Category Archives: Writing

The Beautiful Books #26 – The Author Writing Process Edition

Image Description: The Beautiful People for Writers - Writing Goals

How do you decide which project to work on?
I’m actually pretty terrible at focusing on a singular project and I’m often working on multiple projects at once.

How long does it usually take you to finish a project?
The Pushing Boundaries series is the only project thus far I’ve been able to focus on long-term. I wrote a rough draft for Canis Major – Volume I for NaNoWriMo 2015 (November) and had it edited and self-published by November 2016. I know a year doesn’t sound like a long time, but it felt like a long time because I was focusing on it for a core unit of my degree and needed the eBook published in order to graduate.

Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?
No, unfortunately, although I am trying to organise myself into a get a cup of tea and light some tea-candles and essential oil burner and seeing how that goes.
Image Description: from left to right, a triangle shaped tea-light candle holder with purple flowers painted on the front, a small glass tea-light candle holder, a white oil burner from Dusk with a tea-light candle inside and another small glass tea-light candle holder.

What time of day do you write best?
I generally struggle in the morning and tend to work better in the afternoon and evening

Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?
As I’m an author who is just starting out, I have no idea, personally I think this is something you’d have to ask a reader rather than a writer.

Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?
Looking back, I began fan fiction writing as a coping strategy for dealing with… well, Life in general, I suppose, however, it also allowed me to experiment with writing possible narratives that could occur within that already structured world, most of these narrative possibilities contained the idea that the canon narrative could have gone in a different direction than the one the author chose. It’s a safe way to explore narratives and characters. But, eventually, the novelty of fan fiction (and the lack of quality control) made the cons of fan fiction out-weigh the pros.

I also realised that if I spent all my time playing around with other people’s narratives and characters, I was left with neither the time or mental capacity to work on my own narratives and characters (although characterisation is still an area I need to improve upon). The reason I keep writing, I guess, is because I’m constantly coming up with new ideas, which is kind of frustrating because I’d like to be able to work on the projects I’ve already started, but we all have our own creative processes.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?
During the editing process, I was trying to get my character Beth to convey some plot/character related information to another character Mac, in the original manuscript this took place over three chapters, however, with the assistance of my editor Kim, I managed to transfer this information in three lines of dialogue. It was so frustrating and annoying at the time but it was a good learning experience.

Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?
probably my Lake of Tears project, which is a SFF (Science Fiction Fantasy) Dystopian cross-over involving elves, gods, mages, dragons and time-travel. I am nowhere near the level I need to be (as a writer) to write it, that and I need to do some more research into time-travel and paradoxes.

What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?
I wanted to have written Orion – Volume II written, edited and self-published by the end of the year, but that goal has become laughably out of reach due to personal circumstances and issues with mental health.

Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!
Image Description: a Labrador-dog, wearing a red tie, is sitting at desk with a laptop. It looks as though the dog is typing on the laptop. The picture is captioned with white capital text, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING.

Technical Difficulties – 2nd Edition


Image Description: a “Very Demotivational” meme, which is a picture of a panda trapped on a branch, with a black border around the picture with white-text captioning down the bottom of the picture: “Technical Difficulties: We has them…”

I’ve been thinking of starting up (surprise, surprise!) another writing project, the big problem is that I’m currently torn between what kind of platforms I should use, I don’t know if my intended project is more suitable for Podcasting, a YouTube Channel or perhaps a combination (somehow?). Perhaps I should discuss my new writing project and maybe it’ll help me with he decision process. I want to set up a platform where I talk about Mental Health and ADHD (as well as some related topic things like stim toys). As I’m not a qualified therapist or counsellor, I would only be able to talk from the podium of my own experiences, so the video path would involve journal-like videos talking about my diagnosis, my personal diagnostic process, as well my interconnected mental health problems.

I’m going to be honest, YouTube has a large market on the “journal/confession” style of video, and while that results in great content like Katie Morton’s YouTube Channel and Annie Elainey’s YouTube Channel, it leaves me wondering “What do I bring to the table that is unique and different?” and “how can I possibly stand out?” See, the funny thing is that there is a lot of ADHD journal-style channels already out there, usually they have ten videos and then they haven’t been updated since or they have been updated but there are irregularities in postings or big gaps.

The problem is that I understand only too well why that is the case, I’ve been doing the same thing too pretty much all my life and I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t want to embark on yet another project, invest a lot of my time, effort and limited financial resources into a platform only to give up half-way through. And, yeah, I’m perfectly willing to admit that my scatter-gun approach to… pretty much everything might be apart of the problem. My usual method of throwing things at a platform and seeing what sticks isn’t working for me or isn’t working as well as I’d like it to. It’s not that I’m not willing to give both a go, its not that I’m not willing to take risks, what I’d like is some feedback before I make the attempt.

What’s the Project going to be about?
My objective is create channel (regardless of whether its YouTube or Podcast) that covers the following:

  • journal-style content of my personal mental health and Adult ADHD diagnosis process.
  • Facts About ADHD – episodes that focus on the facts and resources regarding ADHD (like books and support groups available). I want these episodes to have a more Australian approach to it and my focus will primarily be Adults with ADHD, because unfortunately the majority of resources currently available tend to be more geared towards children with ADHD and their parents.
  • Interviewing Mental Health professionals or people involved with positive Mental Health support (like social workers or support groups)
  • Mental Health Q&A videos (possibly?) or stuff that’s connected to Mental Health like Stim Toy reviews, Bullet Journal stuff, or Journal exercises

I suppose I should include the possible pros and cons of each platform.

YouTube Channel Pros:

  • Dramatic reenactments with my collection of Weighted Plushies: this is the aspect of making videos that I’m looking forward to the most. I’m already thinking and detailing in my mind the jump-cut sketches I could possibly make.
  • Editing: I enjoy the editing process of film-making, I’m currently using Adobe Premier, which is great if not a little complicated (I’m doing a Skills Share tutorial for it, just to make sure I know exactly what I’m doing). There’s also lots of help and tutorials online.
  • Equipment: I already have all the required equipment to start making videos (I found a tripod at Big W for roughly AU $25), I could literally start tomorrow if that’s what I wanted.
  • Audience Interaction: YouTube is a great method of interaction and for building a community and there’s a proven track-record of people building successful and supportive mental health communities. It’s a big component of why I want to do this.

YouTube Channel Cons:

  • Super Awkward: When it comes to making movies and taking photographs, I’ve spent most of my time behind the camera, and I’m pretty good at directing (aka telling people how to do their jobs). But I don’t have that same sense of confidence when I’m placed in front of a camera. I tried to make a short introduction video for my YouTube Channel, I tried four times to do a short 30 second clip and kept fucking up the short basic script I had devised for myself, eventually I thought “Fuck it!” and decided on doing a voice recording with my phone and pictures instead of video footage (you can view the intro video down below, don’t feel bad for laughing, the video is very much a rush job)
  • Marketing: From the research I’ve doing, a lot of the ADHD journal-style channels are created by people presumably in the USA, now this could give me an edge, an Australian woman talking about her personal experiences would be unique, but there is a risk that this is too unique and that only small percentage of people are going to interested in it. There’s also the problem that there are A LOT of people doing this already, and while I think this is awesome and I’m very much for ending the stigma surrounding ADHD and other Mental Health problems, I still need to ask myself “What am I bringing to the table?” and I’m not entirely certain that I would be adding to the conversation.
  • Interaction: Lets be honest here, YouTube isn’t known for being a safe place, where online harassment is taken seriously. While I know I have reasonably thick skin, the problem is that I don’t know if the possible good I get from this channel is going to out-weight the potential harassment I’m going to receive online. I’m not saying harassment or bullies should hold you back from doing what you want to do, because there are always going to be bullies and nay-sayers out there telling you not to try, this is more from a self-care and time management perspective.
  • Timing: I mean, with regards to filming, it’s lot more work involved in making YouTube videos in comparison to writing blog-posts on WordPress or Tumblr. With videos, you need time to film, organise a guest and/or work around guest’s schedule, edit film, possibly edit audio, publish it on YouTube, and then also make a blog-post about it on WordPress.
  • Length: I’m going to be honest, I talk a lot and at a fast pace, There’s also the problem with YouTube that videos are expected to be short (the implied maximum being 12-15 minutes) and I often feel that this time-constraint isn’t always appropriate for Mental Health discussions, a Mental Health problem can’t always be tackled in a 15 minute video, sometimes it’s more complicated than that. It also doesn’t give much time for me to answer any possible questions people might ask of me.

Podcasting Pros:

  • Comfort: I have no problems with recording myself via audio, I’m also super comfortable with Adobe Auditions (from what I remember, it’s super easy to use, although my memory isn’t the most reliable). In contrast to Adobe Premier, which is a little more difficult (or at least it is for me) and it wasn’t obvious how to use certain features like captioning
  • Experience: I have some limited experience to creating audio files due to taking a University unit Radio Production, I’m also looking into volunteering for a community radio station once a week.
  • Marketing: Mental Health Podcasts, such as The Mental Illness Happy Hour, have a proven track record of success.
  • Accessibility: For transcription, I can use a paid-service such as Trint and I can make my podcasts as long or short as I like.

Podcasting Cons:

  • Equipment: I have yet to obtain the recording equipment I would need to begin podcasting and that’s mostly because of cost, the audio recorder I have in mind (which is the cheaper of the two options) costs AU $180. Unlike the equipment I have for video recording, if I decide I don’t want to make videos, I can still use my camera and tripod for other things, but this isn’t the case with the audio equipment and I don’t want spend money on equipment I’m only going use once or twice.
  • Experience: I’ve been making short films since I was teenager, so I kind of know what to expect when making videos with other people, but I’ve never made a podcast before so I’m not sure what to expect, and that’s a little scary.

Problems that would affect both projects:

  • Effort: Maybe taking on a new writing project isn’t the best idea at this point in time. I’m struggling creatively, everything feels like too much effort and I just can’t, my situation kind of does have a “Going Through The Motions” type of feeling. I’m not doing well with my novel-writing, I had hoped to have a 1st draft of Orion finished by now, maybe I should focus on that instead and figure out why it’s not working for me. There’s a serious concern that I’m just using this idea for a new project as an excuse to procrastinate.
  • Knowledge: Maybe I’m not the best person for this type of project, I have no formal qualifications and I only have subjective experiences to work from,
    I also don’t have the best social skills, a key component required when trying to get people to agree to interviews
  • Interviews: While I would love to do interviews regardless of my platform, getting the right people to agree to interviews will be a challenge.
  • Social Media: I would have to set up some separate elements of Social media for this new project, not a lot but some, possibly a separate Twitter or separate Tumblr page for people to ask questions, and seeing as I’ve just recently had to shut down my Havering blog because I just no longer had the mental capacity to maintain it, I feel a little anxious about the idea. I don’t want to set up social media for this project, only to delete it a few months later.

Maybe this is something I need to think about for a little while longer, however, I’d really appreciate it if readers could let me know what they think. Is this something you’d be interested in? Would you prefer YouTube or would you prefer a podcast? What about a combination of the two? I don’t know, I’m just putting ideas out there. If you’d like to check out my introductory video for my channel, the video is just below:

The Emerging Writer’s Festival – Writer’s Night School: Podcasting


Image Description: a lit sign positioned outside of The Wheeler Centre, it consists of multiple-panes of glass, upon the first pane of glass is the logo for the Wheeler Centre, below the logo there is text on the sign which says, “The Wheeler Centre. Books Writing Ideas”, on the second pane of glass is a collection of logos that indicate a number of writing-orientated organisations that reside within the upper floors of The Wheeler Centre.


Image Description: it’s a display sign for the Emerging Writer’s Festival. The background of the sign consists of blue buildings in various shades of blue, with the occasional pink object in the back ground to add contrast, for example: there is a pink flower at the bottom of the sign, pink petals from the flower are scattered across the bottom of the poster. There is yellow text superimposed on top of the blue and pink background, the yellow text is “EMERGING WRITER’S FESTIVAL 14-23 JUNE”.

While completing my Bachelor of Creative Arts Industries, there was a unit available known as Radio Production, which was something I was interested in pursuing. Unfortunately, Victoria University doesn’t have a University Radio Station set-up like RMIT does (in fact we had a field-trip to SYN Media to check it out), so my unit lacked that much needed practical experience element.

During one of the lectures, we had a guest speaker come in and talk to us about podcasting, while I can’t remember much of the person himself, I can remember the intimidating feeling he gave me as he listed all of the very expensive equipment he felt was necessary in order to produce a high-quality podcast. Despite the reassurances of some of my class-mates, who had created podcasts themselves, that such expensive equipment wasn’t a mandatory requirement, I still had my doubts.

After all, I had tried and failed at so many projects previously, was podcasting worthy of the time and money I would need to invent into it? To be honest, I don’t have a lot of knowledge or experience with Audio Equipment, although I have been doing some research into it, and I have been tossing up the idea of either starting up my own podcast series or perhaps starting up my own YouTube Channel. I ultimately decided I needed more information on both subjects and chose to attend the Writer’s Night School: Podcasting event.

My teacher and host for the evening was Honor Eastly and it took nearly all my limited self-control not to make an Avatar: The Last Airbender joke (I managed to convince myself that she’s most likely heard them all already). She’s created and been involved in many various art projects, but the podcasts she predominately talked about were Being Honest With My Ex and Starving Artist. Honour talked about Content, Craft and Audience, however, the main topic of choice was Craft, which can be broken down further into Interviewing, Gear, Editing, and Narration.

During the University unit, I was able to get some interviewing experience as Victoria University arranged for us to interview staff at Western General Hospital (I interviewed a gentleman who worked as an interpreter). It was a positive experience and I would be considering creating an interview-style of content, however, there is a potential road block to that particular style of narrative. How do you go about getting people to agree to an interview with you? I would image this would be especially difficult if you’re just starting out.

But contrary to what I thought (which was simply cold-calling people), Honour put forward her method, which was emailing contacts. Honour also recommended being as transparent as possible about the interviewing process, which included a pre-interview over the phone before meeting the interview subject to clarify what questions she would be asking and establish which directions she intended to take the interview. Honour emphasised that the key to good interviewing was making sure to value time of other people.

Next, we moved onto Gear and Editing, which I was interested in finding out more about. During my time at VU, we used Zoom H2N Handy Recorder, they were okay (sound quality was good and relatively simple to use) but the interface was a pain in the arse. If I were to invest in audio recording equipment it would probably be the Zoom H1 (if anyone has some experience or feedback to offer, please feel free to do in the comment section).

When it comes to software, my unit teaches recommended Audacity, mostly because it’s free, however, this software made me want to pull my hair out and cry, so now I refuse to use it. I previously had a student subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud, which has the program Adobe Audition, which works like a dream, so I highly recommend Audition (if you can afford it).

If not, there is another alternative that Honor suggested, which is Reaper. I’ve never used Reaper before, so if readers want to leave feedback in the comment section below, please feel free to do so. Honor also recommended Trint, which is a paid Transcription service she uses but is also happy to recommend to others and I figured, regardless of whether I decide to pursue podcasting or a Youtube Video channel, this could be helpful for me either way.

Unfortunately, this meant that we didn’t have a lot of time to talk about Audience, however, Honor did have some good advice, such as “Make something people want to hear, give them something, so that they gain something by listening.” and “The best marketing plan is the one you can achieve.”. Although Honor was quick to point out that a component of her success with podcasting was good timing and consistent content releases (once a week being optimal for a singular podcast project).

All in all, it was a fun evening learning about something new, but I’m still uncertain as to whether or not pursue podcasting, however, I have decided that I shall investigate my local community radio station and take from there. So my dear readers, are you involved with a podcast? What’s it about and what is/was your experiences like making it? Was it a singular project or a team effort? Let me know in the comment section below.

The Beautiful Books #25: June

Image Description: The Beautiful People for Writers - Writing Goals
Image Description: an image of a white notepad with light-blues with a dark-blue pen. At the top of the picture is text in dark-blue, “beautiful people for writers”. Down the bottom of the picture is text in dark-blue, “hosted by http://www.paperfury.com and http://www.furtherup-and-furtherin.blogspot.com”

Another monthly update on my Pushing Boundaries WIP Novel Project. I’m going to attempt to outline Orion – Volume II in preparation for Camp NaNoWriMo in July (here’s a link to my Camp NaNoWriMo profile in case readers want to join me).

These questions have taken longer than it should have for me to answer (honestly, I have no fucking idea what my characters dream about, maybe that means I don’t know my characters well enough, IDK), I suspect that the outlining process is going to take more effort than I first anticipated (here’s the link if people want writing resources from Camp NaNoWriMo).

Honestly, the Camp NaNoWriMo resources weren’t that useful for me, so I’ve included some links down the bottom of the blog post for Plotting and General Writing Resources.

What’s their favourite place they’ve ever visited?
James: Disneyland Paris

Beth: visiting London with Justine and Dominic

Mac: The small greenhouse Robert, James and Mac constructed together when Mac was young

Cassie: Camping with her family

What’s one mistake they made that they learned from?
James: when James was younger, he wasn’t interested in romantic relationships, he found it easier to manage open/casual liaisons. As James got older, he wanted to make an attempt at romantic relationships, however, his relationship with previous girlfriend Claudia was more along the lines of being in love with the idea of a stable relationship and thus was willing to put up with a mediocrity. In his mind, the mistake was entering into a relationship that didn’t meet all his needs and wants, and the lesson learnt was “don’t enter into a relationship just because you’re lonely”.

Beth: Beth is very suspicious of men, this due to bad experiences she’s had in the past and a previous abusive relationship (it became abusive when she ended it), in her mind, Beth thinks her mistake was being vulnerable too early in a relationship or entering into a relationship at all, giving her ex-boyfriend too much information about herself. Beth’s mental objective is keeping her distance for as long as possible, she often plays hard to get in romantic pursuits, if it seems like situation has too many variables or too much risk, she won’t bother, she’d rather go without then to compromise on her own set of terms of conditions.

Mac: Mac tends to be too direct and too honest, he can come across as a little intimating at first, he’s also a little socially awkward, he often gets excited and enthusiastic about comic books, so he’s learnt not to stand too close to women and not to stand in the way of doorways when talking about comic books.

Cassie: I think Cassie’s mistake is that she lacks confidence in herself and often doesn’t speak up about what she wants (and usually regrets it later). I hope that, over the course of the Pushing Boundaries series, Cassie becomes more confident and emotionally secure in what she wants and needs.

What was their favourite subject in school? Or favourite thing to learn about?
James: Astronomy and Science related subjects

Beth: Literature, Home Economics, Drama and Media

Mac: Woodwork and Metalwork

Cassie: Textiles, Drama and Literature

What’s their favourite flower/growing thing?
James: Roses, citrus scents, and herbs, specifically Rosemary

Beth: Lavender

Mac: Herbs

Cassie: Lemongrass and Citrus scents

Have they ever made someone cry? What happened?
James and Mac: Both of them have accidentally made women and girls cry by saying something insensitive or being too honest and/or too direct

Beth and Cassie: Both of them go out of their way to be considerate of people’s emotions, so neither of them had have made someone else cry, but Beth does occasionally suffer from foot-in-mouth syndrome and sometimes Beth can be a little too direct.

Would you consider them a reliable or unreliable narrator?
James: Mixture of the two, he’s reliable when it comes to observing other people, but can be blindsided by his own biases and some preconceived notions about people, for example: he has a preconceived notion about who Cassie is as a person and has no problems about using her and discarding her in order to fulfil his own objective, James can be ruthlessly efficient.

Beth: Beth is the reliable type of narrator, but she’s the internal type of narrator, she’s honest with herself (to a certain extent), but that’s pretty much it.

Mac: Mac might be considered an unreliable narrator about himself, and he isn’t that observant about other people, Mac tends to wrap himself up in his own little world.

Cassie: Cassie might be considered an unreliable narrator, she likes to think the best of people and she’s kind of oblivious (sometimes it’s out of self-preservation, sometimes it’s naturally occurring)

They’ve gone out for a “special meal.” What would they eat?
James: James enjoys Asian cuisine, vegetarian meals mostly.

Beth: Beth has a weakness for bacon and hard-types of cheese, however, Beth enjoys Lasagna, Asian cuisine, and baked-potatoes.

Mac: Mac enjoys steak, chips and salad

Cassie: Cassie enjoys home-cooked meals but loves Pad Thai and Asian cuisine

What’s at least one thing they want to do before they die?
James: James has become hyper-focused on taking down the Acker Family, this is mostly because he doesn’t have a strong concept of long-term goals, it’s difficult to him to think past this goal.

Beth: Beth wants to travel around Europe, she wants to do touristy things, despite the fact that she doesn’t like crowds.

Mac: Mac wants to get married and have kids, but he’s beginning to sort of rethink those objectives, “are romantic relationships really worth the hurt and pain?”, he’s kind of in the mental state of “Life in general is not worth the effort”.

Cassie: Cassie wants to get away from her immediate family, with the exception of her Aunt, and establish her own safe space. Cassie wants to be a primary school teacher to prevent her type of family situation from happening.

Do they have any distinguishing or unique talents?
James: Justine and James work well together, Justine handles calling people directly (something James isn’t particularly good at), James is good at writing the required script, finding the right information, James is good at picking up details that other people may miss.

Beth: Beth has this ability for people to feel compelled to tell her personal information (although she doesn’t see it as a talent and would prefer if people didn’t dump their problems on her). Beth could consider her cooking skills and her experiences with her catering business to be her better talents. Beth is happy to make desserts or cakes but isn’t interested in eating the items she makes. Beth is also skilled with crocheting but terrible at sewing with a needle or with a sewing machine.

Mac: Mac is good at hands-on tradie-stuff, carpentry and landscaping. He’s good at gardening and DIY Home Projects.

Cassie: Cassie is good with sewing, she often makes clothes, but she doesn’t wear them (she often donates them).

Links:
~NaNoWriMo Plotting Resources
~Worksheets for Writers
~Four Steps to Putting Your Plot in Order
~THE ONE PAGE NOVEL PLOT FORMULA
~THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO GOOGLE DOCS FOR WRITERS (+ WORKFLOW VIDEO & PDF CHECKLIST)
~Story writing websites: 151 of the best
~Plotting and Scheming Cheat Sheet
~Creative Writing Tools


The Beautiful Books #24: Parental Edition


Image Description: an image of a white notepad with light-blues with a dark-blue pen. At the top of the picture is text in dark-blue, “beautiful people for writers”. Down the bottom of the picture is text in dark-blue, “hosted by http://www.paperfury.com and http://www.furtherup-and-furtherin.blogspot.com”

Welcome to another edition of The Beautiful Books, a writing prompt link-up hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In, this is where I answer questions related to my current WIP Novel Project, which is my Pushing Boundaries series, specifically Orion – Volume II. I’m a little torn on which characters to focus on for this post.

For the last couple of posts I’ve been focusing on Mac and Cassie, mostly because James and Beth’s characters haven’t been working out in my head the way I want them to and, well, if James and Beth aren’t working out in my head, they’re definitely not going to work out on paper. But I was talking about The Unnatural Philosophy of Kit March (which you should totally go check out) with Kim.

I mentioned how it was helpful to read Autistic characters written by an Autistic person, which lead to us talking about Pushing Boundaries and how I’ve been unable to make any real progress on it. It turns out I may have figured out what the problem with James and Beth is, knowing what to do about the problem is another thing entirely, but progress is still progress (no matter how small it may be). So I’ve decided that I’ll have a go at featuring Mac and Cassie as well as Beth and James. This is mostly because James’s problems with his parents and Mac’s problems with his parents are undeniably connected (or at least in my mind they are).

Overall, how good is their relationship with their parents?
James: Depends on your definition of parent. Emotionally, James considers his grandmother Rosemary to more his mother than his mother Emilia, but he also considers Robert to be his father (although he doesn’t say it). James’s biological father left when he was about five (James barely remembers what he looks like, but remembers a lot of the other negative things associated with him), which was about the same time James received his Autism diagnosis.

Beth: Beth no longer has a relationship with Claire (her mother), due to her mother’s alcoholism and history of abusive behaviour, which can make her relationship with Isaac (her father) strained. Beth feels as though her mother wasn’t fully held accountable for her actions (Claire would never admit that she had been abusive and didn’t stop drinking, nowadays Claire just drinks less and goes to regular therapy sessions).

Mac: Pre-Cassie Incident, Mac’s relationship with his parents Emilia and Robert was fine, but Post-Cassie Incident, there have been problems due to Mac drinking a lot and lashing out, which is unacceptable but he feels it’s the only option he has because he doesn’t know how to deal with it and his parents aren’t particularly keen to talk about it either because they don’t known what to say (they’re essentially hoping by pretending it hasn’t happened it will all go away).

Cassie: Cassie gets along with her mother more so than her father (she has more, her father is an alcoholic and tends to be at the “angry/verbally abusive” kind of drunk, so she avoids dealing with him when he drinks and doesn’t know how to act around him when he’s sober.

Do they know both their biological parents? If not, how do they cope with this loss/absence and how has it affected their life?
James: James knows of his biological father, but doesn’t consider him his father, and James wants nothing to do with him. As a result, James’s personality is rather hedgehog-like, he finds it difficult to trust others and open up to people. James often uses his Autism as a shield of sorts

How did their parents meet?
James: Emilia and his biological father grew up in Glasgow and met through mutual friends, Emilia was friends with Alanna (who is married to Beth’s Uncle John) and Alanna introduced Emilia to him.

Beth: In Australia, Nurses and Cops tend to inter-marry a lot, so Isaac and Claire met via mutual friends at a Christmas Party. Claire was drunk and almost fell off a patio-deck, Isaac managed to prevent her from falling off and hurting herself and was sequentially stuck taking care of her for the rest of night (he ended up taking her home as he doesn’t drink).

Mac: Robert badly injured his hand and had to go to the emergency department, that’s where he met Emilia, who is a nurse in the emergency department. Emilia came to the conclusion Robert was injuring himself just to see her and asked him about it, he responded that he was just clumsy but wouldn’t object to seeing more of her outside of the hospital.

Cassie: Same sort of situation as Beth but both of Cassie’s parents drink.

How would they feel if they were told “you’re turning out like your parent(s)”?
James: James would try to establish which parent first, as he thinks he has multiple parents (so to speak). Being compared to Emilia and Rosemary would result in the standard “Well yes, that’s how genetics work you see.”

Beth: Beth would be a mixture of confusion and anger, it would be more dependant on who was making the comparison and which parent, if people were to compare her to her mother, it would frustrate her and she would then stop talking to the person, but she’s also resigned in a way to the fact that very few people know what kind of person her mother really is.

Mac: Mac would take it as a compliment, give the person a salute and continue with whatever he was doing.

Cassie: Cassie would take it as an uncertain compliment (“Umm… Thank you?”) meanwhile thinking either person involved doesn’t know her parents well enough to make that kind of remark or knows too much about them.

Is there something they adamantly disagree on?
James and Mac: Emilia and Robert disagree on how to handle the Mac situation, Robert thinks they should talk to him about it (or at least take him to a therapist), Emilia is of the situation that there’s no point talking to him about it, she doesn’t think there’s anything she can say that can make the situation better. Emilia would prefer to wait until Mac is ready to talk about it, which may seem weird because she’s the exact opposite with James.

Beth: Isaac doesn’t drink at all and Claire is an high-functioning alcoholic, so there’s a fair amount of self-denial and Cognitive Dissonance there. Isaac tries to get her to cut back and has always reacted angrily to Claire encouraging Beth and Mary to drink when they were younger.

Cassie: Cassie’s mother cares very much about appearances and social-value/social perceptions, Cassie’s dad doesn’t particularly care but is willing to play along in order to placate her.

What did the parent(s) find hardest about raising your character?
James and Mac: Emilia and Robert found that the hardest part in raising James and Mac was in navigating how different they are, Mac and James tend to be at the opposite end of the spectrum on… pretty much everything. James is oversensitive to stuff, in comparison, Mac is under-sensitive to stuff.

Beth: Beth has the same under-sensory problem that Mac has, but the biggest problem here isn’t her parents raising Beth, but Beth having to deal with the fact that both her parents are lacking in parental skills. With regards to Beth’s mother Claire, Beth felt as though she had to be the adult most of the time, as Claire was hyper-emotional, prone to meltdowns and an alcoholic who fluctuated between high-functioning addict and low-functioning addict.

Cassie: Cassie has three older brothers, so her parents found it difficult to enforce gender roles and gender expectations upon Cassie, although I will acknowledge these are self-imposed difficulties that her mother struggled with, her father doesn’t particularly care.

What’s their most vivid memory with their parental figure(s)?
James: James’s most vivid memory of his biological father isn’t so much a visual image, but rather the smell of tobacco mixed with alcohol (the smell of alcohol is more triggering than tobacco) and the feeling of a tense atmosphere but not understanding why.
His most vivid memory of Robert is when he took James to his first Karate lesson, they arrived half an hour early so that James could look around the church (suss out the layout) and ask questions before the lesson started. James recalls Robert being there the whole time (he often looked over to make sure Robert was still there).

Beth: When Beth and Mary were young, they would build a pillow fort in the living room and wait for their father or mother (or sometimes both) to come home from work, Beth and Mary would play a game of who could stay awake the longest. Beth’s most vivid memory of her mother was when they had a massive argument, Claire became verbally abusive then became physically abusive, Beth doesn’t remember the words precisely but she remembers the look on Claire’s face.

Mac: Mac distinctively remembers the looks of relief on his parents faces when James returned to inform them that Cassie had been safely delivered and that she had managed to convince her family she had been staying over at a friend’s place. Mac feels as though his parents took James’s side in the Cassie incident.

Cassie: Cassie has fond memories of family camping trips.

What was your character like as a baby/toddler?
James and Cassie: quiet children who could easily keep themselves amused by their own devices

Mac and Beth: rather loud children, both of them are clumsy and talkative, Beth was often singing as a child and Mac would often bang stuff together loudly.

Why and how did the parents choose your character’s name?
James: James is named after his grandfather on his mother’s side of the family (McKenzie)
Beth: Beth’s mother has an obsession with British Royalty, specifically Princess Diana, so she named her Elizabeth, but Beth prefers the shortened version.
Mac: Mac translates to “Son” in Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic
Cassie: There’s no real significance in the choice of Cassie’s name (full name being Cassandra).

Well that’s all the questions answered, if readers are also participating in The Beautiful People Writing Prompt, let me know in the comment section.

Autism Acceptance Month: Links

a rainbow dragon coiled around itself in pounce-position, looking as though it's about to take off.
Image Description: a rainbow dragon coiled around itself in pounce-position, looking as though it’s about to take off.

Just a short Link-post today about Autism Acceptance Month. You might be expecting me to explain what Autism Acceptance Month and #LightItUpRed or #RedInstead is about, however, I figured it would be better for those explanations to come directly from Autistic people instead of myself, so check out the links below. If you’d like me to add more links of Autistic Creators (Authors, Bloggers, Youtube Video Creators), let me know in the comments section below and I’m make sure to add their link to the post.

Links:

~ASAN: Australia and New Zealand

~Autistic Self Advocacy Network: Sharon Lewis Statement for Autism Acceptance Month (Youtube Video)

~L.C. Mawson: #RedInstead (Youtube Video)

~Stream of Awareness: Youtube Channel

~Tiffany Grey: Youtube Channel

~Neurowonderful: Ask an Autistic #22 – Why Acceptance? Autism Acceptance Month (Youtube Video)

~Neurowonderful: Ask an Autistic #1 – What is Stimming? (Youtube Video)

~A Bit of Brave: Autistic Stimming (Youtube Video) (Warnings: Flashing, Moving Images, Moving, Rapid Transitions, Coloured Lights)

~Baby Robot: Harmful Stims (Youtube Video) (Warnings: use of snap-chat filters, moving images)

~Baby Robot: The Joy of Stimming (Youtube Video) (Warnings: use of snap-chat filters, moving images)

~The Introverted Matriarch: Chronic Pain and Autism

~Megan Rhiannon: My Autism Diagnosis Story – TW self harm + suicide mentions (Blog-post)

~So Much Stranger, So Much Darker, So Much Madder, So Much Better: Autism A-Z: A is for Acceptance (Blog-post)

~Autism Doesn’t Make Me Blue: How to Support Autistic People This April by Nova Mona (Article)

~April Is Autism Acceptance Month By Laura Jo (Article)

The Dysfunction Junction: Is There A Specialist In The House?

Image Description: a large cluster of smiley faces in the centre of the picture. In the background are multicoloured words against a black background like breath, here and now, accept, track, sense repeatedly printed in the background over and over again.
Image Description: a large cluster of smiley faces in the centre of the picture. In the background are multicoloured words against a black background like breath, here and now, accept, track, sense repeatedly printed in the background over and over again.

Since the end of October 2016, I have been trying and failing to find a specialist doctor qualified to assess people on whether they have ADHD (or possibly something else). One of the unfortunate side effects of Mental Health services is that financial status is often the deciding factor in accessibility.

The only reason I can afford to have therapy sessions for my increasingly unstable anxiety and my pursuit of an ADHD diagnosis is because I have a partner who is willing to support me, he earns a decent wage and we have some savings set aside.

It’s funny just how big a factor money really is in gaining the mental health support services one may require, and by funny, I mean fucking awful. The sheer cost factor was one of the many reasons why I hesitated to pursue an ADHD in the first place, that and, because of my past bad experiences with bad/incompetent doctors, trust is a big factor.

How do I know this person is qualified? What’s their range of experience? Do they have experience with Adult diagnosis? Do they have experience diagnosing Adult Women? And the most terrifying question of all: What if I don’t have ADHD? What if I’ve just been slightly dysfunctional the whole time, and I’ve just been wasting all this time and money for nothing?

Whenever I was given a referral letter to a specialist, I made the effort to google search and attempt to find as much information about these “specialists” as possible. Unfortunately, the clear majority of specialists regarding ADHD are male doctors. I regard this as a bad sign, especially considering the shitty attitude some people and the medical industry have towards Neurodiversity and people who aren’t white cis-boys.

It was why I was so happy when my local GP found a female doctor in Ballarat who stated she was qualified for Adult diagnosis for ADHD and Autism, unfortunately one of the downsides was I would be waiting a minimum of two months before I could see her.

Another downside is that each hourly session was $400, however, I did some research on her, found positive comments, noticed she had a minimal internet presence (a website with a photo and brief bio) and I booked an appointment, expecting the worst but hoping for the best.

I had previously tried to contact a male specialist and due to the rudeness of the receptionist, I never bothered to book an appointment, I figured if you’re that rude to a paying customer, clearly that specialist doesn’t need my money (sad part is that it’s probably true).

But when I contacted Ballarat Psychiatry Group, the receptionist was super nice and very helpful with my inquiries. If you work in the mental health industry, don’t be an arsehole to people over the phone, the people calling up clearly have enough problems to deal with, I can’t stress this enough.

And then the waiting began…

In the almost three months prior to my appointment, I figured it would beneficial to do as much research as possible, print out things to give to the specialist in a bid to minimise the wastage of time. To maintain a vague illusion of organisation, I purchased a specifically set aside compendium-folder (bright pink of course) so that I could keep all my “Mental Health Stuff” all in the one place.

In my view, I had only an hour to distil twenty-eight-years’ worth of dysfunction, I did not have high hopes for this, especially since in therapy sessions I tend to go off on unrelated side notes and forget what I was even talking about in the first place. To try and combat this, I made sure to take lined paper and pens with me, so that I could take notes or make dot-points before the session.

When I went into the doctor’s office for my appointment, she began with the usual scripted dialogue people with when meeting for the first time:
“Hi, how are you?”

I responded with “Fine” automatically, because that is what we are taught to say, we are taught to say we are fine even when we are not (especially when we are not), “fine” is the only socially acceptable answer. Then I reminded myself that I wasn’t paying $400 an hour to be “fine”.

I corrected myself, “Well no, I’m not fine, I wouldn’t be here if I were. I’m inquiring into an Adult Diagnosis of ADHD, I’ve done all this research,” I handed over a bright pink A4 sized document-wallet filled with documents. “And I thought we could start there.”

The fact that she discarded the document-wallet pretty much as soon as I gave it to her was a bad sign to me, however, it was the expression of bored disdain that irritated me (and continues to irritate me whenever I think about it, yes, I’ll admit it, I’m at times terribly petty).

It turns out she’s not qualified at all to assess people on whether they have ADHD (even though it says so on multiple internet resources). Apparently, she primarily dealt with patients who came to her looking for help with ADHD, but it turns out they don’t have ADHD, they just have Anxiety or Depression. Personally, I feel that’s a weird kind of specialisation to have, I mean, what would she do if she came across a person who had Depression and Anxiety but also had ADHD as well?

Anyway, I was offered two choices, choice A was she could email a referral letter to my local GP doctor, and then I would have to book an appointment with my local GP and obtain the referral letter via my GP (the Ballarat doctor couldn’t just print out a referral letter then and there and give to me). Choice B was that I continue with the appointment and she would attempt a paper-form of assessment over multiple sessions and then refer me onto a specialist.

My thought process was that a person who isn’t qualified to assess me is going to ask me questions (if she’s not qualified, how can I trust that she’ll ask the right questions?), over multiple sessions (3 x $400 = $1200) and even at the end of that, I still wouldn’t have a definitive answer because at the end, she’d still have to refer me to a specialist.

So that would be at least three appointments with her and an appointment with an actual qualified specialist (for the sake of argument, let’s assume the qualified specialist charges at the same rate), so that’s $1600 worth of appointments with no guaranteed answers. I’ll admit my first knee-jerk reaction was “shove that up your arse” but somehow, I managed to contain my frustration and annoyance at having my time wasted, although I’m sure my emotional state was probably obvious.

I chose to cancel the appointment and deal with the ADHD specialists directly (or as directly as I could).

I was ranting to my councillor about this and she gave me the suggestion of contacting the RMIT Psychology Clinic and encouraged me to inquire if they had the ability to perform an Adult ADHD assessment.

My councillor informed me that the doctor seeing me would be a graduate doctor (with a senior doctor to supervise) which was why the session would be cheaper. So, I decided to check this out first, and keep the ADHD specialist referral letters for later, in case the RMIT thing doesn’t work out.

Unfortunately, and perhaps this is only me, but I found the website confusing and vague so I’ll try to add more information.

Without a concession card, the doctor session will cost AU $30 and the Assessment Report will cost AU $100 (plus the cost of petrol and possibly parking, IDK, the place is located in Bundoora), however, I want to point out that if you have a concession card, fees and such will be cheaper for you, I can’t say specifically because it will depend on what you’re pursuing the clinic for (the website does have some information about fees, I just didn’t find it clear enough for me).

You will need a referral letter from a GP to gain access to the service. My GP didn’t know about this service (Latrobe University also has a psychology clinic as well in case that university is closer) and, as a result, the RMIT Psychology Clinic has been added to the database my local medical centre maintains for services like these, so hopefully this will help other people too.

When I contacted them, it did involve a bit of fluffing about (a short time on hold while they found the right department/right doctor to speak to, standard university stuff really), but my assigned doctor got back to me within an acceptable time frame and I’ve only had to wait a couple of weeks before I could get an appointment.

Like with all good deals that seem too good to be true, there is a catch, one of the conditions of gaining access to a cheaper assessment is that my appointment will be recorded for training purposes. Apparently, according to the doctor I’ll be seeing for my appointment, a lot of people don’t engage with the service because of this, which is why I’ve made sure to mention it directly.

I’ll be going for my appointment with the RMIT Psychology Clinic next Wednesday and my thought process on this is that perhaps it’s a good thing a recording of my appointment will exist, hopefully it can be used as evidence to help support other people like myself.

Although I don’t have high hopes at this point, I must test out my options, even if this is simply a process of elimination. I’ll ask if I can receive a copy of the recording. I should be able to under the Freedom of Information act.

Speaking off obtaining information, I’ve also been investigating into getting a copy of my records from my forced attendance at Orygen Youth Health, now I wasn’t forced to go there because of a court mandate.

The doctors involved with Orygen Youth Health just repeatedly told me I had to go to appointments and I couldn’t leave the program until I was a legal adult. As an adult, this comes across as “that might not be technically illegal, but definitely sounds unethical” category.

Making a traumatised teenager feel as though they have no choice but to attend therapy sessions with a doctor who won’t listen and keeping said traumatised teenager ignorant of their medical rights belongs in the “Dodgy as Fuck” category.

But then again, the Orygen Youth Service was free for me to access because my mother and I had concession cards, so maybe this is more of a “you get what you pay for” type of situation (not that it makes what they did okay).

I began investigating my Orygen Youth Service medical records back in December and still haven’t received my records, but my thought process was that “What the hell was that Doctor thinking?” and then I needed to know the exact answer to that question, or at least the closest approximation I’ll be able to obtain.

I also thought as I’m not doing my assessment through the education system (not by choice I may add) it may be beneficial to obtain “official” medical documents and see if they can help my cause. Although, I have strong doubts about this.

If you’re in a position where you’re able to pursue a diagnosis for a Neurodiversity condition through the educated system, I encourage you to do this, Doctors are like University Admins, they require an almost bureaucratic level of paper-work to justify you getting an appointment.

I just wanted to add thanks if you managed to get this far through the post, I know it’s absurdly long, especially since it’s a super long post about how not much progress has been made, hopefully next Wednesday will put me in better position and I’ll know where to go from there.

%d bloggers like this: