martin freeman

Here we are, halfway through winter. I thought I’d give an update on an experiment – or challenge – I’ve somewhat quietly (until now) kept to myself. Except for newsletter subscribers, they know. (You could get advance news too, if you sign up. No pressure.)

As I waited on feedback from manuscripts and competition pieces, and when a couple of projects didn’t quite come to fruition, I found myself with something quite novel – time. While I knew what I wanted to do with it – start something new! something fresh! – and although that has more-or-less come to pass (more on that in a second), there have also been some aggravations to manage. So, basically, life as per usual!

Allow me to explain. Three months ago today, we arrived back in the country from Vietnam. Somewhere in the sky, I don’t know where exactly as it was an overnight flight and I was semi-sleeping, my left ear didn’t pressurize correctly. This has happened before. For example, after another international flight from Indonesia, it took 4-5 days to pop after we arrived home. So I waited… and waited for my insides to catch up to the outside. Anyone who’s experienced the discomfort knows that terrific moment of release when suddenly you can hear again. Everything goes calm and clear.

That hasn’t happened yet. In fact, now it’s a constant irritation and – at times – painful. An initial GP diagnosis of ‘wait it out, it’ll be fine, here’s a special antihistamine nasal spray that costs $57 to help’ (it didn’t) has recently been escalated to an ENT specialist and a course of stronger medication to bring the inflammation down. If that doesn’t work in the next 10 days or so… well, we’ll see. Regardless, I need to have a hearing assessment. Thanks to Meniere’s Disease (unrelated to this case, so believes the ENT), I’ve already lost hearing in my left ear. As it’s been about 16 years since my last assessment, I’m going to take an educated guess that it’s worse.

But! But! Moving on…

… to the work, which, to me, is more important. Between sprays and steam inhalations and neti pots and all sorts of googling on Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (the official name of what I have), I’ve written a lot. A 5,000-word unabashedly romantic short story that kind of wants to be turned into a novel and I can see its commercial potential. Then I’ve written some niche flash fiction that may never see the light of day. Best of all, some solid poems.

So we come to the struggle I mention in the title.

I’ve heard work back about one particular project, a polite ‘no’, and I feel a little unreeled. This is the part of the writing process where I can really get lost – where value has been seen but it’s not enough to get through to the next stage. A writer can get help with this ‘growing pains’ part – getting a manuscript assessment or hiring an editor for a professional outsider’s perspective. But that costs money, and many writers may not even be in a financial position to afford. Honestly, what I usually do is cry, take a bath, and stare at the wall while I figure it all out. Coming back to the subject of time, the question often comes back to it – ‘How long will Problem X and Problem Y take to fix?’ Framing my thinking like that can be helpful. As can a cup of tea.

Only after the crying stops, of course.

So here’s to the second half of winter, to consolidation and improvement and hopefully an unblocked ear. Wish me luck!




This was a bit more of a personal post than I usually write these days. It feels good. Hello, again. xx

karen andrews

Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity