mental health · writing

Too Much

I spent last Thurs-Mon in Indianapolis at a Leather convention and it was a desperately needed break from reality and time to focus on my partner and our relationship. It gave me time to think about who I am and where I’m going in Leather. I had the complete and utter privilege to speak to an icon of the Leather Community who spoke straight to my heart in a time I needed it the most.

We’re home and reality is back here in front of me and I desperately want to write but I feel stopped by my own need to write. There is too much built up in me over the last year and a half or more that I don’t even know where to begin at this point. Between the poly, the breakup, the meds quitting on me and feeling my brain go literally insane….where do you begin? There’s so much more in my life than that and I know it. I want to write deeply personal essays to share with you but I am literally terrified of my own words.

I keep excusing it as I don’t want to offend people. I don’t want to write about them without their permission even though many I don’t speak to at this point or I would only mention them in passing with pseudonyms. I don’t want to write about things that are deep in my heart and soul and lose more people in my life. I have felt loss very keenly over the last year and I cannot set myself up for more.

So I’m focusing on many many other things instead. Grinding for an A in a class that I hate. Trying to get my sciatica to cooperate so I can drive more and generate some kind of income for myself. Gearing up for my 10th year of NaNoWriMo (more on that later).

But the writing is curling around me like smoke every time I lie down to sleep. It has to come out at some point and I have to face my fears eventually but in the mean time…

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excerpts · writing

Succulent Stars – excerpt

A snippet of my sci-fi adventure erotica, Succulent Stars. Started as my 2016 NaNoWriMo novel, I didn’t get very far but I’ve been picking at it again when Pack It In gets too frustrating to work on. You can see my inspo tumblr blog for it here.

Every living thing has a heartbeat and the universe dutifully pumped star scattered blood through her veins as if there was nothing more pleasing to it. Ana lay nude in the grass, her eyes closed to the dying evening sun, the scent of crushed lavender scattered around her. The trees pressed closed here, their infinite knowledge deeply rooted in the summer soaked earth, the rains carving small rivers through their roots. Ana had been retreating here for years and years, a small private place for her and her thoughts alone. It was the last refuge left to her and it was here that she remembered her purpose in life.

Survive.

Her fingertips slowly slid over her skin, neither erotic nor exploring, just simple memorization of her own body. The scars that wrapped around her ribs, the failed piercing in one nipple, the successful in the other. The way her spine couldn’t handle being straight anymore, always slightly curved, her hips tilted at a small angle but enough to cause her aches and pains after too many hours standing. The callouses on her own palms that never went away, the divot of her hip bones that dared her to be modified, the prickle of stubble between her thighs she was too lazy to keep up with. What was the point, she thought. If a lover cared that much then she didn’t want to sleep with them anyways. She rolled her ankles, stretched her legs out, pointing her toes. They, too, were covered in scars, white lines interlinked across her tan skin. Stories written in flesh.

Ship life had caused her to lose some of the toning in her body. Flying a craft didn’t take much effort – computers and androids were almost entirely functional without the need for humans – so she didn’t do as much work on her body as she once had. Less risky jobs meant less fighting. She spent more time reading and helping her parents with their research projects these days than she had years ago. Gym time, synthetics, neuronets. They were all on a shelf now and she enjoyed the languid feeling of her body growing soft

“Ana? Are you in here?”

A young girl’s voice drifted through the serenity of the woods and Ana frowned. Someone better be bleeding or on fire if they were bothering her.

“What do you want?”

“You’ve got a com from your mother…”

Ana sighed and ran a hand over her face as she sat up. Her mother was never one to be kept waiting and if Ana didn’t take the com, she’d never hear the end of it.

“Thanks Wren.”

She slowly got up off the forest floor and stretched her limbs. Her body was still from lying down for so long but the meditation was more important than a few aching muscles. She walked over to a tree and pressed her hand against it, the hologram fading almost instantaneously. The tree flickered and disappeared to reveal the smooth silver metal of her captain’s quarters, the computer display glittering underneath her fingertips. Ana grabbed a robe off of her bed, threw it on, and stomped into her private office and pulled the com to life on the compact computer there.

“What’s going on, Mom?” Ana flung herself into the chair and ran a hand through her hair, half-hoping her mother wouldn’t say anything about the mass of curls.

“Is everything ok? You took so long to respond…” her mother frowned a little bit, lips pursed. Ana was never really sure if her mother was concerned about something being wrong or the fact that Ana was now a grownup with a career of her meant that Elise could treat her like she treated everything else in her life: professionally.

“Things are fine,” Ana said, “I was just in the middle of something.”

Elise was shuffling some paperwork and nodded, “Ok, well, your father and I need some help with a project and we were hoping that you could come by the colony in the next few days. It’s not extremely urgent but we’ve finally secured the government funding for it and would love to get going on it as soon as possible.”

Ana frowned a little. Her mother was always asking her for favors like this. None of them paid well and most of them bored her crew.

“What do you need?”

“Samples,” Elise said, looking up from her list. Her soft brown eyes sparkled with excitement and Ana felt a twist in her gut.

“We’ll explain in further detail when you get here but we need some things from Earth.”

Ana’s frown deepened. There were no recorded missions of anyone returning to Earth for several hundred EarthYears at this point. She didn’t know of anyone herself who had ever gone and had never met another species that dared. The planet was ruined, soaked in chaos, blood, and human weapons.

“I don’t know, Mom,” Ana said, sitting up straighter in her chair, “People don’t go to Earth for a reason…”

“I know, Ana, and I wouldn’t be risking anyone’s life if it wasn’t crucially important.”

Ana snorted, “Which is why you’re sending your own daughter?”

“There’s much more to it than that, you know,” Elise snapped. The excitement was gone from her eyes and the smooth cool exterior was back in place once more. The twist in Ana’s gut hadn’t left but she just nodded slowly.

“I’ve got to finish this delivery but I can come by the colony in maybe an EarthWeek, is that ok? Seven days for you?”

The problem with living in space was figuring out how to measure time. Most humans that lived in the same galaxy as Earth just based it around Earth and it’s solar cycles. Others adopted different alien standards and just translated back and forth as best as possible. Ana moved between both, having grown up with Earth standards on Mars but living and interacting with too many other beings to ignore different time systems. Thank heavens for computers.

“It’s a little long for my taste but it’ll do,” Elise nodded, “Thanks Ana.”

The com cut off before Ana could respond and she sighed. She had spent the last few years doing various missions for her parents across the galaxy and it was alright work. They were both scientists on the historical Mars colony, the first of its kind for humans. Both of her parents were agricultural scientists, Elise focused on animal husbandry, Adrian, her father, on plants and the care taking thereof. They often worked on projects together, finding links over and over again between the two in the field. It made Ana wonder just how much knowledge really was lost when Earth was lost to humankind as a whole. Technology in general had survived but so much had to be started over from scratch if only because space colonies and space stations were very different beasts compared to the dirt and water and air of Earth.

Ana had dreamed of going to visit Earth since she was a small child. She left the office behind to get dressed, half-remembering the tacky posters she had hung up in her childhood room, gauzy old pictures of places on Earth. The most fascinating places were those still covered in greenery, age old forests untouched by humans. She used to spend hours in her father’s office flipping through precious books, real paper and cloth books, staring at the illustrations of plants. Mars hadn’t been a bad colony to grow up on, Ana reflected as she hung her robe up and pulled on her preferred jumpsuit, it was just empty.

After she inherited The Star Avenger in her early twenties from an aunt, Ana had fucked off and left Mars as far behind as she could. Both of her siblings had already left home, a brother gone to the military and a sister to diplomatic treaties. Her parents had hoped she’d go into the scientific fields like them but Ana just wanted to see something other than the cold metal of the colony and the endless dusty red wasteland of Mars. She zipped up her jumpsuit and left her room behind. Ultimately, if she was to return to Earth, she’d need to get the crew on board.

mental health

Crunch

If you’re remotely involved in the arts circles on Twitter, you probably (A) saw and read the Polygon article on Crunch or (like me) (B) saw everyone talking about how bad working yourself to sickness is and were confused why this was being discussed but agreed.

Eventually, I did find the Polygon article and read it. And I 100% see why everyone one is denouncing it – as they should! But I also absolutely understand and agree with the writer in a lot of ways.

He describes crunch as the time when a team works ridiculous hours 7 days a week to get. shit. done. For me, crunch is grinding 10-12 hrs a day on writing, house chores, freelancing (attempts), homework, volunteer projects, whatever else I can come up with.

Crunch is an addiction. Working for the sake of working, blocking out the rest of the shit in your life and throwing all of your being into working on something. Even if there is no reward, even if you end up pissed and “why did I do that” in the end, you can’t and don’t worry about that in the middle of it. Crunch is something I have turned to when the world is just too fucking much and I don’t want to deal with anyone.

My writing doesn’t get better. My homework isn’t improved. Nothing is better with Crunch. If anything, things are worse when I come out of this kind of grind and it just makes me want to go back into it.

I wonder how much of this is based around my bipolar depression or if it’s centered on my perfection/control issues and my personal valuation of self-worth = productivity.

I am worth something only if I am productive and accomplished.

It’s a shitty fucking attitude to have and one I’m desperately trying to unlearn. But it’s that exact attitude that had me doing insane amounts of shit for 2 weeks before a con and losing my shit at friends once I got to the con. Friends who helped me go to the con in the first place. And it soured some of the weekend for me and I looked like a jackass.

Look, I get the appeal of crunch, especially as a 20-something living in an era where working insane hours for minimal pay is expected. I’m trying to develop a writing career and have seen more than my fair share of unpaid internships in cities like NYC or Chicago that have a high cost of living. It’s expected. I feel expected by the industry (not people) to be grateful for the opportunity to work at all for a great company for no compensation while having to figure out how to fund my life (rent, food, etc).

There’s more to dig into that later as a mentally ill spoonie who’s dealing with essentially a disability at the moment. Lots of layers of expected input, etc.

My point is this: even as a person with a shitty attitude about my self-worth linked to my production, I can recognize that Crunch and getting wrapped up in Crunch is an addiction. Something to mask my feelings of depression or inadequacy or fear with. Working yourself to sickness (or permanent injury or worse) is just plain not worth it.

It shouldn’t be so damn radical to take care of yourself and then your work.

submissions · writing

Call for Submissions Roundup #1

Hey y’all! I’m challenging myself to submit, publish, and earn money off of my writing this year so I’m compiling a list of places I’d love to see my fiction in.

Let me know if you are submitting somewhere else that would be a good fit for this list or are searching for submissions yourself!

Grindr has started a new magazine called INTO and the editor is looking for LGBTQ stories

Call for Submissions at Nobilis Erotica. $25 for audio rights to SF/F erotic short stories.

Call for submissions: Erotic Teasers anthology for Cleis Press – $100 and 2 copies of the book on publication

Call for Submissions: Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 4 – $200 and 2 copies of book

Call for Submissions: Fire: Demons, Dragons & Djinn – $50 CAD & 1 copy of book

 

Twitter Thread Tuesday

Twitter Thread Tuesday

If you’re like me, Twitter is one of the first things you check when you wake up. And go to lunch. And when you’re bored. And before bed. And any other time you’re in need of something to do.

I follow a ton of interesting people over a few accounts and wanted to round up some of the best threads I’ve followed this week.

A fabulous thread from Justine Larbalestier about Why Are You Writing? and earning money from your writing.

From Eve Ewing on claiming the word “creative” rather than our actual job title (like “writer” or “designer”).

Chelsea Cameron has a damn good point about not worrying about what other people are writing.

Let’s talk about writing Romance from Tess Sharpe. (If you missed it in the last few days, there was a fantasy author that basically claimed writing romance was “easy” so, naturally, plenty of romance authors challenged this.)

Fonda Lee wants you to know that your Goodreads rating is not your writer GPA.

Ashia Monet gives her thoughts on writing POC in YA fantasy.

Remember to support these wonderful writers sharing their thoughts on Twitter! Check to see if they have a Patreon or Ko-fi link and tip them!

 

mental health · writing

Fuck This

You know that concept that if you write every day, you’re a “real” writer? I hate this fucking concept so much and yet it still lingers in the back of my mind.

I’m dealing with a kinda big health problem and looking at probable surgery. I’m in a downswing/depression slump mentally. A bunch of other stress. The last thing I want to do is write.

I don’t want to write for this blog. I don’t want to grind for customers for my editing biz or work on pitches for freelance writing. I don’t want to do anything at all and its the most frustrating feeling in the world. I worked for months to get meds right, to get my health back in line, and it feels like every time something smooths out, something else has to fall apart.

Anyways, I have anthology submission deadlines coming up that I want to meet but am honestly unsure if I’m going to be able to. Writing is far more effort than it should be fore me right now and, to be frank, I don’t miss it.

And that makes all of this worse.

monthly reading

July Reading List

Y’all, I didn’t finish shit in June so I’m (still) reading these books in July! Somehow, we’re a week into the month and I haven’t read anything still.

  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – I blazed through Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses along with the following two books last month and have jumped into her other series right away. Her prose is strong and detailed and I’m already a major fan.
  • The Killer Wore Leather by Laura Antoniou – I have read one or two of Antoniou’s  Marketplace series and had to pick up this murder mystery novel. If you’ve ever been involved in the BDSM community, particularly Leather and Leather contests, this is definitely one to grab.
  • My Life in France by Julia Child – I absolutely love the movie Julie & Julia so when my grandmother gave me a copy of Julia’s book, I was immediately s

What’re y’all reading? Cultivating any of those LGBT+ author lists I’ve seen popping up lately? Recommend one or two of them?