Category Archives: Musings

The problem with books.

To be sure to the book lover, it’s hard to see a problem with books. Other than the fact there’s not enough time for them all. If you work out how many books you’d like to read, and the amount you manage to read each year, then the number of years you possibly have left in life… morbid or not, it really makes a difference in how willing you are to spend on a book.

That aside, bookshelves. I really want to re-organise mine. However, my books take up:

  • one wall of a room, from ceiling to floor, mostly double-stacked as the shelves are fairly deep.
  • the side of my desk, that has two shelves built in, and the top of my desk
  • two small tables crammed in somehow between my desk and the bed
  • another bookshelf, that almost reaches the ceiling, about 1.5m wide

Then there’s also the books that have floated out to be in the living room bookcase, that takes up the entire main focus wall.

And the crates of books in cupboards and downstairs in storage. And the seven massive bags too heavy to carry, of books I plan to donate to the library. Though I guess they don’t count – perhaps I’ve become carried away here. Yes.

The problem is, where I live is very humid. Books yellow here within two-three years. Bugs get to them, no matter how they’re stored – I don’t exactly have the space or money to store them all in air-tight containers. Books should be displayed! Anyhow. I’m thinking of getting rid of a lot of them, whether to libraries or charity, depending on their current quality.

Then the rest? Re-oganise. But oh the effort, only to be then ruined once another dozen books arrive in my life.

Yes. This is the problem with books. It’s a pretty wonderful problem to have, as far as problems go.

Surgery required

A while ago I posted:

 I’ve had a CT scan and will have a hearing test on Monday, then I see him again after that. He thinks I’ll need to have minor surgery. As long as it means I can fly without damaging my ears, then woohoo.

Well, hearing test is done (I have 100% hearing, thank goodness) and I saw my doctor again this morning. I ‘certainly need surgery’, but it would have to happen at least a month before flying again, which I have planned for the 26th of October to go to England for World Fantasy Convention. Being with my partner. Meeting Scott Lynch and Patrick Rothfuss and all the rest.

He says I can still fly without the surgery is no one’s free to do it before then – it’ll just be painful, but he can give me steroids which may help. I won’t be doing any further damage, so it’s up to me whether it’s worth it. My main issue is the hearing loss two weeks after, and I’m going to a convention which means usually packed halls unable to hear the speaker, but eh. I’m usually okay close up and if I get to meet Scott and flail then it’ll be worth it.

Currently there’s three options for surgery:

  1. Private Hospital: I think my BUPA covers it, however there would still, of course, be a few expenses and not sure on the time frame as to when it could be done.
  2. Public Hospital: 12 months waiting possibly, but free.
  3. Katherine Hospital: 4 hours drive away in a small town. Free also. There’s a ‘very good surgeon’ who goes there once a month to treat the Indigenous population, but they rarely show up for their appointment. I’d have a days notice if he’s suddenly free. This could happen on Thursday 1st August if so.

Either way, it needs to happen a full month at least before flying and I’d need 10 days absolute rest directly after. It would include one or two nights overnight in the hospital.

CT scan says:  IMPRESSION: There is mild to moderate chronic sinusitis. There appears to be acute left maxillary sinusitis.

As for now, all I have to do is wait to see if the Katherine surgeon will be free, and meanwhile, freak the hell out over the idea of surgery.

Picture of CT scan below. See the middle bit? Nose. See the curling white (bone) bits, and black (passages) bits? They should be straight. How they intend to fix that… who knows. Ouch.

Screen shot 2013-07-23 at 4.58.18 PM

 

ETA 28th July: Met with surgeon – he’s not as reassuring as one would hope for. Have the codes BUPA need to check whether it’s covered by private health insurance and may look to having it done privately instead. Yay stress. Yay stress. Yay.

Travel anxiety

I’ve travelled a fairly decent amount in my 26 years. My father was an engineer for one of the two main Australian airlines, joining the new second-main-Australian-Airline when the first was bought out and smashed to pieces (ie. Ansett and then Virgin Australia).

In our Ansett days, we could fly return to anywhere in Australia for $40 or $70 or so, depending on where, time of year, and how many other flights we’d had that year. With mum’s side of the family in one remote part and dad’s in one of the major cities, we spent most holidays elsewhere. Thanks to his ongoing training, we also went to places like Bali.

Because of all that, I’ve always been fairly comfortable flying. When I got older I took myself to Fiji, Singapore, Tokyo (three times), London and surrounds (three times) and around Australia countless times, whether for a weekend to catch up with friends or longer.

4215570646_6ea127b229This was all mainly before my anxiety set in though. And before I burst my eardrum thanks to not liking the cabin pressure and having blocked ears thanks to sickness or not even being able to tell. In freaking out over it all once, flailing out to a friend, he said if I take something yellow, I’ll be fine. So now my chocobo flies everywhere with me.

I try not to be an annoying flyer – one who always needs to get up a dozen times yet takes the window seat. Or is constantly going into their bag, whether it be in the overhead compartment or it’s stuff dug into the backseat pocket, because I know you can feel a lot of that.

I wear a jacket/tunic thing that has a lot of pockets, so before I board I have my tissues, drink bottle and eat tablets, sound-cancelling headphones and book all on my person, so I can literally find my seat, drop my bag and sit down. Everything is already set to flight-mode, and so on.

But when all this is already done and second-nature, what is left to do when the anxieties take over? It’s all so much to think and worry about.

Thankfully, I’ve finally found a doctor who believes the depth of my ear troubles. I’ve had a CT scan and will have a hearing test on Monday, then I see him again after that. He thinks I’ll need to have minor surgery. As long as it means I can fly without damaging my ears, then woohoo.

Don’t think it’ll help with the anxiety, though.

018/100 – Paranoid depression

Depression is an unfair and stupid thing, but I’ve never really minded suffering from it. I was never that social with friends or hobbies. I’ve never been into drinking or clubbing and though I sometimes struggle to leave the house to get groceries or ring something official if I need to get something done, I’ve managed it. My parents help out, and I’m usually able to go to work, where I’m more likely to be able to ring people. Work is also flexible enough for me to just go home if things get too much – so far, I haven’t breached my leave.

But then it started to effect my writing, three or four years ago. Maybe longer, I really have no concept of time. And in the last year or so, it’s effected my reading. And this is where it hurts. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m friends with authors (though I am with a few) I have a few others who are aware of me. This is a change brought on by social media, where authors give away books, see you squee (or snap) about them, see you update your status on sites such as Goodreads… And this is amazing until it comes to someone like me, with my little problem. I’ve been meaning to read certain books – the author usually sees this and comments – and then I just kind of drift – and I feel so guilty because I worry that their first thought is that I’m clearly not enjoying it if I can’t even be bothered to finish it.

Perhaps I’m paranoid, but some authors will go out of their way to interact with you. Until reading that book turns into months, and you get others done instead, and their warmth disappears. Maybe I’m seeing something that’s not there. Maybe they are human, and do notice these things, and are thinking ‘…so, my book not good enough for you, eh?’

My writing is my own issue. No one else gives a damn whether I write or not, but I think they do when they know I’ve started their book and failed to finish it. I wish it wasn’t so awkward to talk about. Yeah, you know I started your book, I’m enjoying it, and I’d enjoy it even more if I wasn’t in this headspace. I want to keep reading it, I do.

Just… authors – I know it’s hard when you put your work out there. Authors have to be strong and learn to take criticism – this is a known thing – but it’s still pretty hard, at least some days, to take it when someone doesn’t finish your book. Just please think that there could another reason they/I haven’t finished or read your book yet – and that’s nothing about you, or your book. It’s just that having depression makes it very, very hard to enjoy things.

Half Yearly update.

So I still haven’t started writing again, not properly. I have a little here and there, but I’m not writing, as in daily or at least often, constantly. My partner is, however. His novel is coming along well, at 24,000 words last I heard (I think), and it’s very engaging. It’s hard not to beg and harass him for more.

In my post ‘2012 Novel to be Read’ I listed 20 books I hear of all the time but haven’t yet read. So far I’ve read one of those now, ‘The Diviners’ by Libba Bray. I’m pretty sure I have them all on my kindle now, so I have no excuses. My reading this year has been lazy so far.

In my ‘Year of Reading’ post, I listed the following novels.

  • Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo
  • Fuse (Pure #2) by Julianna Baggott
  • The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2) by Maureen Johnson
  • Untold (The Lynburn Legacy #2) by Sarah Rees Brennan
  • Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger
  • The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard #3) by Scott Lynch
  • Steelheart (Unknown Trilogy #1) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Necessary Evil (Milkweed Triptych #3) by Ian Tregillis
  • Untitled (Adaptation #2) by Malinda Lo
  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
  • Midnight Blue-Light Special (InCryptid #2) by Seanan McGuire
  • The Burning: A Luther Novel by Neil Cross
  • Without a Summer (Glamourist Histories #3) by Mary Robinette Kowal

I have three waiting to be read that I haven’t got ’round to yet, and three haven’t been released yet, and I’ve had to lie on one line because SECRETS MUST BE KEPT and eee. So I’m doing pretty well on that side of things, at least.

In my ‘Day Zero Project’ post, I said in 2013 I would:

  1. Learn how to crochet
  2. Start writing each day (again)
  3. Stop stressing
  4. Take a vacation to Brighton for World Fantasy Convention
  5. Find a new favourite author
  6. Try ice skating
  7. Be more unique

 

And so far I haven’t made much action on any of those points. Need a good kick, don’t I? Though 4 can’t happen until October anyhow. In a way I discovered the author Livia Day, but that’s Tansy Rayner Roberts under a different pen name, so kinda doesn’t count as a ‘new’ author. Other authors I’ve really enjoyed are Walter Jon Williams (for ‘This is not a Game’), Courtney Schafer (for ‘Whitefire Crossing’) and Marie Brennan (for ‘A Natural History of Dragons’).

Anyhow. Either way, I need to get more done. Animal Crossing: New Leaf is currently stealing all of my time.

017/100 – I want to write

Some writers, when reading a book they utterly love, get disheartened. They think ‘I could never accomplish this! What’s the point! I give up!’

I’m a bit odd, as I think the opposite. It inspires me to try to create something on par with that excellence. I see what rules can be broken, what feelings I want to invoke in others, and so on.

Reading a certain book recently has ruined me for other books. I haven’t been able to read anything else since – I always get like that after reading something amazing, all else seems so dull in comparison (and I think a lot of other readers feel the same). It’s like my head needs more time to let it all sink in, and doesn’t want it erased or crowded by other reading.

This book blew my mind a little. Never before has a book made me realise, ‘You know, as the writer, YOU can write ANYTHING. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN! They’re your characters, from scratch! The plot, the world/s, everything! They’re YOURS TO COMMAND!’

Of course, from character, plot and world building, I’ve been aware of that for some time, but this made me realise how true and how shattering that statement is. A book doesn’t have to be the usual characters with plots A through C and la la la. I can write anything.

I haven’t been able to write like I used to for many, many years now. I used to be able to write each day and look forward to it. I used to scribble in my lunch hour, notes on my phone at all times, get up early and write before work – everything. more importantly, it was easy.

I think it was because of the writing environment I was in. There was this fantastic forum called Fiction[NET], that had a smallish core group of writers. We were all sorted into ‘houses’ like in Harry Potter, and there were weekly and monthly writing tasks that would earn the house some points. Whether they were pretending or not, they said my writing was excellent and begged to read more – I stress, whether they actually thought that, or were reading it at all – that feeling was what made writing so easy.

I don’t think it’s something that every writer ‘needs’ to have in order to write – not at all. It just made it freakishly easy.

Due to lacking time as we all got older and went into full time work, college, marriage, and so on, one by one we all fell away. For the past two or so years the originally creator has been trying to get it up and running again, but so far it hasn’t happened. I’ve tried other writing groups, but now, thanks to anxiety and a general inability to keep anything that requires continuous social interaction, none of them really seem to work for me.

But that book. It made me want to write again. It made me realise how little I’ve done to the plot when anything possible. Even though I have a few tens of thousands of words on plot in various forms, it’s not enough. Because I could do anything with it. And that’s interesting.

Here’s to hoping I start writing again.

Libraries

I’ve had a library card for longer than my partner’s been alive, which all in all sounds incredibly creepy. Yes, there’s a slight age difference between us, but more pointedly, I’ve had my library card since 1991, when I was five years old.

My pre-school was a few minutes walk away from a library – though probably 20 minutes when trying to shepherd 20 or so tiny kids there. Parents had to supply us with a book bag (and I still remember how ugly mine was… though I think Mum made it by hand, so I should be kind about it… it was bright red/blue/yellow) and I think we went there once a week.

Though I live in a fairly small ‘city’, we have a surprising amount of libraries. Darwin, Nightcliff, Casuarina, Karama… and then Palmerston (sister-city) has one, though I think I’ve only stepped foot in it once for a NaNoWriMo meeting. Our schools all have fairly decent libraries also, and the Dept of Education has one that I think I can borrow from, but haven’t been bothered to just yet.

We went to the library a lot when I was young, right up until maybe a year and a half ago (or is it two and a half years?) when Dad received my first iPad (and I upgraded) for his reading. He loves the damn thing, and now doesn’t read printed books, which is a good thing for mum who was literally running out of books to borrow, despite our number of libraries.

I loved the library when I was little. Not so much now, which I’ll get to in a moment. Mum used to take me there when I was ill, because it was a promised quiet space. The chairs were massive, she’d help me find my favourite books, and I’d finally feel rested and okay afterwards. I loved ‘The Fiend’ books. There was this book called ‘The Bear Nobody Wanted’ that was only read by myself – our library sill had the card system for a long while, so you could see that I was the only person borrowing it.

Now our library has eBooks and online ‘holding’ of books, if your card is enabled and you’ve set up a password. I love the idea of finding a library has a book you need/want to read at 10pm, and being able to put it on hold until you can make it in after work the next day, so I went in to have my card enabled.

Only they couldn’t, and had to call others over. My card was too old and the …idk, code on the card was far too old for this to happen. I asked what about everyone else in Darwin? I’m young, surely my card-…

Nope. Seems majority of people have either died, don’t use the library anymore, or lost theirs and have had to ask for a new one. They called someone over who needed my card for half an hour but surprisingly, they didn’t throw it out and simply give me a new one. It’s not even the oldest card I’ve had – I remember when it was just a yellow bit of card with your name written on it and then laminated. The handwriting on it was lovely.

 

I also used a library down in the very small farming town of Frankland, when I visited mum’s side of the family during holidays. It was a small half room attached to the town hall, and to this day they’re still on the index card system. I never got mine, I was always on Grandmas, and they were only open two days a week which drove me bloody crazy. At any one time they probably hold … mum and I can’t agree. At least nothing over 300 books, but at least they did a high turnover with nearby farming towns, so one visit I might have seen Frankland’s books, then next time it would be Cranbrook’s books, or Albany’s.

 

 

These days (and they’ve had it for a long time) there’s video games, televisions, and people who speak normally/loudly/yell across the room. I’ve tried going there while sick, and it’s been quieter in a bookstore in a shopping centre instead. I utterly hate this. I miss our quiet libraries. I miss the slightly-scary and/or rude librarians who’d tell you off. I love video games. This doesn’t mean I want them in a library with the sound way up and a horde of kids being loud around them.

 

But hey, what does my opinion matter. My hands are still ruined by ross river and so I read on my kindle (recently upgraded to the paperwhite!) because I can’t hold a book that’s over 300 pages otherwise. My library’s collection of ebooks seems to just be popular titles, ie. vampire smut, so I don’t even use them for that. Eh. At least I have the memories.