Mulder and Scully

Origins

The year is 1995. My boyfriend (now husband) and I are living together, and decide to go to the USA for a holiday, to stay with people I’d met via the Internet.

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The early days of Usenet are an incredibly significant part of my life, that I really don’t like to talk about at all. I’ve written and subsequently trashed about a dozen drafts of this post as testament to just how much this period screws with my brain. It’s been holding up everything else I’d really like to write about, because… I wasn’t the most emotionally adult person during my twenties and early thirties. Yeah, that’s a diplomatic way of putting it. I’m not proud of a lot of what happened, which covers early days of newsgroups and arguing in ASCII to Livejournal and arguing in web-browsers. I was an antagonist back then too: I’d like to say they were simpler times, but they weren’t. I should have learnt my lesson during that 1995 trip: people who you meet online will often hide things, or lie in order to get what they want. Turning up with a boyfriend on the East Coast in August did not go down well with our first host, and things went largely downhill from there.

On reflection, it is probably why this holiday never gets talked about that much.

My husband being booked for speeding is the only physical part of that holiday which remains, and now becomes useful as a marker. One of the three people we stayed with for that trip visited us a year on, and that weekend’s best left forgotten in history too. What that entire period taught has only become clear in retrospect: emotional immaturity can completely screw you up. In fact, let’s just ignore my 20’s and most of the 30’s and move on. It is important however to note at this juncture how the Internet shaped the future of just about everything I would then go onto do, including writing. My first piece of fan fiction, for instance, was X Files related. However, that was not the show that became my biggest obsession and ultimately caused the most damage.

I was involved in B5 Fandom up until the birth of my son in 2000, and again it is a case of bad outweighing good in my own mind: that means I’ve fairly systematically removed all references and links from that period and am now at something approximating peace with what happened. However, if you really care I can be found, fingerprints almost impossible to delete across a platform which really never forgets and is the most brutally honest remembrance of history. I never wrote fiction for that sci fi show (and know why:) it took another US series, which first aired in the UK whilst I was pregnant for the first time, to push me into what became a legitimate effort into organised working. That co-incided with my life on LiveJournal (which I joined shortly after launch in 1999) and was, for the most part, never truly me at all. However, it was the first time I ever felt comfortable sharing my work in public and for that fact alone, my West Wing fan fiction days should be recorded for posterity.

A cursory Google search brings up only sixteen hits for my old username, but my work is still out there. The Internet never forgets, people. There’s other stuff too, but nothing that I’ve found which is enough to reduce me to embarrassing bouts of toe curling. When that reckoning comes I’m ready for whatever gets thrown at me: I learnt a lot in those couple of years, most of which was built around how I ‘see’ action literally play out like a TV show or film in my head. It wasn’t just West Wing either: CSI, Dr Who and Torchwood have been poked by me over the years. I promised someone I’d pull out some of that old work, and that will happen in the next few months. To learn from the past we must embrace both the good and bad to move forward.

I’ve kept in touch with the only person I ever really connected with back in those days, who is still friends and will probably berate me for being overly hard on myself. The fact remains that the years since my kids have been born are the best of my life, not simply in writing terms. I need this period marked on my history, but nothing more is required to understand what I am. Everything of real interest happens after 2000, but really it is 2004 where the world around me finally shatters and forces a complete realignment. Before I return to the week of the Madrid Train Bombs, however, there is one last story to tell, wrapped around genre TV, and I’ll keep that for next week.

For now, let’s just forget that 1995 to 2004 ever happened.

I Saw the Light

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I spend a lot of time hanging around artists. It has become something of a cause célèbre for me: however, if there was less time admiring others’ work and more time perfecting my own, shit would get done far faster. Right now, however, inspiration is lacking just about everywhere: art provides that fix, vicariously reminding that passion can be seen and felt in pixels and pen strokes. Encouraging others is, like it or not, a greater source of satisfaction than staring at my own inadequate efforts and finding the means to become better. This is, I now realise, a writing slump. Non fiction fortunately does not seem to be suffering from the same malaise, and when critical thinking is applied to the reason, an answer as to why isn’t far behind.

Fictional worlds currently are not required as ‘escape.’

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Time for some brutal honesty: those imaginary spaces were created in my youth, more often than not, to run from from the less than happy domestic situation I found myself within. Only when my kids were born did circumstances dictate that imagination could be used just as it was: the work I have stretching from 2000 until now does, in nearly all cases, exhibit the same basic qualities. There are great ideas but never the ability to complete on them because the confidence in my work simply did not exist. Last year, I found the means to move forward with the help of Ian Fleming. The temptation would have been at this point to go full on fiction projects but in my heart the words now exist in two places where before only one mattered.

I’ve really started to gain pleasure in objective writing away from fiction.

That’s why this new project was born: it allows me to effectively continue therapy for myself using the written word. Where that leaves fiction however is both nebulous and uncertain. Last night after a family row I began and subsequently made worse, I sat alone in the bedroom and grasped that sometimes, there is a reason why everything needs to happen in a certain way. My desire to write has at no point diminished, in fact it grows greater with every passing day. However, what is written has become as significant as my favourite colour or most essential piece of music for relaxation. All the fictional ideas remain part of what I am, but with the practical skills learnt through non-fiction work there is now the means to re-invent each one as something better.

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The best way I can find to describe this is what I would imagine the process an artist goes through when learning the fundamentals of their craft. Learning to ‘see’ and draw people realistically might seem a waste of time to the Anime nut, but that basic grasp of anatomy and proportion, when learnt, allows you to think outside the constraints of accepted norms. Once you learn how to do something so well it can happen in your sleep, then comes the ability to step outside the restraints set upon a mind that looks simply at one thing alone. This, it is becoming apparent, is where I am now.

There was other stuff last night that surfaced, things as yet there is discomfort thinking about or even writing down. I want to mark yesterday as a watershed, moment when the reality of what sits in my head was finally reconciled with how I act when things happen that are out of my control. Words have give the chance to explain feelings, but until there’s clarity on exactly what those are, all that remains is silence. Some days, a lot of money would be offered to find the means for every feeling and emotion not to happen simultaneously, yet that’s where I am. Once everything can be sorted, then there’ll be the means to explain, but not today.

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I still need writing as therapy, but not in the same way this journey began. As I move forward, the desires have altered, needs sublimating into something more complicated than I’d first grasped. This isn’t just about telling stories any more: I am the story.

There is a lot more here to be considered.

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.