Keeping it simple

Like loads of people I know, I have a LOT of interests. It’s really easy for me to get caught up in whatever’s new and interesting. I love discovering new things and like to collect ‘stuff to do’.

It was in the months before I ‘returned to Earth’, moved back to Lincoln and decided to start from the beginning again that I made a pact with myself. I said “Ollie, you’re a writer now. That’s what you are.”

Mostly, it was an attempt to stop myself from being distracted whilst shopping. I’d already bought myself some coloured pencils, and received various colouring books to help ‘relax’ with. I felt that this wasn’t such a bad thing. It’s therapeutic and I would give it a go, but I had to draw the line.

Wanting to better myself in other crafts was only going to weigh me down, and drawing my focus away from what I wanted to be really good at was a sure-fire way to make me feel miserable in the long run. So I ditched the desire to learn how to draw, I decided I didn’t need to try making greetings cards again. I’m not a jewellery maker and I didn’t want to start any kind of needlecraft!

Writing it was!

Of course, it could never just be writing. After the purchase of my first DSLR and the not so careful documentation of the animals I encountered on my travels it made sense to me that photography could come a close second to writing. I love taking photos, and I love writing.

I thought, in the beginning, that I’d find it hard to stick to these two things. There are plenty of days when I wander down the ‘crafts’ aisle in The Range however, and don’t feel a pang of need to make exciting purchases (even when they have exciting Iron Man card making sets!!!). I’m a writer. I don’t need cute buttons and stamps, I need notebooks.

Notebooks, I can forgive. Eventually they find themselves being used for something, and certainly I think that the sheer number of notebooks I have for various things is important to the way that I’ve organised my life. A book for my Morning Pages writing, a notebook for thoughts relating to BPD, a book to track my day-to-day accomplishments, a book for a diary that I write in before bed, one of those cool three-year one-sentence-a-day books, a positivity notebook, a notebook for new word discoveries (which is quite full now, thank you Stephen King).

Limiting the things I want, and accepting that I’m allowed to make purchases if I’m going to make use of the things I buy was actually pretty liberating. My most recent purchase was with photography in mind.

I bought a little carry bag for my camera waaaaay back when I first bought it. It was practical at the time. I needed something to keep it in, and knew that with all my other luggage it would have to be portable. Things had changed a LOT when I got back home. I had a rucksack that I was using every day – as it’s always been, really. Something I could carry my laptop in, the shopping, a drink, NOTEBOOKS. What I found though, was that I was going out on day trips and seeing fun things but my camera was nowhere to be seen. BECAUSE, of course it was at home. Tucked away nicely in its bag. Useless.

I found this on amazon, and it arrived on Monday!

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It is perfect. There’s enough space to stick my laptop in the main part of the bag if I want. The top space is big enough for my wonderful A5 notebooks!! The outside compartments are big enough to hold my re-useable Starbucks cup and a brolly. The inside has it’s one zip up compartments and then of course, as you can see – space for my camera!! (Also, very importantly. The zips are all key chain friendly! You can see, right? Look at where Mr Kangaroo is hanging from.)

It’s been great, and it’s given me so much joy and most of all it means I’ve been taking photos.

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The Importance of Recording

One of the most useful things that I do now, is to keep a record of my daily ‘accomplishments’.

Right back in the beginning it was something that I attempted, but found that it was demotivating when all I did – day in, day out was sit and watch Netflix or play video games. Since then I’ve been able to learn to forgive myself, be kind to myself and show the same patience I’m capable of offering complete strangers.

Now, it feels like my most valuable tool.

For a long time I focused on working through a Bullet Journal to record and motivate myself on a day-to-day basis, and although I absolutely adore the concept and the work and fun that goes into keeping a journal like this, I found that a very different approach was important to help me to put together the foundations for my recovery.

A Bullet Journal actually created a wall between myself and my goals. When I would start a day with a beautifully thought out spread and only one goal to mark off I found it difficult to be attached to it, and equally difficult to go through the process of writing that same, single task over and over for days on end.

Giving up just wasn’t an option, so I chose instead to re-think my approach to keeping a daily account of my life.

My therapist was the first person to suggest that I keep a log of my daily activities. On a simple A4 gridded sheet of paper, with two boxes for morning, afternoon and evening I vaguely accounted for the ‘major’ things that I did every day. At first, they were incredibly basic. I ate food, I watched TV, I played video games. I met with a friend, I went for a walk.

It was the first time I’d recorded my day-to-day life as retroactively, and there were a few days when I completely forgot to write about what I’d done and therefore entire days were forgotten. I’m pretty sure that usually there was nothing significant about the things that I’d done, until I walked back into therapy and re-counted my week. Little things that seemed important when I’d done them, and then insignificant when I came to write down the last few days of activity were forgotten.

That important phone call that I’d been putting off for months to the bank, that form I filled out, the brief discussion I’d had with a friend or family member. Each and every single one of these things were important to my overall recovery from a very dark place that I’d managed to put myself in.

I kept these diaries for four weeks until I decided that enough was enough. My Bullet Journal had fallen to the way-side and turned into something like a book of lists (Books I owned and wanted to read, Holiday Destinations for the future, DVDs I owned, movies I’d watched) and I knew that whilst I was using those relatively small A4 sheets to log my weekly comings and goings it wasn’t going to satisfy me.

As a lover of notebooks and stationery, it wasn’t difficult to rifle through my ’empty notebooks’ drawer and find something to use to start logging my days, and even better that I’d found the perfect use for a notebook. (One of the reasons I have so many is that they’re all in there waiting for the perfect purpose. Sorry, notebooks.)

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So it began.

Almost 2 weeks later, I’m still swearing by it. Claiming that this act, and this act alone is the one reason that I’ve managed to pull myself up out of the funk I’d fallen into is a huge stretch of any imagination, but I feel very strongly that it has contributed to my continued improving mental health and will keep doing so much!

I write the time my alarm went off, and the time I actually got out of bed. Writing it down makes it a fact, and gives you a solid thing to refer back to. I find that when I am struggling the most I lose all sense of time and feeling and life. It’s easy for me to forget how I felt only a few hours ago, when I’m so preoccupied with the current moment, and the thoughts that are in my head at that time and in that place. So I feel it’s very important (for me) to be able to refer back to previous days, not to make negative comparisons or to judge the ‘value’ of the things I’ve done in the present day but to be able to look back and see, from hard factual evidence that ‘things’ over all are better now than they’ve ever been.

Thinking too hard about the shape of my life exactly a year ago would only promote a desire to reach out and take ownership of how I felt back then, in a time when my recovery was in it’s very early stages, and I feel very strongly that it would be detrimental to my health, but if I’d kept the same log I have now I might be able to recognise instantly the stark contrast in my mental health. Of course, it’s arguable – that if I’d kept a log back then, like I do now that perhaps my life would be very different but I also believe very strongly that it’s taken all of these incredibly small steps over the span of a year to get here at all and without them it just wouldn’t be possible.

We can’t fast forward progress, and we can’t force it. There are clear steps in any recovery that have to happen before you can continue on your way. That’s why we call them steps. It’s quite easy to visualise for example, the steps that might lead up to the second floor of your home and to accept the reality of the fact that before you can get to the tenth step, you have to make it up all the ones before that first.

Retail Therapy

Last week turned out to be a pretty difficult one for me.

After scoring a grand total of 0 (zero) on the Department of Work & Pensions criteria for eligibility for ESA (despite scoring 20 on a PHQ9 test done with a mental health team member – within their highest bracket of depression.) I hit a low.

I won’t go into my very sore feelings about the current system, and the hoops I had to jump through just to know that there was something I could do, and no I wouldn’t be committing benefit fraud by signing on when I’m not able to work. Those are likely for another day, when I’m not in a state of flux.

No, this is about Saturday.

The story starts the night before, as so many stories do. Imagine my horror when I realised that the laptop charger for my beloved MacBook was no longer working. The white outer cable had split, exposing wires which somehow had frayed over a very short period of time. I made an executive decision there and then that tomorrow would require a trip to the StormFront shop in Lincoln.

It was a blood good job that ‘No Spend April’ had been such a beautiful success until then, because it meant I had more than enough for the £65 replacement.

Facing the crowds (it’s Lincoln, I hear you say what crowds??) wasn’t such a big deal for me when I had such a clear, and very important goal in mind. I’m not a poster child for ‘living without technology’. One day without the laptop is fine on my terms, but when the desire to do something online sets it’s difficult to handle. A lot of my current, daily goals actually actively require the use of the internet. (Funny how I managed that! =P)

I’m not going to lie, I really had to stay focused on my end goal whilst I was out. Keeping my head down and hunting for pennies to supplement this huge splurge was useful in making sure I didn’t clock each and every person around me. I dread to consider the notion that I might have completely blanked someone I knew in town. What I would say ran through my mind a fair few times, but I was on a bit of a high I felt sure I could manage.

After skulking around the desk at the Apple store, uncertain whether some of the people across at the other side were in a queue, or waiting to be seen, or being helped I quite happily took time in staring at the very thing I needed to purchase. It didn’t take long to manage to make eye contact with someone who was clearly looking for their next customer and it’s really easy to explain something when you’ve brought along the offending power cable with you.

Ten minutes and £65 later. I was a happy bunny. The status quo had been restored. My connection to the wired world was assured! Now I could happily banish all creeping fears of a day spent at my Dad’s without a laptop to the bin – no longer could they linger in the back of my mind and poke and prod, using up the resources I quite clearly needed to function properly in the rest of the day to day to and fro that needs brain power.

The trouble with being a happy bunny without care is that my mind starts doing that thing where it wanders.

I’ve been BulletJournalling on and off for a while. I started out with a gorgeous, A4, lined Kikki K number all the way from Melbourne. It lasted into the middle of February and I traded it for a wired, A5, orange covered grid notebook from Waterstones. It was supposed to be perfect. I carefully accounted for all possible difficulties. I only used one side of the page, I numbered my pages, I left space for a contents page.

Only those moleskines. With their joined up pages. There’s no worry that the pages might get caught in the spiral when you turn them.

I was on a mission.

And so, I began bimbling. It’s a dangerous thing. I ventured into Paperchase – where I purchased a reduced, new case for my phone, a cute card that was reduced, and most importantly a care for my Mum for her birthday. They’re all valid purchases! I’ve needed a phone case since I upgraded to the iPhone 5! The birthday card was well over due, and reduced cards are wonderful, aren’t they?

From there I took on WHSmith. The only place I know in Lincoln which stocks VeganLife magazine.

The next stop was Waterstones, just around the corner and would you believe it. They’ve got Gridded Moleskines, at about £2 less than Paperchase.

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Into the basket it went. (It’s a proverbial basket.)

The next stop was the post office, to send my Mum’s card – but hang on just a minute. I can’t stand there in the Post Office queue without writing in Mum’s card.

Impromptu, yet necessary stop at Costa Coffee needed! Of course. A packet of their finest (vegan!) crisps, and a large, soy chai tea latte. (and on another note – I need to get in touch with Costa on account of the fact that they no longer sell their vegan fruit crumble. :( :( :(.)

So, I sit. I drink. I write in my Mum’s card. It’s good. Great. Fabulous.

Except, whilst I’m there by Costa – I might as well pop into Holland & Barrett and see what they have for sale! More money spent.

Next stop, the post office. Finally. The card is posted! (and has three days to make it’s journey. Eep.)

I’m not done yet. Going home to an empty house just means risking the chance of upset – so I take a wander through town. Actually. I’m still kind of hungry and you know what, I haven’t been to Cafe Shanti in a while. So why not treat myself?

It’s a grave error on my part, really. Yes, I love the place. They do good food, at good prices, with wonderful staff and lovely customers.

Ruddocks is on the way.

Ruddocks have it. Ruddocks. Have. Dotted. Moleskines.

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The price doesn’t matter. The fact that no less than an hour earlier I had already purchased a gridded journal doesn’t matter. I have it in my hands. This is the thing that is going to make Ollie Bullet Journal history! Victory.

I buy it. I even enquire into whether Ruddocks can get VeganLife in, rather than have to go to money grabbing, WHSmith. (It wasn’t the best experience.)

Naturally, my journey’s last stop is Shanti. The usual of course. Vegetable Lasagne and some kind of wonderful fruit tea in the cutest tea cups.

It’s the story of how I managed to completely and utterly decimate my bank account in the space of approximately two hours.

The story of how I decided that I really don’t need the second Moleskine. (which I ended up taking out of the packaging, despite knowing I wasn’t going to use it.) It’s why I’m setting up a giveaway on the Bullet Journal Junkies Facebook page, and just maybe why you’re reading?

On books

As a writer, and a part-time reader I, like so many others, love books.

There’s nothing better than a second-hand book store, or the book shelf in a charity shop, and sometimes, best of all. Sales.

I recently went to a bookseller here in the UK called Waterstones, and was delighted to find that they had three tables full of books for sale. Some of them were half-price, some of them were £5, £3 and some of them… were a whopping £1.

The best time to look at books, is when you have nothing else on your agenda. I’m really lucky in some ways that right now the last thing I need to be doing for myself is setting outrageous goals. That’s for another day (isn’t everything) though.

I think I picked up pretty much every book. If they weren’t £1 I put them down again.(I don’t have money for books right now!) Some I put back down right away because they just didn’t appeal to me, others I glanced at the blurb and set them back down, and there were a select few where I did that test – you know the one. The one where you read a few paragraphs and you’re supposed to work out by the second page whether it’s something you could keep reading or not.

Exactly five times I ended up at the end of the first chapter before I realised that not only was this definitely a book I needed to buy, but I probably needed to forget everything I’d just read because I have a SYSTEM when it comes to books. It’s like this.

HERE is a picture of the books at my bedside. These are the books I am currently reading.

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and then there’s a huge pile of books in my to-read pile.

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There’s a bigger question going on in my head right now, and the war I have with myself over it, whenever I start to think about it is pretty inconclusive every time.

What do I do with my books when I’m done with them!?

In my future, or as I like to say to a lot of my friends. “When I grow up, I want to have a house with a library and study.” In my head I have this gorgeous, perfectly lit room, with tall, second-hand bookshelves, a really comfy reading chair, and an incredibly well organised desk with an iMac and a twirly chair underneath it.

Sod the rest of it. I want a functional kitchen and a living room with a television and perhaps a PS4 (or PS10, whatever they’re on by the time I can afford something to call mine.) It’s my desperate dream to be well enough known author to live on writing alone, whether it be through book sales or free-lance work or something, idk.

ANYWAY. The problem comes at a certain point. As well as reading, and books, and writing I love BookCrossing

I absolutely love the idea of book crossing. There’s something great about knowing that you can ‘release’ a book somewhere and that someone else might enjoy it just as much as you did. Whilst I was in Melbourne, book crossing was the platform by which I discovered an amazing author, Bevan McGuiness, and without it I wouldn’t know the world of the triumvirate and that’s such a sad notion.

There’s a problem here though – and maybe you’ve noticed it yourself.

If I release these books in the wild once I’ve read them – I won’t have anything left on my shelf by the time I get those great big book shelves. Yeah, there are some books I just can’t part with. Through experience I’ve learnt that parting with my graphic novels is just a little too heart breaking, and of course there are books that particular people have bought for me that I just cannot part with. I’m a fan of getting friends to scribble a little note in the front page of books, even if it’s just the date and who gifted it to me.

Perhaps I’ll just have to be super selective about the books that I give away, but then I keep coming back to the bigger problem. What’s going to end up on my bookshelves?! I’m not even sure who my literary collection would be for. I have no intentions of having children of my own, but of course that’s not to say I won’t be that awesome ‘Auntie’ Ollie with the awesome library in her weird little house?

When I’m rich and famous maybe I’ll just be able to buy every book I’ve ever wanted, but where’s the fun in a collection that hasn’t travelled the world with you, or been carefully put together over time?

Clearly, there are just too many difficult decisions to make in life!

Wet Socks

‘Wet Socks’ pretty much sums up how I’m feeling about where I am in life right now. For so many reasons, and I promise I’m going to elaborate!

Before I visited my Mum in Alaska I took this photo. Actually, this was taken in the airport at Anchorage. I’d been travelling for what felt like hours, and it was just before the last leg of my journey before I could relax. I’d bought Mum a crafting magazine, seeing as there are none available to buy in Cold Bay itself, and after wandering around the shops, treating myself to a Mountain Dew and trying to stay awake for something like 8 hours I decided it was the perfect time to take a picture.

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Broken Shoes. :(

Back then it had just amused me that I’d managed to traverse the globe (sort of) with the same pair of trainers. They kept my feet dry in San Fransisco, been filled with sand in Hawaii, gotten lost in a shoe cupboard in New South Wales, seen miles of Melbourne paths and they looked like they might be seeing their last plane journey.

I still haven’t replaced them.

Trying to justify spending money on a pair of trainers seems like a difficult job for me, but I think it’s in the actual act of finding a pair of trainers I like, for a decent price, which are cruelty free but also inexpensive and good at keeping my feet dry. It’s not particularly that I feel attached to them, not in the slightest! It’s very frustrating when on a day like today in Lincoln it has been raining constantly.

If it hadn’t been for a very early coffee date at 8.15am (I can do it! – shocked myself), I probably wouldn’t have left the house at all. The last time I left a house to go out whilst it was raining was probably either to run to the car, or because it wasn’t rain but snow – which I suppose is cheating because I had specified rain and not precipitation.

Anyway, the point is. By the time I got home, with coffee in my belly, vegetables from the market in my bag, and a stack of notes I’d been writing in another cafe (I’m addicted), my feet were wet.

My feet weren’t just wet in the sense that the shoes on my feet were wet, no my flesh and blood feet were soaked. Wet socks are one of my least favourite things. Although they do feature pretty low on my list of ‘things I don’t like’, when you have them it’s unpleasant. All morning I’d managed to avoid getting water into my shoes. I navigated puddles, kept close to buildings, and even tried hard to fold my trousers up so they didn’t drag on the floor.

I guess on my way home it stopped becoming a matter of preservation and more a pressing desire to get out of the bloody rain and home so I could get a shower and warm up again. By the time I did, it felt a lot like I housed a swimming pool for ants in the bottom of my shoes that had to close down due to a collapsed roof and other structural damage. It probably had nothing to do with the hole in my shoe, and more to do with the weather, the trousers I’d chosen to wear (and I would make the same choice all over again given the chance!).

I’d already starting writing up this blog post in my head as soon as I got in, and risked the chance of completely forgetting my train of thought in favour of a shower and warmth. There was supposed to be some kinda sorta clever metaphor and moral to the story but it all feels far too cliche so I’ll leave the matching and connecting of mental health and the hole in my shoe up to you.

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I should be writing.

It’s been three weeks since I turned up in Cold Bay, and since then I’ve had hardly anything to worry about – at least in as much as I don’t have to worry about getting anything done to be particularly functional. I’ve been really lucky to have this opportunity and it’s done a whole lot of ‘good’ for me in ‘getting over’ my thoughts.

I’ve stopped thinking about things that usually ‘bother’ me during the night, I’ve stopped obsessively trying to make as much money online as possible, I’ve stopped obsessing over being online and stopped worrying about what’s going to ‘happen’ when I get home. Basically, I’ve managed to find a place where I’m pretty calm.

Right now, it’s calm and there’s been a bunch of stuff on the TV just now about what it is to fail, and the people who are household names now who faced failure and job loss and loads of rejection from various sources. It’s pretty inspiring but I feel like I need to be focusing myself to work toward something positive.

So now I’m trawling through the internet for tips on staying motivated, finding motivation and keeping it long enough to find success. I’m already thinking about the things I need to do ‘right now’. There’s a desk in the room I’ve stolen from my Step Dad until I leave which I know I could use better than I am doing now. There’s plenty of space and it’s not going to be hard to set up something for every day that’s a clear, calm space!

Often I get moments of inspiration, and it’s usually at the most inappropriate time – you know, like when you’re juuuuust about to fall asleep and you start writing lines and lines and lines in your head and you know you’re going to forget all about them come the morning but you don’t have the energy to get up and write. Mum suggested I keep a book by my desk to write, and that seems like the most logical thing to do! Why haven’t I done it yet? Good question.

Next, I’ll be looking out for an interesting website or forum to start picking ideas up from, and try not to get side-tracked wanting to create my own website for just that reason. There are always so many things that threaten to distract me.

Until then, I’ll mention the location of my writing ‘services’ again; here. Five Squid

Watch this space! =D

The Liebster Award

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The Liebster Award is designed to recognise new bloggers, or ‘undiscovered’ blogs with fewer subscribers

These are the rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Display the logo for the award
  • Answer the questions from the person who nominated you
  • Nominate up to 10 other bloggers

Okie dokie, first thing’s first – I want to thank Amelia over at Borderline Amelia for the nomination. =D It’s nice to be on your list.

The Questions:

1.) If you could be famous for one thing, what would you like it to be?

Well this is easy! I’ve always wanted to be known for my writing. Being an author has been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember and I’m already half-way there I suppose. =P

2.) Do you have an all-time favourite song?

Oh boy this is a tricky one. I have a LOT of favourite songs, bands and singers and music is one of those topics that I’m so broad about there’s no specific genre that suits me either. There is one song that springs to mind, however, because I love it for a few reasons. Tomorrow is Another Day by Modestep is going to have to be my answer. One of those songs that you can take meaning from and also just listen to like you would any other song.

3.) If they started selling a flying car, would you buy it?

Pwahahahaha! No! Are you kidding??? It’s bad enough the amount of ridiculous driving people manage now and the number of lives people risk every day on the ground without adding so many more dimensions to it. It’s a sweet concept, it really is but no.

4.) How much time do you spend writing blog posts? Do you just write and publish, or do you spend a while perfecting each post?

I have no patience. I’m a blog-and-go type of girl. I have ALWAYS had a problem trying to perfect the things I’ve written and even when I’m writing essays for courses now I can never manage to proof read, and often even when I have someone on the sidelines waiting to read something over for me I post it ahead of time anyway! It’s probably the biggest thing I need to tackle as a writer. I have a novel written, but every time I so much as look at it I shudder. I know I can write better but it’s tedious to go through the whole thing to edit it. Someday, I’ll have to manage it, else I’ll never be as successful as I’d like to be.

5.) Do people in your ‘real life’ know about, or read, your blog?

For a long time, especially as a child my online life was very separate from my real life. Now I just keep it all out in the open for everyone to see. I worry – because I know that I can be very one-sided about things, and especially because of the way that I write sometimes I can ‘say’ things online that I don’t mean in the way it reads. The other day my Mum told me that the friend she was talking to on Skpye asked her to tell me that I should keep writing and she likes the way I write so…

I guess I’m going to keep writing and not mind too much who is reading along.

My Nominations

This is the tricky part.

This blog is so new that I’m not following many people at all. I’m going to add nominations as I go. =D

On meeting someone famous

I’ve never met anyone famous. (I don’t think. If you’re famous and I met you I’m sorry, but you’ll never know because I’m insignificant and you’re famous and why would it even matter?)

I think it’s mostly because I don’t really look at people. You’re walking down the street and people are like ‘omg there’s whoever’ or they tell you about this cafe they were in, there was this famous person right across the room. Or when they see them in the street or whatever.

Films and TV were never my thing, probably until really recently. I like to watch stuff I already know I like, because then there’s no fear that the next hour or two is not going to be time wasted that I’ll never be able to get back. There are films that seem to be on so many people’s ‘list’ that often, I’ve never even heard of and I think that’s one of the reasons I don’t know, or couldn’t name many ‘famous people’. I listen to singers and appreciate their voices, actors and actresses often look so different to me when they play different roles in different films and you hardly see authors to know that they’re actually who they say they are. (Perks of being an author right there. Just show no one your face??)

Right now, I think there are maybe 5 people I could name, and if I saw them on the street or whatever I would recognise instantly and then be like ‘omg it’s u’ and promptly cry because to be in the same space as these people would be like the best moment in my life, because I’ve come to know and respect and love these people for who they are and what they do and how they do it. I don’t tend to admire people for their looks. I don’t pick my friends by looks either, (Sorry friends??) but it doesn’t really matter ’cause you’re all super smart, sexy and attractive anyway.

If I had to name one person I would love to meet, it would have to be, hands down and no take backs – Robert Downey Jr.

I fell in love with the guy’s portrayal of Tony Stark, and have just recently begun hesitantly reaching out to other things he’s starred in only to be rewarded every time, without fail. His performances are magnificent. I never thought I could relate to a character who is a big shot lawyer with a kid and car and that kind of intellect but apparently I can, did and will probably write about it somewhere.

You know what though? People talk about celebrities and say stuff like ‘oh, yeah no I wouldn’t kick him out of bed’ or ‘oh god just look at his cheekbones’ and I just kinda– don’t get it, but my own non-association of people with bedrooms is for another time, like everything else in my life.

If I could spend an hour with this guy I would wanna play vidya games, maybe sink couple cups of hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream and talk about how awesome Tony Stark is and how cool it would be if arc reactors were real and how much difference that would make to the world. Then I’d give him a hug and be all ‘thanks for inspiring me to keep going’ and everything in my world would be perfect whenever I recall the memory.

Crazy ideation aside, it would just be pretty cool to shake the guy’s hand. I’d probably babble some crap about stuff, and maybe finally get the proper words out to let him know without switching on creeper mode that I admire and respect and love him.

Writing, Publishing, and Feedback!

Years and years ago, I used to write on an incredibly regular basis – back when my job was just a job and I wasn’t nearly as emotionally invested in the place I worked and the children I worked with.

Remembering a time when I used to churn out a whole chapter in only an hour or two seems ridiculous now, but on reflection I suppose the quality of that writing just went to show how much time I’d poured into it. Coming up with the plot was easier then, it didn’t matter what people thought of it.

However, the response I got to the stuff that I was churning out was awesome! I definitely miss the thrill of posting a chapter on Fictionpress and as early as the very next morning, someone would have left a review or a comment somewhere to insist that I continue the story and make sure I did this, or that.

If I thought that it wasn’t breaking all kinds of copyright rules, and wouldn’t lead to some sort of plagiarism I’d be more than happy to post like that again. At least, once someone had proof read it first. I’m still rubbish at proof reading my own things, and even when I do my damnedest to make sure I’ve corrected every possible mistake they seem to slip through the net with alarming ease.

Getting feedback is something that certainly positively affects my ability to get right down to it and write. Whether positive or negative, whilst you’re in the process of creating something it’s always helpful to have someone, even anonymously giving pointers and offering advice and direction. The first novel I published through fictionpress was probably directed by the comments far more than I recall myself – but that was such a long time ago, I can’t quite remember the details exactly!

I’m sat here considering the pros and cons of offering access to a password protected area to ‘publish’ chapters online, chapter by chapter. Of course, there’s the fact that Kindle offers the very prompt uploading of new versions of a story, that it would be quite easy to simply add another chapter every time it’s written.

Suddenly I have another avenue which I am keen to explore!

… And then I wrote something

I wish I could properly express how difficult it has been to get back into writing. There’s a project I’ve been working on with a dear friend of mine for the last 13 years. I couldn’t even number the amount of times we promised that ‘one day we would be able to get together and write’.


The problem always was that whilst I lived in England, and he in Melbourne, Australia – there was a huge difficulty in actually… you know, ‘getting together’. I still maintain that coming to Australia has only ever been a wish of mine so that I could meet the people I’ve befriended online – but I wouldn’t change it for the world.


Finally meeting Aaron after all these years was an experience that I’ll never forget, and the subsequent meetings and chats about all things ‘Aethalia’ related have been fantastic. It’s since then that I’ve been able to get my writing hat back on. There’s so much to be said for being able to allow yourself to be so chilled out – it’s hard when your day-to-day life rules so much of what you do. Work is obviously the biggest barrier to writing, and when you’re as involved in things as I was, it was incredibly difficult to leave work where it belonged.


So I’ve been writing. Finally, finally I’ve been able to start writing. Real writing, from this project that I have been desperate to start every time I’ve ever sat down with a new notebook or at a computer with a creative spark. I’ve ditched the intense roleplaying in games, which was fabulous for me whilst I didn’t have the time to write. (I still love you RP friends, Naruto, Itachi & all the others won’t go far, trust me!)


With that, I really wanted to be able to provide an excerpt from what I’ve written. I used to publish chapters of things on fictionpress every now and then, but this is a card I want to play incredibly close to my chest.


In the mean time:

“Orion could recall the morning fondly. A small, defoliated area in the far eastern woods had provided them with plenty of space and shelter for the night. Shade, given amply by the huge oak trees that filled the forest and kept the growth on the ground to a minimum had been the perfect place for a couple of tents. The young prince’s decision to retire to his bed shortly after the tents had been pitched hadn’t taken either guard by surprise, but an early night foretold an early morning. Whatever dreams had been bestowed upon him during the night had been pleasant, and perhaps insightful to a fault. 


Whether or not it had been expected, a guard stood alert just outside his tent. Orion refused to be perturbed. 


Their three horses were tied down across the small clearing, loose ropes binding them to one of the largest oaks. It happened that Orion’s wasn’t the only inky steed in their small trio of travellers, but as he approached he was keenly aware that he could finally tell the difference between the two of them. It was an awareness that he both wasn’t expecting, and didn’t understand. It gave him pause, a pause that Convoy, apparently, was not accepting this morning. 


That heavy head bowed quickly in greeting, whinnying his opinions – which Orion was again surprised to find he understood to be less of a greeting and more of a reminder. He was here, right here. 


He blinked slowly as the gesture enticed him a step closer, and before he could bring himself to think about what he was doing, or indeed, the fear he would have faced only yesterday in the same circumstance, he reached out to touch the jawbone of this creature he’d been struggling to accept. As soon as his fingers brushed with the direction of Convoy’s hair down that long face he was met with a nudge of his hand, a gesture that forced his fingers to shift with the movement. Orion certainly hand’t expected to understand the intentions of a creature that was no more Aetheon than he was a fish – but as soon as it happened, he was smoothing his hand up the middle of the horses’ nose up to the space between his eyes. 


Convoy pressed his head against that hand, tipping his head forward, forcing Orion to stroke his hand against that long nose once more. 


Without a word, Orion took a few, slow and calculated steps back – aware that he was being watched by every sentient being in the clearing with him. A small smile caught the edges of his mouth, and he turned to sprint back to his tent, tugging the night’s warm jumper from over his head and tossing it over his head toward the tent in front of him. 


“We’re leaving!” He called out, diving into his tent and fetching his bag. It was quickly filled with things he’d haphazardly thrown out from the pack the night before in his desperation to find thing he needed to prepare for sleep. A canteen of water, some dried meat, copious varieties of fruits and finally a few clothes. 


The bag was the first thing that re-emerged from the tent, followed eventually by a pair of boots, one thrown further than his bag and the other tossed just short of it. The hurry was clear, but apparently his command had not been. The guard had waited, anxiously or not, to discover the meaning behind Orion’s sudden enthusiasm, and not for the first time they were to be berated for their idleness. 


When the young prince pushed back the flaps of the tent, and everything behind him collapsed he only laughed, arms full of clothes which he dropped to his feet, safe from the dirt and filfth on the floor only because he’d taken to standing atop the tapaulin of his tent. A fresh shirt went on first, followed hurried by a clean pair of trousers. 


“Well, what are you doing standing there! I said we were leaving didn’t I?” He called, cheerful despite the apparent chastisement he’d intended. Both guards took to their duties only a moment later, chaos in their thoughts impossible to detect by the way that they gathered themselves and their provisions. 


By the time Orion had his boots and long, fur-lined coat on they’d barely managed to pack the tents but if they thought it was the young prince’s intention to ride with them, clearly they had another thing coming. His bag was set neatly upon his back, and he scooped up a lone apple as he struck out in a stride back to their horses. 


“I suppose you’ll catch up sooner or later.” He almost, almost, sing-songed out to the men in charge of his care or more likely, in charge of ensuring the prince didn’t return until the week’s long ride was done. 


“Master Almaras!” One of them tried, jogging across to where Orion stood, unwrapping the ropes that bound his horse, and the others. Convoy was clearly excited by the movement and the development that it signalled, front hooves rose and fell against the loose forest floor, as if the steed could barely contain it’s excitement. It was enough to make Orion laugh, out loud, and for the guard who’d taken to his side to allow himself confoundment over it. 


“Your saddle, young sir. Stirrups, reins?” He added, hurriedly fetching such things from the small encampment. It wasn’t his turned back that prompted more movement from Orion. He had every intention of doing the very thing he was – whether or not there was resistance. The guard wouldn’t dare to handle the King’s son any more than they would the King himself unless it be of life-saving importance or something otherwise imperative to their survival. Perhaps knowing this, Orion had pulled himself up atop of Convoy’s back. 


The other horses had bolted with their release, but trained as they were, both took a circular route within their small clearing, perhaps to allow themselves to witness the unfolding escape as it happened. For a fleeting moment, there was fear written plain as day all over Orion’s face, and if Convoy sensed it too, it was his intent to do something positive about it rather than to rally the young prince he had yet to really bond with.”