It’s the end of March and time for my first quarter progress report. I’m making progress slowly partly because of health problems which I’ll come to later. I’ve also been preparing the A-Z challenge posts. The A to Z Challenge starts on Saturday, and I’m featuring books, so that’s taken quite a lot of time. It’s been a great help to catch up with my reading challenges.

Starts Saturday!

Reading challenge round-up

A quick check of my Goodreads reading challenge shows me that this quarter I have already read nineteen of 52, which puts me seven ahead of target. I’ve set a very low target and I’ve been reading like mad to get through the ARCs I took last year.

That’s really reflected in most of the other challenges as well. The Alphabet Soup is nearly halfway which is normal for the first quarter as just about everything can be included. The TBR Mountain is doing well and nearly at the first mountain. That is nearly a third of the target only a quarter of the way through, which is ahead of schedule compared with other years. The Spacetime challenge is on track, partly because of needing to read books for my A-Z. There are a lot of series qualifying for the Spacetime challenge that I want to catch up on. That will also help my series challenge which is currently a little behind, although I have completed two series (which only needed one book each!) already.

The challenge that is falling behind is the Non-fiction Adventure. This is disappointing, partly because I’ve extended the target and I’m supposed to be reading at least 10 a year. But there are three quarters of the year left and plenty of books on my shelf to read.

Writing news

Apart from flash fiction through #writephoto, I’ve done very little writing this year. I did prepare the book for younger readers: the Cavies of Flexford Common. The draft is with my great niece still and I’m a bit worried that she didn’t continue reading as fast as she did the first chapter. I hope she hasn’t got bored with it but then that’s a natural response from any author especially an insecure one!

I’m still planning quite extensive illustrations for this book and although I managed to sketch some ideas in for her I have not managed to make any progress on making ‘good’ illustrations. The one I did attempt doesn’t really meet the standard.

Roscoe gazes at the rain

This is partly due to my hand problems and it’s probably time to talk about it.

My first quarter health

It may seem strange that with our wonderful NHS system which is admired the world over that it’s taken over three months to get to the stage of knowing what to do about my hand problems.

I clearly have developed arthritis in my hands: mainly in the body of the hands, luckily the fingers are relatively dextrous although some of the knuckles are swollen. The big problem came in January when something made my wrists go really weak. I describe it as a ‘bang.’ It happened one Monday when I was doing nothing in particular and they suddenly stopped working–just like something in my car going bang and grinding to a halt.

So I have been having a great deal of trouble with handwriting, typing and drawing. Then there’s everyday stuff like opening cans and milk cartons and lifting kettles and lifting guinea pigs.

To give you an idea, if I have a mug of coffee, I need to pick it up with two hands. By the time it’s half full I can carry it with one hand. It’s ridiculous when you’ve been independent for all your life to suddenly discover you can’t cut food up–it’s just not possible. I’ve got a chopping machine but I have to get most of the vegetables smaller in order to go in it, so course I’m not doing very much apart with small food like mushrooms and onions. I have finally reverted to ready meals, instead of cooked from fresh.


So it all takes some adaptation and it is worth reading about the mental approach to arthritis. Adaptation, awareness, resilience! Awareness that you are just one of thousands which is true. It’s just so frustrating to have become one of the 50% of women over 70 years old who have arthritis, within six months of turning seventy.

As I now know (after tests and xrays) that it’s only osteo-arthritis (there was a possibility of rheumatoid) I can relax a little. Osteo may stay where it is, rheumatoid would spread to all joints. I may have some injections in my wrists to help them, as we haven’t finally worked out whether I got RSI or something else to set those off. I have told my friends and neighbours, and neighbours are great when I turn up at their doors with an armful of things that need opening. Someone else’s gardener is going to come over to keep the worst of the brambles at bay.

March craft show at Romsey – only 2 banners up to save work

I managed the first craft show of the year, and the staff at the show were extremely helpful with unloading the boxes to the table and back again afterwards. And putting up banners. I discovered I could still sign the books!

So it’s been a tough first quarter, but I’m coming through it okay. The Mac dictation software is helpful, but needs a lot of editing. Tori Zigler’s given me a lead on what she uses–much more advanced, but then I can see what I’m doing. I will explore further.

Authoring by voice

One thing I found when I was trying to dictate my flash fiction was that it’s a totally different skill.

When you dictate, to make it in any way successful you have to think what you are going to say and say it. I realised that when I type I tend to think about what is coming next as I type. My brain goes at one speed and my fingers go at another. Then it all catches up and I read a paragraph back, say yes and go on. But with dictating I’m only thinking about this particular phrase I’m saying. I can’t think of what the next part of it is without pausing and thinking what to say. It’s very odd.

I’m sure I’ll get better with practice. The good thing is that I’m finding it very much easier to comment on other people’s blogs by dictating. So with any luck I’ll be making plenty of comments during the A-Z challenge!

Hope all is well with you.

PS. I won’t be doing #writephoto during April. But I will be posting every day except the first four Sundays!

March 23 Quarter Progress report

8 thoughts on “March 23 Quarter Progress report

  • 29 March, 2023 at 11:32 am

    Well Jemima so highs and lows there! I am sorry to hear about the Arthritis, I am suffering too , hands and wrists it is very difficult even with some devices for opening jars and lids there are always stubborn ones and cutting for cooking can be challenging but I do have Hubby on call.
    Looking forward to reading your A-Z challenge! I am not doing it this year.
    I do love that illustration you worked marvels especially as you hands are bad .
    Take care 💜

    • 29 March, 2023 at 1:12 pm

      Yes, it’s times like these when hubbies might actually be more useful than guinea pigs 🙂

  • 29 March, 2023 at 1:15 pm

    Jemima, I am so sorry to hear about your arthritis. I have it badly in both hands, largely because I used my fingers for dissection for my whole career and also because both parents had arthritis badly, too. I do exercises to keep my hands flexible but I also have trouble opening bottles and jars. My husband can do that for me, but I’m getting a kitchen implement that will help me. Lifting pots and pans is a two-handed thing. You might consider a brace for when your wrists are problematic. Funny that there are so many meds for rheumatoid arthritis but only acetaminophen and similar meds for osteoarthritis.

  • 29 March, 2023 at 2:50 pm

    Jemima, I’m so sorry to hear how bad the arthritis is and is continuing to be. And that sudden onset is scary.

    Your comment above about husbands and the piggies made me think of an old piece by Bailey White (she used to read on National Public Radio from time to time), called I think “Something like a husband.” I wonder if it’s out there anywhere.

    Fortunately, the arthritis in my family (and the bit I have so far) can be a bit painful but not debilitating. Though I’m going to miss my daughter when she moves out—it’s good to have help opening jars!

    • 29 March, 2023 at 2:52 pm

      PS, your discussion of using the dictation software helped me see why I’ve struggled to use it on a couple of occasions when I’ve tried. You have to compose differently.

  • 1 April, 2023 at 6:09 pm

    Hi Jemima – hubbies v guinea pigs … well that’s a choice to consider (which I don’t have to ‘owning neither!!)! I do hope your arthritis eases up a little more .. the weather hasn’t been conducive recently … good luck with the A -Z … love your guinea-pig art work … cheers Hilary

  • Pingback:Junior Book Reviews and learning points #IWSG - Jemima Pett

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