Looking back on 2017 and forward to 2018

 

I can’t believe 2017 is over! It was certainly…a year.

2017 was ambivalent for me in many ways – on the one hand, my health did a complete 180 and I spent the first 7 or so months mostly housebound, thanks to a tricky combination of chronic pain, poor pain management, and medication.

Although I’ve been able to scale back my studies to part time, start trialling pain meds, and buy mobility aids, I’m still uncertain about my future as a uni student and whether I’ll be able to keep up with two modules next term. Even with just one I’m barely attending 60% of classes a week. I honestly think I’ll be forced to interrupt my studies until later this year, when I’ll hopefully have found pain meds that work for me and a diagnosis.

On the plus side, this year has been a real wake-up call in terms of my (dis)ability. I feel I’ve grown more appreciative of what I can do, chronic pain be damned. This has taken a lot of adjusting (and 2 am crying jags), but I think I’m in a place where I can finally start getting my house in order. 2018 will be my year to sort out my health and get a proper diagnosis.

In spite of my health, I’ve still been able to do some really amazing things this year.

Top amongst them was travelling to Thailand to visit my boyfriend and his family – I’ll definitely return in 2018!

Next up – making my first trip in a wheelchair. Yes, people are weird and creeped out by wheelchairs, but it’s hard to notice when you’re spending your first ENTIRE DAY OUTSIDE in God knows how many years. I even came home with energy to spare! This was a definite turning point for me – getting my own wheelchair has opened my horizons so much. Before I would leave the house for 1 or 2 hours and then come home exhausted. Now I can actually plan to go outside for an entire day, squeeze in a lot of activities and sightseeing, and enjoy it! As you can imagine, travelling has always been something of a drag for me – but now I’ve found out that I, too, can be an irritating tourist.

What is the most incredible to me is how I’ve been able to stick with this blog for so long. I made several failed attempts when I was younger, but never had the patience to bother after the third post or so. In 2017, I found so much joy in writing, and reading other people’s work. Of course, because I can’t just enjoy something for its own sake, I’ve been able to CV-ify this too. I really think that I’ve managed to demonstrate my interests, work ethic, and writing skills as time has gone on. I’m even writing at a second website now – Women’s Republic – and I’m going to be applying to some more volunteer writing jobs this year. I’ll also try to find some books on non-fiction writing to improve what I’ve got already.

I’ve loved video essays for a while now, and I really want to progress to making my own. I’ve got some vague plans knocking about for two films, but I think I’ll knuckle down and make a short video essay – hopefully sometime in January or February! Then, if I like it, I’ll continue with the other and keep going. Expect some very rudimentary film analysis, bolstered by literary and feminist analysis.

2018’s got a lot going for us – have a great year everybody!

Featured image from Freepik.com.

 

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What I Learnt After 4 Months of Blogging/Advice to Other Newbie Bloggers

1. Draft, draft, draft!!!

Quicker things like my This Week in Links posts, I can usually just write, spell-check and then publish immediately. But with longer posts (like my Wonder Woman series) I will write several drafts before I can finally pummel my writing into something coherent.

2. Fact check EVERYTHING

Ideally before you write a full draft. I found out a couple hours before I published my post on Themysciran femininity that the majority of the Amazons were real athletes and my assumptions were completely off. It’s boring, but fact-check and save yourself some online embarrassment.

3. Make photo editing easy

I wanted to make my cover photos more personal, so after struggling to use Gimp I finally found Befunky.com. Its free software lets you crop, add text, filters, and borders easily.

4. Know the difference between bad writing and writing that doesn’t interest you anymore

If the writing feels wrong, go back and do it again. But if you’re struggling to write because you are bored out of your mind, perhaps it’s time to look at it from a new angle or scrap the piece entirely.

5. Ask a friend to read your work

This really shook up my arguments and helped me write more clearly. If you don’t have a friend or family member that can look over a post for you, join a local (or online) writing workshop.

6. Write everyday

When I just started my blog, I avoided writing and only got into it when I felt motivated.

I got sick of jotting down all my big ideas but then just letting them get stale. I’ve worked up from a minimum of 15 to 25 minutes a day, and my goal is to continue until I get to at least 40 minutes daily.

Getting into this habit has actually made me look forward to writing. Even if I am struggling to write, I know that by the end of the day I made progress.

Now I just need to bring this same level of dedication to my coursework

7. Follow people whose work you enjoy

Reading the work of experienced, sharper writers helps me see the flaws in my own writing, and lets me see what works.

Some of my favourite creators right now are Ijeoma Oluo, Hannah Witton, Anita Sarkeesian, Lauren Orsini, Ira Glass, Felicia DayLindsay Ellis, and Esme Wang.

Who do you look up to? Tell me in the comments section below!

7. Pace yourself when writing a series

My Wonder Woman series was fun, but by the end I’d lost interest and writing the last post was a struggle. I think this was partly to do with the time between posts – about one per week.

If I did it again, I would bang out drafts much faster so I could preserve my initial enthusiasm, instead of making it a long slog for myself.

8. Write down all of your ideas

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Once something comes to you, scribble it down somewhere so that you can come back to it later and see if something will develop out of it.

9. Consider whether you want a theme

Having a single, solid theme helps attract a readership that shares your interests.

For example, on my other blog, What in Tanknation?!, the theme is just the tanks that me and my boyfriend build and paint.

Here, I struggle to have a coherent theme because it’s really just stuff that interests me. That’s why when I was gaming more heavily a couple months ago, my blog featured mostly video game reviews, but recently I’ve been focusing more on feminist film reviews, and I’m going to branch out into some interviews and posts on chronic pain.

As I’m not heavily into one particular topic, I struggle to build up a followers list as there’s no consistent content. If you’re looking to gain more followers, I recommend finding a theme and sticking to it.

10. Write drafts in Google Docs, and then move them to WordPress

I’ve found writing drafts in WordPress to be nowhere near as easy as writing them in Google Docs, just because there aren’t enough features that help with editing.

I installed the WordPress for Google Docs add-on that lets you export docs to WordPress’s drafts, and now the entire editing process is much more streamlined.

Images originally from Toei Animation. 

Worrying about the future and my disability

I’ve recently been trying to come to terms with my disability – chronic pain I’ve had since I was 9.

The only diagnosis that stuck was tension headache, which basically means I’m a stressed person and my face muscles try to reflect that as much as possible.

What really concerns me is my future as an independent adult. I’m struggling to visualize a ‘normal’ future where I’m able to hold down a full-time job, not have to rely on anybody else, and lead an active social life.

Knowing that I’m likely never going to be able to fit in the way I wish I could is heartbreaking.

Even after moving to part-time study, I still feel pessimistic and disappointed with my work rate, and the idea of graduating and being pushed into a world filled with starter jobs in retail, or the food industry that I won’t be able to do because I don’t have enough energy…It all feels really overwhelming.

This is actually part of why I decided to start writing this blog – I wanted to showcase my writing ability to use as a portfolio for later work. Also, I needed a platform to complain about irritating hidden object “adventures“.

I really hope that someday I’ll find a job that can accommodate my needs AND pay a living wage. A girl can dream, right?

***

Are any of you disabled? Do you have any tips? I’ve been following DIYAnnika on Youtube and Instagram and whenever she shares stories about her #spoonielife it makes me feel so much better. Are there any disabled people that you look up to?

***

British Pain Society

Action on Pain

Pain concern

Rage, sexual assault, and moving on

A few years ago, I was sexually assaulted at a party by somebody in my grade. I thought I had moved on until he contacted my sister, implying he would do the same to her.

I seethed for days. I was absolutely prepared to dispense some vigilante-style magical girl justice (but with extra brass knuckles).

My partner tentatively suggested I move on, but I couldn’t.

Not only had I been hurt by the little shithead, now he was trying to threaten my little sister too. I kept gnawing at this, thinking about how depraved you had to be to threaten to sexually assault a minor – and not just any minor – MY SISTER.

I couldn’t let go of this, or all the other times I’ve been sexually assaulted, and harassed – by teachers, classmates, strangers on the street.

I  festered in my anger for over a week. I was constantly on edge, at times ready to whale on the next person who tried it, and at others weeping about how absolutely helpless I felt.

I felt I had tried everything – being the good girl that stays quiet and takes it, and the angry woman who confronts the men sexually harassing her in a club. No matter how I reacted to sexual assault, it was always shit. Every strategy left me feeling powerless, violated, and weak.

But staying silent and locking up all that hurt inside of me was just as infuriating.

I cannot forgive, and I will not forget. I can however, do my best to move on.

I needed to burn that way, and that hard. I was finally mourning all the times I had been hurt, as a child, teenager, and now as a young adult. Commiserating with my partner, and friends validated the despair and hurt that I felt, and was instrumental to healing.

After feeling all of that anger, and hurt, and insecurity, I can look back at what happened to me and feel a sad acceptance – I am finally free from that hamster-wheel of anger and impotence.

However, don’t take that to mean I’ll be on my best behaviour if he tries that shit again.

Resources for survivors

The Survivor’s Trust

https://www.rainn.org/get-help

https://www.rainn.org/recovering-sexual-violence

Sexual assault survivor’s guide