Things We Lost in the Fire

Sometimes, I take things WAY too seriously. It’s been like this for decades, too: it isn’t just a mental shortcoming, either. I’d love to be able to say the wiring in my head is to blame, which means I’ll often completely misinterpret signals. Yes, that happens, and there’s comprehension as to why… but other times, it really isn’t. Really specific stuff upsets me. Thoughtlessness, arrogance and the inability to possess even basic empathy. When you politely disagree with someone and their reaction is to give you the finger. Nothing says mature and sensible like the bird, actual or metaphorical. That’s probably why I use it so much because, on my day, I’m that person too.

Except you’ll never see it happen.

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I am tired, and need a holiday, and so my tolerance is low. Things other people find funny I will object to, but with a perfectly sensible set of reasons… except there’s no point in listing them. Repeating them is largely redundant if your target audience is gonna flip you the bird and explain that you’re the problem. Get a sense of humour, lighten up, why are you so serious? I’m this way because these things matter to me: when the tables turn, and you get incandescently angry over summat I agree with, remind us to have the conversation again and then perhaps you might listen, though I doubt it.

Today I realised how my writing has become the means by which these problems are solved without conflict.

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Short stories and poetry are becoming metaphors for far more than simply my own internal demons. Other people’s actions are now being exorcised, their attitudes that can be so painful to read or observe. I have, in my poetry submissions, also dealt with Brexit and the Internet as general contentious topics: it was never meant to be political, but just ended up that way. What was provocation at 2.15 then vanishes into a poem or paragraph by teatime and all the angst is forgotten. This is certainly cheaper than therapy.

Ironically, it is the level of noise and discomfort that the Internet has always emanated which gave inspiration today for another project, which will be presented as part of a submission for the Hollingworth Prize for Poetry, the closing date for which is the end of August. If unsuccessful, I’ve already got plans afoot to self-publish, as this will make up a fully fledged creative project. Experience has shown me that you don’t go into these situations without being prepared for failure, and whatever happens, this is already a concept I’m proud of.

This is all part of the process of remaining sane, arguments and all. I’m not here to be lectured to or shoved about either, there’s been far too much of that in the past. Now, things happen on my terms.

If I fall down, it doesn’t matter.

In and Out

I’d love to know how Normal Brains work. By that, a couple of assumptions are made: there are people who do not go through the mental turmoil I seem to cope with on a semi regular basis, and there are people who just write and everything comes out fine. Yes, I know you do editing and you tweak and then you go get some advice from your friends and tweak some more but… Okay, let me try and explain the problem I have in words that make sense.

I’ve always been able to write, and if you look at my work across a period of years it is obvious where the light-bulb moments have taken place. Just as pianists must practice, or an athlete will run every day whilst in competition, keeping mental faculties sharp is a vital part of the evolutionary process. What didn’t happen was the discovery of my own internal ‘voice’ until very recently (and by that I mean the last five years.) Fiction before this point was variable at best, and I’d not written a poem since the late 1980’s.

It was time to go to the mattresses.

Fighting myself has been very productive since 2012: pushing away the perceived barriers of ability, logically dismissing shortcomings, learning from everywhere and anywhere. The oddest stuff has been inspiration, literally hundreds of hours reading other people’s advice, so that a workable path could be plotted between where I was and where ability needed to be. A fellow writer this week has lamented the time its taken her to edit her novel. I’ve been at MMXCI for over 18 years, only now close to something that could be considered worthwhile.

I have 007 to thank, of course, for the training wheels that were stuck on my two fanfics, easily removed and bolted onto my own work. Creating a work of fiction in a well-established, easily accessible Universe give an opportunity to work out what is needed for your own to work, and for me there were so many holes to be filled when pulling MMXCI back to the table. However, now comes the realisation why that is so important, as the narrative pretty much runs as parallel experience for how I managed to find my way from the lowest point in my life in 2005 until now.

I have inadvertently written an autobiographical novel.

What has happened in between 1999 and now, of course, is the continued and systematic learning and unlearning of the restrictions on my mental freedom. After all that time, I really am getting somewhere.

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I have a problem with self-promotion.

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Things have improved over the last couple of years, but the whole ‘sell yourself’ thing is tough. It isn’t just the British reserve either, far more significant worries from beginning to grasp there’s been a lifetime of misinterpreting the signals of others in personal situations to assimilate first. Getting all that settled in my head’s been a fairly notable undertaking but finally, there is light at the end of the mother of all tunnels.

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This means that, starting in September, the promotion machine will move into high gear. I suspect this site will undergo a revamp, to try and make it more friendly to potential individuals and organisations who may wish to approach. For those of you who don’t like the idea of me getting all commercial? I’m sorry, but at least part of my future is now being pushed this way, and there’s no going back now. This week the first of many applications for writing support is submitted, plus poetry finalisedto be considered for financial gain.

There really is no going back from this path now.

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I’m cautiously optimistic for the future, because pinning all your hopes on summat and then watching it fail is no way to live a sensible existence. We’ll just keep plugging away at this stuff for as long as is needed, and keep on writing in the spaced in between. That’s what matters most of all: not the recognition, but the words that narrate life’s inevitable progress.

That’s something I’m getting increasingly good at controlling.

Don’t Dream It’s Over

This morning, a lot of things disappointed me.

Some of them I was able to put into words. Others were not as easily corralled. Absolutely the best thing that could have happened then did so and necessity forced body away from Social media completely to go do some important stuff with my daughter. It was even better for everybody that she got Friday afternoon off.

The only way sometimes to counteract the pure toxicity Twitter can generate is to not use it. This has nothing at all to do with contentious topics or difficult discussions, and everything around the fact that, like it or not, it is not a complete version of reality. Thinking that the future somehow involves this and everything else wrapped up in a version of reality isn’t quite the truth either. At some point in the future, when someone looks back to this moment and considers it to represent ‘the good old days’ it will be time to point out to them that it’s a lie. Everything is subjective. Absolutely everything.

The present is where everybody needs to live more.

Without rehashing old ground or trying to make people who clearly don’t listen to do just that, all the issues in our lives right now are often far more easy to solve than is at first apparent. The key, undoubtedly, is an ability to step outside of ourselves and look inwards with a more objective eye than exists in the storm you’ve just left. Watching total strangers proclaim what terrible things they’ve done in order to court reaction sits uneasily beside the real-life tragedies of those who just stopped caring and gave up. For some, it is more important to hate than heal, or hurt rather than forgive. This has been no different for thousands of years. The key now is that you can be a fuckwit on one side of the world and someone on the other side gets to attack you with more vitriol than was ever possible previously.

Oh, what a brilliant thing modern life has become.

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I feel that everybody should now be made to take mandatory leave from the Internet for a sense of proportion. Anyone getting too emotionally invested needs to take a reality break, which involves somewhere with somebody they care about, and the chance to talk about nothing in particular. Most importantly of all, anyone using Social media to further an agenda needs to be far more comprehensively vetted than is currently the case.

These are the good old days, right now, that we’re all pissing up the wall because nobody grasps the real damage being done to society from the ability to say what we want when we want it, and not worry about the consequences

Building the Perfect Beast

I am beginning to see areas in my organisation and planning schedules that require improvement. One of them is having content ready before it needs to be published. This has meant a quite significant re-organisation of how things work and what is written at certain times of the week, leading to a provisioning of days for each particular part of the scheduling process. For now, things are working quite well, but there are holes and issues, especially when the desire to write effectively evaporates. The plan in these spaces is to try and capitalise on the periods when I am productive, and ‘load up’ content then.

That’s why you’re seeing this post on a Friday when it should have been here on a Tuesday 😀

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This means today I’ll be catching up on the backlog, but at the same time planning forward. Friday is now Poetry day so there’s not a panic at weekends about content. YouTube’s often complicated, organic development from the original concept is now scheduled on Wednesdays (and was, quite successfully) whilst Thursday covers the long-term #WarcraftMotivation project. This then frees up Tuesdays and Thursdays for writing and Mondays for forward planning, and once exercise is successfully inserted on top…

Yes, this will all work, but just needs some time to bed in.

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Once it is all established I can begin the process of expanding and stretching the writing muscles a bit more. The house will get a bit cleaner too, and my personal interests will finally be given some much-needed love.

If only all this stuff weren’t so bloody difficult to organise successfully…

Falling Down

Yesterday, I put back my weightlifting ambitions by an indeterminate period of time. The injuries sustained to both hands and my left elbow won’t be properly obvious until swelling has gone down, which could take up to a couple of weeks (knowing how my body reacts to these circumstances generally.) The fact this was my own fault? Totally incidental, in the wider scheme of things. What matters now is far more important: how mentally capable am I with coping with consequence?

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All the positivity in the world will not prepare you for the situation where circumstances go out of your hands. However strong you think you are, there are moments when you will be forced to think of things you never thought would be an issue. For most of us, losing a loved one or someone close is that circumstance in its most raw and unpleasant form. Everybody dies, it’s a fact of life, but when and how that happens becomes at least in part a testament to the person themselves.

It is how you live during the days you have that will ultimately become the remembrance others hold when you are gone. This is what drives me now not to waste days, but do the most that is possible with them, as often as possible. It means that despite having knackered an arm, my legs still work. So, time to get on the bike and making exercise count, whilst doing my best to promote healing. Then, once I get to the Physio next Tuesday, we will see where we are.

I’ve not told my trainer yet either.

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When all is said and done, this is a First World Problem. It’s not a threat to health, it’ll all sort itself out eventually, and I should be grateful for the fact nothing long-term or bad is likely to come of the incident. In fact, the last few days have been a wake-up call for a lot of issues in my life that are frankly non-existent when placed beside others genuine and heart-wrenching problems. The trick should be to just cope with everything without having to talk about it. My husband keeps telling me that I overshare far more than is sometimes healthy.

Should I really be blogging about this as a result?

It’s a fine line; there are many things I could share but don’t, personal issues that never see the light of day. Often there are real-life dramas that should never make it to public consumption, especially when related to my kids. Overall, there has to be confidence that what is shared is the right stuff, and isn’t negatively impacting anything. I’d like to think by now I grasp the balance. However, it is always best to keep asking, checking and adjusting stance. Maybe the next time I do that I won’t trip up over my own feet.

Next time, let’s hope I learn from this mistake.

I Think We’re Alone Now

Last week I got a couple of shocks via Social media. All of them involved people having conversations where it was abundantly apparent they’d forgotten the Internet is public.

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We’ve all experienced a moment in our lives when something’s been posted on the Internet we wish hadn’t. Once upon a time, there were no delete buttons. You did not get the chance to reverse your decision. However, crucially in current conditions, even deleting an offending post will not mean you’re off the hook. All those people I watch remind themselves ‘I must delete all that stuff I said in the morning’ are already far too late to fix the damage done. If someone else can see it, they can screencap it. Sure, there are ways to spoof Twitter to make it look as if someone said summat they didn’t, but this is largely beside the point.

You should not be saying in public anything you will regret, ever.

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Yet I watch people who accuse others of being troublemakers when that’s exactly their own modus operandi: casual racism, sexism and all points in between. Pronouncing righteousness, reinforcing stereotypes, and the by now almost metronomically predictable subtweeting. Yeah, I get those other people piss you off. If it is that much of a problem, then remove them from your feed. Use a mute button, block them but do not sit and complain. If someone professes an opinion that you do not ascribe to, this is not a reason to hate them. It is a reason to keep them in your feed and learn from them.

The Internet is not just here for your benefit.

Tolerance is in short supply right now and is sorely needed in every walk of life. It is possible for us all to learn from each other, in so many different and surprising ways. Telling other people how to think and act has taken place for thousands of years, the only difference now is that the stage on which it happens is far larger than ever before. The sensitive and susceptible are in danger of believing everything they read as truth. It is already happening.

I wish more people would start thinking and stop posting.