alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

Well, what an interesting year 2016 was, (in the sense of ‘may you live in interesting times.) My father died in February. We had always had a rocky relationship, and making sure he was cared for in his final two years, when he was suffering from dementia, was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. 2014-2015 brought the rest of my dysfunctional family back into my life in a big way too, putting me in their spotlight in a way I hadn’t had to endure before. I soon discovered I was not going to make it without help, and I put myself into therapy to try to make myself into the sort of person who could cope with this.

It was a year’s course of therapy, and how I wish I’d done it earlier! I learned that I had the right to say ‘no’ to my sisters. This did result in one of them deciding never to speak to me again – but after the months of weeping and raging over the rejection had settled, I discovered that I didn’t actually want to talk to her much either. So I am actually quite proud of her for making a move that did us both good, in the long term. Our family had always caused us pain – let it end, then.

And I’m sad to say that when my Dad died this year, that also came as a relief. I debated not saying this, because it’s not the sort of thing you’re allowed to say about your family. But then I remembered that this was also the year in which I promised myself I would stop being silent, and I decided I would say it after all.

I loved him – all my life I wanted his approval and raged because it seemed to me that although he loved me, he profoundly wanted me to be someone else (and therefore he didn’t love me at all.) Although the last two years almost killed me – literally, the stress symptoms were wild – I’m thankful that we had them, so that (maybe) he could see that my refusal to take money from him was because I didn’t need to be paid to love him, and so that I could see that his insistence on trying to give me money was because it was the only way he knew of to express love.

(We fought a lot about money. Dad used it as a way to gain power over people, and to accept it was to accept a position of subserviance. Everyone could be bought, but he didn’t think there was anything wrong in that – it was just the way his world worked. He honestly couldn’t conceive of anyone doing anything for any motive other than money. My writing was a mystery to him, when I could have earned much more in almost any other job.)

I also had the chance to finally get to know him as one adult to another. It amazed me to see in him the self same anxiety and depression I had been suffering all my life, and that my daughter now shares. It was an eye opener to realize that he too was maybe not entirely responsible for the workings of his own brain – that the desperate thing that whines and batters itself against the closed windows of the inside of my head was in him too. I wish he’d been able to have therapy too, before it was too late. It would have helped him. But he would have laughed for scorn at the very idea. I never told him about my own.

I never told him about his trans grandson. He would have ridiculed us both if I had, and so he never saw his grandson as he truly was… and now I’m just making myself sad.

In February my father died, and after the funeral I went through six months of feeling liberated; I felt wary – waiting for the other shoe to drop – and guilty for not feeling any real grief. (By contrast, when my mum died I felt like the world had ended and it was not to be rebuilt for two full years.)

I don’t know whether I’m a terrible person, or whether dad reaped what he sowed in raising us the way he did. But 2016 has been for me the first year ever when I have not been wrung like a dishrag with anxiety about my family of birth. I have felt hopeful and balanced and strong as a person for the first time ever. I even looked forward to Christmas with no fear that I would get everything wrong and be disowned. It was very odd.

But the world is not like a story, and every time you think you’ve got to a satisfying conclusion something new comes along to throw you back into a state of human turmoil. 2016 was also the year when I found a lump in my abdomen, which has grown rapidly to the point where I now look 6 months pregnant. On 1st February 2017 I will go in for a hysterectomy, at which point we will find out what it is. Is it a huge fibroid? Is it something more sinister? We just don’t know.

And then of course there is the state of the world. I doubt that 2017 is going to be better than 2016, with Trump as president, and Brexit on the way. The future is full of dread.

But even as I say that, I remember that my major lesson in 2016 was that nothing quite turns out the way you expect. The Lord has given me strength to get through two years where I wanted to die. He brought me through without being broken, and enabled me to treat my father as well as I could and make the end of his life as bearable as I could, even though I was terrified of him.

I guess I’ve learned not to look too far ahead. The future may be full of dread, but the present is full of warm electric light and the sparkle of the holographic stars with which I’ve decorated my walls. Good came out of the evil that I endured in the past, and if there is evil to be endured in the future, I have God’s promise that he can bring good out of that too. In the mean time I am counting my blessings while I have them, because I’m beginning to see that the present moment is all I really have.

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

I was about to say that other than cleaning up my own mental act, I hadn’t done very much this year. But then the aforesaid mental cleaning kicked in and said ‘hold on there. Yes you have. Don’t put yourself down like that.’ So in obedience to my new determination to be slightly less horrible to myself I’m going to strike that off and say that 2015 has been an important and pivotal year for me for several reasons.

wikiHappy_balloons

Achievements of 2015

In October this year I completed a year long course of therapy that started in 2014 when family problems came to such a head that I felt I stood a good chance of either killing myself or of dying from stress-related health problems without some help. When I started on the course, the therapist made me fill in a ‘well, just how bad is it?’ questionaire and scored me on the answers. I got (somewhere around) an 85, which nudged me into the ‘severe’ category. This year, just before we finished the course, I did the same questionaire again, and scored 18. And as the therapist said ‘you did that all without drugs.’

(Not that I’m knocking drugs! If she’d said I needed drugs I’d have gone on them with thanks. This was an ‘I will take this because the only thing I can change in this impossible situation is myself’ event, and as such I was grateful for anything and everything that helped me cope.)

I think that qualifies as doing something difficult and important this year.

What is the new, less depressed, less self-hating Alex Beecroft like? I am interested to find out, but from initial impressions, actually almost identical to the old one, only less depressed and self-hating. And maybe a little more likely to say no to things without feeling persistently guilty and unworthy about it.

I think new!Alex may possibly be a little more productive too, though it’s easy to say that from a standpoint of the holidays, when the house and the routine is upside down and no writing is being done anyway.

While I was reshaping the inside of my mind, I didn’t also feel up to writing original fiction, so I spent the early part of 2015 on fanfiction. But once the family situation let up a bit and I started feeling a bit better about myself, I did start writing my own stuff again.

Since July(ish) I’ve written two Sci-fi novels – two of the three novels planned for the Lioness of Cygnus 5 series I’ve mentioned before. I may end up self-publishing them in 2016 once I’ve finished the third book. That will at least mean that 2016 isn’t completely barren of new releases!

Though having said that, I have also written the Cretan novella Labyrinth for a historical anthology being released by Samhain in October 2016. Two novels and a novella in half a year is not exactly nothing either.

I go into 2016 having written two chapters of a contemporary novel for Riptide. At the moment it’s called Foxglove Copse, but I can’t guarantee the title will stick. It’s a Cornish contemporary with a gothic feel. To give it a clickbait summary:

Down on his luck businessman Sam was forced to park for the night in a Cornish copse. What he saw next shocked him to the core!

I’m looking forward to getting back to that one when the holidays are over.

Books released in 2015

I published this and only then did I realize that in the ‘achievements of the year’ section, I probably should have listed the books I had published this year. I still routinely underestimate things. That’s a bias that needs continual fighting :)

2015 was actually an excellent year for new books, with the Trowchester Series coming out over the year:

trowchesterseriestwitter

I should probably mention that they are currently available at a reduced price in the Riptide New Year sale

I also re-released The Wages of Sin with a snazzy new cover

WagesofSin2200

Which, for a year of turmoil was not a bad showing, I feel :)

Plans for 2016?

Finish Foxglove Copse. Write the third Lioness book – Pride of Cygnus 5 – and possibly self publish the series. Finish the pseudo-Etruscan fantasy also known as VoidBeast. (My temporary titles need work.) Write at least one more Trowchester book.

That should be enough to be going on with. Particularly as The Glass Floor may be occupying me again in March. Watch this space – I’m hoping to have exciting news on The Glass Floor to be announced soon :)

(I have the feeling that The Glass Floor may need a different title too. The titular floor never actually made it into the book except as a metaphor.)

Held in reserve

I’m also hoping to do two more Charles and Jasper novellas to follow on from The Wages of Sin, if only because I feel uneasy about their ghost daughter and what exactly is going on there. Also there’s a very nebulous fantasy idea that involves storm eggs which never seems to quite fade away. I think I’m more likely to run out of time than ideas.

Non-writing goals for 2016

This year I will be mainly focussing on keeping my mental health together and not backsliding now I’m no longer in therapy. So, I will be attempting to meditate every day, walk as often as I can fit it in, play more session tunes and dance more morris. Because (so the experts tell me) spending time doing things you actually enjoy gives you the energy to do the other things you only need to do.


Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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