I’m creeping nervously back into my old haunts. Given that last time I said I was back I promptly fell off the blogging wagon again I am loath to make an definitive statements this time.
Life has been quite an adventure since we last spoke. My dad gave us all a scare when he started losing his sight in his left eye. On Sunday it was hazy by Tuesday he couldn’t see anything out it. Very scary!! It was job to accompany him to various hospital departments. He didn’t have an appointment so we had to hang around for four hours while they squeezed him in. He got a very exciting ultrasound of his eye which was interesting to watch while showed he had blood in the eyeball. They weren’t sure if his retina had detached so he had to come in the next day for more shoe horned appointments. He had his first minor surgery that day to laser the small tears but they could not be sure they had them all. So the next day (Thursday) he had another minor surgery where the next guy up the chained lasered the back of his eye some more. However on the Monday they then dragged him back to drain the blood pool from his eyeball, finish off lasering bits and put in a gas bubble into his eye.
For the gas bubble to work effectively to press his retina back against the tissue without scarring Dad was required to stay in one set position for 50 minutes out of ever hour. This meant I had to take over feeding everyone and Mum took over cleaning up after me. It was pretty exhausting standing making dinner every night. I am extremely grateful that Dad is back in working order now. Worse he needed drops put in his eyes every 2 hours for the first week so it was a bit of a strain having to get up and down all the time. It is amazing how quickly 2 hours can pass when you are reading.
Because of all this family drama my Open University assignment got put off indefinitely. Finally the final, final deadline was given. Tomorrow the assignment must be in or I fail this course. Thankfully I have had a burst of thinking wellness and have just completed the last question. There is one question where I am extremely dubious about my answer but otherwise I am very pleased with my work. I shall just have to see whether my marks are any good.
Right having blown all my brain cells on databases and SQL queries today I am now off to curl up with a good Kindle!
Wow, I can’t believe it has been 10 days since my last blog. I am struggling to get back into old habits. Partly this is because my laptop was stolen away by my mum for a few days. She needed my Vista since her Windows 8 was not cooperating with her. My other reasons include recovering from major life events.
In the UK if you are disabled and need support with your care at home you can apply for a benefit called Disability Living Allowance. This comes in several different levels but in previous years I have been on the lowest rate for the care support and the highest rate for mobility. Basically the highest rate for mobility is not much money but it does include an automatic right to a Blue Badge which gives you access to yellow line parking. So when I reapplied in 2011 it was the expectation that my benefits would be continued as usual though it is always a very process in and of itself. Shockingly I was turned down completely. They seemed to think that I had been cured!! So over the last year we have been going through the appeals process. It finally culminated with a face to face tribunal on Tuesday of last week.
The tribunal was three people across a desk from me and my mum. By prior consent I was not told of the date of the tribunal until the day before. This cut out all the days of worrying I would otherwise of wasted my time on. With only 24 hours notice I was in surprisingly calm frame of mind as we arrived. Due to inclement weather the tribunal was running behind but this did not bother me. I had my Kindle with me after all. Still I was pleasingly calm when we finally entered the session some 60 mins after our arrival. The session itself went very well. I tried to follow my mum’s advice to pause and count to 5 before answering. I have a tendency to rush in with an answer that is then usual not entirely accurate. The questions themselves were offered in a very gentle way. I was frightened that I might end up being cross-examined or with hostile questioning but the panel were very mild in their tone. A mere hour later it was all over. We trundled home in the snow to await the result. On Thursday I was informed by post that I was to be awarded the lowest rate care and mobility back dated to the decision in 2011. Yeah!!! 😀
This of course would be quite enough of an outing to incapacitate me for a few days but on Thursday I was roused from my prone position to celebrate my sister’s birthday. This was to be a big occasion – not her birthday but the first occasion of meeting her boyfriend of 3 months. We went into the nearby large town to eat at our favourite Greek restaurant. The food was spectacular as usual. We, under strict orders, managed to not embarrass my sister too much. I certainly enjoyed a chance to see her young man in person. He certainly managed to cope with us for one evening to his credit!
Now as the new week begins I am still trying to pick myself up from last week. With my Open University assignment due in on Wednesday this week hopefully my brain will start co-operating soon.
I am officially attempting to claw my way out of a Kindle coma. I have read 238 books since the beginning of December. That works out at something like 9 books a day! This is my standard way to deal with stress – retreat into my bedroom with a pile of books or in this case my Kindle.
The main source of my stress has been my mum’s ongoing situation. She had her surgery on Christmas Eve and came home Christmas morning. I was stressed out on the 23rd before we took her into hospital. Mum got a lot of hugs as I hung onto her as she waited out the ticking clock for us to head out. But once we at the hospital it was a calm experience. She was in a really small ward of 6 beds with 2 nurses. Everyone was really friendly. Mum was very calm about it all so that really helped me be calm as well. Her surgery was uneventful and she enjoyed an evening of rest before coming home to us. Christmas Day was strange with my sister and dad going to get her, then naps all around so that presents weren’t opened until 9pm.
My best presents were the ones I bought and gave. I got two board games that we are now enjoying as a family. The time spent with them is my best Christmas present. I did get a beautiful bracelet from my best friend made with lava from Mount Etna. This way I can have a bit of Sicily with me everyday as a reminder of my best friend’s new adventure abroad. My best friend and I met up for a delicious Indian meal on Saturday. I haven’t been out without a family member since I last saw her in March/April time. We had a wonderful catch up. I look forward to seeing her again in the summer when she gets back from her job.
And then I’ll fall over. As part of my family duties as the best oldest sister ever I went along with my family to check out the University of East Anglia yesterday. My sister might apply for a job there and so she wanted to have a look around the campus. So I dressed in as many additional layers as I could and headed out. It is a reasonably long drive from our home. Plenty of time for me to start and finish a medium length novel on my Kindle. Due to evening obligations we had to be back early so this mandated an extremely early start. I am not accustomed to eating breakfast at 07:30 anymore. My school days are long behind me!!
The campus itself was inoffensive it was just large. I took my stick and plodded my way round. We had plenty of sit down stops but my feet still felt like I was walking on hot coals. It took 2 hours of lying down before they lost their heat. On the last stretch when I could see the car so near and yet so far away, I thought I might actually be sick my stomach grinding away as I tried to catch my breath. My sister followed this ‘mammoth’ trek with a night at a laser shoot-em up evening. Sort of like paintball but in the dark with lasers. I went to bed and stayed there until my stomach demanded food!
So maybe after Christmas I might be losing my sister to grown-up life. Her own rented house and a well paid job while I stay at home and try to convert my father to watching my shows with me. Oh well, she does say she’ll still commute home to watch Strictly Come Dancing with me when that comes round again. Can’t watch couples dancing without someone to critique them with.
Otherwise life goes slowly. National Novel Writing Month has so far been a bit of a bust. I just haven’t been able to get to my computer what with all the other activities I’ve had going on. We are still counting the days until my mum gets her news – 4 days. But my headaches have been low and apart from my feet and legs from yesterday I’m not feeling to bad.
For me hibernation involves curling up with my Kindle and never leaving my bedroom again. I’ve been in major reading mode this last week. My exam on the 12th October was amazing. It was the most relaxed exam I have ever sat. This was mainly because the paper followed a set layout for the questions. So I knew beforehand precisely what sort of answer would be needed for each question so there were no surprises. Of course that doesn’t mean I got the answers right!! Hopefully though I’ve done enough to get over 70% and therefore get a 2:1 on this module.
In response to my dropped stress levels my body then went into full ME crash mode. I’ve been having horrendous headaches, nausea, and fatigue. I’ve therefore been profitably spending my time submerged in my Kindle devouring other writers’ worlds. The highlight of all this reading has been Suzanne Brockmann’sTroubleshooter series (The Unsung Hero). I’m loving the in-depth, intertwined storylines. The romance is really well drawn and the action believable. I love the storyline of David and Mallory. I’d fall in love with David too. 🙂 Finally the dork gets the girl!
In other news, National Novel Writing Month approaches. I have been mulling over my plot issues but am still mostly unresolved on the major issues i.e. the ending!! However I have made progress so once November rolls around I shall begin my plan to rewrite and restructure my novel to actually get into a fit state for consumption by a reader. Given my hibernating state I have not been near my computer for the last week but I shall endeavour to make some progress on character outlines and plot breakdowns in the next few days before November steams around.
For the record four hours sleep is not sufficient for a healthy working day. I was up at 05:30 enjoying the dawn chorus 😦 ; I would much rather have still been asleep. My heart is acting up again. I’ll be lying in bed and it will feel like there is a think layer of insulation around it right in the center of my chest. I get this heavy feeling which feels a bit like indigestion accompanied by that tickle at the back of your throat. Sometimes it even feels like I can feel a value fluttering away in my heart. I’m not even sure that is biologically possible !
Anyway I gave up on lying down and decided to tackle my novel instead. I haven’t been writing the last couple of days and was worried I’d lost my flow. So this morning I read through my novel so far on my Kindle to get back into the rhythm of it. I avoided editing, even though there were some obvious word omission issues. The Superhero Nation articles got me thinking about who my characters are – are they real people or cardboard cut outs? Reading through my novel I feel like they aren’t perfect people so that is okay. But there are some issues with follow-on. The shift from one chapter to the next is quite abrupt. I will have to work on a way to smooth over the transition or key the reader into the change in POV, date and location.
I did manage to write 1607 words today. I think I have the timeline worked out so that I can cover the next set of significant events. Looking at the timeline it is clear I am going to have to go back to the early chapters and add in some details so that it is clear what information is flowing where. I was considering whether I need another POV character to cover the capital and the internal military intelligence situation but I am hoping my main male character will be able to that from now on. So I will have to work out a way for him to be told the information needed in the early chapters.
I managed to do an hour of interview transcription so I only have 20 minutes to go ! 🙂 I still have some commas to check but I am nearing the end of that project. And to cap the day off I won twice at The Settlers of Catan bringing my sister’s benevolent reign to a crashing halt. But mostly whatever I’ve been doing today if I wasn’t writing I wanted to get back to it. I’ve got the writing bug again 😀
Hours of Sleep Today so far : – 7 hours in 2 sessions 😦
Headache intensity / pain level : 6 😦
Nausea level : 0 😀
Joint / muscle pain : 1 😀
Fatigue : 5.5 😐
Brain Fog : 5 🙂
It’s too early !! 😦 Why am I awake? Gahh. I managed 6 hours interrupted sleep over night on the heels of yesterday where I only got 3 hours sleep. I had the most horrendous headache yesterday. I felt like some creature had got it’s mouth parts on the back of my head and was trying to chew its way in, while its pointy sharp fingers tried to gouge out my eyes. I made it to an 8 on my headache scale. It was a pleasant couple of hours in the dark !
I was trying to get some sleep in as I am well aware 3 hours sleep is a nap not a night’s sleep. However my afternoon nap was doomed to failure and I spent 3 hours lying in the dark staring at the back of my eyelids. Eventually the pain died down enough that I could cope with my bedside lamp on, so I was able to read my Kindle for another hour before my headache eased down to normal proportions.
I used my hours in the dark working out an excellent back history to my fictional countries interactions. Combined with my research on rainfall and geography I think I have a solid basis for why one country would be fertile and the neighbouring country have water shortages. I also tried to think out my current outline. When I started I was only planning on one book for the whole story, but it is taking me a lot longer to get through the first section than I thought. Either this is a bad thing and I’m over writing this section or this is a ‘good’ thing and the story actually stands up to being much more in-depth than I originally intended.
I think I have 6 sections to my outline and I’m about 2/3rds the way through the first section. Now they may not all be of equal length but if all six sections are 30,000 words plus then my final word count would be 180,000 words plus. Given that I think this first section is going to need at least 2 more chapters I expect this section to come out at a draft word count of apprx. 48,000, which would make the final word count 288,000. Rather long for one novel !!! So I was thinking, in my enforced darkness, that there is a reasonably natural stopping point in the first 1/3rd of section 3 so I could split the whole story in two at that point and depending on how the last few sections write there is a way to make the last section into an entry into a sequel. Anyway thoughts like this keep me happy and entertained while my head feels like it is being chewed open.
‘Good’ stories mutate on you as you write them so I’m not totally surprised by this turn of events but I think I am surprised that I had so much depth planned without really realizing it. I think this is mainly to do with the fact that everything has to have a reason. I can’t write it if I don’t know why it is the way it is even if that reason is never explicitly stated in the novel. Which is why I spent some of my three hour contemplation working out why the building I’m using is place where it is geographical which lead to a complex territorial dispute between neighbouring countries in the early formation of their states. I love my subconscious since the details dovetailed nicely with some previous thoughts I had had on history of certain famous figures in my backstory.