An Andro Named Sue

Balancing a career in publishing with chronic migraines. Sort of.

I had hoped to have this in two separate blog posts, as I promised Dasha aka Russian Friend that I would type up a transcript of my LGBT Cultures Around the World panel from Conbust. But its April 16th and here we are. I’m still cursing capitalism for my tax payment, which is the highest it has ever been despite having my lowest income in six years. Yet its a brand new day, the sun is shining, and my brain is in the best shape it can be in.

Conbust was phenomenal. Every year I am increasingly blown away by just how much this little con that could manages to give me life. This largely women and LGBT centered convention held at Smith College every year pays homage to women, LGBTQIA, and diverse peoples working in the arts and publishing. I was on 11 panels this year, one of which I made myself. I spoke on everything from neurodiverse representation, to gender and sexuality in SFF, to the LGBT cultural history of Russia. You guys personally thanked me for speaking and I had to fight not to cry.

I also had four migraines which followed one after the other the entire convention. At times I felt like I was stumbling over my own words on panels, but I’ve been told I did great, so I guess no one noticed for the most part. My appetite went from nonexistent to ravenous, and back again. Lights were the devil so I would sometimes dim them in my panels. I was a lot less chatty than usual between things and it kept me from networking as much as I would have liked. But for the most part, the migraines were 7/10. Very painful, very shitty, but workable. They ebbed and let me function at least some of the time.

This past weekend was the NESW convergence – an educational conference put on by the New England Speculative Writers designed by and large to educate independent authors on the business of publishing, to increase sales and turn a profit on their works. It was incredible, especially for a first time event by an emerging organization. Jeremy Flagg and Cristina Alden did an amazing job putting together a series of presentations that were intuitive and forthright. Authors shared their actual sales numbers. Companies like Beta Books gave wonderful talks that were educational, rather than a sales pitch.

I was in so much pain by the end of Saturday presentations that I nearly had to duck out by the end of the last presentation. But it was a topic I was desperate to know more about, both for myself and my Quick Fox clientele, so I stayed and took notes. I reminded myself that it was like college; I paid good money to be here and I would keep my butt in the chair. I had shooting pains in my finger tips. The room was spinning. I thought I was going to have to run out and throw-up. I wondered if I might actually collapse in public – a new first for me. But I stayed, and I didn’t throw up. My temper was short and I was not as effective at networking as I wanted to be. I couldn’t be myself, and I hated it.

Yesterday, I finally sat down and looked over emails, did the migraine log. And what I saw horrified me.

Thanks to both ADHD and the migraines causing short term memory loss, time passes in a haze for me. I have vague notions instead of factual patterns. I suspected April was Not Going Well for me.

I looked at the calendar and found I had three symptom free days for April.

The New Normal since last fall has been about eight, ten if I’m lucky.

I wanted to cry. I still might. While I was away, I received my first invite to be a professional guest at a publishing event. All expenses paid. Come talk about my views on diversity in publishing and promote my work.

I sent a decline email an hour ago.

I hate this. And I don’t use the word hate often. Hate is exhausting. It takes so much out of you. It’s a draining emotion that really isn’t worth your time. But there it is. I hate that there is some currently unidentified aspect of my body that makes me useless due to something as simple as blue light or a person’s cologne. I hate that I snap at people when I would rather be polite and informative. I hate that I can look back four years and wonder how the hell I kept up, when today I average 20 hours or less of work a week.

I hate that I have to stay home because here I can control my environment and keep up with my work schedule. But that is the reality I’m facing.

I hope to have that write-up of my Russian LGBT cultural history panel soon, hopefully in time to release the third Bulletproof Spy installment, the Fever From Krakow. My next doctors appointment isn’t till the 29th, with my first neurology appointment on May 1st. Hopefully I’ll have better news then.

For now, I’ll be staying close to my lizard cave, trying to take it easy on my disaster brain.

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