52 Weeks of Writing: Week 24—Life is more than this.

52 Weeks of Writing: Week 24—Life is more than this.
Photo by NEOM / Unsplash

Confessional time. I need to hold my hands up and be honest. I haven't written any fiction in a month, maybe more. I'm struggling with it again. Some of this makes sense; the last month or so has been chaotic and crazy and it's hard to find the focus or the energy.

Time to go mask off. I put off doing my weekly update because I couldn't face putting on my "I'm writing and it's all fine!" mask this week. I've mostly got my energy back after the anaemia diagnosis, but everything has felt very uncertain and trying to work out what I do next has been hard.

I miss the past me that would've carried on writing fiction through all of this. Instead, I've ground to a halt and found it hard to concentrate on anything other than the dry panic.

People keep asking me, "What are your plans?" A scarier and more immediate question compared to the mid-PhD, "But what will you do with it?" problem people presented me with.

I struggle with these transitional moments. I'm trying to figure all of this out and I feel fragile and insecure about my fiction writing. So I don't do it. Instead, I've been building a miniature Moominhouse. Because making tiny furniture and considering how that applies to Tim Ingold's theories of making and the social agency of materials is somehow easier.

1. What was my biggest accomplishment over the past week?

The marking is now really done. Really, really done for real. I finished the last batch on Monday. I also reached out to some people to try to figure out what to do next.

2. What lessons did I learn from things that didn’t go quite right?

My head is a fog. What happened last week? What can I remember? I know I edited a lot of papers. I think, as I write, I should add a question that allows me to write about everything I learnt this week from papers I've edited.

3. What (quotes, affirmations, etc.) kept me inspired this week?

I still don't understand this. Are there people out there in the world who look at quotations and find them inspirational? Since this is such an unhelpful question for me, I'm going to replace it with a question about what things I discovered this week from my editing work.


I learnt that there's a transformer—a form of algorithm used in AI like ChatGPT—called hateBERT. There are a few BERTS in the AI space, all of which are specialist forms of datasets for studying human language. This is so that people can design better AI that functions more effectively.

HateBERT is packed exclusively with the worst human interactions ever. Banned reddit forums, for the most part. It's used when AI designers need to build AI chatbots for politeness. You know, so we don't get a repeat of the time somebody put a chatbot on Twitter and the users made it racist within hours.

4. Did I complete any projects or tasks this week?

I completed the first stage of a project where I find out What I'm Doing Next.

5. Any pending tasks?

Another job application. Also, I'm supposed to be doing this creative writing course and I've had no time to work on it. I've had no time for Amnar. It's still sitting there, waiting for me to have the emotional energy and strength to work on it.

6. Did I stick to my plan and stay focused?

I didn't do too badly this week, all things considered. You know what, as I respond to these questions, I realise how bland they are. I'm sure for people who are intensely goal-oriented, this is great, but it's so dull. I come here and talk about productivity as though that's all I am as a human.

It doesn't consider all the other things that happened this week. Like, for example, we were out walking and got caught in a storm. In rain that came down like bullets, battered by hail. A storm so big it didn't fit into the space of our small town. This storm needed a bigger stage, like Brian Blessed showing up in a small community theatre.

I'm going to start changing these questions, because life isn't all about goals and plans and sticking to them. Life is about what happens along the way.

7. What kind of progress did I make on my big monthly, quarterly, or yearly goals?

Goals? What are they? This I need to figure out because I have no idea right now.

8. What is the #1 thing I need to accomplish next week?

I need to survive Wednesday. I've agreed to do three things on Wednesday, all of which are really important for figuring out the answers to the last question. Wednesday involves a meeting, a lecture, and a presentation. This is very hard on an autistic brain, or at least, my particular autistic brain. I'm not editing that day and I'll have to make sure I take care of myself the day before and after.

No sudden moves.

9. What can I do right now to make next week less stressful?

Relax! Stop telling myself I have to write like I used to because clearly there's some kind of trauma bound up in that and I haven't resolved it yet.

10. What am I most grateful for about this past week?

My therapist, again. And the Moominhouse project, because it's been a chill way to spend my weekend. I'm no good at making tiny furniture, but it's a fun thing to do which doesn't involve a screen.