Accepting Stories

It no longer surprises me when I meet someone and instantly think “Yep, I want to get to know you better.” It’s also no longer surprising to me how often this happens.

There’s a common saying about luck: luck has to find you before it can bless you. The more chances you give it to find you, the more times it does. The more I actively look for and take chances, the luckier I am.
It doesn’t stop me thinking I’m useless with people and will never get with the sort of people I’m worth.
I’m reading another self-help book, and this one seems decent. It was recommended to me by my counselor. It’s called “The Happiness Trap” and it makes a shit ton of sense.
I won’t go into too much detail – that’s what the book is for – but something that’s resonating with me is the view that our thoughts are just reactions. Our thoughts are just stories and words reacting to the stimulation around us. They are not the truth. They do not predict the future. And they aren’t always helpful.
Because I have the thought that I’m useless with people, I try hard when it comes to people I like. I obsess over their reactions and play with infinite ideas for dates and jokes and sex. It’s all a waste of time and energy.
Because – in all my arrogant humility – I know I’m good. I know I’m worth it. And that’s a helpful thought.
I received a letter from my father the other day. It made me so angry. It took me a while to realise that, actually, it only made me feel so angry. Realising that stole all the energy from my anger and allowed me to look at what was causing it.
This letter is the second time he’s ever told me he’s proud of me.
The first time was at my school’s final ball. At that stage in my life, I didn’t like wearing nice clothes, believed sex was for marriage and thought dancing was stupid. I’d been feeling my then girlfriend’s pussy and arguing with myself whether marriage required a church or not. I was also dressed in the most ludicrously-fitted suit to ever drape a body. I didn’t want to go to the stupid ball and listen to stupid speeches by stupid jocks about the stupid friends they’d made at the stupid school, and I definitely didn’t want to do any stupid dancing: I wanted to stay at the hotel and make out.
My girlfriend decided that sex was only for marriage and vanished herself to the bathroom. My father’s impeccable timing led to him knocking at the door to help me with my tie – school taught me nothing other than how to climb trees.
I was quite distracted. My mind was in a large amount of “what the [non-offensive swear-word]?”. I felt queasy and guilty and lost and horny and my father pulled me into a bear hug and with a tear-filled voice whispered “I’m so proud of you.”
It was about then that I started to realise I didn’t give a fuck.
I didn’t tell him this. I awkwardly hugged him back and said thanks. I noticed he was crying. It was the second time I’d ever seen him cry. The first was when his father died. We’d loaded the wood-shrouded body into the car together. We turned and my gran was stumbling out of the church, her face wrenched into a grimace of grief as the boot door hid her soulmate’s body. I looked at her face through my soaking tears and all I could think was “she looks hilarious.”
I wanted to laugh. I wanted to burst out laughing at the sheer stupidity of it all. Behind me, I heard what sounded like my dad laughing. I turned in horrid wonder, a grin spinning onto my face, but he was crying.
I realise something about my father: to him, family is everything.
It’s not to me.
I hate this seven-page letter. I can’t write anymore.
——
And that’s not a helpful thought. I wrote everything above five days ago. This post has been sitting on my screen since then, reminding me I need to write. It just hurts so much. So I kept reading the book.
It offered some new ideas.
Driving analogies work best for me.
Taking a corner at speed requires a subliminal balance of traction and angle. The better the angle, the less correction, the less traction needed. The less traction, the less resistance, the higher the speed.
It’s all pointless if you enter the corner backwards.
The state of your car before the corner is vital. It must be steady, balanced, perfectly paced and perfectly lined. The better the entry, the less fiddling in the corner, the faster the exit.
To better myself, I need to accept who I am now. I cannot move through the next corner successfully without being at peace with all the things inside me.
It feels like I came out of the last corner correcting crazily, feet blurring in a panic on unresponsive pedals as I saw at the wheel. I’m still not back in control, I’m still gripless and lost but I have time. The next few corners look simple and unmentionable. I don’t know what comes next, but I have the time to accept me before it comes.

$1000 flight

My car has an unsightly dent in its face.

It’s quite distinctive now. You can see people dismiss it the moment they see it – unless the lights are on. Pop up lights are fucking awesome.

I discovered recently that – for some unbeknownst reason – the value of a Mazda Astina has risen. Every other car I’ve been looking at has dropped over the last two months. The Astina has gone from an average $1400 to an average $1600.

I could fix my car and sell it for a resulting $1000. Which, as I discovered on Sunday night, is more than enough for a one way ticket to the UK, leaving next Wednesday.

I dislike stuff and clutter. Some of it is necessary. But, if I were to leave, I could sell it all fast. Easily. Not perhaps for an accurate value, but for something. Enough, totaled, for a base in the UK.

A fresh start. A new beginning. To no longer deal with all this crap. To simply say “This is no longer my problem, bye bye.”

To no longer have nights substituting crap games and bbw porn for intimacy and sleep. To no longer wake and long for sleep. To no longer spend evenings knowing one drink would calm me, but one drink won’t end. To no longer fall asleep, exhausted, with wet pillows and twisted blankets.

To spend days smiling, not hiding fears and worries and regrets and anger. To write without wrestling words away from their emotions. To work without calculating how much exactly I can actually use.

When told, Someone simply stated “Well go. You have nothing stopping you.”

But there is something stopping me: Me.

I can’t run away from problems.

Not simply because running away never works. Not simply because it’ll make bigger problems. Not simply because the easiest solution is seldom the best.

But because I couldn’t be me if I did.

To run away and “start afresh” would have one intention: finding myself. Losing myself in order to find me is rather circular and a waste of time. Ultimately, 5 years down the line, I’ll be in a similar situation facing similar problems with similar escapes. The only difference: It’ll be five years too late.

I’ve been told I’m “too soft”. I think I’ve been told that so many times it might make a good tattoo – strategically placed. I’m too soft, apparently, because I’ll keep taking shit from people and just deal with it. Or, try to. When there’s little but shit my way it becomes a bit difficult to deal with it all – one pile at a time please. It makes it hard to see sexy people too.

This is something I distinctly dislike about myself. And yet it’s been something that’s true of me for a little over 25 years. Every time I try to change it, it ends up rearing it’s head in another, sneaky way.

I realise now it’s because I can’t be me if I’m not…accepting? Perhaps that is a better phrase than “too soft”.

Happiness is often linked to selfishness – “You can’t be happy if you don’t look after yourself.” I completely agree with that – “me first” is an ideal required to be your best. I add to it though.

Instead of simply saying “Do what makes you happy”, I tell myself “Do what makes you happy without impairing others’ happiness.”

It switches the focus. Instead of an immediate, almost gratuitous, happiness, it looks at a long-term happiness – a happiness that supersedes the current time and plans for tomorrow.

A friend told me – and I’ve mentioned this before – that “you can’t find happiness. It doesn’t exist as a place or object. You need to make it. Create Happiness.”

Like any creative work, it doesn’t happen overnight. It isn’t easy. You don’t (or at least, I don’t) create a book by starting with a book.

I start with an idea. A story. The plan, the overview. A bit of research takes place, attempting to find places where I might encounter problems.

That’s the easy bit. There’s still no book.

Then the writing begins. At first it seems easy: x number of words? Simple. You just press 6x keys. At y keys an hour, that’ll only take 6x/y hours and then the book is done!

But no.

Because the words have to come from somewhere. They have to be carefully extracted from the contents of your thoughts, stripped of personal emotion and sewn into a volatile narrative.

And hell, that hurts. But finally, you’re done. There is a story, written down with your words. It’s wonderful. Masterful.

But just a draft.

Editing is worse. Editing is reading over your scars and deciding that they don’t add to the story, so they have to go. Editing is finding a scene that dripped down your face as you wrote and finding it lacking in emotion.

Editing is what finally makes a novel worth reading.

But you’re still not done.

There’s cover design, beta reading, publicising, re-editing, re-researching…it begins to feel like there is no such thing as an end. Bookshops, libraries and authors in Porsches prove otherwise.

But there is no ending to happiness. There is no point where you stop and say “Wow! I’m happy! I can’t stop now.”

You simply have to carry on.

The first step isn’t the easiest. The first step is looking at yourself and saying “Hey, I love you.With all your faults and idiosyncrasies. I think you’re awesome, just the way you are – and no one knows you better than me.”

And I can’t take that step with a $1000 ticket. I can’t take that step by running away. I take that step by stopping, turning, taking another blow on the cheek and knowing I’m going to be ok.

———

A post really worth reading: 30 things to  stop doing to yourself.

 

(Also: this has got to be the first post ever to mention bbws, cars, math and writing)

Murdered Boobs

“You are legally allowed to commit murder once, but you must fill out the proper paperwork and your proposed victim will be notified of your intentions”.

That’s a writing prompt.

I’m a little distracted right now because the girl opposite me just leant forward. Low cut tops are lovely. She’s so engrossed in Law that she hasn’t even – whoops, back to my screen.

The writing prompt.

I saw it on Reddit yesterday and almost spat coffee over my screen. Swallowing helped. It sounded hilarious. There have been some really unusual writing prompts lately (“You live in a world where eating is taboo and sex isn’t”). I’ve considered having a go at some of them but other things always get in the way.

Not last night though.

After reading the prompt, I walked to the bathroom and tripped over the idea, fully forming it before I hit the floor.

God they’re distracting. Every time she moves they jiggle. Words, focus on the words.

I sat down at my laptop and began to type. It came quickly, making me smile.

So many people – on obtaining these writing prompts – immediately presume that because something is legal/not taboo, it means everyone will do it.  I respectfully disagree.  It is (apparently) legal to shoot a Welshman in Chester with a bow and arrow, but that doesn’t mean everybody is doing it.

She scrunched her shoulders. They’re all squished together now. Sometimes, I really love university.

My idea – for my story – was that it was an old and little known law. No one really used it because why would you? This is a government administered programme: it involves paperwork. Paperwork sucks. With the right amount of paperwork (excessive), very few sane people will attempt to commit a legal murder. And when you consider the effort required to perform a murder – in addition to the paperwork – it’s just easier to leave it be.

And then you get the “legal” side of things. If it’s “legal” for you to commit murder, does that mean you must deal with the consequences? Who gets rid of the body? Is there an investigation? Is the deceased covered by their life insurance? Is it legal for someone to stop you? If your victim defends themselves and kills you, are they liable?

She just yawned down her top.

The words kept on flowing. The story grew, detail expanding. What sort of questions will the form ask? Has the perpetrator performed any research? What sort of person is the perpetrator? Why does he want to kill the victim? What impact will it have on the perpetrator? On the victim’s family? On his emotions and mental state? On his finances?

The back story was complete in my head. I just needed to dramatise and expand.

Her head is resting on her left hand. The other hand is highlighting in waves. The effect is…mesmerising.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. I was amazed at how many words there were leaving my fingers. They weren’t tiring. I felt energised. Awake. Nowhere near my limit.

What liberation.

I’ve been struggling with my books. The editing process is doubt-inducing. I’ve been writing HTS for 8 weeks. In my head, the story is done, all the details completed, but the words are difficult to find. I struggle to describe the emotions – firstly, because of my chosen narration style, secondly because they’re  personal feelings. I just want it done…but it’s simply creeping along. 

So when, at 01:30 in the morning, I finished the final twist and immediately published that raw, unassuming, mistake-laden draft, I felt a huge sense of success, for I’d thrown out a mind-blowing 6800 words in under 7 hours – dinner and shower included. And my fingers didn’t hurt. I wasn’t tired. If I’d had more story, I’d have kept going.

She’s noticed the time. Her books have flown into her bag and she’s bounced up, casting about for something. With a frantic glance at her watch, she waltzes out.

A part of me didn’t care how many views the story got, how many people liked it. I was lucky: one of the stories written on that prompt is amazing, and has received a huge amount of attention. As a result, every other story on there is being…viewed. So some people have looked at my story (32, to be precise. 34 now), and some have even voted on it! Some people even commented!

And that makes it all the more worthwhile. It gives me reason to keep writing. It reminds me that practice isn’t perfect, and never will be.

Quality Quantity

When I begin writing posts, I think “How can I make people read this?”

Word choices have to be precisely perfect. Seven word sentences provide the best hook. Two word titles are my personal preference.

35 words and the introduction is complete. I can relook at my title and start saying what I really wanted to say.

I have always had a strong fascination with words – my mother, on the other hand, has an appetence for selcouth words. I like new words, but I’m more interested in holophrasis – the expression of complex ideas in single words.

In fact, one of my desires as a teenager was to compress a powerful sermon down to a simple collection of complex words. I’d simply get up there and say a single sentence. Silence would follow. I’d smile and walk slowly away from the pulpit.

Someone would gasp, realisation dawning. Then another, and another, until the entire congregation understood precisely what I’d meant. People would be amazed, and I’d become a famed preacher who’d write books and solve millennium problems in my ample spare time.

I think that’s the definition of “Dreaming.”

This dream, however, reflects something deeper. The desire is not simply to say less or be famous: the desire is for one thing to be more. And this is about more than just words.

Quite simply it is about quantity over quality.

My phone struggles to text. It takes forever to load and send messages. I get annoyed with it, but I ignore it, because it gives me eventual access to google, my emails and facebook. Sometimes it even makes phone calls.

On compromise, it becomes acceptable.

This compromise becomes the new norm. It begins to permeate through life. My life is measured by hours. My hours are worth dollars. These dollars are valued against the output of said hours. The more per dollar, the better.

This may sound similar to holophrasis – outputs per dollar to ideas per word – but I see it as simple verbosity – using as many extraneous words as possible in a sentence to describe the desired and intended point of said sentence.

So often, I aim for verbosity. 100 posts a year. 50 000 words per book. 8 books per year. 100 visits to the gym. Visit woodhill 12 times a year. Ice skate 12 times a year.

But what is the point if it’s all just shit? I could have 8 novels self-published by the end of the year. But the characters would be stifled. The story would be rough. The scenes would slip away.

There is no point in a 50 000 word novel if all 50 000 words are shit. There is no point in a 100 posts if they are all shit. If all I wanted to do was convert my words to dollars, I’d be ghost-writing erotic fiction – not spending 2 hours extracting words from a whisky-addled soul.

Verbosity doesn’t work. Lots happens, none of it relevant.  I’d rather little happen, all of it relevant. I’d rather be laconic.

Sex Tails

I can’t have sex.

This is due to two fantastically unavoidable circumstances. Firstly, in place of a coccyx, I now have a fiery ball of pain. I’m uncertain where it came from.  All I know is it makes everything difficult.

Secondly, we’re down to Our Last Condom.

Obviously, a pair of solutions would be to visit a doctor and a pharmacy – some doctors may be able to help with both! However, doctors cost money.

I don’t have any of that. Not one bit.

I owe some of it. This isn’t entirely my fault: most of the owings are due to income-reducing requirements which I’d saved for and then had to spend on living when my last company closed down. That was last year. Money earned this year has simply been used to begin paying off those debts and topping up the living account.

I also owe a mechanic some money for some noise-reduction he did on our Mercedes. To be fair, he did do a bit more than that. I think he converted the noise to power, because that thing is unbelievably fast. So fast, I owe the police money too!

And it all just builds up. All those “stresses” as we call them. They’re not really stresses: they’re pRoblems with a capital are. Because there’s no job. There’s no knowing where money is coming from. There’s no guarantee that lunches will appear between breakfast and dinner on the same day. There’s no knowing whether estate agents will request we move, no knowing when debt collectors will come for what little we have.

And yes, all they can take are our material things. Just things. Just things I use on a daily basis to get through.

It’s horrible. I want to lie down and let life simply pass on until things get that little bit better. Because we always say “things will get better”.

But they won’t. We have to make them better.

And I don’t know if I can anymore.

One thing I do know. Just a little thing.

If things are the very worst they can be, then the only way forward is up. The only path available is better than where I stand now.

And, if things aren’t the very worst they can be, then there is still something for me to be thankful for.

That doesn’t make it any better. I still can’t have sex.I still have a sore tailbone. I still have no money. I still have no stability.

But I have hugs. I have kisses. I have a pillow. I have massages. I have TradeMe. I have experience. I have words. I have Killer Queen. And I know that things will always change.