datbeardyman

Less about the world, more about me.

Month: July 2017

Getting Old

Getting older is a weird experience. I’m not exactly a fan of the process, but there are aspects I quite like. It is a strange amalgam of little humiliations, bouts of terror and ever fewer fucks to give.

It was my hair that first decided that what I really needed was a bout of existential angst with a side order of mortification. I was getting my hair cut and the barber asked if I wanted my ears seen to. There’s no coming back from that. Once a man reaches the age of ear hair, there will also be nostril hair and errant eyebrow hair. I know many older men who ignore this hirsute horseman of the apocalypse. They will sport bushy ears and bushy brows. I’m not one of them.

I wasn’t concerned when my beard went grey. I actually like it. But when I began to notice grey in my hair I needed to sit down. When the hair down below began to grey, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I don’t mind that my shoulders have decided to go full bear, but a single, inexplicably long hair on my forearm makes me want to go all Phantom of the Opera.

I’ve begun to see evidence of sagging. It upsets me. Yet my body confidence is higher now than it was when I was a six-pack sporting youth. That well-toned young man viewed public and/or inadvertent nudity with absolute horror. This fat hairy carcass of a man could not care any less. I don’t know if that’s because I am a creepy old fuck or because my body is now less a platform for my cock and more a shambling collection of frailties, oddities and gross deterioration. More deserving of pity than derision or even worse, judgment.

As my skin sags, it also thickens. The stuff I once sweated like public speaking, interacting with bureaucracy, speaking to strangers, speaking to women, trying anything new, admitting I’m wrong or apologising, no longer stump me. I still hate each and every one of them, but I now know that what I’m feeling at any one moment doesn’t really matter. In a minute or two I’ll be feeling something else. Just dive in and get it over with. Though I still can’t deal with actually jumping into cold water.

I play soccer every Wednesday. And I hurt every Thursday and Friday. When I’m chasing after someone, a part of my brain remains the young fleetfooted prick I once was. He’s already caught, dispossessed and ran fifty metres the other way with the ball, while I feel like I’m running through treacle. Since I began playing with this group, at least half a dozen members have had to quit due to wear and tear, niggling injuries and heart problems. Getting old. My right knee has been hurting me for two weeks. I’m determined to ignore it.

Every time I feel anything in my chest my first thought inevitably goes to heart attack. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t remember I am now nearer to the end than I am to the beginning. It’s terrifying. It is liberating. Procrastination becomes something I actively try to wrestle with. I don’t always win, but the stakes get higher with every new grey hair I find so I have to try.

My daydreams are becoming less fantastic. I dream of writing novels. I sometimes slip into dreams of successful novelist, but now, with time no longer on my side, I mostly dream of just writing novels. I am now always aware of time passing. It’s terrifying but it focuses the mind. I’d give anything to have the body I once had. But I wouldn’t swap places with that callow gobshite for all the dark haired covered muscles in the world.  Though for hairless ears…

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Weekly Links #25

Another week of learning stuff and being fascinated by stuff that appears in my twitter timeline. This week is a combination of football, philosophy, DS9, Feminism, geography, history and cosmology. Sure what more could a person want? Outside of reading the interesting stuff the twitter people post, writing has been going very well. Past 30, 000 words and within sight of the halfway point. Squeee etc.

And as always, feel free to subscribe to my blog and perhaps even have a look at some of my published works on Amazon.

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“Perhaps some of us would choose the truism that “the grass isn’t always greener.” No doubt some of us would conclude that when we are talking about the relative difference between tens of millions at one club and slightly more at another, the quality of one’s environment would be the determining factor.” Whether Neymar stays at Barcelona or leaves for PSG, it must be his choice

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“Especially when legal prohibitions are instituted in advance of cultural readiness, I’ve come to realize, they can backfire, leading to more harm than good; and sometimes, their mere proposal can trigger reactionary laws that end up enshrining the very practice being challenged.” Things I’ve learned (so far) about how to do practical ethics

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“Ella Passchendaele Maton-Cole, a 19-year-old in Alton, Hampshire, is one of the few remaining people with a name taken from the battle of Passchendaele, which began on 31 July 1917.” ‘I was named after a World War One battle’

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“One thing I enjoyed was that in the midst of the Star Trek Universe’s science-and-tech-centric STEM paradise, DS9 showrunners made the captain’s son, Jake Sisko, a writer. We science fiction writers love our astronauts and engineers, but I was thrilled to see 14-year-old Jake developing into a writer and storyteller.” Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and the Importance of Storytelling Cultures

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“The earliest recordings of the inhabitants of the British Isles were made by Roman and Greek geographers, especially Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD.  The ethnic names they gave to these Iron Age Celtic tribes may not be the names by which they knew themselves.  Some, though, shared common names with tribes elsewhere in the British Isles and in Europe.” Maps of Britain and Ireland’s ancient tribes, kingdoms and DNA

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“Syphilis was first associated with prostitution and supposed depraved behaviour soon after it appeared in Europe at the end of the 1400s. Originally known as ‘the Pox’, the name syphilis is derived from the title character of a Latin poem of 1530 in which a sinner is punished for betraying the god Jupiter.” The prostitute whose pox inspired feminists

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“The theft occurs after a death. When some stars reach the end of their life cycle, they become massive supernovae, spewing high-speed gas out into the universe. The matter in these ejections is picked up by galactic winds, streams of charged particles powered by the exploding supernovae.” Half the atoms inside your body came from across the universe

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Weekly Links #24

Another week and another bunch of links. And it’s been a good week. Writing is going well. I’m at the 25000 words mark, which is enough words to create a momentum of their own. I’m not sure the Winterfest deadline is still realistic, but I’m still trying to keep to it.

Of course the most important thing to happen in the entire world is the return of Game of Thrones. So obviously I’ve included an article about GoT. How could I not?

I’ve included a really heavy piece about Post Colonial Theory. Partly to show off that I managed to read the entire thing, but also because the parts I did understand, were quite interesting. At some point in my life I’m going to have to study philosophy. I like reading these snippets, but I think I really need to master the basics before I can really enjoy the heavier bits. And be able to offer opinions that I can defend.

I’ve also included an older thing about Messi. I simply love Messi. I simply love Messi.

And as always, feel free to subscribe to my blog and perhaps even have a look at some of my published works on Amazon.

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“That excitement is reflected in the viewing figures. Every episode of Game of Thrones is watched by an average of about 25 million viewers, and that’s only the figure provided by US broadcaster HBO.” How Game of Thrones put TV drama to the sword

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“With superlatives running out to describe Messi, a new word was added to the Spanish dictionary: Inmessionante; 1) the perfect way to play football, an unlimited ability to self-improve; 2) describes the best player of all time.” Messi at 30: 30 things you may or may not know about Barca’s famous No.10

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“Few people these days claim that whites and Indians are racially incompatible. But many argue that whites – or, more euphemistically, ‘Europeans’ or ‘Westerners’ – and Indians (and blacks and Chinese and countless others) belong to distinct cultures and possess discrete identities. Many argue, too, that especially for children, it is important not to undermine their sense of identity or create confusion about their cultural attachments.” how culture came to appropriate race

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“When the Delphic oracle told our father founder that he was the wisest man in Athens, he understood this to mean that he alone knew how little he understood.” Saving Science from Pseudo-facts

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“On elite university campuses, the concepts associated with this theoretical stream have increasingly displaced the more traditional vocabulary of the Left, particularly among younger academics and students. Indeed, the two most influential political frameworks of the past century on the Left, Marxism and progressive liberalism, are often described not just as being inadequate as sources of critique, but as tools of social control.” Silencing The Subaltern in Post Colonial Theory

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“We soon have a sociological effect whereby everyone knows that, say, a certain movie is very good or very bad, even though everyone might have ‘known’ the exact opposite if only a few early voices had been different.” There’s no good way to kill a bad idea

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“You don’t have to be a journalist running into the warm embrace of a holiday to know that, sometimes, it is hard to avoid the news. The news follows us to the airport, it boards the aircraft with us, then it digs into our melted brains via lamentably good poolside wifi connections. The news is airborne.” Why do people actively avoid the news?

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On Being An Extremist

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I find it unsettling when I remember I’m considered to be a bit of an extremist. It’s not usual for a woolly liberal centrist to be described as an extremist. Yet here I am, a firm believer in the notion that a woman is the best judge of what should or shouldn’t happen to her body. And that apparently is enough to mark me out as an extremist. Only in this age of homeopathy can such a thing be said to make any sense.

Ireland, it seems, is divided into two camps. There are those who believe abortions should only happen out foreign and those of us who believe abortions should be provided here. Supporting a woman to have an abortion in her own country is extreme. Insisting a woman leave the country to have an abortion is considered to be the best way to avoid spooking those poor denizens of Middle Ireland. Ireland, it seems, is divided into two camps. There are those of us who consider this to be the rankest of rank hypocrisy and those who consider this to be winning.

Ireland, it seems, is divided into two camps. There are those of us who think women should enjoy the ride, as men have always enjoyed the ride. Sexual incontinence for all, as it has always been, but now women are allowed to have a say in the process and also to enjoy the experience. Yes, use precautions, but please enjoy yourselves. Sex is brilliant. And if those precautions fail, then feel free to choose whatever option best serves you. And then there are those who shake their heads. Consequence free riding is and always has been the preserve of men. We didn’t spend generations incarcerating pregnant women just to enrich the religious. We locked them up because riding is for men. Abortions for women who enjoy the ride is akin to saying that locking up women who enjoyed the ride was somehow wrong. And that can’t be right. Can it? That’s just too extreme for Middle Ireland to ponder over its morning cornflakes.

Ireland, it seems, is divided into two camps. There are those of us think it indefensible to pick and choose the abortions we are comfortable with and to decide which women have done enough suffering to merit an abortion. This is thought of as extreme. Then there are those who need women to suffer to the point that any misgivings they have about abortions are overcome. Misgivings that will return the moment the next woman has the temerity to demand an abortion and the whole process begins again.

Ireland, it seems, is divided into two camps. There are those of us who are quite certain that a foetus is never the equal of the women carrying it. Well no, it is the equal and even more important than the woman who carries in one circumstance, when the woman carrying it decrees it to be so. A woman owning her body and knowing her own mind is dismissed as extreme. On the other side, the foetus is considered the equal of the woman carrying it unless the woman has suffered or is suffering to a yet to be legally defined degree. This legal bar of suffering may end up in our Constitution or the Constitution may oblige our parliament to make suffering and tragedy a prerequisite for women with the temerity to demand an abortion. This is not thought of as extreme.

Ireland, it seems, is divided into two camps. There are those who think campaigning for women to have access to abortion in their own country is extreme. The very act of saying we want abortion services to be available in Ireland, without demur, without apology, without euphemism, without shame, is dismissed as gauche and divisive. Then there are those who think abortions are gross and women’s voices are scary so just please leave me in peace to eat my cornflakes.

Ireland, it seems, is divided into two camps. There are those of us who go to great pain to ensure we present a professional and reasonable front when campaigning. We keep our accounts public, write letters of persuasion, advocate, canvass and lobby within civilised norms. Then there are those who see this effort and dismiss it as just the same as those who abuse, those who threaten, those who picket politician’s houses. It is considered extreme to expect people to look at what people do and note the difference.

Ireland, it seems, is divided into three camps. There are those of us who reacted with surprised satisfaction to the outcome of the Citizen’s Assembly. We’d forgotten that when presented with the facts, people will see the inescapable logic of greatly extending abortion services in Ireland. Then there are those who dismiss facts as being less important than their sincerely held beliefs. And then there are those who simply don’t expect ordinary people to be able to deal with facts. In this era of homeopathy, Brexit and Trump, they are convinced people will not raise their heads from their cornflakes to consider facts. They will keep to their prejudices and assumptions and vote accordingly. It is considered extreme to trust voters as it is extreme to trust women.

Ireland, it seems, is divided into two camps. There are those who are called extremists and there are the self-serving and lazy commentators who call them extremists. And I find I am getting quite comfortable with being the extremist they keep speaking of.

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Weekly Links #23

More links from the Twitterverse. Happened upon an article about Game of Thrones, which I think is very appropriate. It is back on Monday after all. This nerd had been counting down the days. I’ve also included one about Wonder Woman. I haven’t seen the film yet but I do plan to. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

And as always, feel free to subscribe to my blog and perhaps even have a look at some of my published works on Amazon.

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“Game of Thrones is an incredibly dense show, filled with hundreds of characters, families, legends, and everything else under the realm’s sun. With all the information fans have had to absorb over the years, it’s easy for some things to fall on the wayside. That includes the show’s plethora of religions.” A Complete Guide to the Religions of Game of Thrones

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“Community, in this sense, is not merely something that one fits into; it is also something one chooses for oneself, through a process of self-discovery. It is based on shared circumstances, certainly, but offers a transcendent kind of togetherness. It is active rather than passive. The LGBTQ community. The Latino community. The intelligence community. The journalism community.” What Does ‘Community’ Mean?

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From this perspective, love of one’s country comes at the expense, not only of love for other countries, but also of individual reason, critical thinking, class solidarity and a sense of common humanity. Can there be a progressive patriotism?

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“The phrase “alternative right” has been critiqued on several grounds: that it’s too vague; that it obscures the extent to which the movement is coterminous with the rest of the Republican base; that it’s a euphemism for white supremacy.” The Alt-Right Branding War Has Torn the Movement in Two

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“Hernandez was arrested after police found the deceased foetus in the toilet. She spent a week handcuffed to a hospital bed while being treated for severe anaemia and a urinary tract infection, and has been detained ever since.” El Salvador teen rape victim sentenced to 30 years in prison after stillbirth

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“With approximately 2.75 MILLION blog posts published every single day, blogging is an immensely popular hobby with an enormous community and has now even become a viable career option for many. For me, it’s been a life-changing experience and the best thing I have ever done, but it hasn’t been without it’s issues.” Should You Self-Censor Your Personal Blog?

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“That said, one thing immediately jumped out at me, comparing Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman to this new one: Intent. When you’re designing for fantasy, a good designer starts with something real and builds on that. In the case of Wonder Woman, that starting point is EVERYTHING. What you start with informs what you end up with.” ‘Wonder Woman’—Armor vs. Underwear & Why It Matters

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On Noveling: The Impatient Boredom

As I write this I am 13,000 words into the first draft of ‘Hidden Messages.’ It is going well. The wonderfully detailed plan is no longer wonderfully detailed. As I sat down to begin the first draft, I had an idea. It was, I’d like to say a twist but it’s more fundamental than that, the addition of an element that solved weaknesses I hadn’t realised existed. The moment it occurred to me I thought to ignore it. I had my plan, if I kept adding little things on a whim, I’d never begin, never mind finish. But second thought and third thought saw its necessity. Now I can’t imagine the story without that new idea being incorporated. What I didn’t do however is go back to the plan and alter it. Impatience took over. I wanted starting and I wasn’t going to wait for ever more preparations to be made.

I will pompously reference the adage about plans never surviving first contact with the enemy. The plan had gotten me this far. And when I hit a wall, and I surely will hit a wall, I will go back to that plan to find my route around or through it. But for now, I’m keeping that new element wholly in my head. I haven’t even gotten to it yet but I’m excited to discover how it looks and feels as I write it. I think, and don’t forget this is before I’ve written any of it, it makes the story more cinematic. I never make a conscious decision to make a story cinematic or otherwise, but I will wonder about this quality as I write it. When I finished ‘The Bucket’ the only other medium I could imagine it in, was some sort of play. ‘Blue Eyeshadow’ is perhaps a made for TV movie. This one though, I think has the bright visuals and large scope that would suit the big screen.

This isn’t an entirely redundant and self-indulgent form of escapism. I’m not writing a movie. I’m writing a novel that I hope will appeal to the cinematic part of our brain. I want it to be easy for the reader to picture the scene, as it were. The next novel won’t be cinematic, it will have a different appeal. Knowing what I am hoping to produce is as important as knowing what I am trying to write.

For now, I am enjoying myself. I am having to invent some scenes on the hop as I alter the plan in anticipation of the new element (possibly elements) to come and this is doing my confidence a lot good. It’s necessarily slowing me down but it is a heady feeling, spinning something out of nothing. While I write purely for the money and acclaim, it is just so wonderful to invent. To create. To shape. I know that even if no one reads this one, I will write the next one. And the one after that. The act of creating is addictive.

I am going to take a break from blogging the novel though. I have another 60,000 words or so to throw at the page, before phase two begins. I am in that exciting and boring, glorious a tedious phase of telling myself the story. And it’s going well. I wish I could hurry it up a bit, but there are about two months of this slog to get through. It is a weird thing, my confidence in the story is so high at the moment I just want it all down on paper so I can polish it. But I can only go as fast as I can go, a thousand words a day. The only thing of note I will be working on is seeing if I can somehow increase my daily word rate. When I reach the half way point, approximately, 35,00 words I’ll blog again.

Blogging about this process has thus far been a great fillip for my confidence as well as a source of motivation. So, thank you reading and see you in 22,000 words time.

Previous: There Be Progress Here

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Weekly Links #22

Another week, another series of links. It’s been a good week. I hit the 10,000 word on my WIP. Ha, I rarely use that phrase, as it seems a little poncy, but that says more about me than the phrase. Over 10,000 words into my WIP. I’m going to embrace it. I am feeling good about this one.

The links this week are largely nerd themed. That wasn’t a deliberate decision, it’s just that I’m in a nerdy frame of mind. Game of Thrones is almost here, there’s new Star Trek on the way, and I’m writing a science-fiction novel so that’s where my head is. And I’m trying, mostly unsuccessfully to pretend the World isn’t going on around me. But abortion rights in Ireland, Brexit and the ever burgeoning body of evidence that proves out species is incredibly stupid keeps intruding into my consciousness. But did I mention I’m over 10,000 words into my WIP. Enjoy the links.

And as always, feel free to subscribe to my blog and perhaps even have a look at some of my published works on Amazon.

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“This week we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter novel, and the beginning — in Britain, at least; the first volume’s publication in America came a little later — of a cultural juggernaut that defined a generation’s experience with books.” The Muggle Problem

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“Social democracy, yeah. That’s sometimes called “the golden age of modern capitalism.” That changed in the ’70s with the onset of the neoliberal era that we’ve been living in since. And if you ask yourself what this era is, its crucial principle is undermining mechanisms of social solidarity and mutual support and popular engagement in determining policy.” Noam Chomsky: Neoliberalism Is Destroying Our Democracy

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“It is astonishing that we have demeaned ourselves in the way we have. I don’t think that the only way you can have a good and constructive relationship with China is by behaving in that sort of craven way.” Chris Patten: A craven Britain has demeaned itself with China, Brexit will make it worse

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“While Wood spent much of the season playing wide-eyed wonder and confusion, Newton had the distinct challenge of shifting in and out of three different roles that were all part and parcel of the same creature.” Thandie Newton on How Westworld’s“Profound” Nude Scenes Gave Maeve Her Voice

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“Mags Leamy (32), a pharmacist from north Cork, said she went in to the assembly with an open mind. “I don’t think we were totally liberal starting, but by the time that you have heard everything, you kind of realise it would be none of your business what Mary does down the road,” she said.” Why did Citizens’ Assembly take liberal view on abortion?

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“In the first season of the show, Sansa is very much an innocent (“I’m meant to be [Joffrey’s] queen and have his babies!” she memorably whines to her father) who undergoes a significant and often traumatic education in the ways of the world. And as it turns out, fiction was mirroring fact—because Turner herself learned a great deal from her time on the set when she was a young teen.” Which Game of Thrones Scene Gave a Very Young Sophie Turner Her “Sex Education”?

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“Abandoning the Cameron project – to make the party if not appealing, then at least not actively repellent to social liberals – now looks like a strategic error. She and her aides bought into the David Goodhart thesis: that politics was dividing between “somewheres” – that is, people with a strong sense of place and identity – and “anywheres” – global citizens who largely cluster in big cities.” How Theresa May abandoned David Cameron’s playbook – and paid a terrible price

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On Noveling: There Be Progress Here

I’m actually writing a novel. Almost seven thousand words in a week and I’ve yet to experience a crisis. This obviously won’t last but opening a document that already contains thousands of words creates a sort of momentum. It’s better than the pages of notes. Better than the number of words you had the day before. And it is so much better than the blank page. It creates in one’s head the idea that you’ve already written twenty or thirty thousand words, it’d be a crime to give up now. Though I say that as someone who has on three occasions abandoned projects that had passed the twenty-thousand-word mark. But not this time.

This time I am working to a plan. I know what needs writing and where everything is and must go. It is a relief, it is a chore and it is fun. The only things getting in my way at the moment are; the little insidious doubts at the back of my mind telling me I’m an imposter, having to make a living, the weather, the dog, eating, reading, watching TV, the news, grocery shopping, Twitter, my little pieces of activism, thoughts about the next novel, existential angst and cutting the bloody lawn. But other than that, I’m OK.

My routine is a surprise to me. A recent IOS upgrade added a thing that encourages we iPhone zombies to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. And if it’s on my Apple product then it must be good and wholesome. I have it set up so that it tells me to be in bed for 12.35 and to get up at 7.35. It has succeeded in producing something my mother so consistently failed to shape, a human being capable of aping adult behaviour. My phone tells me at 11.55 that I should consider getting ready for bed. I do this, because it is my iPhone telling me to do it. Then it tells me that I really should get up or when I check my app the statistics showing my sleep patterns will be out of whack. A simply terrifying prospect.

So, I do what my phone tells me to do. Sometimes Arwen gets up too, so I have to feed her then I have my porridge while watching whatever U.S. twenty-two-minute-long comedy show I’ve recorded. Breakfast eaten I write a thousand words. It’s probably only 9.30 at this point and I’m done for the day. No matter how hard I try I cannot sit down to write fiction again until the next morning. I can blog, but not fiction. It’s irritating, but it works. Perhaps in the future I will be able to increase the writing to two hours and two thousand words, but for now what I’m doing is working and I don’t intend poking it with a stick.

The most important thing I’ve learned, during this project, is that to create wonder and fantasy, one must be as boring and predictable as possible in one’s habits. This is not at all what I expected.

Previous: World Building

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