Ready for the Floor

This is all really rather unexpected.

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It was planned for ‘stuff’ to happen on Sunday, and it did. That means at 11.30am tomorrow the inaugural Precarious Epithet will be available to download, as a 10 page .PDF, via this website. I’m insanely pleased with it, as it happens, because nobody else had anything else to do with its construction and content than me. Just me, THAT’S ALL. This is a first step into a wider universe, and I love it.

Going forward, similar content will be produced via Patreon. I make no bones about this: getting paid for this stuff really does matter a lot. I received my first ‘wage’ via the content platform this morning and although it won’t make me rich, this is a decent foundation. The motivation exists to keep working, and outputting, whilst improving skills across multiple disciplines.

This is the learning process that keeps on giving.

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As my son loved to say after he’d perform a magic trick, as a kid, prepare to BE AMAZED at the content emerging in the following months. The groove has undoubtedly been reacquired. Time to set sights distinctly forward, and make hay whilst I am effectively stuck indoors apart from a mandated walk every day where BOY AM I TAKING A LOT OF PICTURES and yeah, here we are.

Welcome to the New Normal [TM]

You Oughta Know

Everything’s now in place: the monthly newsletter has gone out and I’ll be spending this weekend putting the finishing touches to FREE CONTENT, available to view or download here next week. It’s the precursor to my Patreon only stuff, which is one of the main reasons I started up this whole thing in the first place. It’s the culmination of a project that initially began over two years ago. Time really has flown since then.

Once it was decided to shift a lot of the output to a subscription model, I was very conscious it would leave nothing here as ‘new’ and that’s why, starting on the 6th, we’re gonna go back in time. Weekly poetry and Daily Instagram are still happening, but here we’ll be digging into half a century of life, 40 of which has been inextricably linked to computers, for some pieces of historical context as to how life ended up here.

April 1st

This will overlap slightly with sub content for reasons that should be fairly obvious: however, if you are interested in the really juicy, personal stuff… It makes sense to not throw all the dirty laundry out in the open. That means I’ve dug out a complete short story typed on an ancient Amstrad computer, my first attempts at poetry, and all manner of fanfic-related goodness as upcoming content.

It’s a really useful insight into how my mind has changed over the decades, what could be possible going forward with existing ideas… and is a part of my life that needs to be embraced. We all start somewhere, in whatever journeys we decide to undertake. This is an intrinsic part of what we become as writers. I think more of us should share what that means and not just hold onto it for potential, commercial gain.

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There’s a lot of my life that’s been lived online. Maybe it’s time to own up to more.

Back in the Saddle

Normally, I’d be here in the morning to write a blog, but the first of the month, from now on, is likely to be a bit different. Welcome to the New World Order, where suddenly everything is a lot more complicated, but amazingly appears about 3000% more professional. Somewhere between the end of February and now, I became an adult content creator. Blimey.

There have already been complaints and yes, I hear you. I always said I’d be the one who wouldn’t do this, and would staunchly exempt myself from the rigours of capitalism, but right now nobody is working, therefore money has to come from somewhere. There was never a good time to bite the bullet and go subscription, when all is said and done circumstance effectively made that choice for me.

It doesn’t mean however that content stops here, anything but. It’s a simple redistribution of effort and attainment in different locations. I will ensure however that content keeps being saved here: weekly poetry, daily Twitter short story… all those things still have their place in the world and will not suddenly vanish. There will be some new things here too, as time goes on, but first I need the Patreon mechanics to work well.

I suppose if I’ve only upset one person out of (potentially) millions thus far, that has to count for something. If everybody else can adjust to this new normal, that is the direction everything will subsequently head. I’m actually pretty excited because tomorrow I am putting together the first of TWO LANzine for the month: the first one is a dry run to see if anyone’s interested in the sub-only edition for which this post’s header is the main graphic.

The only way you get to swim is to sink first. Time to dive in…

February Short Story: Motion

This story was first serialised in 29 daily parts during February 2020 via the @MoveablePress and @InternetofWords Twitter feeds [9am and 5pm GMT respectively.] It is now reproduced in a complete form, a number of small edits and corrections made to improve narrative flow and maintain correct continuity.

Enjoy.


Motion

In murky darkness, illuminated only by pale headlights from a teen’s car, a long-dead body is tied to railway tracks. It began as desperate action covering a terrible accident. Three decades later, the next twenty-four hours will finally provide her story’s most suitable ending.

I know Elizabeth loved us both in some small part of that battered heart, affection-starved long before we were considered a possibility. There had never been any ill-will towards either of us, no hand raised or dreams dismissed. She was, for many years, only ally we possessed. We rarely saw Ian: never referred to as ‘Dad’ even during childhood. His biological contribution all that had ever been willingly given: they’d loved each other until arrival of twins broke a brittle heart. No sons, just daughters. Both, twice unconscionable: man never recovered.

The night he tried to kill Mum began as a singularly uninspiring visit, feigning interest at our upcoming eighteenth birthdays. For the first time ever, money was demanded: something clearly very wrong in his life at that moment. It took over a year to uncover true motivation. Nobody expected bread knife as first choice of weapon: that gash took three months to heal. Both of us were enough, just, holding him back as Mum kicked first to balls, then neck as body hit kitchen floor. Two of us trailed his escape as far as the northbound bypass; both cried.

That should have been the end, except a different story was written. Guilt pushed us both go find him, insist he stayed away: dark monster never again welcome under our roof. If we’d ignored our disquiet, it would never have emerged that Mum accidentality managed to end his life. We saw the car, parked inside old garage on dirty land he called home, just far enough away from civilization to remain anonymous. He died where he fell, into a bush: we should have left, right there and then, turned around and never looked back. Hindsight’s a bitch; so were we.

We wanted a statement. It took all weekend, covered under beautifully crafted alibis: no-one even thought collusion a possibility. Such a good job that even three decades on, the whole truth only emerged by accident. Mum would go her grave, blissfully ignorant of any culpability. Leaving body on the tracks without tying hands and feet would prove him already dead. He wouldn’t just sacrifice himself, after all. This was a man who lived life very large; we made this a mob hit, local gang’s well-known ringleader finally punished by rivals for gambling debts.

On day his demise made national news Mum just sat with the paper, stroking remains of scar on her left arm. She cried, yes, but never came forward as his wife, because it transpired they were never married in the first place. On our Birth certificates, that space remained blank. Local Police cited numerous inconsistencies at their crime scene, yet nobody objected over sentences for three men of murder who’d already been arrested for other crimes. Ian became the convenient truth, wrapped in somebody else’s dreadful mistake. Only Harri and I knew better.

For the next twenty-five years, that verity slowly destroyed our familial bond.


This isn’t revenge. Penance is difficult, painful work. Everybody suffers as a result. You get to hurt most of all. The path Harri chose to walk, away from me and towards pointless redemption…

Harriet’s ambition was obvious, early on. It was how Mum would tell us apart: she crawled first, walked first, spoke before I’d even thought about communication. It was if two people’s motivation and drive had been shoved into one stocky body, without thought of the consequences. Except, she couldn’t do anything with Dad’s circumstance but stare. I was one who suggested a plan, wrapped a by now very dead weight in tarpaulin. At exact moment when courage demanded action, Harri sublimated, suddenly submissive to a sister who previously always went second.

We’d both deferred University entry that year, already planning extensive trip across Europe; six months later she’d moved out to live with friends. Mum didn’t seem that surprised, even less so when I decided not to bother with education either, accepting solid offer at the Echo. Photography had become my saving grace; sure, I could have followed Harri to London and more money, but these aspirations weren’t wrapped in pretence and perceived glory. It didn’t matter anyway: ability would eventually lead to recognition. We were undoubtedly precocious talents.

The year I won a national photography contest was the same she was hired by the BBC as a trainee reporter. Mum had double reason to be proud: attention made people begin to ask questions that should have been raised years previously. Where was their father, after all this time? Truth, in the beginning, was enough: he’d ‘passed away’ was line all three of us would recite, emotionally free of details or context. Every year, easier to place events into someone else’s context, creating fiction from fact. Eventually, fear and anguish would finally diminish.

Except, they never did. Excuses would be made, time and again, never to go home, Mum becoming increasingly distant. Her heart had been broken; first by Dad, and then us. My move to Manchester was the last straw: both daughters now financially independent, ties to home redundant. There was a period in my 30’s when lies did not exist: my partner helped enormously. They knew something was being withheld; intimacy far more important than any misdemeanour in the collective past. A week before my 40th birthday however, everything known was summarily trashed.

Harri collapsed literally mid-shift, famously caught on camera during a BBC News broadcast; twenty four hours later she was dead. The brain haemorrhage that killed her, coroner concluded, probably began as a low bleed. She’d fallen off a bike the weekend before, without a helmet. Mum never showed for her funeral, nor indeed did anyone else. It was just me, a couple of onlookers and the funeral staff. Harri was neither popular nor cared about such things as important. Even the Corporation played down her demise; I knew better. Something vital was missing.

I’d moved to London the year before, not told my sister what I’d learnt. Mum hadn’t killed Dad by accident; it had been contrived all along, fight convenient means of scaring us into silence. Cancer would have killed him in months, nullifying a hastily arranged insurance policy. They colluded together: enough cash on his death remained to pay off all debts, providing more than enough to cover mortgage on our family home. After that, Mum sold up and moved, before repeating same morbid dance twice more. Both ‘natural’ deaths, very much to plan… until this.

Wedded twice, both low key. Two men dead before a year of marriage was done, both owning substantive insurance policies. My sister might have been paid for smart, investigative journalism: yet she overlooked significant information. Key evidence, finally, damning and inescapable. Last missing piece, crucially, was motive. Why was this happening, time and again, plus pivotally where did the money vanish to? Hundreds of thousands of pounds, previously untraceable… that last puzzle piece fell into place this week. No longer the victim; I, Isabel am evidence.

DNA is my inescapable, constant companion. When it comes to identical twins, however, using it as identifying evidence in court becomes a little more complex. Genetics have a different part to play; simple fingerprints remain empirical, damning confirmation of absolute identity. Twins are far more likely to occur on my father’s side. Once part of a pair, I’m alone. My father’s twin was responsible for that death, believing my sister was who’d discovered their unexpected collusion with my mother. He shoved Harri off her bike, attempted an assault, failed.

Two people appear in court today, charged with multiple counts of murder. My mum, her lover, dead father’s identical, more deadly half. This isn’t revenge any more. Penance is difficult, painful work: I am ready to send both to Hell.

It’s the least I can do for Harriet and me…

Rise Up

This will be the last post on-site before the big reorganisational change happens, starting next week. Having committed to the change, I’d like to get started on the nuts and bolts changes that need to happen behind the scenes. That will involve a Secret Bonus Area for Patreon followers, accomodation for the NEW Weekly Newsletter… plus shifting around all the old stuff to become more friendly and accessible.

Therefore, starting next week you can expect to see stuff morph and evolve before your very eyes. I don’t have the luxury of just shutting everything down, after all, so we’ll sort as much of the architecture out as possible within the existing framework, then turn up and give the thing a lick of new paint. After all, it would be rubbish to do that first and then discover a bunch of stuff is no longer fit for purpose…

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Then, we’ll relaunch everything in April, with a brief moment for World Poetry Day on March 21st. Of course, you’ll still be able to read my daily rantings via Twitter or on the Laughing Geek Website, or observe my increasing graphic competence via Instagram. I’m going to also be overhauling Ko-Fi to link up with the Patreon, so you can go take a look at that too when everything is complete.

Consider it a general Spring Clean for everything.

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Oh yeah, and about Patreon. I’m gonna go for it again: there is no idea who will be interested, can only hope the content ends up speaking for itself. Lots of people are struggling to get by and won’t ever be able to afford to support me anyway, and as a result I’ve decided to give this whole thing until December to see whether there is enough interest to push forward.

Is what I do worth paying for? It’ll soon be time to see for myself…

Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space

I’d like to present my new single-line logo. It’s sitting on a lovely starry background now, but as time goes on it will alter its position relative to my particular use and desires. After an admission there needed to be a redo of the site design, this portion was very easy to facilitate. What will be harder is re-arranging all the other bits to accommodate expansion, plus change.

However, on that front, things are going pretty well. 

Founders Survey

I’m running a feedback/survey thing right now (click this link to take part) which, if completed, qualifies you for a chance of a £25 Amazon voucher. I’ll push this until March 8th, which is when I’m planning to start instigating design changes. After that, barring major disasters, Patreon is likely to restart in May. I’d do this work anyway, regardless of status, so asking people to become my supporters is a logical next step.

Then we can start talking about printing poetry, short stories and photographs.

Looking Upwards

All of this is part of a bigger, long-term plan to try and self-finance myself for as long as possible. Storytelling has always been the goal. This was my dream as a kid: becoming 007 or Dr Who didn’t seem that practical, when all was said and done. Having a women in both those roles (SPOILER ALERT) during my lifetime is the portent required to get off the arse and start putting in the hours.

After that, all I can hope is that people will be willing and able to support me.

Order from Chaos

Over the last seven days, it’s been easy to admit that work needs to be done around the website. Once that thought was out in the open, lots of subsequent internal soul-searching has taken place. If this whole shebang is going to be successful, there will never be a good moment to talk about money. After admitting this week that a fortune is never really likely to be made on the back of current submission content, it is time to be honest.

As a Digital Curator, it may be time to put down some more solid foundations.

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When I rebooted this site from its original purpose a few years ago, it was to accompany a first, tentative into the world of persistent crowdfunding via Patreon. There was some fuss at the end of that year when the platform attempted to pull a fast one over fees, and my principles suggested a step back from participation until such time as I felt there was sufficient confidence to sell myself again.

Once the site redesign starts next month (you can already be able to see the new logo above) I’ll be posting a Google Forms survey asking people if they’d be interested in becoming contributors to this new direction, which will include Patreon as an option. I’m not going to go back to the platform unless I know there’s an opportunity to make a decent fist of the endeavour.

I’ll be taking my cues from those of you willing to help fund me long term.

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Communication is key to this new direction: the last attempt of providing unique content was not really that well thought through. Now, I’m not only older but considerably more confident of what is possible with my setup and skillset. As a result, there are potentially a lot of very exciting possibilities on the table. This is not just poetry or fiction, photography or general creativity. New adventures are just a thought away.

More importantly, I’m now fully free of the shackles that were holding me back previously thanks to counselling. With the new confidence in myself and what is possible, we can start creating a truly unique and special place online, that covers multimedia and transmedia. It is not just words that sell, after all, and if I can generate content that nobody else is currently producing?

That has to be something to aim for going forward.

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For now, however, there’s some more deadlines to aim for, so it’s time to finish what’s been started before clearing the decks and starting fresh…