Writing project: index

This is a post to list the words I’ve used for this project. It will be updated monthly.

  • Inchoate – November 2018
  • Unicorn – December 2018
  • Improve – January 2019
  • Winged – February 2019
  • Scar – March 2019
  • Voice – April 2019
  • Truth – May 2019
  • Energy – June 2019
  • Grinding – July 2019
  • Pocket – August 2019
  • Doll – September 2019
  • Dark – October 2019
  • Wall – November 2019
  • Conversation – December 2019
  • Alien – January 2020
  • Hair – February 2020
© bardofupton 2019

Non-binary and disabled

This piece was previously published in September 2018 in the Disgender zine – you can see the zine here, and I encourage you to check it out. There’s lots of cool stuff in it, all themed around being trans/non-binary and disabled/chronically ill.

Becoming (realising I was) non-binary was a lifetime’s process, of fighting a femaleness (femininity) that never belonged to me; of hating the breasts and periods that life burdened me with; of not knowing who I was, what I was, only what I wasn’t, a confusion made worse by growing up in a place and time that barely acknowledged the L and G of LGBT+ (never mind the rest), and so left me bereft of words, of a name for my being, stranding me in a place of “well, female I guess, if I have to choose (but why do I have to choose?)” that never felt right or true; of always wondering why I wasn’t like everyone else, why calling myself female was unsettling, but calling myself male was definitely wrong.

Becoming disabled has been half a lifetime’s process, of injury and illness, of pain and cumulative slow failure of my body’s systems, and yet, I can love my non-binary disabled body in a way I never could love my abled, presumed female body; I can revel in what it can do, appreciate my non-binary self for what it is. Weirdly, it’s illness that taught me to love my body, to appreciate being alive – and it’s illness that finally gave me both the courage and the words to call myself both non-binary and disabled. After years of thinking (insisting) I wasn’t disabled enough to claim that as an identity (because I can x, because I can’t y, because I’m not z) I got cancer, and it was weirdly revelatory in some ways. I had to think about death, and about how having cancer means always having to think about cancer, at least a little bit, even though I’m now in remission, and I thought about what I wanted the rest of my life (however short or long) to look like. And the biggest part of that was I wanted the rest of my life to be mine, to stop being afraid of what people might think of me, and claim myself. And I looked at the mix of physical issues I have and thought, yeah, I’m disabled. I need to own it. I walk with a fucking stick, clearly I’m disabled. Being able to sometimes do without the stick doesn’t make me not disabled, any more than wearing a skirt makes me female. And it was having a mastectomy that made me realise that it’s not that I’m a woman who’s bad at being female, it’s that I’m not a woman at all – which was a deeply and profoundly liberating experience.

The first day I left the house as a newly-identified non-binary person I felt like I owned the world. All the anxiety of a lifetime of faking femaleness fell away from me, and I felt free. I felt like my body finally belonged to me and I could stop caring what other people thought of me; like I could look at myself and not see a failed woman, but see someone who was living on their own terms, someone who belonged not to the world, but to themself – someone who could build their identity from the ground up without any shoulds from society (how to dress, how to act, how to be), someone who could create their own norms – someone who wasn’t an imposter, but who belonged. Someone who could wear a dress if they wanted, or not – but either way it didn’t define them; someone who could be themself, whoever that might be. Someone who is (finally) happy to be themself.

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 16 Feb 2020

What have I read this week?

The Killing Fog (The Grave Kingdom Book 1) by Jeff Wheeler

This is a fantasy novel about a young woman named Bingmei whose family is murdered by bandits. I liked this; the characters and the world are interesting and I liked the plot. I would probably read more in this series.

Clovenhoof by Heide Goody and Iain Grant

This is a fantasy novel about the Devil being fired from Hell and sent to live on Earth. I didn’t really like this: it’s clearly meant to be funny and I didn’t find it so. It was interesting enough to make me read the whole thing; I won’t be reading any more in this series, though.

Fall, or Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson

This is a science fiction novel about a man named Dodge whose brain is scanned and uploaded to a computer after his death. I couldn’t really get into this, and didn’t finish it.

Emergency Skin by N.K. Jemisin

This is a science fiction short story about a far future human returning from a colony to obtain some resources from Earth. I really liked it; the story develops in a really interesting way. I’d definitely read more by this author.

Carpet Diem by Justin Lee Anderson

This is a fantasy novel about a man named Simon who is asked to choose between giving a magical artefact to either an angel or a demon. It was okay, but I didn’t really like it, and won’t read any more in this series. I did like some of the world-building, though.

© bardofupton 2020

Reading project, week ending 9 February 2020

What have I read this week?

The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy, Book 1) by S. A. Chakraborty

This is a fantasy novel about a young girl named Nahri, who accidentally summons a daeva (djinn). I liked this a lot; the characters are interesting, the world is fascinating and the plot is exciting. I definitely want to read more in this series.

The 13th Witch (The First Book of The King’s Watch) by Mark Hayden

This is a fantasy novel about a man named Conrad, who is recruited by Odin for a dangerous mission. I enjoyed this; the story is interesting, and I liked the characters. I would probably read more in this series.

Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver

This is a novel about a girl named Maud, who lives by a fen with her family. I quite liked this; Maud is an interesting character, and the story is suitably macabre. I would probably read more by this author.

© bardofupton 2020

Writing project, January 2020

This month’s word is alien, meaning “any being or thing foreign to the environment in which it now exists”. It’s a bit late, sorry!


There were no great fleets of ships, no invading armies with futuristic weapons, not even a statement broadcast simultaneously on every screen in the world. They were suddenly just… there.

Little groups of them, everywhere. Two or three or four or five, never more than that, and never alone. They didn’t look that different to us, if you overlooked the rainbow hues of their skin, rippling as they moved. At least, we all assumed it was skin. Could’ve been some kind of skintight all-over bodysuit, I guess.

It was startling at first, but people got used to it quickly. Not that we had any choice. A few people tried to attack them and were… I suppose disintegrated is the proper word: just turned to dust. After a couple videos of that were streamed, there was no more trouble. We just gave them a wide berth.

And they themselves didn’t cause any trouble. They were curious, yes, but they never went inside any homes, and they never interacted with anyone. They just watched.

Opinions varied as to whether they were tourists or scientists. I thought tourists, personally, but then who can understand aliens? Especially ones who make no effort to communicate.

So we got used to them. For two years they were everywhere, and then they just disappeared. One morning we woke up and they were all gone. Most people shrugged and carried on with their lives, while a few speculated on why they’d come, and why they left.

The series of massive solar flares which occurred hours later, destroying all our satellites and communications, and the prolonged bombardment of huge asteroids which followed, settled the question for the few who remained.

© bardofupton 2020

Reading project, week ending 2 Feb 2020

What have I read this week? Late again, sorry!

Shockwave (Star Kingdom Book 1) by Lindsay Buroker

This is a science fiction novel about a scientist named Casmir and a spaceship captain/smuggler named Bonita. It is set in the far future when ships from Earth have settled multiple star systems. I enjoyed this: I liked the characters and the plot was interesting. I would read more in this series.

© bardofupton 2020

Reading project, week ending 19 Jan 2020

What have I read this week? Late again, sorry!

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham

This is a nonfiction book about the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. I found it both fascinating and horrifying. The book is very readable.

The Penmaker’s Wife by Steve Robinson

This is a historical novel about a woman named Angelicafantasy novel who fakes the death of herself and her son to get out of an intolerable situation, and the consequences that arise from that as she makes a new life for herself. I didn’t finish this, as I didn’t really like any of the characters and didn’t care what happened to them.

I Choose You by Gayle Curtis

This is a psychological thriller about a couple targeted by a killer. I didn’t finish it, or even get very far in, because I found the characters annoying and the killer ridiculous.

When I Was You by Minka Kent

This is a pyschological suspense novel about a woman named Brienne whose identity has been stolen. I quite enjoyed this, and it definitely surprised me. I’d probably read more by this author.

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

This is a fantasy novel about Lazslo and Sarai, two young people who are trying to fix the problems caused by their parents. It is the sequel to Strange the Dreamer. I really enjoyed this; I like the characters, the world and the story. I would definitely read more in this series.

© bardofupton 2020