The Last Time

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The last time I took a day off from the personal blog… well, it was back during Operation recovery. Amazingly, that is coming up for three months past: time flies when you’re working like a lunatic, and with today as Day One Proper of my daughter’s summer break, it is high time to park the bus (albeit briefly) and explain the plan going forward. I’ve never had more than 150 people read this blog on any given day. My core audience (points) are both loyal and dedicated, and so, saying this to you will, I know, mean my intent gets heard by the people who I understand have helped me begin this journey. To you, I owe a debt of thanks, and you deserve to know where I want to go.

I’ve had enough of drama and being dragged into other people’s petty disputes about gaming. There is an irony that on the day I announced on Twitter I knew I had to change my operating parameters, was the same one various parts of my ‘fandom’ imploded. It’s always the way these things work, after all. It was the Friday night wakeup call that was needed to detach myself from the notion that you’ll get anywhere blaming other people for your failures. The only way life truly moves forwards is when you change. So, if you’re here thinking I’m somehow further contributing to a storm of stupid, you could not be further from the truth.

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What the last week has made me realise is that however much other people say they care, the only real indicator you have of that is when they show you. You guys, my core audience… the people who say Good Morning to me when I arrive on Twitter and Goodnight when I leave. Those who don’t just engage in conversation, but enrich it… those who make me think and question daily motivation. My friends remain part of a fandom I refuse to leave. The last thing I ever want to do is ‘step back’ from being part of something so important, and now I know why. I’ve had enough of other people telling me how shit the people are whom I love and hang out with.

They are not the problem.

I am.

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The ultimate indignity was when I was told ‘its okay, it’s not about you’ as if this makes everything suddenly fine. I’m a part of this place the same as everybody else, and when someone shits in our yard, it is the collectives responsibility to clean it up. Our society is based on the notion that if we all contribute, it isn’t someone else’s task to pick up the rubbish, or look after our kids or even take care of our elderly. You don’t just pay someone else to take the problem away, you contribute to making that process easier. Understanding mistakes happen and not suing people when things go wrong, unless those people were genuinely negligent used to be the way it worked too. Somewhere between my childhood and now, society’s become so fucking me-centric as to beggar belief, and it is beginning to destroy what we own.

I took time on Saturday to address a lot of RL issues that needed discussion. Because I’m lucky enough to have married a man with empathy and understanding, the path forward is now remarkably clear and easily navigable. Sadly, I cannot find that same combination of factors with many people I encounter online, and so this makes that journey a lot harder. As a result, it is time to set a few things straight, if only to see exactly who is paying attention. This, like it or not, is the medium where I live and work. Twitter is the conduit between people and my life. Knowing all that, here’s the deal going forward.

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I’m going to make my Patreon a success. I have changed my mind over the merits of being paid to write. I would NEVER base any crowdfunding around using fandom to make money, because that’s a complete waste of time for everybody. I care enough about my writing to push it, swearing, confrontation and all, and if you don’t like the idea of paying me to make things you might not like, that is your choice. I refuse to be disabled by other people’s warped notions of what constitutes success any longer. I know what I want. It’s over there. I’m going to go and get it.

The people who genuinely care about me are abundantly obvious these days. I can see them miles away. To them, I am really, REALLY grateful not simply for the support but understanding that sometimes, you need to have the space to fail before you can succeed. I am going to find ways to thank you, every one, and make sure that the world knows what good people you are. I’m tired of having to chase the uncaring or have them moan at me for not taking care of their needs. That is not how proper relationships work. It is time to make changes that truly resonate as right and fair, in all regards, and that doesn’t mean me just taking stuff. It means giving back.

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It is not often I can pull 1000 words out of nowhere, but it happens when there’s genuine desire within to make things better. I’ve had enough of being held back by the stupidity of others. The only way people really love you is when you allow that to happen in return, when your heart opens and there’s an acceptance that, like it or not, shit hurts. All this fake posturing and thrashing does no-one any good, in the end. If you want something badly enough, stop pretending and start doing. Set realistic goals, work FUCKING HARD and stop moaning that the World owes you something, because it doesn’t. You will live and die alone and in the space in between? You don’t want to be quoted in your own Obituary as ‘that person who was an Internet celebrity.’

Find a better way to define yourself, and do it now.

Bad

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I had a second PT session yesterday, and got pushed. That’s something of an understatement: my trainer upped all my weights, shoved in a series of negatives which mean my upper body this morning really aches, and added in a mini circuit at the end of the session that effectively reduced me to mush. I lay on the floor, laughing my head off, totally unable to move after the first set, exhausted by the second, and as I lay there I was asked if I wanted to do the third. Once upon a time, I would have simply skipped the process and just hit the showers. Yesterday, I forced my body, and BOY can I feel it in torso and arms this morning.

This is a very good thing.

This morning I am shattered, but mentally ready to catch up on my backlog. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to start just that.

Secret Messages

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Yesterday, I wrote a poem.

Not gonna lie here: I think it is the best poem I’ve ever written. Weeks of mucking around with stanza and enclosed space has begun to bear unexpectedly appetising fruit. I took what wasn’t either rhyme or rhythm and made both happen in a manner that, in the end, had me grinning from ear to ear. There is a delicate line to balance between editing and immediacy, and I know with fiction that time is the best editor I will ever find. Better ideas spring from deeper understanding, and with thought come the best answers. However, poetry is different. The immediacy of lyric, moment captured as it happened. That’s what I did yesterday.

I made something uniquely personal.

I can’t say anything more about it right now, but there is now a week in August that has become very important indeed to my journey. It doesn’t matter however if nothing happens in that seven days, because I am happier about my work now that I have ever been at any point in my life.  I still struggle with dark days. This shit does not go away, and there is never a moment to forget that for every high you’re going to get a low. Right now however, at this moment /points I’m great. It’s better than awesome. This is the madness of the moment, of possibility in chaos, that maybe I hit the jackpot with a series of linked sentences.

Now all I have to do is wait and see.

Carry on about your business. There’s nothing here of interest.

Why

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It would not be a lie to admit that there is an awful lot going on in my brain right now. I thought this morning about bullet pointing a load of questions and answers, but on reflection that only shows a part of a larger whole being redefined. The biggest takeaway from the last few days has to be that you cannot fix everything. That old adage about picking the battles has never been more true than it is right now. As a result, there needs to be a restriction in social media narration on my part: that work should be done here for the foreseeable future. After all, as someone rather cruelly pointed out a while back, this is my diary, so I should be able to write what I want. If you choose to either read or listen is entirely up to you.

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If you want a metaphor for where I am right now, pomegranate works pretty well. Once upon a time, for the sake of convenience, I’d simply buy a packet that had been mass produced for my morning porridge, until there was the understanding that letting someone else do the work is not only false economy, but an empty gesture. This only happened because Mr Alt was unable to get the pre-packed stuff from the supermarket and came back with a whole fruit. Not wanting to waste the thing I went and looked up how to open it well, set at it, and gained a level of satisfaction that simply did not exist picking up a packet. Convenience has no real meaning to me now, I’d prefer the opposite if it allows time to stop and think.

However, it isn’t just process that I now find soothing. Like the callouses on hands from weightlifting, right thumb and index finger are stained with juice. For a while as a woman I entertained the notion of soft skin and unblemished digits, but that belied my joy of working ‘hands on’ at everything presented. This is a physical representation of what I am becoming: unafraid to push hard, not concerned with superficial. The obsession with beauty falls away, when all that matters is a body fit and strong to work and a brain active enough to argue with myself over details. When you don’t care what other people think of appearance, when the selfie is a reminder of happiness inside and no interest of what is presented… and then I have to stop and challenge that point.

I took this picture, purely and simply, to show off the fact that you can see my arms. I think they’re a decent manifestation of my physical progress, and am confident enough now to not cover them up. My daughter saw this picture and all that mattered was my breasts, which is 100% NOT the point. Someone else commented on my muscle tone, which was a lovely compliment but also not why it was taken… and then comes the realisation that any picture I take is going to be interpreted like this going forward. What I want from the process is vastly different from what is perceived by others: I knew a month of dissecting John Berger would have use. From now on, I think everybody would be best served by me just presenting pictures that focus simply on the point I want to make. Next time, take a picture of the shirt without me in it.

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Sometimes, you shouldn’t live life in public. My problem at present is having no-one to talk to about what’s going on at length because it’s a stupidly busy week and for the last three night I’ve fallen asleep before getting to see my best mate. There is no time to relax and go see anybody else either or kick back, because of the shittonne of work to do first. The state of affairs is, in itself, nothing to complain about either. However, somewhere between 2000 and now the World seems to believe the only way to live successfully is to share every single detail of your life on a minute by minute basis. That’s great if the person concerned is able to cope with the inevitable consequences, but not so awesome if they can’t. In fact, being invited to watch people publicly meltdown cannot be far off.

Hang on, I just invented Reality TV.

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I need a lie in on Saturday. It’s the first day of the Summer Break. I can manage that. Then I need to clear all the backlog of work I have so that I can start fresh on Monday, despite saying I’ll take the weekend off. After that? There are lots of things to change, to improve how life works, they all just need to be planned an implemented. With less time spent narrating on my life and more time really living it?

Yeah, this is utterly doable.

Do Your Thing

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Being your own brand is hard work.

I am only now beginning to grasp the amount of work involved in doing everything I’ve promised to the required standard. Don’t get me wrong, there is no regret involved, but at officially T+1 Month into my writing adventure, it is becoming apparent an awful lot of stuff will need a rethink come August. That’s the problem when you’re working from scratch, with a staff of one. What is achievable becomes almost painfully obvious, and overreaching just leaves you tired and grumpy. This weekend therefore I’ll be calling a Staff Meeting, looking at myself and deciding what is doable going forward and what has to be rearranged. Now I’ve managed to sort out a static front page for the IoW site? Those Graphics are gonna have to go, they look awful.

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Its not just that either: there’s no news in my gaming sphere to support daily posting, and I can lose today’s post (and for the next few Wednesdays) whilst I’m running a poll-based series of interactions via Twitter. That then frees up vital time to write fiction. I imagine this must be how it feels to do logistics for a living, the constant reappraisal of every variable on a daily basis as one shoves the unexpected into the mix whilst trying to deal with a historical backlog of maintenance. What I need to do most of all is drag my arse to the Gym to work out the aches in my legs (which are still complaining) and do some heavy lifting. Once my body’s back to normal, brain will run far more productively and I could do with being physically worn out.

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I am also now mindful of other projects that were put in motion months ago and could soon begin to bear fruit. If they all hit at once (and I know that is entirely possible, and should be planned for accordingly) then I’ll need a new plan. I may have been accused of a lack of spontaneity in the past, but I am getting really good at turning my personal requirement on a sixpence. With that in mind, I’m ready for whatever might get thrown at me. I’m going to go schedule a ton of shit, exercise, upload this week’s essay for a 5pm PST launch, make sure it gets at least three scheduled RTs along the way, and then start again tomorrow. I’d be lost without my planner now and the innate sense that what matters most of all is social media engagement. Without that, I’d have no Patreons to begin with.

This is a tough job, but I am more than up to the task.

Accidents will Happen

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I dropped my Son off at his NCS placement yesterday, and driving back from the car park was rear ended by a young man in a hire vehicle. I would have written off the damage and not claimed, had he not mentioned that exchanging details was like ‘going on a date’ whilst failing to maintain eye contact. In shock news, if I’m stationary and you run into the back of me, of course its not my fault. I’d like to thank the lovely insurance lady for allowing me a rant on that, and now it is somebody else’s problem. I need to go get neck looked at by the physios anyway at the Gym…

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Yesterday’s PT has broken me, literally. I cannot squat, bend down or even walk properly. This says to me that muscles that have not been previously used are working, and that I need to remember to stretch post exercise. Mostly it is the brilliant fallout that, after nearly two months off, I not only have lifting form down in my head, but that I can still lift my post-Operation weights. That’s the biggest takeaway from this, and enough to have me grinning most of yesterday until fatigue caught up with me and I passed out, face down on the sofa. Utterly worth it, for the record. All of this is brilliant, especially the weight loss. It may be glacially slow right now, but there is no denying it is happening.

Normally, the deal is simple: I work hard all week, then get to the weekend, and everything gets blown and it is back to stage one on Monday. Not so since the beginning of July. I lose stuff, stop for a bit, then lose some more, and so it continues. In this case, I can use the Gym’s Boditrax system to show me why actual weight loss is so slow. It is the efficient and consistent exchange of fat for muscle.

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So, I’ve lost three kilos of fat, and replaced it with three kilos of muscle, more or less. Just to remind you:

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My body is a triumph of efficiency. All that remains now is the fat that can’t be muscle, and as that is worked away (and it is) it is as if I am an onion: layers are shed, slowly but surely. The fat on my stomach is moving, literally melting away. Stretch marks begin to fade, translucent under the skin, marking each cardio session and rewarding every day without breaking the calorie total. I am immensely proud of my willpower and focus right now. It does work, all of this, and the results are becoming more apparent with each passing day. Once I’m done working here and when the legs are more compliant, I’ll even stick myself back in the Gym for a cardio session.

It’s stopped becoming a chore and now is fun. WHO KNEW.

PS: This is also brilliant:

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Who Are You?

You remember that post from the end of June when I said there was no chance of seeing a female Doctor Who in my lifetime?

I don’t think I’ve ever been happier about being wrong in my life. Waking up this morning, to the first day when Jodie Whittaker is Doctor Who is… well, part of me still doesn’t believe it. My Twitter feed yesterday summed a lot of it up quite well, but if I’m honest this tweet is the real reason I’m celebrating:

That’s been me since I pretended to be James Bond, because all the women in his world were simply afterthoughts. Then I discovered Emma Peel, and I’ve sought out my own female heroes ever since… but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I still aspire to be the men. The ‘problem’ here is not the gender of the people involved. It really does not matter one iota whether these heroes are men or women. The bigger issue, by a long way, is their sexuality.  That’s what detonated all those bombs yesterday, will cause wailing and trauma for months to come. As Doctor Who becomes a woman, NOBODY should lose their minds. The problem with the individually focused, me-cultured Social media climate we live in is that lots of people can’t separate gender from desire.

I lost a fair number of followers yesterday on the back of my joyous ranting. I asked one of them why this appointment was so galling: she cited the trouble coping with the fact that the Doctor has a grand-daughter. How was it possible to reconcile this fact now the man is a woman? This is, of course, using established conventions that you need one of each sex to reproduce and create offspring. It is the same convention that will imprint on men that the Doctor was their hero… except now, she’s a heroine. The man they looked up to and aspired to become is now someone they could find sexually attractive. That is going to be difficult for many people to cope with.

There’s a flip side to this that’s made me especially angry, and it is watching certain women complain you can’t have a woman in the TARDIS. They enjoy the idea of a man being in control. Capaldi might not have been the most visually appealing of Doctors, but you could always go back to the days of Matt Smith and David Tennant and pretend you were one being rescued, or you were the favourite companion they’d turn to after a long day of saving the Universe. How can you write fanfic when the 13th Doctor’s forcing you to become a lesbian?

All of these issues are underpinned by conventional notions of sexuality. Once one dismisses these, it does not matter one iota who plays what role. What then comes into play is whether your canon will support the change. When a female Thor was announced by Marvel, already established wisdom backed up the decision by stating that Thor’s hammer would only imprint on someone worthy of wielding it, and that choice was not gender specific. The path to gender fluidity in the Time Lords has been laid well in advance, placed into canon as far back as the transformation of Tennant to Smith.

‘The Doctors Wife’ establishes, IN CANON, the Corsair who (according to 11) ‘didn’t feel like himself unless he had (a) tattoo. Or herself, a couple of times. Oooh, she was a bad girl.’ It is another thing to thank Mr Moffat for, I suppose, apart from breaking the whole show apart and putting it back together in a modern, progressive fashion. You can choose to forget all this for the sake of non-canon sensibilities, of course, but anyone who offers shock and surprise that this could happen has really not been paying the right amount of attention.

You can’t complain now, because that’s your fandom, and you should know better.

I want to quickly mention 007 here. This is a Universe that, as it stands, won’t support anything other than a white, hetrosexual Bond, if you look at canon for guidance. Sure, the franchise has tried to reinvent itself (see my mate Roger’s excellent dissection on License to Kill and how changing this male lead’s not as simple as writing in some historical precedent) but even now with Mr D. Craig, Esq in the lead roll, that reinvention has only gone so far. Unless something radical changes in terms of how the lead man is portrayed, it is unlikely we will ever see change on the scale that now exists in the TARDIS. Personally I’d want to pair him up with an equal female agent as we did in Tomorrow Never Dies, but I’m not sure even that is possible at this stage. Some ideas, like it or not, just have to be left to die.

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There has also been, quite understandably, some comments on how the kerfuffle in the TARDIS could have been avoided if an actor of colour or from a non-white background had been cast. That is another large can of worms: it might help the Bond franchise reboot, on reflection, but I suspect would have caused similar levels of outrage in the TARDIS, which is ridiculous. This is 2017 and honestly, anyone getting upset at a TV show employing anyone in a lead role who isn’t white and male is on a hiding to nothing.

There are more important things to get upset about, and really this is not one of them.