And So It Goes

Well, here we are, on a very Autumnal Saturday afternoon, and the will to write like this has returned. In fairness, it has been kickstarted by a couple of events, including a Best of the Net nomination and the restart of the Twitter Newsletter. Mostly however, I do miss this form of communication. There’s a lot to talk about right now anyway.

A LOT is going on. I submitted last month to a whopping TWELVE places, one of which has already been accepted, another rejected, so a 50% success rate for the month is the level we’re hoping to maintain. I don’t hold that high hope for a mass of success, but the quality of work is absolutely improving. That is an undoubted, stone-cold fact. In that regard, therefore, we are absolutely progressing.

Yeah, there’s a lot to say. I hope this continues.

Don’t you Forget about Me

I haven’t, there’s just a LOT on, and I haven’t taken a picture either in over a fortnight, so don’t start about that either. Well, that’s not strictly true.

The end is coming. I expect some clear air at the weekend.

Respect

I’m pretty certain a food allergy wiped me out on Thursday night/Friday morning, so took a day off after 12 days of exercise on the trot having come to the conclusion that it’s really not viable to be that person without a notional change in approach. Regardless of this 10km happened yesterday and now there is a need to arrange myself, so that’s a regular, weekend thing, which means far better shoes as a priority.

It appears there’s still a weekend in the Lake District possible in September too, but honestly how well that goes will depend on the building site. Travelling for four hours and sleeping in an unfamiliar bed is great if there’s at least two days to adjust. Really, dunno if that’s a thing that will happen or whether Dad will go on his own because he just manages, and I don’t.

This week is my referral assessment. I need to go take my forms back to the Doctor, and see if my appointment is in person or telephone. As it’s timed, it could go either way.

The Test

Validation is a funny thing. It rarely happens when you want it, and even less so when you’re stuck in a hole requiring the energy to climb out. It’s also absolutely NOT the stuff you think it is. Not everybody wants to be loved and adored, you know. Many just want to be told that what happened to them was wrong, and that there’s a better way to live. When that happens, whole lives just become better, and you become determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Some you won’t ever avoid though, and only now, at this moment, do I really understand why.

When you assume the world is like you, nothing will ever function correctly, because of the disparity between your own perception and everybody else’s. Ironically, it’s taken a TV show to bring this home to me. It’s amazing how validating it is to have something presented to you on screen that becomes the perfect metaphor for that thing which ails you. In my case, that means I’m Tom Hiddleston, and this becomes a blog post about Loki.

Forget everything else about the show, and just take the protagonist’s dilemma alone: this Loki left his timeline when he shouldn’t. At the second that happened, a divergent branch of time was created, and the TVA turned up to make sure it didn’t and that Loki’s glorious purpose was fulfilled. He was born to die in the Sacred Timeline, and that’s it. Like all the other Loki who strayed off the path, all that mattered was his removal.

However, all those splinters of the same personality, all still Loki, continued to live past their removal. One never had the chance to live at all (in the case of Sylvie) whist presumably all the others got shunted out to the Void to be erased for good. What this gives us as viewers is a brilliant means by which we show Hiddleston’s version grow and understand that when he’s not selfish and thinking about himself, he opens himself up to becoming not only likeable, but noble. When his view of the world is so fundamentally altered for good, change becomes essential to survive.

Loki learns from the versions of himself: he brings peace to Sylvie in the moments before both think they will die, and their ‘relationship’ has a power that literally manifests as the most powerful Nexus event anyone in the TVA has ever seen. It’s not for nothing, I think that Richard E Grant’s Loki backstory involves him spending a long time in solitude either, that when he sees what Möbius intends to do now he’s learnt he’s been brainwashed as a Variant, it is enough to transform a bitter old Asgardian into a hero.

In its most didactic form, this show is telling us that bad people have good in them: Prime Loki says it himself to Möbius, before they head off to Pompeii to prove the theory of Sylvie hiding in apocalypses. He knows the difference between good and bad, he’s not a scared child… and as an adult, his reaction to the Loki bowling alley fight is priceless. All your personality splinters, vying for control, and all of them utter idiots. It’s no wonder there’s a fan theory circulating that this could be happening inside Loki’s brain the whole time.

Prime Loki knows what he is by Episode 5, what that actually means, and how he uses his powers for good and evil if he chooses. The whole TVA experience is the equivalent of an instruction manual on how to live life well in the Marvel Universe. It’s the moral code, laid down well and reinforced correctly. Nobody is irredeemable, but you have to want it, there needs to be work: when Prime Loki potentially gives his life, so Sylvie can have a shot at enchanting Alioth, it’s the validation of his journey. That’s the payoff. Here’s a new Loki, who’s accepted he can never return what he was.

That’s a very powerful storytelling element, and it’s an extremely clever means by which to build your Multiverse. All things are possible, past and present, old and new. It puts the ‘Original’ MCU down as a foundation that will work forever at holding up and increasingly diverse and colourful structure above it: as audience tastes change, so can it. In the end, this will annoy those who cannot think past the linear, that want their stories to matter more than anybody else’s, and if that’s not a metaphor for modern living, I don’t know what is.

You’re wondering what all this has to do with me, aren’t you? There’s a moment in Episode 5, as Prime Loki and Sylvie face up to Alioth: as they stand side by side, Loki moves. He places himself behind the variant who’s strongest, because that’s what you do. There’s a point where validation isn’t just about what you think it is, but it becomes something else. The validation you receive from other people is rarely recognized at the time, because you’re normally too busy fighting fires or just coping to grasp any actual significance.

Once in a while, something happens that justifies what you are: it’s that moment where judgement is proven to be sound. You make the right call, and here’s the proof: you didn’t enchant a monster or save the Universe. You just did you, to the best of your ability. This is the way, without feeling awkward or unhappy, and it is apparent, just for a moment, that there is a glorious purpose to be fulfilled. It is when humanity is recognized, then embraced.

Change begins with you, people. Never forget this.

Oh, and as a TL/DR and P.S. combined:

Banana Republic

I’ve never been a Royalist. If they try and give me an award, at any point, I will turn it down. I don’t need a bunch of regal people telling me they think I’m good enough. If it ever got to that stage, other people’s validation will be more than enough, thank you very much. I’m also mightily annoyed the National Broadcaster is acting as if it’s State Media as well. Seriously, this is not 1953. Give it a rest, guys.

Lots to do, but for now I’ll be over here celebrating the fact I didn’t fuck up my body over Lockdown.

Waves

I’m not on Twitter today.

Back in the days when I was a Warcraft player, we had a Scandinavian tank called Than. He was an ex-Army officer, and one of the most capable people ever played with during the entirety of my time in Azeroth. I learnt a phenomenal amount from him, including the importance of principle in being the best human being you could manage, within your time and circumstance.

One day, shortly after we’d managed to beat Karazhan in the Burning Crusade, he left. No goodbyes, no warning and that was it. He’d mentioned this to me a few weeks previously, that sometimes the best way to move on is to just cut the cord and vanish, and I am reminded of him this morning for that reason alone. He needed to move on with his life. The game, as had been the case for so many people, was a distraction.

It was preventing him from what needed to happen more than playing.

Someone has emailed me this morning and called me an idiot for sticking to principle. ‘The only person who loses by you not being on Twitter is you: its your advertising platform, why boycott it?’ There will be absolutely no discernable effect of my action, and I’ll look like an idiot. Once upon a time, I would have believed this, until the concept registered that when someone else is offended by your actions, that’s their issue and not yours. The fact remains: if everyone moved as a unit, Twitter would be affected. The fact they won’t is the bigger issue now.

Those people responsible for abuse on Twitter are protected because their use as product now supersedes the trouble they cause with abuse. The onus is placed on victims to do the work, exactly as it is in reality, and this is how the patriarchy maintain their superiority. It’s how they ignore systematic racism, try and erase transgender rights and visibility, and maintain a status quo that is no longer fit for purpose. I used lots of words that will scare my e-mail creator for a reason. If, as a man, you’re not supporting feminism right now, you are part of the problem.

Sticking to my principles is more important than appeasing those only interested in what they want from me.

This week, I worked out who I am. Of course, I knew who I was before this point, but the crucial difference between Monday and now is the understanding that not only is this the right path, but I’ve already passed my original destination. What’s happening now is the path to success, and that means that the people on Twitter who are impressed at what I’ve done, and who are the ones I really need listening to me have already taken notice. What I’ve gained this week is the ability to see myself objectively for the first time in over thirty years.

There are other people boycotting today. They, undoubtedly will be disappointed at the number of people unable to disconnect from social media. I believe this shows that mental health issues right now matter more than sacrificing the ability to communicate, and that’s a crucial point that will be overlooked by many people. I’m on it. There is a plan and I intend to see if a difference can be made because of it. Having a day away from distraction has cleared my mind and helped me focus on the task in hand.

My principles have become the means by which I move my life forward.

In the end, its what you do that defines your life. That means doing what’s right, and this is.

Making your Mind Up

I wrote a NaNoWriMo Novel in November, after nine years of false starts. Yesterday, I had a Zoom call with a friend who’s read it, and she’s urged me to enter it for a first novel contest whose deadline is this week. To be honest, there would not previously have been the confidence to do so. However, that call’s galvanised me into action and a week that was already quite busy has now become full-on as a result. Normally, adding onto an already packed diary would bother me, but now? It’s a challenge.

All of this becomes a stress test of ability.

Over the weekend I also finally finished two poetry submissions, and submitted something else that, again, I’d have never possessed the confidence to do previously. Thinking about what has changed between here and last year, very little actually has in terms of capability. However, belief is different, mostly I suspect because if it’s possible to do 500km in eight days, the strength is within to make these things happen when it matters. So, what is there to lose by pushing the extra mile.

I suppose there’s only one way to find out.

Having finally departed Instagram, this time for good, it still feels like the correct decision. After what happened in the US last week, and the undoubted contribution Facebook has made to general disinformation, there needs to be something done as principle. Therefore, I’ll be using Ko-Fi for pictures and art going forward, because it’s under my terms alone. Algorithms can do one: honestly, if it’s good enough in the end, where it happens won’t matter.

This is my future, and that’s all that matters.

It’s Grim up North

Everybody, at some point in their lives, should try and read or learn about both Ethics and Philosophy. The ability to be able to critically assess every idea you’re given is a life skill that a great many people could sorely do with attaining, especially before being given the keys to a social media account. Once you realise that ‘reality’ is only a definition and not necessarily the world around you? So much begins to alter. It’s the foundation of everything else in existence, underpinning enormous swathes of contemporary education, business and crucially entertainment. Let’s ask A Famous Actor to put both together for your mind-altering pleasure…

So, if time is a flat circle, it should not surprise those living through Covid that their lives are, amazingly, incredibly similar to those of their ancestors. But hang on, they didn’t have protest or media stars running their country… ah, but you see, they did. Just because social media has given so many a voice, doesn’t mean that this is the first time ever people have stood up for their rights and worked together. Your experiences may well be unique to you, but that does not necessarily mean those are unique in a wider context, and this is a crucial fact that it’s easy to overlook for expediency, as so many people are already doing.

All that has happened will do so again, unless history is listened to and summarily rejected/embraced, depending on which way you come into all of this. I’ve been at environmental activism since the 80s, and we’re still no further forward in some places than was the case back then. Ironically, the loss of coal as fuel was never the problem, it was how business and government sold it both as industry and a career that was. The echoes with this and finance as the same is not lost on a brain that can already see this forgotten in a decade.

It is easy to see who is learning right now: there are undoubtedly those with absolutely no interest in anything except how their lives remain the most important part of reality. It makes perfect sense, of course it does, as the fear that results when forced to consider anything outside that sanctified bubble is both feeling and action I’m very personally acquainted with. Except, as a human being, fear is part of your growth experience. It is what makes people travel across the planet, urges them to undertake superhuman acts. To overcome your circumstances, to triumph against adversity is a victory against a very human emotion.

With fear under control, literally anything is possible.

I’ve spent a lifetime reading other people’s self-help manuals, looking at how to be happy. The one trick that nobody wants to tell you is that there is no cure-all: they all just hope you’ll make them rich. Once you decouple from the idea that someone else has all the answers, that buying stuff or treating yourself is all just your brain tricking you into a cheap dopamine hit? Honestly, it all gets an awful lot easier. The true reality is balance, and making sure fear never has enough fuel to destroy your life.

If you can manage all that and still feel happy? That’s a pretty decent life, right there.

Hotel California

It’s 6.30 am, and I’m awake with cramp in my left leg and insane urge to pee. Having drunk and emptied my bladder, I sneak back into bed, only to be met with the following:

“You’ll never guess what happened last night,” says my husband, and I’m already imagining what new horror 2021 has presented. Was there an explosion somewhere, or some huge disaster that has taken more lives?

“They finally took his Twitter account away.”

I find myself wondering how the World ended up in the mess it has, and then remember that most people consider success as being rich and powerful. The reality of this stupidity is pretty much impossible to ignore, whatever future you decide to pursue: for instance, as a writer it is drummed into you from childhood that to become successful, there had to be a book deal. Publication matters above everything else. Last year, I self-published my first chapbook, and the thrall of other people’s success was summarily exploded.

Twenty copies currently have been sold, and I know every single person who bought one. My joy, every time someone else hands over money to read it will never, ever diminish. If this were all there was, if tomorrow I ceased to exist, this would be the happiest I’ve ever been. It will never be a bestseller. Graham Norton will never interview me on a chat show. That’s not the reason this journey’s being undertaken. I’ve seen famous writers, and what they do with their fame. I’m frankly embarrassed and depressed at what other writers consider a good use of their power. That is never happening in my world.

Validation is yours to dictate and nobody else’s to own.

It’s incredibly liberating, only having myself to compete with. For decades, all those moments when impressing others probably destroyed my own chances of personal development… there’s no point hand-wringing any more. The future is what matters, ensuring less stress to hamstring creativity, resulting in constantly improving output. Doing exercise every day has been a massive boost too, being physically tired used to completely wreck any ability to move forward. Now, rest comes in different ways. Lots of stuff has been redefined for the better.

If you read back though this blog, that evolution has been a long time coming. Some people would delete that ‘expired’ content and somehow mystically pretend that things were always this great. I will never, EVER be most people. All that I am, good and bad, is here for the world to see, progression from There to Here, with all points in-between, testament to a now fundamental belief that life is only worth living if you are true to yourself. That means admitting the mistakes, embracing the shortcomings and in my case, on a semi-regular basis, setting everything on fire before planting new ideas within my own ashes.

Never again will there be a pretence of living life under someone else’s auspice.

Things will be submitted this weekend, because the only way confidence is ever built is by being rejected. However, this year it’s not about being upset or frustrated when I fail. Instead, the lessons will be learnt. All this good work will be used, in one way or another, and nothing will ever go to waste. As body becomes leaner, mind is sharpened. I take with me the story of a woman who found my blog by accident whilst waiting with her mother for cancer treatment. She read every post I’d written, then sent an email as thanks for such an honest, uncompromising read.

Every piece of criticism is read and digested. Every compliment, filed away and remembered. You don’t get better by ignoring others.

You only improve with quiet, continuous effort.

My Very Best

Four days in, and I’ll stop counting them at some point. Probably that will happen somewhere into the twenties, because then stuff will have become habit, and we’ll be past the novelty. Today however those furrows are still being ploughed. I need to fit two hours of exercise into the day, which will happen after this, and then the rest of Monday is given over to planning and setting in stone the rest of the month. I hope, by the end of business, to have created a large wodge of ‘content’ thus freeing me up to do more stuff that will make me money going forward.

That’s really what needs to happen a lot more in general.

Once upon a time, numbers on social media were a ‘thing’ for me. Ironically, all the engagement metrics that really matter have always stayed green. People are the problem, which isn’t really a surprise at all, considering the current climate. I could have just muted all the ones who hated trans people and ignored all those who were literally in it for themselves but really, truthfully, nope. The last straw undoubtedly was the person who accused me of a better than average vocabulary and that I wasn’t being supportive enough. There’s only so much a girl can do, and if doing as you asked isn’t enough… well, we’re probably done.

This week, therefore, we will mostly be keeping our head down and doing the miles. This lifestyle renaissance isn’t going to happen without some work, after all…