Building the Perfect Beast

DAY 14: The end of 2018 deserves to be pushed out with a bang.

Blogging used to be a largely unassuming, cottage industry, but in 2019 it will become a bigger business than has ever been the case. The key, of course, is getting people to talk about your product with an air of genuine interest, and then that being used to further promote brands that rely on the word of mouth such endeavours create. Except, of course, there are those of us who don’t give a flying fuck about such associations.

What matters most, in the end, is truth. Kermode’s scathing deconstruction of why 3D is such utter creative bobbins might have (allegedly) ruffled industry feathers but it highlights both integrity and intelligence that ought to matter far more to those of us pursuing a balanced view of the World around us. Except, of course, more and more that’s not nearly as important as putting food on the table.

It’s that moment you dread when the much loved small streamer looks uncomfortable doing ads for the company that decided they’re capable of making sensible people buy their product. It’s the break in favourite podcast where hosts all talk about the sponsored service in their ‘style,’ desperately attempting to make you interested. It is the depressing, inescapable creep of corporate takeover that now consumes (almost) everything online.

Sponsorship isn’t necessary or required, of course. Except, inevitably, if a company believes your work is the best place to sell their wares, who in their right mind will turn down a lucrative placement deal? It’s one of those Moral Dilemmas that is easy to pronounce as a no-brainer right up until the moment someone hands you a contract. Honestly, will you be the one to say ‘nope’ when the amount offered really will change your life? Does it even have to be money? Is being approached enough to alter your outlook?

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It will, ultimately, all depend on your notion of Success. I turned down a couple of offers during my time as a small-time gaming blogger, one of which was a) impressive and b) would have actually made me money. The more it’s thought about, the greater is my satisfaction that, at least in this corner of the Internet, there are quite enough other people lining their pockets in this fashion. Yes, it’s cash, but not required for my individual notion of success.

This year there’s thought to approach a number of Mental health charities to freely publicise their efforts, after which there’ll be a push for people to give ME money to pass onto them. Blogging has never been about doing words as a business, always as hobby:  over a decade plus that mindset has never really changed. I don’t resent or object to those who are doing just this, and don’t envy them either. It’s hard enough to write regardless, without the shadow of a corporate contract hovering in the background.

If you can be honest regardless, that’s a good place to start.

New Frontier

Right then. We have an appointment for two weeks time to get the last bit of my hair that remains not white to become so. Then, it might be time to start taking a bit more care with appearance. I’ll keep cycling, and doing PT, and exercising. We have a schedule.

I’ve replaced my failed Mac Mini with a discounted late 2014 model, thus saving a ton of cash and allowing me to continue my plans of World Domination. Next up is clearing off all the unwanted crap from my online life and rebooting certain areas.

Then, after THAT, we’re gonna begin reorganising the house, a room at a time.

This article will have a significant effect on a number of decisions made going forward. Primarily, knowing when to say NO has freed up the rest of the month to get my act together, and alter trajectory going forward. This is a VERY good thing.

I’ve managed four days of cycling in a row. Tonight I Blaze, then it’s one more night on Friday before I get a day off. Last night I was shattered, and fell off bike and into bed. It was an important corner turned. This is progress.

Lots of things are changing for the better.

Love What You Do

This is one of many lines in the sand, drawn because I’m absolutely fed up of growth being used as a means to make money, and not betterment as a person. I have no desire to share my posts and improve likes by sticking a hashtag on the end. However, I’ve included one that will get me picked up when posting this by a particular group of people for a very good reason. This is a cautionary warning to those I began to follow using said hashtag because, rather naively, there was an assumption people would form relationships based on mutual interest and not simply for self-promotion.

At 52, there’s still an awful lot left to learn.

What matters far more than the number of people who follow each without thinking are those who do and then realise that looking to themselves for answers is a better use of time and effort. It is the complete antithesis of growth in a material sense, because to truly grasp the lessons required to survive as a person needs introspection, not a legion of similar followers. The single-minded pursuit of wealth and success is not the answer, and whilst such a small proportion of the worlds’ population holds the most money, it never will be. Praying at the Church of Consumerism is driving the planet towards self-destruction.

This is not what I want to be a part of, and it’s not the future ascribed to.

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If success is measured by volume, then follower numbers need to keep dropping. I’d rather sit in a virtual room with those who care and listen, and those who can help me improve than ever be associated with bling and noise. If I am going to make any cash from this endeavour (and at some point, not gonna lie, that remains an ambition) it will be from actual material output: my words, my pictures, that’s it. Their carbon footprints will be small, and I’ll know exactly how they were generated.

Therefore this needs stating: at some point in the next 12 months, you will be asked if you wish to buy stuff I make and do. However much I may malign consumerism, these websites cost a fixed amount each year to maintain. It would be lovely to earn a modest living as a freelancer. I’m not after massive success and adulation either. Nothing is further from my mind at this point. What matters is to be successful on my terms, confident in my space, whilst producing things that make me happy. It’s not a pipe dream either, other people can and still do this. My issue, such as it remains, is redefining a career path in my fifties.

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Those who support and nurture me are known and loved. These people provide a foundation moving forward. The next stage, undoubtedly, is the push towards making total strangers sit up and listen. There are shoots, first flush of new growth, and that’s my plan moving forward. Build a name for myself using honestly, humour and pictures.

Yup, that will mean video. It will happen, trust me, and probably before Christmas.

The Old Songs :: One

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There will now be an unscheduled diversification of content, ahead of me having a weekend away with Mr Alt in the beautiful Peak District. I’m a sucker for Derbyshire: blame Jane Austen for that obsession, but for the next three days all that matters are vintage bikes, dressing up and enjoying what looks like could be a glorious weekend in the heart of quintessential English countryside. It’s Eroica Britannia time, and after the muddy mess of last year, I’ve got the Factor 50 sun cream standing by.

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We’ll be travelling up at lunchtime today, so ‘normal’ service on my other two blogs will be suspended starting shortly, with posts returning Monday morning. My husband, no word of a lie, has been planning this since the start of the year. The three bikes we’re taking (two for him, one for me) are ready: his two have been painstakingly restored, mine (because I’m not racing) is a little less cared for but no less loved. I have costumes for both days, been breaking in my shoes for the past three days. Our hotel is literally next to the High Peak Trail, which runs past the Festival’s front entrance. The only problem I have is that we won’t be driving to and from site, but it’s a bike ride, in a skirt.

Not gonna lie, I’m nervous.

This is the kind of event that Twitter, Instagram and blogging was created to cover: an opportunity to stick you people in my pocket and, for two days, be a part of my life at the Festival. A smart woman would have had flyers printed to advertise the Internet of Words across the weekend but that’s next year’s task, for now I’ll be taking both the mobile and my stand alone camera to pick up as many pictures as is possible. I’ve also gone a bit high tech: as there will be sun, I have a mobile solar charging panel (picked up from last years’ Black Friday Amazon sale) which looks like it could be worth its weight in gold.

I’ll be doing my best to blog extensively about all three days, to share with you some of the vintage stuff I’ve managed to pick up (been saving pennies for a spend) and hopefully give a flavour of an event that was enjoyed immensely last year. It is very, VERY British, however: warning you now, it is a long way away from anything that counts as normal in my existence. However, with the events of the last month still very fresh in the memory, there is a reminder to enjoy life as much as possible and as often as is presented. After all, you never know when your last day will come, and a life lived well is what should always be your default. So, this weekend I’m going to forget about all the bad stuff and go kick back. It’ll still be here when I return, but days away like this are the way I come back stronger and ready to deal with life’s demands.

Now, the next thing to work out is how little I can get away with for two days without gimping my ability to function…

Time

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My life is coming to a fairly significant crossroads. In just over a month, I commit myself at 50 to becoming my own arbiter, attempting to create a new career as a 21st Century Nonconformist. In a World where so many shout their mantras into the ether, which some believe rotates far too closely around circles of electronic Hell: will I be seen as any different to the heretics and fools that embrace diversity, speeding us all towards the World’s end? This historical period is as close to chaos as many will remember, but for me I am reminded first of the early 1980’s and before the 1970’s: the Cold War and the Three Day Week are memories I carry a world away from what now passes for normal daily life. If the last few days of dreams are any indicator, my subconscious grasps only too readily that these are turbulent times ahead.

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I have always been considered as a troublemaker: however, I never really wholeheartedly embraced the concept of rebellion until I hit my late twenties. I’ve come to most things later than others, I realise now because of the ability to properly grasp implication behind those actions involved. With the benefit of time, an environment was created which allowed me to both develop and evolve at a pace that suited mind and body, and that was not dictated by circumstance. Only now is it becoming apparent how useful that has become in order to be able to see a larger picture. It is also a daily reminder of just how lucky I am as a white, middle-aged woman to have the opportunity to begin with.

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If I went to the Bank on June 1st and asked for a loan to become a full-time digital writer, they’d laugh at me. I could submit articles to a hundred online sites and be rejected for every single one. This is a profession that is so subjective as for it to be impossible to quantify what matters on any given day: the way in which we devour, create and even transmit our communications alters sometimes on a daily basis. My online newspaper of choice doesn’t simply provide written commentary any more, there are short video ‘articles’ peppered amongst the headlines. If you want a novel to be a success, having robots recognise your website is as important as a set of good reviews. My ability to communicate in 140 character bursts is as important as long form mastery, and textspeak. It isn’t about being ‘down with the kids’ and more either, there are languages for every part of the Web. If you don’t know your Deplorables from the Untouchables? You won’t last long in the Digital Wild West.

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What I bring to the table in this Digital relationship is time: not only have I been here since inception, but I’ve grown with trends and diversification. I am very much anti Facebook and pro Twitter, but it doesn’t mean I don’t grasp the commercial implications of both. I may avoid SnapChat because of the filters and vanity, but it doesn’t take an idiot to grasp how significant the platform is for a generation of users, for whom instant information is key. Learning how to be a better person might seem a waste of time in a place where nobody needs to know who you are, but when you’re willingly giving away personal details to anyone with a contact form? Consequences will matter. In fact, there will be a generation of Internet users for which the repercussions of digital immersion will only truly become apparent if we can survive the next forty years without the Planet disintegrating around us, mostly because lots of people failed to pay attention to Science when it mattered. Of all of this, in the digital world around us, a grasp of Biology, Physics, Chemistry and every sub-branch in between is more important now than it has ever been.

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I’d love to say that telling stories is the real reason I want to be a writer, and although that is true, I’ve realised in the last few years it isn’t all that now matters. I can still spin fictions in the manner I choose, but not at the expense of ignoring bigger stories. The Internet of Words is my way to do many things at once: fulfil my dreams, yes, but also expand the potential of others, because without learning to better communicate as a planet, we are all doomed to failure. It cannot just be any more that you work towards your own ends, making individual success matter. Without everybody being able to win, frankly, there’s not much left to live for. If you think the future is living in your own, safe and consequence free bubble, I suspect there’s some major shocks coming very soon indeed. One of the races in my favourite computer games have a phrase: ‘Time is money, friend’ and this morning I realised that’s more true on an intellectual level than I’d ever previously grasped. The time I have lived is indeed worth something, what I have left to use so precious that not a moment should be wasted.

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I’m now sitting on a lovely pile of CoPromote reach and on Monday I’ve decided to use the IoW site to officially launch my concept to a bunch of total strangers. I have no idea how this will go down and frankly, I’m not that worried if the interest is minimal. What matters most is having the confidence to stand and fall on an idea, and nothing else. Bringing unique perspective is what I’ve always done best, and I’ve ever been afraid of being unpopular as a result. After all, as I never grow tired of reminding anyone who’ll listen, the reason why you fail is to learn how to succeed. Once you know what not to do, the options become less complex to grasp.

Then all you need is courage to take that first step.

Did It Again

#50Kin50Days, Day One: 1k. Didn’t break any records, but wasn’t trying, but by the end of the six and a bit kilometres I completed I was running at my ‘normal’ PB time, and my body was not screaming at me to stop PLEASE I CANNAE TAKE IT. In fact, both glutes and calves are impressively sanguine at the amount asked of them this morning. For the first time since records began I’ve gone down in weight on successive Fridays too, which may yet trigger a national holiday.

There was a bloke in the car park of the Gym wearing a ‘SPECTRE’ Stunt team hoodie, and part of me really wants to believe that he was genuinely a stuntman and briefly I was within touching distance of someone who was in touching distance of La Craig. That meant that it had to be Bond tunes for the workout, and actually these worked surprisingly well as backdrop. YES SOMETIMES I pretend to be a secret agent too. I make no bones about this.

This morning was all about just starting the way I mean to go on, which I did. If the next 49 days are like this, I’m golden. Piece of piss.

MARKS OUT OF 10: Nine for gym outfit co-ordination (black and purple represent) and a solid Eight for starting the way I mean to go on. I am proud of myself today. I did gud.

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In Other News, I have a lot of planning and organisation to do going forwards, not simply for the New Year but beyond. After my 12 hour GIF-a-Thon tomorrow, I’m hoping to spend Sunday re-arranging my workspace in preparation for 2017’s ‘Attack of the Werds’ when I actually make this place fit for purpose. I want a list of Things to Do that won’t break me, that’s realistic and attainable, and that includes exercise front and centre. Then there are other things I’d like to try and expand on, if I can find space in the schedule to accommodate them.

For now, an awful lot of stuff needs to be sorted, and I really need to get my arse in gear.