“You are in a room…” A Tweet-based Adventure, Episode 2

Read Episode 1.

Player 1: Once the tea is finished, let’s try the door on the right at the far end of eastern corridor

@YouAreInnaRoom: You finish the tea and head to the far end of the Eastern corridor. You open the right hand door and step into a large room. To your right, along the North Wall is a bank of computers. In the North West corner is a circular pod of some kind. The Southern half of the room is dominated by a curved inset floor, with stairs leading down on either side. Three large, comfortable chairs sit along the back of this section, facing South. The Southern wall is divided between a large view screen on the right half, and a window that looks out on a stuttering screaming void. There are also three hot desk terminals in the upper portion of the room behind the three comfy chairs.


An updated map:

Updated map of First Floor (Space Station) - see text for description.

Updated map of First Floor (Space Station)

@YouAreInnaRoom: What will you do?

Continue reading

What do I want from the coming year?

I want lots of things. Some of those things are achievements. Some of those things move my life along. Some of those things are things. Things I wish to own. Things that will make my living environment better. Things that will make me happy. Things that will help me achieve some of the other things I want. And some of those things are experiences I have long longed for – stuff I want and stuff I need.

It’s easy to forget what things I want in the day-to-day. So. Here is an incomplete list – mostly for me, rather than anything else.

I want…

To finish writing a novel.

Duh. Be that Courtly Intrigue and Dragons (currently 28,000 words), The Winged Guardian (currently 27,500 words), or the one with Clones and Nanites in Space (that’s not even a working title, it’s just a description – currently 8,000 words). These are, theoretically, the novels I am actively writing, although the Clones and Nanites one I apparently haven’t touched since 2016.

I’ve written longer incomplete works, most notably Cyborgs and Androids, which stalled at around 50,000 words when I was 21… depressingly 13 years ago now.

Thanks to fanfiction, I wrote around 200,000 words from November 2016 to November 2017. I could have written two complete novels in the past year if I had channelled my escapism more effectively, but I did not. And if we’re honest, I wasn’t going to. I needed to escape, and I needed to write with minimal pressure in an environment that offers immediate and almost entirely positive feedback. Fanfiction is great for that – you have an almost pre-selected audience of people who already like the characters and themes you’re writing on, and they’re getting the work for free, so they don’t mind the odd typo. It’s been very rewarding. But while some of it was good writing and even quite powerful within its niche, it wasn’t great writing, and none of it is suitable for professional publication, recognition, or payment.

I’m also conscious that although I have learnt a lot over the last ten years, overall my writing is less ambitious and less rich. I do not have the energy to do more than force out a scene that… gets the job done. I’m not steeped in literature the way I was immediately following my BA, and while that has the positive advantage that I’m not constantly shoving modernist poetry into my work left, right, and centre, a certain richness and intertextuality has been lost.

I also struggle to make time to read for pleasure. I have been struggling to make time to read through the latest book by my favourite author, Assassin’s Fate, by Robin Hobb, for months. Not because it isn’t good – it’s excellent – but because I can’t shake that ingrained feeling left over from my PhD that I should be doing something more important. Something that moves my life along… even though what’s holding back my own writing is a lack of the kind of wide reading that I used to do.

Ultimately, I need to rest and relax, and find a kind of inner calm I have been missing for a long time, and that’s part of what the other things I want for 2018 are about.

I need safety and physical health and financial security to get the kind of mental wellbeing that will enable me to write well again.

To get physically fit

This one is hard because something is wrong with my health and has been for a long time and I’ve been through an endless battle to convince people it’s even real – the ache of explaining again and again that the reason I’m ill is the same reason as the last time they asked and I don’t want to go through the long outline again of everything I have been through the last four or five years. All the symptoms. All the blood tests. All the woolly non-diagnoses. All the not-so-subtle hints in response that I’m not really as unwell as I think and I just need to buck up and pull my socks up.

I met with a doctor on Friday who has ordered more of the same blood tests that I’ve had done before, but he actually seemed interested in hearing how long it had been going on, rather than just focusing on this latest bout of illness, which has certainly centred around the ‘Australian’ flu (almost certainly what I had over Christmas and New Years), but really can be traced back through one rotten illness after another through December, November, October, September… honestly nearly non-stop while I also dealt with one stress after another trying to get my life together – moving house, applying for jobs, work shake ups… and so it goes…

He mentioned he has some theories, but doesn’t want to talk about them until we’ve had the blood tests and a fuller picture. Which is good. I am, of course, worried that he’ll come back with a diagnosis for something that isn’t going to go away, like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or ME, but even then, a diagnosis would help stop the endless questions about how utterly wrecked I am by a simple cold.

I hope for something more than that. A plan I can act on and use to get properly well again, back to the gym, lose weight, get down the allotment… all those things I long to do. But we shall see.

I want a permanent job. Still.

This one will, again, be easier to get if I can sort out the other things in my life. Find space for the ambition and action that used to propel me. It’s hard to be ambitious when you can’t get out of bed.

A notebook – the laptop kind

I need to be able to write on the go. I was hoping to get one in the January sales, but even with a voucher, everything within my price range has a ridiculously tiny number of GB. 32GB was fine two years ago, but if you want to run Windows 10 (and I do – please don’t pitch up telling me to use other things, I have my reasons and you don’t need to know them) anything that size is going to keel over on its first update… which is exactly what an increasingly large portion of reviews are saying they do.

In the interim, I have bought me a bluetooth keyboard, which I am hoping to use with my phone, but it’s a stop-gap solution. A proper notebook like I used to have from my department when I was a research student would make all the difference.

A holiday. Somewhere with a beach

I have not swum in the sea since holidays with my family as a teenager – nearly two decades ago. As a child living in the US, I was practically part fish, and then later in holidays to Cornwall and Greece… You can’t really swim in the North Sea, though. I’ve managed to paddle once or twice in the last ten years, but it’s not enough anymore.

I want to swim. I want to lay on the sand and read a book and feel warm and not stressed about my real life.

I want a goddamned beach holiday.

A holiday. Somewhere with friends where I can write and read

We’re now getting into territory where it’s gonna be obvious that I cannot do all that I want. I’ll maybe be able to afford one holiday, if I get a permanent full-time job. But I have to put these things down or they will swim into the miasma of unfulfilled dreams and become a stagnant pool of unidentifiable regrets.

But me and some of my friends have talked over the past few years about clubbing together and renting a place for a week or five days or something and just… chilling. Writing. Reading. Maybe going for the odd walk. Minimal pressure – potential to do much in the way of healing and/or writing. An important ambition.

If this could happen somewhere near a beach, so much the better, but either/or would do.

A new vacuum cleaner

It’s really hard to keep my house tidy at the best of times, but it also becomes quickly clear when I try that my vacuum cleaner cannot cut it. It’s designed for small spaces, because that’s all I could afford when I moved into my last house, which didn’t have very much carpet. In this house… it’s pretty ineffectual. I’ve been on my hands and knees picking up fluff today. Ugh.

But vacuums are expensive?? Even on Gumtree the second-hand ones are expensive??

Something to remember I need next time I have a windfall.

An office chair

For the study. So I can write and paint up there. I chucked the old one, which stood me well for many years, but was a bit broken when I got it and had been worn and patched and… the plastic of the arms had gone weird and sticky?? Bleurgh.

I have a folding chair that will do for now, but if I really want to persuade myself not to spend my entire life on my laptop in bed, I need comfortable furniture that is fit for purpose.

Speaking of which: I also need a sofa

One I can lie down on comfortably to read and snuggle up in to write.

I do have two second-hand armchairs (left by a housemate who didn’t want the bother of disposing of them) and a sofa I got from the Community Furniture Store, and an Ikea armchair I got with an Amazon voucher somehow. It’s fine. It works for having people around. And I’ve got my living room into an almost stylish state that I actually enjoy spending time in sometimes. But I do tend to end up with a numb bum and eventually retreat to bed.

A proper sofa would be grand – even if it’s just a slightly nicer one from the Community Furniture Store, but I suspect I shall be making do for a little while yet.

Assorted bedroom furniture

My wardrobe came from Oxfam and spent the first two years of it’s time with me in the dining room because it wouldn’t fit up the stairs. It has been a nightmare to deal with every time I have moved and it’s starting to fall apart. It actually performs its job admirably well, but I kind of hate it and want it gone.

A new, nice chest of drawers. I have a plastic one from Argos that isn’t pretty but does its job, and a second-hand one that is falling apart. It did me good service for many years when I had nothing else, but it is not fit for purpose anymore, several of the handles are broken, and I just want something bigger and nicer.

A new bed. This one has also been a little hero, but it got mouldy in the Worst Flat and that left some ugly marks that remind me of shitty times. Also, although this mattress is a million miles better than the last mattress, I have still managed to fuck some of the springs and it sags on one side. But as this was new the year before last, I shan’t be replacing it for a while.

There are probably a whole host of other things I want (like a boyfriend – ha!), but I’m running out of energy and this is enough to get me going. To look back on and reflect.

I hope this year brings bigger and better things, but history suggests that even if it does they shall not be easily won.

Wish me luck!

Reading: Descartes’s First Meditation

What I did on my hols.

I’ve been meaning to write something about my trip to Australia for a while, but goodness, I took a lot of photos. This, however, is one little thing I did for me that I thought I’d share.

Sitting on a beach in Merimbula, Australia, looking out at the Pacific ocean, I read my favourite philosophical passage, in which Descartes begins the destruction of all his opinions, that he might start again from a solid foundation of first principles that cannot be doubted.

He employed his method of doubt, which I wrote about for my MA dissertation*, exploring the idea that it can be read as a form transcendental argument, i.e. he argues that certain fundamental truths can be certainly known because their truth is necessary for one to doubt anything at all, and therefore if one is doubting, the very act of doing so demonstrates their truth.

The First Meditation concerns itself solely with the destruction of Descartes’ uncertainly held opinions. The Second Meditation begins the task of building these up again with Descartes’ most famous argument: I think, therefore I am. Or, more accurately: I doubt, therefore there is something that doubts, and I am at minimum that thing that doubts.

I finish the reading after the dreaming argument, which I take to the be the most powerful argument in Descartes’s arsenal of demolition, and the most beautifully articulated.

I use the John Cottingham translation of Descartes’s Mediations on First Philosophy, which is divine.

I did this for me, but I’m sharing it because everyone should have the chance to hear this iconic text.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

*From the perspective of Janet Broughton’s analysis in her Descartes’s Method of Doubt.

Back from outer space

Sorry to leave it such a long time with no update. I have half-a-dozen posts I started, but never finished.

Combination of continued ill-health, job-stress, and falling down a fanfiction rabbit-hole. Dragon Age owns me, and I don’t think it’s likely to let go any time soon.

Job stuff is good. I’m looking after the webpages of a large organisation. It’s creative and supports stuff I’m into. It’s also a 10min walk from home. Which is good when you have energy problems. I’ve handed over the stressful part of my job to someone else, and I’m generally feeling positive. The only down side is that it’s a maternity contract and it will finish in Septmeber. BOO.

I’m currently on leave and making use of my hand-me-down netbook to camp out in a bar by the river and get some writing done. It’s meant to be fiction writing – my novel, working title: Courtly Intrigue and Dragons – but I have a review burning a hole in the side of my brain, so you may have new content from me, soon!

Officially a Doctor

Me in my graduation robes

I graduated on 22 January 2016, and am officially Dr Ro Smith, a doctor of philosophy in philosophy, passed with no corrections.

Apologies for not posting about it at the time, I didn’t have any photos myself and only just got some through!

I hope everyone is appreciating my sparkley graduation shoes. And the silliest bonnet. I wanted to keep the silliest bonnet.

If you donated to this blog or to my Go Fund Me last year when I was in need, you helped this happen, and I am incredibly grateful to you. I would not have made it without you.

There was a long time – a very long time – when I really stopped believing that I would get here. I had been so ill and poor and depressed for so long. I’m still not physically 100%, and mentally… well, that’s a process, and a long one, which isn’t entirely about the PhD.

Neverthless, I’m really proud, and grateful. I did it. I was capable of doing it, after all. And I did it well. There were a tiny number of typos. That was it.  The examiners said in the end that they would accept it anyway. Typos and all. (I did correct the most glaring typos, though – the photos at the top of my blog are not a lie, I really have had green hair, and red hair, and many other colour hair.)

And so many members of my family came up for me. My dad came from Australia, my mum, two sets of aunts and uncles, my step-dad.

I wish I had been thinner. I wish I had had suitable smart clothes to wear that I could still fit into (the dress I am wearing was more low-cut than I would have liked and didn’t exactly have a graceful fit). I wish my hair looked better – I had fried it in my attempts to go back to blonde for graduation. Maybe one day when I’m better off and thinner I will rent the gowns again and get it professionally done. Still, it’s great to have done it at all.

It is very strange to have it done. I’m still temping at the moment. I need to publish before applying for academic jobs and I’m… honestly not read to leave my city, yet. And most well-paying jobs I am qualified for would involve that, even if they weren’t in academia.

I’m tired, and I’m still ill a lot. And I want to get serious about my writing. I want a first draft of a novel this year.

I also want to relax. I’m getting back down the allotment (you might have noticed). Which is something I was really sad to not be able to give enough time to the last few years. I always promised myself ‘When the PhD is done…’. And it’s important in terms of exercise. I was down there for four hours today. It’s hard to get such good, prolonged exercise doing anything else.

I want to paint and not feel guilty about it. I want to choose craft projects for reasons other than ‘It will be quick’ and ‘I can give it to someone else as a present because that is the only way I can afford presents’.

I’ve bought material and a pattern for an ambitious Daenerys cosplay this year. Still a lot of work in getting that done, though.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the things I want to do, but I’m trying not to do that. Trying to unlearn my habits of continuous anxiety and guilt.

But hey, I’m a ‘Dr’ now, and that’s something. Some kind of validation of my existence and ability and intelligence. Not the only way such things can be validated, of course, but… something I needed to do, for me. Yes, I had something to prove to myself, and to the world. And maybe that’s not terribly healthy, but I needed to do it.

It’s strange and surprising to find that I have done it after all.

Me in my grad robes, closer up.


2015 – that was a year that happened, didn’t it?

Me in 2015

I wasn’t going to write one of these. 2015 is… exhausting to think about.

I was so poor, and depressed, and ill at the start of the year. A week into January I had to ask for your help to pay my rent and my bills. I was flat broke and had exhausted all other avenues. It’s a humiliating and panic-stricken situation to be in. I am so very grateful to the strangers and friends who kept me afloat in that period. I quite literally would not have made it without you. In the end I raised £1,460 via Go Fund Me, and about £60 via my tip jar (that last may have been smaller, but was immediately accessible funds badly needed at the time!).

Thanks to you I kept a roof over my head and I was able to finish my PhD.

The PhD

Which I did. I submitted at the end of May and was examined at my viva on 26 August, where I passed with no corrections. I was completely floored. Having spent the previous year largely bedridden due to illness (and the two years before that ill enough that I often went immediately to bed after work), I spent the final months of my PhD frantically writing up in my supervisor’s office. He didn’t get to see a full draft before I submitted. I was convinced I’d have major corrections – another chapter to write at least! – but I didn’t.

I had typos.

And they decided to accept the thesis with them anyway.

It’s… a bit hard to deal with. I had no reason to think it would go so well. A lot of people had told me I couldn’t do it over the years, and that my depression and illness were symptoms of me trying to do something I wasn’t cut out for. I knew I was ill because of the poor diet I had adopted because I had no money and was depressed, and that I was depressed because of long-standing issues combined with the fact that so many people had no faith in me to do my PhD, which was the most important thing in my life. And now a few people have made comments along the lines of ‘You see, you had nothing to worry about!’ … I can’t sweep it under the carpet that easily. I can’t just set aside how difficult it has been.

Being happy about finishing my PhD is… complex.

I am looking forward to graduating, though.

Today I told a salesperson that my title was ‘Dr’. That was nice.

A New Mattress

I was ordering a new mattress when I did that. I can afford a new mattress now. That’s nice, too.

My current mattress is the one I bought at the start of my PhD when I moved in to share a house with my friend Fred. It was the first unfurnished place I had ever lived in. It seems a lifetime agio.

It was never a particularly good mattress, and it ceased to be anything but deathly uncomfortable years ago. I got a couple more years of life out of it with a mattress topper, but even that has been struggling for a while.

Imagine being bedridden on a broken mattress and too poor to replace it because you are too ill to work. It’s not fun.

I’ve been temping full time since June, and now I can afford a new mattress. It’s good.


Full-time income is really good.

Not working in the evenings and weekends is really good.

I have played a lot of Dragon Age. Which is really good.

Temping isn’t really good for me, though. I work with nice people and they don’t mind if I have blue hair, but I only get half an hour for lunch and is in an Enquiry Centre. I answer phones all day every day. I find phones very stressful. I have a very good phone manner, but phones are not good for me.

I need a job in something I’m actually trained for, but I can’t get an academic job without publishing, and I needed a break from all that, and I’m so tired when I get home from work that all I do is play Dragon Age.

And instead of losing weight after the PhD was over, I’ve continued to gain weight. Because work is stressful and there’s a food table at work and when I’m stressed I eat from the food table. Also, I have continued to be ill, so even though I have been exercising, I have not been exercising enough. Yeah.

Nine Worlds

I had my least ill Nine Worlds ever, which was nice. And I also gave my first paper on their academic track, which seemed to go down well. And I was on a panel about geekdom in academia. I enjoyed both a lot!

I also had an updated Daenerys costume, and I got to take part in Knightmare Live – childhooddream fulfilled!

For various other reasons I have a lot of anxiety right now about the thought of going back. I hope I will overcome them. Nine Worlds has been a real bright spot in some very dark times, and I would like to feel that way about it again.


Although I have done less editing overall this year than previously, it’s still formed a fair chunk of my income and was vital in seeing me through those last few months of my PhD. I’ve also expanded my client base of authors and come to enjoy working directly with people who know what they want.

My sincere thanks to all my clients for being wonderful and a joy to work with this year.


It’s not been a great year with regards to writing for me.

I had one story published – ‘The Runaway King’ in Fox Spirit Book‘s Missing Monarchs anthology. I got to second round with pro magazines more times than I ever have before, but nothing was actually accepted.

I’ve barely progressed at all with my novels.

Some of that is deliberate. I put a hold on more or less everything in order to finish the PhD, but I had intended to return to writing when I was finally free. I haven’t.

I have mostly just played Dragon Age.

Some of that is much needed rest. Some of that is still me not being particularly healthy. Some of it is the FEAR.

I need to get over it.

I’m 32 and my life has been on hold for the last nine years whilst I finished the PhD. I can’t bimble along waiting until I’m Ready to become a Writer anymore.


I want to have a full first draft of one of my novels before I’m 33. That’s six and a half months. It’s not impossible, but I need to get serious about it if I’m to manage to do that alongside a full time job.

I want to lose at least a stone in weight. I need to lose three or four stone, but I’ll settle for one. My clothes don’t fit and my health is suffering. This can’t go on.

I want to be earning more money this time next year than I am now. I’ve never earnt as much as I do now, but it’s temp work. There is no job security and I don’t get paid if I’m ill. I also have a lot of debts to pay off. Things are better now, but they’re still tight. I want to get out of this situation of limping by and owing lots of people money. I need a proper job.

That might be an admin job or a job in publishing or an academic job – those each come with varying levels of difficulty, but at some point I need to stop just coasting and take control of my life.

So. There’s three resolutions. I know a lot of people don’t believe in resolutions, but they have sometimes worked for me in the past. I want 2016 to be the year that everything changes for the better. A lot happened in 2015, much of it for the good, but there was too much hardship for me to really look back on it with any fondness.

Thanks to my wonderful friends who have been with me through it all. You’re very special people, and I’m inadequate in expressing quite how much your support has meant to me.

Thanks also to the friends, family, and strangers who kept me afloat this year.

And now I think I need to move on from thinking about 2015. I want to look forward, instead.

Nine Worlds Schedule: Now with Extra Me!

Nine Worlds 2015 logoThe Nine Worlds Schedule is now up! And it’s freakin’ amazing! So freakin’ amazing that I can’t remotely take it all in!

But what I can now tell you is that it now contains TWICE as much me as anticipated! Yes!

NOT ONLY, can you attend my paper – which is the third of three papers included in ‘Rebellion, Outsiders and Group Dynamics’, 3:15pm-4:30pm Friday – but you can also catch me on Saturday, 10am-11:15am, where I will be on the ‘Being a Geek in Academia’ panel – OMG!

OK, on the (very considerable) off-chance that my sheer presence is not enough to tempt you, here are some exciting details:

‘Rebellion, Outsiders and Group Dynamics’, 3:15pm-4:30pm, Friday

Across these three talks, the speakers explore various ideas of difference and how those differences colour of perceptions of groups outside our own. The first will look at representations of physical and mental disability in the Vorkosigan series and how the series’ protagonist defies the standard template of science-fiction heroes. The second talk will focus on the seminal Judge Dredd story America, and look at gendered attitudes towards and forms of rebellion and interaction with the overwhelmingly white and male authorities of 2000AD. Finally, the series will conclude with a discussion of relationship between “self” and “other” in Battlestar Galactica.

‘Being a Geek in Academia’, 10am-11:15am, Saturday

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a geek in the world of academia? Considering how to apply your skills to your passions and use them to build a reputation and standing? This panel will explore various ideas of how one becomes a geek in academia, combining your skills and your passions, and what makes all the stress and struggle worthwhile.


Nine Worlds and Me!


I may or may not have green hair again for August. We shall see!

So, I have been accepted to give a paper for Nine World’s Academic track – I’m so excited! I’ll be giving a paper on ‘Battlestar Galactica and the Master/Slave Dialectic: Relating Selves to Others’, which is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.

It’s all a bit intimidating now that it’s real, but I’ll try to do a good job!

For those not in the know, Nine Worlds Geekfest is the best, most inclusive convention I’ve ever been to.

As a geek, it’s great, because it has umpteen million tracks, covering specific fandoms like Doctor Who and A Song of Ice and Fire, as well as Podcasting, Academia, LARP, Social Gaming, Fanfic, Creative Writing, Race and Culture, LGBTQAI + Fandom, Geek Feminism, Young Adult, All the Books, and SO MUCH MORE. Along with kickass evening entertainment, like FRIGGIN’ KNIGHTMARE LIVE and the now traditional Whedon Sing-A-Long, which I have been to every year (see the video of the first impromptu Doctor Horrible act-out here).

As someone who has been marginalised, it’s great, because everyone who is there is there because they want to enjoy a safe environment where no one feels marginalised. As well as having specific tracks to discuss issues faced (by, e.g., women, LGBTQAI people, and people of colour) they also have highly diverse panels for their other tracks. They have an excellent and well-publicised anti-harassment policy (which I have seen in action, being handled with great sensitivity). They also have clear accessibility information and have made an evident effort to ensure that all events are as accessible as possible. I’ve never seen so many disabled people at a con before, looking relaxed and like they’re having fun. Same for LGBTAI folks and women. More present. More relaxed. More fun.

I also appreciate how trans/gender-queer/agender/non-binary friendly they are. Last year all loo signs in the con area were changed to ‘with urinal’ and ‘without urinal’ rather than ‘men’ and ‘women’. Along with tags you could pick up at registration to indicate your prefered pronouns.

It’s also family friendly, and I enjoyed seeing a great many young geeks and their parents being able to enjoy the con.

It’s still a problem going to general SF&F/fandom events that you will have to deal with bigoted/sexist/racist/transphobic people. I experienced this at a local meet-up I attended. Most people were lovely, but I still ended up being shouted at by an older white man aggressively defending his sexist views. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the energy to endure that shit when I want to be geeking out anymore. At Nine Worlds? I simply haven’t had that problem. I once had a heated debate with another feminist, but that’s as confrontational as it’s gotten for me. And I never met anyone who wouldn’t let you drop out of the conversation or change topic if it was stressing you out.

I can’t recommend Nine Worlds enough, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the academic track. My profile is not up on the Guests pageit’s almost like I’m a real person.



Update on the Rhube

I submitted my thesis on 29 May 2015. It’s done. It’s in. It’s not everything I might have wished that it could have been in better circumstances, but it got finished and handed in, and that’s something I was not convinced I could achieve for a very long time. Not that I didn’t think I could write a thesis, but just that I had been so poor and ill that I thought 8 years’ work might ultimately go down the drain.

And for a long time I seemed to be surrounded by people who didn’t think I could do it or get why I was trying. People who took my agony at the fact that I might not complete as a reason to suppose that I should not be doing a PhD at all. That was incredibly draining. Having people you care about tell you they don’t think you can do the most important thing in your life is gut-wrenching and heartbreaking.

But then there were other people. You guys. Those of you who used the tip jar to keep this blog afloat even when I wasn’t producing anything. Friends and strangers who contributed to my Go Fund Me, literally paying my rent and food and bills so I could finish and telling me they thought it was worth it. That was very special to me. It meant something. People actually believed in me and wanted me to finish.

And my supervisor let me work out of his office, that really helped, too. Because my house was a sickroom that had got into a really horrible and depressing state. And there, with just enough money to live off, and a quiet space to work in, I did it. I got that fucker done.

I come back to this again and again, but Virginia Woolf was So. Damn. Right. You need enough money to live off and a room of your own to work in in order to write. And I think that goes for academic writing as much as for fiction.

My viva is still to come, but that happens at the end of August. Now… I’m resuming some kind of life.

I start work at a temp job tomorrow morning. I’m gonna have actual money coming in. And I’m gonna have to go to bed before midnight. Which is something that’s been really hard for me to do since I had neighbours who routinely kept me awake past 1am. I don’t have those neighbours anymore, but I’m still afraid of going to bed and not being able to sleep. It doesn’t make sense, but I’ve been conditioned that way.

And today I’m playing the role of Washing Police on a kitten who has recently been spaid and Must Not Lick Her Stitches (her owners would rather not stress her out with a cone more than necessary). It’s not my cat, but I don’t mind chilling with a kitten for a day, watching Netflix and catching up on my writing.

I don’t have to feel guilty about how I use my time when I’m not working anymore. That hasn’t been true for over 9 years, if you include my MA. It’s… very, very odd. But good.

By the end of this year I want to have finished writing one of my novels. Not sure which one yet. I have the Superhero with Depression, the One with Clones and Nanites, and the Fantasy One with Dragons and Spies. At the moment I’m leaning towards the One with Clones and Nanites…

And the kitten is washing again, so I’d better keep a closer eye on her.


Getting my shit together

No Music for the Apocalypse again this lunchtime, or probably until my PhD is finished.

I am in Getting My Shit Together mode.

My supervisor is very kindly letting me use his spare office (yeah, he has two at the moment) so I have somewhere I can be that’s not my house (sickroom pigsty) and not the library (full of noisy students and expensive coffee). So I have a place to be where I am expected at specific times and where I am expected to work. It’s good for me. Although my body has not yet caught up to the ‘going to sleep before midnight’ expectation of this deal.

I have continued to be ill, although not as ill as I was. And I basically have no time left. Like, no time at all. I have just over two months to do six months’ worth of work. And, quite frankly, I am not up to pulling all nighters. But I’m finding my motivation again.

Which means I need to set aside this blog even when I have something to write about that I know will get hits. Even when I want to continue a series. Even when I feel crappy about how many unfinished post series I have – Read Along with Rhube, I have not forgotten you!

But I’m being an adult about this. There’s something I have to spend the next two months doing, and it’s not writing about apocalyptic music or George R R Martin. In June I can start thinking about a post-PhD life again, but that’s June. That’s not where I am right now.

In the meantime… money is still very tight.

I’m getting work, but I’m still wondering every month if I’m going to make my rent. I have clients who have been very considerate in paying promptly, but I… just have no leeway at all. I’ve done enough work to pay my rent this month, but whether I can pay all my bills when I need to is another matter.  And I can’t afford not to meet the agreement with my bank that reduces my overdraft by £100 every month. It’s like my rent went up by £100.

Any donation you could make to my GoFundMe would still very much be welcomed. The less work I have to take on the more chance I have of being able to do the ridiculous amount of work needed over the next two months. Or you can pay me directly via the Tip Jar in my sidebar.

Thanks again to those who have already donated. You guys have literally kept me going when I was out of options.

This’ll be an interesting year to look back on, I’ll tell you that.