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Even in a little thing

31st October, 2014. 10:54 pm.

I'm a bit quiet today, partly because I have that dratted virus. It's better than yesterday. it will be better tomorrow. Sunday I am back to normal, for I have decided this. (the actual value of 'normal' depends, however, on other factors)

I spent a lot of my real energy at the doctor this morning. We confirmed I have a virus, but that wasn't why I went. I went because it was the next stage in sorting out issues with walking. We have a potential diagnosis and three whole new (big) samples of blood were taken to check it out, and I'm on antibiotics for three weeks regardless because it all sounds quite possible and we both want me to be able to move normally again. I'll report back in a few weeks, but I'm hopeful this time. If this goes well, then there were two things wrong with me and they both had rather nasty side effects. If the current medicine works, then there will be neither of the two things wrong with me (except that I'll have to lie on a pool noodle every now and again for a little longer, to keep my spine aligned).

I've damaged my shoulder, which may be in addition or it might be a part of the parcel, so I have to wait and see.

And, for Canberrans, the parking-friendly family chain chemist right near my place is determinedly matching prices with other chemists (they check online before they charge me for a herbal thingie - they've sorted out the prescription meds and are working on the vitamins and then will move onto price matching other stock, as far as I can determine). And because they're a family chemist they chat and do the old-fashioned "What can be done to make things better?" Every time I go in, I get the coolest conversations, and it reminded me of going to the chemist when i was a kid. The pharmacist came out from behind his area to actually show me things. As they get busier, this will happen less, but right now it's just lovely.

I do believe I might be changing my chemist, for it's the first time I've ever had price and service in the one place - and it's close to home (I walk out of the medical centre and then look to the right and there it is).

Today they were amused at themselves for becoming a bit of a grocer: they have milk and tinned goods and instant noodles. I think it's because a lot of people come to the medical centre and need vital foodstuffs and are not quite well enough to go further. As I said, old-fashioned service. Instead of saying "Go half a mile up the street" they put a bit of milk in one of their fridges. The milk isn't cheap, but I investigated and the use by date is the same as said big supermarket. This could be handy if ever I get ill... wait...

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30th October, 2014. 9:44 pm.

Today is a day where I am a bit silent because today is a day where I am a bit unwell. I'm a lot better than I was this afternoon, though, and I was scheduled to go to the doctor early tomorrow.

Tomorrow I have a big post planned (the one I got halfway through when life intervened, today, in fact). I've been puzzled by writer's block for years, and why people angsted about it. My students don't need more angst, so I taught them why I don't angst. I bet my approach is duplicated on a thousand websites, but I'm going to explain it anyhow. Because.

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29th October, 2014. 8:43 am.

I'm getting in early with blogging because today is a double-speed day. Also one full of mysteries and books. This will be good when I wake up properly. Waking up properly may be difficult. Coffee isn't helping, oddly.

I've done 48 of the things on the list on the back of my door. I still have ten things to do by the time I sleep on Friday. Some of these things depend on other people, so if I can finish five of them, I'll count it a month well spent, especially as only one of today's many tasks is actually *on* the list. I might make that two, and read more Aurealis. I'm not sure about two books today, however satisfying it will be: this is my busy day. If I can finish one, though, then I can reach 50 items tomorrow, quite early. Hmm, we'll see.

In the meantime, I have ten minutes before I prepare and leave for teaching, and I can read valiantly for ten minutes, if I must. Oh! The agony! (There's one thing I like about this time of year - there's enough reading to fill most interstices.)

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29th October, 2014. 12:55 am.

Tonight I read this:

It's made me very thoughtful and much less morose. Some of the loneliness is not just me. Mind you, some of it is friends who move on and live differently and have forgotten me, but that's life and is bound to happen.

I'm not particularly isolated for a writer (being both gregarious and having wonderful friends in the age of the internet), but there are moments of loneliness and those moments of loneliness get worse when the health intervenes and restricts my choices. Reading Rosemary Sutcliff on it made me feel much less bad, for she dealt with much worse than me and she dealt with style. it's not just her writing that's amazing.

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28th October, 2014. 3:44 pm.

I'm taking a break today. Not a break from work, but a break from the work I have to do this week. I looked at my schedule, realised that so much of it depends on me thinking exceptionally clearly and decided that today was going to be a day for fiction. I don't need to tackle some of it for months, but if it's done early then i won't have to face it later. So there's that, and a meeting, and making more space for other things by reading more Aurealis books. A restful day, but not a lazy one.

The fiction I'm working on is the first of mine that has a clear alternate world with its own history. There are alternate worlds in other fiction of mine but they're carefully delineated to leave that sense of complete reality a little open. This will be the first novel of mine where there is no ambiguity. As I do my final checks of it before it gets to the editor (for it's one of the contracted ones, and this is why it's bringing forward work rather than avoiding work) I find out how my world-building works. In reading it, and looking at the world-building, I can see why my publisher half-suggested a sequel. It's not the plot - it's the complexity of the world: there's stuff to be explored. That's the other reason I'm doing it early. If he decides he wants a sequel, then I need to plan it into my next two years. I'm editing, therefore, while keeping in mind what can be written and what should be written, and then I'll send it to him and ask him if we can talk it through.

This novel is me looking at colonialism. A while back I was examining how empires actually end (as opposed to how fantasy thinks they end) and how independent states get through that transition time and I thought "This would make a fine novel." There is racism and there are problems with technology and above all, there are committees. If it gets a sequel, I'll be amused, just for that latter reason. Sequels to novels about committees...

It's restful. Working on my own fiction (whether writing or editing) is a good place for me. That and a nice big cup of Greek coffee and my day is shaping up very nicely.

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27th October, 2014. 9:04 pm.

I had a conversation With Ian Sales in Britain and right now it's haunting me. My perimenopausal brain can't remember spec fic works where the chief protagonist/s is/are women in their late fifties or older. Between us we came up with a few short stories (mostly from his end, let me admit), and I've added Terry Pratchett to the mix, and now I'm stumped. I knew there weren't many (hence the conversation) but I'm sure that I'm missing some and that they're obvious.

The idea of needing more mature women to front up novels is something that's been with me for a while, and one of the manuscripts I recently sold is my personal reaction to that. Also, some of the stories on our list come from my own editing of things (because I like receiving these stories from writers, so writers write them when they're thinking of me, I suspect). The list currently is woeful, however, and it's my brain that's to blame. This is bugging me.

Hive mind, please help!!

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27th October, 2014. 10:18 am. Where Gillian is dull and count-y (but very efficient)

Every month for the last little while, I've taken a giant piece of paper and stuck it to my front door (the back of it) and written down major things I have to do in that month. Things like blogging and emailing don't fit there, nor do simple admin tasks or most meetings. The three days in Sydney only counted as one thing, and the teaching prep was part of that one thing. To give you an idea of the minimum blocks of time that make things go up, my Aurealis reading is written up in sets of two books (last year it was each book as a task, but last year we had more time to read).

I cross things out as they're complete and I add more as they arise. If I don't finish something that month, it's the first item to go up the next month. I only had two carry-over items from last month, because last month I was totally and amazingly organised and besides, I wasn't here for half the month. This month I've been working very hard, but I suspect I may have more carry-over. Thus far, you see, I've crossed off forty-two things. I think if I can get to fifty, I must be content. Fifty-six would complete the list, but I can't see how I can fit that amount of work into the next few days and besides, three of those items depend on outside input I haven't yet been given. I'll do my best. I do think this officially makes October a busy month, however.

I want to cross two more things off before I get to the dentist. Just two. Three would be better, I admit, but two would keep me on top of things and would finish one large array of linked tasks that's occupied my fortnight. This means it's back to the Middle Ages for me!

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26th October, 2014. 1:11 pm.

Market morning was good, even though the only new thing I bought was curd. It wasn't that curd is new to me (I've made it, I've bought it, I've created strange dishes from it) but that this was the curd that would otherwise have been turned into the upper gourmet end of organic cheddar. It and pickles and fresh cucumber made a very nice lunch, too.

I finished my Aurealis reading for yesterday (and think I might actually have a couple of books I'd be willing to suggest for the award, though still nothing that makes me dream of the wonders of new writing, for there's a lot of derivative work in even the best books so far), but only three chapters of editing. Other things intervened. One of the things that intervened was the third chapter of editing needing much more focus than the others. I lost a thousand words without difficulty, however, for once I rearranged the underlying construct to my satisfaction the repetition of ideas became obvious and lo, the words could go. It will probably need one last go-through by me after my co-writer has checked it and made her changes, but I'm significantly less unhappy about it.

I'm having afternoon tea with a friend and I've done the bare minimum of housework to achieve this for there's not time nor any energy to do the housework I ought to do. Before then, I need to finish more things. If I finish enough things before Dr Who, I get to watch more of Les Revenants. The series reminds me of Broadchurch more than anything else and, like Broadchurch, I have to watch it in small amounts at a time.

All in all, I'm not unhappy with what I've achieved this week. It's short of where I wanted to be, but I'll still meet deadlines. What's more, it's been a high pain week and I've still had a bit of a social life and done rather more than the minimum, workwise. The pain isn't as debilitating as it used to be. This is something important for me, in terms of understanding chronic illness: it's not how much pain or how many symptoms of other sorts, it's how many spoons one has and how much one can actually do.

A few years ago and just the market would have done me for the whole day, after a week like this, but today I've been to the market and chatted with my neighbours and seen my DS9 with my market-friend, I've done some Aurealis reading, some email, some work-related admin and some housework, and it's lunchtime and I still have enough spoons for the next few hours. That's a vast, vast difference.

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25th October, 2014. 3:12 pm.

All that pain has a simple explanation: we have an early seasonal shift. The ACT reached 31 degrees today. It never really stayed in the 20s (the way it ought to for about two months, in a classic seasonal situation) so we went from negatives a few weeks ago to warm now. My complaints are the sound of my body adjusting.

Today I was supposed to be teaching Medieval London, but the course was cancelled. Our current leaders make people very cautious about doing courses just for fun, and Medieval London was precisely that kind of course. It affects my income, but not teaching things Medieval this afternoon doesn't actually take me that far away from the subject area because, instead of teaching, I'm working on the Beast and it's all about the Middle Ages, too. Right now I'm looking at Food and Drink and wondering if I can diet it to the tune of 1000 words. It's not essential to diet it, but it would balance things better.

If I can finish the Middle Ages before dinner I can watch more of Les Revenants and read an Aurealis book.

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24th October, 2014. 11:02 am.

If anyone tells me they want to be more closely connected to the Earth, I'll give them my connections. I'll even backdate the gift so that they can enjoy everything for more years. Between virus and storms and various phenomena I've decided I need a new super power and that the person who needs mine is someone who thinks that the whole deep connection with the physical world thing is joyous and delightful. Not that it isn't wonderful. It's just that I'm 2.5 kg heavier this week because of it. And I've lost hours of work. And my friends have put up with much complaining. And, of course, I hurt.

There is good in the mire, however. Because I knew it was going to be a bad week, I made sure I had DVDs. This week the library kindly stepped forth and I watched HR Pufnstuf (for its high intellectual value, obviously), revisited Torchwood - Children of Earth (for its lighthearted cheer) and have now started Les Revenants. It and Of Mice and Men (which I've never seen, though I loved the book) and some DS9 on Sunday after the market will see me safely through the weekend. If things are still like this next week,I can drop into the library on the way back from the dentist on Monday.

When I was bemoaning and wailing a few minutes ago I remembered something urgent I had to do. It's gone now, so I shall spend a couple of hours in the Middle Ages instead. The urgent stuff will have to wait until after lunch, when my memory will return with the help of much coffee.

My weight will magically go down when the external world stabilises, and I'll be a great deal less miserable when that happens. In the interim, at least I get to rest a whole heap. I shall call this my body's way of catching up with itself after the epic last few months.

In really good news, a few publishers are being clever and sending books. I have reading for next week! I won't make my 30 Aurealis books for this month, but I may make it into the twenties.

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