Before I get into this, I want to make it clear that I am not a medical professional in any way. This is just my (very) personal experience. Got it?
I was raised in an environment that was negative about modern medicine. I was made to skip school so I wouldn’t get vaccinated, my pleas for a diagnosis of asthma fell upon deaf ears, and I imagine discussion about medication for mental illness was so far off the table it might as well have been flying into the sun. As a pretty sick kid, I was always told that I should eat more spinach, or do yoga, or shine yellow light on myself, or follow what-fucking-ever the new-age health mags were saying.
And because I was young, I wanted to believe my parents when they said these things would help. Then I looked at my friends, who went to doctors and hospitals and had prescribed medication for their bad flus and infections and other ailments, and I got that strange sense you get as a kid, when you start to think, Why is my family so different?
I’ve been a little (a lot) absent from my site (and other places) for the past month and a half for a couple specific reasons: travel, health, and organizing podcast things. I went to Canada, USA, Wellington, Australia, and then came home to be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. It’s been an intense few weeks! But more on that stuff later.
For now, here are the recordings of the talks and panels I did while travelling and some little write-ups about the events I was lucky enough to experience. Travelling for a month and being accepted to speak at multiple events was a huge privilege, and though I’m paying for it now with my health, I wouldn’t have had April any other way.
2016 was a massive year of travel, writing, getting into game development professionally, and taking my health seriously. There were a lot of ups and downs, almost more than any other year of my young life, and I have way too much to say about way too many things.
So, instead of words, I’m going to let photos do the talking. From both my phone and my DSLR, here’s a year of photos that sums up a lot of my 2017.
When it comes to my own personal work, I view deadlines as more of a guideline than hard law. I’m not bad at time or project management, I just have 0 accountability when I know I only have myself relying on me to finish. Mountain Sound was one part testing my ability to start and finish an on-going project, one part forcing myself to share creative writing, and one part actually making myself consistently write my own story.
My initial goals were to post chapters on time and to write a story I could be proud of. Whether or not it gained an audience wasn’t part of my plans, so when people did read and enjoy Mountain Sound, that was just a super cool bonus!
I’m a nerd. I’ve been one since Pokemon first aired in little ol’ Aotearoa and I tried to make Pikachus out of modelling clay with my mum. The attempted Pikachus melted, I still loved them.
Much of my childhood was dominated by Pokemon, to the point that I would actually say my childhood was defined by it, as well as Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. These franchises helped me form strong friendships, find a love for the creative, and explore an interest in books and film. Most of all, these things helped me encounter joy in hard times. Being a nerd is as much a part of me as my love for food.
Recently, cynicism has been everywhere. Or, has it always been? It seems that whenever enough people love something, a vocally negative group pops up to disagree. So let’s talk positive:
There have been three defining moments for me recently that sparked something inside me. As if, for just a second, the clouds had parted and sunlight had shone down upon me. Weird, right? Who even remembers what happiness feels like these days? Not me, apparently.
April was the second birthday of this blog (April also happens to be the birthday month for both me and my Twitter, too) and at the time, I didn’t have much to say on the fact. Plus, last month ended up being impossibly busy—the coolest thing being volunteering at Play by Play (NZ’s first international games festival), running a Twine workshop and doing event photography.
So, where is Not Saf for Work headed now that it’s in its terrible twos? Well, for what feels like the first time since I first posted here, I’ve actually got a somewhat solid plan.
You have a character, and she’s your new baby. She has a picture-perfect face, and a name researched for days that exactly sum up her personality and her role within the narrative. Three chapters into the story, and she’s already pulling at the leash, wanting to turn left when the plan dictates turning right.
Sometimes, a character grows beyond their creator, forming opinions and traits that alter their trajectory. If you’re unprepared, an especially rebellious character can entirely throw a story’s path into turmoil.
Not every writer experiences their characters suddenly gaining a will of their own, and others will very seriously state that these characters must be kept very firmly on their destined track—you are in control!
No two people write exactly alike, nor will they experience the writing process the same way. I’m going to talk about how I—as someone who throws the reins free the instant I begin a story—approach character creation and growth.
While at PAX Australia earlier this month I tagged along to a panel called, Who Cares About Female Protagonists? with a friend because, well, I care about female protagonists a hell of a lot.
There’s a reason the majority of my favourite games are headed by women and girls, or at least give the player the option to pick their gender (props to you, BioWare.) These games make me feel like I can be a hero in a way male-led games do not. They make me feel like I can be something more than I am.
It was maybe a month or two ago that a friend on Twitter opened up about their own struggles with mental illness, which prompted an open discussion among our little community. A lot more of my friends were struggling with mental health than I realized, and I’m sure others felt the same about me.
Despite my personal vows to be open and honest with regards to mental health, I suddenly realized that I am essentially a freezer of feelings—I carefully tuck the bad ones away in a back shelf and leave them to freeze for a few months, until the power breaks down and they begin to thaw. I fully contribute to the lack of awareness, in part because I don’t like to show weakness, and that is a failure of mine.
It was a month ago that I finally stepped foot onto the plane that would bring me, for the first time in over 15 years, to America. I meant to sleep the flight away–I really did–but instead I absentmindedly drank a glass of wine offered to me before remembering my sleeping pills had a “no alcohol” rule. So for around 30 hours, I did not sleep. Oops!
Why was I going to America? Well, for Star Wars Celebration, the massive convention for Star Wars fans all over the globe to converge and nerd out together. As if anyone needed more proof of how much I love the franchise, this was it. From the 15th to the 19th of April, I was to be surrounded by Star Wars.