The blog of D Kai Wilson-Viola

Author, advocate, designer, mental health advocate and parent. 



Time tracking 101Have you ever wondered why people blog?
I have.  I think about it every day, to find the reason that I’m blogging.  A problem though, and a bit of a hiccup to it all is that if I’m not careful, I start trying to justify why I spend time.
Spend is right actually.
Blogging, and time most specifically, is a sort of currency for me.  As is social media, and everything else I do.  But I think what I mean by that is TIME is a currency that I struggle to decide how to spend.  Blogging seems to be something I didn’t want to ‘spend’ on at all, and I don’t really know why.  Or I didn’t until last week.
The thing is, I’ve been given back a lot of time lately.

When last I posted, I was ok.  I wasn’t brilliant, but I was ok.  My life was on a downward trend though.  February 2015 was right smack bang in the middle of the first six months of what I was told was a very short treatment course with the team – anxiety, while hard, was manageable.  I wanted to sleep more,  but it’s taken until NOW.  This week, I can actually say that five days out of seven, I’ve slept more than the goal I have on my fitbit.  It’s taken Haloperidol, melatonin and changing my eating patterns to do it.

And you know, I’m talking about this as if it’s a tiny thing.  It’s huge.  I spent the last year and a half struggling to sleep more than four hours at a stretch, and struggling to go to sleep AT ALL some nights.  I’d be up all night, and my brain wouldn’t stop.  It just wouldn’t stop.  It still doesn’t.  But it’s easing.  The grip on my head is easing, and oh, it’s so nice.  I’m still needing to randomly nap in the afternoon, but I’m finding it so much… not quieter but, I don’t know.  I’m sleeping.  Which seems to make it easier for me.

So, I thought Id talk about this in a way I could understand myself when I look back, but more importantly, in a way that makes sense to everyone else.  I need to work out how to spend my time – though I’m not sure how I’m going to measure it right now – and make sure there’s a nice balance for family, exercise, writing, work, and all of the things I want to do.  If I can’t do that, I don’t know what I’m going to do.

And last week, it hit me.  I stopped blogging because I lost things to say.  It wasn’t so much I didn’t even have stuff to *babble* about.  I just looked at each single blog I had as one blog, instead of a continuum.  It’s going to take a bit of organising, but I think I’ve got an idea that will work.

So, my mission this week is to keep a diary about what I do, and how I’m spending time, and then, from there, I should be able to understand what time I actually have and whether I enjoyed what I was doing, and if there’s anything I can tweak.

My other major projects are sorting out a crowdfunding campaign for a project I’m doing, that I’m hoping will be good for others (it’s not to pay to publish something – it’s a product I need dev money for), and some other things.  But I’m starting small this week – tracking.

And, hopefully, I’ll be blogging here semi-regularly again.  Let’s make it a date, ok?

New Year…sorta….

New Year…sorta….

Yeah, I know, its six days into the New Year and I still haven’t done the promised blog here about how this coming year might look.  And that’s because I’m still not sure.  I was working out of the house between September and November (should have been December but I fell in work and gave myself the most impressive concussion I’ve ever had, therefore finished up a bit early).  I’m now back out of work, and looking for a new job because it was only temp and I was good with that.

Plans for my writing

The New year didn’t make it any easier to make plans for what I wanted to do with my writing – to be fair, all I do right now is sleep (still very depressed and tired, even though I’m six weeks post-concussion), and do some work on 750words, but I do have a plan.  It does mean I’m going to be secret-squireling for about six months, but that’s ok.  It’s not as if it’ll take me away from writing already in the works/complete.
Writing plans are, as always, contingent on what happens with my work, because making an income for my family has to come top of the pile.  Even for another year until we get out from under the pile of bills left with me after I finished freelancing and clients refused to pay.  I estimate that’ll take until the summer, then we can start saving for our wedding etc. but y’know, hope springs eternal that I’ll find a (well-paid) job that lets me write too.

Plans for other stuff

I know I’ve talked on here about grief and miscarrying, and all of the other stuff that went with that.  We’re still no further forward and after another ‘event’ over my birthday, David and I have decided, for now, to call time on the whole trying to get pregnant cycle.  It probably doesn’t help that we’re both stressed to the eyeballs over what to do about the youngest, various sick members of both families, living so far away from everyone and basically having no real time to work out or grieve properly, but I really feel like there are parts of my life that need sorted out before I look to the future.  It’s not even fixing the past –  can’t be done, so I’m just going to get myself to a point where I’m at peace with it, it’s more…having a routine and working and doing stuff that’s good for me instead of what’s good for everyone else.  I did it when I sat my degree, and I’m very proud of that, but there are other things I can do too.  I just have to find my way out from under the grey clouds first for some of it.  My brain isn’t dealing with happiness the way it should, and more than anything, that’s something I need to fix, and it’s all internal.

New books

When all’s said and done, there will be new books this year.  I promise.  I’m just not sure when.  Given the secret squirrel project is taking away half of my time, it’s a bit difficult to say ‘this is what I’m going for’.  It’d be nice to have five novels out by the end of the year, time permitting, but I’ll be satisfied if I just get three or four.  Again, it’s all down to whether I get a nice job or if I can stay home and PR to cover the bills, and write for the rest of my time.  Even shaving down our outgoings and what I pay for, I still need to work about 20 solid hours a week to make anywhere near what I’d need to cover bills, which is why anything extra goes straight to said bills
That said…there’s going to be a weekly ‘state of the writing’ on Author, Interrupted, with pretty pie charts and metrics and other fun stuff ;).

Blog schedule

And finally, the blog schedule.  It’ll appear here before the 15th, so you know where I’m writing, when and what for.


New Year…sorta….

#Cybercamp – the personal stuff and an overview

Right.  First up.   If you’re really not interested in ‘the feels’ of things (sorry, bad internet slangy thing), this post probably isn’t for you and I’m totally ok with you skipping it.  This DOES NOT contain much about the actual cybercamp itself – more about the stuff I learned about me.  It’s most likely not useful to anyone, other than me, but because people were asking me why I was sad, day two, I thought I better get this written up.  I’m totally fine with you skipping this one and hitting Steampunkdragonfly (my new cyber/sec/policy blog – though, right this second it’s parked on another blog, just give it a few hours ;)) later today, when the less personal stuff goes up.  That’s going to take a good few posts to cover actually – I’ve got screeds and screeds and screeds of notes to get through.

Before I pick up my blog where I left off, HI.  Hi to all my new followers and all of my older followers and sorry I’ve been so quiet lately.  I think the last post explains my mindset sufficiently, still, but I still wish I’d picked my blog back up sooner.

Secondly.  If you’re based in the UK, go check out these guys:
The Cyber Security Challenge is one of the brilliant initiatives that I’m betting will lead the charge in plugging the gap between the experts we have and the expertise we need in Cyber Security.  And I do want to emphasize that it’s not just ‘techies’ that’ll get a lot out of this.  I’m a bit techie (though, not as much as the people I encountered at camp) but where I really apparently shone was policy.  So if you’re interested, in the slightest in showcasing or upping your cyber security skills, and networking with like-minded people, get your butts over to the site.  They’ve earned a permanent link from all of my blogs, and I’ll explain why in a second.  And in all seriousness, thank you.  I thought my life was quite nice before I went to the camp – and that I was doing the stuff I really wanted to.  That PR was just as good as policy, if you removed the tech, and that it was ok to feel like there was a little missing.  Thank you for showing me that, and being patient and kind and making sure I was ok, and paying attention to the little things.  Thank you for it being perfect, start to finish.  Thank you for bringing us all together.  Thank you to the sponsors.  Thank you to the staff.  Thank you, a million times.

And Third

I’ve been looking for a use for one of the new blogs I was going to start – two actually, but the main one I was struggling with was ‘Steampunkdragonfly’.  Originally it was going to be my amalgamation site, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I really should just be doing that on Dkaiwilsonviola.
And then this Wednesday hit and my world got shoved sidewards off a cliff, flipped upside down and well…from there…I dunno.  I’m still trying to process.

Let me explain….

Wednesday, I went to the Cyber Security Challenge at Shrivenham from Wednesday evening until Sunday. And I’ll be honest, I thought I’d be a bit of a spare part there – I’d learn some stuff but that no one would even notice me.  Got that one wrong!
I arrived, got my stuff dumped and was pretty much approached straight away by four lads, who wanted to know *everything* about me.  I had waited until they’d talked and then told them a tiny bit about myself.  I was gobsmacked at how interested everyone was in me.  Met two of the girls, confessed to being out of my depth (and in a freaking dress….I mean, that alone is like weddings only) and grabbed a drink.  We all went for food and then the ‘getting to know you’ session started.
It was hilarious.  I’ll be doing a proper write-up on the bits I can, and the stuff I personally got from it on said new blog, but I have to say something about the personal stuff that went on while I was there.

I don’t think it’s unfair to say that I struggle with the ‘social’ aspect of the world outside.  I understand *everything* out there in theory, but in practice, I’m about three seconds away from bolting when I do something new.  And when you’re planning your escape in the next ten seconds, constantly, there really isn’t much room for anything else.  And it makes me very tense, and quite excitable, because that ‘bleeds’ through into my voice and then I say something stupid and everything just….yeah.
I’m not so much an introvert as someone that should live inside the space an introvert takes up when they’re really scared and need time to themselves.  you know, that tiny cupboard?  That’d be a good place for me.  I’m an introvert’s introvert.  Mostly because I have severe anxiety.
And it makes me *incredibly* lonely.  Which is the weird part.  Introverts aren’t meant to get lonely, right?  But I do.  I’m intensely lonely, to the point of making an idiot of myself cause I’m excited someone other than my other half or my very small circle of friends are talking to me in person/online.

Cybercamp – a bit like the best environment I could have designed….

What happens when you take 20 reasonably young people (*with a few notable exceptions, myself included), mix in a heaping spoonful of a really neat scenario (which was made public, so I can talk about that bit) where some tankers have struck something and they’re not sure of why etc. and it could be security related or coincidence.  And that’s where we were chucked in.
FOUR DAYS of intense, hands on fun later and I’m dizzy.  I learned about SQL injections, I learned about changing stuff browser side.  I learned why hidden HTML fields are going to get you reamed, if you’re not careful.
But I learned that actually, I’m quite level headed and can keep most of my anxiety under control.  I learned it’s ok to go off and have a cry, because I’m just not keeping up, but I didn’t need to make a fuss about it.  I learned it’s ok to be afraid because a lot of the others there too were too. What’s not ok was letting it win, cause I’d have been the one losing out.  And I can get up in front of people and do a presentation without having a panic attack afterwards.  I got top three on day three and I learned that I did that way out of my own expectations and I did it because the teams I was on – throughout the whole challenge (and we swapped teams throughout the stay) – were absolutely amazing.  I mean, top notch.  So it wasn’t really me that did it all – it was all of us.
And I made friends.  Lots of em.  Heaps of em.
Hi guys 😉

One of the things I did say that caused a bit of worry though was how disheartened I was after one of the challenges.  I’m going to specifically explain that one in a seperate post – but it was disheartened at how easily I fell into tunnel vision and looked only at tech rather than the hollistic whole.  And everything they flagged had been something I’d thought of and we’d missed it because I was so intent on ‘keeping up’ with the boys – not because it was a competition, but because I didn’t want to be their single point of failure.  In fact, I should have been the ‘failure’ there, so i could then drop into the bigger picture stuff.  That was my own fault for not communicating effectively and not taking the time to do the ‘personal’ bit that I ususally do.  I’m USUALLY the loon in most games that explores everything before moviung on – not because I’m indecisive but because RTFM or ‘TTFP’ (talk to fucking people!) is about the rule of thumb I have – I don’t go all on interrogate, but I didn’t pay attention to that and I disappointed myself.  But, I learned from that and we did stellarly in day 3.
Oh yeah, and I clearly have NO situational awareness.  I wasn’t aware that we were in a tent in the middle of the desert on an island for one challenge, though it was emphasized.  I just saw the back wall as a partition and darted around it, not considering what it actually meant.  For someone who’s supposed to be hyper aware of her surroundings, that was a bit of a fail – but on the other hand, it really highlighted how safe and how comfortable I was in the environment, and how much I trusted, not just the team members (who at one point had me sandwiched between them while messing with a server box (one on each side, really close quarters)) and though I was a bit aware and kept having to calmly say ‘please don’t touch me’ it was all good.  That’s something I need to work on – one lad that went to pull me over so I was closer and up on a chair next to him (tight skirt, very tired, not getting the hang of hopping up onto the barstool) looked genuinely offended when I said ‘don’t touch me’, and I very nearly dashed out of the room because I’d hurt his feelings.

My next blog post, coming in about two hours (A bit of housekeeping) is to answer some of the questions I’ve been asked lately about ‘where do you write, where are your books, how do I follow you).  Skip that one too if you want.
Otherwise, Day (x) blow by blow will appear on Steampunkdragonfly in the next 24 hours or so, starting with Day 0.

I keep saying… Tomorrow will be different

I keep saying… Tomorrow will be different


First up. the rumors of my demise are greatly overstated. I had a bit of a hospital adventure, which I’ll explain later in the post, but I’m not too bad. Photo proof too, aren’t you lucky 😉

I’ve been getting really good at procrastinating.
Oh, I’ll tell myself it’s because there’s only so much I can do in a day, and I do achieve something…but.
Normally, but works in my favor  It’s what I say to justify falling behind on my own work. It’s what I say to comfort myself when there’s nothing else to say. But…
I mean – client work is getting done. Edits are flowing in and out. I’m doing PR and my articles. But sometimes, the articles don’t get posted. A week passes and i loom at stuff and think ‘i should have done that, how in the heck did I miss my OWN deadline?’ Sometimes, I forget to stop at 9 and keep working through, and frequently I have to do twitter from my phone between other jobs.
I haven’t knitted since the middle of last month. I’m devouring books in the wee hours of the morning cause there’s no other time to read.  Let alone write.
My sleep sucks. My blogs are neglected (I had articles for d-z, but I didn’t post them. I will though), and I’m sad, lonely and just not coping.
And through it all, I keep telling myself, ‘tomorrow will be different’. Tomorrow.
Not today.
Today is full of knowing my womb is empty, and not dealing with miscarrying. Today is studiously avoiding having too long to think, because then the litany of self-loathing in my head gets to be too much to bear. Today is waking up and checking my phone to see what’s happened this time and is full of missed things, and dropped responsibilities – agreeing to stuff when I should say no. Laundry that seems endless, even though we bought a new machine. Moderating because people just don’t ‘get’ it. Millions and millions of screams and sobs, suppressed because if I start, I’ll never stop.
Waking up and my first thought being ‘I wonder what fresh hell today holds’. Except, it’s not a fresh hell – it’s stale, moldy leftover hell. It’s one where I tell myself how worthless I am. Because I am.
It’s trying to be brave, because its been a bad week/month/year. It’s two new kittens, but constantly worrying – if they don’t eat, cry when walking, blink or sneeze, we panic. Its missing Kush like crazy, but having two cuties who make me smile, but I feel so guilty. It’s having friends, but being too scared to talk to them because, really, what right do I have to tell then about my life when I’m (mostly) healthy, I’m not in a position where I’m destitute. I’m loved and/or respected by people (though I will never understand why). I’m not dealing with organ failure, or health insurance, or sick husbands, or anything else. It’s wanting just one day where I don’t have to be strong.
And it’s a similar refrain, but trying to have a baby for nearly two years and being met with nothing but later and later, heavier cycles, failing to manage the one thing I should be able to do, and doesn’t depend on money, or work, or writing or even anyone other than me and him hurts. It hurts that we can’t get pregnant. It hurts that infertility is something else on our list of things. It hurts that, instead of a new baby at home, all I have is emptiness. And it’s hard, cause I feel as if there’s no-one to talk to. Even though I have a few really good friends that have told me to talk to them about anything.
I always said that I couldn’t make this sort of thing public – then, on Thursday I landed in hospital. For one reason and another, it had been a horrible week, and after talking to my other half, we went out for food.
On the way, my shoulder started hurting. Soon after eating, I started to feel horribly sick. And was violently and repeatedly sick. When I came home and posted my ‘woe is me’ on Facebook, mentioning the pain in my jaw, neck and shoulder, I was urged to call a doctor, who called a paramedic, who radioed for an ambulance.
They took me to the ER, where the commentary was basically ‘this could have been a cardiac event. We need bloods, to make you comfy, and you’ll stay.’ So I did.
And I read. I read like I’d never read in a LONG time – mostly because I’d forgotten my bipolar meds and the worst side effect of them is skipping a dose = only capable of dozing. And I read. And I had a think.
One of the things I thought through was why I put off my own writing in favor of *anything else*. I think that’s a whole post unto itself to be honest. Then I thought about what I am. Again, another post because I mostly define myself by what I can’t do/haven’t achieved. I thought about something very specific someone said in public then threw in my face in private, and what the fallout from that was.  On that, I came to the conclusion that I can’t do anything.  Not yet anyway.
I read. The whole of the second book of The Hunger Games (Catching Fire) and talked to nurses about books and indies and life.
I was in hospital a total of around 13 hours. I slept for 1. So I got home, was fed, and slept. And I thought some more.
I have no solution to the empty feeling inside me right now. I have no immediate solution to one of the things thrown in my face either, though on that, the person was wrong. But tomorrow is going to be here soon, and I don’t want to keep looking to it to find the better things. I want to find more of them now – it’s better for me that way.
Oh, that photo? That’s me, tonight, in bed, smiling cause I get told off if I don’t. It’s not a common expression right now, but I’m sure that if I turn tomorrow to today, it’ll find me again.  I hope.

New Year…sorta….

How things play out – aka, why it’s taken nearly 11 years to publish Glass Block

I’m inches from publishing my first full-length novel under my own name, and I was going to kinda let it pass without comment, and then I thought ‘I think I wanna talk about this’.
The following is a bit maudlin, a bit ‘ow, crossed legs’ for writers, a bit dumb luck and a bit scary really.  So if you wanna skip it, I understand.
But this is the story of Glass Block.

Where it all started

One evening, around October of 2003, which was about three months after I’d kicked my ex out, and just before the Nanowrimo in November, I was parked in my usual place, in the bath, and Elliot came to visit.  I came back from that bath with seven stories to write, which I dutifully noted down in a private post on my Livejournal.  And filed it for the Nanowrimo.
The Nanowrimo led to me meeting my beloved in a very roundabout way, but Elliot was stuck to me like glue.  In fact, in the first few months of our relationship, said now fiancee commented at least once that he was sharing me and was really quite scared (or pretended to be) when I told the merry-go-round story.  But Glass Block sat.  And sat.

Still hearing voices, three years later

(not to be flippant about hearing voices – I do have problems with what is considered psychosis as well, but if you can’t joke about it…)

So, Elliot’s book series expanded from seven to I think 21 in the years between meeting the other half and starting at Uni (including a house move – a really major one about err…400 miles south).  That was 2007.

Glass Block went out to a press in 2005.  Press loved it.  Press closed.
Glass Block went to a senior editor at a really big publishing house.  Was accepted.  Imprint curtailed when editor left.  Three year wait.  At the time, I thought I’d find somewhere else (in 2008).  Oooops.
Glass Block got rewritten and went to another house.  House closed.
In that time I ghostwrote other stuff.  I watched those books do stuff.  I worked with people.  I moved into non-fiction.  I went to Uni and did a degree (where, critically, I just solidified how I used voice – I got so much from that course, and I’ll be forever grateful).  Last house that took it, I got a tiny advance, and then three weeks later, the owner was killed in an accident.

So, I went self-publishing.

You’d think the litany…

Would end?  Nope.  So far, the book has been pirated before it was released, and made me rewrite it again, I’ve been in my first ever car accident and damaged my shoulder so badly that I couldn’t write, and most recently, the server we were on was hacked the week I took off to finish up.  Normally, I’d back off after that and leave the book alone, then take another run at it, but Elliot’s been wandering around singing songs, and niggling at 4am, so here I am, at t-6 days, telling people the horror story that is my attempt to publish the book I adore more than anything else in my literary world.
Book outline swelled to 30 then stalled.  And I thought that was it, till a really innocent comment by one of my university tutors…It currently stands at 59, and I suspect most of my sci-fi (the ones planned anyway) have something to do with the computer system I talk about in the books, in which case, it’s more like close to 100 books in one universe.

Whatcha think?  Would you have given in or be even more determined to get the book out?
(wanna know more about the book?  )

New Year…sorta….

Who am I?

Cricket asked this and at first, I thought, ah, well, that’s easy.

I’m tech support.  I’m a writer.  I’m an extremely clever woman.  I’m a graduate of Creative Writing.
I’m a mother.  I’m the woman that’s dating one of the most amazing men in the world, bar none.  I’m close friend to people that I can’t mention by name, because my privacy and theirs is worth more than the street cred it might get me.

But that’s all very ‘external’ and perception based.

So, I tried to go a little deeper.  My name isn’t Kai, but it’s what everyone bar my family and a very few friends call me.  My last name also isn’t Viola – yet.  It’s not that we don’t intend to get married, it’s just that the practicality and expense of it all – it’s not only overwhelming, it’s so huge that I just can’t look at it.  At all.
I’m nearly 33.  Mother to two wonderful children here with me and one that had a name that passed over at ten weeks pregnant. Empty shell right now, because I can’t, for the life of me get and remain pregnant, and I’ll be honest, it’s on my mind a lot.

And that leads to thoughts of failure and loss.  And I’m that too.  I failed to do what was expected of me – many times.  Hindsight being what it is, I know now that some of my difficulties are trying to function as ‘normal’ when I’m anything but.  I’m an extraordinary woman, not least because I have bipolar disorder.  It’s not just a disorder though, it’s shaped my whole perspective, personality and way of life.  I have a fair idea what the day is going to bring when I wake up, but there’s always that rogue chance I’ll be off cycle, and anxiety, which I always pretty much accepted as background noise is something that’s slowly becoming less like a sly whisper in the back of my head and a shout that drowns out everything *out there*.  And I know some of that is to do with my thought pattern.
Ans the language I use, which is something else that I am.  I am a language Geek.  Capital G. I love linguistics and have found my favourite field in linguistics to study, if only I could find the money to do it.
Some of the reason I failed though was fear.  Whether I accept I’m paralysed by it, or have a world to create around it, shielding myself from the things that make me feel that way remains to be seen, but what I do know right now is that I dislike it.  A lot.  I’m afraid of everything.
Afraid people will see through me and realise I’m a fraud.
Afraid that people will find that out, and tell others.
Afraid that what I’m doing is somehow *not enough* and that when it comes down to it, my life will be a series of moments that I missed.

It’s still external and tied to an event though.  And if that’s all I am, a series of events, doesn’t that make me a series of moments, and though I can’t say that the good always outweigh the bad on a year to year basis, there are more neutral to good days in our house.  So, doesn’t that make me mostly neutral good? (Or lawful-neutral for our gaming readers ;))  But that’s not me either.  Because those moments, even if they were instigated, orchestrated and meticulously recorded by only me, are still external.

Who am I?

I’m Kai.  I’m not perfect, and I know that deep inside of me there’s a crack that I skillfully and artfully make people ignore,much like the hole in Amelia Pond’s wall.  I am a geek, and the carrier of worlds that, lets me fair, only currently exist in a very warped mind, bundled up in fair, freckled skin, vibrant red hair, and a body that ends up in corsets a lot less regularly than I’d wish for.  I’m NOT famous, and doing my level best to keep it that way, but I am a writer and artist.  A good one if my degree is to be believed, and those that have pried my stories off of my hard drive can tell.
I leave a legacy in my kids of an amazing pair of children, with strong personalities – a legacy I currently get to enjoy each and every day, so I’m a shaper of the future, no matter how transient that influence, and I’m a good friend, who goes out of her way to do what she can to help, protect and support those she cares about, though, I fail quite often at that too.

I’m learning.  I’m Kai.