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Told by the Tea!

I'm a big fan of several of the Ayurvedic blends of Yogi Tea. The boxes feature very basic Yoga moves (which I still can't do thanks to the joys of my back and right leg) and tell you something like "The essence of this tea is comfort and abundance" and every tea bag has a tag which features a "bon mot".

(I get a lot of Bruce Banner feels both from the essences of the teas and the bons mots.)

But tonight's post-prandial cuppa has just told me: Please do not feed the fears.

Which just may be hilariously apropos given my last post.

(Also, I put on Nickelback's "Silver Side Up" because of being annoyed and wanting angry music. I've had it for about a decade, and yet tonight, "Father's a name you haven't earned yet/ You're just a child with a temper/ Haven't you heard, 'don't hit a lady'?/ kicking your ass would be a pleasure" in Never Again has just given me ALL the Bruce Banner feels.)

Random Collection of Thoughts

Wednesday's question at ushobwri was "How do you feel about challenges?" - and I talked about how, given that I haven't finished a fic in 7 years, in spite of an H/C Bingo table and an SG-1 prompt table and the Pros Big Bang, they obviously don't help me. And I talked a little ablout how much I worry about whether anyone but me wants to read what I write and whether I'm good enough. (Given that several of my "waffling about my ideas" posts here have led to people telling me they have no interest in reading *that* e.g. kid-fic (I worked with kids for 15 years in voluntary programs, schools, church, Boys Brigade - I may be shit at teaching, but I *know* kids), main character with acquired disablility etc, I think I have a valid concern.)

And I was told: "Well, there's the problem. You're thinking too much. You have to write like nobody's reading, write just for you and forget everyone else."

I can see how that works for first drafts and journals - but surely, if you are posting/publishing, the audience matters and you have to think about the readers?

And then I brought up... that email. That two page email on my first (and consequently only) SG-1 fic, which was the only feedback I got on it. Which said that I had no idea about story, conflict, plot or structure. Which used the words "rehashing" and "trite" and "pointless". And the *other* person, who, when I said, "Can I really be all that crap. Look! Faves and nice comments on my other stuff on ff.net!" said, "It's alled the Pit for a reason. They'll like *anything* there."

And bunn asked me the obvious question, which is, "Do you really want to let people like that win?"

Which I don't of course. But. BUT. BIG BUT. I have mental health problems. I have triggers. A fic, a comment exchange, something someone says, or writes (some of you may remember the time the Chairman of a church committee I was on wrote to tell me that if I was that useless I ought to be in sheltered housing, not the community) can push me out of "living with mental illness" and into breakdown and not coping in the slightest.

All my available resources are already spoken for, dealing with my body, my brain and my meds. Add in LIFE - bad news, the death of a friend, my Dad's PSA taking a jump, or him having another TIA etc... and I honestly don't feel able to take the chance, the RISK, of leaving myself open, again, to being told, "You suck!"

And I feel pathetic and weak because of it, when being bullied in school and university, work and online, I've always in the past stood up for myself and fought my corner, even when my headmistress told me that if I "insisted on being eccentric" I had to expect to get bullied (like it was my fault I was short, wore glasses and my breasts didn't develop until I was 16?), even when it was my *Dad* saying stuff (Dad believed in the principle that if you tease your kids about the stuff the bullies might pick on, it will harden them up and mean they won't get hurt), I got in his face and told him that I didn't have to take being spoken to like that.

I always fought. Everything. But that takes a lot of energy, when you are fighting mental illness and pain and disability every minute of every day. I don't have that energy any longer.

But that's the thing, isn't it? If I can't take that risk - the risk that no one might read something or no one might *like* something, or someone might *hate* something and send feedback that cuts me off at the knees and utterly destroys my writing-confidence... I can't post, can I? Any fic. Ever.

And if I know I will never get the guts to post it, why the HELL am I writing it in the first place?

So I'm back to what I said about giving up.
I hope all of you had a better Christmas/New Year/Mid-Winter (or Mid-Summer for the Southern Hemisphere folks) Festival/Feast/Celebrations than I did.

I have until 20th January to decide if I sign up for getyourwordsout this year, after my monumental failures last year. Are any of you signing up? Particularly any of the Shoobies from ushobwri?

It's a great comm, and I do like the accoutability - but on the other hand, I don't want it to be All About The Word-Count. Aside from anything else, I want to spend some good time on my drawings/watercolours and maybe even manips this year.

Not sure who, if anyone, is still around from my BBC Sherlock fandom days, but back then, to accompany 221b_hound's Guitar Man Series I put some collars on the members of the Collared Band (John, Sherlock, Molly, Greg... and Tad, only I never collared him - and yes, Greg *is* wearing eyeliner too) and made her some icons. The icons are better than the pics imo, because I need to do more work on lighting etc. BUT! There are some very good D/s fics in both Pros and Avengers fandom and I'm feeling a yen for pretty men in collars. (Though for all my fondness for sub!Bodie and Lew's throat, I can't see Bodie being willing to be collared, can you? Maybe it would have to be for an undercover in some dodgy club in Soho. Or a punk thing with black varnish on his nails? And bleached tips to his hair? All very Billy Idol from Billy Bodie?!)

...THINKING of Spike (from BtVS), I was looking up the logical inconsistencies of Buffy vampires ("I have no breath," says Angel vis a vis giving CPR... so how does he TALK?!) and found this gem of a quote: "'I love writing for both Spike and Giles,' scriptwriter Jane Espenson once noted, although she confessed, 'I've exhausted my supply of British slang. I [must] read more Professionals fanfic, that's where I find the words.'"

Given that at least some people still in Pros fandom were active back when Buffy was airing, I find that pleasing in so many ways. (Though, with the whole regional nature of British slang, a Scot, a Midlander (I'd love to hear Ray go full-on Brum... from Wallsall ("not the one in Poland," as one of my Uni mates always said, since he pronounced it exactly the same as "Warsaw") or Dudley or Wolverhampton...) and a "Liverpool-Irish" Scouser are hardly the best basis for a Home Counties-ish Oxford grad and a Cockney rebel, are they?)

So ART. Yes. Do people want to see it here? Or should I just post to dA?

Also Power Absolutes aka The Neverending Story aka The Original Fantasy Novel I Have Been Writing For More Than Ten Years.

I'm changing my working method. At the moment I am writing no SCENES. I'm doing some exercises (especially the free-writing stream-of-consciousness ones from Alan Watt's The 90-Day Novel) and focussing on character and story - since writing scenes as they occur me has left me with a lot of scenes and no stories!

I probably won't finish PA this year (or next year... or maybe EVER at this rate) but what I DO want to finish are:

My Cabin Pressure fic where Douglas's elder daughter matchmakes for her Dad and Martin. ;)

Both Professionals unfinished Big Bang's from 2014 and 2015. AND the Pros fic the first two bits of which I put on natsuko_writer. I let myself get a bit discouraged, especially by some of the comments about how wordy my writing is and I'm still haunted by the whole, "You have no idea about story and structure" comment I got from PoG years ago... But really? Do I only have the right to write if everybody loves my writing? (I'm NOT going to post to AO3 - the whole Kudos and Hits totals are just giving me sticks with which to hit myself. 500 hits and 1 kudos would send me off to the knife block.) And on the other hand, I *have* got some very nice comments.

At least one Avengers fic. I'm trying to break my HUGE "This is what I would have written as IM3 and instead of AoU" fic down into parts; a series of long short stories which I might have some hope of actually finishing rather than an epic saga of epicness (which obviously has to be correspondingly GOOD to make it worth people reading 100,000 words +). Maybe extract the relationship thread and write it without the added complications of Big Bads and a Winter Soldier subplot....

What are you hoping to achieve this year? What are your thoughts? Is everybody happy?!

The Post I Actually Came Here To Make

Following November's medical, the DWP have taken me off the "Work-Related Activity" Group (where they are hoping to be able to get you back to work at some point). Unlike the last medical, where they didn't give me enough points to be on benefits at all and I had to go to appeal, this time they've put me in the "Support" Group.

When I first signed up for "Employment Support Allowance" (ie Disabilty/Invalidity benefits) I was told that Support Group basically means there is no hope for you, for example, if you are terminally ill or something. The actual statement is, "The ESA support group is for claimants who the DWP consider to have such severe health problems that there is no current prospect of their being able to undertake work or work-related activities."

It's useful, because it imposes no requirements on me and it is therefore unlikely I will get put on sanctions. At the same time, realising that an independent assessor, who is under pressure to find me fit for at least some "work related" activities, thinks I'm *that* badly impaired by my mental and physical health problems... is pretty freaking depressing. As if I wasn't struggling with Depression badly enough already.

On the other hand, looking over the last year's worth of posts and seeing how very many times I've set or signed up for a monthly target and failed to meet it, or posted Depressed/Anxious, or posted that I need a hiatus from the internet... yeah. I'm not fit for work in any capacity, am I?

I've failed at everything I wanted to achieve in the last year - my GYWO wordcount, FINISHING *any* of my fics... everything.

Maybe it's time to give up on writing and fandom and LJ and all.

I still haven't heard from St Thomas's after the tests in October and November.

A Bit of A Rant

Firstly, a re-blog: thefourthvine (who is amazing and whose posts I have plugged here before - she is the person who described John Sheppard of SGA as "the weird gay spacetoaster of Atlantis", which is possibly the best description of that character EVER) has done it again with her latest post [Rant] You Don't Owe Anyone Your Queer Story

I am asexual - and I am out about it. (Though I have some of the same issues with using the word "queer" (when I was a kid my parents and grandmother used "feeling queer" to refer to things like my needle-phobia or car-sickness or sick headaches etc) as I do with "ace" (Ace Rimmer anyone?), as it just doesn't feel right as a self-description.) But, my God, do I agree with thefourthvine's rant.

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Moonlightmead

I have no words.

This world - LIFE - is fucked up beyond all repair, redemption, reason or recall.

She is gone - that beautiful, life-tumbled gemstone - and taken some of the sunshine with her.  Some people make lemonade with life-lemons, she used the rain in her life life to make rainbows of reflected and refracted light.

My thoughts and prayers are with her family and everyone who knew her. God grant that she is home and whole, hale and happy and healthy now. If God is Love, and whoever knows Love knows God, she needs no prayers of mine to help her.
Firstly - warning for language, throughout. You may not want to read this at work. :) Or if you don't like the f-word.



ushobwri - a brilliant comm - has announced that it is hosting its second annual Miserable Fucks November Social (aka MiFuNoSo).

The comm originally sprouted from a November Comm/Challenge Called "Write Something You Miserable Fuck" (aka WriSo), for people who tend to fail NaNo. So rather than a word count, all you have to pledge it at least ten minutes a day of pen to paper or fingers on keyboard.

In its ushobwri incarnation, however, while the minimum hoped for is still that ten minutes daily, the November Social is there to help and support comm members through whatever their November writing tasks or goals are, be that NaNo or prompt fills or whatever.

My goal is simple: quite apart from trying to meet my getyourwordsout Year End goal of 75,000 words, I just want to FINISH SOMETHING (longer than a comment-fic written in a single session). Ideally, I'd hit a half-NaNo of 25,000 words... but I'm not going to expect that.

In spite of at least two hospital/medical appointments in November (tomorrow's scans may lead to more appointments) I will be there and, whether or not you are already members of the comm, I hope some of my f'list may join up too. (The comm is members only, but its not on an invite/criteria basis.)

(theemdash - is there any chance of advertising this on getyourwordsout?)

Stupid & Cracky Avengers Ideas

Right so I have these weird ideas and head-canons and *stuff* that I pretty much know *I* can't write, because I cannot write feel-good shit. Also, these are the sort of ideas that have no STORY, much less plot. And Porn Without Plot may be a Thing and Crack is a Thing, but are any of these THINGS? I'm pretty sure these are stupid thoughts, but how stupid are they?

(1) According to the SHIELD files/wiki, Tony, Bruce and Clint were all born in between me and my elder brother. Since they were unlikely to be into the BBC shows Doctor Who and Red Dwarf that Victor got me into, this isn't necessarily helpful. But then it hit me. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

I got this sudden mental movie of Tony saying, on Movie Night (Domestic Avengers FTW!), "Well, with thanks to Clint for last week's Casino Royale, I thought I'd throw in another Ian Fleming adaptation," and when the movie starts Bruce and Clint both saying, "Oh I used to love that movie!"

- FLYING CAR which also floats (hello, Howard)
- Crazy inventor-cum-genius Dad might not have much money but has love and time and infinite care for his kids (Tony's fantasy much? Hell - all THREE of their fantasies much?)
- Caractacus Potts went to the carnival for one night and although his invention blew up, still earned enough to buy a car (hello, Barton bros)
- the Baron, Baroness and Child-Catcher to fear and hate (just enough)
- Caractacus led a rebellion/uprising of neglected KIDS to defeat the evil grown-ups
- "I Have You Two" in the context of OT3
- Tony as the "Face of Stark Industries" feeling like, "A Doll On A Music Box That's Wound By A Key"
- the gorgeous lullabye, "Hush-a-bye Mountain", (after nightmares?) especially in the reprise where it's sung to the hungry, filthy kids who have to hide from the Baron, Baroness and Child-Catcher, where Caractacus says something like, "You mustn't ever be afraid, because there's always hope, even in a terrible place like this."

(Also, what about Tony saying that Hulk is kinda like Eliot from Pete's Dragon - there to protect/save the abused, orphan boy, sometimes invisible, unintentionally causing the boy problems; Jim Dale's character wanting to capture and kill the dragon, while Nora sings, "There's Room For Everyone In This World"...???)

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Thoughts?? Comments?? How stupid AM I?

... On a Cold and Frosty Morning

I have two more appointments at St Thomas's Hospital, Westminster, London. On 22nd October and 2nd November - for diagnostic procedures, not treatment. (The first appt was on 2nd October - what is it with my new consultant and the number 2?)

On 2nd November I am going to have another whole spine (and pelvis) MRI, imaging from my head to my thighs - ninety minutes of, "Please stop moving," / "I'm not really *moving* - I have nerve damage. I get uncontrollable muscle spasms if I stay in one position for too long, especially if there's pressure on my spine." As I said previously, the last time they did one, I literally could not get off the bench at the end because my lumbar spine and pelvis had completely seized-up.

STH is three-and-a-half to four hours away from where I live in Suffolk.

Doing that journey six times (there-and-back x three appointments) in the space of one calendar month.

Without steroids.

Fuck. Me.

I am NOT looking forward to November - damp and cold and dark days are bad enough for stiffness and pain and SAD, but counting up "bad for my back" points here, things are not looking good. If you do not see me online at all...

Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush...

It's been a long arsed day. Had to leave home at 11am in order to go to St Thomas's Hospital (Westminster, London) and didn't get in again until 8pm, thanks to the doctor running late and hitting rush hour and Friday night traffic all the way home. I'm knackered. And hurting. And double-dosing.

And just....

So, my Pain Consultant is still on sabbatical, but because the June injections (not done by him) were not as effective as they usually are (because the replacement guy only did half as many as my guy usually does) when we had my post-procedure review, the Pain Nurse made me an appointment to actually be seen and examined before we booked me in for more injections, so we could talk about what my guy usually does.

That assessment was today.

New new guy (are you keeping up with this?) tried to read my six-inch-thick, five-year-long file during the appointment (made harder because none of it is in date order and there is no summary list of treatments/procedures carried out so far anywhere in it, but letters to my local hospital, to Bath (where I was referred in 2014),, to my GP.... It's a big mess).

And decided that since my diagnosis is beyond vague - "chronic neuropathic pain" is a basically a description of the symptoms, not a diagnosis - and there's nothing in my file to explain *why* steroids are working and steroids of course have lovely side effects with long-term use, "One day you might sneeze one day and break a bone with osteoporosis!" as today's consultant put it....

SO: - let's go back to the very beginning. (A very good place to start? Not really, since I'm eleven years down the freaking road. It's like teaching a professional singer tonic sol-fa.)

BUT:  New imaging. New diagnostic procedures (poking my nerves with local anaesthic and electricity to try to find a specific pain origin site). Blood tests (they took four vials today).

Let's see if we can find out exactly what's wrong and if there is therefore a specific treatment. He's hoping to find the exact nerve affected and do a denervation. (I'm pretty sure I had a nerve cluster cauterised in the past, but he couldn't find a record of that in the file!)

I've only had this condition eleven years (and four months). When I first injured my back they spent SIX MONTHS doing tests and scans and God knows what, including a diagnostic epidural. And every time *my* doctors said anything, my then company sent me to doctors of their chosing for a second (private) opinion (because the doctors were saying things my boss didn't want to hear, like I came under the DDA and needed shorter working hours and special working conditions etc).

I have seen over twenty doctors - pain specialists, osteo-doo-dah specialists, psychiatrists to see if it's psychological (there is a thing called Somatoform Pain Disorder), neurologists, I-can't-even-remember-whatists, private, NHS, second and third opinions, you-name-it. (I'm currently supposed to be under THE hospital for back pain in the country.) I've had x-rays, CT scans and MRIs. Including one whole spine MRI that took 90 minutes to image and left me unable to move as I seized up entirely staying still that long.

According to my old specialist at Bart's my spinal health looks different in a face-down x-ray and a face-up MRI (can they do an MRI face down? I know it's 3D imaging, but lying on the bad bit and putting pressure on it with your legs bent might change things) another guy did a standing x-ray and said there's narrowing and disc displacement - which no one has ever claimed to see on any of the lying down images. One doctor said my spine looks so healthy my pain *has* to be somatoform - but the psychiatrists have never said that.

So far no two doctors have agreed on my scans. The only thing they *have* all agreed on, is that anyone who tells you an MRI shows everything is lying, as you cannot see damage on a nerve unless it's a freaking big spinal cord lesion and if I had one of those I wouldn't be walking, even with difficulty.

I thought I was past all the up in the air crap. It would be nice to have an answer that wasn't, "You are going to be in pain for the rest of your life. But hey! Pain can't kill you!" (how I was given my diagnosis at the age of 26) or "You really must not hope to ever have an answer to your pain. It's a waste of psychological energy." (Yes, a doctor, in a Pain Clinic, told me that. When I was 28.) But being back at "We know NOTHING" is kind of... stressful. Upsetting. Frustrating. I don't DARE get my hopes up - not this far down the line. I know what hope disappointed can do,

Also he has NO IDEA how long I will have to wait for all the tests he wants. And while I am waiting for tests, I am not having treatment.

I know I'm hugely fortunate in many ways. My injury is not a degenerative or life-limiting condition. I know they know more about nerves and pain now than they did ten years ago. Maybe there is even hope after nine years of being told NOT to hope. But it also means questions. It also means waiting. It means NOT KNOWING ANYTHING again, including what treatments they might offer me - or if they will go back to the steroid injections (which HELP dammit!) if the new tests etc don't give any new answers.

Also my new consultant looks sort of like Mark Ruffalo but with a receding hairline (which is an odd look in itself - very thick curly hair... but going bald). And is shy and quietly spoken and never quite looks you in the eye. Which was off-putting.

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