So, I thought for this year’s AtoZ, I’d take it back to basics and talk a little about me, and if I got posts that were the same letter, I’d share them the next day, and maybe even share some of the posts I’m reading throughout the month.
Today, I thought I’d go for a general update. I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to recover from Covid. I say ‘trying’ because it’s been hard work to even get motivated, let alone write and work. But I’ve been thinking, which I tend to do when I’m sick. And enjoying my beautiful four poster bed, which isn’t quite finished yet, but is nevertheless, one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever agonised over buying.
We’ve been thinking really hard, as a family, about the best ways for all of us to enact self-care. My partner and I have hobbies, such as Ludosport (I’ll explain more at L for Ludosport, or at least, more fully, cause I’ve talked about it before!), and gaming that we take part in, and we’re very careful to try and maintain a good work-life balance, but one of the nicest things about our new bed is I’m happy to just… read for a little while. We’ve got this gorgeous net canopy that looks like clouds.
Every night, we curl up and I read for a bit, but I feel cozy and safe in there, even though it’s basically a big box frame around me. I’ll be adding flowers and lights eventually, but for now, I just like waking up underneath clouds. It’s weird, I know. I’m trying to address my work/life balance too, by not answering messages or emails before 9am or after 10pm unless it’s an emergency, and ignoring requests for work that aren’t completed on the correct places. Slowly, but surely, things are getting easier, but, it’s meant a lot of work on boundaries, and even more time dealing with the fallout, but, it’s just one of those things. Beyond that, today is the first day of #Kaiatus, and my darling boi (eldest) is coming to visit. Life is good, I’m alive, and I’m grateful for it all.
Oh, and it’s the first day of Camp Nanowrimo 2022 (April) edition, and I’m doing International Poetry month over at [email protected] :). I’m working on some of my novellas for Shula for Nano. 🙂
(Don’t Google that, if you plan to watch Loki, the TV series, as the titular character sings it).
I’ve been equal parts restless, equal parts full of wanting to get on with changing things, but not having the energy to do any of it. So, as is my usual tactic, I’m actually travelling today. I’m going home. Tomorrow morning, I’ll be heading to my temple, called Goddess Falls. It’s known as another name in Edinburgh, but I’ll be taking my lightsaber with me in the morning.
Travelling, thinking, going home
We’re hoping that we get to go (so, either this’ll be going out as I’m on the road – in fact, I should be just getting to our end destination), and my tradition is to think and write and make notes, and hope that nothing goes wrong while I’m out of touch. Maybe do a bit of crochet, which I’m teaching myself.
Mostly though, today is a holiday. So Joyous Yule, may the wheel bless you as it turns, if you celebrate. And Merry Christmas/Happy holidays too!
Every week, I talk about putting out books, about editing, but I’ve been slow. Really slow, so I’ll keep trying but honestly? Pressure has never been my friend, but I’ve got to start moving on with my books. So, I’ll be thinking about that too while travelling. We’ve got little TV trays for our knees, so I’ll be travelling with one of them, my diaries, and my surface. Just in case.
Going home though… it is in my bones. I’m a Gaelic gal to the core, to the point that I feel home in my very soul. I bring a little bit of it back every year for my shrine. Today also marks the 25th year of being a standing High Priestess. Solitary, but still… it means this year I think I’ll be talking about my beliefs, my dreams, and what I’m doing it with my books to honour that stuff. But…regardless. I hope your Christmas period is good. I hope you see those you love. I hope you get to spend time with your family. I’ll be taking time out with mine.
I’m not sure if people have much of an idea of my history with Nanowrimo, but I’ve been writing every November since 2003. Every November, I write 50,000 or more words. The only time, to date, that this wasn’t the case was 2004.
It started in 2002 actually…
In 2002, while I was writing after breaking off ties with someone I’d been working with, and working on some pretty difficult stuff, someone told me about Nanowrimo. At the time, my ex and I were still together, and though everyone thought we were ok – I mean, my daughter was a year old, we had a three year old son. But he was pretty convinced that I shouldn’t be allowed to write, that if I was going to manage it, I’d have written that bestseller. Already. He wasn’t a bad man – we have two amazing children, but neither he nor I were not good for one another. Between 2002 and 2003, we seperated.
Fast forward to 2003
Single, unhappy and lonely, I decided that I would take my mum up on her offer, and I vollunteered to run as an ML…for the whole of Scotland as it happened then. We all met in a very loud pub, I made lots of friends, and discovered a gaming club called GEAS. 2003’s Nano was also Glass Block. And Elliot Peters firmly entrenched himself in my life. Elliot is Glass Block. Eventually, when the library of posts comes back online, that’ll make more sense, but he’s one of my backlist books. Tomorrow, he goes to an editor for update before we re-release him, thanks to my beloved’s help. In 2003 though, I hadn’t even met him. Instead, I had Elliot, waking me up at 4am and telling me stories. Y’see, Elliot thinks of me as a confessor of sorts. And Internal Affairs as he’s a cop. As I live with psychosis of several kinds, this is completely normal to me, but I know some people find it uncomfortable that my characters are *really* real. Others aren’t. It’s ok. I was seven months from my other ‘leading man’, Farran. Five or so from Tempus. And I quite honestly had a ball during Nano. Honorable mentions at this point to John, James, Gregor, and everyone else I met during those months of writing. You all made my Nanowrimo so much fun, and in fact, that was true for the whole time I helped out and ran Scotland as the ML.
I did promise you a love story, didn’t I?
Well, the truth of the matter is, and it’s a story I’ve told several times, without Nano, I wouldn’t have gone to GEAS, and in all likleyhood, Tempus and I wouldn’t have met. I can’t actually say that for sure, because I might have taken it into my head to look into D&D again, but… I’d given in on that having my kids. Tempus and I have been together 17 and a half years. We origonally just decided we wanted to hang out and have a bit of fun, but…a year in, when it came down to actually thinking about the future, neither of us could actually picture a time without one another. By 2006, we’d moved to where we are based now for his work, as he’d graduated in 2005. 2007-2011, Uni for me. It’s not all happily ever after. My mental health is a challenge we meet with varying success, but he and I share many interests (newest one, solving our arguments with lightsabers, aka we’re both going to train and learn Ludosport.). It’s no secret we’re both gamers, and we’re both super geeky, but we do have enough divergent interests that we can be together or apart. But, I truly believe I was lucky, and that Nanowrimo plays a huge part in that for me.
Our love story isn’t over. I don’t believe it ever will be while either of us are here, but it’d be nice to think that we’ll have a child together and live long, happy lives together. I really do love him, and without Nanowrimo, who knows if I’d have had this chance.
You’ll note, I don’t refer to him other than ‘Tempus’. It’s because he’s not keen on talking about himself online. There are a very few pictures of us together, and I’ve added on to the bottom of this post, but I do know one thing. My life is a very good one, and I love that it’s with him.
This is me and him, 2018, in the Dominican Republic. The full length shot of me with a boogie board was taken about an hour before, for those that know it.
He’s my bad idea bear, my beloved, my companion, my gaming and sparring partner. We talk books, games, movies. We tell each other jokes and pass on research from cyber security and infosec, and have a date night every Saturday. We go exploring good places to eat, we giggle at one another playing Fallout 76. We have our friends over for Gloomhaven. We’ve raised two wonderful young adults together since the 20 year old (@artenapan) was about 2 1/2, and her older brother too (he’s just as private as Tempus in many ways, so you’ll see him referred to as ‘Wonderboy’, or Titanboi. He’s in his 20’s too, and a wonderful man, and all of us are gamers of one sort or another. But Tempus… He’s the best person in the world, and I’m so blessed.
And, one final, bonus fact. He’s the reason I have most of my pen name. He encouraged me to stay as Kai when I explained why I’d changed my name, and I did. In late 2004, after we’d been together for a few months, I asked him if I could use his last name so that when we get married, I didn’t need to rebrand. He didn’t even blink. Like I said, he’s an awesome guy. And that’s my Nanowrimo Love Story 🙂
Well, I’ve kinda posted about it over on BooksbyKai, but, as most people that read this blog know me pretty well (I think), I’m pretty sure everyone knows that this month (mid-May to sometime in June) is referred to as #Kaiatus. Bad pun, I know, but I’m the person that runs Kailarks, so I’m sorry, but only a little.
Anyway, #Kaiatus. I take time off over May, in part because May is a pretty busy month. We start with our anniversary (well, the 29th April really, and that’s our handfasting), then we’re usually prepping to go to Games Day (The UK Games Expo really), and celebrate my daughter’s birthday, plus May tends to be when I do my spring cleaning. Don’t know why, I just do.
This year, I stayed around until a few days ago, because…well, we celebrated our handfasting, and then I had another professional milestone. 10 years ago, I self-pubished a few short stories on what we now consider to be mainstream platforms (my first self-pubbed book goes back to around 03/04, where I sold PDFs of my poetry from my blog/bi-polarbears. Yes, this blog. THIS blog is 17 in July. Bi-polarbears was 18 in March. It gets better…the Livejournal and disorganised site I kept that was basically this blog beforehand, dates back officially to 02, and earlier if you count the baby HTML sites I buit. Ahem.)
Anyway, alongside that anniversary, my publishversary, I mean, one of the major projects I helped to found, and still work as an admin and the webmistress/managing editor for is also 10. I don’t think one would have happened without the other. That group is the Indie Author Group. 🙂
Well, now, I’m travelling home for a week. This will be the first time I’ve travelled, really, since last September/October, but, more importantly than that, it’s the first time I’ll have seen our family since Christmas 2019. We never got to travel when lockdown was loosened, Christmas 2020 was just a clusterf*ck for so many reasons (I had shingles, the youngest needed to self-isolate for CV19 contact, and to protect as many people as possible, the rules kept changing to the point we just couldn’t go home. Which I bitterly regret, as we lost my gran in February.)
So, that’s part of why we’re going home. Another part is none of us have done anything remotely ‘holiday’ since….well, before Christmas 2019. Christmas 2019, I was kinda distracted with my son’s health and getting him to a place where we could support him. Tempus and I did go on a small trip late 2020, but it was his work and I was too sick to be left alone. Go me?
Home, for those that haven’t been around for long, is Edinburgh. Shockingly, the gaelic speaking girlie comes from Scotland (anyone that’s seen my videoes will not be surprised. I have a recognisaibly Scottish accent). So that’s where we’re going. If I’m lucky, I might get to go get some reference photos for a book I want to write, but, if I don’t, the place I want photos of is easy to get to when were in Edinburgh, so it’ll keep.
Mostly, I’ll be spending time with family, and, as I do when we travel (it’s a six+ hour drive), I’ll think, and do some planning. I’ve got a ‘Legendary’ Planner, which I’m going to be trying out. And I’ll be doing some decluttering and house re-org, planning books, and getting ready to do some study for Uni. AND reading some books that I’ve been putting off for a while.
In short, I’ll be ‘off’. Buuuut…blogging more 🙂
First though, home. I’ll be sharing in real time on my Instagram, and I’ll do roundups as I can. Be good without me 😉
The featured image? Well, one is me working while I go, the other? That would be a view of Edinburgh, with an inconvenient lamppost.
(again, as this is backdated, I’m writing this with the benefit of hindsight).
I did actually have this rather neat post about ‘a day in the life’, but, the last few days led to a bit of an epiphany.
You know there’s an Instagram bubble? I think when we write ‘days in the life’ that we sometimes make ‘blog bubbles’. So, instead of talking about what my ideal day should look like, and what it does when I’ve planned it out, I’m going to write about what my day actually is. And for the first time, I’m even going to include some of the mental health stuff I deal with – so this post could be mildly triggering. I’ll be possibly alluding to self-harm, definitely talking about psychosis and depression and anxiety and insomnia. And I have a favor to ask at the end of this post.
A day in the disordered
I fell asleep at 11:30pm – a year of training and working with an app called Headspace and other meditation apps (honourable mentions to Digipill and Let’s Mediate (I have them on Android, they may exist on iOs), alongside my partner, which is now 80% of how my sleep works out.
Unfortunately, about 1:30am, I wake up again. I wake up to a voice, that I always hear. She’s my constant companion, and she’s very hurtful. If I’m lucky, I take a sip of water, I go to sleep again, and I might get to stay there for a bit. Most nights lately though, I’ve been waking up and finally falling asleep again at 5am. The advice is, of course, if you’re not able to sleep in bed, to get up. But if I do that and she starts causing trouble for me. At her worst, she can trap me in the smallest rooms in the house. She’s the reason that I can’t get out of the house alone. She’s the thing I’m fighting back with my favor, but we’ll get there.
If I don’t get to sleep until 5 or 6am, I’ll either stay asleep till 8am, or 11am, or sometimes, I’m asleep till 2pm. And because of that, my day is always harder to plan for. How do I plan to be up at 9am, and exercised and ready to work, if I’m not getting to sleep until 6am? The answer is I don’t. Insomnia is a difficult and hard to live with disorder – couple it with anxiety and psychosis, and though meditation helps, I’m frequently operating in arrears of sleep.
And that’s why I can’t talk about a day in my life. I have half an hour when I wake up that’s a set routine (get up, unplug and box tech coming downstairs with me, plug in anything, such as my Bluetooth headphones or spare batteries that need charged, wash face, rarely moisturise (I’ll be talking about that in S for skin routine, cause apparently, I’m annoying as all hell about that), meditate for ten minutes after making the bed, then come down. At night, I either go up before Tempus and grab a bath, then make my juice/waterbottle for my bedside, plug everything in, brush my teeth, get my Bluetooth headphones connected so that I can meditate, set up the book we’re listening to on Audible. Depending on how I feel then, I either read for 20 minutes, then meditate, or lately, I’ve just meditated, and used a sleepscape to go to sleep to. And then wake up again at 1:30am.
I can’t talk about this really here, but there is going to be an I for Insomnia over on bi-polarbears (the link won’t work until the post goes live 🙂 )
And that brings me to a favor…
As many of you may or may not know, I’m an author. My major project this year is to talk about the fact that I live with a pretty severe (though not the worst, by a long shot) psychosis. I think I’m probably at the end of the ‘living in the community level of it,’ though, she’s quite hard to deal with. As an author too, it becomes difficult. I ‘hear’ my characters, and I don’t like that I hear and see things as well as part of my mental health.
On my birthday, I’ll be releasing a collection of mental health books. I’m not putting up the pre-orders yet, but I am asking people to subscribe to my newsletter, so I can start talking about the run-up to releasing them. There may be a Patreon, there may not.
What I want to do though, is to remove some stigma surrounding both hearing voices and other psychosis, but I also want to acknowledge that authors do hear voices, and that *is not* as far as I’m concerned, is a psychosis. But I guess that’s between you and your healthcare team.
What I do know is that she’s stolen five years of my life. I’ll never get them back, and while I’ve done some things in there, I’ve not gotten everything that I wanted to do, done. There are other things, of course, that got in the way, it’s not just been mental health, but if I can remove from the whole concept of ‘we don’t talk about this, we’ll get into trouble’, then I will. And I hope you’ll help me.
I’ll be talking about about this at P for Psychosis, because it’s important to me. Here, and at Bi-polarbears. I’ve avoided telling people I have issues such as psychosis for so many years, that it’s a bit uncomfortable for me, but I also know I’m in a good community, that accepts me for who I am, and knows me as I am, psychosis or otherwise. I hope to help others like me – because I think in the coming years, as we come out of lockdowns and the shadows of what we did to deal with the pandemic, that mental health is going to be a major issue – more major than even now, and I want to help people that need help. So I am.
The thing about trying to have a ‘can do’ attitude, in the context that I use it, is that it’s almost always about protecting myself. And it’s all about protecting, I guess, the spoons that I have. (In case you’re not sure what the spoon theory is, here’s the woman that wrote the base idea, and I am republishing my spoonie’s guide soon). ANd not always having the energy to do something is not the same as ‘there is no try’, and I think that’s the mistake many people make about what I mean. If I can’t do something, I’ll wait. Unless I have no choice.
One of the things I started noticing about a year and a half ago, when I started having a few of the things explained to me that made no sense in my life while asking questions and hitting issues with my therapy, that I’m very much of the mindset that (probably unfairly) that if I say no, that my friends won’t like me. I’m very much a people pleaser, to the point that I often do things I shouldn’t. And it’s gotten me into a really difficult pattern to break.
So, my ‘do or do not’ is a complete sentence now. I will do, or I won’t. There’s no emotion attached to it if I can’t do the things I’ve had asked of me. I might feel guilty about saying no, but I can’t always do everything I want to (and as I’m actually writing this on my E day, I’ve already talked about planning fails, I know this). And if they don’t like it, I guess that means my friends aren’t actually my friends. And that might make me sad, but I’ve got to accept that. Luckily, it means that I’ll be ok.