Permission to Speak

Four days into NaNoWriMo, and I have a grand total of… zero words. Some notes and prompts, yes, but no actual writing.

Kittlen is frustrated at me because I’m not writing. But she forgets just how easy it is for her to conjure up words, and how hard it is for me.

Part of that is from my childhood. I’ve always been quiet. I didn’t even start to speak until I was 4 to 5 years old, and that was with help from a speech therapist. I was put into a remedial class at primary school because I was having trouble learning language, writing and maths. The last one was particularly problematic.

I got lucky when I turned 10—my then-headmaster was able to pull some strings and help me get a bursary to attend an independent school where I could get more intensive teaching. The only downside? It was a boarding school, on the other side of England from where I grew up.

Still, it worked, kinda. I finally grokked maths, and when the school opened its computer lab, I was immediately hooked. But my writing fell by the wayside, as did my artistic skills outside of some stuff I made in woodwork and metalwork classes.

I did eventually get my art going again later on in life when I got given a cheap second-hand copy of Photoshop and subsequently got roped into doing artwork preparation at my then-workplace. I forced myself to learn Photoshop, Illustrator, CorelDraw and other software, and gradually refined my techniques so I could make artwork that would print or display correctly on whatever medium it needed to go. That got me into video editing, DVD authoring and basic web design as I was asked to take on more roles.

My writing took longer to come back, but I did start blogging on-and-off in the early 2000s. But I stuck to talking about things in the news, mostly technology stuff. I didn’t put down on paper or screen any of the stories in my head. I think that, deep down, I was scared of being mocked and ridiculed. I’d been bullied during my school years, called a weirdo and a retard because I struggled with some subjects and was prone to daydreaming. (I now know that this was part of my autism, but at the time I’d not been diagnosed because it wasn’t as well understood and accepted.)

It’s only within the last few years that I’ve been able to start writing for myself, developing my own ideas. And that is still not easy for me. To paraphrase from the Police song ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’:

But my silent fears have gripped me

Long before I reach the phone.

Long before my tongue has tripped me.

Must I always be alone.

In that context, just announcing on NaNoWriMo that I have an idea for a novel is a significant achievement for me. It may be just a placeholder, a project file, but it’s something I can poke at when I get a chance.

As a result of being first a software developer and then a graphic designer, I’ve learned to start with an outline of what I want, then iterate on that, adding more and more detail, until I have something solid and whole. I do something similar in my fiction writing. Kittlen is the opposite, she dumps her ideas on the page, then later on figures out how to string them together.

And I have another means now to get my writing going. After a few false starts, I am writing in a personal journal. Well, it’s a collection of text files that are synchronised between my devices, but it is organised by year and month, and I’m forcing myself to write every day. I hope that I’ll get the habit to a point where it becomes more comfortable for me to capture my daydreams and random thoughts.

I am giving myself permission to speak.

The World Wide Whip

Amidst all the hullabaloo of the last several months, I’ve not really talked much about my DJ-ing in Second Life, and my show on Gorean Whip Radio in particular.

It’s hard to believe it’s nearly 11 months since I first joined the station. It was very much a spur-of-the-moment thing. Kittlen had been approached by Irish Breen, the general manager, who’d known her a long while, and asked if she wanted to be a radio DJ. When I heard this, I decided it was worth a try applying myself. As it turned out, I was accepted very quickly—Irish practically hired me on the spot!

As I detailed around the time, my start wasn’t without its teething problems. And it soon became apparent that doing a radio show was a lot different from just DJ-ing live. Adverts need to be played periodically, as well as station information. And I needed to think more about what I wanted to play, and why, and communicate that to the audience.

I like to think that I’ve improved my craft as a result of doing my weekly show on Gorean Whip Radio. The station owners and managers have been very helpful and supportive, and I enjoy hanging out in the staff chat discussing what’s going on in both the real world and Second Life. I’ve also had the opportunity to help create adverts and promotional material for on-air broadcast, and be one of the station’s voices.

The best experience so far was back in May when Gorean Whip Radio was the official radio station for the 2018 Second Life Sci-fi Expo. Both myself and Kittlen had a lot of fun with that!

The only real sticking point has been the fact that a lot of the sponsoring sims insist on visitor being in-character as Goreans. As a blue rainbow-speckled alien, I am exceedingly out-of-character in such a setting! Some sims do have OOC areas for parties, a few specifically for Gorean Whip Radio, so I can go there and do my stuff.

I’ve only had one instance so far where I’ve been frowned upon, and it does niggle a bit. But the fact is that the persona I present in Second Life is not only who I am, but also how I advertise myself on-air. Heck, my show is titled “DJ Spitfire Probes Your Ears” and I use the intro and ending music from Bernard Herrmann’s score for “The Day The Earth Stood Still” for the opening and closing of my shows and during voiceovers.

I also take comfort from the knowledge that I do get plenty of people tuning in when I’m on-air. While I’m not the biggest draw on the schedule, it is still regularly on a par with the largest audiences I’ve had for any of my DJ-ing gigs to date.

If you want to hear me doing my stuff, I broadcast every Wednesday at 2pm Pacific Coast time, or 10pm UK time. Details on how to tune in to Gorean Whip Radio can be found on their website, as well as my show and DJ biography pages.

Separated

Around the time I was finalising my previous blog post, the shit well and truly hit the fan. Kittlen threw Penalt out of their home. Then she left a message in the family group telling them to protect me and left. She also left YouMustObey, removed all of her stuff from my land parcel in Second Life, and un-collared herself from me on there too.

Coming in rapid succession, I was walloped and left reeling for a while. Thankfully, other family members reached out to check on and comfort me.

The problems between Kittlen and Penalt had been brewing for a long time, but Coyote’s actions brought it to the boil. The last straw had been her collaring of Penalt without warning or consultation. Kittlen flipped out and told Penalt he had to choose between her and Coyote. He decided to pick Coyote. Continue reading “Separated”

The Trickster

Real life seems intent on throwing more curveballs at me. My mother had a breast scan which revealed the early stages of cancer. She opted for a mastectomy over minor surgery plus radiotherapy. So I’ve had to take out more time to support my terminally ill father while she recovers. As a result means that I’ve had to scale back my online time, which affects my ability to interact with Kittlen.

There is another curveball that I want to discuss. One that came at both Kittlen and myself several months ago, and whose effects we are both still dealing. This one has a name—Coyote. Continue reading “The Trickster”

Positivity Over Negativity

 

Snapshot9_113
My girl Kittlen performing at SL15B. The theme this year was crystal, as you can probably guess from all the bling in the background.

Second Life is celebrating its 15th birthday (SL15B) at the moment. As part of that, it has been running a week of music events running across several areas. And my Kittlen was not only one of those invited to perform, but subsequently did several fill-in slots for others who couldn’t make it. I am so proud of her! Not only did she kick ass, but she worked with the support staff and other artists to help things run smoothly. 🙂

Continue reading “Positivity Over Negativity”

Overthinking

[Image Credit: Live Life Happy]

One of the most significant personal problems I have to deal with regularly is my tendency to overthink. My brain can take a small issue, setback or annoyance, and spin it into a nightmare that has me withdrawing into myself, becoming cranky and snappy.

During the last few weeks, I had a lot of stuff hitting me in rapid succession that left me reeling. Some were outside of my control, but a few were self-inflicted. Continue reading “Overthinking”