The Irregular Update, February 2023

Now and again, I post one of my newsletters online. This is the most recent.

There are no book recommendations in this issue. I haven’t been reading a lot of new stuff lately. I’ve gone back through several favorites, notably T. Kingfisher, Katherine Addison, and K.J. Charles (those are some damn well written romance novels, in my opinion), but I just can’t focus well enough for new reading. If I read a book, and can’t remember what it was about a week later, either it was remarkably forgettable or my brain is simply not retaining new data at this time.

I talk about my mental processes in computer terms a lot, because it’s the simplest way to convey what I mean to the greatest number of people. I have a t-shirt that reads “Caffeine loading, please wait” with a progress bar beneath it and the word “buffering….” beneath that. It’s perfect. I ought to get it on a coffee cup instead of a t-shirt, but my cabinet is already so full of coffee mugs that I’ve had to send several on to new homes.


…where was I? Oh yes, mental processes. I remember being sharp and quick, I remember being proud and eager, I remember being confident and aggressive. Those … errr … subroutines have failed lately, rather drastically. Am I getting too old, or is acquired life wisdom blunting my edge? It’s so much easier to charge ahead when you’re (deliberately or otherwise) unaware of people on your periphery and the larger effects of your actions.

I’m doing a lot of backing up and reframing the last few years. It’s definitely slowed me down. I’ve read through a great deal of political commentary, investigated genre and gamer controversies, listened to the people around me with a new ear and developed a much more precise understanding of several historical points.

… I just paused to save the file. Which meant creating a new folder called “Irregular Update 2023”. And … this is the third year of doing this particular iteration of my newsletter. That’s … that’s a lot.


Right. So. Back to the point. Mental processes.

Let me stop for a moment and assure you that none of this is self-critical whining, none of this is a beg for sympathy, none of this is me beating myself up. This is straightforward honesty, and it’s aimed at those of you who are feeling worried over similar stall-outs.

Listen. It’s been said by others, and it’s going to be said by me: we’ve been living under some extreme freaking stress over the past five years.


Well, hold on, I should probably amend that to “there are those of us who are accustomed to having a reasonably logical existence who have–“


Fuck it. The majority is currently feeling, in very explicit ways, the strain and trauma that minorities have been living with their whole lives. There. That’s better. I’ve promised this newsletter won’t go into politics, though, so I’m leaving it there.

To make my point

If you’re glitching and stalling out and looping, if you’re sitting on the couch and staring at mindless entertainment, if you’re unable to commit to anything beyond necessary basics — it’s okay. You’re not lazy. This has been said and said and said in many many places, and now it’s being said here. Listen. You’re burned out from stress, of which there is a generous dollop splattering in all directions on any given day.

I’m burned out. From personal and professional and political complications. The harder I try to force myself to get on with it already, the more I try to recall my earlier days of blithely tromping onwards, the less I actually accomplish and the worse I feel. It is so hard to make myself stop trying. It feels like a little death to sit still instead of attacking the to-do list. I used to be able to do six impossible things before breakfast, balance a budget on pennies, work sixteen hour days, write fifty thousand words a day, and eat half a pecan pie without gaining fifty pounds overnight.

Well, okay, maybe not the pie bit. And maybe it was only thirty thousand words. But anyway.

Let’s talk about glitches.

A glitch tells you that what you’re currently doing isn’t working. It means your subroutines have overlapped, tied their shoelaces together, and tripped themselves into a tangle. It means you’re dealing with something you can’t reach into your head and fix by sheer willpower and effort.

It means stopping. It means resetting, restarting, walking away and letting things rest overnight, and —

And now I’ve done that. I wrote all of the above in January, and literally stopped with the line above, because I was just too overwhelmed to keep going. It’s now Valentine’s Day 2023, and I’m doing a lot better, because I took my own damn advice and just stopped for about a month. I adjusted my medications, started reading more Buddhist works and ecstatic poetry, booted a couple of stressful issues out of my life, and committed to no longer using anger as a fuel. (That last part was — still is — hard. Nicotine withdrawal’s got nothin’ on kicking anger to the curb.)

But it worked. It worked. I’m not a hundred percent just yet, but I’m a hell of a lot closer than I was a month ago. And that’s something to celebrate.

So take today to balance, to take in what nourishes you, to hug yourself and the people you love in your life — because the sun is up and you’re still on your feet and so are they. Because every small moment, every encouraging word, every hug and smile and “go for it!” is a golden gift to treasure and re-share.

You are magnificent. Enjoy the day!

(And next time I’ll have some actual books to talk about, I promise.)

Thanks, again and always, for your support!