Feel quite guilty that I haven’t blogged for a while, but this self promoting business is time consuming. However watch this space. 🌸 Or even better download my book so I can catch my breath. No refunds…couldn’t cope with the admin 🤣🤣🤣🤣 Just kidding, you’ll love it, RANDOM ATTACHMENT is WICKED, ACE, PENG, SICK, LEDGE
Recently I joined Instagram and my first thought was how perfect the images are…and those in them. If you check me out you’ll see a handful of snaps. I am a tidy, colour coordinated person so I should fit in here. And wanting to be followed and liked as much as the next person I spent an allowance of energy, I can’t really spare, on colour schemes, interesting juxtaposition and avoiding images of myself; a very ordinary, middle-aged woman, with unruly hair and a penchant for everything pink and flowery. But I realised I couldn’t compete, other book bloggers had images down to perfection and honestly I’m a mess. I’ve the spine of a centenarian; it’s weak and crumbling and my spinal cord is damaged and I can barely dress myself. So although this image above is an arrangement it’s more reflective of the person I am which is a struggling author, used to her own company, mad enough to read extracts of her book to her mutts.
I write two blogs one as an author and one as a sufferer of Myelopathy called My Hell Opathy. I haven’t a great deal to offer in terms of exciting places, holidays, clothes, restaurants so I strive for honesty…which doesn’t always look attractive. I want to be the kind of writer who looks for hidden gems: a good heart, fairness, grace, pure unprejudice. I am a total believer of, no matter what bad things you’ve done in your life you can change, maybe you can’t take it back, you should be punished, you may never be forgiven, but a new life is possible.
How we look matters; there is no escaping that fact. It seems to matter more when we’re young. We have this negative image of ourselves in our head which is out of proportion; our pessimism photoshops it, so we hate ourselves. Then we fall in love, and it’s like our dark bloom has flowered into something extraordinary until we are dumped. We are like Pandora’s Box with each crack that appears escapes: doubt, hate, anger and we do the most damaging things to ourselves and others because pain is sometimes unbearable.
Random Attachment is Mia’s story…but she shares it with a trillion young people. I don’t say girls or women because boys and men equally feel the same hurt; their self-worth, love, desire, hope is no less fragile. How do I know this? Well I’ve a husband and two sons and if that’s not confirmation enough there’s Lil Peep, XXXtentacion, Juice WRLD. These artists are part of the soundtrack to Mia’s self-hate, despondency, loneliness and heartbreak. I still listen to them now, whilst editing The Rebirth of Henry Whittle because they are as relevant to Phoenix Whittle as they are Mia. I scribble words, names of artists, doodles, my appointment for waxing. And I was about to change my sheet for a fresh one when I thought: this is life; imperfect, full of half-finished ideas, riddled with emotion. Then I checked my Insta. Why am I doing this to myself again? Trying to fit in, to be liked, to wondering why my post has 200 likes but nobody wants to see my profile. What effect does this have on a teenager. Especially one who feels overlooked, worthless, crap at school, never invited anywhere, struggling with their sexuality, their identity. Jesus, it’s terrifying, I can feel my heartbeat increase just by typing these words. So I’m rebelling, my house isn’t perfect, it smells of dogs and the kitchen light’s been out of action for three months. I’ve got the worst cellulite in history. I’m so tired all the time. Everyday I think about giving writing up. Everyday I want to curl up and sleep forever.
My emotion isn’t the raw, gut wrenching bleakness a teen feels but I’m not fooled by how damaging it can be. Music gives a relevant, bittersweet insight to the teen psyche. At 51, writing YA, this resource is probably as close as I’ll get to young adult thinking unless I become a councilor. I’m not pretending to know half of what’s being expressed. It’s almost a foreign language to someone like me who only swears when the banoffee tarts run out. But the emotion is there; this dark energy that I claim as once my own. There’s a brutality to emo rap that’s beautiful; a vocabulary that at first seems vulgar, violent, sexually explicit. But if you forget who you are, and listen, you start to understand who they are.
Mia is a dreamer…which sounds exciting and ambitious. If I had to colour dreams, they’d be soft hues of yellow, sky blues, light green…but what if your dreams twist like you’re wringing out a grey, stained dish cloth. What if they gnaw away at you? What if you desire something so badly is hurts? What if you think of a cold, damp, earthiness, six feet under? Mia’s desperate to escape, to be loved, to be lovable. But where’s the emotion in that? Where’s the taste of hurt so bitter even when you spit it out it lingers. Where’s the fucking loneliness. Why the fuck does Mia care about her mother. She’s a fucking bitch! Now there’s the hurt, the loneliness, the hate. So I listen to a lot of emo rap, it’s fuel for dark writing; for those emotions that can be destructive, that are born from every cruel or thoughtless word tossed Mia’s way; from how her mother picks her up and puts her down.
Beamer Boy is Mia; she feels like a nobody, like she’s a buffer for her mum, a gofer. So she dreams about boyfriends, being slim again, dancing, having friends…killing her mum…and she is a girl who doesn’t need a boy…but she desires Flynn; there’s a difference. So it’s my song of the week.
Lil Peep and many emo rappers are well tattooed up. Not the popular, well placed, top ten tats but totally random words and art work in visual places. Their stories written on their skin; their songs emotionally and intimately revealing. It’s hard to think this talent, this young man is dead.
We start judging so young. In the playground abusing one another. Hurting each other when there’s sandpits to play in and who doesn’t love paint?
“Sticks and stones might break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”
Chant it to yourself a million times; it’s still not true. Names hurt a lot; Trippe Redd says so, Mia agrees. It’s not just names its: texts, snapchats, facebook, instagrams, twitter; each mistake, each misplaced word, rejection is magnified through social media and the weight of people’s opinion is crushing.
We’re so susceptible to negativity when we’re young. Hearts aren’t bullet proof and minds do dwell on every word spoken, every wardrobe choice, the phone calls that never came. Pull yourself together, be strong, you’ve got this, you’re the better person, grow from it. It’s all bullshit. That’s advice for someone who’s lost their mobile or turned up to school wearing uniform on a non uniform day. When you’re dangerously low; imagining a darkness where all your pain disappears, you don’t want to grow from it, you want it over, gone, finished…you don’t want to be strong…you don’t want to be anything, ever.
Mia thinks – what’s the point? She doesn’t care about herself or school. She’s sixteen and a crutch for her mother. She barely exists…until she sees Flynn. It’s not a case of a knight in shining armour; that’s romantic but outdated. Flynn’s the spark, the catalyst, not the hero…why should he be under that pressure? Mia has to find what she needs from within.
They say write what you know. So what about Game of Thrones or Harry Potter? Whoever first gave this advice, I think they meant write what you feel. Like lyrics in a song. Like Lil Peep. Some writers, JK Rowling for instance, have an imagination that is boundless. Not me. My imagination is very much on earth, living in a head that can’t imagine past the high street. As a middle-aged women, my emotions’ sharp edges have become blunt from experience. I rarely cry, I find it hard to comfort others, I don’t care what people think of me. Yet when I write, I feel everything as fiercely as I did in my teens…but me, the woman recognises negative emotion as a trap. It’s like a vampire; you’re drawn in by it because you feel so shit about everything. It comforts you with this cloak of darkness that numbs you to the point you feel a sweet sense of peace that you want to hold onto…forever. So unlike the brilliant Thirteen Reasons Why my YA characters will never do the unthinkable…they might want to…they might be on the brink of…but I can’t let that happen because of the insight age brings. I know this:
no matter how much you hurt pain dulls with time even when you don’t want it to
around the corner is possibility: friends, lovers, achievements, adventures
Life is hope and Death is hopeless.
One of my favourite films, WRISTCUTTERS, is the journey of three people who commit suicide and end up in a limbo for suiciders. It’s here they learn to value life and go on this mad adventure to get back to the living world.
I know from experience that when you’ve really hit bottom you don’t want to go back to living.
To put it like emo rappers we are all fucked up inside. Sometimes it’s our parents that fuck us up, sometimes it’s friends, boyfriends, complete strangers, events, abuse. Some of us will never fit in. What’s the saddest thing is some of us won’t make it. We’ll never know if love, friendship, acceptance, happiness was only around the corner. For Mia it had to be. For me? I’m not spending four hours putting my books in piles according to colour; my energies need to go on writing and not feeling sorry for myself.
I want to live till I’m a hundred, writing books and loving my family. I know some days I’ll forget this…but I’ll listen to Lil Peep and XXXtentacion and I’ll know we all feel like we are walking a tightrope between the living and the dead.
If I was in a room full of teenagers I’d give this advice. People will always judge you, let you down, hurt you, but that’s the life they are living, one of ignorance, bitterness, dissatisfaction, jealousy, competition. You need to LIVE YOUR LIFE; don’t let someone or something cut it short. And ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS tell someone how you feel, don’t be embarrassed, don’t be scared of hurting them, don’t think you’ll look like a dick or weak, don’t think people will blame you or that somehow you deserve it, or it’s your fault.
When I felt threatened, coz that’s how you feel when parents dump all their shit on you, I hadn’t anyone to talk to and I worried my mum would find a diary and use it against me and I genuinely loved her and didn’t want my words to hurt her so I wrote letter after letter to John Taylor (Duran Duran). My friend had seen him going into a house in South Kensington so I had the address (we think). It didn’t solve my problems but it lightened my heart. I hope you all find a way to lighten your hearts and LIVE!
My Channel: Ramblings of a Mad Woman…actually Gertrude T Kitty.
I listen to a lot of emo rap, it’s fuel for dark writing; for those emotions that can be destructive, that are bourne from every cruel or thoughtless word tossed your way, from how people pick you up and put you down.
“Sticks and stones might break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”
Chant it to yourself a million times and it’s still not true. Names hurt a lot; Trippe Redd says so, Mia agrees. It’s just so much worse insults, slurs are
Every mistake, misplaced word, rejection is magnified through social media and the weight of people’s opinion crushes.
We’re so susceptible to negativity when we’re young. I don’t think there is a recipe for healthy self esteem, for shielding yourself against bullying, for thinking positively. Pull yourself together, be strong, you’ve got this, you’re the better person, grow from it. It’s all bullshit. That advice is for someone whose lost their mobile or turned up to school wearing uniform on a non uniform day. When you’re dangerously low you don’t want to grow from it, you want it over, gone, finished…you don’t want to be strong…you don’t want to be anything, ever.
Mia sometimes thinks – what’s the point? Her trouble is her mum’s isolated her, relied on
Teens live now
They say write what you know. So what about Game of Thrones or Harry Potter? Whoever first gave this advice, I think they meant write what you feel. Like lyrics in a song. Like Lil Peep.
The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants was my daughters’ favorite book. Now I’m introducing The Sisterhood of The Travelling Book because between the three of us we are giving my book exposure.
I began the day with a vlog. I’d previously researched how to connect with an audience. Apparently you need to bring the energy. Unfortunately me and energy haven’t been in the same room for some time. Instead I natter about my latest read Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear which begun promisingly. I’m about a third in and I’m not riveted but I love the London feel and the insight to the characters. It has a flavour of Ian McEwan’s Atonement, in that, a child’s perception is often flawed.
I put this thriller aside for my husband’s and my Valentine Lunch. It’s quieter a few days before the actual date; I’m not great in restaurants with tight spacing and lots of diners because my spatial awareness dives.
I was pretty excited…they’d rhubarb crumble for dessert….and it’s not often we go on dates; money is tight and I get tired easily.
I’ve been married twenty-eight years; my husband was my first boyfriend. I’ve been with him more years than I’ve been without him. We still find plenty to chat and laugh about which is nice at our age. Particularly my diversion into writing and self publishing.
Arriving at the restaurant I’m a bit disappointed they haven’t put much thought into Valentine; there’s not an inflated, shimmering heart in sight nor a sprinkling of glitter hearts on the table. Anyway my novel comes out and I make a pretty arrangement and snap. The waiter comes over and I ask for two glasses of champagne; it comes with the Valentine set menu. It arrives for the next photo opportunity!
Next we’re offered the standard menu yet my booking clearly states Valentine Menu. The waiter looks uncomfortable then says it’s only available on 14th. My heart drops to my socks. I’m sure it was for a whole week, starting today? But I get so confused. Fibromyalgia brain fog and medication has me second guessing myself constantly. It’s been the basis of my depression. It’s why it’s easier to stay in. Don’t worry my husband says, we’ll pick from the main menu…but that’s going to cost. I check the pretty valentine menu for dates; in tiny writing it says valid from 9 Feb to 16 Feb. I feel more than annoyed when I point this out. I could accept Madam, very sorry, we’re not offering the Valentine menu but here’s a complimentary glass of champagne – instead a lie – which had my confidence plummeting. I knocked my cutlery off the table. Reaching for it, I dropped my novel on the floor. I sip my champagne and think f**k; this champagne’s now outside the safety of the Valentine price.
We play the disabled card. There are NO advantages to being disabled. Thoughtless people say:
you don’t work anymore
you can park easily
you get a free ticket at the cinema
I want to run across the beach. I want to dance to Wiley at my son’s eighteenth. I want to enroll on SAS Who Dares Wins!
I digress. My husband told them about my condition, how much I’d looked forward to today, how exhausting this mix up is for me – it was all true – but not exactly low key or romantic.
The restaurant sees the error of their ways and throw champagne and pudding in for free. We relax. My husband picks my book and camera up, walks off and returns with this image. Ok it’s not as clean and pretty as my shots but The Sisterhood of the Travelling Book has it’s first male member.
On Valentine’s Day my book accompanies me to a patisserie where I’m known as Mrs Banoffee. For Christmas my son’s generous girlfriend bought my husband and I Afternoon Tea and I booked it for 14th Feb. During our marriage we’ve only ever celebrated our children’s birthdays so this dating business is like our early days, when we thought about what we’d wear, what we’d take off. I’m not the person either of us imagined I’d be at 51. I seriously thought with mind over matter I could cheat Myelopathy…not so. I’m pretty broken in some ways…I accept that but don’t ever think I gave up. Life for the disabled is like special forces training…it’s a mental game as well as physical. It’s about the team not the individual. When I was so weak I couldn’t turn the pages of a book my husband tore the pages from the spine and attached a few at a time to a clipboard; we called it the swindle (kindle for the poor). When days were painful and I had no distraction my daughters said write a novel, a few pages a day. Those pages became The Rebirth of Henry Whittle, the next Random Attachment, the next September.
Now I blog, vlog and Twitter. I might be pushy, maybe I’ll oversell my book, annoy people, but for me Random Attachment is:
my FY to Myelopathy
my message to every teen who feels less than they are
my affirmation to my family that I will get through dark times because I’m a mother, a wife, a reader, a writer.
Thank you for reading and to the lovely ASH @FTLOBooks for inviting me to guest blog.
It’s midweek and I’ve been yo-yoing between conquering social media and hiding under the quilt. Editing one book and trying to sell another. Wobbling about the coffee shop to whaling on the sofa. Oh and going to the loo like every fifteen minutes. Kids, Music, Marriage, Writing, Two Barking Dogs and Books are my life. Here’s my latest vlog, that I’ve edited badly but life is one long lesson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXuDkpZeg84&t=91s
Today is my daughter’s birthday. She’s in Brugge with her boyfriend. My other daughter’s at uni, first year. My novels and blogs are mechanisms that keep them in my heart.
I was horribly unwell when I first started writing. What little energy I had I spent chatting to my four children. Kitty and I would get so excited about the weekly episode of #vampirediaries. We’d try to find films with a baddie that when faced with a dilemma would do the right thing like Damon. There are two films that were flops, but I loved them, purely because the male protagonist is beautifully, sexily evil; The Guest and No One Lives. Kitty and I would come up with scenarios for boys/girls of this ilk. This led us to a scenario where an assassin steals an identity and comes into contact with a damaged teen girl. This premise got forgotten for a while, mainly because I was so unwell. After my second operation, feeling regenerated our concept reignited and my other daughter Gerty came up with a title ‘The Rebirth of Henry Whittle.”
The following morning I wrote all day. Then the next and the next and so on. It was addictive. I was quite weak and housebound so the characters became totally real to me. I loved them. The girls critiqued, proof read, laughed at me a lot! I updated. We came up with a pen name Gertrude T Kitty (my girls’ nicknames and T because it sounded good). Then off went the first three chapters to literary agents. I struggled with that. I’m too old and too unwell to be anyone but myself or to sell myself. Luckily there was a lot of interest in the premise and requests for the full manuscript. I had lots of ‘we liked it but didn’t love it’ or it’s not one for us but that’s subjective’. I also had two offers of representation and an American publishing house that were considering it. I went with an agent I immediately felt comfortable with. Sadly it did not work out. But I learnt so much, from her and from the response of editors at publishing houses. I took a break then decided to go it alone. No having to compromise.
Readers for me are incredibly important. An unread book means I’m not an author. Yes I had the joy of writing it and sharing it with my daughters but it’s about identity. I’ve a degenerative spine condition; there is so much I can’t do but I can write. I can Twitter. I can blog/vlog and endeavour to connect my book with readers. Readers are magic because they sprinkle fairly dust and they’re with your characters; turning each page, making them real.
My book is an invitation to connect with new people, of all ages, all around the world. I won’t feel awkward or have nothing to say because we’ll have Random Attachment in common. Yes, lots of folk will tell me how wrong I’ve got it, but honestly it won’t upset me. I’m a newbie, a wildcard; I am going to make mistakes. I’m a different generation to my readership so I’ll be out of touch; sometimes say the wrong thing. I’m actually my teenage self again, trying to find a place to fit in, unsure of myself, a bit fragile at times.
My female protagonists are not perfect. Nobody is. We are all flawed and talented in some way but that’s what makes us special and unique. I want girls to read my books then look in the mirror and know they are beautiful. There’s always those that will make you feel less than you are. You might be unable to cut them from your life because you live with them. I think that’s why teen years can be the hardest because you’re trapped; at home or at school. I imagine that’s how a lot of battered wives feel. Unless you’re wealthy you can’t just walk away from a marriage.
My male protagonists will never follow a stereotype. I’ve never met the perfect, 6ft, chiseled cheekboned, 6 packed man. My husband is small and roundish; during our marriage he’s been a villain and a hero.
Today I woke up fresh and I showered. That alone caused me to crumble. I’ve had to lay still til Tramadol kicked in. I’m moving poorly, my body is sluggish and unresponsive. I’m weeing every 15 minutes. What’s lovely though is I have purpose. I’m eager to check things out on Twitter. Then Amazon to see if I’ve any further reviews (only have 4). I check KDP to see if I’ve sold a book. Then I read some blogs.
Having any illness can be lonely, even when you’re surrounded by those you love. Especially neurological diseases and mental illness because the unseen disabilities often have the least support. I yearn to be an author because I need to live a fulfilling life; it’s self help for someone who spends long periods at home. Life doesn’t stop for others when you’re disabled; friends work and socialise, your kids move out and rightly have lives of their own; so it’s up to me to make things work.
So when you read my book not only are you bringing my characters to life, you’re bringing me to life. Thank you for that. X
It’s been a difficult week. The news from my surgeon is that there is nothing surgically he can do, even though I increasingly become more disabled. I walk like a drunk baboon; it’s ugly. I’ve stopped pool exercising; it’s a blow because it helped combat my increasing weight and wasting muscle whilst lifting my spirits enormously…but it’s spiking my pain. There is no doubt in my mind that right now swimming vertically is off bounds.
The car is a blessing as I can’t walk far but it’s also a major contributor to my immobility and pain. Whatever is going on in my body, it does not like me sitting, or travelling. So I avoid it which is akin to being on house arrest. Many myelopathers have been like this for years but I’ve fortunately bounced back so well after each operation…but there is no outrunning your fate as Final Destination foretold.
I’ve made losses and gains; my writing is a life line. Being able to engage in an activity comfortably at home is incredibly lucky.
I have a beautiful family that love me and want the best for me. We’re not perfect, we have our Eastenders moments. My youngest is 17, in his last year at school, and if all goes well he’ll be at uni next year so it’ll be just my husband and I at home. So my ‘mum’ role has reduced considerably. Now, it’s about having the energy and health to live a life with my husband. For 40 years I’ve always thought of others before myself. Now I’m physically diminished and emotionally worn I haven’t the will or energy to contribute significantly to people’s lives other than my husband and kids.
I rarely phone friends. I hate the phone. Anyone who has suffered depression will understand; a main symptom is phone phobia. But I may pick up the phone if it rings. I will enjoy chatting once I get into it.
Random Attachment is medicinal. It’s important I don’t focus too much on my children. They need to feel unburdened and able to live their lives without thinking I’m going to throw a wobbly. I don’t need constant attention or reassurances I simply need to look after myself better.
Time for me is different. I don’t work. Often I have no sleep pattern. My routine is trying to see my son off to school. I call him long bean…I use to call him chicken or sausage but now I’m Vegan he’s a member of the Bean family…maddness…I know…it’s what becomes of you when you’re on house arrest. I’ve seen some shocking videos of barbaric animal welfare: a live rabbit being plucked for its fur for angora jumpers, never again will I wear angora. A cow that cried; real tears fell from its eyes as it was restrained. Sometimes it’s dwelling on the injustices in the world that lead to me feeling down. Anyway back to Long Bean. I think about his breakfast, even if I can only manage buttering a hot cross bun. It’s about spending time with him. I’ll tidy a little…sometimes I’ll tidy too much. I settle down at my computer and work on my novel…sometimes I’ll type too long. I attempt banter on social media with my older children, then I’ll twitter…sometimes I’m unsure about my responses to tweets and feel a bit anxious. If I’m well my husband and I go for coffee; I try to leave the house once a week. My spacial awareness is poor, I bump into people and things; I get flustered and very confused communicating which makes me nervy. Writing clears my head. When my fingers are slowly typing a life, a place, a feeling, it’s like I’m regenerated. In my head I’m doing the craziest stuff.
I’ve family who can’t reconcile my condition with my writing. They don’t realise the lengths you’ll go to when you are housebound, in my case 296 pages. I think they want me to give in, to throw in the towel, to stop living because that’s what they’ve done. I am fighting every day to live life. I have no room for negativity. People either get on board with me or not. I will keep writing, blogging, Twittering. I will never apologise for the time I spend writing.
It’s overwhelming how many books there are and how many book bloggers. I mean, you write a book, and you’re sort of amazed at yourself that you accomplished that but you are so far away from the end game, so far in fact, that if you’d known you probably would never have put yourself through writing a book. I’m being dramatic, I loved writing my book, writing is the absolute best.
Twittering is quite exhausting. I am easily fatigued. Hanging on in there takes a great deal of energy…but I’ve a book to promote. This is one of the things I tell myself when I wake. I equally love and hate my KDP sales bar chart. I love a sale, even though I might only be earning 25p; I fling open my door and shout it to the heavens. On days where there is no bar my mouth downturns and I feel sad for my little book, just waiting for someone to open its pages to free the words.
I’ve been contacting book bloggers, they have professional, beautiful sites. Even the humblest are witty, current, mini blogging stars. Whereas I’m an asteroid orbiting around their sun. I am going to have to be fully committed to social media to make my book stand out.
Be interesting says online advice. Well, you see the problem. Interesting is not a word I’ve ever associated with myself. I’m very ordinary, I do mundane, ordinary things like put a wash on, or sort out the spare socks…but upstairs…in my head…is a killer, a twisted mind thinking brutish thoughts.
Run giveaways. Yes! I sent my novel off to two deserving young adults. But I’m a mum, I know what kids are like. The last thing they’ll do is read. I’m gently coaxing them. I think they’d be hooked if they make it to chapter 5.
I did a bribery type promotion. Buy my book and all this is yours.
I think reviews are key. I’ve only got 4 reviews out of 52 sales, 7.7%. Not great. Gone are the days when all and sundry could review you. There are so many restrictions and bylaws to prevent the author hyping their own book. Reviews are now totally legit.
As with most things, it helps if you can throw money at it, advertise your book on Amazon and Goodreads, get it to pop up on people’s screens. I’m word of mouth, it will be a slow process. In the meantime I’m reading The Rebirth of Henry Whittle. It’s been a couple of months since I last gave it attention. My health is the determining factor of how long or short I work on it each day.
Unless you had a progressive degenerative condition it would be hard to imagine the determination and physical effort it takes to get rolling. If you knew you’d have the worst strain of flu with an evil migraine for the rest of your life you’d be traumatised. My husband and children see what a mess I am, how broken I am. So they want me to take things easy, put myself first, enjoy my writing, ask others to work around me. It is perhaps a selfish way to live…but living is the key word.
For all those struggling with mental health, you are never alone although it will feel like it, be vocal, to your family, friends, on line. People often say pull yourself together, be strong, think of all you have, think of your family but depression, anxiety, mental illness doesn’t work like that. The hopelessness is so bleak and weighty you don’t have the energy for positive thought and the feeling of wanting to sleep forever is the dominant emotion; the way out of your despair. For me, every time I’ve blogged, vlogged, Twittered, the weight of hopelessness eases. I’ll put the kettle on. Netflix follows. Sometimes when it’s particularly bad I go to bed, shut down, sleep it away.
Some think depression is self indulgent, is weak, but it’s often those that give most to others that struggle to give to themselves. For me, exhaustion is my trigger. Often I take on more than I can cope with. By the time I realise this it’s too late; everything bad thing that’s ever happened to me plays on my mind, like building blocks it intensifies till I’m drowning in self doubt and negativity. An hour later there’s not even a shadow of earlier depression; I’m one hundred percent my happy go lucky self.
We are all an enigma, trying to figure ourselves out, whilst others try to figure us out. At this stage of my life I simply want to be a kind person and have others be kind to me.
If you are on twitter, instagram of wordpress it would be lovely if you would give me a follow. If you have kindle unlimited you can download my book for free. I would love reviews, good, bad, shoutouts on social media, I welcome them all because they will make me a better writer. I will actively follow you back. If you love YA, romance, thrillers and you can afford to buy my book that would be amazing. 10% will go to myelopathy.support and 10% to YMCA West London.
Enjoying a book is subjective. I know this from the many rejection letters I received from agents when I first started out. Then when I had an agent, rejections from editors saying ‘I liked it but I didn’t love it’.
I am prepared that for every five-star review my novel receives, there might be twenty one-star reviews. I can’t be more accurate because so far Random Attachment has only 3 reviews. In a way this feels worse, it’s like you’ve gone to the school disco and no one wants to dance with you. I feel rather rejected. It’s early days I tell myself. Life is so busy that readers most likely won’t review my book which is disappointing when you are literally a struggling writer.
In between tweeting about my amazing, spectacular, potentially YA version of #FiftyShades meets #Psycho (I have to be this confident because doubt won’t sell copies) I’m reading.
Lisa Jewell – Then She Was Gone: Slow start but boy does it get a grip of you and twist you around.
C.L. Taylor – The Treatment. The well plotted adult thriller writer diversified into Young Adult. I’m such a big fan that perhaps my expectations were too high. It simply did not take off. The YA voice was lacking, the characters flat, the story predictable. I think the biggest challenge of writing YA is that I’m a middle-aged woman who needs an authentic teenage voice. This is one of the reasons I’m going it alone. With my first (unpublished) novel The Rebirth of Henry Whittle my agent felt the YA voice was too street and too sophisticated. I don’t think she gave credit to the savvy young adults out there ruling the world. I also feel she found the slang and swear words unpalatable, as do I, but the protagonist’s voice is central to the success of the novel. I don’t say f**k but Mia does. And she wants to make love with Flynn, on a bed, against a wall, once, maybe more; she views intimacy as a natural response to finding someone attractive. Promiscuity is possibly an outdated verb. It’s these key issues that I compromised on first time around with my agent. My daughters advised against diluting the vocab and the darkness and they were right. I’m not saying CL Taylor’s characters should be swearing and jumping each others bones but they should be 3D. I hate blandness; I want to love, hate, fear characters. I remember when I picked up 13 Reasons Why long before the hype and I couldn’t put it down; I felt sick to the pit of my stomach, not just for Hannah and Clay but her family, Jessica, Justin – that is a book that doesn’t come around often.
I’m new to writing, I’ve been working at it for about five years on and off; barely any time at all. If I could write one totally, mind-blowing novel like 13 Reasons Why that would mean the world. Perhaps I’m incapable…I don’t know.
I am confident in my writing though; I don’t shake at the knees that my friends are reading stuff and nonsense. I’m widely read in the YA/NA market and if I can make sales I think Random Attachment can hold its own out there.
I recently read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyerand other than a cool name and a great book cover I didn’t rate it. Random Attachment is all about the characters. Could the premise be better constructed? Yes, with the help of a professional editor or maybe by me in ten years when I know what I’m doing. I’m winging it at the moment. I guess I expect more of traditionally published novels because of the expertise and resources they have to bring a book together. I didn’t connect with Mara. The story seemed all over the place.
I daren’t think about the criticism coming my way. Or perhaps readers are so pee’d off they won’t review it. I hope that’s not the case.
Right now I’m focusing on social media, getting my name out there, trying to sell my book. The paperback is as low in price as I’m allowed, I’m only making 25p on each sale and 20% of that is going to charity @myelopathy.org and @YMCAWestLondon. So reviews are key and for anyone that has purchased the paperback, passing it on would be great. If you liked it then please Instagram it, Twitter, Facebook, whatever you can do is greatly appreciated. I’m relying on reviews and word of mouth. To date I’ve sold 43 copies, not exactly mind blowing so all support appreciated. I’m not too proud to accept help, go for it!
Us myelopathers live in a higgeldy piggeldy world. Nothing is straight forward, nothing is set in stone when it comes to our condition. It’s eight years ago this month that I had my first operation. When I think of the physical and mental battle I’ve had since then it’s amazing I’m still here never mind have written a book. I don’t say this lightly; my battle with myelopathy has been as exhausting mentally as it has physically. I can’t tell you how often I’ve been on the edge of madness. Connecting with others sufferers through http://www.myelopathy.org/support.html has helped me understand my condition as well as supported my mental health. Any long term illness with chronic pain can lead to depression, acting out of character, gambling, drinking, debt – blogging is a way of letting off steam whilst connecting with the myelopathy community.
My husband and children have been total rocks. They understand the condition well because they live it with me. They’ve seen me on my hands and knees trying to get from the sofa to the kitchen to put the kettle on because I want to do it for myself. They’ve seen me bent over double, breathing like I’m in labour because the pain is so acute it takes my breath away. I’ve spent the last seven years stumbling, swaying, knocking into, tripping over, falling onto a world that seems to be erratically spinning around me.
I’ve always been a glass half full person. When I couldn’t work, walk, sleep I wrote. I poured all my pain, frustration and despair into blogging and writing Young Adult romantic thrillers.
Two weeks ago I self published Random Attachment. For me this is a huge thing. A massive achievement. Also it’s my ray of hope. I won’t bore you with what I’ve lost, with what my condition has stripped me of because I don’t feel sorry for myself. But writing has enabled me to reinvent myself, to be Gertrude T Kitty, author. It’s taken the spotlight off my condition and has given me back some self esteem.
I don’t imagine my book will make multi million sales or I’ll have royalties into the thousands but whatever I have once Amazon take their cut I hope will support my writing and help YMCA West London, Centrepoint and http://www.myelopathy.org/ Up to now I have written for myself, now I am writing for others. I’ve worked this last fortnight on Twittering, Facebooking, vlogging, anything to get my book promoted. My husband has been photocopying and cutting up little adverts for Random Attachment. I’ve been very unwell and immobile during this time so have only left the house once but I did put it up in a newsagent and coffee shop in Pinner. I am up and feeling well today so have my photocopies and pins in my bag ready to pin it up whereever I legally can. I’m asking you, if you could print out the advert and pin it up on a board where you work, or where your children have clubs.
My lovely bookclubbers have bought my book. Thank you for supporting me. I’m dreading feedback because I know how high our expectations are when we critique some of the greats in literature…remember I’m a minnow.
So here I am before Christmas, with a book that is all the more precious to me because my daughters were so instrumental in supporting me during writing and getting it out there.
Yesterday I filmed my first vlog about my book. It took me five attempts because I was so waffly and repeatedly said ‘you know’, ‘so’, ‘erm’. But here is the link to it and the link to my Young Adult (unsuitable for under 14’s) romantic, thriller. I would love if you’d follow me on Twitter @gertrudetkitty. If you buy my book that would be wonderful…if you read it that would be even better and your critique would be the icing on the cake…oh and sharing it. It’s a lot, I know, because it’s hitting your purses, wallets and your time. God I hope the book’s not terrible after all this.