I've been away from the bookternet for a while and, though cliche, a new year does feel like a good time to start getting on track with things.
I'm a very competitive person - even with myself. I won't let a goal die quietly. I'll fight for it. For example, to hit my goodreads goal of 150 books in 2021, I needed to read about 40 books in December. So what did I do? Found about 30 4-15 minute audiobooks on Auidble Prime, plonked them on 2/3x speed and counted them as read despite not even paying attention. In other words, yes, I cheated.
It's a challenge for me, but I'm going to make my goals much simpler in 2022. I need to switch things up and see what helps me overall in life. Maybe there's a subconscious stress that affects me way more than I realise, and simplifying my goals will help.
Just today I sat in front of my messily double stacked bookcases and, (not completely) ruthlessly unhauled probably a good 100 or so books. Part of me wants to be even more ruthless, so much so I can go down from three bookcases to two, but that's probably a step too far for now. I do want to get rid of more books, but that will be touched upon in my goals, which I think we've probably introduced for long enough now so, here they are!
Late night, 2am.
Lying here, awake in bed.
Not sure of the point in making this post
Or what it is even supposed to be.
But thoughts are swirling in my head
Swirling, such a cliched word
Used always in poetry and literary
fiction. I guess that's all it is
Real thoughts, turned fictional
by fancy words and spacing
Truly, what is poetry.
An art form to be studied and disected
Or words on a page that can invoke feeling
The written word version of Matisse art
your five year old could do better.
Maybe it's not as serious
Maybe we think of poets
as damaged artists
fragile, and trying so hard to cling to their artsiness
Or maybe we know this is all random shit
in our heads
with no real meaning to when we hit
Sure, there's some thoughts and emotions behind it
but all we're truly doing is hiding behind it.
We seem like we use these words to scream for help
but secretly, we don't want you to know
As I write, I question the point
Why am I writing?
What am I writing?
Sometimes, you just write because it feels right,
at late night, 2am.
I've been very lost the last few months. For a start, I came off my anti-depressants (under doctor's guidance). I've been on one AD or another for at least... maybe ten years? During most of that time I was undiagnosed autistic and for me antidepressants are just a numbing agent. They don't allow me to feel anything. So you can imagine coming off them fairly early in to my autism journey... wooo there's a lot of feelings to process.
The main thing I've struggled with is my employability. I left my job as a Senior Bookseller at Waterstones in 2017. To this day, I walk into a waterstones and miss that version of me deeply. I loved being a bookseller. But ableism and shitty management meant I couldn't do that job. If I hadn't quit, it would have killed me. I got lucky in 2019. My neighbours, a couple, had a small business that was fairly successful and they needed an extra pair of hands to manage their orders. They made beeswax wraps and I went in two days a week for 3 hours to fold the wraps and package them. This worked well for me - it wasn't intense, short days and not many, a routine job.. and the husband was also neurodivergent. They made it clear I was welcome to message them even 10 minutes before my start time and take the day off, that if I needed to leave I could and they were happy for me to sit in the corner, do my work and listen to my own music or an audiobook. I could take five/ten minutes to sit on my phone as and when I wanted. It worked, until covid put a stop to it.
And then I got a chronic illness diagnosis. Something that has stopped me doing the things I love because of the pain I'm in. It's funny, as I wrote that sentence I realised it's one you hear a lot and you always think "god, how do they cope?" and it hit me that now it's me writing that. They cope because it doesn't hit you in the face a lot of the time. It's slow and unassuming and then one day you're writing a blog post to vent your frustrations because the fun project you were doing now puts you in agony in five minutes. We cope because we don't have another option. It's better not doing the fun thing than being in pain sometimes.
I set up my art business, doing digital illustration as it was the one thing I could do physically that didn't cause flare ups in five minutes but I don't get anywhere near enough commissions to even consider it an income. I know premade products sell better than commissions but I have little inspiration at the minute and I feel like art prints only go so far. I want to do more physical items - things like clay or crochet. Things that cost money that I don't have to start up and then likely couldn't make lots of due to pain.
So here we are, lying in bed, in agony because I swam a few lengths of the pool three days ago. Wondering how I can earn my own money when I can't cope in traditional work environments but I'm limited to what I can currently handle in the art and craft world.
It's been a shitty few weeks. But something good has came out of the blog post. Writing. Writing has been that one thing sitting niggling in the back of my brain, a small dream that is daring to dream big, that through fear has been shut down and told it can't happen because of my pain. But I've just sat and wrote this, a few hundred words.. and I don't feel unbearable pain. There's a little... but not enough that I couldn't write another few hundred more. So maybe this is where I go from here. I find the story. I write the book. Maybe I self publish and maybe it will interest enough people that I can have a month where I can treat myself to something instead of just putting everything to bills. Or maybe it'll get a 6 figure deal. Or maybe somewhere in between. Or maybe nothing at all.. but it would give me something to do and know I can still do something I love without suffering entirely for it. Let's find out.
I've been on the "bookternet" for a while - youtube, mostly, as well as this blog, insta and twitter. Anyone who's spent any amount of time doing this as more than just a hobby and actively engaging in the community knows this can be an incredibly toxic place. I don't think there's anywhere online that isn't, to be fair, but I think more needs to be done in acknowledging how these spaces can affect your mental health.
I haven't posted on my youtube channel in months and I've been doing my best to distance from twitter. I've felt a LOT better for it.. But I do miss the positive aspects - the community, the friendships, the fun book announcements and recommendations. But I also miss having a sense of ME.
This is where things get a bit deeper, I suppose. Most of you will know that I am autistic and was only diagnosed two years ago at 22 years old. I have spent the majority of my life masking - adapting to how the world wants me to behave and suffering for it. At the height of my masking and my formative years, I found booktube and became a bookseller. I also wasn't ostracised for the things I liked - in fact, there were people out there "weirder" than me because they owned more and read more books. I found a place I could be. Books became my entire personality.
The thing is... I am more than just books. And it's taken me a long time to realise that. The problem is, I have to face the fact that I don't really know what these other parts of me are. I found I was still very much masking on the bookternet. I felt like I had to continue being this full on book person and that there wasn't space for me to be me. When I started being more outspoken on autism and ableism generally, people weren't engaging unless it was pertaining to the book community and I realised I don't want my community to be limited to one aspect of me. I've spent too many years of my life focusing on specific things to appeal to whoever I'm around. No more.
emmanovella is my space. I'm not limiting it to books just to fit in to the book community. I'm just here, dabbling in a. multitude of things to figure myself out. If only occasionally doing book reviews or rec lists means I'm not in the book community then fine.
asdfghjkl how does she do it?!
Every time I pick up a new book by Estelle Maskame I think "she'll never top this" but she does! It's no secret I'm not a big lover of contemporary romance but I will devour (or, when I know there's a sequel to wait for, I'll savour) a Maskame book any day.
Set in Los Angeles and Nashville over a long, hot summer, Becoming Mila is the first book in an irresistibly addictive and exhilarating new trilogy from Estelle Maskame, shimmering with love, friendship, family frictions – and lots of romance.
Sixteen-year-old Mila lives in LA with her mom and A-list actor dad, whose fame constantly thrusts their lives into the media spotlight. But when Mila's antics around town make waves ahead of her dad's next big movie, something needs to be done. So Mila is dispatched 2,000 miles away to Nashville, Tennessee, where she can cool off for the summer with her aunt and grandfather. The perfect solution – right?
Mila's not so sure. She's dreading the idea of a summer away from her friends, not to mention being shipped to the other side of the country. Apprehensive and out-of-sorts when she arrives, it doesn't take long for her to get off on the wrong foot with the mayor’s son, Blake. In spectacular style.
But Blake's no stranger to Mila's issues. He knows exactly what life's like with a parent in the public eye – the pressures and politics, dramas and dynamics ... Perhaps Mila and Blake have far more in common than either of them care to admit.
IT'S OUT. IT'S OUT. IT'S OUT... JUST NOT IN THE UK BUT IT'S FINE BECAUSE AT LEAST SOME OTHER READERS ARE GOING TO EXPERIENCE THIS WORLD AND THIS STORY AND AS YOU CAN TELL I HAVE NO CHILL AND NEED YOU ALL TO GO BUY THIS BOOK NOW IF YOU CAN PLEASE
Ballet and Boarding School... set in Paris?! SIGN ME UP! This book is PERFECT for fans of Tiny Pretty Things but it definitely holds it's own. There might be a comparison in the setting but A.K Small's book definitely stands out. You can tell it's written from the author's own experience and I felt the sensitive topics - eating disorders mostly - were dealt with more sensitively, though still intense and raw, than other books that include those.
I never felt like those we followed did anything out of character and I could believe any rash decisions made. Overall, I really enjoyed this and would love to read more from this author!
During the week, Charlotte from Wonderfully Bookish invited me to be part of her informal chat with Akemi Dawn Bowman - author of Starfish, Summer Bird Blue, Harley in the Sky (my faveeeee) - and discuss writing, publishing, Animal Crossing and her new book The Infinity Courts!
I had a lot of fun and it was great to just sit and chat for a bit and take my mind off of how DESPERATE I am for the sequel to The Infinity Courts! You can watch the video above and make sure to check out Charlotte's channel while you're there!
If you're interested in reading The Infinity Courts, it's out on April 6th but I'm hosting a giveaway!
I used a lot of exclamation marks there... not even sorry.