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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Count The Shadows bloggage nsfw

Count The Shadows

Alexander Gordon Jahans

So I’m writing this story and it’s probably going to be over 400,000 words by the time it’s finished. I mean it’s a loveletter to scifi in a fantasy series with tons of main characters who each have complex story arcs. There are men and women in this story who exist to be killed off or given away as romantic prizes to the heroes at the end and everyone of them has a significant arc of growth or change. This is a story where the erzats tardis gets an origin story, a love interest and a heroic redemptive sacrifice for god’s sake. There are characters in this story who are very deliberately only ever refered to offscreen as it were and they get arcs.

I mean the combat is crap and near nonexistent and the BDSM basically amounts to a thousand tiny preplay teasing consent discussions or else is perfunctory and time. As a magnum opus this has gaping flaws owing to my failings as a writer. Including my hatred of description so often times it’s just names with the occasional adjective or adverb. I’m not calling it a master piece. Even if at times it has felt like it to create.

This story is now five months in the writing and it is simultaneously a love letter to Doctor Who, a way to bring back what I liked about the original Farsh-nuke continuity, address the issues of transphobia my past writing has had and bring back a new Farsh-nuke to the wider multiverse while I play in my pocket fantasy universe. Almost all these will be trimmed or re-edited late to avoid copyright infringement or upsetting people. Or maybe I might just publish the whole thing for free and let my world burn. Like fucker don’t ctrl + F, crawl on your belly through the broken glass of 400,000 words then come at me. (If the person I really hope isn’t reading this is reading this, yeah don’t do that. I like you and your work too much. Save your sanity.)

I have considered chucking this story so many times but the truly great thing about having a story that is 400,000 words is that I could cut out all the Doctor Who stuff and Farsh-nuke stuff entirely. I have made them central because they matter to me but the core dynamic is between three key original characters. If I have to brutally cut it down there will be a decent story left. It might show its stitches a little but frankly that might be a little thematically on point.

And speaking of thematically on point. Count The Shadows has become something of a mantra for redemption in this story. It comes partly from the idea that what this story is doing is inverting everything.

(The cybermen are actually super chill alien transhumanists. The living shadows or shades are actually higher dimensional beings whose only sign into our dimension is as blocks of living colour but there are shadows of all the colours of the rainbow. The women heroes are subtly paralleled to the weeping angels in dialogue and badassery. The Doctor’s genocide of Skaro is compared to something utterly horrible because “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” and of course the friendly AGI ends up saving the day. This is also a story which has a red headed Amy who travelled with the eleventh incarnation of a beloved cult scifi hero encountering the eighth incarnation and helping him perform a revolution etc...)

It is also comes from the idea that the Doctor has committed genocide. You can argue how justifiable it was but that’s still quite a huge thing for a man who doesn’t like guns to do. That’s why I think it works best if you imagine the eighth Doctor as a man who has joined the 12 step program and he is so certain that everything is going to be okay, and then he ends up caught up in two different timeways. Ecclestone’s Doctor doesn’t have PTSD from the time war, he has PTSD from being a genocidal monster out of necessity for so long that we now know he abandoned the name and forgot an entire lifetime out of shame.

How the fuck do you continue from that? How the fuck do you have the gall to call yourself the man who never would after that?

Answering that question was why I originally come up with the redemptive hero arc for the Farsh-nuke. It was a fanboy speculation and exploration. Nobody needs to know how superman or captain America can be a boyscout. But how do you remain a good man who abhors violence despite using it so much yourself?

I come at that question from a different angle now. I have never been a violent individual but I do have anger management issues. The final kicker of which was when I proofread this massive story the other day and finally noticved something that should have been obvious.

I have spent literal years raging not so silently against the injustice of the mods of a group blocking me without remembering why and rereading this exchange with a villain based a little on my same flaws I finally saw it. When I moderated a group that was intended as a safespace for trans people the subject came up of what to do about trolls and there was one brilliant individual arguing strongly that offenders should have it explained to them and I shot them down. I argued against them. Block them and ignore them. The very sentence I have been raging against is one I past against the advice of the very people who later went on to block me.

I played myself and I was so fucking arrogant and sensitive and thick that it took making myself into a strawman so many years on to see this obvious truth. There was nothing unfair whatsoever about how I was treated. No wonder I never found a place I belonged. I literally wanted it one way for everybody else and another for myself.

I am still trying to work out how or even if I can come back from this. So now the question of how the Doctor can do so many terrible things and still continue seems less hypothetical and more a genuine issue I am struggling with.

Not least because there are monsters in my life. Monsters I still have nightmares about. Monsters this book is also about trying to come to terms with. And 4chan can stop jizzing their pants because this isn’t about them.

I have anger management issues. I abhor revenge for much the same reason I abhor drugs, the sneaking suspicion that it could be a massive problem for me. I don’t forget. I just don’t. So every little thing gets added to a warehouse of faults and fuckups in my mind. Even if social ettiquette wasn’t a confusing mess that was physically draining to partake in, I don’t need to throw a punch to be cruel. The fact that I am a six foot man with a loud voice from growing up in a family of shouters who does not notice when his voice raises in volume just makes things worse.

That’s part of why I have withdrawn from the world. Damage limitation. Some of it is autism. The fact that social stuff is a physically draining act. Some of it is just toxicity that I’m trying to break out of. It is hard however when there are toxic individuals who will destroy you unless you are a little toxic right back. That’s not a justification, just an explanation. I should be better and I am trying to be better. I know that I have upset good people before and that’s not right.

The other part of why I have withdrawn from the world is that I am physically a mess. I have a weakened immune system so bugs routinely leave me wiped. My reliance on diet coke exacerbates already terrible sleep and compounds an already poor poverty diet to something about one breakfast away from agony. I routinely have headaches and nosebleeds. I have to take pills daily and my testosterone being reliant on outside sources is both practically tricky and physically uncomfortable. I am still riding out the changes from that as well. So add horny as fuck to the list of faults.

Yet I called this blog Count The Shadows because this is about counting the fucking shadows because if you can count the shadows you can find your way back to the light.

So step one: Finish This Story.

Step two: Finish the collection. (Because oh yeah the 400,000 word BDSM And The Art Of War is story two of a large collection.)

Step three: Publish.

Obviously the writing won’t stop then but the writing is what destroyed my psyche and the writing is what is helping me heal it. In a way it almost doesn’t matter. What matters is that I get it done. That it matters and I work hard and I get that done and I build that sense of confidence, achievement and hopefully ability to write trans and non-binary people without offending trans and non-binary people. Whether trans and non-binary people necessarily want to be represented in a pulpy world deconstructive meta textual world of sex, violence and mass genocide is another matter entirely but I won’t feel comfortable as a writer unless I know I can write without offending them in the way I write characters that fit their demographics. How in the fuck you find trans and non-binary people willing to proofread 400,000 thousand words and red line anything that is out of order when you only have universal credit as income I don’t know but that’s for later.

The next steps aren’t necessarily about chronological order or importance but just things that need to get done at some point.

Step four: Move away from monsters or quietly wait for old age to claim them

Step five: Get out there again. Once I am satisfied I have slayed my inner demons then I can look into trying to get back into wider society.

I don’t know how realistic any of these things are. Most days I feel like I am just treading water because I don’t want to upset the people I care about by pulling the emergency ripcord and exiting life. While I am here however I will try to fix myself. To redeem myself. To be a better writer. To get back out there again.

Honestly though, for all my angst if it wasn’t for universal credit and capitalism the risk of committing suicide wouldn’t such an issue. It’s only the monthly government mandated staring into the abyss of trying to drag my autistic arse out into the world and into the grind of work that destroys me. At this point, yeah, some of it is just that I really cannot be fucked. When life itself, just living, is so fucking hard, when I’m not even 100% sure I deserve to live then the idea of working my butt off just so I can move out, be on my own and be in much the same situation as I am now seems too much fucking effort. I am practically destroyed already, why the fuck should I jump through all these hoops to end up in the same place?

That’s the other thing isn’t it? The wider context. The parties supposedly in favour of protecting the economy at the expense of everyone else have incentivised its destruction as businesses go bankrupt to pay investors and ceos instead of the people who keep the businesses running. Fascism and bigotry runs rampant. While I tear myself to shreds thinking myself a transphobic monster for a bad fanfic and failing to listen to trans people talking sense, there are Americans saying that trans people should be shot dead. Donald Trump is sounding more like Julius Caesar’s idiot nephew and talking about being president for life.

And oh yeah, I am a cis white male writer in the age when we have far too many of those and yeah maybe I can write trans people well if I work hard at it. Or maybe we could actually have best selling trans authors in the world of scifi and fantasy. It has taken until 2018 for us to have Wonder Woman and Black Panther. People don’t need my stories and my perspective.

I think this is why most people pick a side and go radical left or right. Being a problematic arsehole who likes to play with tropes and scifi exposition and really likes writing submissive women but still very much supporting the left puts me in an awkward place where the far right villifies me and wants me dead but maybe so do some of the left.

I know that there are still people screengrabbing what I put on facebook to gossip about in forums so its got to the point where I’m paranoid about tainting the people I’m a fan of by proxy. I never want to ruin a good person on the left by association.

I really am just sorry my messed up brain ever ended up affecting other people. I never wanted to hurt the shattered. It still burns that I lost friends. They were. They are good people. 

Now I think I’m going to get a cup of tea because I feel completely washed out.

I wish I could unshatter the teacups I destroyed with my blundering like a bull in as china shop and I hope they know I was not meaning to offend.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Living Is Harder NSFW

Living Is Harder

A Bloggage
Alexander Gordon Jahans

Universal Credit always puts me into these moods so I know it will pass. I have faith it will pass but it is terrifying. 

I don’t like people. People are stressful and I offend them or they offend me and it’s like why would I navigate a maze of barbed wire and electric shocks if I don’t have to. But I have to. If I want to exist as an unemployed person I have to step into a room every month with a person who will metaphorically speaking reopen a gaping wound I try hard to ignore for the rest of the year.

Somewhat ironically it appears I am now legitimately triggered to have moments of anxiety, paranoia and anger when people take what I say out of context and use it against me and today that is what it felt like. I happen to mention that in the rare circumstances of a convention I actually enjoy socialisation so he seizes upon it and is like ahah, then you will enjoy a workshop run by universal credit. That’s like saying ‘I enjoy horseriding’ then being asked to see an abattoir because you just admitted you like animals. And then the writing was bought up.

If I have a problem right now, if I have a single great big seeping wound, it is my writing. My writing is my escapism and my therapy and my passion and it is also a continual reminder that I specced my character up wrong and I don’t actually know what to do.

I am not writing this blog by the way as a cry for help. I don’t want your help. It’s actually a problem for me that as a man who detests and is almost made physically uncomfortable by lying that I have to keep up this pretence like everything is fine or well meaning morons will just create more stress for me in their naiivety.

I have autism. That means people are not helpful to me in the same way they are to you. It’s also not my actual issue. It means I am an arsehole a lot of the time because I suck at reading social cues and it makes me uncomfortable and awkward in a society that is still so fucking neurotypical and judgemental about it. If I hear another parent of an autistic child speak to me like they understand. You don’t. My parents don’t so you definitely don’t.

Really though it’s the Kallman’s Syndrome and the Growth Hormone Deficiency and something undiagnosed that I clearly have which fucks up my sleeping pattern.

I am tired all the time and I rely on caffeine just to function, I am in frequent pain in many different places and my immune system is shot so bugs floor me like they never used to. (So fucking thank you anti-vaxxers, you’re as bad as the nazis you child killing morons.)

I don’t want to be dead. There are lots of things I like. There are so many beautiful people and so many cool things and stories I want to read, stories I want to write. There are also huge things I am keeping myself strong for. I want to be there for members of my family as they go through their own issues. I want to be there for my friends. Somewhere a part of me likes to believe I might make it through this and meet a nice feminist girl who’ll know when I need a metaphorical slap.

So I’m not on death’s door. I also am starting to doubt that I could ever physically do something so violent. Even to myself.

It is just that life is fucking hard. We’re in late capitalism, the world is quietly dying about us, there is a rapey fascist moron in charge of America, Britain is in Brexit limbo and we’re all slowly turning into lab rats locked in our own personal skinner boxes as different social media organisations warp us with dopamine kicks on demand.

The writing is the fundamental issue though. It’s what I love. It’s what I do. I’m doing it now. And I almost can’t actually do anything else. Too weak for manual labour, too autistic for customer service and I can’t stick to routines. It’s just a shame that I’m a creepy cis white male who seemingly can’t stop writing submissive women into my fiction. I can make it gay as fuck. I can have feminists and trans people and fucking cybernetic furries (Spoilers: There are cybernetic furries in BDSM And The Art Of War) but there will always be submissive women.

I like writing them too much. Hell, at the end of this leviathan novel I am keeping myself going with the thought that at the end of this I will finally write Amy Pond getting fucked up the arse by Kerr Avon. I wish I was kidding. I wish that was a fucking joke. I am not a virtue signalling white knight. I want the feminists to win the war but I am arguing for a utopia I do not belong in. There is too much toxic and fragile masculinity within me. There is too much desire to see a certain kind of woman behaving in certain kind of ways. It would be laughable in its nonsensicalness if there weren’t huge societal issues that this played into.

That’s the crux of the matter.  The media cannot sustain so many writers and while there may be an argument that progressive cis het white males should still push on so they can take advantage of their privilege to help others without it I am not one of those people. Leaving aside the fact that actually I have handicaps that drag against the usefulness of that privilege, I am not the ally you want in a position of power. I still find myself wincing when social progressives speak and when women get angry I get defensive. A friend came out as non-binary the other day and my first thought wasn’t congratulations or whatever you’re supposed to feel. Instead I just thought ‘Hope I haven’t offended them.’ I am not a nice guy. I have issues. While I have been blessed in a sense with being too damned awkward to ever even appropriately hug me I have definitely spent the past year quietly basting in recollections of times I said stuff that must have come out creepy to female friends in the past.

I have been silent a lot lately. Partly because my voice isn’t needed and others say it better, partly because I’m dealing with my own issues but if there is one phrase from the writing of BDSM And The Art Of War it’s “It’s not about you.” So I have been silent because I can’t talk about the importance of Black Panther or #MeToo or any of these other huge cultural moments because it’s not about me. I’m only talking about my problems and my guilt now to explain why I feel so trapped and why I don’t have an answer.

“Dying is easy, young man, living is harder.”

Lin Manuel Miranda wrote those words and they never stop being true for me. Even as I spend 300,000 words trying to convince myself redemption is possible I don’t actually know what place there is for me in society when the thing that seemed my purpose in life for so long now seems somewhere I don’t belong. The world doesn’t need another shitty cis white male writer. The world doesn’t need a man who keeps himself going through angst scenes by thoughts of pretty girls getting fucked. I hope I can improve but I don’t trust hope.