Ride on Time

I could have stuck my dream from last night up here, but chose Social media for a reason: the reach is better. However much writing this way continues to benefit, the figures are damning. There’s 12 of you here, and me. I refuse, point blank, to go the aggressive blogger route, it’s just not happening. This, of all the places that exist, remains the haven for whatever pops into my head at any given moment.

However, I am a realist. In principle, one of two things will happen, eventually, with this space. It will either become popular, or it will remain in glorious obscurity. Ultimately, I am aiming for the former. Let’s not beat about the bush here. In all these years, various facets of interest and popularity, there’s never been the cult following that will be required to propel nobody to someone.

Knowing what you need to move forward is an important realisation.

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However, that whole ‘sell thyself by whatever means’ thing is still not happening. I can’t reconcile capitalism with my own journey. It’s just not right, or ethical, and so going forward it is time to look for better means and values. They’re out there, of course: however, there will need to be a measure of compromise along the way. Comprehension is my first step towards true enlightenment.

Waffles are also incredibly important. No, really, they are. These tiny morsels of wonder were the reason I gained so much weight over two pregnancies, which it has taken nearly two decades to shed. Only now that I understand the true relationship between eating and weight management, have they reappeared in my life, under the strict understanding that it takes X minutes to burn the calories they contain.

They’ve become a symbol for the ability to control my own destiny.

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This bit here (/points at ground) isn’t a metaphorical crossroads, it’s the real thing. What I know is that the way forward is very clearly marked, for the first time in probably a year. We’re going this way, and the next time we stop to regroup or have a snack, an awful lot will have been left behind. It’s no bad thing either: with the writing not just metaphorically on the wall, this was always going to be the next step.

This weekend, undoubtedly, has been a game changer.

The Eve of the War

As my fitness journey continues apace, there is a realisation that the ‘way’, such as it is, entirely depends on what you’d like to experience from a fitness journey. If, like me, there’s nobody to beat but yourself and a requirement to balance strength with tone and definition, going balls out at everything will, inevitably, result in something going wrong along the way. To prevent this, inevitably, there must be balance.

Yoga therefore has become my trump card. It’s helping me literally feel how muscle groups are being conditioned. I can sit on a mat, do a forward bend, and if you took a photograph of that moment and gave me a Sharpie, I could mark on my body exactly which muscle groups are improving as a result. That’s how good this is becoming, right now, for me and my evolution as a human being.

It’s not just here that expansion of belief is having an effect.

I get tired of using the Emperor’s New Clothes metaphor around here (even my daughter tells me this now) but honestly, it’s just so relevant. All those people in traditional publishing telling me that the only way to become ‘famous’ is ‘their way.’ It’s really not, the lie that is continually perpetuated to keep the status quo intact, means by which a great deal of literature is kept out of bounds to those deemed ‘not worthy’.

Then you watch people trot out the ‘sour grapes’ counter argument and insist that reading stuff on tablets is somehow degrading the entire experience because people can pirate your work without consequence plus nobody sensible reads on Kindle anyway… just because it’s not a book in your hand does not make this somehow less of an experience. I’m as much to blame as anyone else for perpetuating snobbery, for that is what this is.

People can exercise and publish their work however suits them best.

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The future is everything, equally relevant. It’s of course understandable that those currently in traditional positions of power will be somewhat reticent to relinquish their positions as the Revolution hurtles towards them, headlights ablaze. That’s how these things often work, but eventually, everybody will be swallowed. Newspapers are heading that way. Public Service broadcasting is no longer as safe as it looked a decade ago.

Exercise is not just gains or achievement or extreme sports either. It is ordinary people like me just doing what they want to feel better and in control. Nobody’s expecting you to run faster than anybody else, or to lift more weight. If you make these decisions, they grant by definition both freedom and choice that did not previously exist. That’s the future, people. What you want, the way that makes the most sense.

Everybody has a choice, going forward. A lot of massive companies are only beginning to grasp their rate of change is perilously, almost terminally slow. It’s happening in shopping centres, across gyms, in publishing houses and online. The Best Way [TM] of the past is on notice. Just because that was correct yesterday, doesn’t mean that it’s true today. If you’re smart, and can find the route nobody else has trodden?

This could be a ticket to instant success.

Burial

Yesterday, I did a two and a half hour poetry ‘workshop’ at a local place I wasn’t aware existed until earlier last month. The details will be covered in a Writing Site post tomorrow, but there is one part of that process I’d like to highlight here. For one of the exercises, I was asked to look in a mirror and imagine myself as an animal. Except I panicked, and almost ran out of the room in terror.

Mirrors and I have a long history of not liking each other.

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It’s a complex equation: body dysmorphia, general anxiety, plus a lot of other neuroses. It is still tough to look at myself completely in a mirror and be comfortable with the image I see looking back. Certainly over the last few years, it has become easier. I end up watching myself however sometimes, just because it is tough to reconcile what is seen with what I know is a far larger and more complex truth.

It’s what makes the Gym some days quite a tough ask, and why I tend to just get on with what needs to be done and not focus on things that use the mirrors as notional guides for positioning. Last night however, I was hugely proud of myself. I took what was the initial panic and reined it in, thanks to my counselling, before pushing through the exercise. It began largely negative, but then ways were found to switch it round.

The final resulting piece was a revelation.

It’s odd how somebody else’s definition of understanding can alter yours, if you allow the process to run its course. It is, of course, the basis of all education: some questions will only have one answer, others are laid out, shades of gray so subtle and often interchangeable as to be indistinguishable from distance. It’s only when you allow complete acceptance of someone else’s ideas that you accept ability to shift your own.

It’s that concept which is vital to make your children understand quite early on: the reason why you teach people rules is so that you can understand them, but once you know them, they are a lot more flexible than you might first realise. The fundamentals of poetry and art are complex and often frustrating, but to know them is to allow the ability to then move away, at your own pace, to new and exciting places.

Last night’s unassuming two and a half hours has started something rather interesting.

COMMENT

Everything Connected

Rejection email arrived at 2.30 pm yesterday, exactly as it was promised, which is undoubtedly an improvement on a large number of previous submissions I’ve made. There’s stuff in my Submittable account from two years ago that organisations have failed to even answer or remove. It’s an exercise in torture that is made worse by the realisation you’re not quite there enough to be relevant or noticeable.

On the plus side, I can cycle through the stages of grief quite effectively:

  • Shock and denial (I don’t believe it, it’s happened again, how many times etc)
  • Guilt, added pain (did I polish enough, were my answers not smart or memorable)
  • The anger ‘dialogue’ (this isn’t fair, I deserved that, why won’t someone notice me)
  • Depression (fuck this I’m going running/weightlifting/walking)
  • Realisation (this is how life works, stop judging yourself by others’ benchmarks)
  • Reconstruction (tomorrow, we work harder and will LEARN FROM THIS)
  • Hope/acceptance (what a brilliant sunrise, gonna be a good day to progress)

all happen in increasingly shorter amounts each time one of these submissions that matters takes place… which let’s face facts is EVERY SINGLE ONE.

If I didn’t feel everything, this would be a lot easier.

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Today therefore we are exploring other avenues in terms of exposure and interest. They may come off, they may not. The key is to not close yourself off to alternatives and at least walk down every avenue once that potentially opens to you. You’ll know which ones are right over time anyway, it’s part of the ‘trust your gut’ portion of this exercise. It also helps having a good working knowledge of the environment you find yourself in.

In this respect I’m ahead of the game. Sure, being live and immediate really helps, but it is also about the business of building a presence and reinforcing that over time. Most people scrabble to do this after they hit the target and get recognition: I’m already here. All this stuff is created and is slowly being added to, a useful resource and testament to how slow and steady holds its own benefit.

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There are two more submissions today, they’ll be my best work again. Whether I’m successful or not is out of my hands. That’s someone else’s decision to make and ultimately mine to accept: with each one a part of me is lost. It is replaced with an acceptance that this is the path I choose willingly to tread, and as such all that can be done is to hope that eventually, one day, we hit a target first time.

Silence is Golden

Social media has always been a popularity contest. Zuckertwat created Facebook to rate girls, remember? When that fact is grasped… well, everything becomes a bit of a wankfest. The dopamine hit of self gratification when you ‘go viral’ is undoubtedly better than anything a cheap bar of chocolate could recreate… which is why exercise is, I now grasp, so much better as a gateway to kicking the habit for good.

As that’s happening with greater frequency (and satisfaction) this week was always going to be about stripping back on crap. It’s all Reddit’s fault, if truth be told: after I deleted my account there was a sense of… well, actual liberation. The platform was rarely used. It’s users are… a colourful bunch, but the fact remains that popularity comes from a particular brand of interaction, that I’m simply not prepared to do.

Once that was gone, there was empowerment to go further.

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In the last week an awful lot has been learnt about how my WordPress blog actually works, which is long overdue. I’d say about 95% of interactions via likes are non-human, and so to remove them and the avatars people use with which to do so was really a no-brainer. The only notifications that will register are when replies are written to posts, the only way to post is when you’re authorised by me.

There are those who undoubtedly would argue ‘this is not free speech’ and they would be correct, but until WordPress allow me better means to curate who can see my work without taking a blog private? This will have to do. However, the silence of the last few days has been utterly glorious. Not gonna lie, this is something I should have done YEARS ago because it removes so much pointless detritus from existence.

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Respect’s a tough thing to earn in the modern world. If my work’s good enough to make someone want to respond, undoubtedly they will, and that means past a click. Likes are no longer worth purpose when they have such a negative psychological effect on people, especially those who are easily influenced. However, the biggest bonus for me in all of this is undoubtedly the opportunity to dictate personal terms in public spaces.

As the future becomes control taken out of individual hands, the ability to pick and choose who and where my information is disseminated is vital. It isn’t just AI that causes concern either: real life nutters and stalkers are a constant, insidious threat, and with little or nothing the average person can do to protect themselves, it is massively  important to know how you can minimise such issues.

Knowledge really can and will set you free.

Come Home Billy Bird

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Last night I pulled out a half-finished NaNoWriMo idea from a while ago and read it though, just to reassure myself that writing skills have improved sufficiently for me to have a decent chance of finishing this year’s work. As it transpires, the thing’s pretty good in terms of plotting and direction, just weighed down by a sense of misguided self-importance.

That can easily be fixed as things go along.

The same goes for my poetry project: current focus is not about producing work that fits somebody else’s criteria. They either like my voice, or they don’t, simple as that. The last few months of 2019 are not about me stressing over whether ideas or outlook fits somebody else’s agenda. I am here to rediscover the fun that exists within the process of writing.

It’s going pretty well thus far.

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No really, actual work is getting done. It’ll be talked about more on the writing blog, because that’s what the thing is there for. For now however, this is a really good place mentally for me, considering how bad a spot we were potentially heading for last week. It is possible to alter outlook. You just have to want the outcome enough. In this case, there’s a real desire to change a lot of my life for good.

Let’s see what can be reinvented with what is available, shall we?

Material Girl

This PC is many MANY years old and finally I have realised it needs replacing. As my ethical standpoint has issue with buying such things new, I’ve got a reconditioned, older machine waiting for the weekend so that things can be swapped over with the minimum of fuss. It means watching videos on my machine will become viable again, which I miss greatly. A tablet is fine, but bigger screen = WIN.

Whilst we’re waiting for the weekend to turn up, a lot of stuff seems to be causing outrage of late. Gaming companies, police forces, football crowds, awards for books… all of these have caused Outrage Culture to enter my timeline. Once it would have been easy to be Outraged, because there was a right answer and a wrong answer and never the twain would meet.

Life these days however is not so simple.

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It’s never been simple, of course, and seeing the world in grey-scale is, apart from being aesthetically far more pleasing, simplest means by which everything is rationalised. However, in the last few days, something important has altered in my brain. In it’s simplest form, the process works like this:

  1. Read contentious opinion on Twitter
  2. Allow myself to knee-jerk a reaction IN PRIVATE
  3. After doing so, DO SOMETHING ELSE not related to thing that was totally engrossing my mind at Step 2
  4. Completely forget about the contentious thing whilst doing summat I enjoy/gain personal satisfaction from or is useful for someone else’s benefit AND STOP THINKING ABOUT STEP TWO COMPLETELY
  5. Return to Twitter where contention continues, apparently unabated
  6. Give a reasonable opinion based on having had time to allow personal contention a chance to dissipate

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What’s changed since last week? Step 4 didn’t exist. I knew I was getting sad last week, that pressure from the last couple of months was not being properly dealt with. The answer normally would be to throw myself into some pettiness online, or get obsessed with the current Outrage du Jour but not any more. I’m done with allowing others the opportunity to sour my mood. This girl finally got a clue, has other was to fill her days.

It will also provide some important content for my writing blog, which is really what matters more going forward. Before that however I have to work out how to get my D Drive out of this machine and into the new one, whilst ensuring nothing important is lost during transit. I know there are tools for this, but that process always concerns me slightly until everything is working smoothly again…

I’ll appeal for luck when the time comes.

Singularity

Okay October, there is a plan now. I’ll sort calendars tomorrow, as dates are coming together. In the depths of what has been the hardest couple of weeks for probably a fair few years, words have emerged to save me. Odd how that works, but starting a new project today has shifted the intellectual blockage that’s been plaguing me since August. There is a path to follow out and then forward.

Two years ago I did 31 Haiku for October. This year, I’ve released myself from that rigid framework to embrace micropoetry. I’ve no idea how it’s gonna go, to be honest, but it is something to help me ease back into the process of working with words. There’s a lot that needs to be learnt and worked on too, that’ll be talked about at length on the Blog. For now, lots of lessons have been learnt.

I’m entering a new place for written work.

Broken Dreams

I have misread a vital submission guideline. I am 1000 words too long on a short story, and the world’s worst editor. I would like to crawl into a hole and die right now, but amazingly brain is not letting me do so. Instead, thought is being given to making this work. If there were ever proof needed that life has changed between January and now, this is probably it. No, you can’t give up. Find a way to make it work.

However, some stuff has been done right today. There was a ton of good shit in the Gym. I have loads of ideas for October. It’s certainly not world-ending if nothing goes out but it should not be a huge ask to trim 4000 to 3000 words: the question is whether that improves the story or not. In this case, honestly, cutting out some flab is not going to harm the narrative that much.

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Mostly I am annoyed with myself. Let’s be honest here, it’s a dumb thing to do. 

Be less dumb in the future, doofus.

Immigrant Song

Day 1 Proper of the Summer Break [TM] because we’re not counting the two and a bit days last week, for lots of reasons. I have a lot that needs fixing, not simply because it is August on Thursday. Nothing ever gets really better without some pain and real effort. I grasp this, always have, yet never really bring the business to the table: maybe now it is time to once and for all fix my shit.

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In a very particular order, here’s what is going to happen:

No Weigh Ins, Lots of Effort

I won’t weigh myself again until September 2nd. This isn’t so I can eat and not stress, it’s meant as a conscious decoupling from the scales and the way my life seems to constantly end up revolving around them. I am aware of what needs to be eaten more of, and what ought to happen less. There’s not been a real effort in that department since the start of the year. Time to finally make a change.

There’s a lot of body image stigma that needs addressing this Summer.

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A Realistic Workload

Last year, I tried to do everything, and wasn’t successful with most of it. There’s enough intelligence to realise that a lot of that was my fault, and that I really wasn’t mature enough as a writer with technical skill. That’s changed now: there’s a lot of good in my ability, as the last month has adequately proven. That means that picking and choosing what gets done becomes a priority going forward.

Therefore this week, as well as planning for August, I’ll be working out what is realistically possible with the portfolio of work that’s currently on the hard drive. Some only need a polish, others probably a re-write from scratch. It’ll take a while, but the effort will be worth it. Plus, today it’ll be time to get back to novel-ing. There are at least five days this week with potential for work to be done.

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Learning to Relax

As specified at the weekend, there’s a real deficiency here. I’ve got the Pokemons on the phone sorted, some cats on my tablet, and a to watch list longer than the Amazon (river not retail outlet) to watch. It can’t be impossible to do all this and still say sane, right? Course it isn’t, just gotta realise that there’s a balance in everything to be found and then maintained.

If I’m going to learn ANYTHING about myself in the next six weeks, this is the bullet point that matters most, which is why it’s last in the post.

Time to do the work.