Dark City

Ooh hang on, I don’t have a March Content header, lemme go fix that…

Today is all about the things that stop me doing what needs to be done. Some writers would consider them as ‘inner demons’ but they have many names: procrastination, fear, Imposter Syndrome… and the list goes on. This week, I can’t focus on completing tasks, and am limping through the week on a day by day basis. Each morning, I slowly chip away at a rapidly decreasing list of Things to Do and if by Friday that means that half the month is planned, I will probably still not be satisfied.

You really are your harshest critic.


If I use an exercise metaphor here, these are the days when you just have to do the miles. It becomes a rhythm, after a time, that is progressively easier to grasp. Call it muscle memory, simple familiarity in repetition, but the process of a daily blog post for many years has allowed the foundations of routine to grow from many different places, not simply with my writing. Putting in the words, even when you don’t want to, is not a waste of time if the next day you throw all that work away. Without the effort and impetus, nothing changes. It took me a while to grasp that intractable truth, but now I have it you can bet your life I am not letting go.


I have this slogan on a favourite, battered green t-shirt, bought for me by my husband at a cycling show. It is the reminder to me that it does not matter how long something takes to do, as long as when I start it is finished. This is the impetus to complete the Novel, to keep chipping away at entering contests, to refine my poetry technique and try new stuff like the Aesthetic Haiku. If it’s worth the time to think and plan, then it is worth the effort to complete. This has also taught a separate lesson over time; knowing when to stop something when it isn’t working.

You cannot be an expert at everything, however hard you try.

I started the J Word project as a means to learn to draw. Three months in from that start point, I’m still no closer to that goal… and it won’t happen, despite people’s assertions that it could. Ability is not holding me back. The problem, such as it is, comes from knowing that to do this well I’d have to stop writing to do so. There are simply not enough hours in the day left with everything else, and so then I have to make a choice. If asked to choose between drawing and exercise, or writing and drawing, there will only be one winner in both cases. Exercise and writing are what matter most right now. However, there is no denying the importance of the strip as a creative outlet (and stress relief) and therefore it stays… but in a different format.

This is part of the miles that needs to be done right now, so I find a way.


Therefore, I will limp my way through the week, celebrating the victories whenever they happen. Hopefully, by Friday I will be able to see the end to at least a couple of the long-term objectives on the table, and a sense of accomplishment as a result.

Whatever happens, the words will continue to make me stronger.

Making Your Mind Up


The novel editing really started to work when I fixed my writing playlist. The thing is 25 tracks, hour and forty-one minutes of music that is now constructed as an accompaniment to my narrative framework. Having that playing as a constant background has given my mind the opportunity to ‘live’ in this imagined Universe for a week or so. With that has emerged the nerve to edit out increasing portions of sub-standard or largely unnecessary dialogue. The result when dead wood is removed remains hugely satisfying

There’s also been a fair bit of addition too: now 25,000 words are done, I’ll go back tonight and have a read through, to make sure my narrative voice is consistent. After that, we have a genuine impetus going forward, and I’ll see you back here on Friday with an update because nothing else really matters right now. This task has been holding me back, quite literally for years, and to be moving forward with it now is beyond satisfying.

Right, that’s quite enough talking. TIME TO WRITE.

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 😀

DEFAULT :: New Fiction

Look up at that cover artwork by my mate @Ammosart, then make sure you’re following her on Twitter before we go anywhere else this morning. In the grand tradition of going big or Going Home, we’re starting the way things mean to go on here this week. This work of fiction (with its own cover) is the natural follow up to Duet: when it is done I expect the narrative to top 70,000 words, so that’s very much into the realms of actual Novel territory. It’s a big story, no scrimping on detail and scope, and all things being equal I’m planning for the first part to go live on Monday, June 27th, with serialisation across the Summer.

As soon as I’d seen Spectre, I knew I had to write this, in the main as a result of the shortcomings I saw in a narrative that never really focusses on anyone except the titular hero. I know, you don’t go and see Bond films for the supporting cast, but I felt cheated this time not simply because of what I saw, but more importantly what I didn’t. This therefore is my wish fulfilment for the canon, done and dusted. In the next few weeks I’ll talk about my processes, let you in on the writing soundtrack I’ve used for this project, and generally have a bit of a chat about the journey, because this is the piece of work that’s finally given me confidence to believe I can be a grown up writer, and to push to finish my first completely original work. Allison’s agreed to help me with that too and will be producing original portraits of all my main characters as time goes on.


Ronni Flemmings does not fit the ‘traditional’ mould of a spy, at least in my mind. I gave Allison a very specific brief when she drew her, and that includes the prominence of her breasts, which might seem odd when I’m doing my best to create a character who is considered an equal to 007 in every respect. In fact, I’m expecting more than a few raised eyebrows at the prominence of her sexuality. However, if you ask me what makes Bond what he is, it is undoubtedly the physical attributes that have come to matter often above the ability to shoot straight or complete a mission brief. In fact, I use that physicality on more than one occasion as a metaphor for how, if a woman wants to play in a man’s world, she is often expected to put assets front and centre as a default. The title isn’t just a nod to the Atoms for Peace song that inspired it: I’m exploring the way things are in the Bond universe, how perhaps they should be and ultimately how they remain.

There’s a lot of my individual feelings on equality and diversity buried in this narrative too: I’ll make no bones about this, and I realise that I’m just as likely to inflame the ire of many people by admitting that my Quartermaster in this version of 007’s world is gay. In fact, this is more likely to cause issue than the sex of my protagonist, and that is I know wrapped around the basic conflict that canon should remain 100% faithful and accurate to the original source material. That means Bond remains a white, heterosexual male who only uses women to get what he wants. Needless to say, that’s almost what happens in Spectre: you know, if 007 hadn’t come back to get the Aston Martin at the end, I might have forgiven him for the rest of the movie. As it stands, he needs a rewrite in my mind.

When you pick up the action in three weeks? We’ll be starting pretty much where Spectre leaves off. 

I look forward to seeing you here on the 27th.

Writing as Therapy :: Beginnings

This is Not A Love Song

I’ve been trying to write with competence since my teens, and a lot of my issues have centred around an inability to listen to criticism. Once my daughter was born and I had my issues with PND, it became apparent that obstinance and arrogance were not going to help me get better. I would have to open myself to the notion of change, like it or not. Not for myself, but for the kids I was expected to bring up not being narrow minded as I’d become. The first step towards the change was diary writing, or in my case Live Journal. LJ was the beginning of a journey that eventually granted me sufficient confidence to begin blogging, and from that I finally pushed myself into what became and abortive Open University course, beginning with Creative Writing.

I realised very quickly that formal study was not the answer I was looking for, and even a study group at the local Adult Education College made the process too rigid. However, what these two things managed to combine to do was crack my creative brain open, pushing me into the realisation that daily repetition actually improved my mood and ability. The revelation, at least for me, was when I was able to combine this routine with my desire to get fit, once and for all, after two children. It began simply enough: I’d walk around the block to drop my daughter off to school. One day, I just kept walking. I made a playlist on my phone to listen to, and used this to help me work on a piece of fiction (which became Duet, as it happens, you can read that here.)


I’ll talk more about my visualisation process in a separate post, but for now all that matters from this was that writing drove my feet, and eventually I would miss the longer walks when I couldn’t take them. As soon as this happened, I knew I’d made some progress. The understanding that the daily writing routine could produce physical as well as mental well-being was something of an epiphany, I must be honest. Most of this however hinged on the knowledge that I am lazy, I will easily allow myself to be distracted, and both of these together can be potentially catastrophic. Understanding how everything links together in my brain has helped a lot towards releasing the clamps on parts of my life that were before almost dangerously restricted.

Relaxation is still a problem, but undoubtedly the process of problem solving in my fiction alleviates the issues. Except, of course, when I find myself presenting a writing problem that has psychological connotations. For instance in Default I’ve written a section around the mental torture of my female protagonist. To do this I undertook research that I found actually quite unpleasant, and have come to the conclusion that people who think that psychological warfare is either fair or right are deeply disturbed individuals. Needless to say the section was written, but with a level of objectivity given to Ronni Flemmings that she didn’t previously posses as a character. My understanding of the situation gave her new strength to cope.

Reach for the Stars

However, undoubtedly at the core of all this understanding came the real belief I’d failed myself when my daughter was born, that I wasn’t good enough to be her mother. That quote in the header is particularly apposite: a series of circumstances prior to her birth (and to a significant extent the birth of my son) made me cut ties with just about everyone I knew at the time, simply because I needed to start with a clean slate moving forward. I have one friend that remain constant from my LJ days, and one from before. That’s it: everyone else is gone, and when (inevitably) someone attempts the Facebook/Twitter friending process, they are quietly and positively ignored. I have no desire to go back to the past, nor to ever live there again. I look now only forward, and with good reason.

I am responsible for all of my failings and shortcomings. Although I’d love to say circumstance and other people are to blame? It’s so really not the case I’d be foolish to attempt to suggest otherwise. I was the selfish, arrogant and thoughtless individual pretty much from start to finish. When I accepted all these things it became a great deal easier to move everything forward, with the understanding that building from scratch has its drawbacks. If I met certain people again I’d happily apologise for my behaviour, but I wouldn’t want to be friends with pretty much all of them. I made all the wrong choices in pretty much every single department, based on a fatally flawed outlook. Now that’s fixed? I still make the wrong choices, but it doesn’t matter nearly as much because I’m able to say I really cared to begin with.


In my journey to explain how writing is therapy, it’s important to grasp that the words can’t be used to lie. There’s no point in trying to sugar coat your perceptions of the past. I was a bitch for a very long time, and I hurt an awful lot of people, often unintentionally. However, there were times when that wasn’t the case and I knew exactly what I was doing, and because of that fact alone, I have a lot of sympathy for anyone who struggles to find themselves a voice of sanity on difficult days. You’ll never be perfect. You’ll never not fuck shit up. That’s life; make it a small part as much as possible. For all the other times in between, it’s a constant balancing act, and no-one is perfect.

If you can find a way to express your frustration as you live? So much the better.

Tomorrow Never Dies

And you’re done. 

I still have to review SPECTRE, but its fair to say that I don’t think Daniel Craig’s coming back for another go at 007. Frankly, I don’t blame him: this has taken a decade of his life, and the journey has, at times, been fairly tortuous for everyone concerned. Nobody liked the guy when he arrived, and having not only made Bond acceptable in the 21st century but actually likeable again, he’s now become a victim of his own hype. The problem with the 24th episode in the franchise is that it had to go back to the worst part of its roots, under some mistaken belief that actually, the supervillain/criminal organisation ‘trope’ would still be relevant in a world full of cyber-terrorism and religious zealotry. The problem for Eon and Sony, quite apart from the stupid amount of money they threw at SPECTRE, is that they ended up being a parody of a parody of themselves. There’s moments when you watch the interplay between Waltz and Craig and you realise it could just as easily be Mike Myers talking to himself. Then things just get a bit strange, and you want it to stop.

Oh, behave.

This morning, unsurprisingly as Craig comes up for his 48th birthday, the rumour mill has started up over his ‘successor’ with the Independent suggesting that TV is a better draw for a man who’s made so much cash from the Bond franchise he could probably choose never to work again. There are a number of factors to consider in the next Bond ‘movie’: it’s the 25th, and that’s going to mean summat big. 24 wasn’t nearly as successful as had been hoped, which is going to set people’s minds to thinking that maybe they need to reboot regardless. However, now SPECTRE is back, the whole Bond ‘world’ is different, and quite possibly dangerously out of touch with the trend in action/spy/thrillers for realism against a backdrop of constant peril. That’s not Eon’s biggest problem by a long way, however. Fleming’s ideals of a guy who treats women like dirt and does whatever the fuck he wants without consequence are all well and good, but its the white male tradition that causes the most issues with an increasing proportion of the movie-going population. Bond remains the last bastion untouched by diversity: Austin Powers’ inane sexism and misogyny, still acceptable after over five decades. Craig has hinted he thinks it’s extremely unlikely that will change, and I have to agree with him, because as a woman I was never who the films were selling to. In fact, anyone who’s not white and male is pretty much out of luck, quite possibly for many years to come.

They’ll ask him, and if he has any sense he’ll say no.

So, if I were Tom Hiddleston, I’d turn down the offer when Eon present it, because I’d not want to be associated with a franchise that sells Britain as a place where diversity doesn’t exist. I don’t care how good you look and how many people you get to sleep with without consequence, Bond’s legacy is a bald-faced lie. Fast cars and guns and pretty eye candy is rubbish, and considering how this franchise has reacted to change over the decades, it’s become quite sad to see that the way Eon decided to deal with evolution was to just pretend it hasn’t happened. Instead the franchise became a homage to an age not that many people would ever actually want to go back to. This is the reality of ‘modern’ Britain, that a Bond author can happily turn around and declare a black actor unsuitable for the task of 007 because he’s ‘too street’ for the role. It’s depressing and it actually cheapens Craig’s achievement, which was to actually give Bond a soul. He’d never really had one in all that time, except for that brief period in OHMSS and between Goldeneye ’til Tomorrow Never Dies. All the rest of those years it was a lie, actors flirting with the concept of a man who actually wasn’t worth knowing or saving a lot of the time. He was a hero, yes, but he was never really a decent human being. Daniel Craig’s Bond did at least show an evolution, understanding of what had happened to make the agent as brittle and fractured as he was. In the end, I don’t blame him for leaving with both the car and the girl because if it had been me? I’d have taken both too.

Still my #1 Choice. By a mile.

So, how do we go forward? Well, I’ve discussed with several people that maybe the path is to stick Bond back in the 60’s and play it that way, because if you do so then you can just ignore all the modern issues and maybe eventually they’ll go away. There is the option to make Bond black, or a woman, or possibly both (don’t get me started at how criminally underused Moneypenny was in SPECTRE.) I’d argue everybody will need recasting in the supporting roles if they start again, and maybe if that happens then you can give people an opportunity to rethink the dynamics. Mostly I’d love to see something more than ‘supervillain threatens world’ because honestly, I think for everyone’s benefit it might be an idea if we left that alone for a while now. The thing is, if Bond reboot *again* it is really, REALLY hard to see where it goes. Mostly, if I was in Eon’s production offices right now, I’d be worrying how this all goes down. Because there is no easy answer to how you move this franchise forward without some kind of change, and if they do it wrong, Bond 25 could end up being the last of the series.

For what it’s worth? I’d take it to TV. I’d reboot from scratch, do a deal with the BBC, and make it into a Spooks-style alternate universe where SPECTRE’s been in charge of super-villainry for the best part of 40 years. Sell it worldwide, give Craig a starring role as the old 007 handing over to a newer, younger counterpart.

If you could make her somewhere in the early 40’s? So much the better.