Scary Monsters and Super Creeps

I can’t speak for any other writer as to how their creative minds operate, but mine is VERY particular when it comes to inspiration. As should be abundantly apparent by all these #Blogmas posts, music is an indivisible part of existence. How that manifests has altered significantly in my 50 plus years on the planet, and is worth examining in more detail.

The first song I remember as a kid was this one, part of a cassette tape that got played until it broke… Disney songs, words to which I knew before being able to either read or write. My grandfather gave me a Glenn Miller cassette. I found a Simon and Garfunkel album and my father never asked to have it back. Then, he offered a copy of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John and my journey into music began in earnest.

When Punk happened in the 70’s, I listened to Ultravox and Duran Duran as a New Romantic, but loved Madness and the Specials as Ska. Anarchy frightened me, but The Damned’s New Rose remains one of my all-time favourites from that era… and so the exploration continued, taking in Indy, Jazz, Classical and Electronic along the way. I’ll listen to anything once. For it to stick? There needs to be something special.

Emerging from the very depths of depression, this song has huge significance: originally used to advertise a certain computer game, it was the first time that my brain and music engaged in a collaboration which has now become indispensable during the creative process. From music, pictures spring forth that never previously existed, and these visual aids then send me back to the page to record them.

It has now become a case of learning how to transcribe these visual clues onto the page. If I’m honest, that’s taken nearly two decades to perfect, but now we have utterly cracked it, there is no holding the creativity back. If a plot falters or won’t move forward, finding the right tune to fit action before and after is often a great way of easing the transition. Music isn’t just for writing however, it can also unfreeze my consciousness.

Music and exercise have become an indivisible and potent combination.

We’ll tackle that on Wednesday.

Look Out Any Window


Lots of things matter to me. Some are fairly frivolous (see Bond fan fiction) but others come from a lifetime of noticing stuff other people seem to overlook. Environmentalism has been in my life since my teens, donating to Friends of the Earth for over thirty years. We don’t send gifts to close family and relations any more: instead the money that would be spent goes to charities so that it can be used in the most productive fashion possible.

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In the last couple of years, I’ve really learnt to appreciate the value of other people in my life, and how seemingly random interactions can add up to significant and meaningful online friendships. For the last two years therefore there’s been the desire to spread love as far and wide as possible, and I’m in the midst of a new crop of thank-yous delivered via Twitter. Follow the hashtag #FromMeToYou as the month continues to get the full range of haiku, and (as was the case last year) they’ll all be archived here for posterity when we’re done.

Finally, there’s the gift that just keeps on giving: the .GIF file. One day, I will write a set of poems eulogising the significance small pieces of looped video have bought to millions of lives. The .GIF Advent has run for a few years now, and is one of my consistently most-watched features on the other Twitter account. It’s also a little ray of daily sunshine for yours truly, because, let’s face it, this stuff can make you happiest of all.

The gift of giving is a beautiful thing.

Dancing in the Dark

This has been surprisingly hard to write, which is strange. I’ve spoken a lot about the issues that exist, there are various blogs you can easily locate on the site which detail history, such as it is. However, something important has happened in the last couple of months. My husband was sorting through pictures of me after my daughter was born. A number of them I cannot remember being taken. This person may have have looked full of smiles but there’s no depth to the images, they’re a lie.

So much of my past is just that.

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This picture is from 2009. It is small, and blurry, but these smiles are genuine. I’d passed the lowest point a year earlier, and considered ending everything. I’d come close enough to planning the exit. There wasn’t a day when I didn’t think about how worthless I was, what a failure woman had become as wife and mother. What changed, ultimately, was an ability to see in the dark, forgiving myself, creating a new existence that factored me into the equation.

I was a wife,  mother and daughter, but nothing of me that made any sense, or was actually true. All the stuff that had mattered in my teens had fallen by the wayside. That had been willingly sacrificed when kids were born, including friendships and career, but without something to call my own, there was simply no point. In the darkest depths of despair, arguing in decreasing circles, truth was inescapable. The only person who would save me was myself. To redeem existence, truth has to be found.

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Depression did odd things to my brain, PMT making things worse, plus some horrendous issues post my daughter’s birth with body’s general state of disrepair. It was time therefore to drag myself outside (best therapy ever prescribed to me, it must be said) and start walking: when daughter started Primary School, I’d do an extra fifteen minutes walk home, often returning exhausted and dripping in sweat. Slowly, that became an hour. The local leisure centre had a Gym, and I’d pay to go use the treadmills. Then, when husband was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, came a Gym membership.

At the same time, brain therapy pushed me to write every day, about World of Warcraft. Issues were kept secret from everybody, and only when comfortable enough to tell people did it happen. During both pregnancies, a lot of old friends were left behind. Some I treated well, others not so much. There are two that are regretted even now, but considering the history behind them both, everybody wins by us not being friends any more. In 2015, whilst on holiday in the US, a ghost from the past tried to follow me on Twitter, and pushed me into answering some major questions.

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That might mean of course they’re reading this now, and that’s always something that never leaves me. There’s a lot of people I’ve met and passed by, many with whom  friendship was mutually ended and the occasional person who frankly scared the crap out of my by refusing to let go. It was this issue, that some things were out of my control,  that finally pushed brain to start questioning how stuff is processed. This year it was that which finally led to the confirmation of an ASD diagnosis.

Then there’s anxiety, which is now well managed, occasional issues with light sensitivity and sound input and the fact it appears to take me twice as long to learn new Gym exercises than everybody else. All of that is eminently manageable because now, I’m happy. This might be the heaviest I’ve ever been for a while, but it is undoubtedly the fittest and mentally alert. Steps have been taken to redefine what matters most, and yes all of that works, on a daily basis. A lot of that is to do with comfort in everything, including my sexuality.

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Now, when asked to complete application forms (and there have been a lot of them in the last year) the word ‘bisexual’ gets ticked. I’m happily married to a guy who I’ve known for 30 years, and long may this continue because nobody in that time has even come close to bettering what he is to me. I have been a flake to him, a coward and a bitch, but he still stands beside me as the best person to love. Only realising what I truly was in the last couple of years, this final confirmation changed entire sense of self.

We are equal, in every respect. The other people who matter don’t see a label, they understand me. What this means going forward is being capable of accepting these changes, and not allowing others to affect the quality of life that’s now been achieved. This is the happiest I have ever been, and were this to be the last blog post ever written there’d be no remorse that life isn’t what was either hoped or planned. Every day is a constant reappraisal and reorganisation of everything, and that’s perfectly fine.

This is my story. It is part, inescapably, of what I am.

Losing my Religion

Music is an undisputed influence in my life. Imagery comes a close second. TV and Film get talked about a lot around these parts, and honestly there’s lists for both you can go stare at if all that matters is a rundown. What moves me most, every day, is the beauty of simplicity. Imagery is everywhere: most of us are too busy or have heads in mobile devices to see what exists around us.

Being outside with a camera is often the happiest I will ever be.

I’ve seen patterns in stuff all my life other people seem to miss. Of course, only recently have I discovered this is another benefit of an autistic brain, and has allowed some really interesting paths to be pursued. If you are truly curious in how I see, then a quick look at my Flickr page might be an idea if it is indeed possible to quickly scan just over 2000 photos.

Now comes the opportunity to start doing more with imagery.

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The early experiments have been hit and miss, but there’s definite possibility within the framework. It needs thought and planning that’s been absent for the last few months due to work on contest and submission work, but will start again in earnest during 2019. Ideas are at the planning stage, at least one connected with a poetry sequence provisionally titled FIVE / SEVEN / FIVE.

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Instagram is undoubtedly a way forward too, but how to best use it remains to be seen. It’s a slow burn to grab interest, and to do that with poetry will require something quite special indeed. It won’t just be images, but the right words and a clever way of delivering them. I’m already thinking about the means and methods though. It’s a great way to unwind on treadmills and during exercise.

There is so much potential for future projects, and with all the pictures self-taken, there no worry about copyright or issues over ownership. In that regard, the possibilities for projects going forward becomes very exciting indeed…

Rain

Today is the first of four general history posts. I could begin with some words on my love of Madge (up until 1992 when it all went a bit introverted, with a brief Ray of Light back in 1998) or perhaps it would be better focusing on an interest in Japanese culture this video gives a nod to. However, reason why this song starts our sequence has everything to do with the piece of writing it inspired and nothing at all to do with anything else.

This happens an awful lot in my life, and if there’s to be a proper history of what got me to this point, then music must be acknowledged for its part within that process.

It is 1983. I’m part of the ABC Fan club, and get invited to be an extra in Mantrap, a film that involves the band and that woman who starred in the video for Poison Arrow. A love of cinema and TV had secured me a place at college reading Media Studies and English, and to be an extra in what was basically a glorified music video was, let’s be honest, the pinnacle of a New Romantic lifestyle. However, it was music that mattered most of all.

That entire period of my life had been peppered with odd musical experiences: growing up with heavy metal, AoR, folk, jazz, big bands and comedy records. If I’m honest it was the comedy which had the most lasting affect, but everything else fell together into a massive, varied backdrop to my existence. Music ties itself to old boyfriends, significant milestones, even the worst parts of my life. For everything, there was a soundtrack, recalled in far greater detail than anything else.

This song, for instance, played in a car on the way to a wedding. I don’t remember who it was getting hitched, or why I was in the car with the person for whom this song is now forever associated, but they are and it still is. The smell of the rapeseed outside the car, the car itself (Blue Peugeot 205 with a Lemming graphic on the back) and the fact that someone independently confirmed I could sing. Literally everything else is lost to time.

If you claim to know me, you will grasp the significance of music in my life. Lyrics are remembered long after names and places have been forgotten. How that shapes my writing is a complex and often amazing process, which we’ll talk about further down the line. For now, understand and appreciate the significance all forms of the craft have in my life, from Classical to Thrash Metal and back again.

Music is almost as much a part of me as blood and bones.

The First Time

Everything you will ever need to know about me exists online. No, really, it does. You’d be surprised just how much personal detail has been exposed via the wonders of the World Wide Web since the 1990’s, but to make it easier for you I’ve put together some notable moments in personal history.


writing-as-therapy

The ‘Writing as Therapy’ tag is where a lot of early, formative conclusions have come to be in relation to what I do here. It also has a lot of interesting anecdotes hidden within, including the reason why religion caused grief in my late teens. The quality may be variable, but there’s a LOT of good stuff here.


Write off (3)

Then, there’s my FanFiction. It would be a foolish woman who did not acknowledge the debt this form of hero worship has had on my life. My first fanfic was written, on a typewriter, somewhere in the early 1990’s. Yes, I still have it and no, it doesn’t get shared. Since then, we’ve covered multiple genres and countless TV shows and movies. Over Christmas, I’ll be taking the most recent efforts away for a much-needed edit.

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James Bond and I have a love/hate relationship right now, but the two fanfics I wrote (over 100k words) represent an important step in writing development. You can find Duet and Default here. I will never be anything else but utterly proud of these pieces.

I created two damn good stories.


Poetry

I hated poetry two years ago, with a fair passion, before it became apparent that the main reason for this was because I couldn’t write it. My artist friends keep telling me: if you want to draw, you should practice every day, and eventually you will get somewhere. They’re right, of course. Every day since that revelation, poetry has been written and now, after a LOT of hard work the form is now a thing.

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Search my poetry tags for weekly forms, one offs and daily ruminations, plus specially- created compositions using my own photographs. I’m particularly proud of the 2017 Thinktober visuals, which represented the first time both words and pictures were specifically designed to complement each other.


There’s a lot more on the site, if you’d like to take some time to wander about. Now I’ve explained the lay of the land, the next series of posts will give you some detail about the person behind it…

Negotiations and Love Songs

This is #Blogmas, and welcome to a month’s worth of posts which are supposed to act as a shop window for the site and my content. All the images you’ll see this month are pulled, in roughly historical order, from the archives of various websites, pages and social media forum in which I have existed, since the Internet was downloaded on a modem and all you had was text.

In the main these were either made for me, or I did it myself, and looking at my archives there appears to be quite a lot of them.

Let’s begin therefore with a quick overview.

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And You Are?

I have an actual biography page. It has existed for as long as my personal site has been here, which (according to the files) is October 6th, 2011. My Warcraft site came into being on February 2nd, 2009 which means, as of next month, it will be almost a decade since I started blogging. It’s like a completely different world between there and now.

What am I saying, it IS a completely different world, and if anyone tried to write this as fiction, nobody would believe it.


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What Do You Do?

I love to make graphics, and did that for nearly two decades, with lots of other stuff, often in an attempt to impress people who really didn’t really care that much at the results. I’ve been in and out of numerous fandoms. My daughter worries that she’s got no consistency in that regard, but considering my track record… it’s clearly genetic.

I’ve treated a lot of people really poorly too, but in my defence only now is it clear why that happened, and I’m really sorry. No, genuinely it’s the truth, but I’m not off to offer any olive branches any time soon. The past, for everybody’s mental health, needs to stay exactly where it was left.

What I wanted to do more than graphics however was to write. It just needed a while to remember how that happened well. It has taken about 18 years more or less; now we’ve arrived at the point where, with some confidence, there is progress.


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Deep Thought

The process of redemptive blogging really began thanks to World of Warcraft. There were blogs before (and a LiveJournal account I still get the odd acknowledgement from) plus a Facebook page which was sensibly closed well before all the real drama began.

I’ve adopted various pseudonyms and now, in the last week, was my my real name attached back to this website. I only do this with the knowledge both mind and body is ready for whatever the consequences of such actions will be.

That’s taken a phenomenal amount of work. I suffered from depression, anxiety and self esteem issues for decades. We’ve reduced that to just anxiety now, and to maintain it that way is a priority. Understanding why all this happened has been a tough ask, but now I am in control of my own destiny.

Most of the toxic elements in my life have been purged. This is the best it has ever been. This is the happiest I’ve ever felt.


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The Grand Plan

Yes, I want to get my work published. No, I’m not expecting miracles. Yes, hard work is its own reward. No, you don’t get anything unless it is worked for. This website is part of a plan to produce content, on my terms. At the same time, I’m entering contests and looking to generate pieces that others will think good enough to reproduce.

There’s at least one epic Science Fiction novel in me, but more and more there’s the pull of something far more personal. What that means going forward is anybody’s guess. I pulled out of NaNoWriMo this year: there’s too much left unfinished. That’s getting fixed starting today.

Lots of things get fixed starting now.


So, this is the starting point. Tomorrow, we’ll deal in some specifics.

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