend!

A-Z challenge, books, challenges, in the spirit, Kotahi Bay

C is for Constance

In The Spirit E-Cover_SMALL FINAL_18-11-2014Constance is one of the few characters in my Kotahi Bay series whose first introduction is after death. It is, after all, the result of her passing that means Alyssa ends up back in Kotahi Bay, with a haunted house.

She is an older woman, a grandmother, and considered to be the town ‘witch’, a legacy which Alyssa isn’t sure she wants to continue.

Constance makes her first appearance in my novella In The Spirit though that is not the first place she shows up in the timeline as she plays a background role in several other books, both before and after her death – all of which will become clear as the series goes on. She plays a key role in the town, and her death creates a change which allows outside forces to gain something of a foothold in the Bay.

I best not say more, or I might give things away, but hopefully you’re a little intrigued 😉

 

becoming, challenges, year ahead

Happy New Year! + Goals

Hey, it’s 2015!!!

How awesome 🙂

2014 kicked my butt, but I came out of it stronger and more ready for change than I imagined I would be going into it. I’m planning to spend 2015 living, learning, and becoming.

I’ve lined up a few specific challenges. There is, naturally, the Goodreads challenge, and then Andi roped me, along with some others, into the 101 in 1001 challenge. I’ve already managed to tick one thing off each of these lists – but I can’t update the book until it’s published. Damnit! The trouble with reading pre-published books 😉 The beauty, on the other hand, is that I was among the first to finish the series, and DAMN. I want to be Melissa Pearl when I grow up lol. Well, the Spec Fic version of her anyway.

Back to the whole new year goals thing…

This year is a lot about me working through some stuff. Hopefully the last ‘big’ stuff I’ve got sitting in the back of my brain. I may post more about it at some point, but I’m still processing. It’s stuff I had thought/naively hoped I had dealt with, but as with all trauma stuff, it crops up at the most unhelpful times and I know now that it’s something I need to really face head on in order to finally put it to bed. So I’ve given myself some overarching goals for the year so that I stay conscious of the direction I want to be moving in. As follows:

Work towards spending more time on my own writing than on other peoples – I LOVE helping other people out, but I have a tendency to prioritize it over my own writing. If I have a piece of my work to edit, as well as a piece of someone elses? Yeah, I will pick theirs almost every time. I am starting the year off by always working on my own stuff, even just a little, before so much as looking at whatever else is on my plate. MY writing is important too.

Read more published works than pre-published – this ties in a little with the above. I read a LOT of pre-published stuff. I love to help out! And while that’s all well and good, it’s not really helping me push my own writing forward. I need to be branching out, exploring more, learning more from people who are further into their careers than I am.

Reconnect with myself, feel at ease in my body and mind, and fight against my fears – this is a hard one to quantify. I have a number of books lined up to read which have been suggested by others or selected by myself. I am focusing on being more present, more aware. Of owning my feelings, of being comfortable just being me, and casting off what I have felt others expected from me.

One interesting thing that I learned/rediscovered this year was that I really love the way my body feels after exertion. The massive hike with the kids made me feel alive in a way I haven’t since giving birth and I want more of that. I want to feel the pull of my muscles, I want to be out of breath with it. I want that elation that comes along with achieving something awesome. Something I didn’t think I could do. I don’t imagine I’ll be climbing mountains in the very near future, but hey, one day, I might be.

So, there are the goals, the plans. The hopes. I guess, over all, I want to make me an important person to myself. That might sound stupid to some people, but I’ve spent most of my life making myself insignificant and putting everyone else ahead of me. Sometimes, this is vital – for example, when you have small kids – but a lot of the time, it’s not really helping anyone. It’s certainly not helping me. I’m important too, and I need to be an advocate for myself.

I still feel a little resistant about writing that, but hopefully by the end of the year it will just be a normal thought. A part of who I am.

*forces self to actually post this and not relegate it to the bottomless pit of ‘drafts’*.