A white paper with text in green marker that reads: March 17, 2023 #QwitterDay! And quitter is spelled with a w instead of a u

Why I am a #Qwitter

No, that’s not a typo. I meant to spell quitter with a W instead of a U. It’s my way of saying I finally quit Twitter.

In 2011, I had joined that social media platform and yeah, there was the odd troll here and there, but I’d just block them and continue to enjoy the fun folks. Twitter used to be quite social. I met so many friends there who I still have today!

Over the years, the mood of it changed to more of a social justice feel, and I followed many disability advocates or disabled folks just sticking up for their realities. I met wonderful author humans. I hosted a weekly writing chat for Spoonie authors. I loved how we all learned from each other. I grew so much as a person.

So, why did I leave?

I mean, there was of course, a certain musk in the atmosphere… But despite that plot twist, there was something else just as serious. Over the last few years, during the pandemic, my time on Twitter was taking me over. I was addicted and couldn’t put down my phone for hours sometimes. I would be emotionally impacted by what I read—constantly. Friends noticed. My spouse noticed. I felt I couldn’t leave it because I needed to remain there for other disabled and autistic folks who depended on the platform for its accessibility. I grew stubborn on this point, too. And I was in this endless loop of read, stress, read, stress. Finally, one of my friends just had it with me and confronted me on it. Out of compassion and fear for my mental health, they didn’t mince their words. Being autistic, I prefer it when people get right to the point, but it stung like hell. It hurt because everything this person said was true.

And I woke up to myself.

I love being a disability advocate in literary spaces. I love communing with authors online. But the drama and toxicity that came with my inability to stop droomscrolling was greatly affecting my mental health. I couldn’t sleep. I was having nightmares.

Did I mention that trying to process hundreds of people angry or hurting is a hellscape for an autistic person who is hyperempathatic? Because it is. I couldn’t handle it.

As I write this, I have just deleted my Twitter accounts for my author self and the Spoonie Authors Network. I am still on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, and will probably be using my YouTube channel more. So, I’m not gone from social media altogether; I’m just controlling where I am and how much time I spend there.

Shockingly, I don’t miss Twitter (I haven’t been on it much at all except to post where to find me and one event I participated in). I think I might have wanted to leave it for a while now, and just needed a loving friend to kick my butt.

So, if you find yourself caught up in a toxic mess on some platform, take it from me, it’s better to leave. Just as it’s important to remove yourself from toxic in-person situations. Your mental and physical health are more important. It might feel hard to do, but the nice people who want to follow you will try to in other ways.

I realized that I will never stop being hyperempathetic, but I am too strong a person to let a platform dominate me.

My friend knew this too. And when they saw me sobering up from my doomscrolling addiction, they said: “I feel like I have my friend back.”

Yeah. I was lost for a while there.

But I’m back now.

Thanks, friend, for caring that much about me, and tossing out a life preserver when I didn’t realize I was drowning.

And now, onto healthier, more joyful times!

Also, happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you all! Éire go brách!

A greyscale close-up of me, standing in front of a blank background. I am a white woman with short silver hair cropped closely on the sides. I am wearing dark metallic rimmed glasses with rhinestones on the side. I’m wearing silver hook earrings with flat beads and a plaid shirt.

Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’CosmThe Stealth Lovers, and the forthcoming Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space (2023). Cait also founded the Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the multi-genre disability fiction anthologies Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too. 

Featured photo is #QwitterDay taken by Cait Gordon

a vintage typewriter that typed “to blog… or not to blog”

Lessons I have learned as an author human

Gosh, I can’t believe it was nine years ago when I decided to do a creative writing exercise to take my mind off the pain of fibromyalgia. Two years later, I would be a published author and enter Canadian speculative fiction circles.

I was like a wide-eyed kid back then, at the tender age of 47, and CanSpec was an undiscovered country for me. Heading towards seven years later, I have learned a thing or two.

I’m not “less than.” I’m just different.

The first trap I fell into was letting myself be affected by science fiction snobbery. You know, that thing where “hard sci-fi” is regarded as greater than “soft sci-fi?”

Some authors might craft spectacular science fiction that’s rooted in scientific principles and realities. Good for them! That’s their joy. Others write more fantastical space adventures. Like me. I don’t write in-the-weeds-with-science sci-fi. I write space opera that’s focused on how characters relate to each other. Often there’s cake involved. Sometimes there’s an Austenian ballroom scene. Humour plays a big role in my stories. Characters can take a humanoid form or be sentient plants.

And that’s okay. There are readers for my books too. No need to put myself down or allow others to be condescending to me. We all put effort into our world-building. For Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space! I had to do a ton of research about assistive tech and prosthetics, and hire sensitivity editors, just to have my characters seamlessly exist in the adventures. That’s not “less than” work at all! So, you do you!

Attending panels and workshops can be so valuable.

I have gone to dozens of panels over the years and just gobbled up knowledge. Everything from writing realistic fight scenes to queer tropes to avoid to marketing books online. That’s one of my favourite things about publishing circles—authors sharing their experiences. It’s kind of like a pay-it-forward thing to me. At least that’s how I felt when I have led panels or was a panelist. I highly recommend attending panels where you can. Weeknight Writers has several free virtual cons a year. Check them out! Also, The Writers’ Union of Canada offers webinars free for members and 10$ a session for non-members.

A healthy critique group is worth its weight in books!

When I wrote Life in the ’Cosm, I wasn’t in author communities yet. Heck, I didn’t know it would be a book at all! But I joined a critique group after being published (that’s a small group of authors who share their works-in-progress and ask for feedback). I don’t think could have finished The Stealth Lovers without that group. And they also helped me through Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space! What I like is having that first-impression feedback. It steers me where I need to go or informs me that I’m on the right track.

But if you feel a group doesn’t work for you or changes dynamic where you can’t feel comfortable anymore, it’s okay to find another one. To me a healthy group is where you respect each other’s boundaries, sensitivities, and offer constructive notes. We might grow in a certain direction and find we work better with other authors. Best not to remain in a critique group that is no longer a good fit because this might tarnish the writing process for you. Change can be a positive thing!

Take the opportunities offered and ignore imposter syndrome

I have said yes to things even when my brain was screaming, “What the hell are you doing, Cait???” That’s how I became a manuscript editor! A fellow author friend trusted me with her memoir, so *poof* my freelance career was born. I had been editing for years in high tech and had the creative sensibility, so I found out editing books is my strength!

When I thought aloud to Nathan Fréchette of Renaissance about how I wish I could assemble an anthology only written by disabled authors, he enthusiastically replied, “Renaissance could do it!” I had no idea he meant, “And you can be the editor in chief!” When I said I didn’t feel I could do it myself, he suggested my BFF, Talia C. Johnson. Together, she and I had exactly no experience editing anthologies. We’re also very silly friends. I threw my hands in the air and said, “Pinky and The Brain editing an anthology. What could possibly go wrong?” But we did it anyway. Many of you know that the Nothing Without Us anthology was a 2020 Prix Aurora Award finalist and is still being taught at Trent University. And the second anthology, Nothing Without Us Too, came out late last year. Saying yes turned into books!

As an author, I shyly asked strangers to sensitivity edit my latest book. I even asked a prominent author to blurb it. Expecting them to say no, they all said yes! So, you never know until you try!

Yeet the jerks and hang with the awesome folks

It can feel sometimes like one is navigating through a sea of egos and frankly, jerks. Being around some authors who have opinions can get exhausting. And I think having opinions matters. But pushing them as universal truths is just nope.

There are so many times when I have wanted to flee author circles forever because of abusive and/or gaslighting individuals, but then like glimmers of light in the darkness, the awesome folks appear. And suddenly, you find your people. Just as toxic people are inevitable in any community, so too are the amazing folks. I encourage you to seek them out and not be afraid to leave the jerks behind, even if said jerks hold a certain standing in the community. Life is precious — spend your time wisely with people who lift you up and who you can lift up too.

Writers should not be in competition, imo, but be a mutually encouraging group. We should offer praise, guidance (with consent), and boost each other to keep going. Writing is challenging enough without the stress of trolls, right?

Use social media, but don’t let it use you.

And speaking of trolls…

My latest life lesson is to be wary of social media. What I mean is not to let it take over your time, your thoughts, and your life. Especially if you’re like me, someone who cares passionately about social justice. Fighting the urge to dive into heated discussions or doomscroll to infinity can be so hard. And it can take up so much of your time. Time from family, friends, writing, and your own self-care.

If you can use social media without it using you, then you’re probably fine. If you find it takes up too much real estate in your mind, better to ease off or just yeet it into the sun.

A caring friend pointed out to me how much Twitter was weighing me down and how I was doing nothing to change my ways. Welp, I finally got it, and am closing my account at the end of March. Just wanted to give folks enough time to follow me on platforms that have less of an impact on my mental health.

So, yeah, please check on yourself that way, okay? Better to be a happy human without a head full of cyclical arguments from folks who won’t change their ways.

Never be ashamed of your joy.

I can’t stress this enough. So often I find people apologizing for their selfies, book successes, and so on. Are you joking me? If you’re thrilled about things, post away, do a video, tell me in person… spread that joy like cream cheese on a bagel! (Sorry. I was just craving cream cheese on a bagel.)

But seriously, there’s so much hardship and bad news flooding our minds these days, if you want to be happy about something, go for it!

Show us your book covers, a nice review, photos of a book signing. Heck, tell us when you finished drafting a chapter! Please don’t hide those special moments. You might even motivate someone to continue with their own writing!

And if anyone calls it bragging, then that’s on them. Being excited about an accomplishment or hitting a milestone doesn’t have to be boasting. We’re allowed to be proud of ourselves.

Especially as we move through this pandemic. In my opinion, anyone who writes anything these days deserves an award.

There’s no one absolute writing method.

Some like to outline, some like to fly by the seat of their pants, some like responding to writing prompts. Some write every day, some write when they feel inspired, some write a few words here and there. Some write using their cellphones, some use laptops, some use typewriters, some dictate, some write by hand.

Never mind the bullies. However you write is how you write.

Wisdom is wise…

Anyway, these are just a few things I have learned. What about you? What wisdoms have you come away with as an author human? Let me know in the comments!

One final thing from another Irish person:

“Be yourself — everyone else is taken.” Oscar Wilde

A greyscale close-up of me, standing in front of a blank background. I am a white woman with short silver hair cropped closely on the sides. I am wearing dark metallic rimmed glasses with rhinestones on the side. I’m wearing silver hook earrings with flat beads and a plaid shirt.

Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’CosmThe Stealth Lovers, and the forthcoming Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space (2023). Cait also founded the Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the multi-genre disability fiction anthologies Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too. 

Featured photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com.

Person’s feet stand on wooden pathway

Taking a big step back in order to go forward

My BFF, Talia C. Johnson sent me a meme with this text on the evening of January 31, 2023:

January was a tough year, but we made it.

(Author unknown?)

I wish I knew who to credit for that quote, so please let me know if you do because it’s such a mood.

When I entered #PublishedAuthorLand in 2016, I was bright-eyed and full of beans! Now, not so much. Kinda jaded, to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, I love being an author, but that’s just it. I need to return to what I love—writing stories in my quirky little worlds with my quirky little characters.

Since entering Canadian SFF circles, I have met some really cool folks, some folks who are icky, and others who have caused harm. That was an eye-opener. Navigating the awfulness has been exhausting. (But thanks to those of you who remain awesome. You are the lights in the dark!)

Also, as a disabled and autistic author, I’d discovered my stories that star disabled protagonists are “not relatable.” Eventually, I realized I’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places. In my opinion, while markets and editors say they welcome stories from authors who are disabled, it often seems like they are checking a box of inclusion requirements instead of trying to understand the types of stories we write. Often they don’t even know the basics about how we identify ourselves. This has made me wary of submitting to those projects, especially because when I bring things up, I risk being regarded as problematic and further marginalized from those circles.

I’m more than a checkbox item. I’m a fully fleshed out person with my own lived experiences. And they are valid and can live within whatever genre I choose to write.

The lightbulb really came on for me when I began submitting short stories that were not accepted, which happens to everyone, but my disabled beta readers or sensitivity editors were like, “What?! How did that get rejected?” I just shrugged and figured it was part of the game. One story in particular kept getting the boot. Until I submitted it to a grassroots lit mag run solely by disabled, neurodivergent editors. It got accepted the same day and highly praised. Huh. I mean, I was like, “Yay!” but it made me think. Then an anthology came up, run by editors I knew from my disabled circles, so I put my foot on the gas and wrote a protagonist unashamedly reflecting my feelings as an autistic 50-something. I submitted it anonymously and sold it. Huh.

I began to wonder if I solely submit my works to editors who understand disability from their own lived experiences and who are aware of the diversity within disability, there might be less of a chance I would get the response, “I can’t relate to the character/story.” I would probably feel way better getting a non-acceptance because it would mean my story needed more work, or it just wasn’t a good fit.

I also find myself wanting to participate in or observe author communities who truly make efforts to welcome folks like me. Not just invite us because we make them look inclusive. I need these spaces to be inclusive. And that often means conferences having folks like me in their staff or as consultants and actually listening to them. Or, non-disabled staff (and disabled staff too) being humble enough to understand they will always have to learn new things even if they do make genuine efforts to be inclusive.

By “limiting” myself to writing disabled characters and finding disabled-inclusive or disabled-run spaces, am I preventing my career from growing? Who knows? I’m mean, there are a lot of readers out there who are disabled and get excited to find themselves in fiction. I am one of them! And at my age, I would rather have five readers who love my work than try to reconfigure myself into someone I’m not, just to advance my career. I won’t give in to microaggressive messages or even blatant ones that insist I sacrifice who I am as a person. I’m Cait Gordon, a disabled crone, autistic, and queer. I’m an extroverted tornado who cares about social justice, being fun, and putting cake in space. I don’t have my act together and am a work in progress. I’m not typical. If you want typical, then I’m not for you.

A huge area of true joy for me comes from communing with authors who are disabled, d/Deaf, Blind, neurodivergent, Spoonie, and/or who manage mental illness. The Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too anthologies allowed me to meet wonderful authors and their protagonists. I’m really glad I was co-editor of those projects. But they were so much work, even though they were a labour of love. And I am getting older, so my disability is tougher to manage. While I will never regret doing those projects because the world needs these stories, it’s time for me to go back to being a writer myself.

And what will I write? My happy wheelhouse is fun space opera that makes one think. Season One: Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space is coming out this year (Thanks again, Renaissance press!), and I have my episode prompts for Season Two drafted. I also want to finish Life in Another ’Cosm, my first YA book and sequel to Life in the ’Cosm. I also plan to write a Romance space opera novella that nobody asked for, which stars an older woman who is autistic and disabled and snarky as heckin’ heck.

I definitely have stuff to work on. It’s time that I step back from advocacy (just a teeny bit on that one) and the drama of author circles (a huge step back there) in order to go on an extended writing retreat.

Because at the end of the day, writing stories is my heartbeat. My books have actually saved my life more than once. And that’s not hyperbole. They are a salve for my mental health. But I can’t write them if I have brain clutter.

So, here’s to Marie Kondo-ing my brain clutter, removing what doesn’t spark joy, and going forward with writing the stories I want to write. I will be deliberate in how I spend my time and spoons. While I know I can’t avoid stressful situations altogether, I can make a better effort to put me first, in the healthiest way.

A greyscale close-up of me, standing in front of a blank background. I am a white woman with short silver hair cropped closely on the sides. I am wearing dark metallic rimmed glasses with rhinestones on the side. I’m wearing silver hook earrings with flat beads and a plaid shirt.

Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’CosmThe Stealth Lovers, and the forthcoming Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space (2023). Cait also founded the Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the multi-genre disability fiction anthologies Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too. 

Featured header photo by Tobi on Pexels.com

seashore under white and blue sky during sunset

The freedom that comes from saying, “I can’t.”

CN: Mentions of mental illness, ableism, disability symptoms, and toxic environments

As a person who manages a chronic pain and fatigue disability, I’ve had to constantly “push through” my discomfort in order to have any semblance of a life. Sometimes I have aids like my mobility device to make things much easier on me, but even then, a rollator cannot take away my fatigue, pain, or complex post-traumatic syndrome disorder (cPTSD).

We disabled people are often subject to incredibly annoying and frankly obnoxious inspiration-porn stories about “overcoming.” Someone overcomes their mental illness or disability or whatnot and then this line is hurled at us: “So, what’s your excuse?”

My excuse, buddy, is shut the eff up.

Disabled people are not put on Earth to inspire you. Sorry to burst that bubble. And we are not a monolith. There is diversity of disabled experiences, even within the same disability. So maybe just try learning a thing about our community instead of telling us to suck it up. Because one of these days, we will collaborate and construct a high-tech yeet machine and have you visit the sun.

But back to my reality of “pushing through.” When one lives with a chronic condition, the line gets blurred about when one should just stop an activity or back away if a situation is causing one harm. It’s so easy to tolerate more mental and physical burden than I should because hey, it’s something I always do, right?

Except under no circumstances should I subject myself to further harm of my bodymind. I need to train my brain to act sooner.

There are so many “motivational” memes about saying “I can” to things, we forget the power of “I can’t.” We forget the freedom that “I can’t” brings.

Put up with gaslighting? I can’t.

Put up with being overly scheduled? I can’t.

Put up with a toxic environment? I can’t.

Put up with anyone or anything causing me harm? I can’t.

When I declare the “I can’t,” I’m really saying, “I won’t.” I use the word can’t because in my brain, it means, “I cannot allow that anymore.”

And when I act on the “I can’t,” a huge weight is lifted from my shoulders.

I tend to be someone who is a helper. That’s my nature. I’m told time and time again in therapy to remember to put myself first once in a while and not deny myself the things that bring me peace and joy. I’m a freelance editor and while I love making books shiny, I have to save time for my own writing. I am an author too. Writing stories is one of the most important salves that soothes my mental illness. In fact, I wrote The Stealth Lovers during a year of constant panic attacks, and it doesn’t read that way at all. It’s funny. And that’s because when I write, it’s like a protective dome drops over me that blocks out my stresses, and I just live in my world-building for a time. Speculative fiction is a godsend for me.

I have dedicated over a year to the Nothing Without Us Too anthology, which I love to pieces and am gobsmacked by the talent of our contributing authors. However, my writing got put on hold. So, while I am thrilled to promo this wonderful collection, I have to make my own works a priority.

So, “I can’t” create a work-life where there’s no space for my creativity.

Social media (SM) has offered me the chance to connect with so many wonderful folks, especially in the disability and neurodivergent communities. The ability to use SM and messaging to chat with people is an accessible form of getting together, which has saved my life during this pandemic era. But, as many of you know, SM can really mess with your mental health. I also think because I am autistic, I cannot be pummelled by too many opinions at once. It’s really difficult for my brain to parse through all that, and it becomes too much.

So, I can’t continue doomscrolling or even staying online for too long. I have to reconsider how to use it and who I want to follow.

Publishing has opened doors for me these past six-plus years. It’s been one helluva adventure. And again, I have met so many humans who have enriched my life. Have I ever learned so many things! Attending conferences and participating in and sometimes moderating panels have offered such an opportunity to grow, network, and make friends who share a love for books! Yet, sadly, in every circle, there can be people who maybe aren’t so healthy to be around, or who are outright hurtful.

So, I can’t align myself with publishing folks whose attitudes don’t lift others up or whose egos and entitled behaviour get in the way of creating a thriving and inclusive community.

In conclusion, saying “I can’t” is kind of awesome.

I highly recommend it.

My wish is for you to give it a whirl as you reflect upon your own life.

I bet you can!

(See what I did there?)

Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’CosmThe Stealth Lovers, and the forthcoming Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space (2023). Cait also founded the Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the multi-genre disability fiction anthologies Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too.

Featured header photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Trying to Navigate Through 50 Shades of Meh

It’s been over a month since I’ve been inside a shop, and that was at my pharmacy as I signed a request for an urgent med refill.

My husband and I are doing our best to be as safe as is possible during this pandemic outbreak. While I’m lucky to have him here with me at home, we’re both noticing challenges in our motivation these days. He’s doing better than I am, what with having a full-time job to keep him focused. I’m glad because it grounds him, and it keep us steady, financially.

As for me, well, I’m no stranger to working from home, and being disabled in the ’burbs without decent transit means I’ve been self-isolating for years. Even still, I find my attitude has gone from super-vocal activist to oh-whatever-people-are-clueless-and-we’re-doomed-anyway. The news is so demoralizing, what with treating disabled people, seniors, and chronically ill people as disposable, then showing the dickheads who think staying at home is a socialist plot to impend their freedoms. (You know, whenever I see losers protesting a virus, in my head I hear, “We want the right to die! But to get our haircuts first and then die! Because FREEDOM!”) Sigh. It’s amazing the human race has survived this long, to be honest.

I said on social media that my get-up-and-go must not be practicing social distancing, because it feels like it got up and went. Hope it’s wearing a mask at least. I’ve really tried to keep busy these past six weeks, but I find myself going into the “why bother” spaces:

  • I’m publishing several series on the Spoonie Authors Network—why bother?
  • I started writing my next book—why bother?
  • I’ve put together a gentle exercise routine at home—why bother?
  • I’m editing a book for a client—why bother?

While I know it’s important to keep my mind and body active, I find myself wanting to just be a Cait Burrito in bed and binge-watch series on streaming services. (Btw, I loved Schitt’s Creek, Shtisel, and Making the Cut.)

Last Saturday, I created a little colour-coded schedule to help give my executive function a leg up. It looks cute at least. And I did some editing today, which is good because I’ve flatlined with work these last few weeks. (I’ve an extremely understanding Spoonie client who told me to relax for a bit.) So, I got some work done, but I still feel bleh.

I wrote over 11,000 words in Iris and the Crew Tear Space a New One, but I still feel bleh.

I was able to do certain exercises that I couldn’t do for years, but I still feel bleh.

I guess I just don’t feel excited about anything right now. Maybe I’m not supposed to be. Maybe I’m just supposed to be gentle with myself, and if I need to be a binge-watching burrito for my mental-health’s sake, then dammit, I’ll be that burrito.

There’ve been several memes out there with this message: You don’t have to be productive during a f—ing pandemic! True. I’m really not there right now. Maybe when the weather is warmer, I’ll want to write while sitting on my deck, or play in the dirt of my garden, or chat with my baby tree, Leanie.

But today, I’m just trying to navigate through the 50 shades of meh. And I’ve nothing inspirational to offer as a solution to get out of it. I also don’t want any advice on the matter. (I have a therapist, so I know to reach out if I need to.) I guess I just wanted to share that this is what I’m going through right now. Because it’s okay to say we’re not okay. We’re living in a not-okay situation.

Oh yeah, and Nailed It! is also good for a laugh.

Stay safe, fellow humans.

Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to pummel that curve!

She’s also the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world.

Night sky background, the initials C and G in white.

No More NaNoWriMo—I’m Calling ‘Self-Care’

Yup, I told you I have a staunch rule about NaNoWriMo: If I feel it’s going to adversely affect my health, I’m going to stop. So, I’m stopping, but only the NaNo pace and schedule, not the writing. The good news is that even after only a few days, I’m exciting about writing Life in Another ’Cosm again. So, I will continue to work on that manuscript, but at my own pace. I guess I’ll be doing Cait O’ WriMos because it’ll be over several months. I might also try a few short stories, too!

It’s been a big year for me, and I’ve used up many spoons. At the end of this month, I’ll be heading to Toronto for the launch of two of my titles, so I want to be as well as I can for that. I’m also recovering from a type of burnout, and I want to be kind to my brain.

To all of you still doing NaNoWriMo 2019, I salute you! Have fun and remember to take care of yourselves!

And I’ll keep you posted on the status of my alphabet arranging!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate and the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world. Narf.

Why I’m so done with writers putting themselves down—me included.

My neurodiverse brain tends to pick up on patterns, whether they are patterns on objects or patterns of behaviour. And for the last several months, I’ve been somehow more attuned to an increasing number of posts where authors are just metaphorically punching themselves repeatedly in their own faces. Some are people I know, and others total strangers. I know I’ve also shared these feelings about myself. It’s a thing that happens to all of us.

But you know what? I’m so over it.

Wooden table with coffee cup, blank paper and a red pen, and red-berried branch.
Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels.

We creatives are an interesting lot and prone to insecurity; it’s true. But I think many of us keep forgetting the sheer magic of what it means to be a writer. We take notions or concepts in our brains and translate them into words on a page. We invent worlds, landscapes, technology, supernatural forces, and even characters who some readers get so attached to, they want them to be real! (And those characters become real to their authors as well.) We make up stories! That’s kind of massively awesome. We paint with our words, we point out injustices with them, we express what it means to love (in all of love’s forms), we glue eyeballs to paragraphs, we invoke emotions in others, we memorize and induce a sort of “book grief,” when the last words are read or listened to.

Isn’t it a bit astounding that we can do all those things? We’ve been granted the ability to move, excite, thrill, invoke dreamy sighs…whatever the imagination stirs!

Yet, at the first opportunity, we do a major no-no. We take whatever joy we feel from the craft and dilute or quash it by looking around at other authors. Maybe one has published several titles in the last two years, maybe another has an agent, maybe another has earned out a cash advance. And instead of feeling that “Go, you!” for them, we look inward at what we have not achieved. Even if we can sincerely offer our congratulations, it almost takes no time at all for us to think we’re failures of some sort.

But…but..but…you still wrote words of your own! You still also have the same magic. You can words!

Last Saturday, I felt beyond exhausted and only managed 514 words for the day as part of NaNoWriMo 2019. This was my tweet about it:

As you know, I’m disabled, and whenever I try NaNoWriMo, I have a staunch rule about not writing to harm myself. During this month, I don’t look to the left or the right, and I don’t read any motivational email from the organization. I enter into my little Spoonie ’Cosm and only concentrate on my own path. This is a good reminder for me to celebrate what I can achieve, and if on a certain day I don’t write because I need to put my health first, then that is also a GO ME! day.

Now, something else happened last Saturday. I might not be an bestselling, award-winning author, but the first short story I ever wrote that starred a disabled protagonist, The Hilltop Gathering, was discussed at an international forum about Frankenstein at Carleton university—in an academic paper! I joked that I might never have gone to uni, but my story sure did!

Folks, I’m really proud that happened. So, would it be a good look if I suddenly started moping about how the same short story didn’t make the final ballot of the 2019 Prix Aurora Awards? No, I think that would be silly and ridiculous. And even if that story had never been discussed at an academic forum, it still a tale I made up all by myself. I loved reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and in fact, I enjoyed the entire process of reading it and crafting my short story so much, it didn’t even matter to me at the time if it got accepted to be part of We Shall Be Monsters. Because I wrote my first own-voices piece, and it really felt good.

Can we all promise to try to remember to feel good about what we do? And if we feel bad about ourselves, let’s rely on each other for going through a down spell, because we all need encouragement. But let’s please not forget altogether to celebrate what we’ve done. As an autistic person, I often talk about “training my brain” to focus on something that builds me up when I’m tempted to hyperfocus on the negative or my fears. I’ve decided to work on training my mind to be happy with myself more.

Truthfully, you don’t need an agent, an award, or even a publisher to be worthy of celebrating you and your craft. You write words! Every book in existence started with an idea and a first sentence. If you’ve written that first sentence, then congratulate yourself. If you’ve decided to rewrite, then take joy in that motivation. If you feel you need a break, then be glad you’re putting yourself first so you can go back to writing when you can enjoy it again. Whatever you achieve, give yourself a pat on the back.

You are a magical alphabet arranger. Don’t forget this. Because I just might remind you!

(Please remind me of this when I, too, forget, okay?)

Today, I challenge you to reflect on how amazing you are, to take pride in your words, and only you compare with you on this road of creativity.


Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate and the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world. Narf.

ID: Adorable grey and black tabby kitten sleeping on a carpeted stair.

I took a March break for self-care. Here’s what I learned.

SPLAAAAT! That was the sound of my existence two weeks ago. I’d been juggling different assignments and got to the point where my brain went on strike. I literally couldn’t make any decisions about work-related things. My mind and body united in a resounding, “NOPE!”

By now you all pretty much know I’m a disabled human, and I manage chronic pain from inflammation and neuropathy. I talk about it a lot. I work hard to manage pain levels. I take pride in learning about new mobility aids to help me with endurance and activity.

So, go me, right?


Here’s the thing. I also suffer from chronic fatigue. And I used to remember that way better than I do now. I used to pace myself, take adequate rest breaks, and plan activities that were surrounded by do-nothing days.

Lately, I forgot to do the thing. And by lately, I mean for over a year. This is why I constantly feel like I’m burning out. Rest is essential for someone who deals with fibromyalgia. It’s as important as managing pain, and it feeds into pain management. They work together.

On my week off, I forced myself to stay away from any workload. Then I discovered a whole bunch of other things I do in a day that keep me busy. I stopped those things, too. I couldn’t believe how much I’d been driving my limits every single day! No wonder I crashed so hard. By forcing myself to stop, I not only was able to recuperate, but I also devised a plan for going forward.

Today I’m taking a day off because these past three workdays have been a whirlwind. I slept in this morning. I’m in pain, so I’m nurturing that. Things can resume tomorrow.

I’m a freelancer, so I have the luxury of making my own schedule. I kinda sorta perhaps maybe need to recall that this is my work lifestyle. And not be such a pushy boss to myself.

Even a disability advocate can get caught up and forget to practice what she preaches. Bad Cait. *wags finger at me*

Okay, I am back on track. I will set smart daily goals and be flexible with my schedule. If I have appointments that cannot be moved, I’ll have rest days before and after. I can do this!

Don’t ever tell me that self-care isn’t work. It. So. Is.

Be good to yourselves, folks! It’s so vital.

Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers (Fall of 2019). When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She’s also teamed up with co-editor Talia C. Johnson on the Nothing Without Us anthology (Fall of 2019.)

Everyone’s writing, and I’m all like…

Ever feel like everyone’s writing but you? I do. Now that I’m published and have all these new writer friends and acquaintances on social media, I’m able to read updates about their word journeys. To me it feels like they’re constantly writing. Meanwhile, I’m all like, Yeah, I need to lie down now. 

After working intensely on Life in the ’Cosm from May 2014 to January 2016, I was pooped. Feeling accomplished, but pooped. I casually continued writing the second book of the series, after I had submitted the first book to Renaissance Press in March 2016. Then in June 2016, I got the e-mail. They would publish ’Cosm. I danced around, cried to my husband on the phone, and spent the rest of the month in a haze of disbelief.

When my publisher asked me if I was up to a compressed editing schedule, so my book could go on sale for Can*Con 2016, I said, “Sure!” I figured this was an opportunity of a lifetime, so why not go for it? The editors had been fantastic and I loved the cover design. Life in the ’Cosm came out right on schedule and I was thrilled.

I attended Can*Con and did my first public reading. What a fantastic experience. I appreciated the chill atmosphere and truly enjoyed meeting all those writers and authors. But a month later, added to my chronic pain, came a sudden and severe vertigo. I could barely see, let alone write.

It’s December, and I’m doing better than two months ago, but I’m still quite drained. I’ve only finished a draft of chapter eleven in Book 2, and began chapter twelve. Writers on social media pounded out words during NaNoWriMo,  but I couldn’t even attempt it, with the room spinning all the time. There were other authors working independently of NaNoWriMo, on their books or short story manuscripts. And myself? Nope. Nada.

However, I did launch my career as an editor. I’d been editing as a technical writer for decades, and decided this past fall to take the leap into offering editing services for authors. It’s been great. One book has just been released and I’m currently doing a deep structural edit of a second. So, I am working with words. Just not my own.

I have to remind myself that I’ve achieved a lot as a spoonie. Still, I am not a machine. When I have enough spoons, I’ll finish the first draft of Book 2. Right now, I need to tend to my editing job. That’s enough on my plate at this time.


It’s really important for me to celebrate my writer friends who are writing, and cheer them on. It’s also super vital that I do not compare my work output to theirs. We’re individuals, and I’m living with a disability that impairs my concentration. If I compete only with myself, then I see how well I’m doing. I learned that from runners, back when I could run: compare yourself only to yourself.

If you’re feeling insecure about your lack of energy, you’re in good company. I would just encourage you to take care of you. Self-care is a full-time job for many of us. I hope you can find good medical support, and people in your life who believe you. It’s okay to ask for encouragement from trusted friends.

I hope you’re writing words really soon! Your story will wait for you. (I say this to me just as much as I say it to you.)

Hugs and spoons!