A year since I moved to North Carolina. A year of changes. A year of letting go of old things and enjoying the new.
First… I didn’t write as much as I wanted to. I could blame it on my job, or writers block, or any number of things. And the job does take up a lot of my time, but it doesn’t take up all of it. I could write more. It wouldn’t be the same as when I had that year off, but if you never write then you never publish again.
But… I think I needed some time to heal. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. A lot happened over the last few years and I just needed to work through it all. Sort out the pieces, figure out how I felt about it all, and move on. Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to do that, to set everything aside…. And just be for a while.
I did create. First art, then games, then little stuffed monsters. Each of them came with learning experiences, and new challenges that I loved. And I will keep creating all of them just for the fun of it.
Creativity is a huge part of who I am. Creating worlds, and characters, and giving them life… I have to do it. I’ve been doing it since I was little and it isn’t going to stop because the world goes sideways. But… Maybe it’s okay for those worlds to appear in a different way. A game instead of a book. A stuffed animal instead of a witch at sea. Describing something with markers and paint instead of words.
I still love the books I’ve written, and I want to finish the ones I have already started. The pain of the last few years has faded… Now it is more about discipline, and fortitude. It takes months for me to write a novel, but it takes a lot to actually get that done. The words don’t magicaly appear in the computer, you have to take time, and effort, to put them in. Without the willpower to stick with something and get the job done…. The novel never becomes reality.
So that is what I’m working on. Call it a new years resolution maybe, to write every day. Even if it is only 200 words. Because the habit is gone and I need to rebuild it. But I’ve been here before, I’ve made this journey. I can do this!
For the last five years I’ve done an end of year review were I look at what I accomplished in the year before, and where I will be going in the coming year. Generally this has to do with my writing, how much I wrote, what I published, and what I have already started for next year.
This year things are a little different.
I wrote a total of 50,000 words last year. That is for the entire year, something I usually do in November for NaNoWriMo all by itself.
For comparison: in 2019 I wrote 230k words and published three novels. In 2020 I wrote 141k words and published one novel and a short story (while also dealing with being sick for part of that year.)
So what happened in 2021? The pandemic was in 2020, my tumor was in 2020, you would have thought that would have been the year to drag me down, and yet it wasn’t. Or rather… It wasn’t right away.
Stress has a way of building up and weighing you down. Sometimes you won’t notice the effects right away, but when it does start to effect you everything starts to go downhill fast.
For me this started at the beginning of 2021. I was feeling better after surgery and it was time to get a “real” job. After all, we needed money to move back to Seattle, and since my then BF was still obligated to work for the person we were staying with for room and board (and nothing else) I decided I would go back to work and earn some extra money for truck rentals and gas. Our savings has already been depleted and I wanted to help.
I think getting that job was the best thing for me, physically, because it helped my recovery after surgery progress faster. It was a very physically demanding job and I had to get strong or fall behind.
But as a consequence I was tired… A lot. My body had just been through a major ordeal. I lost 50 lbs, and had been on a starvation diet for a few months because the tumor didn’t leave room for food, so my body had a lot to recover from.
For the first few months of 2020 I still managed to fit a little writing in between work and falling asleep. When I couldn’t consentrate on words anymore I started drawing… A LOT.
Then in April we moved back to Seattle to stay with my ex’s parents. They are lovely people, and I still care about them, but my life was changing. Again. The stresses were building up and it seemed there was no real solution.
The stress was so bad that writing became difficult. More difficult than it had been in a very long time. I will even admit part of it was a sense of failure on my part. I tried to make it as a writer. I wrote, marketed, and advertised. I did what I knew how to do, and it wasn’t enough. I didn’t find that key piece that I needed to make it work. To make a living as a writer.
That sense of personal failure and the constant reminders around the Seattle area that we were in a pandemic and you should “be afraid” all the time were getting to me.
For the rest of 2021 I didn’t write a lot, but I did draw quite a bit. I published three books in 2021, all of which were art related. I felt comfort in art when I could not find any in the written word.
Then November happened. My boyfriend broke up with me, and I had to move to North Carolina because I had no where else to go. That’s where I still am.
On the bright side… The weight that had been settling over me for the last year started to lift. In December, in amongst all the issues I was having, and the sadness of loosing something so important to me, I wrote 8K words, and 13k in January of 2022. The block that had been plaguing me for a while has become something of an annoyance instead of a permanent fixture.
I also recorded my trip across the USA, and posted it on youtube, rumble, and bitchute. Some of it is a sad look back at what was, but there is also a fair bit of optimism for the future.
I still have a ways to go. I have three novels that I want to finish this year, and all of them are in various stages of completeness. I also have a few more art pieces I want to do, and possibly another coloring book to complete.
The three books are Vertigo and Steel Code from my LitRPG series, and a third book in the Half Blood Sorceress series. All three have about 50k words already written so I think I can finish them this year, it’s just going to take some perseverance. Something that I am relearning.
The sudden shift in my life may have hurt, but it was probably for the best. Even if I can’t see it all the time. I sent so many years living for others, and supporting their dreams, that I set my own aside. Time to work on mine.
This is a tumor or cyst (we’re not sure which yet) growing in my abdomen. It is 8 inches at the largest point, and is filing my entire abdomen so that I can barely eat, and I get faint when I’m walking around.
I am going into surgery Monday to have the tumor we named Lumpy removed. As scary as the idea of being cut open like this is (since they have to take it out all as one piece so have to make a big hole for it) I am so happy that it is coming out.
The last month and a half has been pretty terrible. It started with my abdomen growing larger even though I was eating less and exercising more. I was getting full faster and faster, and my stomach was getting hard. In the last month I’ve been eating less than 1000 calories a day because even one small egg was enough to fill me up for half the day. Currently I’m only able to eat soft foods like pudding, yogurt, and Avacado. On the positive side I’ve lost weight so once Lumpy is out I’ll be pretty skinny. Well, skinny for me.
The fainting is also tough. The mass is sitting on my arteries and constrict blood flow. If I sit up for too long, or walk around much, I start to feel like I’m going to fall over. Gregg has been good about being near me so that if I start to fall he can give me a hand, and making it so if I’m having trouble that day I can just lay down and he can get things for me. I hate being sick, but he has made this so much easier.
But the worst part until this week has been the medical. When you have a giant thing growing inside you there is no option except to remove it. But while we were in Texas we were on cash only for medical needs. We had insurance, but it’s for Washington since that is where our residents is still. Every test has a price tag, and you had to pay up front. And they don’t want to bankrupt you either so they only suggest things you absolutely should get. So after a couple of visits we realized this wasn’t something simple that would need a little medicine. This was worse. There was a mass on my ovaries and I needed to see a specialist. Asap.
So we packed up and drove from Houston to Seattle in three days. Or I should say Gregg drive. I slept most of the way since I was getting worse.
I made an appointment with a gynecologist before we left, but they didn’t have an appointment available for a week. So we got to Seattle, checked into a hotel, and waited.
The first appointment went fast. The Dr had already looked at my chart, and read that I had a 22 cm mass and realized we had to get moving on this fast. She did another ultrasound to check the size… And it is now 30cm. Lumpy is growing, and fast.
So she gave me a box test to see if it is cancer or not (since it could still be a really big cyst) and sent me across the street to get a CT scan while calling a surgeon to get me in a list ASAP! Dr Keys has been amazing!
I talked to the surgeon yesterday. He is also pretty awesome, and very confident that we can get this taken care of. But he also saw the urgency and got me scheduled for this Monday. Just a couple days away.
I’ve had some prep to do, like a covid test since I can’t have surgery if I test positive. I will go in Monday around 11am and be poked and stick with needles before finally getting into the surgery. They will take out the lump, and my ovaries since they are both affected, and send it to test before closing me up. If it is the malignant kind of cancer they will take out a few other things, like lymph nodes, before sewing me up. If it’s benign they will just sew me up.
So, in short I’ll lose 20-30 lbs, and my ability to have periods (yay! I hate those things). And I’ll have to heal for a bit since my stomach will be cut open. Last time it took a week or two before I could walk normally again.
I hope it’s benign because then once I’m healed up I can go back to life as normal. If it isn’t…. Well I’ll still have some treatment to do.
I won’t be able to give an update for a few days. I’ll be in the hospital for at least two days, maybe more. And they won’t let anyone in except Gregg while I’m there, which makes me sad. I’d like to see my kids too. But there’s always video chat.
Corona has made everything a little tougher. Appointments aren’t as available as they once were, and if I had Corona I couldn’t get the life saving surgery I needed. Plus you can’t have visitors, or even a family member at your appointment to talk about your diagnosis. He has to do me off at the door, and I have to waddle in. Thank goodness I can still walk, though I think the nurses were really worried about me falling down at the hospital today. She kept offering me a wheelchair.
A few weeks ago I stocked up on some basics. A bigger bag of rice, a large bag of dry beans, a few boxes of pasta. Nothing dramatic, but enough that I felt we we would be okay if a hurricane blew through, or an earthquake, or maybe even a few weeks of quarantine. The only thing missing from the shelves that day were ramen noodles, and a toilet paper was getting low (so I grabbed one of those just in case too.)
Today I went in for a couple of potatoes and soda. Normal weekly stuff. I was a little shocked by just how many shelves were bare.
Now, some of this is a good thing. Everyone should have at least a weeks worth of food in their pantry (non-perishables) just in case. I’ve made it a point to do so ever since living in North Dakota twenty years ago. We had a blizzard that knocked out the power for the entire state and no water. My baby was on formula at the time and we had no water to make her formula. No food that didn’t need to be cooked, and no way to heat the apartment since everything was electric. I learned very quickly that it’s just good practice to have a few gallons of water, and some non-perishables on hand in case something happened.
But this is something that’s supposed to be done over time, not everyone rushing on the stores at once, so I’m not surprised that the stores are being stripped. It’s as if everyone was told there’s going to be a really bad hurricane next week so be prepared, and they did. The trouble is they all did it at once, and a few opportunistic people exacerbated the issue buy buying ALL of a few key things…so it’s looking a little barren at the moment.
This will pass. In a week or two supply chains will catch up, and people will already have their two week pantry, so we can all get back to a….normal…existence. As normal as you can get with social distancing, at least.
I’ve been venturing out a little here and there to pick up something at the drive through, or just grab something at the store, but seeing the shelves bare like that was a bit surreal. I’m one of those people with compromised immune systems. I have asthma, and a few bad allergies, and have had complication in the last few years that landed me in the hospital on a neutralizer because I couldn’t breath. I’m susceptible to pneumonia and bronchitis already, so this thing… ya, I’m a little worried if I get it. Gregg, my SO, is worried about me, too. He has steadfastly refused to leave the house for the last week because he absolutely does not want to risk me getting sick.
So we stay home. It isn’t much different from normal, we all work from home, but it feels different somehow. I admit part of me had a morbid curiosity to see if the news about stores was right, but also I sometimes just like to go have a meal at a restaurant, or window shop, and I really can’t right now.
I’m not the only one. There are millions of people across the world right now just waiting to see what happens. I saw a picture of a woman telling her granddad about her engagement through a window because she didn’t want to make him sick. I’m sure most of us saw the balcony concerts going on in Italy. People all over the world, in every country, are hunkering down until doctors can find a solution, or the virus burns itself out.
This could be a moment for us all to come together over a common foe, like in the movie where aliens attack and we all band together to fight for humanity. Sometimes I wish life was as neat and orderly as a movie with a definitive beginning, middle and happy ending.
On the plus side, they were stocking the shelves with toilet paper as I was leaving the store today. I’m certain the shelves will be restocked in a week or two as well with most items. This isn’t the end of the world, just a really big bump in the road. We’ll make it through, it’s just going to be rough for a little while.
A thousand games. Yep, I’m a gamer. And this is just my steam library. I have more on twitch, switch, and individual PC games. I had even more until I moved but I gave hundreds of console games, and several consoles, to my kids because I couldn’t afford to move them all.
I am showing you this to say I have spent thousands of dollars on these games, even more if you consider I’ve been purchasing games for more than twenty years and how many I have sold, thrown away, deleted, etc over the years. But now…I’m not that interested in spending money on developers that don’t care about their user base.
Last year was a shit show. Triple A game after Triple A game being put out with game breaking bugs (Anthem, Fallout 76, Left Alive), game devs giving in to angry internet trolls that don’t even play games, game devs firing massive amounts of their people after record profits (EA and Activition,) and just the unbelievable exploitation of loot crates, microtransactions and pay-to-win garbage. $2 for a dot? COME ON!
I’ve had it with Triple A titles. They are supposed to be BETTER because they have the people and the backing to provide better games.
And many older games like Stardew Valley are still adding new content to their games. For FREE.
So many games, and they all have one thing in common: indie studios made them!
And when the players complain about bugs what do they triple A studios do? They get Steam and Epic games to hide reviews. They ban players who highlight the problem with the game. They ban their top player. They ignore feedback, double down on microtransactions because they aren’t making enough, and in general make it worse. Even No Man’s Sky, a game overhyped, released too soon, with many of the features missing, has slowly kept adding those features, fixing their game for free and making it better every year. Instead Fallout, Anthem and other Triple A titles are doubling down.
I’m not buying Triple A titles anymore until they are out, and vetted by the first players. I will support great games in the indie market and encourage those companies to grow. I will be making videos about them because I love them, and adding them to my recommendeds because I will not support an industry that does not love the games they make. If all you are in this for is money (which Activition and EA clearly are) then you don’t love what you are producing. If you don’t love it then why would I love it?
I’m done. I don’t trust games journalists anymore because I know they are just writing what the big companies tell them to write, and then lowering scores of indie titles so the big companies sell more. That’s why game companies black list so many smaller game reviewers, and even Kotaku, because they don’t want honest reviews. I’m tired of it. I want indie titles to win! Because they are amazing! They are creative, innovative, and actually WORK.
So go buy GOOD games and leave the trash where it belongs.
Bjorn got an amazing opportunity that we couldn’t pass up, so we’re moving.
Okay, not so bad…Except that we’ve been in this apartment for ten years. You accumulate a lot of stuff in ten years. But still, doable.
Oh, and we’re moving to Texas. From Seattle. 2300 miles! DRIVING!!!!
So, as you can imagine, the first thing I’m doing is throwing away as much stuff as I can because where is no possibility that we can take everything we have. Ten years of stuff is a lot, especially when one of the people works with leather and has a huge stock of leather here.
I have a few months to go through everything and sort it into keep, throw, donate, sell. This weekend I went through my books and marked three bins of them to take to half price books. I also started the big task of going through my craft room and tossing or giving away a very large part of them. It isn’t quite as hard as I thought it would be. I’ve been needing to purge my craft area for a very long time, and I’m actually happy to start getting rid of a lot of it. I mostly work in markers on paper when I do artwork so having all of this…STUFF… gets a little distracting after a while.
Still, this is going to take some time. I’m glad I have some notice so I don’t have to get rid of everything right away, but I also wonder if that’s a good idea. Kind of light ripping off a band-aid, the longer you take the more it hurts. If I had to get rid of it right this minute I would probably just go through and pick out the few things that meant the most to me and donate the rest. We’re doing it a little backwards, but I’m okay with that. I have a little more time to figure out what I really really want, and how much we can take.
On that note, I’ll be putting up some more listings on Etsy. If I can sell a few things I don’t have to move them, but also I really don’t want to send things I made by hand off to the thrift store. You’ll find paintings, hand made beads, and leather keychains. All sorts of interesting things. I’ll also be sticking the shop in vacation mode in a couple months because we’ll be moving…so grab them while you can. I’m also going to put a few of my craft supplies up there just because I hope someone will want to use them.
But stay tuned….I might have some more announcements and information in the next months.
It’s been a long month. What have I been doing? Let’s see….
So far this month I’ve written 12,000 words, more than I’ve written in one month in a while (other than NaNoWriMo of course.) Most of that writing, and the writing for the end of April, was on my new book, Steel Soul. I only have to finish the final battle scene for this book and it will be done. The second book in this series (Steel Heart? Forge? IDK yet) already has a big chunk of writing done too.
Yes, I know I was trying to finish the next book in my Half Blood Sorceress book, and I actually have it about 2/3rds done. I ran into a large problem with the plot (mainly that five chapters weren’t working as written) so I have to go back through and fix it. This was proving difficult, and I had a great idea for a litRPG (Steel Soul) so I went with it and almost wrote a finished book in a month.
I also worked on THIS design for my spoonflower patterns. That took longer than I thought it would. I had the idea and sketched it out the other day, but when I started working on it I kept adding little details to make it better and better. I can’t wait to get my piece so I can proof it and put it up for sale.
I wrote a few more reviews for my gaming blog. I don’t do these often, I usually do a bunch of them at once then schedule them for a few months at a time. But I really do enjoy games, so of course I want to share that with others. They will start coming out twice a week again.
I’m also working on a podcast idea. I want to finalize it and get it up and running. If I do it right it will be something I record once a week, post to my blog and a few other places, and sometimes interview people at cons or other places. More on that later.
The last thing I’ve been doing this month: Leather! With only a few minutes here and there I’ve been making bracelets, and coin pouches. I’ve learned a lot about leather, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s a great creative outlet when my allergies are really bad and I can’t think, but I really want to do something. I am streaming over on twitch, usually twice a week, with leather, or some sort of creative thing. If you like that sort of thing, or you’d like to come in and say hi, please follow me.
The only other thing I’ve been doing is going to doctors, getting blood tests, and getting prescribed more meds. They upgraded me to severe asthma and allergies. Yay. They put me on some medication to try and control it, but it takes a while to kick in. In the mean time I will keep avoiding people who smoke or wear any sort of perfumed anything. Not easy to do at a call center, but I don’t have a lot of choice. I still have to work the day job, so I just have to do what I can to make do.
Anyway, sorry for the long absence, and the really long update all at once. I look forward to putting out Steel Soul, I hope soon. I think it’s one of the funnest things I’ve written in a while, but I love litRPG.
They say follow your passion and you’ll never work another day in your life. Bjorn and I talk about this, it isn’t that you don’t work. In fact you probably work harder if you’re following your own passions. It’s that you’re working for yourself, and for your dreams, so it doesn’t feel as distasteful.
Oh, there are days when it down right sucks to work on your passion. I’ve been sick for weeks and could barely string two words together, I know sometimes it’s very hard to follow what you love. But other times it’s the most amazing thing in the world, and you just get to be thrilled that you earn a living doing something you’d happily do anyway.
And some days it’s easy to say “this is the thing I love.” Other days you might get distracted, or like me you have several things you love and sometimes you have to choose which one is more important. Do I write, or draw? Do I sew, or bead? Maybe all of them?
Honestly, having a lot of passions is not a bad problem to have. I can almost always find something I love to work on that day. The bad part of it is finishing things. When you’ve got so many things going on it’s hard to pick a task to complete, and if you don’t complete things you can’t put them out in the world for other people to enjoy.
I don’t know the answer, I’m just thinking about it a lot. I think I will be the rest of the year because hopefuly next year I’m going to have a chance to do stuff full time, or at least have a part time job instead of a full time job. It all depends on a bunch of things, and I have a whole year to figure it out.
Yesterday I went to work, like normal, and about half way through the day I just started feeling run down. My eyes burned, my throat hurt, and I was exhausted. Sure, I didn’t have a full nights sleep, but I rarely do and it shouldn’t have come on so quickly.
I had to work half my shift, so I forced myself to get through the last hour or two before coming home. As soon as I laid down I fell asleep, another thing that never happens, and I slept for about five hours before waking up. If I hadn’t been so hungry I probably would have gone back to sleep, I was still exhausted. I tried…I really tried to stay awake for a little while. Gregg and I watched a little tv together and I started falling asleep leaned up against him after only a couple hours. So back to bed I went.
This morning I woke up at 8am and I felt a little better. My eyes didn’t burn, and my throat wasn’t as sore. I didn’t feel exhausted, just the normal amount of tired for waking up to go to work. And I did. I went to work. I lasted about half the day before I started getting really tired and had to go home again. Got home, climbed into bed, and fell right to sleep for another five hours.
I did manage to stay awake this time for a few hours, but it’s midnight and I’m starting to fall asleep at the keyboard again….so I’m going back to bed. Thankfully it’s my weekend so I can get over whatever this is that’s keeping me down. I’d really like to get back to normal.
But I did manage to write a little before I passed out again. Now… Off to bed.
I had new glasses, which was good. My old ones were a few years old and everything was getting blurry. So I brought the new glasses home and almost everything was good. There were letters on the lenses, and the left lens had the letters right in my vision.
It worried me a little bit that the tech coudln’t see the letters. They should have had a good pair of glasses too, right? And yet, they couldn’t. My boyfriend could, so I wasn’t crazy (at least not for that). Then I kept getting headaches and I realized there was a big blurry spot in my left eye every tim I wore them. My head was trying to compensate for it, and I had head aches.
So I took the glasses back and I’m wearing the old ones now…but there’s a problem. My eyes were trying to compensate for a blury spot, now the whole scene is a little blurry. When I’m tired I’m finding it hard to focus. I really hope the new glasses get here soon.
So for now I have my glasses off, which means the computer is REALLY blurry, and I have to get kind of close to it to see anything. It’s a good thing I don’t have to see what I’m typing. However it is making writing difficult, so I think I’m going to go to bed early and call it for the night