Writing? That’s a novel idea…

There’s a book in everyone.

That’s what they say isn’t it?. It doesn’t mention what sort of book it is nor whether it’s any good but if everyone has one in them then that is quite a few I’ve yet to read.

I write. I’m not very good at, not consistent at it and most of what I write is on the spur of the moment. A made up fantasy now on book 3 with 90% of it stuck in my head. So many plot holes and awful plot devices and characters who change appearance- but it’s all my own work and that can’t be taken from me.

I try to write somewhere between 6-8000 words a week. I might write 400 or 2000 in one go and quite often I will write random scenes ‘for later’ because I have that scene in my head ‘now’.

And my head brings its own problems. I often write scenes in my head, really epic stuff which I love…only that always translates badly to paper or I forget half the scene before I get the opportunity to write it down. Frustrating stuff!.

I’ve completed 4 novels and have 3 partially finished. Two big epic series, one set in modern times which involves angels and demons and one fantasy set in its own space and time and which involves prophecies, mad kings, blood, sex and lots of fighting. That’s the series which is at querying stage…and I have no idea what I’m doing with that either so don’t ask me.

I wish I had a proper space to write in and was skilled in the art of folders and files so I had everything at my fingertips but my set up is a chromebook on my lap with a notebook beside me. And my Chromebook has a few issues so it’s not exactly a professional looking job. Oh for a desk and a proper laptop and several screens and a printer and an office. Oh, just give me the house as well!.

Some days I really enjoy it and then some days it’s chore. Some days it flows and on others I grit my teeth and struggle through. Most days I want to go back to series one and edit that but then I worry about series two and getting that done. That said, what is series one about? Been so long I’ve forgotten.

I struggle with punctuation and grammar. My dialogue is stilted but then I’ll write a really flowing piece and think ‘that’s not too shabby’ and I’ll be settled again. It never lasts long.

I fight ADHD to write and being Autistic sometimes means that I get frustrated when what I’m planning in my brain isn’t replicated on the page. I can be so close and yet so far away from where I’m envisaging it actually being. But I struggle onwards.

I’d love to be published. Just to say I’d done it, just to say that someone believed in me enough to publish it. And to sell a copy? Incredible. I think that would just be awesome, to be able to call yourself a ‘published author’ and to say your book had ‘sold’. Fantastic.

But that’s for another time and if I don’t write I can’t keep that dream alive. So, back I must go to human sacrifices, powerless gods, sentient swords and a very large black horse. Oh, and a transgender assassin, pirates, madness and much more with 40 plus characters to wrestle with, just in case you thought I was taking it easy! Lol.

If you write, write on, and if you don’t, give it a try. If you have a book in you, let it out.

Back into hell

So it’s back to Hell on Monday.

That day many of us have dreaded has arrived and despite good evidence to the contrary, with rising cases and the increased virulence of the Delta variant, we should all go out and hug one another. Or get more intimate if that’s your thing.

Already I see fewer masks and a sudden surge of sunflower lanyards being worn by grinning individuals who collect handfuls of them from customer service desks in major supermarkets and hand them out to their mates as if they were popcorn. Well, not quite but close enough.

I feel herded towards herd immunity or vaccine immunity that isn’t quite immunity, in that you can get Covid still even if it might not be as severe as before.

I feel affronted by ant-vax supporters in my timeline peddling their nonsense and talking about ‘government control’ when this government has never been in control of anything or suggesting Bill Gates is putting a micro transmitter in my bloodstream ( for reasons only Bill must know, because I certainly don’t) and generally making no sense at all but using any excuse not to mask because it infringes their human rights.

And that’s it. Their rights, not my right not to infected by them because they’re selfish.

I know I work from home but I’m not a hermit. I go out, I shop, I do see people. And people worry me. I know I wear a mask and I will carry on wearing one for the foreseeable future but I can’t legislate for others and to hear and read people already talking so openly of social gatherings, getting drunk, parties, burning their masks etc, is seriously worrying.

People want to be treated like adults. But they can’t act like adults. They don’t want restrictions and rules but they need restrictions and rules until they understand the seriousness of this dreadful illness.

So on Monday we go back to Hell.

I dread it. I absolutely dread it.

I’m hoping this is just a phase and that things will improve, that numbers will decline and that eventually there will be light at the end of a very (insert as many as you want here) dark tunnel, but I can’t help but feel we are in yet another ‘things will get worse before they get better’ scenario and even double jabbed, I’m not confident of escaping unscathed.

So, take care, be sensible. Ignore the continued discomfort and inconvenience and be safe for others if not yourself.

Please.

Priced out of life

I see house prices have risen again.

Good news for those that own them but for those of us who don’t, nothing could be further from making us happy.

When you already live in a hugely expensive area you see what little, if anything you might afford, vanish in a puff of smoke.

Then you look around and find areas that were once affordable start to drift out if budget as well and you begin to despair.

Affordable housing is all well and good but it’s not affordable and the combination or mortgage and rent puts it outside the budgets of many. Add in all sorts of restrictions about who can buy one, (buy being a generous word), what you can and cannot earn, if you can or cannot have owned a house either together or separately before and you start to feel unwell even before you’ve worked out whether you actually want one.

Perhaps it’s a generational issue.

When you’re older and don’t earn much then the world seems against you. You don’t have 25 years for a mortgage and don’t earn the type of money to afford that house you want.

So what are you left with?.

Renting.

Just…hoping that something will come your way and that when it comes up you’ll stand the slightest chance of getting it…only to have that hope dashed by landlords and property developers who get in first, often before the property has actually had a sign up.

I look back at 32 years of working and realise, sadly, that I’m priced out of life, priced out of my dreams and ambitions, priced out of feeling that I’ve made something of my life by having a home of my own.

So..

Yeah, it sucks.

Black Dog

Black dog of depression,

The court is in session,

The charge is you’re dragging me down,

There’s not been a smile,

On my face for a while,

Now the smiles been replaced with a frown.

I get that you’re bitter,

(You’ve said so on Twitter)

You’re fed up, frustrated and sad,

You’re worn out, you’re tired,

In a deep bog you’re mired,

And everything’s driving you mad!.

You’ve lost your ambition,

Got no clear sight, no mission,

No hope and the future looks bleak,

Your life on the wane,

There’s no sun, only rain,

It’s the same thing now, week upon week.

But you’re still standing,

Every footsteps still landing,

So you carry on marching along,

Propelled by sheer will,

This is real, it’s no drill,

So you hurl yourself back into the throng,

You’ll struggle on by,

With tears in your eyes,

You’ll battle, you’ll fight and you’ll holler,

You won’t let it win,

So you’ll rein it all in,

And you’ll grasp that black dog by the collar,

And bring it to heel,

And then you will feel,

Some sense that your life is your own,

And the black dog will shrink,

And you won’t need to think,

About giving your black dog it’s bone.

Weevil under the sun

Can I go back please?

Strange as it might seem, I’m not a sun worshipper. My mother was and my father wasn’t immune to it’s charms when it came to lazy days upon Cornish beaches and my sister enjoyed it before her accident meant that even an English summer made her uncomfortable.

But give me a foreign sun, give me something to see beneath a sun that blazes far hotter than its English counterpart, and I’ll stand about and fry gently for several hours.

I have grown to equate an English heat with overcrowded Cornish beaches, that mad dash to the coast the moment the temperature climbs to the giddy heights of fifteen, the endless succession of caravans clogging up the roads and the fact that I can’t breathe in my local town due to the sheer number of invaders….I mean tourists.

In short, hell.

A foreign heat brings the rich and exotic, the temples and palaces and forts, the smells and sights of the strange and different. Huge rivers that wend their way through diverse landscapes where the locals walk, talk, sleep and work. Temples glimpsed above leafy canopies, shining brightly in the sun and vast statues that look down upon us as we sail past.

Landscapes of waving palm trees, beautiful lush valleys filled with tea plantations, a myriad of blooms and vibrant green paddy fields.

There must be someone called Paddy Field, surely?
Better to be there…

We all look at one another when the temperature hits 20 here in the UK and exclaim it’s too hot and yet when I’m distracted and the temperature is in it’s 40s, as it has been in Egypt, then it’s barely noticeable. Foreign heat seems so much more…enjoyable, than our own.

One of the great tragedies of this pandemic, albeit one that pales by comparison to human loss, is that we have been prevented from exploring our planet. To those of us who live to travel, who get inspired by doing so and who yearn, almost to the point of heartbreak, to fly once more, lockdown has seemed almost doubly cruel. Words cannot adequately express how much I am conscious of time passing and what I am missing out on.

I miss the sun.

I miss rising early and that first blast of heat upon my skin even if it is early morning and the temperature is restrained. I miss knowing that it’s an exotic heat beating down on me and that with exotic heat comes exotic sights and experiences, the delights of something new or even familiar to witness and partake in. I miss being chilled….in the heat.

I’m hopeful, and I’m sure many are, that one day this will be behind us and I’ll feel that sun, that special sun, upon my skin once more.

But until then, under an English sun, I’ll close my eyes and allow myself to dream, of lands both old and new and pray I’ve still got time to see, feel and experience the wealth of all they have to offer.

Under their sun.

Stuck on the treadmill

I’m stuck.

Stuck on a treadmill with no off button, feeling that life doesn’t have a pause button I can press, just moving when I don’t want to.

I’m waiting.

Waiting for central hearing to be put in, for electricians to come, for test results, for what seems to be an endless list of things.

It’s like being at the eye of the storm, unmoving yet the whole world is moving around you and you feel strangely detached and set apart from all that’s happening.

But am I moving.

I don’t know. My sister has breast cancer, the cat has liver cancer, I’ve got a kidney problem…apparently..and nothing ever seems to be resolved. Not properly. Not really.

I just seem to lurch from one thing to another and try as I might, I can’t fix them. I feel strange. I feel as though my energy has dissipated and I don’t have anything left. I’m not angry but disgruntled. I’m not bitter but frustrated and yet I lack the energy to even be that.

Work is insulting me by training me to answer a phone. A phone. I’ve answered a work phone since 1986!. Perhaps I know how to do that?. It’s just another thing that adds to that sense of…fedupness that I feel.

I am discouraged. I try and edit my book but do so without enthusiasm, knowing that it’s boring having to correct so much and angry with myself for having written things so poorly to start with. I know what I’m trying to say but it’s better in my head than on the page.

I see the sun and want to travel again but know that my partners utter failure to look after herself this past year had brought on a host of medical issues we didn’t need. That will delay or destroy plans. I can barely live with the former, let alone the latter.

This is a mess.

This blog is a mess. A confused, contradictory mess.

It’s my life.

Dreaming of normality

Looks familiar?

As I look out my window this morning, the sun catches my eye. It’s a bright day, full of promise with blue sky above and a cool but not unpleasant temperature.

And when I close my eyes I’m instantly transported thousands of miles away to the early morning hustle and bustle of the buffet breakfast and the murmured ‘Good Morning’ from fellow guests.

I’m transported to a deep blue sky and the noise and the colour ; the shouts of the children as they pass, ‘Hey Mister, you okay?’ And the cheeky grin.

And I miss it.

I miss the little things. I miss the buffet breakfasts with the rather pale sausages of dubious origin, and the dish marked only as ‘foul’, the Danish pastries in lavish designs and comparing one hotel breakfast with another.

I miss comparing beds, rooms, views and the smile and nod from the cleaners as I pass them in the corridor.

I miss tiny bananas, exotic fruits and foreign versions of ‘English Fish and Chips’, nosing through hotel shops in search of lurid t-shirts and tacky fridge magnets and wondering whether it’s more advantageous to change money here or at the next hotel in case the exchange rate changes.

And I miss being free.

I miss being me, happy, chilled, excited, up for it. Being truly me, the Autistic me that revels in hotels and flights and seeing things I’ve always dreamed of seeing. The Autistic me who can drop the mask, that exhausting falseness, and just revel in the enjoyment of everything around him, even if only for a few days.

I miss being in control. Knowing a little of what I’m looking at, researching, discovering, exploring.

I miss long hot days in the sun. Good company (usually) and talk of things I understand and appreciate, mutual interests and hopes, expectations and dreams.

I miss the one thing that truly makes me happy.

I close my eyes.

I’m dreaming now, dreaming of a time when I can be free again. Dreaming of a time when I can pick up my passport and pack my case. Dreaming of normality.

I’m dreaming and yet I’m fearful. I’m hoping yet I’m scared. I’m wishing though I’m worrying.

I want to be me again. I want to be free again.

But until that day comes, I can only dream.

Towards the light

Next week.

I can imagine it already. The doors opening and a tidal wave of humanity desperate for a pair of socks and a mankini hurling themselves desperately towards the displays whilst shop staff look on in horror.

Horror. How apt.

I dread next week.

I dread the lack of sense we will show and how we will react to this new found ‘freedom’ of ours. If what I’ve heard so far comes true then I can well imagine a third wave and another lockdown will be upon us by the Autumn at the latest.

There’s a desperation. I must have a drink in a pub. I must go to the shops. Must. Must. Really? Why?. For human interaction. Really? How much human interaction is there in swiping your bank card?.

Our trouble is that we lack self control. The sun comes out and we rush to the beach, angry that a thousand others have all had the same idea yet failing miserably to understand that they have only thought the same as us. How selfish of them!.

I dread next week.

I don’t want people. I don’t want to feel unsafe as the floodgates open and the streets heave with life. I’m Autistic and I’m not a people person anyway but especially not now. It’s not as though I’ve enjoyed lockdown with its battering of my mental health and those things I look forward to, travel for instance, now under threat due to circumstances beyond my control, but people?. No, I don’t want people.

Because people don’t think and don’t care.

They want a pint and god help the man who stands in their way. They want those trousers, that book, that hair cut…the list goes on…but so will others and the release of tension, the sheer abandonment of common sense and self control is a truly scary prospect.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel but the wrong move, too fast, too many, too…stupid, and it will be extinguished.

So, towards the light we go. But I’ll hold back, I’ll bide my time and make sure the bulbs screwed in properly and the lights not flickering before I’ll venture out.

People. It’s all about people.

And I’m not sure I trust them.

The blogging conundrum

Please blog, they said.

So I did.

Only nobody read it.

But I missed it.

They said.

Because I’ve too many followers.

Oh, I said.

Trying not to feel.

Downhearted.

And then I asked myself.

Do I actually write,

Things people want to read,

Or am I dull,

Safe,

Just…

Uninspiring?,

Am I just,

Forgettable,

One of the crowd,

Lost,

In the mix?

And is it unreasonable,

Silly of me,

Vain of me,

To expect, want, need…

Interaction,

Appreciation,

Support?.

Probably.

Probably?.

Certainly.

But I blog,

And it’s not read,

By many,

And a part of me,

Is sad.

Sorry.

Challenging myself

I’m disappointed in myself.

That’s nothing new for my life is a perpetual disappointment and I am at the centre if it. Grand plans, big ideas, things I should have done; all fallen by the wayside, left in the Lay-by along life’s winding road. Discarded like some empty crisp packet.

Motivation has often been hard to come by. Perhaps I’m lazy or perhaps, and more likely, I’ve never found it easy to motivate myself to something I don’t enjoy. I write but occasionally the mood deserts me or I start and my characters annoy me or I can’t get the dialogue right or it sounds just wrong.

Having fibromyalgia is annoying as the motivation to move physically is counterbalanced by the inevitable stiffness and pain that will precede and follow my movements. And there are many days when I would rather just slump in a chair and give up rather than move.

So I’m quite often disappointed with myself and even when I do achieve, I’m never quite satisfied that I did enough or went far enough or fast enough.

Which is where virtual challenges come in.

I was on Facebook one day, minding my own business, when an advert popped up and in the advert was a picture of a shiny medal. I was intrigued and the more I read, the more intrigued I became.

Yes, there’s a cost involved and yes, you can cheat but what if you don’t? What if you actually challenge yourself to achieve something?.

Over the last few months I have climbed Mount Fuji, clambered up Mount Kilimanjaro twice, I have had two enthralling trips around the Pyramids of Giza, walked from Delhi to the Taj Mahal. I have walked around Easter Island, reached the summit of Everest and as I write this I am striding (hobbling) along Hadrian’s Wall, swimming the English Channel and having my second trek to Macchu Pichu. Oh, and I have just been to Athens and had a fantastic walk through Rome.

I may not be able to do 25km a day and some people knock these things off at a frightening pace but that doesn’t matter. It’s you, against a time frame you set and which you can test yourself against, with a lovely medal waiting for you at the end.

My second Egyptian medal

And best of all there’s a community. You cheer on others, admire their medals, offer congratulations and suggestions, support and commiserations when injury strikes.

Of course you get one or two who take it mega seriously but generally we just get along and irrespective of how long it took, or what activities you counted (You can count every step you take or specific activities towards your target), we just share in each other’s success and eagerly await the next new challenge to be announced.

And some are huge. I have done relatively modest challenges but some are over 1000Km in length and even longer. Route 66, the Cabot Trail, the Great Wall of China are of not insignificant length.

But there is that feeling of achievement, the fact that you’ve done something. Sure you can cheat and inflate the steps or you can just let your fitness app do all the work for you. I use two companies, one does it for me whilst the other I input manually. I count every step my phone or watch says I’ve done and to me that’s fair, I’ve walked those distances, no cheating, no exercise bikes nor treadmills, just one foot in front of the other.

232km and well worth it!.

You get virtual postcards, snippets of information along the way, a certificate you can print and one company even plants a tree for every 20% of the challenge you complete so I’m also contributing something in that small way.

And I’m reminded. I’m reminded of wonderful Egypt, of the beauty of the Taj, places I have been, and I’m learning about Rome, Athens, Easter Island, places I might never go to but now feel as though I have, albeit virtually.

I know they cost..it’s about £20-25 each with postage, but it’s got me moving, it’s got me travelling, even if that’s only virtually, and for me, it’s been a godsend.

So here’s to a few more. Australia perhaps, or Rio, another trip to Everest base camp, England coast to coast and who knows, perhaps one day I’ll start, and finish, Lands End to John O’Groats or something even bigger.

So it’s travel, it’s not the travel I’m used to, but it is travel.

Virtually anything is possible. Literally.