Tell Me on a Sunday

Hard Work Pays Off.

Yesterday, five years worth of hard work finally gave me something extremely personal that I’ve craved for a very long time.. What I do as a Blogger was acknowledged as being significant.  The Alpha invite to Warlords isn’t my first, but the difference this time was, as the initial wave of invitees checked mail and discovered their access, I was among them. This is the kind of validation that rarely happens for me, and it means more than actually having the game to write about. Because, you see, nothing is EVER a given. You can never assume that you’re good enough for anything, because the moment you do the person you are fundamentally changes.

I’ve watched a lot of people react to events in the last day or so, and it reminds me of many things. Just because you assume someone’s important to you doesn’t mean they are to anyone else. Being in the right place at the right time is pretty essential for progression anywhere these days, and the adage ‘it’s not what you know but who’ should never, EVER be understated. What makes all of this all the more bittersweet for me are the events of the last couple of weeks in reference to Blizzard’s stance on social progression in gaming, an attitude that has been enough to drive many people away (quite justifiably) in disgust. It boils down, it seems to me, to a number of factors. If your enjoyment is derived by certain criteria being met and one of those is the moral fibre of the people driving the design ethos, then it will be enough to eventually force you away. My problem, and it is that I suspect for many, is the enthusiasm I have for this game may wax and wane, but it never goes out.

In fact, this is the most enthusiastic I’ve been about an Expansion since the one on which it is modelled was first released.

My Brane, this week.

To keep everything balanced is hard work. However, as time has gone on it has become increasingly apparent that if I’m going to stay sane, immersion in a virtual world is actually the absolute last thing I want. I stayed up to 2am this morning not because I was compelled, but because I knew I needed to have a working Client for the morning so I could capture video and images for blogging. This has become a job for me, one I do garner a small wage from, but the modus operandi is the same. I am looking forward, trying to think the next move, working out what needs to be done in two separate time zones. I revel in the ability to piece together things that don’t seem to connect but will in time. I love it when I’m able to work out what’s going on without having to refer to someone else’s Guide. This morning I streamed Twitch for the first time ever, on my own, and I had TWELVE people watching me. Seriously, I’m flabbergasted I could even manage one, let alone break double figures. It makes me realise that actually anything is possible if I decide to put my mind to it.

It is also a salutatory reminder, after I allowed myself to be baited and trolled last night, that my destiny needs to remain very much in my own hands. I can choose to stand or walk away, and pick my moments, where as before I would inevitably be dictated to and have nowhere to go. I am no longer a victim, this is my path, and it is fabulous. However, the validation does matter, not because it suggests that I’m some kind of significant force in anything. It just proves to me this is the right way forward, because if it wasn’t no-one would give a damn. I realise I need to be honest with everyone, and in the end I’d rather that was the way it was. I’ve watched lots of people react to NOT being part of this first wave of testers and frankly, some of it wasn’t very pretty at all, which is odd, because many of these people don’t seem to really care that much about the game at present anyway. In fact, not being invited to play it is just another reason why Blizzard are the evil axis of doom that they clearly were right up to the point where people stopped enjoying themselves and needed something to blame.

Who am I kidding. I don’t have a fucking clue why anyone does anything. The only person I can accurately predict the behaviour of is myself, and that’s not even 100% guaranteed.

Also no longer relevant.

What is apparent, on the back of four and a bit hours sleep last night, is that’s I’m really getting to old for this ‘staying up all night’ shit. If I’m going to keep on top of everything I’ll need to plan far better and use all those latent organisational skills to good effect. I’m not about to start tearing the world up with You Tube subs or anything that impressive, but I can carve a niche. The trick is to stick to what I’m good at and to not try and cover anything I’ll feel uncomfortable with. Yeah, I’ve got this.

Cover me, I’m going in.

Waves

Writing keeps me sane.

Many people have remarked that I am prolific, a machine, that I seem to write almost obsessively, and it is true. This is the way I prevent my brain from dwelling on the things I know will eventually warp me out of shape. It is the equivalent of why some people run, or others draw: it is not simply a creative outlet but something far deeper and significant. Only when I write am I able to find genuine peace, and I have discovered this after many years of fighting demons. I can hide my fears and disquiet in other places, I can choose to ignore them if I so desire, but they never leave me. However, there are days when the writing fails me and I can’t use it as a way to keep myself in check.

Today is one of those days.

Part of me wants to scream and cry and throw things at the World, repeatedly, because sometimes it doesn’t always have to be an agenda or a cause, it just has to be about enjoying something just for what it is. It shouldn’t need to be over-thought or minutely dissected, it just needs to be, like a good piece of chocolate or a handful of savoury snacks at exactly the right moment. I get angry when the exact opposite reaction would be the correct one, because at that moment I see every single possibility to an issue manifest itself in my head virtually simultaneously and it becomes completely impossible to separate them all. The writing has become the means by which all those options can be sorted and divided before the world gets attacked or I open my mouth. Except, on days like today I just can’t do it. I’m afraid to say anything at all because inevitably, when I do, things just go horribly wrong. The very things that I rely on to keep me focussed inevitably fail me, and I am left only with how I feel. Shame, anger, disbelief, fear and hatred.

Hatred that this is what I can become when I don’t step back first.

That is why, right now, I’m forcing each word out of my brain and onto a screen in an attempt to stop myself from exploding. The thing is, my ire isn’t directed at a person, or an object, or an agenda. It has nothing to do with gaming, or my family, or current events. Every single atom of dissapointment is directed purely and simply at myself, because I cannot cope. I can’t grasp why some people seem to need constant conflict as a means to be happy. I don’t understand why anyone would think that smoking in front of their child is a good thing. I wonder why evolution decided that we became the dominant species. I grasp just how insignificant I am in the scheme of things, and that I matter simultaneously to those who rely on me. There is just too much noise, and not enough calm. There’s no cake. I’ve been sweating constantly for two days and its nothing to do with the heat.

I am everything at once, and nothing of consequence.

I am also surprisingly calm in a portion of my brain because I can step back from myself and see what I should and shouldn’t do. I won’t write that Blog post on the fickle nature of people, what defines happiness, the agenda worth losing friends over. I won’t tell the woman in the playground to shut the fuck up about how UKIP is the future for this country. I’ll not respond to that Tweet that implies that because I’m a woman, my gaming opinion has less merit. Sometimes it is not the words I use that define me, but the ones I don’t. The moments I choose to walk away from the fight, or refuse to agree with the contention. I am more dangerous silent, because I understand just how potent the words can be wielded in the correct fashion. This isn’t because I have an audience either, that fact has become abundantly apparent in the last few months. I do my best work when I forget anyone is listening. I am at my most potent when there is no pressure, when it is just me and the keyboard or a pencil on paper. Those are the moments that truly define what I am capable of becoming, and it is those occasions which truly set me free.

My problem comes now in believing that what I can write like this is worthwhile.

I could cite any number of things that has caused this explosion of anger and fear today. It might well be a hormone imbalance as the Menopause is a very real possibility as a contributory factor. It could just be I came back after an absence from the Internets to a world that seems to have moved backwards rather than forwards in so many things. It could be depression related, it could simply be a shit day. The thing is, sometimes you only need a reason to make the immediate pain understandable. Therapy is a wonderful thing if you don’t have a clue why things are happening to you. When you are well aware of just about every possibility you could apportion blame to, this becomes less important. The issue then is what you do to stop the noise and return to calm. In this case, writing things down has most certainly helped. Not because it has made any of the things go away, but because the actual process of sharing them with you means they’re no longer in my head. They’re here.

So, actually, writing as therapy has a fair bit going for it.

It becomes quite hard in all the noise and responsibility to separate what matters. Being true to what you are and what you stand for is quite significant amongst my personal set of priorities. I care about equality, but as yet I am still unsure I’d use it as a criteria for the games I choose to play. I’m not about to make a huge dramatic exit from anything any time soon because I think if you’re going to leave, the last thing you should ever do is make a noise on the way out. If you have a reason to leave, wait until you’re out of the room before you start bad-mouthing others. Remember that people have very long memories, and that the Internet never forgets, even if you can. Don’t expect people to treat you with respect if you don’t do the same in return, however righteous you may believe your cause is, because ultimately you will do more damage than good. Most importantly of all, remember you’re not the only person here. This one is absolutely crucial. Consider the possibilities, what it would feel like to be belittled, and dismissed, and ignored. Not because you’re a woman, or a bisexual, or any other label someone else wants to use on you. Because you are a HUMAN BEING, in the end, and this matters more than anything else. You live and breathe, and are special and this should matter more.

Except it hardly ever does.

You should think more. You should worry less. You should consider the long term consequences of your actions. You should live for the moment. All these positions are valid, and pretty much happening at once. One by one, let us put them away and simply return to the basics. Be decent. Be Happy.

Some days, just remember to breathe.

For those of you who want the TL;DR version of my life, it is wonderfully simple: just be grateful you’re not me.

What’s Another Year?

Using my own pictures = PRICELESS.

Last week, I had a holiday, and it was SPLENDID.

Today I return to a World I know I’m happier with than I was when I left it, but has many things I need to fix for the sake of my own sanity. Mostly this has to do with me writing about stuff OTHER than gaming, and taking more time to actually look after myself and not allow my bad habits to push me back into not exercising. Ironically I’ve been trying to get that exact balance right for close to a decade now, but I feel I might finally be making some progress. Most importantly of all, I feel that I need to be beating myself up less and taking more time to realise just how good I am at some stuff, and where I need to get better. I managed this year, for instance, to schedule and ENTIRE week’s worth of gaming stuff for while I was away without too much hassle. Now all I need to do is fit the rest of my life in around that.

Surely it can’t be that hard?

There is a lot of disquiet in my portion of the gaming world, centred around words like diversity and social progression. I’m actually rather glad that these conversations are happening now, and that I am able to have them without people treating me with less respect… in fact, I sense more in the last few weeks, as if I’m finally able to make a mark without it becoming all about personal issues. I think I need more flags to wave, as it happens, and that perhaps I should be spending more of my life understanding that causes are worthwhile and should be embraced, instead of simply assuming someone else has that covered. Sitting down and ensuring I wrote this post today, for instance, is part of the effort to make my brain grasp that sometimes, what I THINK is important isn’t actually at all. I am always worth putting first and I should treat myself far better as a result.

This week, therefore, is all about my words.

I’ve had an idea in my head for a long time now, another in my series of ‘Alternative Universe’ dramas, and I must get it out of my brain and onto a page as a matter of urgency. Then there is the First Novel which is almost done, and WILL BE before the week is out. Then I’ll be at it again with editing hat on and then… well, if anyone out there is prepared to act as a Proof Reader, I think I am really going to need one. So, if you are reading this and prepared to help me try and fulfil my dream of getting something in print, time to drop me a line via DM on Twitter or in the comments. I am looking for someone to proof read 45,000 words or thereabouts, with a critical eye for details as well as words.

Yes, this is me actually asking for help, because I need someone prepared to help me and there isn’t anyone I have to ask except you. It’s okay, I understand if you say no.

However, you never know until you ask.

All or Nothing At All

Not the most rubbish of backdrops…

All told, not posting for three weeks isn’t as hopeless as I thought it might be.

Normally this means I just can’t be arsed with admitting I’m failing with real life and not coping with depression, but in both these cases that’s not actually the default state of late. It does also actually look as if I’m getting the hang of managing to finish an actual writing project. It appears that Delayed Exposure is pretty much done, insofar as I’ll finally have, for the first time, a novel with a beginning, middle AND end. That’s already a quantum leap forward from every other long-form project I’ve ever started. I know it’s not actually finished, because there’s a lot to be tweaked and a lot of descriptive depth to be added, but it is in its final plot wise state. That, I’ve NEVER managed. So, if we’re going to count this as significant, then we’re already ahead of the curve.

Then, I cycled ten miles a couple of weekends back (which is where the picture above comes from) for the first time ever on anything other than a static bike. This was very enjoyable experience, far more than I actually thought it would be. Plus, BEING OUTSIDE. I hope to be doing a whole lot more of this in the near future. That is, if the weather stops being crap and it’s not non-stop rain. I realise this may be the default stated here for many years to come (our own fault) but I keep thinking the day we bought a swing seat was the last decent weekend we’ve had. Sorry about that. Finally, we have tickets for David Arnold at the Royal Festival Hall. I am a terrible Arnold Fangirl, his soundtrack for Tomorrow Never Dies and The World is Not Enough are never off my most played lists. This will be a good evening.

Then, there’s the last Playlist I owe you.

This is probably my favourite of the four I’ve done, to be honest. Inspired by this I’ll have a number of Playlists for Delayed Exposure once I’m done with the story, the main one as a fairly important accompaniment to the action. Part of my writing progress involves imagining difficult or problematic pieces of action as a mini ‘music video’ in my mind: how action would fit to lyrics, and then how I’d write that as a result. I’ve found this visualisation really helpful in working out some fairly difficult issues in narratives over the years, and now I have discovered with my Warcraft Fiction that ideas actually come from specific songs themselves. This was how my fiction series was born, after all.

Keep this for now, and I’ll try and be back later in the week because I do have a few things I think I ought to get off my chest.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World

Press to Start.

The problem with an overly active imagination can often be the stuff of conspiracy thriller nightmares. If you lose your focus it can be quite easy to assume that YES the whole world is indeed out to get you and there ain’t no dang thang you can do about it except stuff on the tinfoil hat and hope for the best. Except, sometimes, it transpires that it was all just a massive mistake. The problem isn’t the event, per se, it’s how the whole thing was communicated to begin with. I have lost count of the number of times such breakdowns in my personal communication have caused drama flashpoints over the years, and this week frankly’s been a massive case in point. Except that in the middle of it all, there was redemption. It had nothing to do with the rest of the World making itself better understood, it was all down to me.

For a writer, actually making my own points of personal principle is always incredibly hard work.

You don’t WANT necessarily to throw body and soul into everything you do, even though some will tell you if you don’t you’ll be immediately found out. The massive disadvantage in sticking your heart on your sleeve is simple: you will get hurt, big style, and this will inevitably result in people questioning your motives and telling you you’re too involved. Doing that on the Internet’s the Mother of all Red Flags too, because EVERYONE will jump in to tell you that there’s something amiss if you can admit such a thing in front of a bazillion random strangers and not to your family or friends. To that I respond that this will entirely depends on who is actually listening to begin with. Thinking friends and family will care? Doesn’t always happen, trust me on this. You’re actually far more likely to find someone randomly who’ll read your cry for help and realise what it is, just because they’ll identify in your words a part of themselves they see so ‘carelessly’ exposed. It’s always reassuring to know who the really decent people are out there when this happens. Trust me, if you’re reading this and you’ve caught me at a bad time and asked me if I’m okay, I’ll remember you. I’ll know who you are and your concern isn’t simply registered, it is saved for when I need it most.

I know who you are.

Then, there is the other side of the coin.

Nobody is deliberately out to get me, I’ve established this, but there will be those for whom control is as much a part of their lives online as it is off. I’ve often been accused of this over the years and yes, I think it’s fair to say that I do still have my moments. Maybe that’s what makes it easier for me to notice when I’m being deliberately manipulated, I’m not sure. The key, of course, is to immediately and sensibly attempt to put the issue in perspective: does the person who’s doing this actually matter to me? Should I make some kind of attempt to address the concern? Is it worth saying anything at all or should I move on? Oddly, I find myself looking at motivation more than action in situations such as this. I’m looking at the other person first to see how they react, rather than feeding my own indignation or annoyance. Let the other person decide if they take the front foot, consciously move to the back foot, because nothing more accurately shows intent for me than how people will respond when NOT provoked. When you ask them to provide the context first, it often stops being about confrontation.

Maybe I have actually learnt something by bringing up two kids after all.

Red is off. Even I get that.

In the end, I respect people the most when they treat me as an equal. I don’t like being pushed into corners, I am never a fan of being made an example of when there is no evidence to support it. What upsets me more than anything else is when people don’t think about why I do something, they just think about what the consequences are for themselves and don’t look at the bigger picture that I might have spent weeks, even months painting… which is a bit of a downer on the Internet where everyone won’t know me from the next random Avatar. In the end, there has to be an understanding of when you stay and fight a cause and when you realise it’s not actually worth it and walk away. Sometimes people do deserve a second swing at things however, and if they take the time to explain why and show that actually their motives are decent, you do indeed owe it to them and yourselves to make a move and meet them halfway.

However, if you single motivation is flawed, in ANY way, shape or form, it doesn’t matter how you encourage or engage with people. Eventually you will be found out. People will see you for what you are and no matter how hard you try, the game will be over. You have to accept that good comes with bad, that you have to deal with everything at some point. In fact, how you deal with the bad is likely to make you a better person for the experience. At least, that’s how it’s working out for me… because even after 47 years I am a work in progress. Being older doesn’t suddenly make me like this wise person who has all the answers. In shock news it makes me 78.6% more likely to stuff everything up at the drop of a hat. This week is living proof that it doesn’t matter how great or dumb you are, EVERYONE screws up sometimes. When you do, how you deal with that can tell people a great deal about what kind of person you really are.

All I can hope is that how I’ve reacted in the last seven days is a decent testament to myself.

This is Not A Love Song

Do I really want to be motivated?

Some days, I wonder why the fuck I bother.

Yes, this is my personal blog and therefore I will be wont to use adult expressions of annoyance, because I am a grown up and that’s what I do. I have on several occasions chastised people for the use of language to make a point: you don’t need it to be funny, or indeed to reinforce anything. In this case, using that four letter word made me feel better, seeing the frustration in letters that I’d deliberately placed. Which is odd, because I can manage most days perfectly adequately without the need to swear or throw things or indeed make noises that would suggest I am disaffected. This is not one of them. Today I’ve watched people be deliberately provocative, destructive and annoying all in a medium I claim to attempt to make a living from, and the worst thing of all is that the game I’m supposed to be championing doesn’t even look like it’ll be on the table until the end of the year. I shouldn’t be surprised but I ALWAYS am, because I forget that my naive enthusiasm isn’t the default setting for the rest of the world. They’re the people making the money too, I’m just here on peanuts.

Really, explain to me again why I’m doing this.

What are you doing, Dave?

Of course, the reasoning behind why I continue to do this is very simple: I still ❤ it, even on days when it takes me three hours to pull together a piece to publish. The frustration is but a minor irritation in the General Scheme of Things: nobody dies, no wars start, the Universe continues unabated. This is the mantra I use to deal with my mood swings when they inevitably occur: it could be so much worse, and it undoubtedly never is. Therefore, sitting there and feeling sorry for myself is a largely fruitless exercise, and wallowing is wasting time I don’t ever have. That’s where music saves my life.

When music doesn’t work, you know things are particularly bad, but fortunately in recent years it’s never really gotten that desperate. So, when I ask myself why I’m doing this the music helps kick-start in my brain all the compliments I’ve received, all the encouraging noises from people who I know genuinely care about what I do. It helps me put the other crap in perspective, and ultimately allows my brain a chance to uncoil and relax, because ultimately it’s never about hating anything that much. It’s always a steady stream of irritation that builds to a point where I go BANG, and so the trick is to know when the ascent to explosion is about to occur and then simply a case of heading it off at the Pass with an Acme Diffusion Compilation. That reminds me, I must organise some more playlists for the Gym on the iPhone. This also reminds me I want something that isn’t an iPhone at some point so I can have SD cards full of music to take with me anywhere. Oh, the irritations of the music lover who has a love of Apple.

Many Arrows.

I can get myself into the Recovery Position now without help. I’m even able to see some of the accidents before they happen, having the ability to stick the brakes on before I cause myself too much damage. But sometimes, however hard I try, there’s no way to prevent the injury, because it’s out of my hands, and that’s probably the worst thing of all. The Control Freak in me can’t handle the startling truth that yes, sometimes there’s just nothing you can do, and it’s all about what happens afterwards that matters. It’s how you deal with the clean-up and the after-care and how many stages of Grief you decide to inflict on any poor unfortunate soul in your personal blast radius. Because, like it or not, there is a brief and brightly-burning moment when actually, it DOES matter to you what happens because you hurt and that’s horrible.

Then, you grow up and move on.

Of course, sometimes it’s not that simple, but this covers pretty much most hurt in the Internet Age. Understanding that, at least for me, has been quite the step forward.

Playlist :: Four Sides :: Fire

Ouch.

I am only a day late, which considering that yesterday was a Bank Holiday and half the family’s been ill in some form or another since Good Friday isn’t all that bad really. This playlist’s been done for a while too, and I have one more to sort before we attempt to get down to some actual serious stuff. Without further ado:

This one is very personal, with every track having some fairly significant resonance. This is also what I’d consider as my most eclectic mix thus far, covering pretty much my entire musical ‘life’ from Donna Summer in the 70’s, through Talking Heads and Madness in the 80’s (with a deliberate nod to Midnight Oil and the benefits that music from other countries has had on my life.) In fact, you can expect a nod in that direction from my final compilation. The Nina Simone track is beauty personified too, and I have Mr Alt to thank for KT Tunstall, who was utterly amazing when I saw her live last year. I hope I get to see some more live music this year, despite the fact I had to sell my soul for Kate Bush (utterly worth it though.)

On days like to day, when the World has chucked stuff at me and I have managed fairly successfully to survive, music like this is a great source of sanity and calm. I hope this does for you as it does for me. I’ll be off to listen to this again on headphones right now… 😀