January 2023 Reflections

January wasn’t a bad month, I wrote 5448 words, and edited 51758 words.

I realised I needed a lot more background work on War Child before I can move forward with it. So I decided to go back to Black Blood while I start building what I need to progress on War Child. Because I’ve had a somewhat busy and interesting month I’ve not done as much on War Child, or writing work in general, as I’d have liked. But it’s not been disappointing though, it’s given me time to let War Child simmer nicely, let ideas grow naturally. I think that element has been very helpful in that I haven’t just rushed through it and made a pigs ear out of it all.

The edit on Black Blood is not overly taxing. For the most part it is just going through and taking out any little spelling and grammar errors. This will be my final pass on Black Blood before it’s shelved until I have the money to get it edited. It’s behind Penal Earth in that queue.

Not quite what I was hoping for, but still enjoyed it.

On a personal note, I had some good news which came near the end of the month. I broke out of my fear-built cocoon and got away for a couple of days, I’ll have a post about that soon. I feel like I’ve had some good mental and emotional growth, and have made some interesting self-realised revelations about myself. Which, honestly, I’m still working on figuring out.

Selfie while in Brighton

But I tell you what, it feels good.

2023 Goals

So, here we are, 2023. I feel like the last few times I’ve tried getting goals scribbled down I end up loosing track of where I am on them. This time I’m hoping to be able to stick to them much better. I feel more focused, more capable at the moment and like I can actually follow through with these plans.

1 – Publish my zombie novella

2 – Publish one vampire era story to my ko-fi a month (this covers me till august)

3 – Continue writing War Child (2022’s NaNoWriMo project)

4 – Find publishers to submit Penal Earth to

5 – Complete Black Blood (just need to do the final edit)

6 – Continue planning for Penal Earth 2

7 – Spend no less than half an hour a day, for at least twenty-five days of the month working on writing projects

8 – Blog on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays

9 – Continue serial killer story

10 – Find anthologies to submit to

This feels like a big list, like there’s a lot I’ve lined up for myself. I do feel like I can do it though, I don’t feel like I’m fooling myself with what I want to achieve in this calendar year. A lot does rest on me continuing working on my life in general. I’m going to try and map out some personal growth goals as well, but I’m not sure where I want to start with that one.

Good Evening, 27th December 2022

Howdy, folks! How are we all doing? Are people having a good festive period? Mine has been pretty darn good, but it’s back to work tomorrow. Which I am looking forward to, I enjoy my day job a lot and I like the routine (if shift-work has such a thing), and as most of my shifts are early’s I tend to have the rest of the day to get stuck into what I need to.

In the week before Christmas I had very little time to focus on writing, but I did manage to squeeze writing time in. This years NaNo project is still in process and I didn’t want to go too many days without working on it. I’ve had seven days this month where I haven’t done any writing at all, and likely a few days where I haven’t worked on NaNo ’22, but I’ve not let too many days in a row where I’ve not worked on it. Something I’ve talked about a lot on here is momentum, and I think it’s something that’s very important. I’ve lost momentum before and it’s very hard to get it back. I’m worried it’s going to happen again, so I’m hoping I’ve done enough so far with this story to stop me from hitting a roadblock that stops me dead like has happened in the past.

I don’t want this year to end with a bang, and I definitely don’t want it to end with a whimper. I want it to end with a nice steady pace, similar to where I am at the moment which rolls right into 2023 and continues.

I haven’t spoken much about my mental health publicly of late, that’s simply because I’m feeling better than I have done in a long time. Okay, then I’ve ever felt. Yes, there’s a long way to go. There are still things which really eat away at me, and as I kinda tick one thing off another three crop up. But I’m working on it all. I have less bad days now then I used to and the good ones are more frequent. I don’t believe it’s one or the other. I think some days are a mix of both, while others are neither. Those are the days I have most of, but even those days tend to be more towards the positive side of life.

The biggest lesson I feel I’ve learnt of late is to get a decent amount of sleep. Life is a lot more settled when I’m more rested.

We all have that one co-worker that don’t do much 😉🤣

20th October 2022

Good evening, folks. How are we all doing?

I’ve had two productive days, well the whole week has been productive to be honest. Although today got off to a later start as I had shopping and some errands to run.

I am making progress with my goals for this month. I’ve typed up the short story I recently wrote and will be looking to do the next edit pass before the end of the month.

The read through of the vampire book is moving nicely. I’m finding more little errors and continuity issues than I was expecting, but nothing major.

I’ve also started digging into the planning for Penal Earth book 2. I’m hoping to have this as a major project for 2023. I’ve got a number of stories that are either ready to go (zombie and Penal Earth) or very ready to go (vampire and Black Blood), and I really want to push to get those published or submitted one way or another in the next two years.

I still need to be writing though. Yes, I’ve got those four pieces to get out into the world, but I also want to get ready for what’s going to be published after those.

This surge of productivity, I’ve had it before and it drifts away. I’m tired of letting it wonder off when it sees fit. I’m working on figuring out what causes me to loose this drive I’ve currently got. I know it’s anxiety, self-esteem. Confidence. I’m better prepared for working it all out than I’ve ever been. It’s still not always easy, and it’s something that’ll take time. But I’m getting there.

Rock on, Folks!

Good Evening, 8th June 2022

Good evening, folks. How are we all?

I have had a productive morning. I did a wee bit of tidying and rearranging before getting stuck into writing today. I managed 1023 words on typing up a short story that I wrote a few months ago. This afternoon I had a nap. I’ve got an early tomorrow and I never sleep well when I’ve got an early, so I’ve found that nap during the afternoon to be essential.

I posted a new flash fiction piece to my Ko-Fi tonight, please support and check it out if you’d like to.

There’s been a lot changing in my life recently, one of which is that my mental health medication was increased. I’ve been on medication for anxiety and depression for a couple of years now and with this adjustment it feels like the dosage is right.

That’s not the only element that has helped, I’ve been working on listening to my body. Whether it’s about how I feel after eating certain foods, or how something makes me feel. What the increased dosage of my medication has done is shut down the anxiety better than anything I’ve ever tried before. I was working out in our garden a few weeks ago, taking down an old shed that has long been past its use. We’re hoping to repurpose some of the sides of it, but it needed to come down. Half of the roof had collapsed and it needed to come down. As I was taking it down though I was feeling good about the task. I wasn’t hesitating in how to take it down, I was even thinking about how to make use of the space. After a good few hours of work I took a break, sat down, had a drink. I was also texting a dear friend who I was talking to about what I’d done that morning, when it struck me that I wasn’t anxious. I wasn’t questioning myself in any way. I actually broke down, began crying and text my friend ‘Is this what life is meant to be like?’ she called me and said, quite simply ‘Yes’. We then talked about it, as I cried. So many fucking years living scared of the world. Some days I was fine and did enjoy life, but these were few and far between. Most days I was anxious to leave the house, mainly doing so because I had a job (that I told myself I loved, but in truth I hated it). There was so much I wanted to see and do in the world, but I was too scared too. Twenty, twenty-five years of my life gone. That day as I was sitting in my back garden talking to my friend I cried with a sort of relief at finally feeling free of the prison that my mind had put me in, but also at anger of having let myself be in that prison for most of my life.

Raven investigating my work

Male suicide rates are significantly higher than that of women. Here’s some numbers from the Samaritans. And yes, I was suicidal on a couple of occasions (Not anymore though). There is so much more to what I put myself through over my life, but I’m not going into it here, not now. Partly because I haven’t figured it all out yet. When I mention non-fiction that’s what I’m talking about. Trying to break down the why of this all. I’m slowly getting there, I’ve had some counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that has helped immensely. I’ve also opened up with my loved ones. Instead of hiding my problems, thinking it’s better not to worry them, that’s bollocks as well. Being open and honest with what I’m going through has made it easier to work through all of this. Having that support, that I’ve always known is there, has been priceless.

Ask for help, Mental Health in this country needs a major overhaul and we as a society need better education on the subject. But there are resources out there. Speak to your GP, Google mental health hotlines, there are plenty of organisations, charities, out there who are able to help. Yes there are waiting times, yes it is hard to admit to needing help. Trust me though, it’s worth it.

I still have bad days (I took a big self-esteem hit recently), but they don’t last as long and I’m able to manage my moods so much better. I listen to my body, mind, and soul. Trust me, it’s paying off. I’m happier now than I have ever been, shit, I can’t ever remember feeling this settled and capable. There’s a lot playing into that, but we need to be open to seeing it. To appreciating what we have, to loving what we have.

A self-esteem hit knocked me hard but it doesn’t now last long because I know how to rebuild myself with the help of loved ones and all that I’ve learnt.

Okay, this became a much heavier post than I was expecting it to. But too many people out there are struggling with mental health. And the amount of men who are struggling that don’t seek help because it is not what ‘men do’ is costing too many lives.

Life is amazing when we get out of our own way. From a writing point of view, I’ve been more productive in the last few months than I feel I have ever been. See, brought it back to writing.

I’m A Stress Eater

When I’m stressed out I overeat. When I was younger it was really bad. I’d eat two or three bars/bags of chocolate a day, and I’m talking the large share bags/bars of chocolate not the little ones you get at a newsagents.

It’s a coping method and something I just did. There wasn’t any thought going into it and it’s not been till the last few years where I’ve started connecting the dots and realising its a problem. I try and figure out what pushed me to food, and I find I’m a little grateful I wasn’t going out drinking in those days. Addiction is something that I’ve always feared, so I never really drank too much alcohol and definitely never did any illegal drugs or abuse legal drugs. I didn’t realise that sugar was sneaking in and claiming me, not until many many years later. I used to think ‘at least I’m not an addict’ not realising there was more to addiction than alcohol and what I thought of as drugs.

As I’ve got older its harder to eat as much, and that’s coincided with me realising it’s a problem. And in particular the last eighteen months or so it’s something I’ve been trying to manage better, not very successfully but I’m trying. Writing this post will hopefully help with that as it’s admitting it in such an open forum.

This is a very big bar of chocolate, and I only ate a little of it and have the rest for other days.

I’m listening to my body a lot more, and that’s something which feels like it’s changing. I used to stuff my face and then wonder why I was feeling rough, totally ignoring the tub of ice cream I’d just eaten. Now I’m realising when I’m full, but also managing to stop myself from eating more. It used to be that I would keep going until the bar/bag was finished. The thought of leaving some for tomorrow either didn’t occur or seemed like an obscene concept.

Since realising just how bad I can binge eat and figuring out how to firstly manage it, and now try and beat it I am feeling better. I know the days when I don’t beat it. I feel heavy and sickly. I’m putting so much rubbish into my system and I need to at least compensate with more water for example (drink two litres of water a day folks!). But I feel like I’m going in the right direction with it. I drink less energy drinks, try and eat less sugary snacks and snacks in general. After my evening meal I feel full now, and if I do have something I’m trying to just have a bit but I’m working on not eating if I feel full.

Tea has to have sugar in it!

I’m also thinking about the ‘when’ of eating. Too much sugar in the evenings affects sleep, which when insomnia is something you battle with you don’t really want to give it an ally. I’m trying not to eat after 9pm and with the exception of an occasional hot chocolate I try to just drink water or squash after 9pm as well. I’d like to cut this down to 8pm if I can but for the moment I want to be consistent about having that 9pm shut off.

At times I feel like I’m winning, and then I have a major setback and feel like hell and guilt trip myself for failing so hard, which then strengthens the urge to binge eat. It’s one of those vicious circle things. But I feel like I can get the balance right. Am I likely to give up sugar? no, but I can live my life without it dictating my intake of it. If I consume less sugary snacks I’ll start feeling it both physically and mentally and I’ll hopefully loose a little of the extra weight I’ve gained this last year, I’ll feel better mentally and that’s a win all around.

I don’t actually like this picture of me cause I look at it and just read my gut 😕

Working On Self-Care

This coming week I’m off from work. So I’m going to try and have a productive week. I’ve got non-writing bits and bobs to do but I’m going to have a nice few hours to get some work done. Relaxing and some self-care is a priority this week.

I’m liking where my head is. The new medication is working well and I’m feeling better than I can ever remember feeling since childhood. I’m still having rough moments, but I’m handling them and feel like I’m managing my emotions well. I’m finding doing some gaming is helping, but I’m being thoughtful and not letting it become a negative. I’m playing a lot of Grand Theft Auto V online, which used to have moments when I’d feel like screaming (normally trolls), but playing it now I’m not only not getting stressed out while playing it I’m pushing myself and exploring more of the features. I’m still not fond of doing missions but I’m getting businesses running and being proactive about making money! When I game I turn off from everything else pretty much, which I find helps once in a while.

I am planning on getting out and about, visiting places I’ve always wanted to go to but was always defeated by my anxiety. I’ve got a few hurdles in the way still, but I’m working on it.

Diet wise I’m trying to be more thoughtful about what I’m putting into my body. I’m not doing as well with my lust for sugar, but It’s something I’m conscious of. I think I mentioned in my post about hating my body about being heavier now than I’ve ever been. I know I’m not huge, but I’d like to loose a bit of weight and get back to where I was.

I do like my energy drinks a little too much, that I am pleased to say I’ve got a nice handle on. I’ll admit I had one today but that’s the first I’ve had in a few days. I’m also drinking less cola and more squash.

Getting a little fitter is a thought as well. I’m going to start walking. I’ve got some great scenery around me so why not enjoy it more. I’m sure Max the doggo wouldn’t be against this!

I’m also getting my head back into reading again. I’ve finished two books that I’ve been reading for far too long in teh last month and feel like I’m getting back into the habit nicely.

Sleep is still a struggle (overlaid and was almost late for work today!), but I’m working on sleep hygiene and making my sleeping environment much more calming.

I’d like to talk more about my mental health journey on here. Where I’m not feeling as anxious about it I feel able to open up about certain elements of it. I don’t often see men talking about mental health. I think it’s this sense that we’re seen as weak if we do, or that it’s just not done. That’s one of the reasons why I never used to talk about. Men don’t talk about their health, especially mental health. I think that’s why male suicide is so high, because we bottle it up and then we can’t take anymore and it all explodes and we can’t handle it. I’ve had brief suicidal thoughts. I say brief because I’d have the thought and then I’d immediately shut it down.

Embracing my whimsy more ☺️

Don’t be scared to ask for help. There are organisations out there to help. Like many, I can’t afford therapy but thankfully there are organisations who will provide help. Even if it’s not much, it’s a start and you’ll be surprised at how much of a difference a little help from someone who’s been trained can make. Hell, even if it’s the Samaritans it’s worth calling.

Each day is a small step. Some times its day by day, and as a friend said tonight, sometimes it’s an hour by hour. Reach out for help, speak to a friend who you trust, who will be sympathetic. Men, women, non-binary’s, don’t hold it in. It only makes it worse.

Remember, it can always get better. It just takes patience and work.

27th of August 2021

Good evening, folks! How are we all doing tonight?

I’ve had somewhat of a slow day after I finished work but I did get a few words written after getting other bits and pieces done.

Lovers got 432 words and Mermaid got 328 words. I’ve added a new element to Mermaid that I think gives it what it was lacking previously.

I still feel like I’m snatching words. I’m not able to get my butt down and get stuck in properly recently. I’m working on changing it up. I am working on my focus and discipline but in areas outside of writing. Hopefully I’ll be able to transfer those across to word wrangling as well.

Right, part of what I’m doing to improve focus, amongst other things, is working on sleep hygiene. And speaking of sleep, I’m off to bed.

I’ve had this for a while, finally sussing put what to put in it!

Good Morning, 16th Of February 2021

Good morning, folks!

I’ve been awake about an hour and I’m just about to get going on my mornings writing before I go to work. I’m pulling myself kicking and screaming to the laptop today though. I slept, but I don’t feel like I had a settled night. I know I just need to wake up fully, and getting some work done will help.

Something I realised about myself a long time ago was that if I get a good start to the day then the day is almost always better. It gives me a positive mindset and a sense of accomplishment. So that no matter what else happens that day I’ve already been productive and that puts me in a fantastic mood for the rest of the day.

Raven’s cold

It was a struggle to get out of bed when I did today. I had an internal battle with going back to bed for a couple of hours. I don’t have to be at work until this afternoon, so I could have had a few more hours but that felt like a surrender. I preach about being productive and I do that a lot to try and trick myself into doing it. Sometimes it’s easier to just roll over, but then nothing would have got done. I’ve got a few hours where I can just sit and work. I can sleep after work.

First song on a YouTube playlist this morning 🙂

11th February 2021

Yesterday I started the day off well. I got up early and got work done. I took a member of my household to the dentist and while they were in there I did some scouting in Gravesend town centre, in particular the Civic Centre (see video for more). Once I got home though, I took a mental health hit.

Something small triggered it, something that I see often but yesterday was the first time it knocked me like it did. I didn’t hit rock bottom, but I did fall somewhat. This made it hard to sleep, I think I had maybe two hours altogether. Maybe three at the most, and most of that was today. I was up at 8am like I planned, like I was yesterday but I knew I had to get my head back down. I finally got up at about 10ish and have felt that lack of sleep all day. I’ve tried to nap this afternoon but with no joy. So I’m going to work for a little while, not long, maybe an hour, and then a bath and reading after dinner. Try to relax into sleep.

On the plus side I did get some writing done last night. A little bit on the vampire era, and the part of it I was working on struck me that it might be a part where people may assume that I’m taking from real life experiences a little too literal. I do bleed into my work. I take what I’ve experienced and put it into characters, but how I think I do it is I put the dark moments I’ve had into the stories, but not the situations. I may get close with the odd one but I’ve not got the urge to turn my life into literature, not 100%.

My story ‘The Wank Diaries’ was one I bled into a lot. When I rewrote the ending after I was trying to get myself back it was a totally different vibe to the original ending and changes the tone of the story.

People ourselves into in our work is something that we all do, even if it’s something that’s subconscious. A lot of the time I don’t think we can help it. Writing, for me, is a great form of therapy. I can channel my emotions into my characters and I hope it makes them more real. More relatable.

Another plus side to last nights insomnia was I did look at the Vampire Era again. It’s on my to-do list but I’ve been so preoccupied with Penal Earth and Black Blood I hadn’t got around to looking at it. I’m going to start working on it, because it’s a rewrite and it’ll allow me to write while also working on editing and building worlds. I need to make sure I can find a way to be writing as well as working on the other elements of producing content.

Which is what I’m going to do now!