Sunday 23rd April 2017

There’s been a lot lost this weekend to procrastination / feeling exhausted and Sunday continued that trend a little.
After scheduling yesterday’s edition of The Climb I got into the car and drove to go swordfighting.  Despite having a couple of energy drinks I felt sluggish today and I think it’s from still feeling knackered from last week.
It was interesting to listen to others’ comment on my fighting.  When everyone is levelling up together it can be hard to see your own progress.  I fought rapier & dagger with my mate, Josh.  I think we’re pretty evenly matched but it was interesting to have James watch us and tell us how we were really playing with measure.  My defence is still good.  Josh is doing these amazing second intention cuts from a wrist turn but I seem to be really quick at defending against them.  I blame my good defence on years of having Sasha cut me in the head.
I also fought Pim.  Now Pim is ranked the world #1 but I think he’s really on fire at the moment.  He’s the only person I know who can stop thrust through my defence.  Annoyingly so… but then he is world #1.  I think I was able to give some helpful feedback.  I noticed a tell he has and I know the area he’s weak even if I can’t exploit it.
Kaston is my arch-nemesis.  I fought him in the finals of Bucklerthon last year and he denied me gold (*shakes angry fist*).  He’s a dark horse.  He’s one of those fighters that’s consistently good and whereas with Pim and Josh I have tactics that either work or don’t, Kaston always leaves me a little perplexed.  He fights from quite low that I find it super difficult to defend against.  He also chooses some weird guards and attacks, all correct but not the usual ones.  That usually throws me.
Finally I fought James B.  James has the potential to be a fantastic single rapier fencer.  He has a wonderful way of controlling the blade that is both controlled and elegant.  He doesn’t have as much experience as the rest of us, and I managed to get past him by going withdrawn against his extended to screw up his measure and effectively have an easier job of finding his blade.  I felt I fought my best against him out of all my opponents today, even though he figured out my tactic towards the end.
We fought for a couple of hours until we were all exhausted.  I found my cardio lacking today and my lower back was aching by the end.  No-one was doing the pub, which was just as well as I had lunch pre-prepared.
I drove home, and by the time I’d eaten lunch and caught up on social media it was late afternoon.  There were a few things with Cake Club to catch up with and it was interesting to see that one of my author friends was posting about the latest SFF controversy.
What’s interesting to me is just how many SFF controversy’s there’s been.  The latest has been on the fact that the Gemmell Award short list is proving very white and male.  Ordinarily I’d be raising an eyebrow along with everyone else at the exclusion of women and minorities, but this was voted by the public.  So what conclusions can you draw?  You can’t say that the publishing industry is at fault, which means the uncomfortable realisation that the market (i.e. the public) is biased.
Now I think there might be reasons for this.  A lifetime of minorities being put in the corner makes it more difficult for them to come forward.  Women are ‘expected’ to be quiet from birth.  As a result they might not be “as loud” as straight white males.  I don’t know.  I can only speak from my particular niches
But you can’t really blame the industry for society’s woes.  I don’t know how you even go about combatting something like that?
It also got me thinking that this is the big problem I have with the SFF community right now.  As individuals I love most people.  I can sit down, discuss issues, be right, be wrong, and come away feeling enriched.  But as a community (or maybe this refers to general social media), I don’t feel it listens.  Instead, it’s quick to jump on any perceived wrongness.
And this worries me… especially as a writer.
I’m all for self-improvement.  I’m all for calling out bullshit, even when it’s my own that’s called into question.  But I get the feeling that people within the sphere are so careful about what they say now… that it’s stifling.
I had two friends today, both forward-thinking, unknown to each other, block each other over a discussion relating to yesterday.  I don’t think either person was at fault though they had differing views.  But if two people I consider some of the most willing to debate and discuss issues are blocking, what’s happening elsewhere?
Now, I’m all for sensitivity readers.  I don’t believe in saying things that can offend certain segments through being insensitive.  But I also believe in being true, in being able to discuss issues honestly and openly.  And I think this is vital as a writer.  We should be pushing issues forward, discussing difficult topics through our writing, and that means willing to be wrong.
Yet, we all (and I include myself here to some degree) have lost the ability to listen.  We’ve got to the stage where you are afraid to voice a rather innocuous opinion for fear of having someone take you to task over it.
In starting The Climb, I knew I would face this sort of criticism, and that it was an incentive to be honest.  Because, as a writer, I don’t want to have sterile opinion.  I certainly don’t want to be offensive, but neither do I want my viewpoint decreed by committee.
My experiences yesterday and seeing what has happened today have got me to the stage where I think I need to withdraw a little (although withdraw from what specifically is causing me some issues, because a bit like the Gemmell Awards, I think I am probably blaming the SFF community for a societal problem.).  I think to author friends who are really slaying it, and I notice they’re also authors who “live by their own bullshit”.
But it’s difficult.  The temptation is either to stop listening or be drowned out by a single negative opinion.
I also don’t think this view is universal speaking to a couple of friends about it and I need to understand it a little better before coming to any conclusions.
I went to the shops as a break from this, as much for some drink as a chance to get an Instagram and The Climb shot for the day.    Given that my fencing trousers felt VERY tight on me, I do think I need to be very strict on the diet next week.
Saw a deal on 2tb portable drives this evening and ordered one.  That’s another bit of kit for Stormchasing 2017 out the way.  I now just need to order a ton of memory cards, which I’ll do when I get paid next week.  Hard to think we’re about 3 weeks away from my trip!  I feel so unprepared.
I did get a load of writing done tonight based on the plan I’ve been drawing up over the last couple of days.  I’m still annoyed that it’s got to 9pm on a Sunday before I feel ready to write and I have another busy week ahead of me.
This chapter is aftermath of the duel and the resolution of one of the conflicts between main characters.  It actually turned into a tender scene.
In an early draft of Black as Knight I had my main character cry a couple of times, but in the revisions, I took it out.  I felt it made them come across as a bit weak (even though I have no issues with people crying… any story of success against the odds, and I’m gone!).  Yet in this book the hero is suffering, and at least in what I wrote tonight, the tears felt right.  I like how this draft is going, and especially how it contrasts with the action of the last scene.
I managed to get close to 5000 words done this evening although moving into the next scene, it felt very weak by comparison.  That one will need a more stringent edit next draft.
I have another busy week starting tomorrow.  I suspect I might have been driven to madness by Friday.  I want to get this draft complete and the editorial comments for Black as Knight could turn up at any time.  One of the reasons I’ve delayed playing around with vlogging is because, on the writing alone, the next couple of weeks are going to be insanely busy.  With the day job as well… I could be dead form exhaustion by the end of the week.
In all seriousness though, my lack of energy this past weekend has me worried that the running around for the day job is not doing my stomach any good and I’m about to have another massive flair up.  I have a number of hospital and doctor’s appointments in the next couple of weeks which should give me a few more answers.
Either way the weeks leading up to my flight to Canada are going to be insanely busy, and I’m not sure how I’m going to get everything done.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

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