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debate over quest text in my favourite MMO as a perfect example: one person saw casual racism, whilst I understood a historical reference that was based in definition from hundreds of years previously with no relevance to an insult.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.

I Might Be Wrong

There is a eucalyptus tree in our garden, almost pulled over in the last round of Winter storms. We’ve decided it was too unwieldy, that our whole garden is going to be remodelled in the next year, and this (plus many things) had to go. My husband had taken most of the height from it, but showed reticence to finish the job, and after a particularly passionate discussion over commitment to maintaining the outside of the house, I stepped in. That meant that yesterday morning, as remnants of a teenage LAN party were filtering into unusually warm April sun, I stepped into the garden with a huge hacksaw and a plan.

Today Girls and Boys, Alt is tidying the Garden… #spring #photographer #365photochallenge

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I am not, as a rule, an outdoors person. Sure, I enjoy going to places and looking at things, but relaxation for me is never outside. However, now I’m beginning to grasp that my future is changing, it is only right and proper that I force out of my normal comfort zone and start doing stuff that is not fun. That eucalyptus was taken to almost ground level yesterday, and has a root system that is a metaphor for how sometimes it is hard to remove things from your life. Every time I thought I’d got on top of removing the stump the thing showed me how deep to dig and strong I’d have to be to cut it out. I’ve done good work, but one day will not be enough, and I’ll be back this week to finish the job. However, what I did manage was to clear more than half the rest of the mess, and call out for a chainsaw because sometimes, you just gotta use the big equipment.

However, yesterday was exactly what was needed.

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The change to my upper body strength was the biggest revelation: sawing shit is FUN when you don’t get tired after 30 seconds. In fact I hacksawed so many things it was enjoyable: once upon a time I’d have never coped with the job I’d set myself in one sitting. Yesterday, by 3.30pm I was tidying up and feeling the effort had been very much worthwhile. The other massive upswing from last week is the ‘nothing fatty that could set off another gallbladder incident until you’ve had bloods and an ultrasound’ warning from the Doctor. I now know that peanut butter is off the books, organic included. It meant the roasters had to be omitted from last night’s chicken dinner too, but that didn’t diminish the awesomeness of the experience, because I sneaked bread sauce in.

This has also stopped me looking at calorie content at foods and pushed me back to the ‘fat’ part of the nutritional information. Even though I’ve been better with food, there were indulgences (especially in the cheese and butter departments) because I’d be able to burn the calories off. The problem now, of course, is if my body cannot handle the process of breaking down high fat foods, there has to be accommodation and I will need to start logging those indulgences to ensure I’m not potentially causing more harm. What I really want to avoid is surgery, because that will put back all my hard work potentially for months. If I can manage this without the need to do so, that will be the long term aim.

I might be wrong, but the more I think about last week is turning out to be a massive positive than negative.

The Numbers

Yesterday, I completed a task that it has literally taken me 15 years to address.

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My writing folder has been a mess since somewhere in 2002, and I could never face the horror of delving into it, mostly because of a number of very, very personal files that I’d written, then forgotten the names of. That meant reading anything I wasn’t sure about became a bit of a trauma, but yesterday I took a deep breath and went for it. This, I realise, is the complete body of work I’ve attempted in fiction since that time, only one part of which has ever been completed. Well, starting this month, that is going to change.

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Most of the titles above are not complete or are simply outlines, but a fair few are significant works in progress. Once I take a day to go through them all and work out what I think is most doable, there’ll be an effort made to bring one to completion. Right now, I realise, I don’t have the tools available to finish the work I was doing with my November NaNoWriMo piece, and I’d probably be better off trying to complete something at this point with the story already completely plotted. That gives me a few options for editing starting next week, as I want to spend at least an hour a day doing just that as a way to effectively get my groove back.

The plan is to not beat myself up over what hasn’t been done, and to focus now on what I can do well to move this fiction journey forward.

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The trick now is to not let my enthusiasm and impetus falter. I’m going to plan as well as I can, and not give up until I’ve finished at least one novel length work. As relaxation and a counter? I’m going to go back through the Bonds and pick up the spellings and typos I’ve noticed on subsequent re-reads. That’s the plan, and the Writing Site will reflect this going forward. For now, however, I’m going to see if my body can sustain a Gym trip, followed by a quick zoom to the local Shopping Multiplex for the youngest, where I’m going to take my passport and finally visit the Bank of the department store where I had a credit card that’s just been paid off, and cancel the account once and for all.

This week, after all, is all about concrete progress.

Jigsaw Falling Into Place

Life is a constantly evolving learning process. This fact is lost on so many people that it staggers me: no two days will be the same. Of course, the biggest single problem for most people is being able to see life with enough objectivity to understand what is going on around them to begin with. In my 20’s, the undoubted problem was a basic inability to escape from that understanding. In my 30’s only the introduction of another life allowed that process to begin. It was my 40’s that truly broke the fourth wall of insularity, taking a good decade to put pieces of my disparate puzzle together. Depression and anxiety crippled me for a long time until I was able to identify the triggers that began those downward spirals.

I’m never going to be cured but I’ve become supremely good at crisis management.

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When your life is dictated by everything at once and you’re unable to filter the chaos from meaningful, there comes a point where the only thing left is complete withdrawal. Yesterday, I’ll happily admit that the Internet became too much to even read, let alone participate in and so the standard disassociation tactic was employed: headphones on, music as distraction, be somewhere else. As I worked to clear out stuff from the front room, something interesting happened. Answers to questions appeared without prompting. The issues I had were resolved far faster than I ever remember previously, but more importantly the residual guilt I normally feel wasn’t present. It is okay to be myself. That feeling hasn’t gone away, whereas on previous occasions in stressful situations my self doubt has always returned. Somewhere between Christmas and now, something fundamental truly has changed.

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It’s also meant that I’ve stopped obsessing about weight, in fact I don’t remember the last time that I’d got hooked up on loss. I’ve become more concerned with shape and tone, that my back no longer hurts and that my arms are adjusting to an improvement in technique. I’m now approaching food with more realism too, so I can eat more of what I enjoy yet not beat myself up over those same choices. This is undoubtedly both the strongest and fittest I have ever been, and the journey now is to integrate those achievements into a lifestyle that allows me to reward myself without excess. Therefore today, after I’ve written this, I’m going to my favourite chocolate seller’s website and ordering an Easter egg. I’ve already ordered a new teapot and loose leaf tea. As my husband said to me on Saturday, I am incredibly simple to please: cuppa, chocolate and to be loved is all that is required. That’s the truth, too. Everything else, frankly, seems excessive and often pointless.

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Yesterday therefore was something of a revelation, and as a result my brain’s creativity unlocked as thanks, and I wrote fiction. Now what needs to happen is for me to not allow distraction and my own failings to get in the way of what needs to be done. This matters enough for me to give 110% to the cause, and so I shall. I have non fiction completely sorted now, and a routine that works for me. The next step is to insert the stuff I love most into this mix and them make everything work to my advantage. I’ve also got some interesting projects in mind for when I begin my Patreon, which I’ve decided will begin in late June. Most importantly of all I’ve opened my mind to collaboration. I won’t say anything more than that right now, but these are exciting times ahead, and I have an awful lot I want to say.

Without further ado, let’s get working.

Afraid of the Dark


I’m not talking to you when I write a blog
. You, reading this now and then assuming that we have this glorious and intimate relationship via the Internet, do not understand how language works.

My biggest issue, without doubt in the last couple of years, has arisen when some bloke who found me attractive then concluded that my blog posts were some kind of bizarre confirmation of their desire being reciprocated.

This has played out more than once, and I have found myself wondering each time the scenario unfolded, why on earth my combination of letters and spaces would be enough to make someone form an unhealthy attachment, under the assumption that this was somehow acceptance of their misguided belief.

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The problem when you write a Blog, undoubtedly, is how to get people to read and remain past the first paragraph. That’s why SEO (how spider robots stick your posts at the top of Google search engines for maximum visibility) has become de rigeur: the start of each article I write ought to look like the one above to let people take in a sentence at a time. The problem for me however is when I give into this and accept I’m just here to get the views, the entire point of my personal mantra effectively disintegrates. I WRITE FOR MYSELF. Everybody is out here, shuffling and hustling their own particular ‘version’ of blogged reality and sadly, most involve you never getting past 600 words or having to think for more than three minutes tops. If that’s you, I’ve already disappointed so maybe it’s time to start attacking me for not being honest.

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Words are clever; rigid yet tactile. I’ve learnt the lesson now not to promise too much, I won’t publish if something’s not good enough, and if I need more time it will be taken and not simply rushed out. These are my rules, and I refuse to allow other people to dictate what is done or not. As I learn the process better it becomes less about how you do something but why, and the messages I send need to use words in the optimum manner. Swearing is not abusive to anyone else if all you do is use it chastise yourself. The problem undoubtedly arises when a person arbitrarily decides that you are a problem because you refuse to play by the same ‘rules’ they do. Then, I’ll tell you to fuck off, and be perfectly justified in using swearing to reinforce a point. Nobody asked you to turn up and police me, thanks very much. Go find somebody else to vilify.

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The problems inevitably arise when you threaten people, or attack by name. If you’re stupid enough to do that in a public forum and the person upset is smart enough to know what they’ve seen is libellous… well, we all know how that story ends. You might think I’m talking about you or someone you know but without names, that’s all you have, a might. Some stories will never get discussed. What you consider important I might look at as irrelevance. That’s the great thing about words. They can do whatever you want, assuming you have the correct mastery over them. You thought grinding in gaming was hard? Try 50 years of attempting to get words to do what you want.

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What this all boils down to is incredibly simple: freedom. While I still hold breath in my lungs and have the ability to put fingers on keys, I am here to speak freely. Some of it will be self indulgent, but hopefully not to much. Maybe I’ll get lucky once in a while and hit all the right letters and spaces to produce things that are worthwhile. I certainly intend to try and help people more going forward, and make sure that I don’t allow injustice or stupidity any place in proceedings. In the end, all I can do is what I’m best at, and that remains the ability to string words into sentences. Everything else is an uphill struggle. If I practice every day, maybe by the time I hit 51, I will have finally begun to live a dream I  was too stupid to ever start working on in my 20’s.

The only way to find out is to try.

New Sensation

I’m involving myself in a number of new things this week, allowing creativity to mix with a bit of risk taking. The first one of these is writing for an aggregation service, for want of a better term, that pays me on a per click basis. I know that I’m initially making nothing on this, but I’ve not signed up with the lure of easy money to begin with. This is about exposure on parts of the Internet where I’m not currently able to reach, and understanding that sometimes, principles will get you nowhere.

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The plan is simple: I’m giving it three months of ‘articles’ (and for the record I intend to stack these up and schedule them in free time so I’m not wasting ‘important’ time earmarked for other projects) and then we’ll see if there’s any real mileage. This is the equivalent I suspect of getting people to buy stuff on Amazon via a link on your website, and I will be interested to see what the other parts of the ‘conglomerate’ are like in terms of views: there’s a range of sites I can write for, all which (presumably) have their own Twitter feeds and reach. If it all ends up as a massive bust? Hey, at least I gave it a swing, and the Internet exists currently on far less worthy means of making money.

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The advantages for me are that I can produce my own header images going forward, that I have a grasp of a range of subjects which can be used as subject matter for articles, and that really there’s nothing here to lose. I will 100% agree that artists should never take on huge projects simply ‘for exposure’ and that down that way mental ruin and exploitation lies, but having spent a while working on a range of ‘copywriter’ websites I know that sacrificing principles for a £5.99 paycheck is neither fun nor sustainable long term. As long as I am in control of what has my name on it, that’s totally fine. If the exposure gets me possible notice elsewhere? That’s even better. Most importantly however, if my words aren’t being used by other people and remain my own? I’ll take that over having to demean myself any day.

There’s an awful lot of places that need more than a lorum ipsum copy/paste to fill their spaces right now, after all, and as I’m already doing that with a selection of websites of my own? I really don’t see a problem.

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The future for me is being flexible and understanding that whatever happens, I’m the one that matters the most. Trying everything once just gives a sense of confidence that the unexpected is not a problem. I realise that if I pinned all my hopes on this and wrote obsessively for a month as if this was the answer to my problems, then disappointment could be both swift and damning, and I’m not that stupid. It’s another feather in a cap that I want to show others is vibrant, varied and unafraid.

For that alone, this is another positive step forward.

Moving On Up

This week, as you will know if paying attention, is the first in which I’ve started doing the writing gig ‘properly’ and by that I mean I’ve shifted my focus towards stuff that is a wee bit more adult. As a result, I went and bought a larger, more flexible monthly planner, and instead of using pencil (which has been my go to medium for a couple of years) I’ve forced myself into writing with a pen: the Uni-Ball Gel Impact (1mm) as it happens, because I’m beginning to grasp there’s a whole cottage industry around people writing stuff on pages and then taking pictures whilst not typing at all. Therefore, today is Day Two of Planning Like a Grown-Up.

#365photochallenge #blogger #smm Small steps into a larger Universe ✅

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Going from pencil to pen is, I realise now, a signal of intent. I can’t rub out mistakes, so everything stays visible. Old ideas don’t vanish but remain to inspire further thought going forwards. There’s the need to stick to plans to allow other things to come to pass. It is a step up from weeks of planning and organising that was focused in one direction, and now I have shifted that to what matters most to me, brain has become considerably lighter. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact gaming is still part of the landscape, but now it is accepted that isn’t where things need to travel long term.

The new direction is far larger and more interesting.

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This does also mean that Drama has the potential to be far more significant, but I think several years in the cesspit of the Internet before Normal People discovered how horrible and unpleasant it is, will be good endurance training going forward. This has been several years in the planning and making, but I only had the confidence last week to push myself past the step where it was all thought and no direction. Now that balance is readjusted, there is only one way, and that’s forward. Whatever happens now, I’m just going to go for it.

I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?