Run To the Hills

Last week will be remembered for many things, but most particularly because I created two submission packages from existing work and sent them away with possibly the minimum amount of stress I’ve ever experienced. Normally, such things would take a phenomenal amount of mental energy to put together, and then get sent off with often ridiculous amounts of perceived expectation.

Not this time. I cannot allow myself to pin hopes on stuff like this any more, it’s ridiculous considering how low the success rates are for acceptance. Instead, Patreon grants me the opportunity to create original, important content at my speed, in my own space and, most crucially on my own terms. This has become the expectation and anticipation that’s required to keep my brain both alert and comfortable.

Selfish

This means that my commitment to new work can continue unabated (and it is, got a massive project planned for June, layout and contents already sketched and ready to roll) without the stress of feeling there is no professional momentum. That’s what this has all been about in the last two years, getting noticed and putting myself about which is proceeding as well as can be expected in the midst of a pandemic.

After that, it is hit and hope, which has always been the case when all is said and done. At least right now it’s a cheap lifestyle that’s being lead, I’m able to still create content with a measure of confidence and belief, and the wheels haven’t fallen off anything for AGES. You celebrate every victory as they happen in situations such as this. It is a daily process of staying calm, focussed, whilst producing something as progress.

After that, everything else is a welcome bonus.

Only Myself To Blame

A cautionary tale.

This is part of a three post series for Time To Talk Day in the UK.

This morning, I’ve just spent an hour or so having a conversation with someone that shouldn’t have been done on Twitter. On reflection, 140 characters is woefully inadequate for the subject matter, and there’s so many other discussions from this one start point that have been ignited. The problem with Twitter, and there is one, is that 140 characters aren’t enough to define real intent. That’s why the company’s actively looking at extending the character limit: not simply to allow advertisers and news gatherers more chance to explain, but because when you have to be brief, so much is left unsaid. The bigger issue however isn’t just the medium’s fault: you can’t blame a communication company for their product when you yourself are misinterpreted.

That’s nobody’s fault but your own.

Yeah, well you say *that*…

Having virtual conversations is as hard as doing real ones, and there’s so much else you have to factor into the equation. For instance, if you don’t know someone well and you start a dialogue, and then one of you uses a word that means one thing to them but something quite different to you? The intent is going to be quite seriously skewed. I’ve had that happen to me more times now online than I care to remember: a word I consider innocuous becomes a racial slur, a definition for me becomes a sexual identifier for another. When you have contact which such a diverse and intellectually vast range of individuals, there’s a whole minefield out there even if you speak the same language. What you don’t get with Twitter is the back-story, depth to the front, and this only tends to surface when a contentious subject rises, or you cross areas of intellectual conflict. Often, you never realise until it’s too late: that joke in the week about Republicans for instance didn’t go down too well in certain sectors of my timeline, but in fairness that would have become an issue eventually. Here’s the more significant point: over time, using social media, you can actually get a sense of someone, and as you do, it will become apparent whether the ‘relationship’ you have will work or not. Once you grasp that sense, then you’re able to decide how to proceed.

However, and this is crucial, you must know you’re as much to blame for drama if and when it occurs as the other person.

Sorry Cher, but it’s the truth.

However blameless (or clueless) you might claim to be when drama erupts around you, you’re really not. You can feel free to invent theories and decide you know what Person B is thinking or doing, but unless you actually talk to them and find out? It’s all supposition, theory, and even if you didn’t say a word to start the current flashpoint something you’ve done weeks ago could easily have fuelled the fire. Sometimes the drama itself is enough for you to finally take a stand and remove that person from your feed/life once and for all, and if this is what happens then really, truthfully, that’s no bad thing. The reason why I’m writing this for Time to Talk day is that’s how I finally realised that actually, I needed help, and I couldn’t keep blaming other people for my own failings. It wasn’t either fair or right to do so, when the same things kept happening and the single contributing factor was my behaviour. There’s only so long you can go making other people the reason for your drama. Eventually, if you are hiding from yourself, there has to be a reckoning. When you finally accept that you are as much to blame as everyone else you choose to attack?

Many things will simply change for the better.

DON’T START.

Living with people is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you its not and those people who seem to be able to just sail through life regardless? You’d be surprised how difficult it is for them. Often these are the people who we rely on: parents, carers, hard working people who can’t vocalise their feelings as well as the mouthy, gobby ones who seem to spend their entire existences making noise. Everyone deserves to be listened to, and if you choose to cut anyone out of your life, make sure you are VERY certain and confident in your reasoning. I’m making noise this morning in the vain hope that people get to grasp that actually, you do what you know best in order to help people. For me, that’s words, and these ones are a reminder that however worthy and confident you are in yourself, you can and will be wrong in your life. Many, many times. The trick is how you deal with it, and the ability to come out of yourself and be honest when it matters may be the difference between life and death. Because, ultimately, in a world obsessed with communication, many of us are still unable to string sentences together with certain words or concepts that we can’t or won’t grasp.

Today is a Time to Talk: to someone you trust, to a friend, or even to a relative stranger. Today is a day to reach out and ask for help. This is a moment to grasp and exploit, for your own future and good health. Yes, I know how frightening that can be, trust me, but if you can find it within yourself to do so?

A whole new world is out there for you to discover.

No Regrets

Me, pretty much every time I hit ‘Post’ ^^ 

Learning to take criticism is a pretty big deal for any writer.

Most of the time, I’ll be honest, people just don’t bother: they read something, like it, then move on. Normally it’s only when disagreement occurs that you get people appearing with criticism, and that’s rarely over how things are actually written. Mostly that comment takes the form of picking a topic they’re upset about and working your post around it, if truth be told. The best feedback’s when someone picks up your words and says ‘too long, makes no sense, less whittering’ and then you stop and think. Lose the unnecessary pronouns, shift that sentence about a bit, stop worrying about what’s going on and let your characters talk/point shine through. To do that well, these people either a) need to be paying you or b) have a vested interest in your output.

Game criticism, to a greater extent at least in my mind, is absolutely no different.

Keep writing, boys.

Many people get annoyed with me saying how much I love Warcraft and yet still feel the need to be critical of the game’s output. Well, there’s a really good reason for that: nobody’s perfect. Being a ‘fan’ of something, anything, does not come with a rule book which states you are not allowed to get angry when the thing you love annoys you. If this were the case, many relationships would be non-starters before they’d even passed the physical liaison stage. It is perfectly okay to not like what your favourite band recorded, or the way your team’s manager does his/her business off the playing surface. This is your choice and a perfectly acceptable deviation from the norm.

The problem with gaming and criticism comes when you hit the immovable object that is the die hard fan, and I’ve met a few of those in my time. You need only to go back over the comments on the Warcraft Blog to unearth the musings from those who clearly disagreed with my beliefs and decided to make it far more than an impartial discussion on the divergences. I have a block list full of people who, when it comes down to it, will make my Twitter experience an absolute nightmare if I listened to them maligning not simply the game, but many other things besides (including me, in a lot of cases.) It’s not just sock puppet accounts either, I have some pretty high ranking members of the Warcraft Social Media Fan Club silenced for good. Some have pretty spectacular, and in my mind insular reasons for pretending I don’t exist either, which means I think we’re probably both doing the right thing by sticking our fingers in our ears and going ‘lalalalalala can’t hear you.’

Oh get over it already.

But that doesn’t make the game I play more than anything else any better. All that’s achieved is that some of the background noise is removed, but it doesn’t fix the problems I have. That’s where the constructive criticism comes in, and that’s why today I decided to work out in my mind why the Alt Game doesn’t work any more for a portion of the populous I really rather admire. There are those who play in Azeroth who are very much squatting tenants, simply here to moan and complain until there’s the chance of summat for nothing or a chance to make a name for themselves. Then there are the people who simply take whatever’s thrown at them and just play, because… well, I’m not sure I’m qualified to give those kind of reasons as facts. I know what I see: people with years of time invested, who just like to log on and play the game as a series of diversionary asides from the stresses and strains of real life. They don’t raid, and they often won’t be the greatest players. Only other people choose to judge this, I just accept that life, in any reality, is about a lot of different approaches to the same basic issues.

The thing is, these people don’t get heard that often because in the main they don’t need to complain, they’ll normally just play. It doesn’t mean they’re happy, there just isn’t the desire to vocalise the issues like I do, and in a sense being able to give people like that something to help them form an opinion of what’s wrong is actually really rather useful indeed, and should not be condemned. The problem with the loud mouthed wanky-arsed complainers is that they make so much noise that most of the time, nothing else ever gets registered, because when there’s that much shit being slung, most normal people are gonna just shut up and piss off somewhere else. And in essence that’s why learning to deliver constructive criticism is a life skill that will serve a purpose for decades to come.

TEAM HUG PEOPLE

Some fights, frankly, aren’t worth having. I know what a lot of these are in gaming, and yet some days I’ll still go and kick up dust in places because what matters most is not letting people forget what needs to change. It isn’t like suddenly overnight the game get instantly better, even though some may feel that’s how life works for them. It is a long, hard graft to enlightenment that some people just keep plugging away at every day, without thanks or the need to be thanked. It’s just what has to be done. That’s the way it is with me and Warcraft, and frankly, I’d not have it any other way. I’m coming up for seven years of beating my head against this wall, and I’m finally beginning to wear a nice soft spot in the brickwork.

It would be stupid to stop as a result.

Start

My Kitchen, yesterday ^^

My house currently resembles a low budget Disaster movie. All I need now is for Morgan Freeman to turn up and tell me this is all a test and I’ll utterly believe him. Needless to say I’ll be having a few choice words with Bosch Customer Service in the morning. I have a script prepared, and it is EPIC. YES I AM READY.

In the meantime, my patience for many things has reached it’s limit.

STOP! Cuppa time 😀

I’m now behind enough on my Podcast Project to be annoyed, and I’ll do my utmost to get two episodes done this week. There is too much noise and not enough work getting done and I need to fix this, and so I am going to selectively stop listening. Please feel free to take this personally, as I am absolutely sure some people will. I will refer you to the last post, and I’ll be here trying to get myself back organised.

Oh, AND THERE WILL BE FICTION TOMORROW.

Reach for the Stars


OMG ADDICTION.

My writing has changed over the years, mostly (I know) as a result of being read by people who I don’t know. There would be those that argue that this is all wrong, because the process shouldn’t be about what other people want, but more about what you need to say, and this is of course correct. It is incredibly easy to offend people by being honest: this I know from personal experience. Then you have to sit down and perform what could easily be equated as spinning 250 plates on 249 sticks: except, of course, if you start off with that mindset, you’ll never going to succeed to begin with. Writing isn’t for anyone else’s benefit than your own, and if you’re doing it to make a point at a particular person, you’re on a hiding to nothing before you begin.

If someone upsets you, this is your salutatory reminder that you’re on the Internet and you should walk away.


Keep them coming…

The longer term issue, at least for me, is the understanding you’re not taking things as seriously as maybe other people do. Using that word implies that you’ll be doing your absolute best at all times to boot, because you don’t live life by half measures. Yes, there are days like today when I’m cold and tired and wishing I could just shove my face full of chocolate, but this achieves nothing. Lying to myself or going back on commitments I have made to better health and long-term well-being are very easy to forget on days when you just want to roll up into a ball and wait for the Spring. It is being able to take a step back from the moment and find a bigger picture to grasp that is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to cope with as a writer. It is just so simple to get so utterly wrapped up in a narrative, to the point where you don’t think about anything else, and that is the moment when your reality stops being just that, and becomes something else entirely. Even in a fantasy world, you need belief. There needs to be an understanding of limits and expectations.

Just because you can live life to extremes doesn’t mean you actually should.


FULL SET GET IN.

Knowing when to walk away is a life skill I wish more people would practice, along with not just opening their mouth and spouting the first crap they come up with or deciding that their way is the only way anything ever gets better. From time to time I clear out my Twitter Mute List on Tweetdeck, only to inevitably add the exact same people back into the list the moment they appear, with the understanding that as my audience grows, I only feel comfortable with people who are actually listening. That means not objecting to the way I do things even if that clashes with their own ideologies, allowing me to have a difference of opinion without it becoming an International Incident, or simply just being decent. What I ought to do, and what I suspect will now start to happen, is that those who I mute that I actually follow will be quietly removed over time with the minimum amount of fuss, and by that I means I’ll force them to unfollow me too. Yes, you can do this: blocking someone will make them unfollow you, and unblocking will then leave them none the wiser. Except, in this case, I just told you how it works. So, if you get that old ‘Unfollower Bug’ thing going on with me in the weeks that follow, you’ll understand that I’m not just doing this for the numbers.

I’m here to enjoy this trip, and some people don’t seem to get that.