On brain monkeys and depression naps

I’ve been trying to figure out how to talk about my brain at the moment. Because, frankly, it’s being kind of an assmonkey.

We went away for the weekend, just me and my Adam and a spa pool and good food and books and total relaxation and it was so frikkin’ heavenly, you guys.

And then I came home and did a bunch of things yesterday morning. Like, a lot of things. Productive Jax for the win.

And then I depression napped for 5 hours. I know it was a depression nap, because I couldn’t wake up. I had repeated dreams about waking up, but I couldn’t do it for real. I eventually crawled out of bed like a zombie when Adam came home from work, mostly because I felt guilty for sleeping all afternoon.

And what it feels like, is that I am not, under any circumstances, allowed to stop. Because if I stop, if I relax, if I let my guard down for even a second, then the brain monkeys swoop in and knock me down. If I keep moving, keep doing, keep knocking things off the list, then they can’t get me. A moving target is harder to hit. A moving target never really gets to rest though.

I don’t want solutions. I am working on it. We are working on it (because I am fortunate enough to be with someone who understands that combatting brain monkeys is a lifetime thing).

I just… I guess a lot of people don’t think of me as depressed because I am very productive and have a pretty positive outlook on the world (overall) and I try and be someone who puts good into the world and engages with people with compassion and kindness as much as I can.

And I wanted to lift the curtain for a second, because I am also exhausted from fighting the things in my head, and extremely irritable at the moment, and likely to snap at you. So, like, please just be a bit patient with me right now.

I’ll come right. I always do.

This is less about me and more to say that sometimes depression looks like 5 hour naps and sometimes depression looks like hyper-productivity and sometimes it looks like a desperate attempt to make the world a bit shinier. It has many faces.

Today, if you’d like to help me, check in with your other strong friends. Let my ability to talk about this maybe help someone else. You may never know what it means to them. It may make all the difference. 

I love you.

Ask Jax Anything (Part 13)

Learn from my Motherfucking Mistakes (An Occasional Series)

Got a question for me? Ask it here. I see only what you put in the textbox, so it can be totally anonymous.

Tell us the story of how you built up your online presence and created your online business, specifically in terms of getting people to engage and drawing interest ❤

I’ve actually answered this before! 

 

Here’s a heavy one.
My husband and I have a bad relationship. We got married when we were young and stupid (I was 19/20, he was a few years older) and things were ok until kids happened and we got out of school. Now, I feel like I don’t know him at all; he’s turned completely into his dad, including with how he treats me – there’s a lot of emotional/psychological abuse from his dad to his mom, and husband has picked up some of those habits. But I fight back, so there’s a lot of yelling and anger in our house.
I’ve tried to fix it. We’ve had conversations over the nearly 9 years we’ve been married. I’ve explained my emotions and my reactions and listened to him, but things never change. And he adamantly refuses to go to couples counseling or to see a psychiatrist to see if he has any mental health problems (I know I do, and I’m treating them with meds. We just found out his mom has severe bipolar disorder, and he still refuses). He claims we can work things out on our own, but the spiral just continues.
I want to leave. I’ve threatened divorce several times, but I’ve never had the courage, or funds, or close support to get out. I don’t want to take my daughter from her school – she has behavioral special needs, and the teachers who work with her are a dream. I have no income of my own, and the closest family to us are his parents, who wouldn’t be any help if I did leave, so I have no money of my own to hire a lawyer for any divorce proceedings. My friends are all telling me to leave so I can finally be happy, it’s just that I feel trapped by all the details of actually trying to get out and where will I go and what will I do with the kids. I’ll admit in my darker times I wish that my husband would just die so I don’t have to deal with any of it, and I could be free. I feel horrible for wanting that but it doesn’t stop me from wanting it.
He knows I’m unhappy. It’s affecting my daughter’s behavior at school, and my younger son’s behavior at home. And he’s not really that bad of a guy, it’s just… not working. And it didn’t work from the beginning; there were these same signs when we were dating, I just never noticed.
How did you do it? Just pick up and leave? How can I do it without becoming a villain to both my and his family? Where did you find the courage? How can I do this with no income? I’m tired of being mistreated, but I’m scared to be on my own. How did you do it?
Tl;dr in a bad marriage, husband refuses to change, have counseling, or divorce, how do I leave and give my two young kids a good life?

 

This is such a difficult situation. First of all, let me send you so much love and assure you that you are doing the best you can in a terrible situation.

I can only talk about this from my own perspective, and my answer is, I didn’t feel I had a choice. We also tried for a long time to fix the issues between us. I am not going to go into the details of that. We both made a lot of mistakes, but at the end of the day what it came down to was that we were deeply incompatible and I realised that if I stayed I was just going to fall ever deeper into a spiral of depression and drinking and cheating and I didn’t want to be that person. I especially didn’t want to be that mother.

So I just left. Honestly, I was a bit of a basket case at the time. I didn’t have much of a plan or really anywhere near the support I needed, but I felt like if I stayed I was going to lose myself, so I just left. And then I just kind of stumbled through the first couple of years desperately trying to keep my head above water. I just sort of dealt with the next thing in front of me, and then the next, until I reached a point where I could breathe again, but it was really very fucking hard and sometimes I look back on those two or three years and wonder how the hell I survived.

A big part of the answer to that is that I live in New Zealand, and we have a relatively decent welfare system, so I was able to get a single mom benefit, and even some mental health help. While it really wasn’t enough to live on, realistically, between that and my freelance editing skills, I managed to limp through.

I also have a lot of really amazing people in my life, so when things got really impossible, my friends and family helped out.

If I was going to give advice, I’d say don’t do it the way I did. Heh. See the title of this column. Be smarter about it. Start setting up some kind of financial buffer if you can – that’s the big one. Start looking into where you could live. Is there somewhere where you would have more support? Check the schools there. Check the rent prices. Is there something you could do for money? You don’t say whether you worked before kids, or what skills you have, but start looking into those things now. Find out what help there is in your country. Are there organisations that might support you? Knowledge is power.

As for being a villain to your families… you know, my attitude to that is that you have to do what is right for yourself and for your children. It’s not best for your kids to grow up in a house full of anger and unhappiness. Showing your kids by your own example that it is possible to take control of your life and pursue happiness is a good thing, in my opinion. If your family doesn’t understand that, then, frankly, that’s their problem. And I don’t think you should really care at all what his family thinks of you. You may be a villain in their version of events, and that may just be something you have to live with. But you need to do what is right for you and your children, and what other people think of that is kind of irrelevant.

Your question about where I got the courage is hard, because when I look back, I don’t remember feeling like I had a choice. I remember agonising about it, because I wasn’t sure what the right thing to do was, but I also remember the moment when I realised he was never really going to understand the things I needed, the reasons I was so unhappy, and that that meant I had to leave both for myself and for my son. Because my kid deserved better than a chronically depressed alcoholic mother. And that was where I was heading. And once I saw that, I just… told him I was out. And that was that.

I never changed my mind, I never regretted it, not even when things were really hard afterwards. I just put one step in front of the other through that awful, impossible, desperate time, and eventually things got better. But I won’t lie to you, it was bloody difficult. There were times when I wasn’t at all sure I was going to survive it.

But I look back now at the mountain I climbed, and at my life now and it is so so much better, so I believe it was worth it.

I would recommend more planning than I put into it, but I also think that if you have tried and tried and you’re still miserable, at some point you may just have to do what you need to do. If you’re someone I know and you’d like to talk specifics, get in touch. I will help in any way I can.

Much love. May you find a way through. ❤

Ask Jax Anything (Part 12)

Learn from my Motherfucking Mistakes (An Occasional Series)

Got a question for me? Ask it here. I see only what you put in the textbox, so it can be totally anonymous.

CW: Eating disorders/alcoholism

How do you work at undoing old destructive patterns that you’ve repeated for years, or even decades? I know there’s no quick fix, but curious to know how you grapple with the same old demons that want you to do the same old shit time and time again (and yes, “demons” is totally a reference to “Strange Glue” by Catatonia…)

I love that song. 🙂 (Given your phrasing, I am guessing you are a person who knows that.)

You’ve answered your own question, I am afraid. There is no quick fix. Slow, dedicated commitment to change is the only answer.

So, my own destructive patterns used to look a lot like me drinking a bottle of wine, having some kind of ill-advised flirtation (or sometimes more than just flirtation) with someone I was only superficially interested in, crashing asleep, waking up feeling awful, both from the alcohol and from the bad choices, and shuffling through my day hating myself.

Here’s another: spending money I couldn’t afford on something I didn’t need, and then feeling guilty about it, so proceeding to basically stop eating for a week. (In my last really bad depressive episode I lost 15kgs. I weighed about 53kg. My healthy weight is closer to 70. The not eating thing is really really bad and dangerous.)

Here’s another: starting a ton of projects when everything is great, and then when depression (inevitably) comes knocking, just giving up on everything because there is too much and it is too overwhelming, and just hiding from the consequences and flaking on everyone.

How did I stop these? Discipline. External scaffolds (I make a LOT of lists). And many, many screwups.

If you drink, my first piece of advice is to stop. Alcohol fucks with meds (if you’re on meds). But more than that, it makes it very difficult to make good choices. And you lose not just the time you’re drinking, but time afterwards while you recover. I tried a lot of things, but nothing really worked till I stopped drinking. I stopped (pretty much) completely for about a year. I spent that time getting my feet back under me and putting in place a bunch of coping mechanisms. Now, I will occasionally have a beer or a glass of wine, but I haven’t been anything close to drunk in…. I think last time was my last birthday, which is nearly a year ago. And even that wasn’t too out of hand.

It also means I don’t do the stupid shit I used to do when I was drunk, so I don’t have to deal with the fallout from that. It means I don’t lose time hating myself and feeling like shit as a result, so that time can be better used on other things. Productivity helps my brainmonkeys, so that helped.

I talk a lot about my many lists. Here’s the thing though. When I started making lists, they had things like meals on them. Shower. Eat breakfast. Drink some water. These were things I would do and tick off. It made me eat three meals a day. It made me hydrate. I had stuff on there I just like to do, because in the depths of my depression I had forgotten what I liked to do. Or even what it was like to like to do things. On the bad days, instead of hiding, I would just tackle the list, one thing at a time. Shower. Eat. Drink water. Go outside. Tick. Tick. Tick. It gave my body what it needed to help fight. And eventually, doing those basic things became easier.

I won’t lie, it was a slog. And for a long time it felt like it wasn’t making a difference and I was still just dragging myself through each day. But I no longer woke up hungover and full of self-hatred. I no longer lived with gnawing hunger in my belly as a broken sign of control. I could reliably take work and start things without being afraid that I was going to flake. (I still over commit; I’m working on that.)

It’s slow. But brains can be retrained, luckily. I learned to stop berating myself. I learned to talk to myself more kindly. I learned to look at myself in the mirror and say, “Come on you badass motherfucker. You got this. You’re a warrior.” I used to say, “Come on you stupid bitch. Stop being pathetic and get your shit together.” This is not a metaphor. This is literally the way I used to talk to myself. When I changed how I spoke to myself, I started to like myself a lot more. Funny how that works.

You’re going to screw up. Changing habits is hard work, and you will fuck it up. Accept that. But learn each time. Why did you fall? Is there a barrier you can remove? Is there something (or someone) in your life that is enabling the destructive behaviour? Can you remove it/them? Get back up. Try again.

Start small. Change one thing. Stop drinking. Eat properly. Set up a schedule. One thing that helps you towards health. Once that becomes easier (it may never be easy – sorry, that’s just how it is), add something else. Don’t try and do it all at once. Don’t set yourself up to fail.

Keep trying stuff till you find something that works. For me it’s lists and routine. That doesn’t work for everyone. Try things. If they don’t help, try something else.

You got this. You’re a badass motherfucking warrior. I love you.

Ask Jax Anything (Part 11)

CW: Suicide.

Learn from my Motherfucking Mistakes (An Occasional Series)

Got a question for me? Ask it here. I see only what you put in the textbox, so it can be totally anonymous.

Should I leave my husband, or kill myself?

Leave your husband.

That’s the quick answer. Here’s the longer one.

This came in this morning, and I don’t usually reply to them right away, but this seems… urgent.

If those seriously seem like the only two options, leave your husband. Like, as soon as it is safe to do so. If it feels impossible, let me tell you this. I left my husband when I had an 18-month-old child and very little income. It was hard. Stupidly hard, some days impossibly hard, but I never regretted leaving. And while I would (probably) never have killed myself, I do think that if I’d stayed I would now be a chronically depressed alcoholic. It sucked for a while, but I got better, and I got better because I left.

I don’t know who you are, or what your circumstances are, but if you feel comfortable revealing yourself to me, please do. I will help you any way I can. IF not me, then tell someone close to you who can help. If you feel these are the only two options available to you, then find a way to leave.

I hate that you feel this way. It is heart-breaking. But there is help out there and better choices in your future. Give yourself a chance at those better choices.

It can be hard, really hard, even if you have the financial and emotional support to leave, even if he’s not abusive and controlling, even if, as was the case with me, he’s not a bad man, he’s just not the right one. If staying with him is making you suicidal, you need to leave.

Honestly, any decent person would rather you left them if staying makes you want to die. And anyone who doesn’t feel that way kind of deserves to be left.

I love you. I hope you find a way out of this place, and if you are comfortable doing so, please do get in touch in private and I will try to help if I can, even if it is just advice or a listening ear. Or maybe just permission to leave. If that is all you need, here it is. Leave. If you think that is right for you, then do it. You don’t need another reason.

 

Ask Jax Anything (Part 10)

 

Learn from my Motherfucking Mistakes (An Occasional Series) 

Got a question for me? Ask it here. I see only what you put in the textbox, so it can be totally anonymous.

I have a friend that is getting sucked in by the Red Pill movement (or whatever they’re called). Can I get a sounding board check that I’ve been ‘a good friend’ by calling them out for blindly adopting this group’s propaganda?

Oh man. This is a fucking hard one. Okay, so, spoiler? I have lost a couple of friends to this movement. I tried to reason, I tried to argue, and they just got worse and worse until eventually I had to cut them off for my own mental health. (It’s pretty tough staying friends with someone who insists that everything you hold dear is just bullshit and that all women are evil monsters who for some reason owe him sex. :/ )

So, I haven’t yet found anything that really works with these people. There are a few considerations. You don’t mention your own gender, and I think your (and his (I assume his, because of the nature of the movement)) age is probably a factor too.

I’ve read some great stuff about this movement and how a lot of the guys who get sucked into it do so out of feeling alienated and excluded by what they perceive as the “mainstream”. They’re often young (hence age being a factor) and desperate for something to belong to. They’re often bitter and disaffected because, I think anyway and I’m not alone in this, they’ve been fed this idea of what it is to “be a man” and what they can expect in return, but it no longer works, because, well, women refuse to be property now. This causes a massive cognitive disconnect which results in them getting angry and feeling “cheated” by the system. Which, honestly, they kind of are, since the narrative tells them one thing (that they’re entitled to certain things by virtue of their (usually white) manliness), but reality is actually something else. Combine that with a narrative where the only “acceptable” emotions guys are supposed to feel are, like, aggression and anger, and you get red pillers – full of bitterness with a massive dangerous chip on their shoulder.

If you’re a guy, this may be easier, because there is the potential to model alternatives and to possibly give him something else to belong to. Try and find him a hobby that channels those negative emotions, maybe? Something physical, preferably something you do, maybe, so you can surround him with dudes who are not just sitting around bitching about how women won’t fuck them even though they’re such nice guys. I think a lot of the anger comes out of feeling isolated and not knowing how to break that isolation, so if you can find ways to stop the isolation that also removes him from those toxic ideologies or at least provides alternatives, that may help? This may all be totally impractical, I realise, I’m just throwing out ideas.

If you’re a woman, it’s a lot tougher, I am afraid, because you’re already “the enemy” and you can’t possibly understand because it’s a guy thing. And it kind of is a guy thing in that it is a reaction of (mostly) white men to a world where what they have always considered “normal” is rapidly becoming a more even playing field.

“When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

I think some white women get sucked into it too, but it is honestly mostly a white guy thing. I mean, you can try and argue the point, but I have never made that work with someone who was already heading down the red pill road. I think, possibly, because the core of it is actually emotional, not logical, despite what they think. Perhaps you could enlist the help of a dude who is already somewhat aware that redpillers are taking the wrong route to step in and try what I say above? I’m not sure.

I think the younger he is right now, the better the chances of him getting his head straight. I think you ARE doing the right thing by trying, but you may also have to accept at some point that you need to let it go for your own safety and hope he figures out that following that road just makes him an ass no one except other asses are going to want to be around. But you are a very good friend for trying to halt that before it goes too far.

I wish I had better advice for you. I have spent a lot of energy trying to work out how to reach these guys, because I genuinely think that this is where a lot of alt-right start out. This sense of disconnection, isolation and loss of power becomes anger and resentment and many of them eventually turn into motherfucking Nazis or mass shooters. :/ So far though I haven’t been able to work out how to get through all that anger and find the hurt person inside it and get them to realise that the road they are on only leads to more anger and bitterness.

I hope you can find a better way. I hope you don’t lose your friend. It’s a really hard situation. I wish you the best. Big love. ❤

As I write this, there is only one more question waiting in the box, so if you’re enjoying these, ask me something!

What’s Jax up to?

Hi all!

I cannot believe it has already been six months since I last posted a project roundup. I try to do them every six months or so, but it tends to sneak up on me. Anyway, here’s a list of the stuff I am currently working on, and the ways you can support me and my writing/editing, if that is your wish.

The Patchwork Raven

Eeny Meeny Miney Mo: Tales for Tired Tykes funded successfully! YAY! A big thank you to every single person who supported that project. We’re very proud of it. You can still buy yourself a copy over at the Raven website (along with Twelve Days, our other completed book), basically while stocks last. 🙂 Once I run out, we will have to assess whether it’s worth another print run.

Allusions of Innocence got a little bit sidetracked while we were focussed on Tykes, but I am still working on getting that one over the line. It is my next focus once I have tied up the last few threads from Tykes. It’s one of the anthologies I created back in my Solarwyrm Press days, and we’re giving it a bit of a facelift and re-issuing it under the Raven banner.

Speaking of Solarwyrm books, we are also working on revamping and reissuing Fae Fatales and a giant omnibus of all the Latchkey Tales stories. These are still in production, so they may be a while, but they are coming!

We’re taking submissions for the Backyard Earth project. This may be one of the most ambitious projects I have ever attempted – we’re gathering a story based in every country in the world, and putting them together in five books, creating a boxset. We still have a long way to go and are seeking stories from a number of countries. If you’re a writer, please check out our submissions page for more details.

I’m also still very slowly reading through our backlog of novel submissions. Someday I hope to get through them all and reopen submissions for that, but it is a bit of a slow process. If you submitted something though, rest assured, I will get to it.

Patreon

Hey, did you know I have a patreon? I write short stories roughly monthly, usually not quite that frequently. Become a patron for $1+ and gain access to all the stories in there. I only charge when I produce, so at most it’s $12 a year, but in reality it’s less than that because I juggle too many balls pretty much all of the time. 😉

Still, please come and help fund my coffee habit. 

Social Media

I spend a lot of time hanging out on social media, and have my fingers in a bunch of virtual pies. Here are some places you can follow/support me and my projects.

I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

I have a Facebook page for all my writerly/editorial work.

The Raven is on both Facebook and Twitter.

I run the meBooks FB page – meBooks is an awesome platform for NZ writers and publishers to sell their books directly to readers. I love that we give Kiwis an alternative to Amazon. Please, come and hang out with me there.

I run this awesome little musical community called We Choose 40, based extremely loosely on the old U Choose 40 thing that used to be (maybe still is) on TV. We pick musical themes, nominate songs for them, and then vote to create a top 10. (It used to be a top 40, hence the name, but that proved unsustainable.) It could definitely use a bit more attention. 😉

Critterdom

If you’re not a Critter, you can skip this bit.

I’m still working on [redacted]. It’s kind of a secret project a bunch of us are engaged with. If you’re a Critter writer or artist and you don’t know what I am talking about, you should maybe PM me about this and get involved, because it is pretty epic. That’s all I am going to say about that for now. 😛

I also run a truly amazing Critter community called Critter Gifting, which came out of the Secret Santa last year, where Critters congregate, send each other cool mail, birthday cards, book exchanges, gifts, and etc. It is everything I love about the Critterverse, full of love and generosity. If you’re a Critter, come join in.

Hamilton Zoo

I work at the zoo, now, you guys, in case you missed that. It is frikkin’ EPIC. I love it. If you’re following me on social media, you are probably already aware that I occasionally post about my zoo joy and adventures. However, there are more official zoo accounts which I do not run, but do occasionally nudge on Facebook and Instagram. You should definitely take a look.

If you are a teacher or an educator in New Zealand, you might want to join our Hamilton Zoo Education Group on Facebook. I do run this one. It’s the best way to make sure you don’t miss out on educational Zoo related awesomeness.

The Bookish JellyBean

I am gradually getting this going again. The JellyBean is a blog where I examine the “canon” of children’s books and hold them up to a modern standard regarding gender, diversity and suchlike. It’s an interesting project. I have enlisted the help of my bookworm 7 year old son, so you get his perspective too.

Follow the blog, or like us on Facebook, or, if you’re really keen, become a patron and fund my total kiddielit nerdiness.

Ask Jax Anything

I have a very irregular advice column where I answer people’s questions to the best of my ability about everything from parenting to kink, polyamory to mental health. I’m out of questions at the moment though so it would be awesome if you could ask me something. (It’s completely anonymous.)

 

I think that’s it. As usual, when I do this, I realise that I am a maniac who does way too much at once. I mean, on top of this, I am also learning how to pole dance, being a parent, being a girlfriend, trying to keep up with my reading, and stay in touch with all of you beautiful people. I’m a crazy person. Thanks for staying with me through the mayhem.

 

 

Ask Jax Anything (Part 9)

Learn from my Motherfucking Mistakes (An Occasional Series) 

Got a question for me? Ask it here. I see only what you put in the textbox, so it can be totally anonymous.

Have you ever had to deal with impostor syndrome? If you did, how did you overcome it/how do you deal with it? I’m struggling with it at work, and I could use any advice you might have. Thanks in advance.

Have I ever dealt with this? Hehe. Yes. Every day, pretty much. I’m not as good an editor/writer as I think I am, or even as other people think I am. I’m definitely not as good a mother as people seem to think. I’m not as clever, wise, kind, organised, energetic as people think I am. People only think I’m organised and energetic because they see me, like, do all these things, and they don’t know that I am driven by my desire to not be a flake, to not look like I don’t have energy. I am faking it 95% of the time.

Here’s the thing I have come to realise, though. It doesn’t matter whether the energy is real or I am only getting things done out of a perverse desire not to seem like a lazy flake. Because the things get done. It doesn’t matter whether my drive to spread kindness and beauty comes out of a need to fight back against the darkness that laps pretty much constantly at the edge of my mind, because the kindness and beauty still happens. It doesn’t matter if I don’t think I’m good enough if people keep supporting my work and buying the books I make. Maybe it doesn’t even matter if they don’t. I used to write predominantly to work shit out – like, self-directed therapy. If my words sometimes resonate with people and sometimes help, then that’s enough. You know?

The truth is, I think most people feel imposter syndrome to a greater or lesser extent. I remember asking my Mom at some point when she started to feel like a grown up, because I was (technically) a grown up but I didn’t feel like one. And she laughed and said, “Mostly, I still don’t.” We all bumble along through life doing the best we can with what’s presented to us, and mostly hoping nobody notices we’re just hot messes, the lot of us.

Cucumbers with anxiety, according to one internet meme. Perhaps very accurate. 😉

I don’t really have any good advice. Maybe try to be as kind to yourself as you’d be to your best friend. Maybe try to believe people when they tell you that you rock. Maybe try to step out of your own ridiculous standards for yourself and recognise that if anyone else were doing what you’re doing, you would consider them competent.

In my experience, a lot of people with imposter syndrome work twice as hard out of a fear that somehow people will know that you’re just faking it! If this is what you do (I sure do), realise that the work COUNTS even if your motivation or drive comes from a stupid brain place. The work is getting done. People aren’t noticing that you’re faking it because even if it feels fake, the work you do is still real work.

“But I don’t know what I’m doing!” That’s okay. Most of us don’t. And then one day you get asked a random question about something in your field, and you answer it knowledgeably because it turns out that while you’re working really hard to fake it, you’re also actually learning and becoming good at what you do. (I am still surprised every time I realise that I have become quite good at what I do, just by doing it (often in a blind panic) for a decade or so.)

Be as kind to yourself as you are to your best friends, your partners, your children, anyone you feel disposed to give the benefit of the doubt. The fact that you’re worrying about this probably means you’re doing just fine. ❤

As I write this, there are no more questions waiting in the box, so if you’re enjoying these, ask me something!

Ask Jax Anything (Part 8)

Learn from my Motherfucking Mistakes (An Occasional Series) 

Got a question for me? Ask it here. I see only what you put in the textbox, so it can be totally anonymous.

If you had superpowers, what would they be? And would you be a super hero or super villain? (And why)

This is a slightly tangential answer, but I think I’d basically be a D&D bard. The power of a bard comes down to being a bit of a jack of all trades who inspires when inspiration is needed, heals when healing is needed, provides some comic relief (though mine is usually accidental), reminds people why we fight in the first place, and just generally bolsters and helps out the fighters.

That is the kind of hero I would be. Handing out strength where it is needed. Mocking the bad guys to distract them so that the people with the big axes can knock them down. Providing healing when it is required. Giving strength where I can.

I guess that’s basically what I try to do anyway. I don’t have spells for that stuff in real life, of course, but I do have words, which is almost the same thing. 😉 I am better at making beauty than fighting bad guys. I try to inspire and provide reasons to keep fighting because that’s where my strength lies.

As far as hero or villain goes, I am definitely on the good side of that equation. I am fascinated by villains, because I think they’re often, essentially, personifications of the monsters we fight in our own worlds and lives and heads all the time. But I’m no villain. I just don’t have the temperament for it. I don’t even kill spiders.

In the parlance of my people, I fall firmly into chaotic good. But that’s about right for a bard, I think.

That wasn’t quite what you asked, but I hope it’s a good enough answer. ❤

As I write this, there is only one unanswered question waiting in the box, so if you’re enjoying these, it may be a good time to ask me something!

Why I made a children’s book

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As I write this, we are in our second week of crowdfunding for “Eeny Meeny Miney Mo: Tales for Tired Tykes”. We’ve hit the 10% mark, but we have a long way to go, and that makes me nervous.

Let me tell you about this book. To tell you about this book, I have to tell you about another book. When I was a child, we had a book called “I can choose my bedtime story”. The contents page had a bunch of illustrations on it in lieu of titles. The idea was that a kid could pick a picture, turn to that page and their loving, patient parent could read them the tale. We must have heard these stories a million times as children. Some more often than others, because, of course, we had favourites.

When I had a child of my own, I managed to abscond from my parents’ house with this book that I had loved as a child, so that I could read it to my own child. Much as I had, he loved picking a story from the contents page. And that was when I made my terrible heart-breaking discovery.

The stories were awful.

Through adult (editorial, kiddielit expert) eyes they were badly written and plot holey. The illustrations were actually kind of average. I looked at this book I had adored as a kid, while I was reading it to my own child, and I thought, “I can do better”.

So, in true Jax style, I did.

I had to wait several years. When I had this idea, I didn’t have the Raven, the energy or the skills to do it justice. I needed to learn more. I kept it on the backburner and waited till I had them.

Then the Raven happened. I got better at what I do. The time seemed ripe. So we made it happen.

We have kept the “choose your own” illustrated contents page concept, but everything else is better. The illustrations are bold and bright and colourful and beautiful. (Thank you to Jon Stubbington, who totally delivered on what we were looking for.) The stories are diverse and substantial. Well-written. Engaging.

Even my kid is crazy excited about this book. IT is very close to my heart.

I very much hope it may be close to yours too. But for that to happen, for us to be able to print this beautiful thing, we need you to come on board and help us make it happen. If you have a small human in your life who might love a new book, consider making it this one. If you just want to see more quality books for kids in the world, just have a beer with us, and support us that way. (Yes, we have a beer reward again, because, well, this is the Raven, after all.) Or just drop us $7 and irritate the snot out of Will by making the total a weird number. 😉

Please help me make this happen. I am so proud of this book and it is so close to my heart. And you won’t regret it. No one ever regrets buying beautiful books. 

I love you, awesome nerds. Help me do a cool thing. ❤

Ask Jax Anything (Part 7)

Learn from my Motherfucking Mistakes (An Occasional Series) 

Got a question for me? Ask it here. I see only what you put in the textbox, so it can be totally anonymous.

If you were to have a position in government, what portfolio would you like to oversee, and what would your first action in office be?

Hooboy. I’m not sure I am qualified to do any of this sort of thing, but I guess if I were going to, the thing I’d most like to have power over is Education. So, Jax for Minister of Education (or whatever they call that here)!

My reasoning is that I honestly think that if you want to change the world, you start with the kids. They’re still malleable. Their prejudices are not as locked in as those of adults. Adults can change, but it is a lot harder to get them to do so than it is with children. To a kid, almost everything is a new idea, so adding in things like “the colour of your skin does not dictate how smart you are” or “what you can do or like or enjoy isn’t dictated by your gender” is that much easier.

But also, I think that the key to a smart, critical, productive populace is educating them properly from the start. Plus I think teachers should be better recognised for the work they do because that shit is exhausting, phenomenal, and thankless.

I guess my first action in office would be to start trying to get that recognised, and get more funding channelled into education, and into the education of our educators. I have this dream where being a teacher is more like being a doctor – hard as fuck to become and then financially recompensed as it should be.  (I doubt the medical process is perfect, by any means, but hopefully you see what I am saying.)

If I was going to make the biggest long term difference, that would be the place to do it, I think. This is like that old tree thing though. (You know the one? About how planting a tree is not for your benefit as much as for the benefit of future generations. You will never sit in its shade. Dammit. I am going to have to look it up.) AHA!

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

(Can also be old women, but this is an ancient Greek proverb, says Google, so there ya go.)

I’d like to plant some metaphorical trees. 🙂

 

Ask me something!