Posts Tagged ‘Blog’

[i] s o l a t i o n

I’m watching people reacting, badly, to the forced isolation they’re being put into.

I’m hearing them tell of the strain and mental health harm they feel is being done to them through it. I’m seeing the resentment they seem to be feeling towards being forced to rely on social media and other distanced communication.

It’s hard not to feel… well, I don’t know what I feel exactly, but it’s not pleasant.

This is my life you’re living.

I live it all the time.

So many of you seem to consider it almost unbearable.

I live out in the sticks, so I’m physically isolated and too much trouble for people to take the time to come see me. It’s also more trouble for me to get out and see people, especially combined with other things.

My anxiety and depression make me unreliable to get together with people in the best of circumstances, and not the best company when I can get together with people.

I try not to whinge and complain too much, it’s tiresome for everyone, but maybe people will be a bit more sympathetic without me having to now.

I’ve been trying to find things to do that help people who are isolated. I’ve been commissioning more work, trying to host RPG games online, shifting my schedule to make accessible, cheap, helpful things first. I’ve always been proud of the gaming and writing communities for the way they come together, but it just doesn’t seem to be happening so much this time around.

Maybe we’re too divided over everything now, and even a pandemic can’t bring us back together.

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1115974135a4988249448lI haven’t written about my depression in a long time now and that’s been largely with good reason. I’ve been feeling a lot better. I came off the Quetiapine and switched my other medication to Sertraline, started seeing an excellent local therapist (who somewhat specialises in ‘man stuff’) and all that combined seems to have had me at 95% normal. All in all, that means I haven’t had much to say on the topic recently, which has been a good thing.

I say 95% normal because, honestly, I don’t think there’s a way back to normal any more and looking back over my life with a fresh perspective makes me think that I was probably depressive from 14-15 or so and definitely depressive – in bouts – from 17 onwards. I’ve been dealing with it being particularly bad for… three years at least now and am resigned to the fact that I’m going to have to live with it.

Why write now?

I’m in a down-patch, a pretty bad one (in current context), and I’ve been reminded by a few people just how much they appreciate me stepping up and talking about this whole area, showing ‘weakness’, talking about it, airing it out and so on. So I felt it was time to stick my head up about all this again.

Why am I down at the moment?

Well, I don’t want to get into specifics this time but much as I stick my head out on this difficult topic (depression) so I often stick my head over the parapet on other difficult issues. I welcome the chances – that come along – to talk about tricky issues but that always exposes one to failure.

I’m not good with failure, failure to communicate especially (since that’s what I’m supposed to be good at). Also, having a depressive frame of mind, failure, problems and criticisms hit with a lot more impact than praise or appreciation does. This is a natural human tendency anyway, but when you’re depressed it seems to be much stronger, askew, much more powerful. It means it can be very easy to knock you back into that mental state of helplessness and self-loathing, even though it’s often a relief to have a cause for that which you can point at.

So yeah, I feel I’ve failed at several things lately and most of those are attempts to communicate with people on tricky topics and the viciousness received simply for trying to have a debate, make a point or counter a rumour.

Make no mistake, I used to be an utter dick in debates. It was down to passion and commitment, so I get where people are coming from when they do similar, but I try very hard not to be like that these days (everyone slips from time to time). Trolls don’t bother me, an insult is meaningless from a troll, they’re just trying to get a rise. It’s the ‘true believers’ that bother me.

If someone sends ‘LOL FAG!’ messages I see no reason to get upset. They’re just being dicks.

If someone who genuinely believes in what they’re doing or saying calls you something horrible, bigot, misogynist, racist, whatever, that cuts deep even when it’s not true. Even when you know it’s not true. They seem to believe it and they believe it passionately enough to throw it at you, tarnish your reputation and treat you like shit.

I’m constantly trying to find a line between what I know is right and what others feel is right, and will judge you for.

You would think two people who are passionate about something would at least have that point of commonality to draw on and a base respect for each other’s desire to make the world a better place (or keep it better than it could be) but that’s not the case. Depressive brain twists that around into my failure to communicate, rather than their failure to listen, understand or enter into discussion with good faith.

Yet I keep doing it. Keep getting involved. Keep speaking up. Despite the pretty high emotional cost of doing so and weathering the hate of, well, let’s be honest here, fanatics.

It would cost me more, emotionally, not to speak up for the things I believe are right. That would attack my sense of self more than any accusation. Both have a toll, but one has a toll higher than the other.

However depressed I get, it’s hard to be passive, to let things flow or pass by without comment or involvement. Part of that is a sense of duty and a desire to protect others (a collective, greater good) and part of it is to protect and defend my own decisions and being. Whatever the other costs, I think maintaining that core of self-identity has served me well in weathering the storms of depression and it continues to do so. It’s a bit like a panic room and so long as you keep it maintained, it can withstand almost anything.

I’m trying to shift my head so that I can see these things not as failures, but as learning experiences – but it’s hard.

It’d be nice to get away for a few days and do fuck all, just see some friends and be looked after but there’s too much work on, too much pressure, too little money and nowhere to go. Fortunately, keeping up on the duties reinforces the safe room.

So, then, anything helpful from all this?:

  • Having something you can point a finger at and say “This is getting me down” is helpful, positive, even if it doesn’t sound like it. It’s – perhaps – something that will pass or you can do something about it.
  • If I had some advice, it would be to be true to yourself and whatever you can do not to become passive, is useful. Even if it’s just little things. If you’ve got a stronger sense of who you are it makes standing up to daily downers a lot easier.
  • Don’t forget to watch out for the black dog, even when you’re feeling good. He might ambush you.

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british-design-classics-stamps-bd7I was kinda-sorta-not-really nominated to write a Very British Blog by Miss Scarlett Flame (unlikely to be her real name) who comes from Salford. The only things I know about Salford are that I refused to go to university there because the area looked rough as toast and that punk poet John Cooper Clark can’t go back there (the cops have got him marked).
So, here it is.

If you do this you should link back to where you got it from. In this case that’s Miss Flame.

The VERY BRITISH BLOG TOUR was founded by Author Paul Anthony (@paulanthonyspen ) who mooted the idea to Clive Eaton ( @cliveeaton )
The idea is to use the same introduction and then answer the same questions on your blog/website as the author who nominated you, many of which have a specific British slant.  Then you invite 10 other authors to do the same.

I won’t be doing the invite thing, but if you’re inspired by the fact I’ve done it then let me know, link back to me where you do it and I’ll link you below. It’s only polite. 

Once you have filled ten spots, you feed further interested parties to those ten people, and so on. The more people involved the more exposure the tour will get, and so it then builds. Use the hash-tag #VBBT2013 as a means of identifying tweets, to then retweet.

Anything you can do to make the page look ‘more British’ the better… By the way, we British have certain conventions, traditions and procedures that are expected. There is a dress code in the reading of this British blog and you are expected to comply with it.
Or you may be tutted at, quite severely.

For example…

Gentlemen will wear suits, white shirts and dark ties. (Military ties are expected wherever possible). Think James Bond at his most debonair. Ladies will wear dresses (one inch above the knee, no higher, no lower) and floral summer hats. A break for tea and cucumber sandwiches is expected at some stage, and is permissible. The list at the bottom the page is not a queue. We British hate queues, and will accept them no longer. It is an invitation, and you are expected to accept that invitation and support the home-grown product. Now then, let us proceed in an orderly fashion. As you know, we are all very boring and staid in Britain, aren’t we?

Well, there’s a myth about the British and your starter for ten is – stuffy, class conscious, boring, staid! But is this still relevant in today’s world? Let’s find out from our wonderful writers what they feel about it…

On with the show…
Q  Where were you born and where do you live at the moment
A  I was born in a hospital and I live in a house. The hospital was in Winchester, historically one of the capitals of the UK and now a dreadfully middle class outpost that epitomises suburban England in many ways. I also went to college there. I live in a small village out in the sticks, surrounded by farmland and – currently – low key and terribly apologetic flooding.
Q  Have you always lived and worked in Britain? Or are you based elsewhere at the moment?
A  I’ve always lived and worked in Britain. I don’t travel well. Foreigners can’t be trusted to have life’s little essentials like Marmite, stoicism and the common decency to be crippled by embarrassment. I’ve barely lived outside of this village in fact, apart from a brief period in Basingstoke – which is enough to put people off leaving home for life. I love London though and have spent a great deal of time there, despite not having lived there.Q  What is your favourite part of Britain

A  There’s no place like home but that doesn’t really cut it. I can never choose a single favourite anything so I’ll have to pick at least two.

I love Cornwall. Maybe its because I spent a lot of childhood holidays there, perhaps the radon gas has a mind-warping effect or perhaps its just because the craggy landscape, the tannin-stained streams, the grey sand and marble-studded beaches and the moss covered woods are a beautiful and inspiring landscape barely seen outside of fantasy.
I also love London. Its dirty, messy, chaotic and vibrant. It has – and is – a character all of its  own and while living there would be too hectic The Smoke is a fun mistress to visit. Also I know where to get the best kebabs.Q  Have you “highlighted” or “showcased” any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or city; a monument or some well-known place or event?

A  London shows up in my stories repeatedly. It just has so much that makes it appealing, so much history, so many different environments. That it’s the capital is irrelevant, its the feel of the place that makes it so appealing. I have also appropriated various myths and legends, local and further away, for my work in games and in my writings.

Q  There is an illusion- or myth if you wish-about British people that I would like to discuss. Many see “Brits” as “stiff upper lip”. Is that correct? 

A  I think British stoicism is as much a blessing and a curse as the myth of the American Dream is to the Americans. We Brits can put up with a lot, withstand a great deal. We have a good sense of duty and blitz spirit but that also fucks us because we put up with a lot that we shouldn’t. It takes a lot to stir the British to action, to stand up for themselves and in the current economic environment it means the government is getting away with imposing austerity upon those who believe the myth while those who are responsible for making it necessary continue to live the life of Riley.

Oops, got a bit political there.
Q  Do  any of the characters in your books carry the “stiff upper lip”? Or are they all “British Bulldog” and unique in their own way?A  My characters tend to be stoic and enduring, a quality that I feel in myself. It can, perhaps, make some of them seem a little unemotional but I hope that the emotions beneath the surface come through in my writing. The British stereotypes I prefer to play with are the jokers, the eccentrics and the cynics. My view of my country and my countrymen is more typically self-deprecating – a very British trait in and of itself.

Q  Tell me about your recent books?
I have completed a series of short stories on the theme of ‘Neo Pulp’ which are coming out a bit at a time and will eventually (soon?) be collected together in a single volume. It’s my contention that cheap ebooks are – in many ways – the new pulp. Cheap, disposable media that allow for a huge amount of experimentation and lower the bar for people to get ‘published’. I wanted to echo that feeling I got and the old pulps so I came back to the old sorts of stories with new eyes.
My first full length novel ‘Old Fat Punks’ is currently in editing with my beautiful and glamorous editor Salome Jones of Flourish Editing. It’s a story about political apathy, hopelessness, the lost promises of the 60s and 70s and the midlife crisis of  handful of former rebels who snap. It’s also – hopefully – funny, thoughtful and sad by turns.
Q What are you currently working on?
I’ve recently been made Creative Director of Chronicle City so most of my energies are going on that. I have other games work to complete as well, Machinations of the Space Princess, PROJECT and other leftovers from when I just worked for myself.
Story-wise I’m trying to decide what to do next. It will either be:
  • A story about the ‘primitives’ left behind when the transhumans leave Earth forever.
  • A collection of genre-based erotica, since I’ve enjoyed writing for Full Metal Orgasm so much. (11 or 12 stories of around 6k words).
  • A story about a global disaster, one that’s psychological rather than physical, based around the studies of Persinger’s God Helmet.
Q  How do you spend your leisure time?

Mostly feeling guilty about not working.

Also I play tabletop role-playing games, board games and wargames and kill hordes of alien legions on the Playstation.

Q  Do you write for a local or a global audience?

I write for me and hope that it all works out.

 Can you provide links to your work?

A I can.

You can also find me on Amazon, Nook, iBookstore and all the rest, just don’t get me mixed up with that News of the World reporter. I have ethics 😛




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