Feeling 56 times better

Feeling a bit better than I did yesterday. Whatever the result of the General Election, I just have to suck it up and get on with things. They say “Denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance,” but my process since Thursday evening has been mostly “Nausea, nausea, nausea, anger.” Anyone else? ;)

I’ve made a new Twitter list called The Westminster 56. You can subscribe to the list here. (I think; I’ve only just got lists figured out and I’m not sure if this is the correct link for subscribing. Hope so!)

I have Monday chores to do, which I’m going to get on with now. And, believe it or not, I’m actually beginning to recover my urge to write! I can’t let the disappointment of last Thursday/Friday linger for too much longer. After all, until we get full fiscal autonomy in Scotland (preferably independence), a financial cushion in my bank account is all that stands between me and all that Westmonster austerity wank.

So, on with the filth!

Election hangover

I haven’t blogged for a few days, but this time with good reason rather than laziness, tiredness or illness. (These last two being perfectly acceptable as long as you don’t abuse them of course.)

The General Election result.

I stayed up late on Thursday night for the exit poll. Okay, so as Big Ben struck ten wasn’t exactly late, but I had to be up for work the next day. The prediction of the Conservatives being the largest party sent me to bed feeling concerned.

Then I got up on Friday morning and saw the UK was on course not just for the Conservatives to be the largest party, but for them to have an outright majority. Unthinkable. No further coalition to rein them in. How could this have happened? Don’t people care about the Tories punishing the poor for the sin and corruption of the rich? Obviously not.

But Scarlett; you’re okay. You live in Scotland. There was a yellowwash up there.

True, I live in Scotland. But will us Scots be okay? For as long as we’re under the Westmonster system, we’ll be vulnerable. I think perhaps we’re ever so slightly safer than the rest of the UK from Tory poison, but that’s not something to take for granted.

If you lot had only voted Labour, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Thanks to Scotland, we’ve been landed with a Tory government. Again.

First of all, Scotland has been landed with governments it didn’t want or vote for, for decades, so…oh well. Now you know how it feels.

Secondly, Labour won 232 seats. The SNP has 56.

232 + 56 = 288.

On my planet, 288 is 43 fewer than the Conservatives’ 331. Even if the SNP didn’t exist, we’d still have a Conservative government with an outright majority. Blame the Labour party for its own failings, not Scots who are using their own voice.

That’s how democracy works.

This system is fucked up. We need Proportional Representation.

Yes, we do. We also need independence for Scotland. Last year David Cameron said “Don’t leave us, Scotland. We can’t live without you.” Now a lot of people seem to be saying, “Shut up Scotland.” It seems democracy only works when we do as we’re told. Well, no. Not in my book.

Proportional representation? But have you any idea how many MPs that would give UKIP, who polled nearly 4 million votes?

Yes. 83. I’m also aware that SNP representation would be halved under a PR system. But I believe you can’t support PR for as long as it suits you.

(Actually it does up here because there would still be zero UKIP MPs in Scotland, so…)

Under FPTP we all get the government middle England votes for. Under PR we get the government we deserve.

So what now?

£12bn benefits cuts, which will shave Child Benefit, Housing Benefit for under-21s (possibly under-25s too), Working Tax Credits, Jobseekers’ Allowance and DLA/PIP down to the bone, mark my words. And that’s just for starters.

Privatisation of the NHS and further news blackouts to follow. (Just look at the #ToriesOutNow hashtag on Twitter if you don’t believe me, for information on the Downing Street protests which occurred over the weekend.)

I think you’re just a panic merchant.

And I think the Tories just look out for their own, whether that refers to rich pals, paedophiles at Westminster or bankers. Amongst others. Just look at the last five years. It wasn’t the unemployed who caused the financial crisis. Nor the disabled, young single mums, the low-paid…and yet it’s all of the above who are paying for it.

And one more thing: such folks have died because of austerity. People have committed suicide because their safety nets have been snatched out from under them. Don’t care? Think it’s their own fault for taking their own lives?

Then you probably voted Tory, and you can get the fuck away from my blog.

What are you going to do now?

Donate to a food bank, financially and practically. Show kindness to those who most need it, because the government will come for them soon, and they’ll need looking after…because the Welfare State sure won’t. It’s being slowly dismantled by degrees and the UK electorate allowed this to happen.

And write like my face is on fire, because I can no longer rely on the Welfare State being there should I ever need it.

And when did ‘social security’ become ‘welfare’ in this country anyway?

Just another way of demonising the poor.

Aside from that?

Colouring in. Watching cartoons. Reading. Spending any social time with positive people. With the country in such a state and bound to get worse over the coming five years unless a miracle happens, we need all the ‘pocket positives’ we can find. If it makes you smile, go ahead and do it.

Before the Tories put a tax on happiness.

Listy McListington

Star Wars Day again, Bank Holiday Monday, final day of the snooker final.

Not doing too well on this daily blogging, am I? I started on the 17th April, so this should be my 18th post; it’s my 14th. Well, that’s not too bad. Only got four blog posts to make up, so here’s hoping something fascinating happens in my writing life!

After my last blog post, I received a really interesting, applicable, helpful and caring email from an online buddy, which basically listed things I can try to boost my productivity and the ‘return on investment’, so to speak. So that was hugely uplifting. I’ll try various things and report back once results start showing – and I hope they do!

I do love lists, after all. It’s a carry-over from the days when my OCD was really bad. And yes, I was diagnosed. I’m not claiming to enjoy organising things then saying “I’m so OCD!” I had CBT for it years back. No, not cock and ball torture. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It didn’t cure me; I don’t think anything would ever do that. It’s mainly about coping mechanisms. And lists are a way of acknowledging my control freakery and desire to keep everything ordered, while not falling into the trap of rituals and tics all over again. In theory. ;)

Now to make a list of Monday chores so I can have the pleasure of ticking them off one by one. Item 1: finish off that packet of bacon-flavoured crackers in the kitchen.

Analysis paralysis

This is going to be one of those blog posts that I’ll post and immediately regret because WHOA HONESTY, but it’s consistently come up in private conversations with other writers. I’m not prepared to discuss anyone’s feelings on the matter except my own because confidentiality.

Analysis paralysis is defined here on Wikipedia. The part that interests me most states:

A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises. A person might be seeking the optimal or “perfect” solution upfront, and fear making any decision which could lead to erroneous results, when on the way to a better solution.

It’s no secret that for a while, I’ve been, shall we say…not very productive. Reading The War of Art, which I blogged about here, helped me identify certain problems I have with regard to self-sabotage. And it seems I’m not alone in this. Well, I can’t be, otherwise Pressfield wouldn’t have needed to write the book!

I’ve decided to write about the nature of my own own ‘analysis paralysis’ in the hopes that other people will recognise it. Whether this is a good idea or not, I don’t know. But, as I’ve recently said elsewhere online (again, only talking about my own feelings; no-one else’s), this ‘rut’ I’m in is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. And it boils down to income.

Income for a writer goes up and down. Sometimes mine is such that I’m able to pay a few bills. My income from KDP this month (well, at the end of last month, as it’s May now) was enough to cover my council tax. I won’t mention exact amounts, but I live in a two-bed council flat, so you’ll know my tax band isn’t exactly mansion-level.

Ideally, I’d be entirely self-supporting from writing alone, because then I could give up the EDJ and never have to leave the house. Internet shopping, living in my pyjamas, a sign up on the door saying NO VISITORS, Bob’s your uncle, job done, sweet as a nut, why am I turning this paragraph into a bad Eastenders audition?

Whenever my income for a given month is particularly, erm…low…I wonder if it’s worth writing. And my lack of productivity becomes circular. Lack of money means lack of motivation means lack of writing means lack of…and so on.

It should be noted at this stage that I am not, in any way, looking for sympathy regarding the above. This is one of the reasons I was nervy about publishing this blog post at first, in case that was the impression I gave. Please believe me when I say any mention of £££ is only because that is a huge part of motivation for me, personally, and how I measure success/productivity. Okay, good. Now we’ve got that out of the way…

Discouragement and anxiety issues set in a long time ago, which is what started off this cycle of…analysis paralysis. Putting off doing the very thing that could solve my problems (writing) in case I’m not as successful as I need to be, to be self-supporting.

The solution is obvious: write more. However, that self-same solution is covered in a thick layer of “What if?” Shutting the fuck up, sitting the fuck down and writing the fucking book is the only way – the only way – I will find out if it’s worth it. I have occasions of super-confidence, bursts of “Yay me! I can do this!” But those occasions are sadly short-lived. Perhaps I’m expecting immediate results. Perhaps I’m expecting perfection. Fear of failure? Who knows? And again, “What if?” is the constant drumbeat in the back of my mind.

Sometimes I feel like if I can only find out exactly what I’m scared of, why I’m self-sabotaging, I could break through this wall of doubt. It’s not wrong to expect a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, let’s be honest.  I just have to decide what level of payback is, well, fair, when it comes to my writing. Then again, I have to admit that if I’m not putting the time in, I’ve got no right to expect any results, really, have I? Again, that self-fulfilling prophecy. Constantly wondering if I’m wasting my time means I’m doing nothing but wasting my time. It doesn’t matter whether I’m scared of success, scared of failure, aiming for impossible perfection…whatever the reasons behind my inertia, the result is the same – time passes without any further books being published. Or even finished.

Certain real-life matters, not least coping with a great deal of physical pain are legitimate reasons for distraction. But distraction, if allowed to continue, becomes a rut. And to be brutally honest with you, a rut is damn close to being a grave for one’s career. And every time we say “I’ll write later,” we dig it a little deeper.

I know something you don’t know!

Neener, neener!

Okay, so today I received cover art from GoOnWrite for a book I haven’t mentioned on my blog, or Twitter, before. One might even say I haven’t written it yet. But when I saw the cover art available on the site, I had to snap it up. And I reasoned it would be good motivation to get the supersekrit book (hope to keep it down to novella length) written.

After Family Jewels, of course. Which will be finished after Deep Screw.

So, I’m piling on the workload and calling it motivation. It’s Friday afternoon, and I have the whole weekend ahead of me, free for writing.

No excuses!

Yes, I know. I know.

I’ve missed a few days of blogging. At first, it was due to major tiredness. Then it was due to yet another migraine.

Over the weekend (and for me the weekend starts on Friday afternoon, just because) I’ll blog more often, maybe even trying to catch up with my number of missed posts.

For now, just a quick note that I have fresh cover art in the works, and am a ball-hair away from finishing Deep Screw.

Nighty night! *takes more painkillers* (Prescription only, of course, and according to the correct dose.)

Upcoming wordplans

“Ah, ye big bollocks.”

That’s what I said when I realised I hadn’t blogged today, yet. And I’m not even Irish!

Okay, so. A quickie, anyone?

Plans for the week ahead: finish Deep Screw and release it by Sunday 3rd May. Immediately that’s done, get working on the final 12k (I hope my MS Excel spreadsheet’s prediction is correct!) of Family Jewels, to be released within…say, a fortnight? Can I do it? Hmm, only one way to find out.

I know my blog posts are a bit vanilla lately, but I’m just doing them to get into the habit of writing to a schedule/deadline again.

To come: cover art reveals, blurbs, excerpts and coming soon. And whichever 1980s rock/pop star I’m obsessing over lately. Book recommendations. Funny things I observe when I dare to go outside. Ruminations on Dairylea triangles. My thoughts on Double Stuff Oreos.

First priority: sleep. I’m going to put in a full day at this working gig tomorrow. I was going to earlier this week, but the M-word struck. No more tempting fate. Monday, the other dread M-word, the one that doesn’t rhyme with schmybrain, will be all about the mansmut.

Pip pip!

Turning over a new leaf. Again. And again…and again…

That’s another bag full of books off to a charity shop this lunchtime. I swear if I turn my back on my bookshelves, they breed and before I know it, there are another 50 paperbacks to be organised and arranged.

This downsizing is no joke.

Donating furniture, giving away clothes and soft furnishings, letting friends choose from my DVD collection (yes, I do have some, despite Thursday’s blog post about introversion and the desire for solitude!), no bother. But books? It’s like cutting off a hydra’s head. I give away one bag, two more appear in its place.

Hmm. I wonder if it’s got something to do with my bad case of literary constipation? i.e. I can’t pass a bookshop.

Wakka wakka wakka! Come on, that was funny.

Some thoughts on getting started

It’s about time I made one of these month-o’-blogging post about writing, innit?

I have the next two days — possibly three — free. All to myself. Nothing to do.

So guess what I’ll end up doing? Usually I’d say “Precisely nothing!” but I hope that’s not the case this weekend.

Have you ever heard the saying “If you want something done, ask a busy man?” I find that the more I do, the more I have time to do. The more ticks I make on my chores list. The more words I write. Productivity breeds productivity.

It’s all about momentum. Once I get started and push through the first, awkward, thousand, it becomes easier. The more I write, the more I write. The trick is to get started.

If I had just under 25k words in the bank, I could finish two books this weekend. But that’s not realistic, so I’m aiming to make noticeable headway. Finishing one book, for which I need around 10k? Doable. Maybe. In a weekend and a little extra.

I know myself, though. And time in which I have no obligations often means I do no work.

How do you motivate yourselves to just get started, then keep that momentum?

Not a people person

I have definitely come to the conclusion that I am not a people person. Actually that’s misleading; gives the impression it’s something I’ve only just discovered about myself.

It’s ironic, being a writer who doesn’t like people. Or rather, being with people in groups larger than three or four. Anything more than that tends to be “Ooh look at me, socialising. I have lots of friends!” Appearances rather than substance. There’s no intimacy there. No getting-to-know-someone properly. You’re just sharing the same space, rather than sharing anything of yourself.

And that way, people can tick the boxes. “Right, I’ve invited so-and-so; that way she can never say she doesn’t get invited anywhere. And if I make it a big social occasion, I can tick multiple boxes at once. Get a bunch of people off my list of obligations.”

To know you are an obligation rather than desired company, well…

I honestly can’t think of anything I’d rather do with my time less than waste hours with a bunch of people with whom I have little in common, who treat social invitations as a duty discharged until the next rotation of the merry-go-round.

Can I rightfully say I never get invited anywhere? No. I do. They’re just never invitations that don’t fill me with horror. Parties, dinner parties, evenings out, going clubbing, weekend shopping trips, my god, I’d rather play hide the sausage with Pennywise. I’ve even turned down a weekend in Barcelona because fucking hell, if I’m going to get wasted I’d rather be able to get a taxi home to treat my hangover, not an aeroplane.

Art galleries, museums, book shops, country walks, loafing around reading? Now you’re talking.

And all of the above makes me seem ungrateful, or bad-tempered. Possibly both.

And it’s not that. When presented with an invite that fills me with horror, I just want to get out of the situation. And the person thinks I’m anti-social. Maybe I am. Maybe it’s sociophobia. A dislike of socialising? A fear of it? I need to get out of there fast, away from the dangerous situation. I can’t wriggle out of such invites fast enough.

Large gatherings tend to be superficial. “Hello, how are you?” Instantly forgettable. People you’ll never see again, or at least you’re not bothered if you never did.

The more people I’m with, the more energy I feel being sucked out of me. Then I become resentful, and that’s what makes me appear moody. It comes from a need to recharge my batteries, to be left alone.

Here’s a blog post from July 2013, entitled Not shy, just introverted, in which I recommend the book Quiet by Susan Cain, and link to a few articles on introversion.

Good Lord, I know this will sound like the world’s whingiest whinge, but when someone invites me to a ‘thing’ and the thought of accepting makes me wish I had a fucking migraine as an easy excuse for not attending, I wonder, “Do you really know me at all? Why are you inviting me to this people-filled slaughterhouse of social niceties?”

It’s like inviting someone to take a meal of something to which you know they’re allergic, while reasoning, “Oh, they’ll be okay. If they just force themselves to eat it, eventually they’ll feel better.”

No. No they won’t. And no I won’t. If I force myself to attend a social event where I’m expected to be ‘on’ and sparkly and conversational, I won’t eventually get used to it. I’ll end up enucleating myself with a dessert spoon and running through a plate glass window just to distract myself from the mind-numbing tedium of…of…making friends.

Nope. I’d much rather be in very small groups, with other like-minded people who have similar interests. You know, books. Writing. The world’s most prolific serial killers. Not eating establishments and licensed premises where people go solely to lose their inhibitions and very possibly their clothes.

I prefer to write about people, because that way, I’m in control. And if I get tired, it’s much easier to shut down the Chromebook than it is to explain to people why I’m going all taxi home, early bath.

Again. ;)