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.

chuckthumbsup

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.

Secret Agent Man

Dear Daniel,

Before I go anywhere else, it’s probably an idea to admit the following and then move on.

Considering you’re stupidly famous, it is possible you’re not aware that some husbands and wives often have conversations where it is implied that should circumstances allow, and the seemingly unattainable celebrity you lust/desire/dream about were ever available for a night of commitment-free passion, you’d be granted a free pass from your spouse with no questions asked. My List, such as it is, remains fairly short, and by now you’ve guessed what’s coming. For quite a while, you used to sit at the top. However, sometime between the filming of ‘Quantum of Solace’ and ‘Skyfall’ that all changed. On considered reflection I suspect the precise shift occurred about six to nine hours after I saw Bond 23 for the first time on DVD. I was unwell, and that afternoon was a turning point for a lot of personal expectation, including a half finished attempt at redefining the Bond genre in my own mind.

In summary? You were once an object of desire, but now have become something far more significant. With the embarrassing shit out of the way? Time to explain why I’m really writing.

skyfall_eve04

I’d wanted Julian McMahon as Bond when your predecessor was effectively removed from the frame at the start of the century. I’ll grant there were excessively selfish reasons for this choice, but when you look at who else was up for the job, I think giving it to an Australian would not have been too bad a shout. I’ve been a dedicated fan of Bond since ‘Goldfinger’, fell in love with Roger Moore in the 70’s and promptly concluded that Connery was never my type. There was, I’ll freely admit, a brief flirtation with Timothy Dalton, but like so many other people I considered Pierce Brosnan the logical and natural choice to bring everyone back to the right point, where men wanted to be 007 and women needed to sleep with him, no questions asked. The character, like it or not, remained the fictional owner of a guaranteed spot on the Spousal Pass card. That is until you came along, and changed Bond into something better.

It wasn’t just the reboot of the franchise that caused this to happen, or the change in narrative direction. What you gave the agent from ‘Casino Royale’ onwards was something that had not previously existed with any incarnation of the character: fallibility. I’ll grant you, I totally understand why Barbara Broccoli gave you the nod after ‘Layer Cake.’ When you emerged from the sea in Barbados as Ursula Andress did in ‘Dr No’… honestly, you’d have to be dead not to get that you were being presented as a Bond meant to attract both sexes, but for vastly different reasons, and it worked until this version of the plot arc was finally exhausted. Once you were seen to move past Vesper Lynd’s death in ‘SPECTRE’, there was nowhere else left to go, and shoving Bond off into the sunset with a woman half his age is probably the way a lot of men would ideally choose to retire.

In all the times between, you gave Bond a set of balls he’d never owned before.

bondandq

That’s no mean feat for a genre that made its name on a hero whose whole existence was inextricably bound with misogyny. It was a label I sense that never really sat well with your incarnation either, and that alone makes all the films you leave behind vastly superior to pretty much everything Moore did after ‘Live and Let Die’ and makes Connery’s efforts post ‘You only Live Twice’ look frankly a bit dodgy. It’s ironic therefore you have so much in common with the guy nobody ever remembers in the line-up: George Lazenby. There’s a 007 who gets the girl at the end and has her snatched from him in perhaps the cruellest way possible, and it is easy to see how echoes of Diana Rigg’s immensely strong and equal to Bond in all ways portrayal of the Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo appears in Lynd and later Camille Montes.

There’s flashes of that strength in the 90’s Bond girls, undoubtedly, but honestly it takes a very long time after ‘Goldfinger’ before there is anybody who is credibly written as a genuine counter to Bond. Wei Lin in ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ is probably the only time for me that a sense of female equality in terms of both physical and mental prowess is presented, and that’s yet to be bettered even by Eve Moneypenny in the current iteration… mostly because of that decision to stick her behind a desk at the end of ‘Skyfall.’ What your Bond has done, undoubtedly, is re-establish the canon, but equality’s still at the stage it was in the late 1990’s. We know the Chinese have agents in service, but not the Brits. Where’s the believable, confident and physically capable equal? Yeah, I know: if we had that, as one of my friends pointed out recently I’d be watching ‘Mission Impossible.’ You work alone, and it’s been that way since the late 1950’s.

Perhaps everybody could do with moving that agenda on as a matter of urgency.

8702d-skyfall_drink

If I were a betting woman, having seen the roles you’ve lined up post ‘SPECTRE’, I’d wager you’re pretty fed up of 007, and I really can’t say I blame you one iota. The last two minutes of that movie will become the epitaph to a role that, however diverse and well-acted, is likely to haunt you for the rest of your professional career, and if this were me I’d go all out to amend that. The concept of Bond is going to be extremely hard to reboot regardless: then you’ll need the right person up front to head it, and looking at the raft of ‘young’ talent on offer, honestly, nobody will do it as well as you did, because they’ll be living a lie you were the last person to successfully dispel. Maybe, after 50 years, it is finally time to call it a day for the lone wolf. It’s no wonder Eon don’t want to announce Bond 25 for a while yet.

I should point out at this juncture that I think I’m also probably done with 007 for good. Nobody’s gonna do the character the justice you’ve left as the benchmark, or equal that sense of underlying discomfort given to a character who was willing to give up everything and never allowed a chance to be happy. He just went back to the job, in the end realising that Mallory was right in ‘Skyfall’ and he should have stayed dead. The best way to leave, undoubtedly, was when Bond was on top. I’m really looking forward to seeing how you shape up in ‘Purity’ by the way: the book has a great deal of potential and in the post-Obama, internet leak/Russian hacked world we now inhabit, it could make a lot of people think. I’m also wishing I’d been in New York to see you play Iago, because I’m also fairly confident you’d have imbued that character with the true understated menace he deserves.

However, there is one other thing I should thank you for before I go, and it has nothing to do with your professional career. Without you, I would never have given Radiohead the time of day, but to know they were a band you loved was a subtle poke to my own brain to expand horizons and listen to new things. Without doubt, ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ is now one of my favourite albums of the last ten years. Then there’s the small matter of inspiring me to write two full-length fan fictions based around the best 007 that’s ever been stuck on celluloid… which in turn has opened a door to a much larger Universe. The confidence and abilities I’ve honed in those two pieces is serving me well as I produce a novel I’m both proud and pleased with. I’m well aware of how much both those things were influenced by a character I’m betting you’d rather I shut up about now, so I will.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, I get that whole ‘fuck off, leave me alone, I’d like my privacy’ stuff more than I suspect most will. It’s not a fault, but a strength in character. Bond is the job, and it’s not you. The sooner more people realise this in the World, the better life will be for everybody, and maybe you can go have a drink from time to time in peace.

Thank you for making me a better person, regardless of the role.

Alt.

PS: I’m still jealous you got to park your arse on a DB10. There, I said it.

Here is the News :: January 14th, 2017

I have, for the last couple of weeks, been running a ‘news’ service on the Gaming Blog, and what this has come to make me realise is how important the context of reality is when you’re writing daily. It’s quite easy to get sucked in by the major issues that drive yourself, or your friends, and then forget that this isn’t the bigger picture. Therefore, starting this week, I want to keep a record of the ‘smaller’ news stories that catch my eye each week (and there are many of them) so that when I come to look back on a year, I hold a rolling reminder of what accompanied my life at that time. So, without further ado? Here are the stories that caught my eye this week, with my own take on the wider issues behind them.

hereisthenews_divider

Luxury Items and the Legacy of Consumption

salmon.png
Full story can be read here

I remember the first time I was given salmon, that my mother knew just how much of a rarity it was and that I would do well to make sure none of it remained on my plate. It was a gift from when my Dad worked for a US car company, and we ate it for weeks afterwards. Sushi is, without doubt, my favourite expensive dine out items of choice and to read that we could see salmon as a true rarity by the end of the year is a sobering thought, especially considering how organised farming of the fish has become in recent years. However, nature has a way of throwing such spanners into Humanity’s collective game plans (see below) and I wonder now if this is just the first of many such ‘evolutions’ the planet will undergo as demand continues to outstrip supply.

If you want a sobering reality check as to how dire food supply issues could become in the next thirty years, this is a good place to start. There’s also the persistent spectre of global warming (yes Donald, it does exist) doing things to large portions of the planet where food production is already precarious to begin with. Things like these lice have come out of left field, and may force us as a population, like it or not, to redefine how we eat and drink in the next decades. I should also award 10 extra points to the Guardian for that headline, which at least proves that someone on the writing staff isn’t as miserable as most of their compatriots seem to be of late and is willing to stick something clever into the header.

hereisthenews_divider

The Superbugs are Here

drugs.png
Full story can be read here

This story is the wake-up call everyone should read before they go to the doctor and plead for a course of drugs. Do you really need them? Does it really matter, if so many animals are fed antibiotics to compensate for the appalling conditions they exist within? Well, the apocalypse is already here, as a woman in the US finally succumbed to an illness which was literally untreatable by conventional medicine. Fortunately that does not seem to be airborne in nature, so you can all relax and stop assuming the Apocalypse isn’t just the Orange Guy being sworn in as President next week.

What this does make me consider however is what medicine will have to become alongside the issues of food production in the years that follow. Of course, vegetarians will tell you that were there not so much of a desire to eat meat, a lot of these issues would never have become significant to begin with. That’s undoubtedly true, but man did exist alongside beasts as transport and nutrition for a very long time before we came along with fast food and obesity. For me, the bigger picture is making sure that healthcare isn’t beholden to people experimenting with new stuff without due care and attention. This horror story from France is the stuff of a short story, or perhaps a future episode of Black Mirror.

hereisthenews_divider

The Disaster that Never Came

flooding

Thursday night was bizarre in the Weather Department: incredibly heavy rain all day that then turned into snow with surprising speed. What I wasn’t expecting (and indeed was anybody else by the way the news cycle diverted) were the Flood warnings that resulted in the Thames Barrier being raised and threats of flooding being posted all the way down the East Coast. My little bit of Essex (right at the bottom) fared as well as the rest of the coastline, which was very well thank you. In fact, as the last warnings fell away there was a sense of wondering what all the fuss had been about.

For some it might seem like crying ‘wolf’ but this kind of incident is going to become more and more prevalent as time goes on. All that water melting at the Polar icecaps has to go somewhere, kids. Low lying areas will suffer, and that means London may yet see a repeat of the incident last year when the Thames came perilously close to completely bursting its banks in a great many places. You think the map above looks colourful, that’s nothing compared with the London map I looked up earlier. There’s also a brilliant overhead picture of the Thames Barrier in action from yesterday I’ve seen on Facebook, that’s now appeared on Twitter:

hereisthenews_divider

There you have it: If you like this, share it around for me. Lord knows I could do with the views.

Still Alive

What, we made it through Week One unscathed?

yespossibly.gif

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.

hiaustinpowers.gif

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.

sarcasmforeignlanguage.gif

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.

coolconnery.gif

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.

Get a Job

Hello. I’m Alt. You might remember me from such websites as Alternative Chat and La Geek qui Rit. Currently, I’m looking for writing jobs. I’ve got a CV I can provide you should it be required, and can show a number of examples of my work in context should that also be needed. The thing is, I’d like to be paid for what I do if at all possible. However, if the right person came along, I would be prepared to donate my time, as I already do for the lovely people at the Warcraft Community Magazine.

Mostly, I love writing, and the only way I get better is to do more, so that’s what I’m attempting to do in 2017. This is me, telling you that I’m here and willing, and prepared to talk to people about possible positions. After all if you don’t know I’m looking for work, how do you offer me the stuff to do in the first place? Ideally if you’re looking for me to talk Warcraft I’d prefer a casual player/Hunter bias approach, but I could be persuaded to open my remit.

If you can help, laughinggeek (at) gmail (dot) com is where you can find me 😀

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.