Character Profile: Rheaos

Portrait of Rheaos at Leigh

Story: The Halfway House

Protagonist or Antagonist?: Protagonist

Name: Rheaos at Leigh

Age: 30

County of Origin: The Abyssal Plains

Occupation: Student/Prisoner

Loyalties: Friends and family

Goal: Freedom

Morals: Kinda shaky lately

Kidnapped as a child and imprisoned in Dr Bracken’s twisted zoo, Rheaos has always had a very narrow view of the mundane world. However when his worst enemy is forced back to the mansion they both call home and hell, Rheaos is forced to face the fact that he knows a lot less than he thought. As the feud between them puts Rheaos’ long bound away powers within his reach, he finds himself for the very first time with the promise of freedom more than a cruel dream. 

The only problem is that with his powers comes his natural instincts, and he’s starting to wonder if the humans are right when they call him a monster…

NaNo Update and Next Steps

I never posted an update from NaNoWriMo! For no other reason than I was distracted and forgot, so apologies! 

NaNoWriMo went well and despite having a tough time through the month, I hit my goal of 25K words. Not only that, but I’ve hit some big milestones on this manuscript which is inching it ever closer to a completed draft. Now, this raises some important questions about said manuscript. 

Throughout the time I’ve been working on this project (The Halfway House), I’ve been keeping it in my Fluff Project folder and treating it exactly like any other personal project, written purely for my eyes only without any concern over what would and would not make it commercially acceptable. This has been fantastic for stoking my adoration of writing back to a roaring fire and my productivity has shot through the roof. Not only am I doing loads of work on the manuscript but I’m also producing accompanying art and other creative ventures. It’s all very fun and exciting.

However, if I keep up the pace that I’ve been going, I’m probably going to have a beta ready manuscript before the end of the year (which was always the goal but I wasn’t particularly confident I would be achieving it with this particular brand new story). I know one person who is very keen to read, but it has made me acutely aware that this story wasn’t written for going through the whole process. It was really supposed to end once I had written it to a point that I liked it. The idea of cleaning it up properly through multiple rounds of edits has certainly been playing through my head, as well as the idea that I may not want this story to exist only on my hard drive forever.

I think for this one, I’m going to wait until I’ve heard back from this one reader (though if I have additional friends interested in reading about my disaster demons, let me know!). That way, I’ll get an idea of whether or not there might be other people out there who this story appeals to. If there is, I might consider upgrading this one from a personal project. If not, then that’s fine too. I wrote this one for me. I refuse to let that go. I think it’s important for creators to create for themselves as much as they can, and I’ll stick by that opinion for as long as I create.

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2021 Update

Well, it’s been a while. My last post was about a bad mental health episode which unfortunately got way, way worse before it got better. But better it has gotten! Kinda. We’re getting there. Anyway, the short version is that I decided I would sign up to Camp NaNoWriMo this month to jump back on the horse, and it’s the halfway point now so let’s do an update. 

This month I set myself a goal of 25k worth of edits on The Halfway House, including finally finishing off those pesky additional scenes I wanted to add in. The good news is that I’ve finished off those additional scenes (though last night had a brainwave over a new one that I’d like to add…). The bad news is that I might have been ambitious signing up with even a 25k goal.

My poor graph didn’t know what hit it.

That said, yesterday I had an EPIC catch up session that left me incapable at performing basic puzzles in the new game I’m playing my way through, but it DID mean that I caught back up to where I should be – and then some. I did over 8k, which was double my total word count for the rest of the month. Phew! Goodness knows what those words actually look like but at least now I have a handful of scenes that aren’t just dialogue and punching.

No wonder my brain was mush.

Life is difficult and sometimes it’s not even possible to hang onto the few things that keep us going. Coming back to them always helps boost me up further though once I start getting my head above the water. I like NaNoWriMo because it gives me a goal to aim for and something to focus on that feels productive while being fun. Signing up might have been ambitious, but I have no regrets.

A Waffle About Anxiety and Pitches

Creativity is difficult to keep up with when you’re struggling with health issues. This past week my anxiety has left me a total wreck, which has been great. There’s nothing wrong, aside from the fact that I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and sometimes get flare ups where things are really bad. That’s why there was no post this last Sunday. I knew one was due but I just… couldn’t. Even thinking about it made me want to throw up. 

Despite this being a rough week, I’ve still managed to make some good progress on The Halfway House, the passion project that’s still living firmly in my “fluff” projects folder for things I write purely for myself, without casting the expectation that this will be for any other audience. This is remarkably therapeutic and I’d highly recommend other creatives who struggle with mental health issues to have at least one project like this. No such thing as too tropey or too much banter in this novel. I can write what I like and soothe my soul that way without thinking “oh, this is bad”. When I am the target audience, I can be as awful as I want. Working on a project like this is one good way to keep at least a tiny bit productive and keep the mind distracted.

There are some things that can’t be easily worked around though. For example, this Thursday brings around another nerve wracking episode of PitMad, the Twitter pitch contest where authors put out their pitches and hope for some engagement from agents. It might not be the smartest idea, but I’m still intending to participate even if I’m still feeling like this by then. I don’t intend to let this hinder me any more than it has to, even if the way I deal with it is by scheduling tweets days in advance for when I’m going to be very busy at work and with a plan to be chugging Kalms all day. 

I’m going to cross my fingers and hope something good comes of it but mostly on the day, I’m going to try and pretend it’s not happening. Sometimes that’s the best we can hope for.

A Dance in the Dark

She twirls beneath the silver moon,
An eve in which grim omens loom.

Ducking, weaving in ways that might,
Distract me from my mundane plight.

Her dance is feral, yet it’s not,
Her moves create a peaceful spot.

I can’t recall my painful path,
My tears are gone, as is my wrath.

The forest’s danger, a memory past,
Here I stay, my feet stuck fast.

A dark mind had brought me here,
A bleak and twisted wretched fear.

Those thoughts, those feelings, melt away,
And here, forever, I wish to stay.

As here I found her, sprinkled with blood,
Twigs and grass and spatters of mud.

A circlet around, the most subtle clink.
She turns to me. I cannot think.

Now on my neck lays chain of bone,
And from now on I am never alone.

A Non-Writing Related Ramble About Eddie Izzard

I’ve spent a lot of time umming and ahhing about whether or not I wanted to post this. I don’t often talk about The Big Things because I’m not good at it, plus there’s a couple of IRL friends following this account who I’ve never technically come out to (though there’s a really good chance they’ve guessed by now). Anyway, I’m talking about the fact that Eddie Izzard is really important to me. 

I’m someone who is really self conscious about my gender. I struggle to express myself in public and often even in private, and I’m extremely hesitant to label myself with the word that I know is me. I still have so many hang ups where I’m afraid of being derided or told I’m making things up or worst of all that I’m actually harming people with “real” gender identity issues. All this despite it being a doctor and gender specialist who gave me the word “genderfluid” in the first place. 

Eddie Izzard has been a household name in my family since before I was even born. My parents are huge fans of her comedy. There were never any comments made about her appearance (except my mum occasionally mentioning liking her tops). I even remember my dad praising her for the phrase: “They’re not women’s clothes, they’re my clothes. I bought them.” Eddie Izzard was just Eddie Izzard. There was nothing strange or off about her. She was just Eddie Izzard.

When Eddie came out as genderfluid it was huge for me. To see someone like myself, who would present in wildly different ways depending on the day, to use the same word as me was incredible. It was especially impactful as this was someone who was, and continues to be, a very popular and accepted name in my family’s house. It’s strange how a complete stranger’s gender can have such an impact on one’s own feelings of legitimacy, but it really can. It certainly can’t be said that my parents really understood what being genderfluid meant but they accepted it and that’s really what matters.

I’m incredibly lucky that my parents have always been so supportive (if often very confused) about my gender dysphoria and I’m eternally grateful for that. Though, because we’re a family that tends not to talk too much about deep things such as this and it was such a non-issue for them, I’m fairly sure my dad’s probably forgotten. That’s fine though because now I know that if I ever need any more lifts to the hospital or even a pronoun change, I’m not risking losing my family over it. It’s an incredibly privileged position to be in. In some ways, I really won the parent lottery. 

The point is, it is so amazing and so important to have someone I can look up to, who is out there using these labels and showing the world that we exist and we are real. Though it does make me just a little sad because I know that she probably never had anyone like that when she was young and confused like I was. 

Trans people being out and proud and presenting themselves how they want with the pronouns that are properly theirs does not hurt or take away from anyone. It just doesn’t. But it really does give the world a whole lot. 

Art Share – Rheaos and Blair

Art share time!

This NaNoWriMo I worked on a new passion project which you may or may not have had to suffer listening to me gush about over on Twitter for the whole month (and beyond). Well, thanks to that passion project I finally have some evidence that is suitable for this blog that I am actually working on art! 

Drawing characters from the games I play and the stories I create has been the major driving force for my desire to rekindle that skill. Now, after a year of hard work, I finally put stylus to tablet and drew out some characters from one of my novels!

I still have a long way to go and I can see many errors and areas for improvement but, considering where I started, I’m very pleased with my progress. Hopefully, this is just the start of lots of character art! Huzzah!

May I present, Rheaos and Blair of The Halfway House! (Clicking on the image makes it less blurry – curse you, WordPress!)

Yes, it is hard to shop for clothes when you’re 7ft3 and have a tail.

Rheaos is the rather tall, blue gentleman, our main character and one of the many monsters imprisoned by the heinous Dr Bracken. Stood next to him is Blair, son of Dr Bracken and lifetime enemy of Rheaos. In their own ways, they’re both looking for freedom and it’s only by working together that they’ll have even half a chance at it.

2021 Goals

Hoooooo boy, here we go again. New year, new goals, though a lot of them are going to be veeery similar. Still, I find announcing them makes me more focused and less likely to abandon them. 

  1. Write 1 short story per month – Writing short fiction is not something that I do often, nor is it something that I’m good at. It is, however, a good way to improve your writing and a much quicker way to get samples of your writing critiqued, which is an invaluable thing for developing as a writer. As such, I want to try and write at least one piece of short fiction per month, be it as a random prompt or for specific submissions. 
  2. Get something beta ready – I don’t want to commit to a specific project this year as things happen and the way I feel at the start of the year certainly won’t be indicative of what I want to be working on later on. I want to commit to getting another draft beta ready, but this time around I’m not going to commit to a specific one. 
  3. Read new books – Another in the essential tasks for honing my writing skills. I’ve fallen into the bad habit of constantly rereading old favourites which, while safe and enjoyable, aren’t helping me broaden my skills. I’ve a set number of books I’ve never read before that I’d like to achieve before the end of the year.
  4. Keep Through the Black on submission – Fairly self explanatory. I don’t want to let myself get disheartened or lazy. This is something I need to keep on top of and plan to, no matter how harrowing it gets. 
  5. Keep up blog posts – I know if I don’t keep some accountability for this one is going to go straight out of the window. In 2020 I got more blog views than I have done any other year! Moving into 2021 I want to keep up that momentum and do more interesting posts about writing and resources (for example, my Trello post that got a lot more engagement than I’m used to!) and hopefully some more stories as well. 

Moving on to some non writing related ones:

  1. Draw 1 piece of art per month – This was a success last year and not only made me keep up with my practice and facilitated a real, visible improvement in my art but it gave me an awesome collage at the end, and I’m a sucker for a collage. It also gave me the confidence (lol kinda) to finally bring to the canvas some of my characters(!) which has been one of the main reasons I wanted to draw anyway. Bringing up those skills to give my favourites faces is definitely an end game goal and one I intend to keep working towards this year! 
  2. Weight goal – Yup, the usual one. It’s a lower priority one but one I want to deal with to keep on top of dysphoria and stuff. 
  3. Voice Therapy – Same as above, although this one has been SEVERELY neglected since I moved away from my local GIC. Time to get back on it properly. If I get the confidence to talk over Discord again while I’m gaming before the end of the year, I’ll consider this one a success. 

So there you have it, my goals for 2021! I’ve tried to keep it easier this year so no big, specific goal really, just little things I can chip away at throughout the year. I have a few manuscripts that are close to beta ready and one that isn’t but I’m completely obsessed with currently, so with any luck and a bit of work at least ONE of those will be ready by the end of the year. 

I’m anticipating a pretty rough start to 2021 thanks to the UK handling Coronavirus like a toddler handling Gran’s favourite porcelain and some essential staff at my place of work moving on to better pastures, but after last year I’m moving on with a new attitude. None of this new year “fresh start, clean slate, all gets better from here” nonsense. Going through 2020 was like going through the washing machine, and I’m fully expecting 2021 to be the spin cycle. I’m keeping my head down, eyes on what’s in front of me, and am just going to do what I can.

Happy New Year everyone!

2020 Goals – The Review

Many, many, many people are saying this about 2020 but I have to add my voice asking “what in the everliving fuck was that?!?” Whatever, let’s grab a big glass of vermouth and have a look at how I did on this year’s goals.

1.) Start doing blog posts again – For this one I managed to post 73% of the planned blog posts for the year (one every two weeks) which, in this year of 2020, I’m counting as a win. As Meatloaf would say, 19 outta 26 ain’t bad.

2.) Finish TE1 synopsis (by 28 Feb) and keep on submission – Success! Not only did I finish the full query packet but it’s been on submission ever since and the rejections are piling up! Yaay! I mean, every one of them is a gut punch but I’m treating this like my training montage right before the film KICKS OFF. That’s how you do it, right?

3.) Get Fishperer beta ready – I made a lot of progress on this at the start of the year and then in the second half it kinda went out of the window. Still, it’s a lot closer to being done than it was so that’s something I suppose. 

4.) Complete a Goodreads challenge – Yeah, this one never recovered. It’s not been a good year for reading new books at all. This year was far too much about the comfort zone. Oh well. There’s always next year?

5.) Do enough art to do the end of year meme – I DID IT! I made enough art and made the meme. Despite September to November being very phoned in, I’m still very proud of myself for it. The best thing about this goal is that I can look at my January art and my December art and actually see a difference. I’m hoping to make this one a tradition because I finally feel like I’m making some progress with my drawing skills and I don’t want to lose it again.

6.) Hit weight goal – Zero shits given about this one. It’s 2020. I’m just along for the ride. This one will probably be back next year as I want to achieve it for my dysphoria but if we’re up for 2020 2.0 then I’m not going to stress about it too much.

If we include the very shaky “win” for goal number one, that’s a 50% hit rate. Sod it, it’s 2020. I think I did good. Happy New Year everyone, let’s raise our glasses, cross our fingers, and enter the brace position because like it or not, here comes 2021!

NaNoWriMo 2020 Post Mortem

So, how did NaNoWriMo 2020 go? Well, I’ll have you know that I actually wrote a (very brief) post to put up midway through the month but I was so caught up in writing my novel that I completely forgot, despite the post already being written. This year I had my best NaNoWriMo ever. I wrote over seventy thousand words and, for the first time since the very first time I did NaNoWriMo eight years ago, I completely finished the rough draft of my story. This has been the fastest ever that I’ve made it to 50k (made it on the 15th!) and all it took was stubbornness, a story I’ve completely fallen in love with, and bribery by food. 

At the end of October I made the decision not to continue on with the story I was planning on and instead switch to a different project. Given the year 2020 has been, I decided to switch to a project that was going to be pure fun. Full of tropes and nonsense, just something that I was writing purely for myself with no intention of ever showing anyone. This was how I started writing and how Twyned Earth came about all those years ago. I completely let go and just wrote whatever I wanted. I created the project in my “Fluff Writing” folder, where I keep my stories which I have no intention of ever doing anything important with. It was freeing. The project is still living there and yet I already have a bunch of revision plans for it and ideas I want to squeeze in. I’ve even done art of the main character (and have plans to draw his love interest next)! 

I think that at some point, after I had the realisation that I would like to become a published writer, I became too worried about avoiding things that were too tropey or self indulgent. If we can’t be self indulgent in our writing then what is even the point? I need to re-embrace the sacred art of not giving a crap what other people think when I’m drafting again because after just 30 days I have ended up with a whole new, finished draft and let me tell you – I’m in love.