So, as you've likely noticed I haven't been around much since October. Those of you I'm friends with on Facebook will know why, but for the sake of recapping, here's what's been going on in the last few months...
(Note: I actually started this post on Jan 30. It's now Feb 11. Part of the reason was because I was busy proofreading, the other reason is I'm stilling trying to get back to 'normal' where I actually enjoy doing things that isn't sleeping/ watching random crap on YouTube)
[More under the cut]
November started off well. I decided to take part in NaNoWriMo, dividing my time and attention between two projects. I made a good start on both of them, but around the second week, I started to lose motivation. In retrospect, I think it was the beginning of burn-out that had been building all year.
No More CQ
The end of November was where things started to suck. I lost my job at CQ - they're still open as a publisher, as far as I'm aware, but going through some issues. It's not something I want to get into, I'm over that part of my life, but if you want details, they can be found online as the issues have affected not just me, but other staff and authors. The long and short of it they couldn't pay me. I was patient, but after a month of no movement, and vague promises, I had to move on.
It just really sucks that it came at the same time Hubby lost his regular video games journalism job, we were hit by school fines, and of course Christmas a month away.
Light in the Darkness
December was rough. We had no jobs, and fines and bills to pay. Additionally, we had to apply to the government for financial assistance - which takes about six weeks to process. But something amazing did happen. Hubby started up a Go Fund Me page, and people he knew from the video games journalism world, along with authors I'd worked with via CQ donated. We raised enough to pay off the fines, pay most of the bills we owed, have an excellent Christmas, and have enough money to keep us on our feet until our government financial assistance was approved. I still can't get over the generosity, love and support we were shown in December. I'm awed and humbled by the response to the Go Fund Me page, and am thankful every day to the people who donated. Without them we would have struggled immensely and I don't want to think what would have happened...
A Very Merry Christmas
Thanks to the generosity of those who donated to the Go Fund Me, Christmas for the kids was unaffected. We spoiled them as much as we could afford, and had a fantastic day spending time together, and having a delicious roast Turkey meal. It was wonderful, and followed up by an equally good time at my Mom's on Boxing Day, filled with more delicious food, and quality family time.
After Christmas Hubby went to the doctor's to get a sick note in regards to his bipolar, as it limits what type of work he can apply for. We also took Oldest to the doctor about his on-going mental health issues. He was referred to a paediatric community psychiatric nurse, who in turn referred him to the local child and adolescent mental health services; his first appointment with them is this coming Wednesday. Once her returned to school, the mental health issues resurfaced, and it was clear the school system is the main trigger ....
After realising school is the main trigger of Oldest's anxiety and depression, we spoke with his head teacher, and we decided it was best to withdraw him from school, and home school him through his GCSEs. The school have been extremely helpful, providing him with resources and work to do at home, and even offering to pay for him to sit his written exams at the school, as a private candidate. We've only just started exploring the home schooling options, but our goal for the moment is to make sure he passes GCSE Maths and English (which is what most employers, collages etc. require), and along with those he is going to work on art portfolios for both digital and 'paper' art, so that he can apply to study art and design at collage. It's only been a week since he officially left school, and already we've seen a huge improvement in his mental health. I'm quietly hopeful this will turn out being the best thing we could have done for him, and that he will be able to go to collage in September in a much better position, both mentally and in terms of grades/ art experience.
Hubby and Oldest going to the doctor about their mental health issues got me thinking about my own, and I started to realise I wasn't okay. Far from it, in fact. In retrospect, the issues had been building for about a year and weren't helped by me being anaemic - yes, I finally got tested, and it turns out the suspicion I had twelve months ago was correct. I'm so annoyed at myself for not getting it seen to sooner. It turns out the 5 week period I had in late December/ early January, combined with heavier periods throughout 2018 have led me to be severely anaemic, and I was prescribed iron tablets. I then spoke to the doctor about the combination of tiredness due to iron deficiency, and how I'd been feeling overwhelmed and hopeless recently, and they agreed to sign me off from work/ having to look for work until the beginning of March. It's a huge relief, as even though I'm feeling much better than I was at the start of January, I still don't think I'm 100% yet. I'm still very up and down. I'm mostly okay, but I have little interest in anything. I'm not sad, and I'm feeling happy a lot more than I was a month ago ... I just don't want to do anything. It's been better this week (probably because my period is over for another month), and I can feeling the desire to do productive things building up, so I'm just taking it one day at a time right now.
As mentioned above, I'm no longer with CQ, and honestly, it's a huge weight off my mind. Yes, being unemployed and having to look for work is it's own set of stresses and worries, but looking back, I can see how the negativity at CQ greatly affected my mental health last year. Each month I was worried if I was going to get paid, and I'd have to chase up payment. I got very little support from the management, and couldn't help authors in the way the deserved to be helped. I don't know what happened to CQ, I don't know what their future plans are, but I'm glad to be out of it. I'll always be grateful for the opportunity they gave me, the wonderful people I met and the knowledge and experience of the publishing word I gained, but it's time for me to move on.
Onto what, I'm not quite sure...
I still have a few more weeks of sick leave, and then I'll have to start looking for work, which I'm fine with. My biggest source of stress right now is not having enough money, and the only way to solve that is getting a new job. I'm also lucky I have a number of options, I'm just trying to weight which is the right option for me.
A huge part of me wants to set up my own author PA business, and work from home assisting authors with various tasks, from proofreading, to admin, to marketing/ promotion. I've had a number of people tell me I'd be good at it, and I know I'd love it. But it's a huge gamble. Being self employed is tough, and I think with Hubby also looking for work, and the negative affect the situation at CQ had on me, a regular job with a set wage is better for everyone right now. It is something I might pursue on the side though, and perhaps revisit when our finances are more stable.
The other question I have is if I should solely focus on remote work, or if I should look for work outside of the home. Of course, that might be taken out of my hands by the people at the job centre eventually - I think they insist that you broaden your field if you get nothing within three months of searching. But even before then I don't know what the right option is. Working at home has many advantages, especially now we're going to be home schooling oldest. But working outside of home might offer more stability, and also opens up more opportunities. I think I will use the three months between March and May to exhaust all remote opportunities, and then start looking as to what's available outside of home.
The final thing I'm unsure of is if I should stay in the publishing/ marketing/ social media/ administrative field, or speak to the job centre about retraining. I'd love, love, love to work as a library assistant, but sadly library assistant jobs don't come up very often and when they do, they're very competitive. I also started thinking about my previous ambition to work with children, and wonder if that's something I should reconsider. I don't know. I guess the important thing right now is getting my health back on track, and taking it from there.
More than anything I want a job that offers me financial stability, but also either a creative outlet and/or a sense I'm contributing to society; ideally with enough time off that I can still be here for my family, and continue to peruse writing.
Writing has been on hold since November. As I mentioned above, I started two projects for NaNoWriMo, and made small, but good progress on both. I re-read both recently, and still love what I wrote. But the problem is, I no longer have motivation to write anything.
I have SO many ideas bouncing around. There's my co-written project with Kyra, I want to re-write Choosing Sides again, I have random ideas for contemporary romance stories, and of course either of my NaNoWriMo projects, but I can't explain it ... I just don't care ... maybe it's the after affects of the CQ burnout, combined with depression etc. but I just don't wanna do anything.
I can get my stuff together for short periods when I have something to do for someone else. I spent a lot of time helping a former CQ author get her cover in shape for republishing with SWP in January, and greatly enjoyed that. I've also proofread three novels for Immortal Works in the last couple of months, which has been fab. I love getting paid to read stories. I've also offered to act as a PA for SWP and their imprints, and that seems to be going well.
Anything else though ... nope. As evidence by the fact I've been working on this blog-post on and off for the last 11 days (admittedly some of that time was spent proofreading). I just want to sleep, read or watch random crap on Youtube.
Maybe it's all tied up in the burnout/ depression. Maybe I've just fallen into bad habits in the last year? I don't know, but it's starting to bother me. I don't feel like I'm achieving anything, so maybe that's a sign I need to challenge myself a bit more.
So tonight I'm going to write an LGBT guest post I promised someone. Tomorrow I won't be doing anything writerly as I'm going out with my mom and sister to celebrate my birthday. But Wednesday, I'm going to try to be productive, even if just for a couple of hours.
That's All Folks
And that's everything of importance since I last updated. I will try to update again in about a month, but given how things have been, I'm not making any promises. I *want* to get back into the swing of things, but sometimes it's easier said than done.
Until then. TTFN