All Cried Out

autumn schedule

I owe everybody a bit of an apology, and it is probably time there was some honesty with myself in the process. The pace of literary progress has been a bit too much for me to keep up with, and with the sheer range of writing content, I’ve suffered from a definite case of overreaching. There was too much to do, not enough time, and some quite unpleasant emotional fallout resulted from last week’s essay. As a result, over the weekend, I simply lost the plot.

Now, it is time to pick up the pieces. There are some gaps in the schedule that will magically fill as a result, starting with the Haiku missing from October 6th, and after that… I’ll go and stick in the missing stuff back on a chronological basis. Because of the way I work this will mean EXTRA CONTENT this week, but filling in the gaps from the last ten days. Most people, I suspect, won’t even notice the difference, but I’ll know. In the end, after all, I’m doing this for myself most of all.

verystrange

This is probably a good moment to thank you all for sticking with me whilst I get all this stuff organised. I really do appreciate all the support and encouragement too.

Time to get back on track.

#ThinkTober Week One

Think-Tober

Most of the time, when I have an idea, there’s nearly always been a moment in the development process when I regret it. However, that has not yet happened with Think-Tober. In fact, between you and me, this is the most fun I’ve had with a project since I came up with the Patreon at the start of this year.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from #inktober prompts: Day One 😀

A post shared by @internetofwords on

I could, on reflection, have simply stuck all of these images on my better seen (and more widely read) personal Instagram account, but that would negate the point. It isn’t about the views. This is me, making art for myself. It is finding original ways to tell stories with words and pictures and is the best fun I’ve had for a very long time.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from #inktober Prompts: Day Two. Geometric Love Song.

A post shared by @internetofwords on

The plan is simple: look at the prompt word, then think of how the Haiku could be presented. Is it something I can do easily or will the process require a setup? How complex or otherwise do backgrounds need to be: would something too complicated detract from the point of the poetry?

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from #inktober prompts: Day Three. For Shores.

A post shared by @internetofwords on

There’s been some thinking too about the place in which I live, and how backgrounds and environments can be altered, constructed as frameworks onto which poetry can be inserted or placed. Every day is a new ‘scene’ to be created, built and then photographed. This is only my camera’s phone too: no manipulation save for the filters Instagram presents.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from @inktober #inktober quotes. Day Four: Drifting.

A post shared by @internetofwords on

Then came the revelation that there is video too, so with thought these words can move and become something more than simply static tableau. That’s a concept that still needs some thought, but the door opened, as a result, is significant.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from @inktober #inktober2017 prompts. Day 5: …and RELAX.

A post shared by @internetofwords on

There is acting, in every day’s work: pieces of myself revealed (sometimes with intent, others by accident) that is turning what began as something academic into a deeply personal experience. Looking back on the last week comes the realisation that there is so much more that could be done, and it inspires me to attempt next week’s selection with more flair and skill.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from @inktober #inktober2017 prompts. Day 6: Weapon of Choice.

A post shared by @internetofwords on

Then comes the understanding that simple is best, sometimes: of all the week’s ‘work’ I think this is my favourite Haiku of all. When simply reduced to writing implement and paper, all the stresses and strains of the world fall away, and everything is perfect. Everything else, in effect, is superfluous.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from @inktober #inktober2017 prompts. Day 7: Navel Contemplation

A post shared by @internetofwords on

I posed naked for this picture: of course, you can’t see that, only scars from surgery to the upper abdomen and belly button. I make myself part of the art but am never really comfortable with that process, so next week there’ll be more of the same, to push out of comfort zones and try to make statements. Each of the 31 days will be as different as possible: no repetition, and absolutely no compromise.

I hope you’ve enjoyed both poetry and art.

National Poetry Day Haiku and Micropoetry

2017-banner-1

It seems somewhat disingenuous to have produced a week’s worth of poetry for a single day’s celebration, but I decided to use an existing format to advertise a worthy cause. In the end, my efforts were largely lost as individual works, so putting them together as complete entities a week on seems like a very sensible thing to do. Both of these sets of poems were written whilst I was in Birmingham, the first time that this has happened. I intend to do more location work as time goes on: it was glorious to sit, pencil in hand and write these sequences first in longhand.

I learnt an awful lot of useful stuff last week: not to overstretch, to rewrite (constantly) and to not be afraid to alter my perceptions of what is important. As a result, I feel these two sequences are the best produced by a long way in this process of poetic evolution.


I AM FREE.png

To sit, then write words
Chosen without concern, this
Is truly freedom.

To think without fear
Pure joy, earnest expression
Woman’s true freedom.

To laugh at the joke,
Criticising: no comeback
Their own true freedom.

To believe better,
Transformation, empathy
Our right; true freedom.

To exist, equal
Consideration, respect;
Life’s meaning, freedom.

To own all such things
Yet not to understand for
Some, they don’t exist.

Greatest injustice:
Belittle those without their
Deserved, true freedom.


Only when taken away, does
Freedom really matter:
Existence, shattered.

Grasping just how lucky we are,
Then liberation is gone:
Loss, horribly wrong.

Those lives that exist without rights,
Fighting for every breath
Nothing precious left.

Look to us with excess, and say:
‘Why don’t you understand?
Life is in your hands.’

Perhaps answer is to lose all:
No sitting on the fence,
Fatal consequence.

Finally, when all fear is gone,
Then truth can be revealed:
Divisions held, healed.

I control, both body and name
Not taken for granted:
Freedom, implanted.


October’s Book of the Month

If you’re new here, please take a moment
to read our Mission Statement

This Month's Content

October’s featured text is ‘The Comfort of Strangers’
by Iain McEwan
You can buy it here.

Each month, the Internet of Words presents a selection of content: fiction, essays, poetry and non-fiction, inspired and directly influenced by our Book of the Month.

To learn more about what you can expect, please read this.



Available This Month:

4th October

An Introduction to the Challenging: Ian McEwan’s career began with difficult, often disturbing narratives that would challenge a reader’s belief in the goodness and sanctity of modern society. That edge still remains, but with age has taken on a deeper significance: we explore his body of work and how the subject matter of his novels never fails to cause some measure of controversy…

11th October

Traversing the Fringes: Our Book of the Month is one of the first stories McEwan wrote in what has become commonly known as his Macabre Phase. How much is a reader prepared to accept in a narrative before the subject matter becomes simply too difficult to stomach?

18th October

From Page to Screen: McEwan’s work has been widely dramatised both on TV and Film, most recently by the BBC who took on what many thought was the unadaptable A Child in Time. We examine the work spawned from this writer’s output and look at the difficulties of adapting challenging narratives to produce compelling viewing.

25th October

Seed: (Short Story) In my head, you and I are lovers… Sometimes, what is the truth and what are lies becomes impossible to adequately divide.


Patreon Only Content

This month’s exclusive Patreon content will consist of poetry based on the breadth of McEwan’s work, including Atonement, Enduring Love, The Ploughman’s Lunch and A Child in Time.

Pledges for the site begin at only $2, which grants you full access to all exclusive material.

Click here to become a Patreon

What’s my Name Again?

Origins

I have been working REALLY hard the last couple of months, and there are days when I will be honest, things just happen on autopilot. Last week’s National Poetry Day endeavour was not what I expected it to be: part of me felt a fair amount of disappointment. I didn’t get a single retweet for my work, and I felt the exposure gained wasn’t worth the effort expended. Then, on Friday morning, something odd happened. I was driving back from dropping the youngest from School and, sat waiting at a set of traffic lights saw a girl in her 20’s in an outfit that, at a casual glance, beggared belief.

Once upon a time, I wouldn’t have chastised myself for such a casual condemnation of personal taste. This time, however, I did and when I got home there was a sudden and rather unexpected need to write the moment down: not as a blog post, but as a poem. You can find The Girl Who looked like a Sofa here and that moment has somehow unlocked a part of my brain that used to exclusively thing in terms of prose and nothing else. Now I find myself wanting to willingly write poetry as a supplement to my stream of consciousness written output. This is a new sensation.

romance.exe

Previously, I’ve been producing output almost to order, mechanically in some cases… and somewhere between this being considered requirement or relaxation, a seed has germinated. I’m beginning to think differently. There’s a need to produce poems not just as words, but in a more visually appealing manner. That’s how the idea for the 31 Days of Haiku Challenge was born, after all.

#ThinkTober 31 Haiku from #inktober Prompts: Day Two. Geometric Love Song.

A post shared by @internetofwords on

Every day, I have determined, will be different. I’ll try my hand at design using pens for some days, find suitable locations to present thematic words on others. I want to build a picture not only of my life but the place I live and things that matter to me. Poetry has become another means of expression as a result. It is also producing surprising subsidiary benefits, mostly in the means by which I express myself normally.

thankyou.png

I want to do more visual work. If this can be successfully combined with words then so much the better. Almost overnight, I have a completely new means by which to express myself.

You can totally guarantee I will make the most of it.

Breathe In

autumn schedule

I’m here on a Friday to celebrate what has been a successful month for this little site. Starting on Monday is the very real possibility of multiple posts a day and a really rather packed schedule all the way until Christmas. Having already pre-warned you about Think-Tober, I went away and made better graphics, and that will begin via Instagram on Sunday. I suspect there’ll be a compilation of seven days worth of posts in this medium at some point across the weekends in October too.

Think-Tober.png

We’re still behind a bit, but once October’s Book of the Month titles are posted on Monday along with the last of the outstanding acrostics, there’s no excuse to keep up to date. This month will also see an alteration to Patreon tiers in an attempt to attract more interest, plus some subtle changes to the concept’s major remit. I’d planned to reassess every three months, so this part of my plan is still on schedule. Looking ahead, the Book of the Month will be taking a one-month hiatus in November to accommodate my participation in the 2017 NaNoWriMo event.

nanowribanner

I’ve written on and of for NaNo across five years, but only the last two have been serious efforts. This year, the plan is to come up with something I will turn into a potentially saleable novel. That level of completion and professionalism has, as yet, eluded me, but I believe I’m in a decent position this year to make that a reality. To make sure I’m utterly focused, rethought and re-organised Patreon content will launch again December 1st. Everyone who is currently a Patreon will also be getting an exclusive (and personalised) Christmas gift, as a thank you for your continued support.

The Girl who looked like a Sofa.png

Until then, you can expect an increase in the amount of poetry being written, original works appearing and all sorts of other TOP QUALITY GUBBINS.

Book of the Month :: Throw 6 to Start

THROW 6 TO START.png
As the second sun goes down, Riz wonders if he’s done the right thing.

This is closer to disaster as he’s ever flown, far too late to start wishing the journey had never been undertaken. With Pleasure Planet Pixel in darkness, there is less than a rotation before the Game he’s attending begins, yet Desi is nowhere to be seen. Next time, if this all goes to plan, they’ll not need to take separate transports and can travel as an item.

That word has a comforting ring.

‘Oh, you weren’t lying, you did miss us: we are truly touched!’

Their hand on his arm sends every hair erect, frisson of desire inevitable and inescapable. Turning, they are still in the complimentary spacesuit, not bothering to change after arrival. Iridescent pearl skin shimmers: brilliant light from the nebula above, ethereal beauty that transcends this solar system plus thousands of others. His devil stands, head slightly tipped, reading every thought without care or permission. In their imagination they’re already entwined in the luxury hotel bed, his fears being sucked from a tired and tense body: the Earthman begins to relax.

Riz knows this last year of stress was worth every moment: the prize is already in sight.

‘You were the one who said our lives were getting predictable, so we did consider making you wait, but thanks to the Slingshot mechanical failure that will be the last transport of the day. We could have taken layover until the morning, but there’s too much to do.’

‘I’m sorry we fought at the Terminal. I… sometimes it’s easy to forget how much you can hear in my head.’

‘You have nothing to worry about, Lover Boy. The day somebody else attracts that primate brain, then we’re the one in trouble. Until then, it’s our job to make sure that your pleasure centres are never left wanting. We are VERY good at that task, and intend to only improve over time.’

They kiss him, mouth tart, alcohol and need both all too obvious. The relationship’s odd-fitting, even now: sometimes motivation gets misplaced in a sea of pheromones and sloth. However, his liberation is close: hatched over the NeuralNet, virtual chat room for those with debts that conventional employment would never pay off. The human who loved being fucked by everybody but eventually was screwed by his own naivety, and the Centuran androgyne with a flair for the overly theatric.

If it all worked out tomorrow, both of them would finally be free.


‘Do you believe in fate?’

They’ve woken tangled together but instead of pre-dawn intercourse it is discussion. Desi will know he has nerves that need to be assuaged: they wrap both mind and body around him, cocoon of reassurance, allowing Riz to awaken far better than would happen with stimulants. The question is taking time for them to process, and only now does he grasp why –

‘You don’t know what I’m talking about, do you?’

‘Oh, we grasp the human concept, don’t worry. We have an equivalent, we were just trying to work out a visual metaphor to explain.’

Centuran culture is not about words: as a race of telepaths, verbal language is largely redundant. Instead comprehension is based around imagery, often complex fractal patterns that have evolved directly from the very stuff of the Universe itself. The image Desi places in Riz’s brain however is very human: they’re at the last casino visited, win at which removed all but 5% of their joint financial debt. He stands and throws two dice, but then catches both before they hit the table.

Fate is the development of events outside a person’s control, regarded as predetermined by a supernatural power. You throw the dice, and it is fate that decides the numbers. For us, fate is that which cannot be affected by our own minds. We can control the dice in flight and precisely dictate the number that falls, but are unable to truly influence the person throwing.

Their voice in his mind is musical, soothing cadences that make their kiss far more potent than any given by his own kind. That’s what attracted him to Desi, he could indulge an almost constant need for stimulation with a being who had evolved simply for that purpose. Their race didn’t procreate in the same messy fashion as bipedal humans, so there was no need to concern himself with the physical and once that had happened… sensation stopped just being about release, biological offering.

Orgasm takes place in a different way: no body cavities, contraception irrelevant. His body and brain are warped, sensation shuddering from fingertips to follicles. The most intense and beautiful experience that Riz has ever felt, on demand, and which never gets old. There’s a small part of his brain that knows they should be at the Game venue, working out the best place for him to sit so they can still covertly communicate, but today he just lets them engulf his primal brain completely.

The sensation is so great, he passes out with the pleasure.


The water is incredibly cold: Riz is immediately awake.

It takes a second to realise an ice bucket was upended over him, he’s naked and tied to a chair, and that Desi is being restrained by a couple of Law Enforcement automatons. Only two things could have caused this sudden downturn in circumstance: random attack or deliberate action. Causality is a subject Riz knows a lot about: studying Freakonomics at NYSU for four years, working at Church built for the worship of Saints Levitt and Dubner. There wasn’t an outcome that couldn’t be tied to another if you were smart enough to play the algorithms…

This Game was one of many that the WolfIsi Group had manipulated for the last decade, without fail. By coming here, he’d guaranteed that his loan company would notice, and do what always happened in situations where they thought a client was about to escape control. As contract was signed not in blood but DNA, his body remained their property until such times as all existing monetary debts were paid in full: before then they could invoke repossession of that material at any time. He had anticipated them striking at the venue, but as they haven’t, that’s not a problem.

He’d also like to be more clothed for this, but no matter.

The WI officer’s uniform is starched to within an inch of rigidity, yet looks like it could disintegrate at any moment, straining across her huge, genetically-enhanced biceps. The woman’s face regards him not with pity but in a way that could almost be respect: the rules of this engagement might yet be about to change. Maybe they’re not here because of potential collateral loss; perhaps someone finally saw through this deception.

‘Mr Monteverdi, I must say it has been some years since we had a client come this close to completing their payments on time. You are to be congratulated on your industry.’

‘Thank you, I took it upon myself as a personal challenge to pay off this loan on time and to the penny.’

‘Which you will do by simply winning a round of the Game tomorrow, which my superiors feel sure you’ll be more than capable of achieving. That however would mean we’re unable to maintain you as collateral, and under the circumstances this will cause us an issue, especially with the amount of money you seem capable of regularly providing.’

Riz had read the old case files on Fully Paid Loans until he could recite them from memory: in three hundred years, only a handful of clients had escaped death by invoking the clause he would now be forced to use. It would all hinge on the Officer not grasping the significance of Desi, something that now needed to be confirmed…

On cue, comes invasion of his mind: their hands cover his eyes, slim fingers caress earlobes. No-one else is aware of the Centauran’s real identity.

‘Under agreement terms I invoke the Double or Nothing clause in my contract. Details of intention to do so are posted in three public forums plus via time-delayed message on SocalTwetwerks.’

The Officer blinks at Riz, clear confusion etched on hardening features, before headset implant prompts understanding. Robot spiders will be crawling the Solar Internet, confirming that the naked bloke in the chair just completely changed the game. He’s forced WolfIsi to allow him a chance to become debt free with one random action, at the discretion of the Officer. They have fifteen Earth minutes to decide what it will be: in the previous cases coin tosses (which were believed to be weighted to the company’s favour) had decided the outcome, but since all forms of physical currencies became redundant at the end of the century and his contract hadn’t been updated to reflect this due to clerical oversight…

Desi is a mask: beautifully smooth skin, pert yet full, heavy breasts that defied gravity, surgically added slit at her groin to make sure no-one ever checked the DNA details too carefully. It was amazing the number of people who didn’t: she just looked like a human with a skin job. That’s what the desk clerk had her registered as, which might yet be useful, depending on the intelligence of the Officer. According to the Citizens Advice Worldnet, races with a human equivalent IQ of 70 or lower made the best Enforcement teams, being able to understand instructions yet not argue with contentious interpretation…

Riz is confident: all bases are covered, regardless of what happens next. He’s about to gamble the loan he took for gender reassignment to completion, and win.

‘They said you might do this. My boss read your file really well. Thanks to you, there’ll be a new amendment to the standard proposal in the New Year. You should be proud you found a loophole that we’re now going to close.’

Respect turns inevitably to condescension: the Officer pulls from her pocket a small recording unit. If it’s on record, they have to play fair. WolfIsi Legal will now be well aware that if they try and bury him, this part of the Universe will know about the fatality very fast, thanks to many and various messages sent to a lot of very important and high profile media outlets.

Riz made sure nothing was left to chance.

‘Thanks to Clause 27b/6 in your contract, we have the right to substitute an alternative form of random action for the Double or Nothing gamble.’

Riz loved games from an early age: in a world where everybody could work out the odds, he’d taken gambling a stage further. That’s why Desi had been sought out, means by which to take probability and bend it to his own ends. The biggest trick was to lose and make it look as if it wasn’t cheating, by warping the Universe itself to his ends.

‘You have to predict the number on these two dice. That’s our offer. I’m waiting.’

Large, long table by the Hotel room door is picked up, almost dropped in front of Riz’s restrained torso. He has fifteen minutes to accept this offer or lose the Double or Nothing get-out completely. In his head, possibilities land: dice will be remotely controlled by one of the Law Enforcement units, so they fall exactly as dictated. The units will have been picked so they cannot be hacked or interfered with. Just like coins before, belief is that any final result completely controlled by the Company is intractable.

Desi is smiling in his head. Not a small and quet but loud and brilliant, promise of so much once this debt is finally paid. They love the simian, unconditionally, because no other human mind they have encountered was so good at predicting all the outcomes, and playing to win.

‘Six. You’re going to roll a six.’

As the dice are thrown from the giant woman’s hand, Riz decides he quite likes being tied to chairs.


Book of the Month :: Why Numbers are Scary, and Other Stories.

Book of the Month

Freakonomics is, undoubtedly, a brilliant book of essays which almost effortlessly uses causality to knit together seemingly disparate truths. However, for me at times it was a hard set of scenarios to grasp. The problem is not the details, but numbers. Economics, as is the case with so many branches of the sciences, relies on a strong mathematical base: understanding how figures interact and create the foundations of this and other scientific disciplines is pretty much essential. I have always struggled with maths, for as long as memory exists: words are natural, almost fluid but the same has never been true with calculations or equations.

In fact, I have nightmares sometimes over the basic inability to cope with mental arithmetic. If there is homework that involves the discipline, I’ll politely remind either son or daughter that dad’s the better person to ask. ‘In mathematics, something must be invested before anything is gained,’ writes David Berlinski in his book ‘One, Two Three’, a study of the basics of mathematical principle: ‘what is gained is never quite so palpable as what has been invested.’ Once I realised that my mind was the problem and not complexity of equations, it began a train of thought that seemed worth sharing.

When asking the question ‘Why am I terrible at maths?’ there were a lot of possible solutions, including the possibility that I might suffer from dyscalculia, which is a form of dyslexia. It is considered a specific developmental disorder, with an estimate that up to 6% of the population could suffer from some form of number ‘blindness.’ This ties in with the inability to read musical notation (despite having been taught to) and my total inability to remember people’s names, which has caused me issues for decades.

However, over time, and with practice, mathematical competence has improved. What normally tends to happen, and this was most definitely the case whenever Levitt and Dubner used numbers to make a point, I’d simply switch off and skip the sections which asked for specific concentration. This had become the way I dealt with other issues too, even when sitting and listening to mathematical discussions. Was it really my brain at fault? In the spirit of using causality to look beyond the obvious, I sought answers from my past. When did the issues with maths truly begin, and could a mental disorder be the cause?

1091849

In the early 1960’s Sir James Pitman (grandson of Sir Isaac Pitman, inventor of a shorthand system) created the Initial Teaching Alphabet (or ITA for short) which was meant to help children learn to read. It meant that, as a child, I was taught two alphabets for basic comprehension and not one: for instance, I will when tired still spell like as liek (with that middle vowel sound part of the ITA ‘phonics’ system, as you can see on the end of the third line of the picture above.) This same confusion remains after decades: I’d not linked this with possible mathematical shortcomings until very recently.

Enter RadioLab, ‘where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.’ This WNYC podcast is much beloved by my husband, and I’ve begun to become a fan myself over time. In this case, Season 6 Episode 5 [Numbers] was the causal link required to jump from one point in a personal chronology to another. In the segment ‘Innate Numbers’ comes explanation and understanding that, as children, we have no concept of numbers whatsoever, and the strict linear progression from 1-10 has to be quite vigorously reinforced before cognition occurs.

radiolab

Suddenly, I appear to have discovered a causal connection that not only makes sense, but that feels innately correct. However, thoughts are not facts, and if I want to know the real truth over whether my struggles with ITA as a child really have contributed to a disconnect with maths in subsequent decades, there are other possibilities to consider. I won’t win prizes for mental arithmetic speed any time soon: however from these initial issues, a fear and general lack of interest in mathematics no longer exists.

As I push myself into learning more about my own body, challenging how problems are dealt with, comes a deeper awareness of how reaction to stimulus occurs, using the mental tools I wield with most comfort. It is why, I suspect, poetry rhyming feels far more comfortable than the dissonance of imagery and metaphor: those things work better as prose, and poems are more fluid and natural when flowing almost as music. Then, looking at how my mind now reacts to music, there is no longer simply the enjoyment of lyrics or melody, but a rediscovery of how numbers dictate rhythm.

In this regard, mathematics is the most natural thing in the world: chord progressions and key changes are inherently built into my make-up: at 10 I was a fairly prodigious recorder player, and it was suggested I might take up the clarinet or oboe as a way not only to help with asthma, but to develop the ability… yet issues reading music effectively scuppered the dream. The bigger problem however wasn’t a technical glitch in processes, but a deeper set issue, which only now is being actively addressed.

My biggest single issue with an inability to grasp mathematics is fear.

For a very long time, exercise was the same. Intimidated by others, there was no desire to make an effort, coupled with the belief I simply wasn’t good enough. That changed when knees began to hurt not because of exertion, but simply lack of use. An exercise regime then began with thirty minutes of walking a day, and would extend after taking daughter to school, just around the corner. As the walks got longer I used maths to measure progress, thanks to the Fitbit tracker on my wrist.

That journey now means my own body weight can be lifted, that stamina and strength have been built where none existed before. I’ve lost six inches around my waist, yet weight has remained pretty much static in the last ten months. Here’s another mathematical conundrum: counting calories since the start of the year, I am undoubtedly fitter and slimmer than was the case when this began, yet the numbers say I should be thinner. If I’m being accurate with the reporting of calorie intake, who is to blame?

Well, that’s simple. All those cups of tea have a calorific content. Each snack that wasn’t recorded eventually adds up. Food dropped on the floor and then eaten does not have no calorific value, despite what your brain might try and argue as otherwise. I might be able to fool myself, but the truth remains constant and intractable. Mathematics relies on everybody playing by a very specific set of unmalleable rules. You cannot be creative and hope nobody notices. Even high profile politicians can’t do that and expect to escape scot free.

b9744851ac1465260ed23f49a6b9c445254ecbb55db601ff8ff7a9371b059c39_4101909.jpg

Understanding yourself is an exercise in causality. What Freakonomics has done for me is open the door into a world I knew existed, but was too afraid to explore in detail. The final piece in that puzzle has been a course in Mindfulness that was begun (and abandoned) earlier in the year, but restarted a few weeks ago. Thanks to meditation there is now an ability to quieten my mind sufficiently to eliminate everything except coping with the moment. This has busted that door to my mind off its hinges, forcing the reassessment of a ton of stuff that has tumbled out.

Only by putting all the pieces of a puzzle together will one be able to understand the picture presented. For me, mathematics was always boring, pointless and ultimately something little cared for. After reading Freakonomics, there’s no instant desire to go solve complex equations, but I did make myself go back and read anything again I glossed over due to complexity. There’s now an enthusiasm to grasp the stuff that doesn’t make sense on the first read, rather than walking away and this is most definitely a step in the right direction.

When I began the Internet of Words project, this was one of the overriding objectives: make people think. What is now apparent is that it wasn’t just a desire that could benefit other people: this is becoming a deeply personal journey into past, present and future. By challenging our shortcomings, there can often come revelations about the reasons why individuals think and act as they do. It is often the most difficult task to do so, because of the fear of so many things: rejection, disappointment and unhappiness. Except, sometimes by embracing these feelings, comes a deeper understanding of what matters most.

Mathematics no longer scares me, and its comprehension is a shortcoming I’ll work to improve upon. Like everything else, it forms a complex and unique part of what is my whole. Understanding that is never likely to happen overnight, and becomes as much a part of life as clothing choices and dinner contents. However, if there’s never the desire to think past the basic life decisions made, true development as a person is a long way off. In this regard I am more than grateful to Messrs Levitt and Dubner, for helping me take a step into a far more interesting and challenging Universe.

GSME #23 :: Big Log

social-media-asides

So, I should have done this a long time ago, on reflection.

thismonth

This is the true measure of progress since Twitter reset its UI in the Summer. In four months, I have picked up one new follower. This is what happens when you systematically remove the elements that exist within Social media whose sole purpose is to self-promote a chosen few. Like everything else (SEO, marketing, brand identity) there are a very specific set of rules one needs to follow to become a success.

Those can be summed up in two statements. Either you:

Are genuinely successful and organically gain an audience with a genuine interest in your life, brand or product;

OR

You create a completely fictional representation of the exact same thing using robot followers and reciprocal follow-backs.

From a distance, most users will be hard pressed to distinguish the two.

everheard

It is the biggest and worst kept secret on the entire platform. If you pay enough money, you can be an overnight success, but if you never listen to anybody else or indeed contribute anything of note? What is the point of existing?

Then there’s the moments when the robots try and convince you they are human, and the humans think they’ve been clever when really, they’re dumber than rocks. However, in amongst the trash are some real treasures. Anna was one of them last week: she’s been trying to follow me for a while, and with 16k followers you’d think she might be worthwhile, but her Twitter’s a stream of quotes and pictures and little if no reality injected. Looking at her biography, she appears ‘real’ enough:

Student. Writer. Gamer. Slytherin. Bookaholic. Dork. Programmer in Training. Founder of [Account 1] and [Account 2] Part of the Response Team at [Online Employer]

[US LOCATION] · [Website here]

The two Twitter accounts she’s founded have no content, plus the company she works for is involved in curating automated content for Twitter. When I followed her, the first thing that was sent from her account was as follows:

awesomesauce

She almost had me, until I followed her from my Patreon Twitter and the exact same message was sent there, too. For a second I hoped that maybe I’d found someone who wasn’t playing the game, or simply here to show how easy it is to manipulate people into following but no, I was wrong. Anna was the straw that broke my social media ‘back.’ Fictional popularity is probably is the most insidious concept I can imagine, but has become a perfect metaphor for the current state of humanity.

The saddest thing of all is that Anna may well be real; going through her website there’s a response form, details of her education… and that she’s training in computer forensics. Ironically, right now, she’s reading 1984, which is particularly apposite with the level of doublethink operating here. If my investigations have awoken the real Anna’s interest, and she’s come here to read about what I have to say, I wish her luck in this future career, but I’ll keep you blocked. I have enough mindless crap on my feed without promoting any more.

The time has come to promote only reality in my journey.

Bad Day

WiP Day

There comes a point, in every writer’s life, when you look at a segment of plot and realise, with a heavy heart, that it is absolutely dire. After 16 years, I’ve revisited a story that is very important and yesterday, came to the first truly shoddy section of work. [*] I can’t in good conscience allow it to remain as it does, but the dialogue and exposition that takes place is pretty much vital to the overall development. So, not without a measure of trepidation, there has to be a rewrite of the entire thing from the ground up.

Once upon a time, this would have been enough for me to abandon the project. In fact, I know that’s the reason this has never been finished, time and again. At every point a problematic issue occurred, where hard-written words would have to be destroyed, panic would ensue. The epiphany that resulted from this bombshell yesterday has been making ripples all over the place this morning, and that is NEVER going to be a bad thing. In fact, it’s released a creative block that’s been hamstringing real progress for some time.

walkaway

I don’t care who you are, and how brilliant you believe work to be, everything can benefit from not being just written and presented as is. With blogging, goalposts can shift a bit, depending on the time of day something is written, or the creativity level you happen to be at when the post takes form. With fiction, rules are very different, because what matters above all else is your ability to maintain a believable narrative state. You’re selling this fiction to a reader, and to make it really immerse, there has to be a total belief that what you’ve presented is the best work possible.

That seems to matter a lot more in the realms of science fiction, which is where my story probably would be placed if they were selling it in a bookshop. Therefore, this section needs to be completely re-thought. I’m doing that right now, as it happens, as this is being typed. The scene in my head replays, over and again, working out what moves and stays, where characters shift, how dialogue alters. As soon as the sequence feels right everything is likely to be dropped so it can be plotted: that’s why the notebook’s here (/points) in case that happens when I’m out of PC range.

greatjobguys

Once upon a time there was a mistaken belief that all that really mattered was a decent story: now I grasp that with the best plot in the world, shoddy presentation simply make everything look bad. All the stuff learnt, over years of writing non-fiction, leads to the inevitable conclusion that sometimes, it doesn’t matter one iota how brilliant the prose is if the point you want to make is lost or indistinct. In my case, I’m explaining a central conceit of my novel here, and not doing a decent job at all. I’m 90% certain this is the right place to be doing it in (setting is solid) and the people doing the explaining are the right ones (characters are sound) it is just how those two things combine that is lacking.

Piece by piece, combining the factors required to make this work something that really matters, it will be completed in the timescale I put aside to do so. That, in itself, will possibly end up being the biggest triumph of all.


[*] Let’s face facts, it could all be shit, I have no idea, but there has to be a benchmark somewhere ^^