Rest Day

Some days I think people will say anything to get me involved in a conversation.

I understand the predilection with controversy online, and I have been accused on several occasions of being ‘deliberately provocative’ in my approach to certain topics. I can’t help but laugh at this whenever it is levelled in my direction. No, I’m not a shy and retiring type, and I never have been. But I know when to keep my mouth shut. That’s something I doubt most people even consider in these situations, they simply assume that by standing up and challenging a presented belief that I am somehow being flagrant, and this means that whenever some nugget of controversy drops from the ether there are those like me who’ll be all over it like a rash.

My basic problem is that I can’t abide stupid.

For me, that inevitably means someone deciding that their opinion is the only one that matters, when clearly this is never the case. On the flip side, when I choose an opinion to write around, voicing it becomes absolutely stuffed full of potential pitfalls. What occasionally, and mistakenly occurs when I write is that certain individuals grasp something in the words and construe a meaning that I’d never actually intended. That can conceivably be attributed to my bad technique and should be fixable if I learn my craft better. However, there is another side to my personality that some dislike, and this will come out in my pursuit of understanding particular motivation. I tend to target narrow-mindedness as a fault in others, the fact that some will fixate on a particular concept as being unacceptable to them when I (and normally others) grasp its relevance. Then, I get accused of being mean, of arrogance, and of taking the mickey out of people who don’t ‘understand’ why the concept is, as it stands, completely justifiable. There can even be irrefutable evidence to explain why this set of circumstances is as it is, but it doesn’t matter. I am wrong, they are right, and never the twain shall meet.

This, I suppose, is an inevitable consequence of not wanting to lie any more.

I was a compulsive liar for many, many years. It came close to totally destroying everything I held dear. It severely damaged pretty much every friendship I had, and only my husband’s continued and much-appreciated humanity saved me from myself in the end. Knowing you are basically being a fraud is something I’m betting a lot of people love to play with online, as if being ‘someone else’ is a great way of releasing yourself from the mundane experience that reality often presents. I can tell you from long and bitter experience that if you really want ANYTHING worthwhile from your time on the Planet, you’ve gotta be true to what you are. Since my kids were born I’ve realised a great many things about myself that only could have come from the time I was pretty much forced to confront my own psyche, in the darkness of early morning breastfeeding and the terror of understanding that other lives depend on you for pretty much everything in their existence. Too often people don’t consider how they act and how that will affect the world around them, they just do whatever the fuck they want and never consider a consequence.

Those people I see and recognise a lot online. I know what that is like, and now I try my best never to be that person ever again.

There are a lot of things I regret, over the years, but I also know that these need to remain a small part of what you are, or else you effectively fail to function. All these things have to balance, disparate moments together, shifting and forming the basis of what you are. The trick then is to know how everything fits and when there’s a trauma and the puzzle gets thrown into the air, it is how quickly you can sit down and reconstruct the picture that matters more. After a while you’ll become sanguine if the odd piece vanishes into the Dyson or gets lost down the back of the sofa. You still know what you’re looking at, and it remains relevant. Over time maybe you’ll find different pieces to change the picture completely. This is where my bad metaphor breaks down, as is often the case with life.

What I am never rests. I am perpetually in mental motion. That’s probably why I get as tired some days as I do.

Rest Day

5K Elliptical

Today is important for a person I probably consider as one of my ‘best’ friends.

Ironically, we have met four, maybe five times tops. This ‘friendship’ was forged ostensibly in the crucible of internet gaming, and anyone worth their salt will tell you that’s a bloody stupid way to do anything. Except, in this case, it absolutely wasn’t. This is someone for whom I would happily give a kidney, without a second thought. It is a person with whom I have shared some pretty torrid emotional times, including the death of a parent. This is an individual for whom self-depreciation is almost a paying profession, but this is countered by one of the largest hearts and most face-achingly brilliant senses of humour I have ever had the good fortune to encounter.

For someone who suffers from depression, this is a great combination of factors to have at your disposal.

We don’t get to talk as much as we used to, because he now lives in Canada for an extremely sensible and utterly cool reason. I’m almost continually jealous of anyone who moves as he does to follow a dream: he spent time in France too, pursuing ambitions I would never have had the nerve to push. Ironically, I’ve been failing to take good advice from him for a while, as he said my podcasting was probably a bad idea. Ironically I’m very close to something fairly major/new in that department, and there’s a part of me that wishes that this person was still in the UK so I could go badger them to go for a drink to celebrate this, and undoubtedly point out what a wronghead he was for not believing my capability.

As it is, I have only the virtual in which I can celebrate with him. So that’s why I’m here right now.

I want him to know how much he matters to me, and that I’d say that in public to begin with. Without his encouragement and support my writing would not be in the place it currently inhabits, that much is damn sure. I owe him a piece of fiction that, I hope, I will be able to send him complete before the year is out. The problem I’ve found with it is twofold: it is painfully autobiographical (I never actually realised this until very late in the process) and I’m simply afraid it’s not good enough. I will, however, make good on my promise to him, because even if he’s the only person who ends up reading it, the job of the narrative will be done. I understand now a lot of what I’ve written over the years has been to that end, to free myself from restrictions so I can move forwards.

He defended me once upon a time with an honesty and passion that took my breath away, and I knew then that if someone was prepared to be that person, they deserved nothing less than my total loyalty as a result. I put a great deal of significance in the way a person treats you when it doesn’t matter, in the hard times between finding jobs and living your life. He went through Hell and back to get where he is now, and I have to applaud not only his continual persistence, but his utter brilliance in the face of what was often crippling defeat.

He’s also the second best father I know. Yes, that’s utterly fair. Don’t look at me like that.

I dedicated 600 words to him today that I want to send into the ether as a reminder that long after the gifts are forgotten and the drinks drunk, what matters most to me are the genuine, real people you find in the World, and that’s exactly what he is.

With huge, brilliant fucking knobs on.

5K Elliptical

13:39

My car has gone in for its first major service since we bought it last year. The garage is literally around the corner from the house, so I drove it down there and walked back. It’s a really brisk day, and I rather enjoyed being out early on a non-School morning. It also shows just how quiet this area is when not full of kids, who (if my two are any indicator) sensibly remain in bed as long as conceivably possible.

Just over half a mile in 13 minutes isn’t going to break any records, but I’m happy.

Today I suspect will involve a great deal of planning. I need to push myself on a Podcast, prep at least the next four days worth of posts for the Gaming Site, and get the next half a dozen pages of Epic Fantasy Novel to a stage where I’m happy, because there’s still something not right about where I am. I can’t put my finger exactly on the problem, but I’d normally ‘publish’ today and instead the stuff remains stubbornly unprepared.

The extra hour at this part of the year doesn’t normally mess with my head nearly as much when we lose it again, but there is a lot in my mind for occupation and I’m not exactly sleeping consistently, so a day where all I do is plan is probably a sensible pursuit to begin with.

The best news by far however is that for the third day in a row my weight has remained on a section of the scales I’ve not seen since the 1990’s. I’m insanely keen to keep this up and, as a result, I think I’ll need to add something to my 13 minutes this morning by way of exercise tonight. I used to kid myself a lot when I was younger that little and often was productive, but it became apparent late last year that the only sure-fire way for me to get back to a self-image I felt comfortable with was to suck it up and push hard. It also helps greatly when I can see the process of what goes in as opposed to what I then negate via exercise. I’m using My Fitness Pal in conjunction with a Fitbit Charge, and I was amazed at the number of people who warned me against calorie counting as a viable weight loss method when I began.

Seeing what is going into my body has been something of a revelation.

I also entirely understand why articles like this exist: society has decided that ‘obese’ is a problem without actually grasping that body types are the way they are, often with no reference to the stuff people ingest. What I then like to point out the size of my wedding dress, and the understanding that I KNOW what I should look like. This body is what I remember was trapped inside my pregnancy weight, the one self-inflicted largely thanks to Belgian Waffles and Pizza plus insufficient exercise when I carried both kids. It was my own fault, and for the longest time I never took responsibility for the damage I’d done. Not any more. This is what I want, more than anything else. My life, back in my hands.

Sleep deprivation aside, this is the best I’ve felt for nearly twenty years. I’m not about to let that out of my grasp when I’m so close to my goal.

13:39

Sunday

Once upon a time I’d write in large, unwieldy chunks.

As time has gone on I’ve begin to grasp I lose a lot of subtlety by doing so. My biggest problem is detail: I get so wrapped up in the grand sweep of events that I fail to consider the minutiae, and that matters more than I ever realised. Although I’m still writing the Epic Fantasy Novel, there’s a Personal Drama right now in my head I’m rather keen to extract. So, I’ve decided to approach this in a different fashion to the way I’ve written previously.

I have a brand new notebook, and I won’t commit a word to a screen until I have my plot sorted and planned.

This means I’ll focus on plotting on paper, how action actually moves and develops as a first point of reference. After that, I can fill in the details. What I tend to get obsessed with, more often than not, is progression and not background, and if I can force myself to focus just on one, I’m hoping it will stop me obsessing about where I’m going. I am singularly dreadful at painting backdrops. I know this from writing fan fiction and using computer games as scenery I know I don’t need to paint nearly as clearly as perhaps I should, because the audience already understand and live in it.

It makes life easy when you’re not having to consider any sweeping description, and allows you to focus on the stuff that often gets missed in the mad dash to completion.

What I really want to do, and I’m getting to a point where it matters more than telling a story, is to focus on the internal processes of my characters. This is a really difficult balancing act, because it is a very short step between insightful and self-indulgent. This particular story isn’t particularly autobiographical or anything, but I feel that to tell it the way I want will require a measure of technical ability I’m not sure I’m actually capable of right now. I suppose the only way I work out whether I am capable or not is to stop worrying and just try it. Hence the change of process, so I can have the confidence of a solid plan behind me before I commit to the task.

It’s Easter now, which means two weeks when the focus isn’t me anyway, it is family and kids. Being able to just quietly plan is good, and I’m hoping I might be able to do that while the holiday pans out, giving me a chance to write complete when the fortnight is done. It all depends on how easily the ideas appear. Walking back from buying bread for lunch today I was able to visualise the entire opening scene complete. If I can keep that up, I’ll be beyond happy.

Now I need to find a ‘face’ to pair with my male protagonist.

Sunday

Saturday Morning #1

I am learning stuff as I go along, every single day.

Sometimes it’s practical shit, like the new WP control panel or some bit of CSS that I need for Blogger. Then there are the moments when I grasp I don’t actually require separate hosting if I’m prepared to concede on a few items of vanity here and there. I need to remember to keep backing stuff up as a matter of necessity, and after decades of using unpredictable and often ridiculously stupid hardware that’s something that comes pretty much as second nature. You can’t just be a writer any more, you need to understand the equipment. I miss changing typewriter ribbons. At some point I ought to go find myself a machine that still works, I’m sure Ebay could furnish me with such an antique. I wonder how you’d go about dealing with supplies…

I still do a lot of writing with pencil and paper. I can’t erase pen, so it is largely impractical for my needs. I don’t do it every week, but when I can I’ll plan in a diary the stuff I’m going to write for the next seven days on the gaming blog. The writing blog’s pretty much covered, I know where my plot’s going now with a measure of certainty that’s actually quite reassuring. I just have to write the damn thing.

This place is actually going to have a completely separate theme and layout. The money I’ll save on what was an overly complicated and pretty much pointless hosting platform for the domain is going to be spent on the logo I always wanted but never had the means or direction to create. I’ve got a fabulously talented artist on the case whose already done a piece of art for me, and as time allows I fully intend to get some other commissions planned and bought to fruition. I love the idea of someone being able to take an idea in your head and make it real like this, it is something I strive to do with words, occasionally with a measure of success. It gives me a set of yardsticks for where I’d like things to head and an attainable goal for the this part of the Journey.

It really is about who you know, in the end.

There’s a few significant changes coming up. I can’t discuss anything as yet, but it’s all forward motion right now which is fantastic. That’s what I’m aiming for, this way and not backwards. Always this way.

Saturday Morning #1

Friday Time Shift

The beauty with the Internet is that you don’t have to press ‘Publish’ as soon as you have a great idea. There are mechanics in place to allow you to schedule stuff. They’ll also tell you that your posts should have original titles to make it easier for your readership to identify your subject matter. Screw that this early in the game. I’m not here to make this easy :P

When I dived back into this process I had an idea in the back of my mind that writing as therapy really did work. In the end however I realised that the aspect that was helping me wasn’t actually the words per se, but was more to do with setting a realistic time scale to do things.  I’m still really struggling with fitting the domestic into this equation, for instance, but that’s been something I’m now trying to slowly chip a way into with a small measure of success. It’s all baby steps in the end, and then when you screw everything up not allowing yourself to go too many spaces back and undo all the good work you’ve created. So this blog experiment covers the cracks that the other two don’t fill, because sometimes it is about the stuff that occupies your mind with greater significance than that picture of cake or that .gif you can’t stop looking at.

What I’m hoping will happen by giving my brain a place to just exist and not have to work to a format is to free up some of the kinks in my other creative processes. I’ll talk about the other stuff I do here undoubtedly (because I’m not an idiot, I get how everything interleaves) but not with the focus they have in the spaces they belong in. This is for when I kick back and try to actually make myself explain why all this does what it does when it all gets stuck together. That is probably a lot more woolly than it needs to be, but I’ve moved past the point where just describing my days is sufficient. There’s too much in everything to ignore any more.

I want a place to be in where I am the only expectation.

That’s why the two times I’ve advertised this place is all it gets to everyone else in my current spheres. I’m not doing this as an exercise in personal focus. Its about breaking myself apart and having the nerve to talk about what I find, which I can’t now do in the other places I inhabit. It’s the Blogging I should have done a decade ago when I first flirted with what it was I wanted to gain from talking about how I deal with my mental issues. Mostly, I just want to type words and see where they take me, without a structure or a plan, because doing this is a freedom I’ve never felt anywhere else. it is a liberation from the realisation that everything else has a plan now, and actually I like it when I’m not thinking about the next thing to do.

Some days, it just needs to be me and the words.

Friday Time Shift

Thursday Morning

I get an immense amount of satisfaction deleting four plus years of my life where I realise I wasn’t being honest with myself.

I blogged for a very long time out of a sense of misguided obligation. I know this now looking back on what I’ve done and how it panned out: as if you had to sometimes just say something to allow the World to know you existed. Talking into a larger space than your head is important, but not nearly as significant as what you then decide to say. Looking back on the posts that vanished I know this place was a foundation for what I am now becoming; a fully-fledged writer, who is not afraid to be what they are any more. I was scared for a VERY long time, and although I do still have the moments where I want to run away and hide in a corner, I understand that never helps anyone in the end.

The mundane is what you build your foundations upon.

In the last three months I’ve taken some significant steps out of my comfort zone, but the journey is still very fresh and new, and that makes me nervous. However, the only way you make progress is with continuous forward motion. There is a great deal in my private life I still hold very close to my chest, but what I miss in the other places I write in (and I realise this now after six years of dedicating myself pretty much exclusively to one subject matter) is the use of this voice. I speak in different ways, I now grasp. This one is quite separate to the other two I’m using at present (gaming writer, fiction writer) and it actually demands more attention on certain days than others. My problem before was quite simple: I’d assume every part of the process needed to be vocalised, and it doesn’t. You need to pick the right moment and the correct accompaniment.

This is my emotional voice. This is what I am when nobody else is watching.

Therefore it might seem odd to want to let it have a space of its own, but I realise I’ve actually wanted to do that since I started Livejournalling a VERY long time ago. That account I bought back in the day and I suspect, some time in the next month or so, I’ll go back to the site and delete that forever too. I don’t remember a lot of the last decade in glowing terms, and before that even less so, but what I’m not afraid to do now is go back to the places where I was a bad person and admit my failings. Of course, it won’t change a single thing. That’s not the point. I’m not after salvation or validation or anything else. I’m just doing my best to understand what happened to now bring me to this point, and how I can make things better as a result of everything that has passed before. I don’t need redemption, I’m not looking to build bridges or re-establish friendships. If I walk away, it is for a very good reason, and I won’t look back.

If something is worth keeping, I’ll fight tooth and nail to make sure I do.

Having said that, there was one person I’d missed when I cut my chords a while back who, bless his heart, came back and found me. Of everyone I’d spoken to before he was the most decent and honest, and I think deep down the one I related to the most in everything that I am. Nobody had ever come back for me ever and it was his humanity that spurred me on to a great many things I now realise I’d never have had the strength and ability to do otherwise. I look at those who I no longer speak to and think of them all from time to time, and of those that are gone who I have tried to reconnect with, but without success. These were the people I felt I actually had the most in common with. I’m just not sure about anyone else any more and to be honest, I sense that in cases like this if those friendships really did matter people would offer the olive branch. It is hard to tell, sometimes, if you’re being right in your assumptions or if you’re simply being stupid.

Thank you Mike for everything. I sat down this morning and realised I wanted to say that, because of that time in the Turbine Hall, and the morning in Hoxton, and all the random intersections in-between that hold a significant thread of my life very firmly in place. To everyone else? If I matter to you, I’m still here, I never left, but I feel I’ve changed so much in the last four years we might not have anything in common any longer anyway. If it matters to you, I’m still here.

I’m not sure what else to say.

Thursday Morning