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
© 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 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

Reading project, week ending 5 Jan 2020

What have I read this week? Failed already to keep these on time, sorry!

The Birth of the West by Paul Collins

This is a nonfiction book looking at the history of western Europe in the 10th century CE, which the author considers a pivotal time in the creation of the modern “West”. I didn’t finish this; I didn’t like the writing style and eventually got bored with it.

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

This is a novel about post-Arthurian Britain in which a mist is causing people to lose their memories and an elderly couple is looking for their son. I enjoyed this. It was an interesting world, and I liked the characters.

© bardofupton 2020


So welcome to 2020.

Having learnt from last year’s aims, which turned out to be too ambitious, this year I only intend to keep up with the weekly reading project and monthly writing project posts. Anything else will be a bonus.

Looking back at last year, I had 81 posts over the year, which is only one more than 2018, which wasn’t a full year of blogging. That’s a definite drop in frequency, I think mainly because I posted a lot less poetry. I didn’t write much poetry after the beginning of last year, though, but I hope to write more this year. And I will try hard to put the weekly and monthly posts out on time.

So, on to the future, at one second per second.

© bardofupton 2020

Writing project, December 2019

This month’s word is conversation, meaning “informal interchange of thoughts, information, etc., by spoken words; oral communication between persons; talk; colloquy.”.


“I don’t know what you want.”

“I just want to talk.”


Sigh, shrug. “Oh, I don’t know.”

” You’re the one that wants to talk!”

“Well, you know. Since we’re stuck here til the fog lifts, might as well get to know each other.”

“Why? We’ll never see each other again; it’s just a waste of time.”

“Do you have anything else to do?”

“Yes, I’m going to sit here and wait.”

“You can talk and wait at the same time.”

“No, I can’t.”

“Of course you can.”

“No, I can’t. Waiting is a very active process for me, you’re just distracting me.”

“But I’m bored.”

“Not my problem. Just met you, don’t really like you.”

“Huh. Well, that’s rude.”

“Like I said, I don’t like you.”

“Well, if that’s your attitude, I’ll just leave you alone then.”

“Great, thanks.”


“I’m still bored, though. Please talk to me. Please please please.”


“Please please please please please please please please please please.”

“I am walking away from you now. Do not follow me.”


“So, I bet you’d like to talk to me.”

“Uh …”

“Great! So, let me tell you about my life. I was born in….”

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 29 Dec 2019

What have I read this week?

Inferior: The True Power of Women and the Science that Shows It by Angela Saini

This is a nonfiction book about the way in which science has been used to demonstrate that women are inferior to men and whether that’s true (spoiler alert: it’s not true). I liked this book; it’s written in an accessible and easy to follow style and I found the topic very interesting.

Why The West Rules – For Now: The Patterns of History and what they reveal about the Future by Ian Morris

This is a nonfiction book about the history of humanity and why the West gained global power. I found it interesting, although I’m not totally convinced by Morris’s conclusions.

© bardofupton 2019

Reading project, week ending 22 Dec 2019

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

The Goldfinch by Donna Tatty

This is a novel about a boy named Theo who is in a museum when it is bombed, and the effect that that has on the rest of his life. I didn’t really like this because I found the main character quite annoying m

© bardofupton 2019