At a crossroads

I’m having a bit of a career crisis at the moment.

My life plan for the last decade or so has been: work as a freelance editor while patiently waiting for the magical moment when someone will agree to publish a book I’ve written, and after that moment arrives, gradually build up a writing career to the point where I don’t need to do the editing work anymore.

It’s not exactly a detailed plan, and it has never really taken into account (a) what happens if that magical moment takes a lot longer to arrive than anticipated (or never arrives at all), (b) what I’m going to do if editing technology gets good enough that human editors are no longer required, or (c) the fact that it is depressing, frustrating and mental-health-toll-taking that I simply don’t make enough money from editing to cover my living costs and am dependent on Geth for a lot of them.

I’ve been feeling for a few years now as though I’ve backed myself into a corner in terms of my career. I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that I need to retrain.

I’m looking at a few options, but it’s still very early days and I need to do a lot of research. By the end of the year, however, I’m hoping to be on a new trajectory.

Anyway, to today. I went for a run, then found I’d lost 3lbs at Slimming World, which is the first chunk of Christmas weight off. A few more solid weeks on plan and I should have got rid of it.

I intended to run some banking errands in town, but I’ve had a bit of bad luck over the last couple of days with banks being shut and services not being available, so I’ll have to find some time to do it tomorrow instead. As such, I came straight home from group and got some admin done in the afternoon. Squeezing in a quick bit of videogaming tonight to try and de-stress.

Lots more day job work to do tomorrow. Looking forward to the weekend already!

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy
Not an OOTD: I’ve finally got to the last 3DS Layton game in my backlog. Will probably end up getting the new one on the Switch – I love these games!

Today’s earworm playlist:

FM-84 and Ollie Wride – ‘Never Stop’
The Beatles – ‘Drive My Car’
Bill Withers – ‘Lean On Me’
Kate Bush – ‘Them Heavy People’

New Year’s Resolutions 2019: the outcome

So, on the 1st of January 2019, I wrote a post about all my resolutions for the year. Let’s see how those turned out…

February 2019
Some winter snow in February.

1. Finish sorting out the house contents.

Uh… not a good start to the list. I don’t think I got anything done in this area. It’s now a resolution for 2020, and apparently one that I need to prioritise.

2. Write 500,000 words in 2019…

I absolutely smashed this one, writing approximately 875,000 words in 2019.

3. …and edit and pitch all the words I’ve already written.

I pitched my 2011 middle grade/young adult novel to twenty more agents, and none of them bit, though a couple did say they liked it. I also submitted poetry and short stories to a lot of magazines and competitions – again there was no success there. I just have to keep trying in 2020. I’ve already identified the novel project I’m going to be pitching this next year, and it should be in a submittable state by the spring.

4. Take weekends off.

Hahaha! Well, I’ve been slightly more successful than usual in not doing day job work at weekends, but only slightly. Writing and admin is another story – the to-do list just slips and slips and slips throughout the week and it’s never all done by Friday. I’m not really sure if this is something that can ever be changed.

5. Buy fewer clothes.

I was pretty successful in this area! I only bought stuff I actually needed (well, maybe the Duran Duran t-shirts weren’t exactly necessary, but they’re very nice). I don’t even feel the need to go out to every single vintage fair anymore.

6. Run a marathon.

Done and dusted! Of course, circumstances conspired to ensure that I’ll be doing it a second time in 2020…

7. Perform some of my poetry in public.

I was convinced that this one wouldn’t happen, but it did – eight times! I don’t even feel nervous about doing it anymore, which would have seemed totally impossible to me this time last year.

8. Get sober.

I got sober on the 5th of January 2019, and so I am very nearly at my one-year anniversary. While I’m very proud of myself for getting this far, I recognise that sobriety is a lifelong process, and so I can’t get complacent about it or think that the work is done. I’ll continue to utilise the great online and offline support communities that I’ve found, and to take more care of my own mental health.

9. Get back into the habit of music practice.

Rather optimistically, I thought I’d be able to make a multi-instrumentalist of myself in 2019. I’ve only really had time for my ukulele, but I’m really pleased with how it’s gone. I’ve done three terms of classes at the Sage Gateshead, moving from the absolute beginner to the beginner to the intermediate class, and with the intermediate class I really feel that I’ve found my level. Looking forward to class starting again next week! I also love that I can just find tabs online and teach myself new songs.

10. Actually play some videogames.

This didn’t really happen until about September, but I have been able to get some decent videogaming time in during the last few months of the year. It’s something I love, and I have lots of new ones to play, so hopefully there’ll be even more of this in 2020!

Plus some unexpected bonus achievements…

The first unexpected thing I did this year was buying my car in May and properly getting back into driving again! I’d been meaning to buy a car for years, but I’d been hugely procrastinating about it because it seemed so complicated and I’d always been such a nervous driver before. Having a calmer temperament now that I’m sober has really helped with my driving, and I feel much more confident about it now that I’m getting so much practice in.

The second was starting to learn to code in the autumn. It had always been something I was interested in, due to my twin loves of retro stuff and videogames, but it was only this year that I finally got into it thanks to some of the ’80s Twitter accounts I follow discussing the Adventuron system (for creating illustrated ’80s-style text adventure games) in August. I was able to take part in a couple of game jams in the autumn and improve my game development skills, and I even wrote an Adventuron game for NaNoWriMo (or half of one, anyway – I’ll be finishing it in the first part of 2020, along with a few other games I have ideas for). I also started learning to program in BASIC in preparation for getting the BBC Micro up and running again. I have a lot more coding goals for the next year, but I’ll discuss those in detail in my New Year Resolutions 2020 post tomorrow!

Annual viral inconvenience

I didn’t end up parkrunning today, because I came down with a cold overnight. It’s exactly a year since I last had an inconveniently-timed cold (it was the 30th November last year that Geth and I headed to Electric Dreams), although thinking about it I suppose there’s no such thing as a conveniently-timed one.

Because of some flu-like dizzy symptoms, it was a tough day finishing my NaNoWriMo project. Nevertheless, I hit the 50k, making 2019 my sixth win out of eight attempts, and my fifth in a row! Going to take a few days off from creative writing in order to give my brain a bit of a break.

Hoping to feel a little better tomorrow, as I’m not looking forward to going out in the cold right now!

Cold medicine
Not an OOTD: this stash that Geth brought home is making me feel marginally more alive.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – ‘(I’m Looking For) Cracks In The Pavement’
Duran Duran – ‘My Antarctica’
Andy Taylor – ‘Bringin’ Me Down’
Duran Duran – ‘Falling Down’

Background inspiration

Geth has started playing a new videogame, which is always the best thing to happen when I’m in the middle of a creative project because (a) it keeps him quiet and (b) it provides the most productive background music for my working brain. The current game in question is World Of Final Fantasy: Maxima, which is doing an adequate job in the music department.

As such, I’ve been able to get a good chunk done on my NaNo today, despite a slow morning. Hoping to continue that pattern over the next few days.

BeebEm startup screen
Not an OOTD: and then there’s this particular obsession, which I’m also spending a lot of time learning at the moment…

Today’s earworm playlist:

I genuinely haven’t had anything in my own head today because we’ve had the aforementioned videogame on all day. However, here’s a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

All Saints – ‘Never Ever’

Story paths and tinkering

While there’s an extent to which I feel I’m sort of not getting the full experience of NaNoWriMo this year due to rebelling and creating a story that is both an update of a novel from sixteen years ago and a brand-new text adventure game, I have to say I’m enjoying it more than I’ve enjoyed any creative project in years. I’d be working on it morning till night if I didn’t have so many other things going on at the same time! It’s partly because, as I’m designing it as a text adventure, there are a lot of different ways through the story, and so I’m telling several versions at once rather than one definitive version. It’s a lot of fun.

Spending so much time playing with the Adventuron coding system over the last few months has encouraged me to dig out my extremely brief childhood attempts at learning QBASIC. I’ve converted a few of the old ’90s files to BBC BASIC (because I’m excited about the fact that Dad and I are finally going to be digging the old BBC Micro out this Christmas after years of meaning to get round to it…fingers crossed it still works!), which is very similar, and I’m going to be doing a bit more experimentation in that area.

It’s going to be a relatively quiet week, so I’ll be fairly head down with my project.

QBasic to BBC Basic
Not an OOTD: crying with laughter at this ‘demo menu’ program that Dad put together in 1996 to show me how to programme a menu in QBASIC 😀

Today’s earworm playlist:

Blondie – ‘Maria’
Natalie Cole – ‘Miss You Like Crazy’
Aitch and ZieZie – ‘Buss Down’
Post Malone – ‘Circles’
Dermot Kennedy – ‘Outnumbered’
Cast of Muppet Treasure Island – ‘Something Better’
Gunship – ‘When You Grow Up Your Heart Dies’
Duran Duran – ‘The Chauffeur’
The Midnight – ‘Days Of Thunder’

Sunday pottering about…and sleeping, possibly

The in-laws have headed off now, so I’m having a quiet Sunday afternoon getting on with a bit of writing and adventure game coding. Hoping to get some gaming in this evening as well!

I’m still finding I’m very drowsy, but hopefully another good night of sleep will sort that out. Back to work tomorrow.

Nintendo Game Boy
Not an OOTD: there was lots of retro gaming on the Switch this weekend, which reminded me that I’ve been needing to superglue my old Game Boy screen back on for years now! Finally got round to it yesterday. All of the cartridges still work, except Wario Land – but curiously enough, Wario Land still works in my Game Boy Colour, just not the Game Boy Original…but the Original is fine with all the other cartridges…strange. Still, at least they all still play in one machine or another (and if they didn’t, I could redownload them on my 3DS for a couple of quid, so there’s that).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Whitney Houston – ‘Saving All My Love For You’
Duran Duran – ‘Electric Barbarella’
Duran Duran – ‘Winter Marches On’
Little Mix – ‘Black Magic’
Koji Kondo – ‘Super Mario Bros. Theme’
Roxy Music – ‘2HB’
Rockwell – ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’

Glad to be inside

I was out and about all morning running errands. About five minutes after I left the house, it started pouring with rain, and I hadn’t brought a brolly so I was a drowned rat by the time I got home a few hours later! Glad I don’t have to go out again for a couple of days now.

I’ve been doing day job work since then (and I’ve no idea how it’s managed to get so late as I’m sure I didn’t have that much to do!). Hoping to squeeze in a bit of work on my NaNo later this evening.

Mince pies
Not an OOTD: I’d never normally succumb to mince pies this early but it’s not been the best of days.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – ‘The Chauffeur’
Ed Sheeran, Camila Cabello and Cardi B – ‘South Of The Border’
Sam Feldt and Rani – ‘Post Malone’
Roxette – ‘It Must Have Been Love’
Lewis Capaldi – ‘Bruises’
Meduza and Goodboys – ‘Piece Of Your Heart’

A slightly sunnier Wednesday

More admin and housework this morning, and then I got a bit of writing done in the afternoon (including a bit of work on my NaNo – which I’m just about keeping up with!).

A good ukulele class this evening, and I’m now back on the sofa catching up with Strictly.

Hoping for another productive day tomorrow – I’ve got work to do for a client, plus a bit more writing and housework to get on with.

OOTD 13th November 2019
OOTD: the second of my new ’80s jumpers! Jumper Sunset Highway (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2019), leggings Primark (2019), boots Clarks (2016).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Tiësto and Mabel – ‘God Is A Dancer’
Starship – ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’
Whitney Houston – ‘Saving All My Love For You’
Andy Taylor – ‘Love Or Liberation’
Georgia – ‘About Work The Dancefloor’
Bronski Beat – ‘Hit That Perfect Beat’
Traditional – ‘Bonnie Ship The Diamond’
Duran Duran – ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’
Keala Settle – ‘This Is Me’
Lauv and Troye Sivan – ‘I’m So Tired’

November days

It’s only a couple of days per week at the moment because life is pretty busy, but during November, when it’s starting to get very cold and dark, I really appreciate having full days where I can stay in the house and get on with things!

After doing a bit of housework and admin this morning, I spent some time in the afternoon working on my NaNoWriMo. A couple more days and I should have caught up with where I’m supposed to be in terms of wordcount!

There’s only a couple of days left to rate my text adventure game for the Adventuron jam, so please give it a go if you like games! I’m already looking forward to making more of these.

I’ll be mainly sorting out the house tomorrow, as Geth and I have guests coming to stay at the weekend.

Not an OOTD: it’s so cosy having the fireplace on at this time of year!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Sheena Easton – For Your Eyes Only
Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber – I Don’t Care
U2 – Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of
Lewis Capaldi – Bruises
Technotronic – Pump Up The Jam

Might be craving mince pies now

I’ve had a nice quiet day getting on with writing, housework and admin – and managed to squeeze in a bit of work on my NaNoWriMo project as well, which was nice! Geth has been out all day, so I’ve had the Christmas cookery shows on again. The only problem is that coupled with the cold weather, they’re making me hungry all the time.

Another full day to get on with writing tomorrow, I hope!

OOTD 11th November 2019
OOTD: back posting an outfit of the day for once! Geth requested this one ’cause he really likes my new jumper. Jumper Cabin Creek (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2019), leggings Primark (2019), boots Carefree (2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Michael Land – LeChuck’s Theme
Lewis Capaldi – Bruises
Ace Of Base – All That She Wants
Sister Sledge – Frankie