Musclebound

… and you’re back in the room.

This weekend has taught me a lot about stamina: not just getting my legs to a place where I can sweat out a training programme without fear, but how things really can improve if you stop giving up. It is about pushing through the pain and discomfort, and so much else. Knowing what you can and cannot do are important benchmarks. Once marked, eating into them, subsequently improving them is less terrifying, because they’re static.

Someone I care a great deal about pointed out to me recently my propensity to try and do everything simultaneously, and how that ultimately is destructive. Yes, it absolutely is. I freely admit this, and will happily attest that having a brain that decides everything is possible when nothing is fixed is a sure fire way to hamstring yourself. It’s happened for years.

Not any more.

As it transpires, taking a day off was all that was needed to let my brain relax into new ideas. Therefore, I will start scheduling rest days for writing as well as exercise. It also helps immensely that everything that was done last week was scheduled into next week, thus freeing up a ton of space that previously did not exist. I’ve also recycled an inordinate amount of old work into new spaces.

There is also some though being given to dismissing an original plan and producing something completely left field as my inaugural self-publicised work. It is already made, which in itself saves on effort. I’m still thinking about the options available. If you’re a Patron, I’ll be talking about it more this week via your blogs, and on the IoW website.

There is suddenly a great deal of possibility in the air.

The Call

You’ll be reading this as I walk to the Gym. Yesterday I ignored fitness and concentrated instead on literary momentum. It was hugely productive as a result. I also ate far too much sugar and didn’t once stress that there should be an exchange of effort for input. Calorie deficit is imprinted now. I get how this works.

In fact, its one of the few things I can guarantee as a constant.

It took me all day yesterday to answer this question. I’m on board now, understand exactly what is expected of me. The stuff before 40 I’m often mortified about, especially the obsessive introversion of my 20’s. This is a far better place to exist, and because there’s a realistic chance of altering myself for the better going forward, I’m in a pretty optimistic place right now.

There’s also a fuck of a lot going on but all of it is under my control. As long as it stays that way, it’s not going to be an issue. The plan to shift everything to earlies this morning is because next week is the start of a fairly intense three-week period of work I could do well to be better prepared for, and far more work gets done when I start exercising before lunchtime.

So, let’s do what works and see how that changes things.

This weekend I am not working. At all. No blogging, no writing. Two days of attacking the clothing that no longer fits around either arse or arms. Garden work. Throwing away piles of detritus. Finally, attacking my reading pile. Finding some movies to watch… and most importantly, not allowing myself to feel bad.

Relaxation is hard work sometimes, especially as someone who needs to keep themselves busy in order to survive. However, bike training has really helped focus the mind. Writing stuff like this ahead of time has real benefits too. It’s being able to see past the panic of anxiety and knowing that whatever happens, it won’t all fall apart. It’s covered now. You understand why your body does what it does, and you can deal with it.

It’s really refreshing not having to be frightened all the time.

Strong

Friedrich Nietzsche’s doctrine of Eternal Recurrence gets a lot of time in my brain, for reasons that will be unsurprising to those who know me well. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it is the quote that really matters however (which was George Santayana, a Spanish Philosopher and NOT Churchill, who paraphrased as all good politicians are wont to do.)

It is continually depressing to watch Social media implode over the latest indignation and learn nothing from the experience. Educating people on how not to repeat the issues is, undoubtedly, a hit-and-miss affair. However, what it clearly highlights is who is paying attention, and sometimes, as has been the case on several occasions today, it’s apparent that the people I thought were listening to me really aren’t.

Yet again, I’m stanning the wrong people.

I don’t expect you to hang on my every word, it’s not devotion in return that’s crave, but looking as if you actually read what is written would be a start. Before I’d just put it down to people being busy, but now understanding of the platform and who uses it is a real eye-opener. You can literally work out who is talking AT you, without them grasping any of your hard work, and it is.

This is my home now, and I’m taking Social media far more seriously than you people who just turned up to use it as promotion. I live AND work here, you just try and coat-tail trends to keep people engaged. There’s a WORLD of difference between being professional and being honest. I can do both, easily now without thinking. These people struggle with one. I don’t need to stan them.

They should be fucking stanning me, because they’d actually learn summat.

It is time, yet again, to reorganise the Socials. I think I’m gonna be quite brutal in the cull.

Let’s see who actually notices this time.

Long Distance

How To Be a Male Ally




(or ‘Don’t do that Here’)

I have been incredibly lucky so far in my life. It needs to be said, and reiterated, that I am surrounded by some INCREDIBLY nurturing and supporting men who are not my husband. All of these individuals get how ‘IT’ works, when that relates to what is socially acceptable and, crucially what isn’t.

With my realist hat on, those people have largely cancelled out the men who don’t get it. Right now, however, there is an imbalance on one side of the equation that needs fixing. Stupidity is on the rise, and as a result it seems like the correct time to be re-writing out my personal rule set for interaction. Crucially, a number of my thoughts on this stuff have changed in light of Lockdown.

Therefore, this morning we present ‘How to be a Male Ally’, Pandemic Edition.

RULE 1:


Don’t be a

If you’ve never seen Fairly Odd Parents (you really should) what you won’t know is that the Dinklebergs are the serially overachieving parents next door. They are the metaphor for aspiration, greener grass and generally all that is frustrating for our protagonist’s parents. I don’t need you to tell me what I could or should be doing. I appreciate your input, but that job in my life is covered.

This also includes correcting mistakes in blog posts. I appreciate your attention to task but if those mistakes exist I will eventually correct them myself and if I don’t that’s my issue and nobody else’s. This has become a Red Flag for me in the past six months, especially if you choose to do it publicly. You may well be acting with the best intentions at heart, but honestly, I’m on it.

RULE 2:

No, it really isn’t. You let me rant. I know, it’s what you really hate about me as a Blogger. It’s what annoys you as a Twitter user: why can’t she be like all the other sensible commentators on social media, and not resort to swearing AND ALL THOSE CAPITAL LETTERS. I dunno if you’ve noticed, but the World is on fire. All those people who aren’t acting like me really don’t get it.

You also don’t get the right to tell me to be quiet on my own platforms. Sorry, but there are rules here too: abusing writers when they don’t say what you want them to… not one of them. I’ve done all that shit with the Warcraft Community and nope, not happening again, not ever. If you’d like to know the people you’re still following on Twitter responsible for that abuse, I’ll happily provide it. My spaces means my rules.

RULE 3:

If I posted it to be controversial, I KNOW.

No REALLY, I’m a big girl. Let me die on this hill alone. If you support me, a simple quote-retweet onto your feed is great. If you hijack me for your own nefarious gain I will block you. Just watch me. You wanna be an ally? Appropriation is NOT support.

RULE 4:
Press the Right Button

Why does it need to be said? Because it ALWAYS needs to be said. Daily.

RULE 5:

It feels almost crass to say this, but if you spend all your fucking time telling me how much you personally support my causes, and what I’m trying to achieve and then won’t actually support me now that is an option? You don’t care. I am IMMENSELY grateful right now to every single person who grants me a pledge on Patreon. Several do so when I know they can’t realistically afford to, which is even more amazeballs.

One has gone so far as to supporting me away from Patreon which they object to on principle. This is utterly fantastic, and you can absolutely guarantee that when I make it to the big stage they will be publicly and repeatedly thanked by name. The fact remains, stop promising me you’ll help and support me when you won’t. Either come up with the goods or get the fuck out of my mentions.


If you’ve read this and think this is a personal attack? Congratulations, you’re part of the problem. If you read this and think that maybe you could do better? I absolutely guarantee you can. ABSOLUTELY the best way to support me right now, if it matters, is to become a Patron. I cannot move forward without funding. That’s what Patreon is.

Oh, and if you join my Patron thinking that paying a monthly fee guarantees you special attention? Think again. If you pay me enough I’m obliged to send you a Christmas Card, but everything else is under my rules, my auspice, and absolutely not for negotiation. You wanna be a good ally?

Get a realistic sense of proportion.

These Boots are Made for Walking

It has been mentioned here a few times how utterly woeful I am at doing Me Time. However, slowly but surely, this last part of the self-care redefinition is getting looked at. Next Friday, I’ll have new hair again which is good because I’ll be recording stuff on Zoom in August and looking fly will undoubtedly be an advantage.

My local Gym also opens this Saturday, and that means next week PT is back, but outside where it is likely to remain for the foreseeable future. I’m not happy being inside without a mask, and exercising with one may prove problematic, we shall see. Whatever happens, there will be more of the stuff I enjoy doing as well as work.

However, I have other interests that really need consideration.

I know Patreon’s supposed to be a job, but I have invented a New Thing that is already making me very happy. As long as I can keep doing it just for me, and it doesn’t become a millstone, this has the potential to be a significant source of enjoyment. Add to that being able to build my own empire from scratch, and yes, this is good distraction from reality.

If I can get this stuff to pick up interest, then I am really getting somewhere.

Don’t Believe the Hype

My husband is a very, VERY keen cyclist. That means, in our house at any one time, there are SQUILLIONS of water bottles: some vintage, some too big to fit into bottle cages, some promotional and all prone to getting very mouldy if not cleaned properly. The best ones, undoubtedly, are minimal in their design and easiest to keep sanitary.

Doing just that this morning, I realise it is (yet again) time for a clear out. Detritus increases quickly in the modern world, so much stuff given away ‘free’ when it would be better for us and the environment if you didn’t feel the need to chuck me a bazillion tote bags and charging cables under the auspice of ‘look, we care about our clients.’

Then it hit me, yet again, that all of this faffing is a metaphor.

If I am going to succeed in business, finally, after all this time, making life harder for myself is not going to work. There is no need to reinvent the wheel every month, despite the fact it will make me look cool and edgy. Maybe, just possibly, introducing some consistency to my work might be an idea. That means finding a game plan, and sticking to it.

When it comes to Instagram, I am an utter Noob. Ideally, I should be using what is available to me without attempting to invent anything else right now, however smart or funny it might look. Therefore, today we have started a Plan of Action that will move through until Christmas. It’s hard to think that far ahead, I’ll be honest, but it seems a decent timeframe.

Let’s see if this new format will pay any dividends at all.

It is tough on the brain right now, so much to have to try and juggle. Watching stuff go out in the world and not have hundreds of people proclaim it a marvel, a wonder, the content they’ve been waiting for is difficult to cope with, when all you’re ever really after is someone telling you what you’ve done is great.

Expectation management is the toughest job of all.

Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

Once upon a time, I was horrendously inflexible as a writer. The ideas would supersede everything, including good sense, and in those days a great deal of spontaneity and honestly was lost. However, in the last few years, relaxing away from the rigid forms that a past would often forcefully impose as being right has begun to bear quite fragrant and juicy fruits.

Someone I respect a great deal has also pointed out in the last week that I can commit myself to too much too quickly, and often end up spreading myself quite thin, a sentiment that was echoed by my family after the poetry meltdown in late June. As a result of all of these disparate factors, this week has steered me into a new form of discipline.

Welcome to a game plan that understands that less is more.

The format for the Patreon, which was started without really knowing where I was heading, only that I needed to be online and offering content during Lockdown, has now established itself. A poem a week, a piece of long form fiction and some flash fiction. A LANzine and two newsletters per month. All of this can (and is being) organized far enough in advance to not overwhelm.

There are extra bits, which will sit in the IoW Website, but can easily be slipped into the schedule. It also keeps space free for other ventures: everything placed in a sensible, thoughtful manner. Some stuff won’t happen, and quietly other things will be removed from view, making this whole journey as stress free as possible.

I’m really happy with the way things are working out.

Today I have two grown up Zoom meetings: both will be significant steps forward in real life attempts to become a creative. I hope one day to pick up Patrons from outside the Internet I consider my home, and to do that the content will not be enough. There has to be more depth and breadth to my output. Patreon, like it or not, is only a smaller part of a larger whole.

Being my own boss however is the best feeling in the World.

Down Down

The plan, such as it is, goes really rather well. The perennial fly in the ointment remains my brain, which does really enjoy fucking with me at 2am at present. It’s because I go to bed before the rest of the house, who have always been night owls, so they’re all into Alpha Sleep and I’m lying, staring at the ceiling with discomfort.

Last night however, it was really rather useful. A lot of stuff was put back in place. Progress was made on various projects, and the realization made that, like it or not, some stuff remains out of my hands. I gotta stop worrying. Impossible ask or realistic growth choice? Bit of Column A plus lots of Column B, I reckon. Worth redoubling efforts?

Absolutely.

I follow a lot of artists on Twitter, and there’s been a bit of beef over the last few weeks around reach and exposure. The fact remains that success comes in roughly two varieties: those who did very little work but got lucky, and everybody else. Talent, being the subjective part of the equation, really doesn’t factor into it. You can be immensely talented and never see success.

It’s why that word need to stop being interlinked with wealth and influence: success should be measured in personal validation and nothing else. If you’re happy with the outcome of your work, that’s what matters above everything else, in the end. It’s why you see people in places you’d never expect to find them, immensely happy going nowhere and achieving seemingly very little. Their satisfaction starts with them.

It’s a mindset I really wish more people possessed.

The Day Before You Came

As of today, you’re going to be reading blogs I’ve written the night before, probably for the rest of July. This is because I need to make space for editing the fiction that will become part of Patreon’s new content going forward. Tier details will alter this week. I hope I can encourage a few new people to come on board as a result.

I have a MASSIVE To Do list this week. Most of it is essential and a fair portion of it remains an overhang from last week. However, it would be a lie to say that this is not forward, because that is exactly the case. Having the space within myself finally to relax into is beginning to feel more normal. It was a 1000 calorie day yesterday. I still had energy.

This is undoubtedly the right path to be riding.

Today, I get to practice these things a bit, probably with some walking thrown in, because after two days straight on the bike my arse needs a day off. I have a quite large selection of Zoom meetings this week too, which means organising a number of things in advance. Most significantly however I’m committing to some unscheduled submissions with existing work.

I’ve written quite a bit of stuff during Lockdown, and now it is time to find space to use it all. Undoubtedly a portion will go to my Patreon and the LANzines, and that’s the other part of next week: planning a path forward from August to November. I am already planning to take December off because honestly, without a big holiday this year, I will need that time off.

Then, not gonna lie, will be making time for this. I do love my ancient Egyptian history. This genuinely is exciting stuff.

Lots to do before then, though.

Beyond Earth

Odd day, today. I’d had a load of stuff nebulously planned and then it all went wrong midway on Thursday. Typing this is taking a level of concentration I don’t actually possess: it’s because last night’s sleep wasn’t, it was a night of being held to account by my demons. Yesterday was just horrendous. It won’t have looked like it, because I now do a fairly decent job of hiding the terror, but to say what I felt and needed to was draining.

Today, again, I write all of this down to remember the mess my head is in.

Time to bring this graphic back. For most of Lockdown we’ve not moved past Stage Two, lets be honest. The disconnect has been horrendous. Yesterday, for about an hour, I could touch the top of the pyramid. It’s been some time since Esteem was a constant, and even if I am mentally wiped by the effort, it’s there. I realise, as a result, just how lucky I am.

There will be a lot of people existing right now in the bottom two strata of this diagram. Many of them will be really grateful to be able to go to a pub or a restaurant today. Many more will be overjoyed to have a sense of connection after months of isolation. This is the psychological toll that Lockdown will have placed on all of us, but in vastly differing way.

This is the mental health emergency that nobody factored for going in.

There are so many red flags online right now it is pretty impossible to know where to start in an attempt to make a difference. Not contributing to the problem will be a start. Metering interactivity is also going to happen. I’m already off Instagram, limiting access, doing other stuff. I have to hope that taking a break from pretty much everything else will help brain to finally unwind a bit.

This is gonna be a tough next few weeks.