Wide Open Space

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You ever had a day when you realised the fundamental problem in everything was you?

Once upon a time, when this used to happen (and it did quite often, coinciding with hormonal change before or during menstruation) I’d just go backwards. There’d be rows, recrimination and ultimately tears: yesterday all of those happened, but not in the way they had before. In fact, on reflection, Thursday ended up the best day of the week. Even with five hours sleep I know that yesterday was incredibly important. I’ll write about the literary consequences in the appropriate place but psychologically, we are breaking new ground. I’m pretty confident the meditation is what is helping (and I’ll be doing a practice later) but there are other, more subtle factors at play.

I find looking at myself intimidating, and yet next month am planning to start a video diary, mostly because of just that. Laying yourself bare is not an issue a lot of the current generation have, because they have grown up with the visual very much front and centre. For me, it is the last bastion of uncertainty. Now I am pretty comfortable with what I am, that there doesn’t need to be makeup or a particular type of ‘look’ to merit comfort, the time has come to start playing about with visuals. I’m also considering doing audio only readings of poetry with musical accompaniment for Patreon, so everything is coming together quite nicely.

What is at the core of all of this, inevitably, is familiarity with myself, which hasn’t happened for quite some years. This is due to a very particular set of circumstances which, one day, I will pluck up courage to share with the World. For now, the people who do know have been hugely supportive and understanding, and that’s probably all that is required as a result. I’ve also had enough of those people who come to read my stuff and are arrogant and self-centred enough to believe I’m talking about them. For the record, if you piss me off in the future, I’ll use names and make sure EVERYBODY knows what fucking tools you people are.

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The main reason I know things are getting better is because I’m still working on a domestic project I began on Sunday. I didn’t get bored, or lose interest, or think the whole thing wasn’t worthwhile. I’m still going, and today (after a second scheduled PT for the week) I’ll be carrying on. My personal sanity now depends not simply on internal factors, but the external too. If I can improve everything around me, not simply myself, the benefits are becoming immediately obvious.

The key here is to keep moving forward.

Happy

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This blog is the equivalent of Internet tumbleweed: extremely localized, and only seen by a handful of people. Every time I hear someone lament that ‘nobody cares about what I do’ there is this sudden and overriding desire to point out that, for coming up for two decades that’s been my life, right there. Seven years of blogging and before that countless fan websites and online hangouts. Instant and stellar fame very rarely just happens, there is a phenomenal amount of work behind it. Only by pushing daily do you achieve any notion of success and then maybe, just maybe the fates will align and you’ll catch a break.

The true and lasting satisfaction gained from writing should be the understanding you were read by other people. Of course, the only way this registers is when that fact is passed on via feedback: good or bad, a hit is still just that. Most of us, like it or not, will not be J.K. Rowling. Getting your name in print is no guarantee of immortality, and many authors have only gained real critical acceptance after death, so what is popular now may well have been forgotten in a century (assuming of course humanity makes it that far.) Everybody, like it or not, is pissing in the Cosmic wind.

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Right now, this moment, what is most important to the majority of the Internet is themselves. Narcissism is that most human of traits: look at me, I’m special, why aren’t you watching my Twitch feed or buying my Redbubble items? Except, if you look closely, the successful people don’t say this stuff out loud. They’re not complaining that nobody subs, or how unfair it is that certain people do well. All those self-help guides which proclaim that the true path to success is self belief are absolutely spot on. The difference between making them work and failure isn’t the guides, its whether you choose to listen and act.

Undoubtedly, some things work for you and others don’t. However, the overriding difference long term between success and failure isn’t about how others mark that progress. Ultimately that will come from within. Age has finally demonstrated that there’s a fine line between listening to criticism and being dictated by it. Finding a balance isn’t just about listening and acting, there has to be thinking and reassessment too. If you insist that you can’t or won’t change, at some point in the journey, you’re going to end up in trouble. The true success stories combine determination with adaptability, and more.

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I love the fact that, in this part of my journey, I pretty much know every follower by name. I have made a promise not to forget the people who matter, but expect in return from them a measure of accountability and interaction. Friendship does not mean doing as you’re told and then expecting nothing in return. These days I’m also quite vocal if I feel people are being selfish or unreasonable, but only if there’s the chance they’re receptive to criticism. Sadly, many people on social media can’t hear you, however much they may claim to be listening.

When internet success is as much about an ability to get AI to consider you important by using the right keywords, organic growth can seem irrelevant. When you refuse to follow robot accounts or bow to other people’s perceptions of popularity, there’s a line drawn which dismisses the need for reassurance. You’ve the potential to gain far more out of life by looking to yourself for the answers: it is why meditation and introspection are now considered far more dangerous by some than beneficial. Often, the last thing some need is to have a mirror held up to their feelings.

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It seems the true reality of success involves hard work, introspection, understanding and luck. The key is that only part of this equation is an individual’s to dictate. That means making sure your part of the deal’s as solid and locked down as it can be. Then, you work hard, every day, and eventually you might, only might get lucky. The moment the process stops granting satisfaction? There’s a choice: reassess, or move on. After 50 years, this is the first time I’ve truly derived pleasure from anything that could be considered employment, and as a result you bet I’m gonna carry on regardless.

I don’t write for an audience. I do it to make me happy.

This is the Day

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Summer appears to have vanished, at least the sunny bits of it, and that’s totally fine. Walking to the Gym this morning in muggy, overcast grottiness I am reminded that September is not far off: Autumn’s already here according the fruit trees and bushes. It will be a bumper fruit harvest this year too, which is a shame as I’m off the sugar for the foreseeable future. No matter, we are approaching my favourite time, and the prospect of a birthday, which made me stop and realise that the next major milestone for me is 60 and… nope, not thinking about it any more. There are days I’m not even sure the planet’s gonna make it another decade, let alone me. This is why living in the moment is such a big deal.

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I have booked a hairdressers appointment: not 100% sure but it’s over a year, possibly closer to two since anyone did anything of significance with my head. As there is the possibility of having to meet other adults with increasing frequency as time goes on , I should probably make an effort. After that, I have vague ideas of what I’d like, but nothing more than that. I’ll get them to cut it, throw a bit of style in, that’s all that is needed, really. I have stopped caring largely about how I look, because so much is changing both physically and mentally. It seems more sensible to concentrate on the stuff I can influence and work on that, at least for the foreseeable future.

Right now, I really just need to be working.

Running in the Family

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Friday night was quite scary, all told. We discovered our son has an allergy to cashew nuts, and two hours after the ambulance crew left us you’d be hard pressed to see he’d even had a problem. Piriton plus expert triage equalled another reason for me to be grateful the NHS exists and to ensure it is not buggered by anybody, especially the current excuse for national government. It does mean that, over the summer, I’ll be getting both him and his sister tested for a full spectrum of allergies. Neither of them have a problem with peanuts (Thank the Deities) but still, better go make sure we know. Knowledge is power, after all.

Knowing this, I do now grasp that I can’t keep working seven days a week like I currently am: stuff needs to change.

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Yesterday I didn’t write anything of note for most of the day because there no brain to write with. Friday’s stress hit like a punch, and instead I went and filled three bags with clothing and threw away weeks worth of accumulated rubbish, going back as far as my Operation. I’m going to need to take at least a day ‘off’ a week, and I think it will be Saturday, because then I can not stress over being constantly producing content. My daughter’s Summer Holiday begins Friday (son’s still chilling post exams and starts 6th Form College in September, grades willing) and so I will want to be out enjoying what is in the main a Staycation this year. The fact I never even factored this in pre-Patreon’s a bit stupid really. I just live to work.

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Knowing this, I have a long list of stuff to finish this morning, and I’m confident that can be knocked off by the time husband’s back from another organised bike ride. After that it is next week’s planning and then just getting on with process. That in itself is progressively easier, and once I’ve done July I’ll have some actual content to try and woo  new followers into August and beyond. After that? Honestly dunno. Got some stuff ‘out’ there in terms of possible writing-based advocacies and mentorships. Who knows.

Time to just take each day as it comes and crack on.