Second Update on ‘The Situation’

I took this photo at Belfast City Hall the day we set our wedding date. Little did I know how fitting it would become.

At the end of April, I published a blog post here about the nightmare my husband (and, by extension, myself) was facing. At the start of May, I wrote an update. Well, it’s August now, and we’re still facing the Same. Damn. Thing. It’s exhausting just thinking about it, but let me give you a recap:

When I met Steve, two and half years ago, he was already ill. He was diagnosed with diabetes maybe four years ago. Six months after that, he collapsed, was in a coma for a bit, and woke up to find he had the bonus condition of seizures. Fatigue came along for the ride, happy in its task of exacerbating his existing mental health issues (anxiety and depression) – I speak of all this with levity, holding fast to the old adage, “If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry.”

About three years ago, Steve moved back home with his parents and got a new job. He collapsed again, while at work, and had to be removed in an ambulance. There was just no way he could go back, so he did the obvious thing of applying for welfare. (I hate the word ‘benefits’ and the connotations it conjures up, but that’s a different rant for a different day.)

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August Reading Audit

After reading this article about taking a closer look at what’s on our bookshelves, I decided to have a look at my own and crunch some numbers. Because, really, I can’t resist scribbling notes and coming up with stats. (Yes, I’m a nerd, are you new here?)

For context, I went into the task thinking I had:

A – a lot of books in general
B – most of my books still unread
C – most of my books (both read and unread) written by women

I should say at this point that I was looking at my physical shelves, e-reader, and audiobooks. I didn’t bother with comics or graphic novels. Fan fiction also wasn’t included at this stage.

Without going into too much detail (knowing that others don’t love stats quite as much as me) my findings were basically:

A – I don’t have as many books to read as I thought
B – I’ve already read a fair chunk of the books I do have
C – most of my books are indeed written by women, but not by a particularly high percentage

Seeing as gender representation isn’t an issue for me (Yay!), I’ll end discussion of that particular point here. Though it will be something I’ll keep an eye on, in future.

Regarding points A and B: I have approximately 100 things in my possession, either in print or online, ready to read. That includes some novel-length fanfics I’ve bookmarked but doesn’t take into consideration a bunch of free Kindle books I got once upon a time and I have no intention of ever starting.

Because of these 100 things (novels, poetry collections, audiobooks, etc), I’m going to reinstate the book-buying ban I placed on my self during the first half of the year. So, between now and Christmas, I’m going to see how low I can get that number.

Wish me luck!

Notes from a Playwriting Workshop

Kelly Creighton interviewing Jo Zebedee at her latest Book Launch

Yesterday, before attending Jo Zebedee’s latest book launch (which was great by the way, go check out Waters and the Wild!), I was at a free playwriting workshop put on by the Lyric Theatre.

Apparently the workshop was part two in a series, and the next one is at the end of August (keep an eye on the Lyric’s website for more details).

The event was more in the style of a lecture followed by a question and answer session, really. I’m told the previous one was about the nuts and bolts of actually writing and formatting a script, and the next one is from the point of view of a director, but this one was words of wisdom from Stuart Pringle of London’s Bush Theatre.

He says that he often scouts around for new talent at showcases, showings of short plays, and “scratch nights.” I think the take away from that is to try for something small before aiming to get a full-scale play commissioned.

Similarly to traditional book publishing process, there are submission windows and agents that work specifically with/for scriptwriters. There are some theatres and production companies that specifically work with new writing, and producing theatres (that is, theatres that don’t just host plays that have already been made and performed elsewhere) will have literary departments consisting of people who’s sole job it is to read scripts. There are theatres specifically for experimental work, also.

Don’t assume that new writing means young writing. Older writers just starting out should not feel discouraged.

Most plays require private funding, either sourced by the theatre through sponsors or fronted by the playwright’s wealthy fans/family/companions/contacts. The Bush theatre, for context, gets a third of its funding from the box office, a third from the Arts Council, and a third from sponsors, who the writers and directors are encouraged to meet with regularly.

The Royal Court accept submissions year-round and are great at providing feedback. Most other theatres simply don’t have the people power for such things.

There are two main types of commissioning agreement in the UK, but they will vary depending on the theatre. How much creative input a writer will have after their work goes into production and is put in the hands of the director also varies greatly. If you have a play commissioned that doesn’t get produced, the rights should always revert back to the writer. Having an agent can really help with all the finer points of contracts.

Four Years of Fan Fiction

On this day, every year, I post some stats about fan fiction I’ve written; today being July 28th – exactly four years since I started writing it. You can view my stats for 2016 here, and 2015 here.

When I started, it was only Buffy fanfic, and it was only posted in a single place: Elysian Fields. After a year, I started sharing work to FanFiction.net and dipping my toe into other fandoms, also. Last year I decided to re-edit my back catalogue and stick it all up on Archive of Our Own. That is still a work in progress, as you’ll see below.

Total Words Written: 320,000
Words Posted to AO3: 100,000

On EF, I have left over 1,000 reviews totalling 50,000 words, and 84 people have favourited me.

130 people have favourited me on FF, and I’ve left 150 reviews there.
Total views to my FF profile page: over 10,000.

I have almost 500 ‘Kudos’ on AO3. Hits are over 12,000, subscriptions over 100, and 69 bookmarks (honestly, I don’t really know the difference between subscriptions and bookmarks, but I post the details here for reference anyway).

I’m not even going to begin trying to count how many reviews I’ve received, because it was in the thousands last year and it took me forever to total. Needless to say, though, I’m feeling pretty pleased with what I’ve accomplished.

All of the Thoughts

I feel seventeen again, and not in a good way.

I’m feeling like I was last September, when the poems were running out of me like blood and my mind was lost in space.

…and it’s all in my head, I think about it over and over again

I can’t stop thinking in song lyrics. Can’t stop thinking.

There’s so much more I want to say about Chester, but I don’t know where to start.

I may not get over this. I mean, Linkin Park have been with me 15+ years. Over half my life.

I may not still be living without them. How do I start to get my head around that?

wake me up, when September ends

Chester

I am devastated. That’s not hyperbole. Not an exaggeration. The death of Chester Bennington has rocked me. I’ve spent the last couple of hours crying.

Every so often a celebrity dies and there is public outcry. Often, a small portion of the population consider such reactions to be ridiculous, as if celebrities don’t count as real people, or as if someone can’t be crushed when someone they’ve never met passes on. Thankfully, most people aren’t as stupid as all that and know that music is one of the most powerful things on the planet and that, through it, singers and songwriters can touch you, and change your life.

Linkin Park changed my life. Again, I don’t care if you just read that as dramatic or whatever. Truly, the music they made saved my life and made it bearable. They have been my favourite band since I first heard them, in my early teens. Along with Buffy, they helped me through such intense highs and lows that are beyond words.

It cost me an absolute fortune, but I got to see the band live when they headlined Download a few years ago. I went on my own, and I sang my heart out, and I didn’t give a shit how it looked. I will treasure that experience for the rest of my life (even if I am kicking myself that I didn’t take any pictures).

I’ve spoken on here in the past about my checkered history with mental health. Many of you reading this will, I’m sure, understand what I’m feeling right now. Part of me is angry that a life is gone, but I know exactly what it’s like to just… not be able to continue.

For those of you with me, let me share some words that have come to mean the world to me:

Weep not for roads untraveled, weep not for sights unseen. May your love never end, and if you need a friend, there’s a seat here alongside me.

The Evolution and Extinction of Ellie Rose Writing Services

As I’m sure many of you reading this blog will know, I used to offer a range of writing-related services as a business. That business started in 2013 and, as of last month, has now ended.

It took me a long time to see it, but I was overstretching myself, and my mental health was paying the price.

Going forward, I’m feeling confident that I have a clear idea of where I’m headed and how to get there.

I’m still self-employed and that still consists of client work, but it is exclusively for writers and writing based organisations, now. The work is going to be carried out under the simple business banner of ‘Ellie Rose McKee, Author’ because, this time around, I’m not going to lose focus of the main strand of my career, which is writing for myself.

My main client at the minute is the John O’Connor Writing School, and I’ve just accepted the post of Project Support Officer with Women Aloud NI.

So, even though Ellie Rose Writing Services is no more, this is not a sad blog post for me to write. I was updating my CV just before writing this, looking over the testimonials I have received, and I’m damn proud of myself and everything I’ve achieved.

Onward and upward, as they say!

Dyspraxic Life

So, I was in the middle of writing some fan fiction towards my Camp NaNoWriMo goal, mug in hand, when I accidentally tipped the mug too much the wrong way and spilt a good portion of the contents over myself.

Ouch.

I know that’s not particularly noteworthy – especially when you’re me, a person who does such things several times a day. But what happened next was that I went online to complain about my clumsy self to Twitter, using the hashtag ‘Dyspraxic Life’ – I had to actually google the word Dyspraxic to remember how to spell it.

Having had the affliction for quite some time (or, I suppose, having had it for my entire life, and being aware that it had a name for a good few years), I’ve researched it before. I know the basic symptoms (particularly the clumsiness), so I wasn’t intending to actually find out about the disorder in my searching for it.

I did stumble upon a link, however. This here piece about Dyspraxia in Adults. I clicked it out of curiosity and, wow. I’m actually sat here stunned.

Never before have I seen such an extensive list of symptoms, and never before have I been summed up so accurately in a single document. It says at the bottom that “not even the most severe case will have all the above characteristics” but there are literally only one or two on the list that don’t personally apply.

I had no idea that my disorder affected me in so many ways. To those who know me, I really recommend reading the list. It’s a startling insight into my inner self.

Six Months of Books

Now that half the year is gone, it really is high time I got around to summarising everything I’ve been reading. I set myself the goal of fifty books this year, and I’m very pleased (not to mention surprised) that I’m well ahead of target with thirty-seven already down (74% of target, 13 books ahead of schedule).

Here is a breakdown of those thirty-seven books:

Poetry

Through a Hedge Backwards by Rene Greig, Reflections from the Enler by Alex Dempster, The Orchard by Isobel Gamble, The World’s Wife and Feminine Gospels by Carol Ann Duffy, Famous American Poems edited by Gene Baro, The Goose Tree by Moyra Donaldson, Undying by Michel Faber, Crow by Ted Hughes, and Stranger Baby by Emily Berry.

Audiobooks in the Dresden Files Series

Turn Coat, Changes, Ghost Story, Cold DaysSkin Game, and Side Jobs all by Jim Butcher.

Young Adult Novels

No Life But This and Spinning Thorns by Anna Sheehan, Terror Kid by Benjamin Zephaniah, Amoung the Ghosts by Amber Benson, Simon vs the Homosapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Life and Death by Stephanie Myer, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and Inish Carraig by Jo Zebedee (audiobook)

Adult Novels

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austin (audio), As You Like It by Shakespeare (audio), Where Three Roads Meet by Salley Vickers, and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Non-Fiction

Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (audio), The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck and Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight (audio).

Novelty/Gift Books

In the Garden of Happiness by Dodinsky, Doug the Pug by Leslie Mosier, and Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones by Bryan Cogman.

Other

The Female Line edited by Ruth Carr (poetry and short stories), and a novel-length fanfic.

*sighs a deep, contented breath* What have you guys been reading?


Want even more stats? Follow me on Goodreads here.

Desire (for National Flash Fiction Day)

It’s National Flash Fiction Day here, in the UK.

To celebrate the occasion, I present to you a super short story of mine, entitled Desire.

Janet licked her lips. Her eyes glazed over as she looked through the window at her soulmate. She’d been sure it was meant to be from the moment she saw the advert online.

Taking a quick moment to preen at her reflection, she stepped into the café, ready to meet her destiny. Bravely, she approached the counter, practically salivating at the shop girl before her. Everything Janet wanted was within reach.

Until, suddenly, someone jumped the queue and took the last doughnut out from right under her nose.