The Big Sky

Now I’ve said in public that I’m launching a Patreon, there is of course no going back.

What that means in the larger scope of how I write however is still in a reasonable state of flux. I have ideas, of course, or else things will have never gotten this far, but right now they don’t include serious augmentation of either my personal site or indeed the Warcraft one. Those two now run fairly autonomously of each other and that’s not about to change any time soon. Most of the evolution is going to fall here, because here is the site that has the best domain for pimping, and well… this is where I should write.

There was a thought about launching a 4th portal but really, truthfully, it isn’t needed. However, I am giving fairly serious consideration to a site redesign, mostly because I’m not 100% convinced this layout is fit for purpose going forward. Therefore, over Easter (between bouts of cleaning) there will be some poking of the back end and an attempt to find a layout that is both cleaner still than this and more multi-media friendly. It also means that this site will be the first one to be updated to a business account so I can gain access to SEO facilities: not simply to continue the Social Media Experiment, but to get the domain up the top of the search listings.


After that, the Devil is in the details, and I’ll be keeping a lot of that under my baseball cap for the weeks that follow. There’s already one project outside the scope of new planning that I’ve pitched to someone else which looks like could fly, and I’m going to be sending some DM’s this morning on that front. Mostly, the future is very much full of possibility, I just need to get organised enough to capitalise on them all. Because this is now business I’ll be making sure to keep you fully appraised of all the details, as and when it is necessary.

Trust me, you’re going to love every minute of it.

Introduction to Blogging

I am a noob. I’ve been writing now for 42 years, and there are still days I cannot string a coherent sentence together. Despite having an English degree, I am lost without a spell checker. However ‘good’ anyone tells you they are, we’re all noobs when it comes to words and bad days. You never stop learning how to write until you’re not writing any more… and no, I’m not going to get all maudlin on you before we’re out of the first paragraph. In the week, a very good friend of mine asked if I’d be willing to offer some advice on how I cope with three blogs on the go simultaneously, and it seems like a fairly decent shout, to be honest. There is a method to it, and I am more than capable of sharing that. Therefore, once a week on Fridays from now on (and no this doesn’t get me out of anything else, don’t worry) I will present for you How to Blog Gud, or at least what I’ve learnt having done this for nearly a decade.


You don’t need to be fit to do this, but you will require a level of organisation that has to start with one question: what are you going to name your Blog? This might seem quite tenuous or indeed pointless when all you want to do is write, but trust me when I say to you that the name you pick has a great deal of relevance going forward. First of all, if you want to have a custom domain, a Twitter handle to advertise your efforts, or even a Facebook page with the Blog name writ large, you’re going to need to pick something that nobody else has. Ironically, naming will probably be the single most difficult part of this entire process, because it can become a reflection on what you finally evolve into as a writer. I’ve owned the domain since May 2004. I knew that was going to be my online identity well before I got around to making it into a functioning website: I’m not suggesting that level of organisation to begin with, but so you understand where I’m working from, La Geek Qui Rit matters as a ‘brand’ I can be identified with.


Before next week, therefore, I’d like you to think about not just what you’d like to call yourself, but what you’re going to be writing about. As has previously been established, I run three blogs because, as things stand, there is a need to separate the distinct subject matters I write about. This is my Writing Place, and the Warcraft Blog… well that’s pretty self explanatory. It might therefore seem odd to have La Geek Qui Rit existing at all but as I discovered, it is useful as a place that runs alongside the two, that binds and effectively ties all three together. People like things to be distinct and separate when it comes to blogging, far more so than is accommodated on Social media, which thrives far more on the random and unpredictable. Some of my friends don’t even know the Warcraft blog exists, others have only ever seen my Writing… and the ‘personal’ blog is becoming slowly more popular than both. With these different places, I can grow and evolve as an author.

If blogging will be a serious or long term concern for you, then it will need to reflect the diversity of your interests, or the specific nature of your desires. You will need to decide what you want to do with it, and how long you think it will last. The name really does matter, more than perhaps anything else you’ll decide before we go forward, as will exactly what it is you want to write about. I strongly suggest that you spend an hour in a quiet moment with a favourite beverage of choice and think really hard about what it is you want to achieve, and list at least 10 ‘general’ subject areas you could cover on any given day. If all of those are gaming-related? You’re a gaming blogger. If you’re covering a far wider range of subjects? The you don’t want a name that just sells you playing.


After that? Well, it’s about an hour’s work and you can be blogging almost immediately. All the hard work is in this first step, and if you’re reading this and are not sure how to proceed, I AM HERE TO HELP ūüėÄ I’ve helped name countless Blogs over the years, and my names have in some cases long outlasted the friendships that encouraged people to write in the first place. If you are stuck for a name, I’ll be happy to brainstorm with you, just come find me @AlternativeChat on Twitter. I love helping people take this important first step, and it cements my commitment to help people start writing and communicating their ideas to a wider audience. Plus, any opportunity to get people writing is okay in my book.

Without further ado: what are you going to call yourself and why?

All You’ve Ever Wanted

Those of you paying attention will have noticed this site is now a wee bit more active than it has been: the plan, long term is to hack the place up to three posts a week. That means the¬†news post that should be here now will only appear when I have stuff worthy of mention: this week all my top news gubbins has gone to the Personal site. I suspect that’s the way this might go for the first few weeks anyway, and assuming that’s the case I’ll try and find a moment on Saturdays to make sure the 3 posts a week regime is maintained. I had planned a launch for the new writing project on Wednesday, but last week summat had to give. Readjusting to this new schedule is proving to be far tougher on my mind than I’d previously considered.


My grail, I realised a while back, isn’t just getting a novel published, but the systematic improvement of writing skills across the board.¬†That means learning better to write to deadlines, reacting to news, and most importantly of all processing complex data. It is improving: more time to react and think has already provided dividends, a shifting of priorities means that I now have the opportunity to plan ahead for the first time, but that is going to take organisation that does not as yet exist. However, the foundations have been laid, and now there is time to look forward and plan the journey, which means I’m aiming next week to assign days to certain tasks. It will start with simply getting a week’s worth of posting outlined on Monday, and then taking Tuesday to be a day of filling in details. Hopefully that will then reap dividends as the week goes on.

Most significantly of all this should afford more time overall for novel catch-up, editing and further fiction projects going forward.


The biggest enemy by far in my journey is procrastination: I’m terrible at motivating myself, and a bout of mild depression this week has only made things worse. Sure, I can exercise and run¬†myself out of the blues with treadmill and weight loss as distraction, but this is only going to work if I make the journey attractive to begin with. I think, with the subjects I’ve chosen to cover, I have a lot of potential on offer: what it means tomorrow is a day learning Twitter jargon, researching Warcraft news and getting two planners full of potential subject matter going forward. I’ve gotten into the habit of writing my long-form piece for MMO¬†Games the day before, and if I can do that with one part of my life, the rest of it is eminently doable.

I hope you’ll consider joining me on the next stage of my journey.

Still Alive

What, we made it through Week One unscathed?


I realised as we zoomed through the first seven days of 2017 that this blog is the poor relation of my three virtual spaces and that really ought to change, considering how (potentially) important it could end up being. I spend a bit of time in another¬†virtual¬†space¬†whittering about the World and my health, and the gaming blog¬†covers my affair with that MMO, but there is often no desire¬†to explain¬†my thoughts on writing generally. I still maintain this is the cheapest and best therapy I’ve ever experienced. Pushing yourself into uncomfortable situations and making difficult choices is never something you want to do for pleasure. However, at least where I’m sitting currently, that process of forcing mental issues via words is having surprising additional benefits.


I’m a terrible writer. Words get repeated all the time. I fixate on certain adjectives. My grammar is often atrocious and I could typo for my country. Fortunately I have word processors and spell correction¬†plus a lovely husband who’ll read stuff and a support network of friends with encouragement and support. These help fill the gap between inspiration and final result. Everything else is then a case of pushing myself and believing I’m capable¬†enough, and some days I think I get by.¬†It’s always a bonus when somebody reads something and comments positively, however I’d rather have someone be critical of what they’ve seen, any day of the week. Not being able to take criticism is an issue I watch play out every day in my virtual life, and the results are often not pretty.


I am by no means perfect, and undoubtedly am always too hard on myself. I’m ridiculously formal too, and maybe if I stopped being a tight-assed Brit and did more about the relaxation stuff, my writing would further benefit. As it transpires, if I just get on with shit and don’t find ways to avoid it, relaxation happens by default.¬†Also, and this one’s a bigger surprise, when pushing¬†myself to interact with people, I don’t implode. That old adage about attracting more flies with honey than vinegar is often spot on, but it’s only going to work if you genuinely believe your own hype, and that’s always been the biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome. It is a thin line to tread between being comfortable and creating that illusion. I know that the exercise has played a major part in this transformation. Last night, sitting in bed relaxing with a new playlist? I caught a glimpse of myself in the full length mirror I never use and it was 20 years ago. I’ll take the body from that time, and leave the selfish and negative mind that inhabited well alone. This is really the best it has ever been.


The Bond fiction last year has a lot to do with the writing confidence. You can find it at the top of the page, or you can start by clicking here. It’s not perfect, and I know it will unsettle many a purist’s sensibilities inside the canon, but I really don’t care. Someone else’s characters finally gave me the confidence that I could create my own and make them totally believable, and that the Universe they exist in would be as acceptable as the real one. Now, all I want to do is write and talk about how much this outlook has changed my life, because it has, but only in conjunction with a lot of other things, and that includes pushing myself to do the mundane above the enjoyable on certain days. Therefore, I need to go do chores for a while before I do a session of cardio at the Gym.

Routines really matter in progress.


I did promise myself I’d spend more time sticking stuff here, and as we’re halfway through September, I haven’t forgotten. My biggest problem right now is time, and managing it effectively so that everything gets done in something approximating a realistic order. However, I’m finding that if I shove all the exercise into the start of the day? So much more productivity is being fostered as time goes on. All I have to do now is build up enough stamina to stay awake past 9pm and I’m golden.

However, that’s not why I’m here today.

I’d like to talk to you about ducts.

I’m in the process of writing Letters to My Heroes in the next couple of months, and in the list that was compiled one notable name was omitted: Terry Gilliam. I’m not quite old enough to remember Python on TV the first time around, and it was via Ripping Yarns that I first got to understand Michael Palin’s brilliance. I find the other members of the team funny, the movies clever, but there was never a real connection. That is until Gilliam produced¬†Brazil¬†in 1995: a¬†hugely relevant piece of dystopian science fiction,¬†and probably one of the most seminal influences on my journey to¬†becoming a writer. So significant was this movie that I produced my own tribute that was subsequently entered for a BBC Radio Drama contest: if memory serves it was called ‘Wandsworth’ and I am utterly sure it was unmitigatedly awful. What this did do however was open a fairly closed mind to the understanding that ‘the future’ owed an enormous amount to what had come before, and that ‘the past’ often wasn’t the great and glorious place many of my elders made it out to be.

If I’m going to produce an accurate personal history of my influences and beginnings, I can’t escape the last ten minutes of the film, however hard I try. I know there’s probably no problem spoiling plot¬†this long after release, but I can’t in good conscience give the ending away, even after all this time, because this was the first time I grasped how seductive cinema can be at spinning disbelief, if you allow the pictures into your subconscious. I can still remember the walk back to Liverpool Street, across bridges that no longer exist: the sense of utter desolation I felt at having happiness snatched from my mind.¬†If that were possible with pictures, could the same be true¬†with words?¬†I owe Gilliam a great debt of thanks for that movie and so many others, and returning to New York in the summer bought another moment where he guided development back into my head.


The Fisher King embraces a lot of spots deep inside that I was, for a long time, uncomfortable talking about. Mental illness has always been a touchy subject to address, but with the benefit of time and awareness I understand now that the movie helped more with understanding the intractable nature of action and consequence. With two of my favourite actors in the lead roles, this was also the movie that finally tipped me totally in love with New York, after Ghostbusters. Discovering a key location by accident therefore whilst wandering NY in the rain could almost be prophetic, were my mind feeling that way inclined. It reminded that history is a part of process, and even if you are uncomfortable embracing parts of your past, it should not preclude the moments with real influence, especially as I learn to become a better writer.


One day, when finances will support, I’m having this neon sign made and hung in my office. As I neither possess funds or indeed have a¬†space to hang it, the dream remains just that, but without this film I wouldn’t be here, and my imagination would not have evolved nearly as fertile. For that alone, Gilliam gets a nod on the Heroes List.

I hope one day I might meet him and tell him this in person.

Journey’s End

As promised, we begin this week as we mean to go on: as it’s Monday, it seems only right and proper to set the stall out for the weeks that follow. There’s a lot of work going on in various quarters as well, which includes trying to get three very disparate websites fit for purpose. Someone tell me why I thought three was a good idea, but then I’ll tell you I know exactly why that’s the case.¬†If you want to learn about me? Then this is where we’ll really start.

This is gonna end in tears

Part of my problem in the past was to attempt to do too much and never finish what I started. A lot of THAT has to do with not having properly learnt processes for myself: how I write best, what I need to focus on to improve… lots of technical shit that I thought I could initially deal with via formal study but has finally only developed substance and strength¬†via discipline and focus. That means that I have fifteen¬†years worth of odds and ends scattered over several hard drives that has the potential to be resurrected and used, plus a couple of interesting ideas that could be de-constructed and recreated for practical use. For now I’m going to start with fragments: there’s pieces that were originally used as part of an Open University course that I’m going to break down and present. I’m working on some short stories of an EXTREMELY adult nature that will eventually see the light of day.

Then, there’s the Bond.

The rumour mill is swirling away at present and I suspect we’ll have a new 007 in the frame pretty soon, and when that happens I’m fairly confident my desire to AU the fuck out of the existing world’s going to effectively vanish. It will have nothing to do with the new guy, of that I’m sure, and everything around the understanding I’m done with the idea.¬†Because in the end, at least for me,¬†that’s what matters most. Once that’s complete¬†I can actually focus on getting my life in order and aiming towards using my own ideas and work to push in the direction I really want. However, the wish fulfilment part of my brain knows I want this out and public. We’re almost there, too. Early June looks like a doable timescale to start serialising. I’d like to think I can get this finished and out of the way before Summer Holidays which means once I return in September I know where I’m going.

That also means some decisions about other bits of my life that need to be made. Why does this all have to be so bloody complicated?


Knowing all this? We’re going to start tomorrow with a piece of work I’ve played around with since I used it for my initial Creative Writing OU course. Interspersed amongst all this will be poetry and other random gubbins. I wan you now, a lot of this will be utterly spontaneous, with periods of long, angsty outpourings.

Nobody said this was going to be good, either ^^