Sing Sing Sing

Sometime, the whole of your existence opens up, spring flower reaching upwards towards sunlight and promise of a new day.

Other times, everything is shit and you just want to die.

Welcome to the one where someone else’s enthusiasm finally kicked down a door in my brain before storming inside.


Julia and I have known each other for a few years now. She and I met thanks to a mutual love of that video game, which is a fairly good barometer of whether or not I’ll get on with you regardless. We had lunch a few weeks back, and sitting there it was genuinely satisfying to see her enthuse over my daily Short Story. You know the one, that gets told in 280 character bursts every day.

Short Stories are TOUGH. Doing them well is an art form even more shrouded in mystery and difficulty than poetry. However, I’m cracking that and therefore, by extension, short stories look like the next logical step forward. I’ve been bouncing an idea around in my head for the last week that, if this were a perfect Universe, I’d pitch as a Dr Who script. However, as this is as likely to happen as me being confirmed as the next Doctor, it is time to accept that maybe, that narrative could be used in another way.

Perhaps it is time to work towards a Short Story collection and mean it.

Hexa is Greek for six, obviously. I have a bunch of stories in various stages of Development Hell [TM] and thanks to this morning’s burst of light into a previously dark place, that’s four stories that are just asking to be finished. Having spent the last few days looking at the editing project I’ve scheduled for this month and, all things being equal, that should be finished by the end of next week. If that can happen, then I can write this.

It is an interesting challenge to see if I can complete. Six short stories.

I mean, really, how hard could it be?

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It WAS Number 5, as it happens. This morning the preventative measures taken before and after to minimise any dizziness or oddness seem to have worked: lots of carbs and energy, tons of water. Today will be quiet, but with gentle exercise at some point. No skimping on meals, lots of effort on being sensible. Plus, I have stuff to write.

I’ll need to add four more to the rejected sequence to pull it up to the number required for entry, but that’s no big deal, plus everything gets a secondary polish. I’ve also begun writing a new set of poems for a separate submission. Those I hope to have done and dusted by Friday. Thus far, things are looking good.

I don’t have time to get sad or upset over failure any more. Life is too short, and eventually there will be progress. Until then, time to keep writing.

Saturday

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I know, instinctively, that the days of not pushing myself are over. The moments when I’d rather just curl up with a duvet and a good book, especially after a poor night’s sleep, are over (at least for now.) Lying awake at 3am this morning, in the midst of a hot flush that was so fierce my skin felt as if it were melting, I remembered the mindfulness practices I am learning and reduced panic to an inhale, exhale, focus on the breath. Amazingly, it worked. There is always this rueful disbelief when something I’ve been taught turns out to not only be helpful, but a revelation.

This week has been a lot of that.

Journeys are not simply getting to your destination: more often than not is the stops along the way that define the final trip. Today, that means sitting in a clubhouse built as Legacy content for the 2012 Olympic Games: a place that is buzzing with life and enthusiasm, where a continuing commitment to sport has become the true significance of events from five years ago. Watching women warm up outside the window, a really decent men’s hockey game on Pitch One below, is the reminder that life happens in ways I forget.

The TV above me is the reminder of a constant backdrop of concerning and often disturbing World news: Brexit, Iran’s missile testing, an escalation of world tensions that then put my existence against an even larger backdrop. Once upon a time all I would have cared about was the stuff that directly affected me. Now I realise that, with 50 years on the clock, the time for such selfishness must be over. The moment has come to try and find ways to give back beyond my personal bubble. How I do that is still very much in flux.

There are starting points, however: the Patreon this week, when I focused on personal development, got more interest than at any point in three months, and I’ve learnt an important lesson in combining academic and individual experience. I’m writing something this weekend to help a friend hopefully resolve a personal issue successfully, grateful I can utilize a skill for good. Then, I am giving back to my husband, which to my shame I should have done a long time ago. He is the kindest and most forgiving of men in that regard, and I am very grateful that there is still the opportunity to do so.

Once upon a time, a Saturday alone would have been my desire, but I’ve spent far too much time alone already. Destiny remains mine to dictate only to a point, and the understanding now that I willfully, for so many years, wouldn’t push myself out of that bubble… it is like looking at someone I no longer know or understand. Most importantly, at 3am this morning, came the final understanding that introspection makes for great poetry, wonderful fuel for fiction, but crap content when I write a blog. The days of blaming myself for things out of my control may finally be coming to an end.

Sometimes I am told I care too much about things that do not matter, in the wider scheme of the planet. When this happened before, my reaction would always be the same: well, it matters to ME and that is all that is really important. Only now do I grasp the truth, that only by stepping back from emotion and truly thinking about WHY things happen can you ever expect to improve as a person. Only after having children has there been the ability to put self aside and truly learn how basic emotional reactions matter, and that you have a direct control over consequence.

Only by being able to accept what is wrong with me have I been able to change.

I’ve officially had enough of introspection. The best work I do however is with that quality at my core and not the periphery. The trick now is to put aside the stuff that doesn’t matter to focus on the people and things who do. Next week is the most important week of my new ‘career,’ where my own actions will effectively make or break a potential stream of revenue. If I’m going to succeed in this venture, I cannot afford to allow myself to lose belief I am able to do so. Sometimes, you instinctively know when you’ve fucked up, and then there are moments when you simply have to trust your gut that this is the right path.

I am on the right path. This is the way forward.

This is the Day

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Once this is written, I’ll be off to the Gym, for my first ‘serious’ hit at exercise since the Operation.

When I say ‘serious’ I am well aware I cannot go back to the level of exercise I was doing before. However, what can take place is a restart with glutes and obliques, strengthening my core muscles, and see how push ups and planks will work. I can also go back to the Octane machine for a lovely gentle all-over body warm up. My Trainer has details of what can and cannot be done, and on Monday I fully expect to be given stuff to keep me occupied. What can happen in the intervening period is lots of walking, and an emphasis on making sure moving is prioritised over inactivity.

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Most importantly of all, my thirst for writing fiction has resurfaced. I have a plan to completely re-write the start of my main WIP, based on some ideas that have surfaced since the Operation. I also have a 2000 word short story to complete for the upcoming Internet of Words project, which will be kicking into high gear this weekend. There’s probably a series of posts on my mental state post-operation as well, because I’m only now beginning to grasp just how much better I feel psychologically as a result of the gallbladder removal.

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Let’s start the way I mean to go on. Every day from now on starts with the Personal Post. If you want to know what’s going on in my head? Here’s where to find it. Every so often, I’ll post a nugget of personal background too.

Let’s make this place earn its keep, shall we?

Yesterday

Been a funny old week, Brian. In fact, I’m not really sure were I should begin.

I announced this to Twitter via a series of GIFs on Saturday but I suspect there’s going to be a quite serious diversification of interest going forward. There’s a lot to write about too, and I’m keen not to price myself out of any potential market as a result. More importantly, as I keep applying for jobs, there’s gonna be a point when I start writing about actual work and as this may not include gaming as part of the remit? Well, I should be honest. I still love the faff side of my life, but it might be time to be a bit more serious for a while. In good news, I suspect the people that matter will be sticking around regardless, which is great.

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I have a new Hard Bastid Exercise Plan up on the wall. I managed another two sessions of stupid exercise last week, plus I upped my step count, but there’s still a lot more that can be done. It is 23 days in and I’ve slipped up twice since I started on sugar removal. Once we get to the end of the month I will allow myself the occasional flapjack and the odd spoonful of honey here and there in tea but until I’m back to target weight? No indulgence, that’s the rule. I really need to earn my cake this time around. I’d love to say my weight’s shot down but no, it is a gradual and almost frustratingly slow process, but I only need to look at myself in profile to know that my waistline has reappeared with some force. Yes, it is working and no, I cannot get it done by tomorrow.

However, it might happen faster than I’d hoped, so there’s a bonus.

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This is week 4 of the year, for those of you paying attention. I’m behind on a few things, and this week the plan is to write more novel. I’m not going back to the start again as I always seem to do, but with a break in tradition, and for sanity’s sake, I’m gonna start again where I stopped and see how far I get. There’s about another 40k’s worth of plot that needs to be down on paper before I attempt the process of editing again, and I want that set in stone sooner rather than later. If I get bored, there’s a draft letter to Peter Sellers that needs finishing (as it never got done last week because I applied for a job) and a piece of erotica around aubergines that I can poke at. It’s not like I’ve got nothing to do.

On that note: I won’t bore you with every application that fails. I expect there will be a lot of them. Right now I have one extra job which looked brilliant on paper, but in reality is pretty much a millstone already. That’s why I’ll be applying for summat better as a matter of priority so I can disengage myself from what I have and move forward. This is the aim, ultimately, to just keep shifting upwards until I’m in a position to be happy. I have no doubts this is going to be a balls-achingly long and painful process, but as I don’t have gonads to worry about? BRING ON THE PAIN. I’m ready, willing, and more than capable of busting the ass off anything in my path.

Now I have the impetus? Nothing is gonna stop me.

Voodoo People

Today, I live streamed a video game to Facebook. As this is a sentence I never thought I would ever type in my adult lifetime, it probably deserves some explanation.

My PC is not old, but it’s hardly bleeding edge technology. It also refuses point blank to play with Windows 10, which I suspect may have something to do with the rather Heath Robinson manner of its construction. I’ve tried and failed on so many occasions to get Twitch to operate with it, and recording to video and editing is a process that I have neither time or patience to entertain. When Facebook Live was announced to work with World of Warcraft, I determined this was probably my best bet for giving streaming a try, because it did not involve real money to upgrade anything or any more technical knowledge than simply a few clicks of a mouse. However, the main reason I’m using a platform I detest is that, like it or not, I can ultimately control EXACTLY who watches, and that’s not possible anywhere else on the Internet.

This is my project, and my rules.
 

 
It’s not an attempt to be popular or special, or become an Internet celebrity (at peak, EIGHT PEOPLE WATCHED ME) it is just a way to chat for an hour a week to people and add content to my arsenal. It works well in lieu of Podcasting. It allows people to see how I play in game and what matters to me. Mostly, I can fuck about and enjoy myself and record this to become a history of what I’ve done. If it works with this platform I can use Facebook Live to do video diaries for other stuff. In the end, it shows willing to give a bit more of myself than I have before.

Mostly, it is rather enjoyable.

If I keep getting people interested? I’ll keep doing it.

Learning to Breathe :: The First Mile

I’ve not said anything about this, but on Monday I hit the first major milestone in my new goal: running distance.

It had always been my PT’s intention to get me to do 1k as part of my ‘training’ this week, and I knew I had the potential inside, but having had an asthma attack on Sunday after stressing myself out? Brain was already trying to stop me before I began, and I was nervous. My PT hooked me up with her own heart rate monitor so she could check I was okay, and I began the run reasonably confident until I hit 600 meters and just wanted to stop. Then an important connection got made in my brain: I could keep failing forever, and really it wouldn’t matter. Nobody dies if I don’t do this, nothing bad or wrong transpires. I just don’t push myself out of a comfort zone and move forward. What made me finish the last 400 meters wasn’t my own desire to complete the task, but the realisation I’d let my PT down. She knew I was capable, but that panic was setting in. Once the understanding became apparent? It was done. I did it.

I can run 1000m in seven minutes and fifty seconds.

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The biggest problem I have now is my feet, which are suffering more than any other part of my body and I think this means I’ll be trying to pick up some better cushioned footwear as a matter of urgency. That’s not a problem on a treadmill, by the way, but for the extra miles I’m sticking in on the pavements: I did another 4.7 miles today to and from school and the last mile and a half was painful, especially for ankles. However, the changes to my body are now inescapable, and I’m beyond happy. In fact, I don’t think there would have been a point in my entire life where I’d have gone out simply wearing a sports vest top with support on the upper half of my body and nothing else. It is so hot here today I still sweated buckets, but this is an all-time high for body confidence.

That alone makes those last 400 metres worthwhile, because an important threshold has been crossed.

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I’m also managing to maintain the attack on domestic chores, the removal of unwanted crap and getting everybody else in the house to help out more, and the results are beyond satisfying. WHO KNEW that if you showed willing, people would help you? The downside to this however is where before I’d spend time talking to people and ‘online’ or via social media, there is no longer this luxury and inevitably, I sense some people have felt as if they’re being left out. Again, this boils down to the definition of friendship and how you conduct yourself in the Modern World. The people that matter I’ll always have time for, but I won’t allow negativity to bring me down as it has so often in the past. I can’t afford to go backwards at what is, at least for me, a very crucial stage of my journey. If people want to be a part of this that’s brilliant, but to make it work there will have to be give and take. Inevitably, I realise, there will be casualties. I just hope that in the end everyone can be happy for me, but if they want to be with me? This is the path.

Get some good running shoes and come make the journey with me.

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I realise this first kilometre is significant, but what will matter more is when I go to the Gym tomorrow and do it again, and the one after that and when I stop thinking about them as benchmarks and simply numbers, then we will have made progress. For now, like everything else, this is a line in the sand. I need to learn to do less moving with upper body to not stress out my chest muscles. My stride needs to be lighter and less compressed. There is a lot of technique to learn and yet none of that matters if I can’t keep doing that benchmark until it becomes routine. I’m going to buy my PT a gift and when I see her next it will be presented with a Thank You card to make sure she understands just how grateful I am she was there, and that finally I stopped being scared of myself and made actual proper progress.

That alone makes Monday’s achievement that much more special.