I Go To Sleep

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I was up early this morning, despite only having managed seven and a bit hours sleep. Husband is at work today so, like it or not, I was awake when he was. I went to bed early last night too but watched a DVD for the first time in I don’t know how many weeks, probably months alone. Hideously behind on broadcast media, there simply hasn’t been the time to effectively waste on decompressing, but as my aspirations for self-employment loom large I realise I need to factor in downtime somewhere. It is my single biggest failing, learning when to rest and relax, maybe because I feel I’ve wasted so many years by engaging in nothing but.

I’m just worried now I may not get everything done that I want in the time left available.

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One of my biggest fears is wasted potential. There are so many ideas, and yet I’m never able to complete them all, and that leads to all manner of issues over planning and capability. It also caused another crisis of conscience yesterday, and the stress that caused is what’s caused fatigue this morning at bone level. I am only beginning to grasp just how important the next few months will be and am very keen not to scupper myself before I begin. However, without the moral pontification? I’ve failed my own entrance exam. There’s a deep seated promise, made on a car journey home alone from many years ago. You are better than this, and now have to prove it. 

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There’s a space in the garden where a plant used to sit that was the last vestige of an old life removed and progress made. Once I’ve done here I’ll strap on the walking boots and go put steps on today’s total, before I go push myself to run/lift, so it’s been three times this week that’s been completed. The routine isn’t just there to build confidence or reinforce intent. It has become a metaphor for my ability to move past what was bad. I cannot change time, and nor would I want to, and so what was broken and unrepairable remains where it fell to decay and die, whilst building continues anew.

I can worry all I like that I’m not fulfilling potential, but the most sure fire way of ensuring it never happens is to keep moving forward. Some days will be harder than others and as today is already ranking as ‘complex’ it’s no longer about sitting here and telling you. I need to be over there, down the road, already in transit.

Success, inevitably, is all about compromise.

Time

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My life is coming to a fairly significant crossroads. In just over a month, I commit myself at 50 to becoming my own arbiter, attempting to create a new career as a 21st Century Nonconformist. In a World where so many shout their mantras into the ether, which some believe rotates far too closely around circles of electronic Hell: will I be seen as any different to the heretics and fools that embrace diversity, speeding us all towards the World’s end? This historical period is as close to chaos as many will remember, but for me I am reminded first of the early 1980’s and before the 1970’s: the Cold War and the Three Day Week are memories I carry a world away from what now passes for normal daily life. If the last few days of dreams are any indicator, my subconscious grasps only too readily that these are turbulent times ahead.

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I have always been considered as a troublemaker: however, I never really wholeheartedly embraced the concept of rebellion until I hit my late twenties. I’ve come to most things later than others, I realise now because of the ability to properly grasp implication behind those actions involved. With the benefit of time, an environment was created which allowed me to both develop and evolve at a pace that suited mind and body, and that was not dictated by circumstance. Only now is it becoming apparent how useful that has become in order to be able to see a larger picture. It is also a daily reminder of just how lucky I am as a white, middle-aged woman to have the opportunity to begin with.

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If I went to the Bank on June 1st and asked for a loan to become a full-time digital writer, they’d laugh at me. I could submit articles to a hundred online sites and be rejected for every single one. This is a profession that is so subjective as for it to be impossible to quantify what matters on any given day: the way in which we devour, create and even transmit our communications alters sometimes on a daily basis. My online newspaper of choice doesn’t simply provide written commentary any more, there are short video ‘articles’ peppered amongst the headlines. If you want a novel to be a success, having robots recognise your website is as important as a set of good reviews. My ability to communicate in 140 character bursts is as important as long form mastery, and textspeak. It isn’t about being ‘down with the kids’ and more either, there are languages for every part of the Web. If you don’t know your Deplorables from the Untouchables? You won’t last long in the Digital Wild West.

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What I bring to the table in this Digital relationship is time: not only have I been here since inception, but I’ve grown with trends and diversification. I am very much anti Facebook and pro Twitter, but it doesn’t mean I don’t grasp the commercial implications of both. I may avoid SnapChat because of the filters and vanity, but it doesn’t take an idiot to grasp how significant the platform is for a generation of users, for whom instant information is key. Learning how to be a better person might seem a waste of time in a place where nobody needs to know who you are, but when you’re willingly giving away personal details to anyone with a contact form? Consequences will matter. In fact, there will be a generation of Internet users for which the repercussions of digital immersion will only truly become apparent if we can survive the next forty years without the Planet disintegrating around us, mostly because lots of people failed to pay attention to Science when it mattered. Of all of this, in the digital world around us, a grasp of Biology, Physics, Chemistry and every sub-branch in between is more important now than it has ever been.

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I’d love to say that telling stories is the real reason I want to be a writer, and although that is true, I’ve realised in the last few years it isn’t all that now matters. I can still spin fictions in the manner I choose, but not at the expense of ignoring bigger stories. The Internet of Words is my way to do many things at once: fulfil my dreams, yes, but also expand the potential of others, because without learning to better communicate as a planet, we are all doomed to failure. It cannot just be any more that you work towards your own ends, making individual success matter. Without everybody being able to win, frankly, there’s not much left to live for. If you think the future is living in your own, safe and consequence free bubble, I suspect there’s some major shocks coming very soon indeed. One of the races in my favourite computer games have a phrase: ‘Time is money, friend’ and this morning I realised that’s more true on an intellectual level than I’d ever previously grasped. The time I have lived is indeed worth something, what I have left to use so precious that not a moment should be wasted.

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I’m now sitting on a lovely pile of CoPromote reach and on Monday I’ve decided to use the IoW site to officially launch my concept to a bunch of total strangers. I have no idea how this will go down and frankly, I’m not that worried if the interest is minimal. What matters most is having the confidence to stand and fall on an idea, and nothing else. Bringing unique perspective is what I’ve always done best, and I’ve ever been afraid of being unpopular as a result. After all, as I never grow tired of reminding anyone who’ll listen, the reason why you fail is to learn how to succeed. Once you know what not to do, the options become less complex to grasp.

Then all you need is courage to take that first step.

Knives Out

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Before I took the youngest on the School Run this morning I sat down at my Twitter settings page and removed every mute I’ve placed since the start of the year. I then went to Tweetdeck and took off every filter. Having pronounced last night that my feed was becoming too unwieldy (yet again) to act as a writing tool this might seem the wrong way to go, but as I got ready at 6.30 am an important truth finally registered in my brain. People should always be allowed to speak, regardless of my individual capacity to hear them.

This year will see a number of ‘alternative future’ literary works get a viewing as cinema and TV, with especial relevance to the current state of the world we live in. I’d lie if I said I wasn’t hugely excited to see a TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale with Elizabeth Moss as the titular ‘heroine’ and this morning I saw this trailer for ‘The Circle’, based on what is a fairly generic novel by Dave Eggers, but which has parallels that call to mind both Brave New World and 1984. Both of these pieces, with strong women at their helms, consider what might happen if society diverges from its current path, showing vastly differing versions of the same concept: control.  One shows how the collapse of society brings about the subjugation of fertile women as reproductive slaves, the other considers the consequences of letting everybody know everything you are, all the time. They might seem poles apart in terms of subject matter but in truth, both are mirrors of each other.

It is not surprising, considering the turmoil of modern society, that humanity constantly questions what is right and wrong, and how we might stray from a path of common sense. Pretty much every holy scripture from the vast range of religions available as ‘salvation’ pushes the aspiration of living a ‘good’ life: treat others well, be thoughtful, show the means to be penitent. Except somewhere along the way, individualising every experience is somehow removing people from their own morality, is creating minds that cannot grasp the significance of being part of a whole that works effectively. Judging someone because you find them ‘annoying’ or ‘stupid’ is not far away from proclaiming them as wrong or dysfunctional. Judging full stop should never be a norm, and yet this is now standard for so many people in all manner of places. It doesn’t matter if you know everything or nothing about a person, what is more significant in the end is how you deal with that data on a personal level.

The irony of this Tweet turning up in my timeline as a result of all of this pontification is therefore almost prophetic. The most damning form of control, ultimately, is your own inability to think. Accepting your world for what it is remains the most difficult part of any existence. Trying to rationalise anybody else’s motivation, frankly, will put you on a hiding to nothing and blindly following those who somehow claim to have all the answers? Expect disaster and chaos the moment they lose their way and it all goes Pete Tong. In this age of Hashtag Evangelism (not my phrase but my mate @MethodDarrie’s) I understand now that the answer isn’t to shut out all the noise, but simply choose who to listen to. Pretending the stuff you don’t like doesn’t exist might make it feel like it goes away, but that’s never the case. You are not obliged to explain your reasoning either, it’s okay. This is also your scheduled reminder that there also doesn’t need to be a massive session of internet therapy every time someone walks away.

The reason all my mutes are off is simple. People can speak as they wish, and as long as they don’t cause conflict or harm in my timeline? That’s utterly fine. If I find myself looking at someone and deciding that they do not seem to have an interest in what I am doing, or that when they do communicate I can no longer identify with their point of view or what they are saying? I will just unfollow.

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This is my 500th post, and I think I’d like the next 500 to cover subjects that really matter, which challenge both you and I in both writing and reading. I really don’t care if people like me or not any more, this was never a popularity contest, because if it were I’d have driven off a bridge a long time ago. To exist in the Modern World is hard work, and often painful. Yes, it hurts to be alive as a reminder that you are. Kindness, I am beginning to realise, is not simply the process of being understanding. Often it means the exact opposite.

To live life well means not being afraid of being alone.

Time in a Bottle

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Tomorrow, I’ll have written 500 posts here. A lot of it, let’s be honest, has been dross but as I continue to have my moments, the body of work increases. I’ve been unhappy with the layout for a while now, and decided to go Full Minimalist because the Writing site is going to be a bit blingy at the start. Not TOO loud, I hope, but enough to attract some attention. It seemed logical whilst I was doing one to attack the other, and hopefully this will remain a ‘less is more’ spot to come and escape to when the work gets too hard.

Tomorrow I hope to set the stall out going forward for all three sites.

I hope to see you here bright and early in the morning.

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Back to the Grind 😄#photographer #365photochallenge

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Some days EVERYTHING is hard work. The first day back after the Easter break was a 6.30am wake up call. My subconscious again was out to scupper me but it was pushed through and dealt with, I had to go a completely different route to and from school thanks to multiple accidents, and I’ve just come back from a Gym session that REALLY hurt. I didn’t do what I’d planned but it doesn’t matter, it was a lot of calories burnt and many things lifted and that is perfectly fine. Sometimes it isn’t about the plan but just turning up.

Today I was DEFINITELY not phoning anything in.

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Once the youngest is home and I’ve paid off my IOU for 10 games of Mariokart, I’ll be all over the Writing site with the first stage of redesign. After that, I’ll stop talking about it here and do all the chatting over there, so this place can go back to regularly scheduled wibbling. I may just have enough time for a cuppa before I have to leave…

It’s My Life

Warning: Certain graphic descriptions in this post may upset some people.

It is apparent that there are those in the world who think the process of embracing other’s needs is often pointless and annoying. A case in point appeared yesterday: trigger warnings in a set of book contents, which one author decried as spoilers and pronounced were fundamentally wrong. The process of acceptance, that certain people (given the choice) would like to know what they’re going to read beforehand is part of the evolution of words that I spoke about yesterday. Authors might consider ‘spoiling’ work ahead of time a bad idea, but honestly, it is far better to make an informed decision. It was like when I discovered my 12 year old watching the first episode of 13 Reasons Why because a friend was doing the same, and that made it somehow okay. If you don’t know this show… well it has been critically acclaimed, but even I get any drama with the elements this one contains is going to give me nightmares regardless of age. I think I made the right choice in telling her exactly what she’d end up seeing, and in the end she told her friend it was a bad choice too.

Life can be about honesty and truth without pain, if you choose to walk that path.

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Last night I dreamt of an air crash, but it was so much more: the details so vivid when I woke up that they can be recalled even now. A gun battle in the cockpit, the plane having to circle to lose fuel, and a landing so frightening I woke up with a gnawed lip and blood in my mouth. The worst part however was the fact that due to a malfunction only half the plane’s passengers got off before the aircraft burst into flames, with remaining people effectively cremated inside the fuselage. I had to watch all this too, wasn’t able to walk away, held in place as the horror unfolded. Waking at 6.30am as my husband went to work, my hands shook, and I used the mindful breathing exercises I have learnt to take away the pain. Then, I slept again, and the dream this time was a revelation.

In my dream home, entirely of my own design and furnished to my needs, nothing would go right. I’d ask people to respect the way I’d organise things and they’d leave surfaces in chaos. My son flooded the front room in innocence and destroyed thousands of pounds of irreplaceable books. For some reason an increasingly exotic number of birds arrived to sit on my kitchen table, and ended up not leaving, and there was a point I reached where I just ran away, and kept running. The perfect world created myself was ruined ultimately by other people, but inevitably they had no idea what they’d done. The birds of course were the final straw, but the best metaphor: you can’t prevent the Universe destroying your plans sometimes, it just happens regardless.

The key to both of these dreams, effectively, is the sentence above. In my head are a set of perceptions and beliefs that create the unique being that I am. I can learn to control those perceptions in differing ways, the beliefs can shape and mould my understanding of the World around me, but unless I am capable of adequately communicating those to other people, there is a problem. In the case of trigger warnings, asking someone to communicate for me when it is difficult for me to do so myself is beyond useful. It gives a choice I would previously not be afforded and, if I’m honest, is sometimes a relief. On days like today when talking to people will be tough, because I am the one with the faculty issues, words come again to save me. I can express myself though a medium other than speech. Concepts can be expounded that would normally be left well alone.

Some days, the only way I can communicate successfully is via the written word.

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That revelation’s only recent, and it comes as I begin to grasp that there are moments when the intellectual process of having to build sentences and construct metaphors and deliver them dispassionately is simply a better alternative to opening my mouth, because when I do all the emotional components of these arguments falls out, without any of the structure. I don’t want to speak to people, I need to jam headphones so tight into my ears that none of the outside world gets in. I’ll want to lose myself in ambient noise, even without lyrics, and just have sound as the means to sooth a brain that’s only now beginning to grasp how it works best. Those days where other people demand you make it about them, when you just want to make it to the end. It isn’t that I don’t care… it is almost that I can’t, and that’s a concept I really do have trouble trying to make other people understand.

Today, therefore, there will be lots of pictures. I suspect I may end up throwing plants at a lot of people. Most importantly, having made this significant step forward, I think I want to try and listen more to what my subconscious has to say. I’m sure a lot of it is rubbish, but if there are revelations like this to be found that I can understand and resonate with, it is well worth both the time and effort. After all, only by better understanding myself will I ever be able to become a better person overall.

This seems like a decent place to start.

Nothing

There has never been a better time to have an opinion than RIGHT NOW. Social media allows everybody the opportunity to not only hold a point of view but be able to express it, regardless of any ability to do so either well or politely. Once upon a time, if you disagreed with a review of a play or film, the only means to ensure that the writer was aware was a green pen and some A4 lined paper (if you were a certain type of complainant) or Basildon Bond and a fountain pen, at the other end of my cliched, stereotypical scale (for effect only.) Now, if you don’t like what’s been said, it is simply one click to make sure that your opinion is registered. If you’re lucky and that burst of righteous fervour catches the right wave of popular algorithmic indignation, you’ll be viral just before tea.

A lot has changed in a very short space of time, and language is struggling to keep pace with this evolution.

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It is apparent that the issues in most of these short lived, inflammatory discussions is how one person uses language and how that is subsequently interpreted by others. I am reminded of a fervent debate over quest text in my favourite MMO as a perfect example: one person saw casual racism, whilst I understood a historical reference that was based in definition from hundreds of years previously with no relevance to an insult. Then there was that time where I used the word ‘inclusion’ to someone who decided I meant their grasp of a related concept and not the strict dictionary definition… and the list goes on. It is one of the main reasons why the Internet of Words was born as a concept, that how we use language online is often vastly different to the manner in which we both communicate and exist in the Real World. When all you had before was paper and a pen, you had to make every word matter, and interpretation was perhaps even more of an issue.

Now you can delete your words, except the smart Internet users will happily inform you that never happens. This place remembers everything. If you don’t want your awful tirade to be remembered, never type it to begin with. In twenty years, a huge swathe of early internet content might have supposedly been lost to time, but you’ll be amazed what remains, or what others will keep ‘just in case.’ Then there’s the increasing trade in image manipulation, how a basic understanding of how webpage markup can be accessed and then altered can make it look like the President actually said that. The bigger irony, of course, is that certain people’s comments remain ridiculous and hugely ill-conceived regardless of the ability to paint them otherwise.

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There is a wonderfully simple answer to all of this, why suddenly the opportunity to have more than five seconds of fame matters so much to so many. The Internet is not a place to game or play, is so large as to make it virtually impossible to control outright. Many companies may like to think they can do just that, but the sheer nature of this beast means that anyone still can be the hero, or the overnight sensation. There is a chance for everybody, regardless of their sex, race or anything else to become the Next Big Thing. If you are to be remembered on your brief and often painful stay upon the Planet, this is as good a place as any to start. However, there’s no guarantee that it will work but at least while you are alive you’ll be known as the person who topped 10 million subs of You Tube or who condemned civilisation to robot servitude in the 22nd Century as the inventor of Facebook.

Mostly, you’re here for the validation. I totally understand that feeling.

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I have written my fair share of complaint blogs in my time, and I stand by pretty much every one of them. At that moment my indignation was enough to temper a response I wouldn’t have written if it didn’t matter. That’s my mantra for all of these things: if it’s important enough to spend time on a blog, then press send. There is an important caveat now to those rants, and that is if I cross a line drawn only recently, as a result of my adventures on Social media. I’ve learnt the important lesson of personal involvement only too well. You can never plan for the stalker, anybody has the potential to become that obsessive individual, but there are certainly means by which you can a) not make things worse or b) inflame already confrontational situations. Very rarely now will I get into discussions with total strangers on contentious subjects. Far easier to write a blog post on the subject and stay friends with everybody, than risk losing someone over a difference of opinion.

This is where people end up mattering more than principles.

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I need my opinions heard because it is the way I can judge whether what I think is worthwhile. I’m not here to be right, or to win. I’ll leave that to other people to control and dictate. For now, I’ll simply continue to say what I feel, without attempting to antagonise too many people, and see what happens. For the record, my complaint letter would have been created using a typewriter. I would have handwritten it several times first, then redrafted until I was happy, before the blue A4 paper would ever have been stuck in the machine. Because I wasn’t using white paper, correction fluid would have been a safety net I didn’t have. It would have taken HOURS, a letter at a time.

That’s probably why it’s taken me so long to find a public voice.