Who’s Fooling Who

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It has been a while since I woke up feeling unwell. I can blame the weather 100% for this: we’re in the last thrashing throws of pollen and spores before Nature shuts down for the year, meaning I woke up wheezing at 5am and was grateful a new inhaler was bought last week. However, I would be lying if there wasn’t an admission that mentally a break would be great: there’s only two more days to wait. After that, it’s not long before the school cycle begins again, and I can return to some semblance of normality.

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I have much I want to do going forward, and now all of the various intentions are public it is a case of organising means by which this can all take place. There’s a new poetry contest to start considering an entry for, necessary preparation work required for NaNoWriMo coming up in November… and then National Poetry day in September. Mostly, life is now more planning to ensure a smooth transition from stage to stage than has ever existed before, and I really couldn’t be happier.

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Today therefore is an awful lot of Zen thinking, backed up with a shittonne of hard work. Hopefully, I’ll feel well enough by the afternoon to go to the Gym, and get some exercise in, and make this as close to a ‘normal’ day as possible.

Quiet Life

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Is this what it’s like to be normal?

Yesterday, I went shopping and bought a lovely military style jacket. I had a burger for lunch and cake for dinner. Today, I went for a haircut, and did some PT, and didn’t worry about nuclear winters or stupidity or anything really significant. I saw someone do something REALLY stupid in public and wrote a letter telling her employers that this wasn’t very sensible. I got up to date on chores, and remembered that my body actually looks good. There was, and still is, minimal stress. I’ve had a really good day.

Then I remembered why this doesn’t happen nearly as much as it should do. There’s a group of people who mean well, and are really lovely, but they complain too much. They’re grumpy and antagonistic and think that the only way stuff changes is if they say so. They pronounce opinion with the arrogance that only comes when nobody can tell them they’re wrong. A lot of these people, sadly, are gamers. I wish they weren’t but there you have it.

People told me I couldn’t better myself. I was stupid trying to start my own business. I’d not be a weightlifter in my 50’s. Why was I doing all this? Well, that’s obvious, this is an entirely self generated exercise in attention seeking and I’m going to fail. Well, guess what? I don’t care how many times that happens because when it does I just pick myself up and try harder. When I do try, remarkable things happen, and my life gets better. The less I listen to bigoted, narrow minded cockwombles, the more amazing my confidence becomes.

You’re on this earth for a stupidly short space of time. Some stuff you can do nothing about, so focus on the achievable, not the ridiculous. You don’t have to do it all, just the stuff that makes you happy. If you don’t know what that is?

Go and find out.

The Last Time

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The last time I took a day off from the personal blog… well, it was back during Operation recovery. Amazingly, that is coming up for three months past: time flies when you’re working like a lunatic, and with today as Day One Proper of my daughter’s summer break, it is high time to park the bus (albeit briefly) and explain the plan going forward. I’ve never had more than 150 people read this blog on any given day. My core audience (points) are both loyal and dedicated, and so, saying this to you will, I know, mean my intent gets heard by the people who I understand have helped me begin this journey. To you, I owe a debt of thanks, and you deserve to know where I want to go.

I’ve had enough of drama and being dragged into other people’s petty disputes about gaming. There is an irony that on the day I announced on Twitter I knew I had to change my operating parameters, was the same one various parts of my ‘fandom’ imploded. It’s always the way these things work, after all. It was the Friday night wakeup call that was needed to detach myself from the notion that you’ll get anywhere blaming other people for your failures. The only way life truly moves forwards is when you change. So, if you’re here thinking I’m somehow further contributing to a storm of stupid, you could not be further from the truth.

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What the last week has made me realise is that however much other people say they care, the only real indicator you have of that is when they show you. You guys, my core audience… the people who say Good Morning to me when I arrive on Twitter and Goodnight when I leave. Those who don’t just engage in conversation, but enrich it… those who make me think and question daily motivation. My friends remain part of a fandom I refuse to leave. The last thing I ever want to do is ‘step back’ from being part of something so important, and now I know why. I’ve had enough of other people telling me how shit the people are whom I love and hang out with.

They are not the problem.

I am.

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The ultimate indignity was when I was told ‘its okay, it’s not about you’ as if this makes everything suddenly fine. I’m a part of this place the same as everybody else, and when someone shits in our yard, it is the collectives responsibility to clean it up. Our society is based on the notion that if we all contribute, it isn’t someone else’s task to pick up the rubbish, or look after our kids or even take care of our elderly. You don’t just pay someone else to take the problem away, you contribute to making that process easier. Understanding mistakes happen and not suing people when things go wrong, unless those people were genuinely negligent used to be the way it worked too. Somewhere between my childhood and now, society’s become so fucking me-centric as to beggar belief, and it is beginning to destroy what we own.

I took time on Saturday to address a lot of RL issues that needed discussion. Because I’m lucky enough to have married a man with empathy and understanding, the path forward is now remarkably clear and easily navigable. Sadly, I cannot find that same combination of factors with many people I encounter online, and so this makes that journey a lot harder. As a result, it is time to set a few things straight, if only to see exactly who is paying attention. This, like it or not, is the medium where I live and work. Twitter is the conduit between people and my life. Knowing all that, here’s the deal going forward.

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I’m going to make my Patreon a success. I have changed my mind over the merits of being paid to write. I would NEVER base any crowdfunding around using fandom to make money, because that’s a complete waste of time for everybody. I care enough about my writing to push it, swearing, confrontation and all, and if you don’t like the idea of paying me to make things you might not like, that is your choice. I refuse to be disabled by other people’s warped notions of what constitutes success any longer. I know what I want. It’s over there. I’m going to go and get it.

The people who genuinely care about me are abundantly obvious these days. I can see them miles away. To them, I am really, REALLY grateful not simply for the support but understanding that sometimes, you need to have the space to fail before you can succeed. I am going to find ways to thank you, every one, and make sure that the world knows what good people you are. I’m tired of having to chase the uncaring or have them moan at me for not taking care of their needs. That is not how proper relationships work. It is time to make changes that truly resonate as right and fair, in all regards, and that doesn’t mean me just taking stuff. It means giving back.

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It is not often I can pull 1000 words out of nowhere, but it happens when there’s genuine desire within to make things better. I’ve had enough of being held back by the stupidity of others. The only way people really love you is when you allow that to happen in return, when your heart opens and there’s an acceptance that, like it or not, shit hurts. All this fake posturing and thrashing does no-one any good, in the end. If you want something badly enough, stop pretending and start doing. Set realistic goals, work FUCKING HARD and stop moaning that the World owes you something, because it doesn’t. You will live and die alone and in the space in between? You don’t want to be quoted in your own Obituary as ‘that person who was an Internet celebrity.’

Find a better way to define yourself, and do it now.

Why

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It would not be a lie to admit that there is an awful lot going on in my brain right now. I thought this morning about bullet pointing a load of questions and answers, but on reflection that only shows a part of a larger whole being redefined. The biggest takeaway from the last few days has to be that you cannot fix everything. That old adage about picking the battles has never been more true than it is right now. As a result, there needs to be a restriction in social media narration on my part: that work should be done here for the foreseeable future. After all, as someone rather cruelly pointed out a while back, this is my diary, so I should be able to write what I want. If you choose to either read or listen is entirely up to you.

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If you want a metaphor for where I am right now, pomegranate works pretty well. Once upon a time, for the sake of convenience, I’d simply buy a packet that had been mass produced for my morning porridge, until there was the understanding that letting someone else do the work is not only false economy, but an empty gesture. This only happened because Mr Alt was unable to get the pre-packed stuff from the supermarket and came back with a whole fruit. Not wanting to waste the thing I went and looked up how to open it well, set at it, and gained a level of satisfaction that simply did not exist picking up a packet. Convenience has no real meaning to me now, I’d prefer the opposite if it allows time to stop and think.

However, it isn’t just process that I now find soothing. Like the callouses on hands from weightlifting, right thumb and index finger are stained with juice. For a while as a woman I entertained the notion of soft skin and unblemished digits, but that belied my joy of working ‘hands on’ at everything presented. This is a physical representation of what I am becoming: unafraid to push hard, not concerned with superficial. The obsession with beauty falls away, when all that matters is a body fit and strong to work and a brain active enough to argue with myself over details. When you don’t care what other people think of appearance, when the selfie is a reminder of happiness inside and no interest of what is presented… and then I have to stop and challenge that point.

I took this picture, purely and simply, to show off the fact that you can see my arms. I think they’re a decent manifestation of my physical progress, and am confident enough now to not cover them up. My daughter saw this picture and all that mattered was my breasts,Β which is 100% NOT the point. Someone else commented on my muscle tone, which was a lovely compliment but also not why it was taken… and then comes the realisation that any picture I take is going to be interpreted like this going forward. What I want from the process is vastly different from what is perceived by others: I knew a month of dissecting John Berger would have use.Β From now on, I think everybody would be best served by me just presenting pictures that focus simply on the point I want to make. Next time, take a picture of the shirt without me in it.

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Sometimes, you shouldn’t live life in public. My problem at present is having no-one to talk to about what’s going on at length because it’s a stupidly busy week and for the last three night I’ve fallen asleep before getting to see my best mate. There is no time to relax and go see anybody else either or kick back, because of the shittonne of work to do first. The state of affairs is, in itself, nothing to complain about either. However, somewhere between 2000 and now the World seems to believe the only way to live successfully is to share every single detail of your life on a minute by minute basis. That’s great if the person concerned is able to cope with the inevitable consequences, but not so awesome if they can’t. In fact, being invited to watch people publicly meltdown cannot be far off.

Hang on, I just invented Reality TV.

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I need a lie in on Saturday. It’s the first day of the Summer Break. I can manage that. Then I need to clear all the backlog of work I have so that I can start fresh on Monday, despite saying I’ll take the weekend off. After that? There are lots of things to change, to improve how life works, they all just need to be planned an implemented. With less time spent narrating on my life and more time really living it?

Yeah, this is utterly doable.

Where’s Your Head At?

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A lot has happened in the last week. The second of the IoW essay’s has gone up, there’s a workable short story on the table for beta reading and honestly, things are far better than expected. Forget for a moment that, personally speaking, the previous five days are a personal bomb crater: I’ve managed to get the routine cracked, and genuinely believe the long term future of the project’s getting increasingly viable with each passing day.Β  I’ve replaced what used to be my MMO Games Wednesday post with something I can dictate in both content and direction: most importantly, it has absolutely nothing to do with Warcraft. In that regard, I’m not going to lie: I don’t miss that work, but remain grateful for the lessons taught during my time as a columnist.

I’ve seen the very worst of humanity thanks to Azeroth, as well as the best. The decent people I have met and call friends will always outweigh the petty, angry minority: to succeed at what I desire means leaving these destructive people in my wake. I am continually reminded that some individuals will take your words and twist them for their own ends, often with little thought of both consequence and casualty. As a result of someone else’s stupidity I lost the trust of someone whose honesty and brilliance will be greatly missed. In the end, however, the most damage was all my own doing, providing salutary reminder that 140 characters is the harshest of mistresses when you want to make a point.

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Inevitably, when someone decides that your work is an attack on them, there is the panic that whatever you write will now be interpreted in the same way. I can remember the last time this happened, and the time before that… and the list goes on, because when you hold a mirror up to yourself as I do with regularity, it is inevitable that others see their reflection and not yours. Of course, I can invoke Occam’s Razor at this point, and decide that reallyΒ the problem is with me. Perhaps if I stopped pointing out this stuff, I could have a quiet life and everybody would be happy… except that’s no longer the case. Being like thisΒ is what makes me happy. Discussing my thoughts, considering the shortcomings I posses… without this vital release, I’d not feel strong and confident enough to begin a Patreon, and here’s where we came in.

If you want to truly know what I am, it is all here, hidden between the lines. There is no secret plan to destroy other people’s lives: what I do, on any given day, is simply shine a light on what I see reflected back at me, that has to be dealt with by all of us eventually, in one way or another. I am saddened greatly when someone ends up being hurt where there was never, ever that intent, but in all honesty life is full of these moments, and it is how we deal with them as human beings that defines not simply our place in the world, but how the World reacts to us. Each time it happens the lesson is learnt: think when you use certain words, make sure if the person matters you apologise in person. However, I won’t take the words back if I know they were never written maliciously to begin with. I have admitted culpability when I knew I was wrong in the past. When I know I’m right, I stand by my assertions.

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Once upon a time, of course, I was too afraid to do this: easily bullied by others who felt that my opinion and voice was irrelevant. The only way you ever get stronger is to believe your own conscience, and after sixteen years of working with my demons, there is at least some peace for me. I abhor those people who think they can manipulate and twist outcomes to suit their own ends, and so many of these people care not one iota for those that they hurt along the way. If I was one of those people, yesterday I would have blocked several people and simply continued on with my life, but as I’m not? I choose to deal with the inevitable (and very personal) mental fallout the only way I know how. When I look back on this week, however many months it is from now, I’ll know I was given a lesson to learn.

Like it or not, you will encounter conflict in your life. It is inevitable and often unavoidable, and when it does happen the true measure of your own humanity is how you choose to stand and fall. I do my best to repair damage when it occurs, because it matters. There’s a choice to be made, in every situation, and if a particular flashpoint is irretrievable, I will still make sure I tried my best. Mistakes will be marked down on the list of ‘People I upset by not thinking’ and that is never just because of a blog post I wrote. All those failures come from the precarious fragility of automatic response via Social media.

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If this stuff didn’t matter I’d not get so wound up in the business of putting stuff right. I’d not go and ask people why they left, or try and repair bridges that are often nothing more than sticks in the water. Once upon a time I’d lie and pretend I didn’t care either, and that’s never gonna wash with my current path. This GIF that I love so much, Daniel Radcliffe at his cheeky British best, almost sums it up: it ought to say ‘I tried, and everybody can and will criticise me regardless.’ Realizing you are wrong is a big ask sometimes. Saying you fucked up in public, and I have several times in the last few weeks, is an admission far more people should make.

That’s something I’m perfectly capable of doing for myself.



Fool’s Gold

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‘You’re not spontaneous enough …’
‘you quote tweeted me mate, with a killjoy comment …’
‘your arrogance and sanctimony are the problem …’
‘If you’d have done this properly there wouldn’t be an issue to begin with …’

… and so the list goes on. All of these have been levelled as criticism at me in the last seven days, and more. I remember each one, and try and deal with them in the way I think is appropriate. You try not to get angry, but inevitably it happens. That’s also the case with being upset, too. Some of this really hurts, I won’t lie, because I do remember every incident and find it quite hard to let go of things. There’s also no avoiding the fact that some of it is true. However, at the root of all of all my thinking lies a basic understanding that it takes two people to start a fight.

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When that happens however almost every time a social interaction takes place, it is time for reassessment. Looking at all these flashpoints to work out what has gone wrong, it is clear where everything starts. I can’t be spontaneous. I don’t agree with your definition of fun. I don’t think certain organisations are beyond criticism. I did do it properly, I made sure of that, but that ended up not being enough. It’s a combination of intractability and inability, and because I’m fighting through a quite difficult bout of darkness, other people won’t know this. So, I have to tell them, but when those people don’t care, won’t listen and find it easier to dismiss you as an idiot? C’est la vie.

Oddly, some of these people want to make it about them when its none of their business to. Having a fight with me, the Queen of Internet Trolls, becomes a badge of honor (misspelt for a reason) as does the desire to correct or simply use a contrary point of view as a stick to beat someone with. It gets worse when people don’t understand what is going on in your head and you’re forced to struggle through the words to explain it. If you can’t do that? God help you. Also, explaining that you’re still able to work and function PLUS you feel like this? How do you cope? Well, sometimes I don’t, like right now. It takes five minutes to write a sentence, and then everything shifts inside a little, redistributes and settles, and you move on.

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Sometimes you wish it would all just go away, but there’s only one way that happens. You wish people would accommodate differences, but so many won’t (even though they’ll say they do.) You block the people who you think are poking you to pleasure themselves, try to reason with those that might listen, and hope the people who love you might one day try to understand more about what makes you tick. You don’t stop following your dreams even though other people openly deride the effort. You still force yourself into the world and try to interact with strangers again and hope that maybe you’ll make a connection. Mostly, never giving up is the key. Just keep walking. Try and make a difference. For every step back, take two forwards.

The whole thing is just so mentally exhausting it beggars belief, but if you don’t remind people almost constantly that for every 100 people in the UK, nearly four of them will have suffered from depression at some point in their lives… I know how short memory can be. Then people don’t want to be reminded anyway, because they know what your problem is and maybe if you just stopped going on about it and cheered up a bit… Yeah, I understand I’m the problem here. That’s never been an issue at all. Now what needs to happen is for YOU to grasp that if we are going to exist in the same space, that’s just not the case.

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It takes two people to start a fight.

I’m well aware of my shortcomings. How about you?

I’m Not Your Stepping Stone

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Some very interesting conversations have taken place this week, mostly with people who don’t follow me on Social media and I know have no intention of doing so. What is becoming apparent, as I push further into looking for followers and extending a potential audience for the various projects I’m creating, is that there seem to be two major schools of online thought. For the sake of argument, lets call them Red and Blue. Those in the Red camp seem more concerned with the Internet being used as education, to make life better for everybody, and to help balance the quite obvious inequality that currently exists, especially towards anyone who isn’t white, male and heterosexual (your perception may vary.) In the Blue camp? Let’s see how much money and prestige we can milk from exploiting people’s fears and stupidity before they notice.

In the cracks between the colours however, a remarkable amount of fruitful, enlightening discussion and possibilities lie. You just have to put aside the desire to fight with everybody, that each interaction is the start of a potential fight, or that randos just pop out of nowhere determined to start a fight. Once all that mental baggage is dispensed with, the Internet will teach you stuff. It can expand your mind, make you reconsider the surroundings you call ‘Home’ and allow revelations to surface that would never normally have seen the light of day.

This conversation didn’t start that auspiciously, but because we were both adults and at no point did anybody revert to deliberate provocation? It went really well. It was the equivalent of meeting someone at an event who somebody else knows, discussing a subject in a crowded room (how should social media target an audience) and then moving on. I get to rethink my position, and nobody’s wrong. If you asked me why that happened in this case, I’d make a guess that both me and Matt (assuming this is his real name) probably place ourselves in the Red camp. On extended conversation I discovered he advocated open source platforms for social media use, and believes people gravitate towards Twitter is because it is ‘sexy.’

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I read a really interesting dissection of a current news story this week: there’s a viral doing the rounds that involves CNN and the Orange Twat, and because the latter do have some basic intelligence they were able to track down the person responsible for creating it. When challenged, it transpires that the reason why this person did it was, quite literally, for the LOLs and that attention has become a drug an increasing number of people are becoming addicted to. They’d not thought of the bigger forces involved, and was just making stuff to maintain an online presence. It is completely believable too: I just have to look at the sites my daughter and her friends subscribe to for an understanding of how ‘being internet famous’ is rapidly becoming acceptable as a career path alongside a lawyer or a marine biologist.

That’s the goal for so many in the gaming spheres I hang out in too. A cursory look at any number of Twitter bios reveal what gets priority: I’m writing for this website, and I have my own crafting page so you can grab a piece of me for the upcoming Convention or to simply use as news on your own feed. I don’t blame anyone for doing this either, because for a couple of years this was me. For a while however I’ve refused to tow any line that quietly encourages elitism, competition and exclusion for the sole purpose of selling a product. I’ve always stood on the fringes, and on reflection I like myself far more for doing so. The truth and what matters more is listening to every voice and being able to accept what I hear. The problem, I’ve discovered in the last few years, is that other people don’t like being told that.

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Choices have to be made at every step of your Social media journey: do I bother having a rant about someone completely taking my comments out of context to entertain themselves at my expense? Is it worth pointing out to someone they’re simply making things worse by perpetuating falsehoods? Should I tell others how that person has deceived countless others just to further their own ambitions? Increasingly, new followers ask me up front if they think I’m referring to them, but most of the time ‘Guilty Conscience Syndrome’ is just that: you believe you’re being talked about, because the last conversation you had with that same person contained a situation where you think you might have fucked up. As I had to point out last week, if I wanna point a finger at someone, names will be used. But, as is apparent with our CNN/TWAT viral producer, that’s exactly what certain individuals are after, vital fuel to fire aspirations of fame and attention.

It’s why Social media is always people first, and never users at any point ever.

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Someone suggested to me yesterday I could play Social media as an MMO: if that were the case I’d have given up a long time ago. It’s been a long time since I felt the need to block someone too but that happened yesterday, mostly because of the person being a catalyst in the disintegration of a friendship that I doubt I’ll ever be able to repair. Because of the amount of emotional investment I have in Social media, and the fact I have no desire to change that any time soon, being considered as a user rankles in a way that is a surprise. I don’t need my individuality so surgically removed and dismissed, and yet it happens with increasing frequency. I am not here to play corporate games either: I don’t want a part of a future that looks great from a distance but when you get up close expects you to hand over a vital part of yourself to be accepted as part of a whole.

I am what I am ’til I die, and if that means standing alone to do so, then so be it.