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… 😀

Playlist :: Four Sides :: Air

The best laid plans…

Oops, I did it again ^^

Yeah, eventually I will get back to my writing, but for now I am firmly entrenched in Easter Holidays and actually, I think this is the way I’d rather have things. I’m spending more time with the kids and less time on the PC, except today which has been all about writing that ACTUALLY PAYS MONEY. Yeah, I have a writing gig with moolah attached, and as a result I will drop everything to write stuff (though if I were organised I’d not do it all at once, though I do love a bit of pressure for ramping up the word count.) What this does mean is that I really should extract the digit and get properly organised. That will be happening this week, OH YES.

In an attempt to get myself back up to some kind of speed, you’ll get two Playlists this week (the other one coming on Friday) because I am a generous and kind-hearted Godmother, and because I’m conscious of making good on the promises I’ve made from the word go. This twelve is Air-based, and frankly if I hadn’t started with this Kate Bush Track it would have been Cloudbusting. After that, I’ll let you work out why we go where we do. Needless to say, this is the most fun I’ve had designing playlists for some time. I hope you enjoy the fruits of my labours.

I’m also going to embed the playlists in the Blog post as well, for future reference. Remember, if you want to join me on Spotify, you can find me hiding under the username alternativegodmother.

No Surprises

A Graph makes it all so much better…

Today has been a day when I’ve spent a lot of time on the back foot.

I am well aware that pretty much all of the blame for this can be laid at my own door: I’m very good after many years at knowing when I stuff things up. I’m also very grateful for a family who accommodate my ability to be rubbish at the drop of a hat, and without them I’d probably not be here. That’s a wonderfully blaze statement to just throw away in the context of a sentence, but it is true. They make me better, push me to try harder, and help to pick me up when I fall down. So, after I’d done that from the ball of tears and guilt this morning I made it through the day without too much recrimination. This evening however I got hit for six again, but in the most unexpected of ways.

It is sometimes easy to forget just how social media can affect people when you’re least expecting it.

I’ve had my share of issues with people on Twitter since I started using the platform: as your readership grows, so do the issues with what you say and how that affects people’s sensibilities. As I’m blunt, often typing before I’ve allowed an idea to percolate and am (I suspect) conceived as arrogant as a result I undoubtedly raise hackles. I don’t have a plan however, I’m really not here to deliberately piss in your cornflakes or upset your equilibrium. Normally I just say it as I see it, or often (as has been the case at least twice in recent memory) I’ve been completely unaware of anyone’s offence until it’s been pointed out to me I upset them to begin with. Then, I have apologised. That’s me, in the ‘Unaware’ bubble, happily doing what I always do with no grasp of the mortifying nature of my act.

I’m not out here to offend anyone. However, that’s often how it goes down, and it makes me wonder why.

Is P for Pushy?

Certain people just rub others up the wrong way, an abrasive side to their natures that could get a coat of paint off your front door in double quick time. If you don’t know me (and let’s face it, most people won’t bother online for fear of potential consequences) then you won’t understand that starting a fight is absolutely the LAST thing I ever want to do with anybody, but sometimes it just happens. So tonight when I suggested to someone that yes, you can be on Twitter every day but only actually use it once a week at your leisure, to have them pointedly respond with the comment that ‘I know (their) life better than (they) do’ was clearly meant as a dig at me and my assertion. There I was, trying to be helpful and enthusiastic and BANG it’s a slap in the face. So, I apologised, but then I found myself thinking that actually, this IS true. It’s not general advice, it’s an actual FACT. You don’t need to log onto Twitter every day, and you can create a great illusion of presence if you so desire with nothing more than an hour of planning and a Tweet Scheduler like Hootsuite. Most people won’t do this because, for them, Twitter isn’t a marketing tool, it’s the Pub. Many people avoid it altogether as they see it as a massive timesink for just that reason.


Mine’s a Sol. Yeah I know, weak Mexican beer… ^^


When I say ‘the Pub’ I mean that place where you lose yourself for an evening just chatting with a drink in your hand. For huge numbers of people it has become the instant medium of communication Facebook’s just never been, mostly without adverts and pretty much under your control. It’s the running commentary at your sporting event, or gig, or major news story. It is snarky and often blunt and frankly long may it remain this way, because many people just don’t want to be immersed in the details of everyone else’s lives, they just want to pick and choose their own highlights. It’s also really easy to make that instant nature work for you if you know how to. This is how I was able to still post on the gaming Blog when I was away in Paris for a week and maintain the interest of my audience whilst at the same time have a holiday. Everyone knew this as well: I wasn’t deceiving or being underhand. This is possible if you can find the time to plan ahead. ANYTHING is possible if you want it enough, after all.

So when I offend someone for suggesting there’s another way, I really shouldn’t let it bother me, but increasingly it does. Not because I’m right and they’re wrong (or vice versa or any combination thereof) but simply because advice is no substitute for actual enthusiasm and passion. If you want to encourage people to write, for instance, getting upset when they say summat you don’t like is not the greatest of starts. However, it is inevitable that confusion will occur, and when it does it says a lot about the person as to how they respond to that conflict. I’ll freely admit I’m not the greatest at relationships, or making friends, or indeed actually being a human being on certain days. However, I will always admit when I’m wrong, and I will do my very best not to shut people off until I’m sure there is absolutely no chance of communicating successfully. So, today, I was reminded if it matters to you, you’ll work at it to make it happen for everyone. First impressions do matter, but what happens AFTER you fall over and smack yourself in the face are just as important.

Most significantly of all, caring about what people think still has a relevance in the Modern World.