Fairytale

Today is somebody that I know’s birthday. This person… well, I owe quite a lot to them. They aren’t really aware of how much, because I’ve never taken the time to tell them why. Because I don’t want to embarrass them in public I won’t mention them by name, and I don’t have to. They know this is about them, because I took the time privately to check beforehand, making sure they were aware of what was going on. The reason why the whole shebang then is subsequently public? Well, that will become apparent. Because what this person has taught me in the time I’ve come to know them is simple. Friendship is what YOU make it, not what someone else tells you works. It is a delicate and subtle balance of give and take, that you can only maintain with joint effort. That’s the key: any relationship worth a damn isn’t just one person putting in the hours. You both have to want it to succeed.

Mostly this person remains the best reminder of how far I have to travel to be a reality he aspires me to be.

pinocchio

This is my favourite GIF right now. It perfectly encompasses the feelings I have every day I wake up and realise that I need to be a mum and a writer and a decent human being plus all those other things that maybe I’d just like to forget. This is the Black Dog that many people say is their existence with depression: the all-pervading sense of being followed and and threatened by something that could incapacitate you at any moment… except for me, I am Pinocchio. I just want to lie unmoving, and hope that the world just goes away. It’s been a really tough week too for this, knowing what I’ve set myself to do in terms of the health challenge. I’d just like to stop caring, but I know I can’t, and it is due to people like my husband and my friend that I understand why I can’t. My friend pulled himself though an incredibly stressful period of his life, losing both job and a parent, and has become something truly aspirational. He doesn’t know this because I haven’t told him until now, but if it wasn’t for him there have been some days when I would have given up and gone a very, very long way backwards. It is because he cared about me, and didn’t do anything other than just be there for me when it mattered. That’s what friendship is really about, the people I feel I can trust when I have nowhere else to go.

Without him, I would not posses the belief to move forward with my life.

shawshank

Freedom is important.

Mostly, because of the lives we lead, I’ve never actually had a chance to sit down and say all this to him alone. It might seem odd therefore that I choose such a public means in which to do so now, but that’s actually quite crucial to this equation. Because the way the World now works means that private and public are often indivisible, that what matters more is the sentiment as fuel to inspire and motivate others. Congratulating someone privately is great, but ultimately telling the world they’re awesome is better because then everyone gets to drink the Kool Aid of Knowledge they provide.  The problem then comes with that person getting all flustered and unhappy that you drew attention to this in the first place, and then you can often end up going backwards. Having chosen to be public in my struggles, I can put my name to everything with impunity, but that’s not my decision in his case. If you REALLY want to find him then a) you’re a fucking scary internet stalker and  STOP IT NOW and b) it won’t actually be that much of a stretch. I really wouldn’t have done this if I knew he’d have a problem either, and that’s also a measure of the comfort level we hold between us. He doesn’t mind being known as my friend. That in itself is enough to make me beam so broadly my face will hurt, and I won’t care. That’s because the anti-social cow finally worked out how to do relationships properly.

I managed to put the past behind me and move forward.

its_a_trap_star_wars

No, its really not.

It’s not like nobody tells you as a kid that bad shit happens. It happens ALL THE DAMN TIME but if you choose wilfully to ignore it? More fool you. That’s what I was, the biggest fucking idiot on the Planet, and there are days when that’s still true, until I grasp that lots and lots of really lovely people can be an adult and hold down jobs and be responsible and guess what? They’re all panicking inside too. My friend taught me this, a lesson he reinforces every time I see him questioning his own worth, whether he’s doing it right. Some people are just better at coping with stuff than others, and fortunately for the planet? These people are actively furthering the process of evolution. If you want to help with that, it’s not about being silent and scared. You need to find a voice and move forward. Without my friend being the brilliant guy he is, I’d not be here to do that. Everybody needs role models and people to look up to, and I have him, though he’ll probably give me the Evil Bogeye of Doom for even suggesting this before telling me I need better role models. I really don’t, you’re just the one I needed.

Your life isn’t anyone else’s to dictate or guide, unless you make that choice. I choose to let this man be my friend, and he returns the favour. Honestly, this is all I could ever ask for. Being a grown up isn’t as scary when he’s around, and I will never thank him enough for that fact alone. Happy Birthday, Squire.

Yes, you’re utterly awesome xxx

Fear

Nothing is ever really good enough when you write. There is this constant need to tinker, poke and prod, and especially in situations where you know you wrote with an emotional undertone, a desire to temper. Except this morning I created a post from nothing, just left it and walked away. Normally, you’d go back and look at this kind of stuff with a critical eye several hours later but in this case? It just fell from me. After it was done I sat and cried for ten minutes, because the process of admitting things to yourself is sometimes not as an exact a science as you either wish or hope. It wasn’t big or clever either, just an understanding that what I want and what the world presents are two very differing things. There comes a moment where you have to make a choice: accept the reality you are presented with and be grateful, or push for something better.

In this case, I get more pleasure now from pushing than I ever did before from inactivity.

header15

Sometimes it’s about a theme, or co-ordination. Often it’s reacting to a moment, the latest outrage. Mostly, writing for me has stopped being simply about ‘enough’ and now demands to be more and I’m seeing that bleed over into my fiction work too (but more on that when there’s actual progress to report.) In terms of daily progress it often felt like a very slow drip to fill an enormous bath, but then there are these floods of outpouring that catch me by surprise. Then I need to take time and effort to adjust to what’s happened, and all of that means the process of building skills is this back and forth, water in and then let out until there’s a level I’m comfortable bathing in. Right now, anything above my waist and I begin to panic, and there’s always the fear that I’ll be swamped unexpectedly and simply drown. Control therefore is paramount.

Then I realise that if I learnt to swim and breathe underwater, all my problems would vanish overnight.

My daughter's Oil on Canvas

This means a lot of panic when people respond to me, I’ll be honest, especially those I don’t know well. I’m not able to hold onto the thought of good or great either for that long, because there’s this constant background rumble of ‘nope, this isn’t as good as it could be try harder now’ which also requires some work. That’s why walking has become so important, that jamming headphones on and being elsewhere isn’t just a temporary escape, it has become the means by which I can readjust myself to what’s going on. Music is so hugely significant in everything, and has become the rhythm by which my progress is measured. It’s taken a decade, but my tastes are changing too, expanding and growing as my abilities begin to emerge.

Mostly, fear breeds control, which in turn creates balance.

Where I Stood

The Bechdel Test, if you are not already aware of it, is quite significant for many women in popular culture. In its simplest form? Bechdel ‘asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. The requirement that the two women must be named is sometimes added.’ Here, it transpires, is one the simplest forms of judging gender equality, and it works. When creating your work of written/spoken art, whatever it might be, giving your characters something to do other than fret about the opposite sex isn’t just sensible, it is often essential if you can’t write women well to begin with. Because good stories, despite what Black Lace might tell you, aren’t just about sex. Writing as I am right now with someone else’s characters as inspiration, it occurs to me that the current crop of Bond women are actually quite tough. However, there aren’t ever two Bond girls ever in a room at the same time, and if there were? Well, DUH, all they’re gonna talk about is how great Bond was in bed before (presumably) having a cat fight with pillows in slow motion and soft focus.

Actually, that’s probably not far off the truth in the Universe anyway.

monica

It took half a century for Bond to kop off with a woman effectively his own age. Expecting the franchise to come up with empowering female storylines is not exactly high on the priority list, but it would be a lie to try and pretend there wasn’t at least some effort made in Spectre. Moneypenny’s got a guy in bed, for starters, when Bond phones in from Rome for intelligence, thought I’d have given Bond more marks for interrupting her on the job. There’s at least a concessionary nod here to a real world and actual lives outside of Whitehall. But when it’s all but brief and you feel like only lip service is being offered? That’s where I am, but I’m in something of a quandary right now, because my female protagonist’s having quite a hard time reconciling her professional and personal attachments to 007. Having relationships isn’t wrong or bad, without them the human race ceases to exist. However, when you find your character unable to separate the professional and the personal and increasingly not worrying about consequence?

Does it matter what truly motivates you to be what you are?

This song has become quite a significant part of my process as a result, mostly because of the following section of lyrics:

And I won’t be far from where you are if ever you should call
You meant more to me than anyone I ever loved at all
But you taught me how to trust myself and so I say to you
This is what I have to do

These four lines are at the crux of what I’m trying to explain: you can care deeply and emotionally about someone, yet not be with them. A person can understand that they’re in love with someone else and yet know that this is not what is required to either survive and progress. Popular culture pushes onto us the notion that relationships are only worthwhile if they come with a satisfactory and (presumably) long-term conclusion, but that’s not true at all. Sometimes, things have to fail so you can get better. More often than not, sacrifices need to be made in order to expedite the progression of your existence. Except, in the world of Bond, there is rarely (if ever) an exploration of this. Since Casino Royale there has, at the franchise’s core, been at least some attempt to address this shortfall, and when you see Bond locate Vesper Lynd’s interrogation tape from L’Americaine in Spectre? That story is at an end. This 007 finally closes that chapter of his life and moves on.

The fact this is never discussed further and simply implied makes me sad beyond words.

bond_xmas

So here I am, making sure that my heroine doesn’t simply grasp her feelings, but she actually understands and learns from them. It’s a tough ask to stretch it out over an extended narrative, but I have the flashpoints all mapped out. I’ve also very deliberately included as little Bond as I can conceivably get away with, because to make this work he can’t be the motivation in the frame. The problem with an all-encompassing ‘hero’ is that sometimes, you don’t want to know their story. Spectre tries and largely fails to give depth to a world that has never been about everybody, because that’s not how Fleming wrote 007. When the franchise reboots (and I am confident you’ll hear something by the end of the year on that front) I can only hope that maybe, just maybe, the success of all these ‘extended Universe’ outings in cinemas will make the Eon people consider that perhaps it is time to not just make Bond all there is to see. However, why I watch a Bond movie is a long way from what I’d consider to be the ‘target’ audience.

In the meantime? Wish fulfilment will have to do.

Feeling Good

Today I begin #28FitDays, which is my plan to finally shift some weight and get my body into a whole new place in terms of shape and tone. The fact it begins on the 28th is something of a happy accident, and the next four weeks will see me trying to attain some goals which, let’s face it, are hardly earth shattering:

  • Make sure I do 12k steps EVERY DAY (as you can see above, I’ve missed six days thus far in March
  • Even though it will pain me greatly, I will keep to a strict and regimented calorie intake. NO CHOCOLATE OR CAKE (insert sadface here)
  • An attempt to attack my waistline, which is the only part of my body currently not actively targeted.

I also plan to try and do a couple of high step days in all of this: in the back of my mind I’m looking at 40k steps (which is my next Fitbit badge) and wondering if I can plan a suitable day to crack that. There’s an addition too: I intend to start using Zwift, which I’ve spoken about before, and Mr Alt has kindly fixed the shed so I will be able to use his bike on which to train. That is an experience that I’d like to at least try, so expect some reports on this as time goes on.

Mostly, this is me pushing the fitness up a gear. After all, if you don’t keep setting goals, life can get a bit predictable :D

Oops! I Did it Again

Yesterday, I was pointed by a friend to this blog post: a free virtual reality channel is going to be offered for the Oculus Rift (that’s the headset, pay attention) that’s nothing but porn. Now, if you’re even remotely interested in gaming you will know that VR’s about to enter its third coming (no pun intended) and that anybody and their myopic relative’s gonna want a VR ‘unit’ for a console/PC. Except those of us with vision issues are already backing away slowly from the possibility of this whole new world, because we’re just not interested in that kind of immersion. For everybody else? Yes, you can get as excited as you like, just remember to clean up afterwards. Seriously, however, having porn on VR is inevitable, and not really as depressing as you might think. Because, slowly but surely, sex is undergoing a revolution that means, in time, it won’t just be the heterosexual blokes being stimulated over 360 degrees.

female

These are female sex toys. The thing on the string is the modern (and remote controlled) equivalent of the ancient Ben Wa balls, the circle with the hole is a clitoral massager, and the lovely pink item shaped like an apostrophe is a ‘couples toy’: it shouldn’t take a genius to work out how that operates. The market in female ‘pleasure’ has always existed, it’s just that when you mention porn, it’s always considered in the same breath as being a men only pursuit, which is so not true it’s actually amusing. Pornhub however is unlikely to be immediately offering options for both sexes and every flavour in between, but you can guarantee other people will. Because if there’s one thing the internet is good for? Yeah. We all know that, your kiddie search pretends it doesn’t exist and the rest of us take our chances. However, what VR now opens up, should this actually be the time it takes off, is a way for two people to have a relationship over distance without any of the unpleasant side effects that normal sex offers: you know, pregnancy, disease, all that nasty stuff if we’re doing it ‘traditionally’ and if we’re not… well, here’s the thing.

VR could make virtual sex between consenting partners a reality.

Most smart people know the most important sexual organ you possess is your brain. Bodily functions come a poor second when you can’t make your head aroused, and what VR has the biggest potential for is to fool us into believing that actually, that person does actually want to fuck us. That means that there will come a point where software exists that allows you to use VR to copulate and believe you’re with someone else, because the potential market for this just doesn’t need to be explained. Chat rooms stop being you staring at a person and asking them to be sexy for you, they give you a vessel in which to complete the act and not have to worry about the Walk of Shame afterwards. People don’t have to ever leave their houses to go on first dates… and hang on, there’s a fine line being trodden between acceptable and dystopia. Except, for the people who understand that a healthy sex live does involve being in the same room as your partner for sex? VR will still have value, because it will allow people to be apart and still be together. You’ll be able to go on business and spend your nights in bed together.

Mostly, it gives plastics and electronic manufacturers another excuse to plunder natural resources for high end devices that will replicate the actions of someone else. Trust me when I say to you this is big business, and does not come cheap. Also believe that people are already exploiting this to within an inch of both decency and expectation. Don’t be offended or surprised. Sex has sold for thousands of years, and nothing is likely to change on that front for many thousands of years to come.

I’d lie back and think of England.

[PS: If you want lovely (albeit expensive) sex toys? lelo.com have you covered :D]

The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret

This man saved my life in the week. Not literally, you understand, but in a purely metaphorical manner, and not the actor I might add but the character that he plays. Have I confused you enough yet? That’s Gareth Mallory, current head of MI6 in Eon Productions ‘James Bond 007’ Universe and he turned up in my head on Tuesday night to pull me out of a writing corner I didn’t think I was going to be able to escape from. Amazingly, not only did he save me, he’s sent my new Bond narrative off on a COMPLETELY different direction. I am not complaining at all about this, because what this allows me to do is use a cast that were criminally underused in Spectre because, like it or not, people go to watch Daniel Craig. That’s never really a problem, right up until the point when you don’t actually give him something to do that’s actually believable. For all the brilliantly engineered Mendes set pieces? I realise I’d rather have a story at this point about teamwork, so I’m gonna write one myself.

Sorry, Sam.

Miss_Moneypenny_by_Naomie_Harris

I still don’t forgive the writers of Spectre for keeping Moneypenny behind a desk: it began in Skyfall and pretty much destroyed that movie too, which is a shame, because apart from this that piece of cinema is damn near perfect. So I feel the need to redress the balance, without escaping from the inevitable desire to create something that I think could still be legitimate as a Bond ‘story.’ In my mind there has never truly been an ensemble piece: Spectre does actually try, setting up the relationships between Bond and his ‘team’ in the first act, but it never really gets used to its best advantage, because what these movies demand is the main man in set pieces where shit blows up and women are saved. So, I’m gonna fuck with the trope a bit. No, who am I kidding, that’s going out the window. Don’t get me wrong, Bond still very much matters, but not at the expense of other players in the frame.

Ben_Whishaw_as_Q

Here is where I think the franchise could evolve moving forward. Drop the tropes, stop making the ‘tech’ people the defacto geeks, and allow the true evolution of espionage and technology take centre stage. Use everybody with fairness, not just focus on the obvious. Mostly, I’d like to think there’s a viable alternative to the same old predictable paths that seem to be taken time and again.

I’m currently 30k words in. I’d bet that when I’m done it’ll be closer to 100k, because there’s a lot to pack in and as yet none of it is unnecessary. Needless to say, I am acutely aware off what is at stake in my own mind if I screw this up. So I won’t. This will finally put my wish fulfilment to bed, once and for all. I’m really not concerned at what happens now with the franchise, because I will with this prove in my own mind, once and for all, you can have a woman take centre stage and still maintain the essence of the canon.

Watch this space to see if I pull it off or not.

Long Distance

It has been a hard couple of days on the brain. This is because, as a result of last week, my subconscious has gone into full on righteous indignation mode over how badly the female roles in Spectre were utilised, and How I Would Do Better as a result. There’s also quite a bit of unintended comedy appeared along the way, which has sent the subconscious into hyperactivity mode. Add a cold and hormones and frankly? The last time I slept properly was Monday. I need a decent night’s sleep, but it’s not happening just yet. I’ve got 25k words worth of wish fulfilment under my belt and frankly? Not even started yet.

I’ve also got a ton of grown up things I want to write about and now have to make time for. Needless to say, that quiet and uneventful Easter break I was hoping for isn’t happening this year.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.