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The lure of Tumblr, the glamour of A03

aka … so I did a thing.

Another break from therapy, holidays this time. Tomorrow I start back.

Tomorrow she’s going to ask me how I’ve been and what I’ve been doing to take care of myself. No doubt I’ll end up pulling that face, you know the one, the one that says ‘you really really don’t want to know what is on the internet’. I’m not sure if I’ve been taking care of myself or just distracting myself again.

I still haven’t really managed how to reblog as successfully as I would like on Tumblr. Always some weird delay on the keystrokes that messes with my head on laptop and on phone is just dangerous (maybe I should look into it but, frankly, not that arsed). Still, the images I see are pretty so I’m happy enough with it. Tumblr is strange. Tumblr has support and is welcoming and accepting. It is ideal for lazy people like me and education can be had when you think your dashboard is just meant for fluff and photos.

Tumblr led to the AU of all AUs. I know there were others before and there are others now but Archive of Our Own is truly a construct of awe and wonder. What started as a mild curiosity with Johnlock (duh! I mean really, that’s not even possi…) back in March has, with the inevitability of the fall of civilisation led to setting up an account (honestly, just so I didn’t have to accept the warning messages each time I went on there) and the account then led to looking at the buttons available once you log in. Like a consulting detective folding napkins for a wedding it just kind of happened.

I’ve even got a friend desperately waiting for more from me for the damn book. Instead my head now has an added layer of Johnlock and I know that I’ve got at least one story in me. Maybe, on the same basis that at least 50 Shades of Grey got people back to reading books I can claim that the odd bit of Johnlock is just a way of keeping the old writing habits ticking over while I get over my current block. Oh, ok. I know it’s not.

But I’ll say this. It is a weird thing to hit the button and have people find it and read it almost immediately. No one has laughed openly, the sky hasn’t fallen in. Some people have even clicked the ‘kudos’ button. Hang on, this could be good for me after all. Safe, anonymous small scale recognition from a niche audience … it could be the safest place to be. (Kind of like being here but I know I’m never going to shock anyone on A03.)

ao3
John, the day after (2531 words) by Meretseger68
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Sherlock (TV)
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson, Sherlock Holmes & John Watson
Characters: Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, Mrs Hudson
Additional Tags: Confusion, First Time, Was it?, Hangover, John feels a bit not good, Angst, Tea!
Summary:

John really shouldn’t drink to much when he goes on the pull. One day he might wake up to a surprise.

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Homework: What do I need?

I went back to see my therapist last week. So far, so ho-hum.

We’d had nearly three months off. I shouldn’t have let it go so long, got myself so wound up … so much pain and then the inevitable wait before she could slot me back in. Why hadn’t I gone back sooner? I was ashamed. She’d asked me to try something over a New Year break and I’d made a complete balls of it. I admit this. The sky doesn’t fall it, of course not, I am the one paying for her services after all but this then becomes the start of another uncomfortable hour when she tries to get me to stay to the point.

We talk about disappointment, we talk about being let down, we talk about my fear that if I do ever have the argument I should have (whichever one screams out of me first) then no one will come after me when I walk away. We talk about the constant anger and simmers, and roils and eats away at me … and now I think that I feel it so much because I am the one who lets me down the most.

She sets me more homework and makes me write it down so I don’t do my usual wriggle on semantics: What do I need? Not a treat, not a want, but what do I need that would be beneficial to me. A sentence beginning “I need …” (a common tendency is to avoid “I” when it’s something important, kind of a drawback when needing to update a CV).

This probably doesn’t sound too difficult … mmm. The inside of my head can be a random place at the best of times so trying to get me to think coherently and consistently about myself tends to be an exercise in cat herding. What do I need? Cue a jumble of random shite ‘cos I really do have trouble sticking to the point and can over think things as simple as ‘would you like a coffee?’

Would I know  real need if I fell over it?
Is a want just a need but without the commitment?
If you don’t have needs you can’t be let down … oh, could be getting somewhere, can I grasp that or will it slide away again?
If I don’t have needs I don’t have to put myself first. If I don’t have needs I don’t have to say, “no, don’t talk to me now, I need to [insert activity] … “. All the time, the words sliding away because my head can’t hold on to them and I have to sit and pretend that it’s ok … no, don’t mind me … no, whatever you want to talk about … no I really don’t mind you distracting me from the one thing I’ve waited hours to see and you come in and talk all over it so I can’t hear any of it (ooh, that sneaked under the radar, I wonder if it showed on my face at the time?)

Then I remember she came at me, from left field, with a question about this bloody albatross of a book. Was I making progress / would I have anything to show her?

Maybe that is my answer, my sentence should be “I need an hour every day with no distractions so that I can work on my book”. It doesn’t sound much, it doesn’t mean that an hour of writing would get done (honestly, you do want to know how long this has taken – thank you internet explorer for crashing just as I made a breakthrough here and I didn’t have a draft saved so I’m now trying to get my head back where it was). It’s a kind of nice, non-threatening statement that shouldn’t trigger, you know, that argument and gives me a space without guilt.

Who knows, it could even lead to articulating other needs … steady on there, dangerous territory. They bubble up, unbidden, scenting a hint of freedom, the odd background noise of my head throwing images at me that I’ve tried so long to supress. I think about odd lines from the book, when Gihon is afraid I think he is me, when he says he feels old and fat and ugly and unwanted … he is me.

SmileFor some reason this was the image I had as soon as the words were said, “What do I need?” I just want someone to look up and smile. The image itself is nothing but a distraction, the feeling is an ache that could finish me.

Gihon is desperate to change. He is incapable of confronting his need and taking responsibility for it. He waits like it’s not tearing his heart out.

Maybe I just need to be needed.


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Four Years On

I started working on this ridiculous time vampire of a book just over four years ago.

With the recent coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi I am reminded every day that in four years I’ve still not managed to finish it.

I enjoyed the 2010 Olympics, had great fun watching the downhill, the snowboard-cross and ski-cross (nutters), and I especially enjoyed watching the bob-sled teams. The competition may have been gripping enough but, at the time, I only had eyes on the brakemen as I suddenly realised that some of them were the build I was thinking of for Gihon and I began to make notes …

Like Lia – what has changed in fours years?

Not a lot.

The loft is still not finished.
A year of therapy to try and stop feeling such a failure (on a break at present).
Still in a dead end day job.
Still struggling with CFS/ME.

150K + words in and I’ve still not got things sorted.

I’m not good at finishing things. Finishing things means I will be inviting criticism. That wouldn’t be too bad but I’m guessing all I’ll get is ignored.

At one point I thought I had an obvious ending, but that was too obvious. Now I am in a sea of greys, no black, no white to my conclusions and the more I have left my ‘bad guy’ in the shadows the more I felt sorry for him. One problem was that he was in the shadows so much I couldn’t see him at all. Now I can see him – progress of a sort – and he was never a bad guy, just lonely.

I keep telling myself just to sit down and get on with it. I hadn’t realised that writing was just as much of a habit as anything else. A habit I seem to have forgotten. Even these meagre words have taken weeks to complete as I start and stop and distract myself with distraction (then go off to look for the Four Quartets again as my head fills with stray TS Eliot).

Odd, the things that come back to you, the detritus of lessons I couldn’t remember when I needed them at A level and now the words swirl around my head and I start to think that maybe nothing I have is original. Is my head just a filter, rearranging random words and images from everything I’ve ever read or seen before? As an eighteen year old Eliot entranced me, confused me … crushed me. I have the words in my head living a life independent of the original text. So easy to go back to now the internet is our memory but do I still want to be reminded of how little I am?

From East Coker (V)

So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years-
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres-
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate,
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate – but there is no competition –
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.


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Getting away from it all

Sun, sea, sand and … writing?

I’m on holiday. Well, I’m away from home and work, eating salad and fruit and beer comes in two sizes – large and small – so I guess that means I’m on holiday. I’m also away from my ‘other half’ as this is a holiday with my Mum.

It’s now about a year since me and himself got back off our last sunny holiday (free use of a flat in Sitges courtesy of one of his brothers – do I always sound skint when it comes to holidays?) to find that my Dad had been referred to hospital for chest x-rays. You know, just routine … Three months later and my Mum has to get used to being a widow.

This is Mum’s first holiday away since then. She’s had her downs and started back up on the up-slide again a couple of months ago, the urge to go away again being a part of that. But how to go away on your own? Answer – don’t. So, here I am, in Tenerife. I steered Mum through the changes at Manchester Airport, reminded her that in case of sudden loss of oxygen in the airplane cabin she was to see to her own oxygen mask before her child’s (she thought that was funny), explained that, no, airline seats hadn’t got wider, her bum was 2 sizes smaller than the last time she was on a plane.

Some compromises are being made. I wasn’t allowed to shave my head for the holiday … I now have 9mm blue hair instead. She wanted me to wear a dress, no jeans allowed at night … not sure what the genteel folk in this ’boutique’ hotel are going to make of the skull dress that joined a couple of others from Affleck’s Palace. Can’t quite believe it and at 45 I’m finally buying from Afflek’s. Still, we are in an adult only hotel so I’ve not confused/frightened any small children yet with my tattoos and no parents have had to explain that I am not a man in a vaguely embarrassed mutter (I know it’s sad, but it was always funny at the gym).

Going on holiday now is a little different to the way it used to be. Years ago I would decide which books to take and then dole out the reading time in the hope that I wouldn’t finish everything before the flight back. Now I have my netbook with me, masses of music, films and books on my e-reader and my first concern on getting anywhere new is finding out how good the wifi signal is in the rooms.

I also promised myself to make the most of the opportunity and to get over the current ‘hump’ with writing up this bloody albatross that is taking up a lot of the spare capacity in my head. Obviously, I’ve done nothing of the kind. First full day and all that, I thought I might try and sidle up to it and take it unawares.

ummmm

So I’ve just bought @girlonthenet’s book from Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Net-Not-So-Shameful-Secrets-ebook/ Not just yet another distraction but a completely impractical one as I will have to read in on the Kindle reader downloaded to my netbook because my e-reader of choice is a Sony and not a Kindle.

gah!

One day done. I hope to come home:

  • with something useful written
  • with a tan
  • still fitting into my clothes
  • and still be talking to mother

It would also be nice to get a full sleep in but after last night I’m not sure that’s possible. Wish me luck.


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Been a while

What to do when there is so much to be done and you don’t know where, or how, to begin?

Why, you just shut down and hope it will all go away. What, you mean you don’t do that? hmmm

I’ve been bad. I let things get on top of me and ended up in that dizzying blur of frantic activity that looks remarkably like just sitting on the sofa doing nothing. I confess, it may have just been sitting on the sofa doing nothing. No, I was doing something. I was drinking wine. I’m actually quite good at that.

I stopped trying to write as a I had his books (accounts) to get organised and then … well, I just couldn’t seem to get going again. Kept promising myself, get this done, get that done and can spend the time I need to move my people on. Course then we had Christmas and New Year. Not that they mean much to me but they raise another set of things that we are expected to do/go along with and I’ve always let duty override my deep desire to have nothing to do with the excesses of the modern festival.

Anyway the year is passing. No writing done on ski holiday. Desperately trying to fill in the gaps at work (2 bodies down and looks like they ain’t being replaced) and generally just too shitty by the time I get home to think straight. Too tired to write, too tired to exercise, the spiral runs and runs with brief bursts of progress showing themselves a false dawn as useful as recent attempts at Spring in Britain. Weekends are made up of periods of better sleep, hours of wakefulness and a cosseting hypnagogic trance state in which the words come easily but never quite spill out to my hands. I have forgotten so much that I should have expressed.

At work I have retreated into a general silence that people have read as a bad mood. While some of it is down to bad mood (let’s just not go down the route of my colleagues) they don’t really understanding the effort it takes just to go in in the morning. I speak to my users, I look after them and make them promises to see their problems resolved. I don’t mind doing the thinking for users. It’s what I’m there for, and if they could do my job I would be out of one so they can pretty much be as stupid as they want as far as I am concerned.

In six weeks I have another holiday coming up. An unexpected one. It may be a week of unwinding and getting my head in order. It may be a week of white knuckles and bitten back words. Whichever way I expect there will be wine. I hope there will also be words but the more that blank page stares back at me the harder I find it to put one letter after another.

So.

So, I will try (in bursts and twitches) to practice … to take a run up the foothills below my mountain of words and to see how it feels. Back to baby steps.

I want an end to excuses and to get back to being happier being me.


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And finally … (not really)

And finally, I sat down last Sunday and forced myself to finish a first draft of the Tale of the Innocent.

I suspect that some of it is definitely a case of rushing homework just to get the damn thing out of my head. What do you expect? It’s what this place is for.

Mykhail Arkhangelskeyev, kept man, plaything. Poor lamb.

I printed it out and gave it to a friend to read. She said it was sad. (I hope she meant the story and not my writing.)

Tale of the Innocent draft v1

So much more to do, certainly more to be done to this. I also need to practice my drawing skills, ideally I would like to put some images in but fear I will fall sadly short of the task.


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Tale of the Innocent – 5

Mykhail opened his eyes. Morning. A cold light. Different sounds and echoes. He was on a mat on the bathroom floor, swaddled in furs. From his low angle he saw Gabriel, his back to him, bending to attend to something out of sight. The unusual sounds stopped as Gabriel turned around. The furs were thrown back and Mykhail gathered up as easily as if he was a child. From his new vantage point he worked out what was intended and relaxed as Gabriel placed him into the warm water and, very gently, began to wash him. The water was scented. The sponge in the pale hand was soft. New skin enjoyed the feeling of the languid caresses.

“I thought you might like a bath. Far from utilitarian but sometimes utility is the last thing we need. No one will disturb us. We have some time to talk if you want to ask me those questions you have, though I suspect we will need a lot longer for more detailed answers.” The tub was large but not over-filled. There was easily enough room for another without risk of it overflowing.

“In that case, would you join me?” Lying back in the water Mykhail couldn’t help but smile as his elder removed layers of dark clothing. It seemed natural to appreciate the wraith-like beauty on display. Narrow feet stepped into the bath. Delicate looking ankles fitted easily around golden hips as the men faced each other. It seemed appropriate to sit so. Where to start? Mykhail wasn’t certain if he was thinking about his questions or the moonbeam body in front of him. Long minutes stretched in silence as each regarded the other.

“Why did you appear to her naked in the forest?” It seemed a reasonable starting point. The sight had made a strong impression on the woman, even before speaking she was convinced of his supernatural qualities.

“I didn’t want to frighten her so appeared as vulnerable as I could.”

“You didn’t want to scare her and you still showed her that?” He reached across the gap between them. He was aware of less generous organs causing fear for some of his nocturnal visitors. He was not frightened. He stroked the flesh and felt it begin to respond. Mykhail decided he like the sensation of pressure under his hand.

“Trust me, it’s very cold out there and the male body can be a pitiful sight lying in the snow. Mmmmm. It made it easy to show I had scars on my back without making a big deal of it. Anyway, she’d been looking at you for decades. It doesn’t matter what you think of me, you are her ideal. Next question.”

“What if she hadn’t gone for it?” Mykhail felt that another hand was needed and moved closer.

“I’d been here a few weeks – oh that is nice – I had to make sure that you were the real deal before I did anything drastic. I made sure she found me. I didn’t need to say anything much. She put two and two together and suddenly it was obvious that I was Gabriel and the scars were from my wings being taken. Context can be everything. I fitted in with her world view. I see no need to disabuse her of her notion while she is happy. Next question.”

“Have you done this before?”

“No.” The brown eyes had seemed to consider a different interpretation of the question before answering. “I’ve never found another in such a condition. I’d heard the theory of the stasis override but never tried it. I saw you and I knew had to get you out … and to do that I needed Ekaterina as a power store. It was risky, I would have preferred not to but she was the best option we both had.” He leaned forward and dragged fingernails down the inside of unsuspecting thighs. He smiled as Mykhail gasped. “Ah, you have an almightily distracting body boy. Once I’d seen you how could I not want to wake you and find out who you were? Next question.”

“There are others like us?” What would others of his kind be like?

“There is one who is my home. I don’t know how, but he was born a child not an adult. We were meant to be fully grown before becoming active. With no idea what he was he’d grown up thinking he was human, different, yes, but still human. When we met he began to complete the transformation to his full potential. I would like you to meet him. Most of the Shabtis died in the madness of the Collapse but I know of a few scattered to the winds, some in secret, some in plain sight. In theory there must be others that I have yet to meet. A talent for survival is one of our gifts. Next question.”

“Shabtis?” This was a new word, definitely not something from the local people. Mykhail moved closer.

“It was our official designation. The company line was that we were intended to answer the needs of society. In simplest terms a Shabti is magical figure who answers for you when you are called on to work, a production line artificial stand-in able to do whatever is required. It sounds much less threatening than saying army. They didn’t want to call us soldiers. That would have been too honest.” They were very close now. “Next question.”

“All male?” Gender didn’t seem that important. Mykhail realised he would be equally comfortable with this pared down creature or gentle female curves like Ekaterina.

“Some more so than others but, yes, all male.” Now they were chest to chest, Mykhail very conscious of the hard flesh between them. “Too many complications for them bother trying to make females. Definitely too long a story for now. Next question.”

“Why do I think you are called Adam Kadmon?” The brown eyes betrayed a certain surprise and all of the pale body tensed at the name. Mykhail was scared he’d said something very wrong.

“Please don’t use that name. It was …” Aching space between them again as Gabriel leaned back. There was a long pause before he continued. He looked uncomfortable and his voice had an uncertain note for the first time. “Adam Kadmon is a concept of faith, the Primal Man, the prototype perfect essence. According to some beliefs he was the one being able to connect the world of man to the higher planes. At first I thought it was a name being used in poor taste, but I’d been called worse so I let it go. Then I found out it had been used to imprint the younger ones, to give them an idea of something greater than them, something to control them. It was an undercurrent of thought in a mind as diseased as it was forceful. There were a lot of sick things that happened back then. I hadn’t realised it had spread this far. I can’t imagine your own creators being happy with something so inherently mystical.”

Mykhail said nothing. He felt there was something else to come and was content to wait. Not-Gabriel-and-not-Adam-Kadmon seemed to be thinking things over. Eventually he looked back up.

“I am Dave Jensson. I was the first of our kind to talk, the first to … do many things. I am a Delta, a fourth generation Shabti. The labs had managed to create life before me, but they were crude things that barely had basic reflexes and no consciousness. Because of where he grew up I think my other is a Lambda. You are a Mu – one of the last, perhaps the last generation of our kind. The cost and effort of the development was spread across a number of countries. I was created a continent away in North America. This place is the old north-west of a country called Russia.

“Though I was the template for all that followed the mix was altered slightly for each generation as they sought to enhance some traits and reduce others. Even within each generation there was variation. Chance and unusual circumstance made me. Chance was allowed to continue in the hope that another viable source combination could be found. I was the start, not the finished product and I think they would have preferred a different wellspring. They always wanted more force and obedience, and much less thinking. The people who objected to that, well, that is definitely not something for now.” Though the body had relaxed somewhat the thin face seemed to reflect the pain of things left in the past. Another pause and the brown eyes rallied and smiled again. “Next question.”

“How old am I?”

“That’s a tricky one. Physically you might be a few years younger than me. As far as I can tell there was an attack, probably an air-strike when everything went a bit crazy at the start of the Collapse. It looked like the technicians were trying to activate you at the time and you were locked in stasis to protect you. The stasis was only meant to be temporary. Over time it started to break down and there must have been some leakage. This explains why you were starting to grow into the machine and how you were able to make the connection out. How long you’ve been aware … honestly I have no idea how we can calculate that. In theory I guess you could have had some level of consciousness all the time, it depends how far along you were when everything was shut down.

“From talking to the locals the stories of you speaking in their dreams started about seventy or eighty years ago but they have been worshipping you for centuries. It might be best not to think about it too much. Depending on how you define alive I guess you could be a few days old … or you could be closer to your millennium.” The Delta reached forward and rested his hand on the soft golden hair damp on the broad chest facing him. “Whatever age you are, I am impressed. Be what you want to be. Next question.”

“Will you do to me what you’ve been doing to her?” So many words to use, Mykhail had no idea what would be the correct one to describe what he’d seen, what he wanted, what he wanted to do.

“I will, but not yet. Oh, don’t look sad boy. Trust me, when the time is right we will know and we will share. Just like not giving you too much food, it wouldn’t be safe to give you too much of me. I don’t want to burn you up. For now … the woman wants you. Enjoy your time together. Begin to learn what it is to be in that fantastic body. Soon enough we’ll move on. There is much to show you. This world is not quite the same as the one you were designed for. That world degraded, disintegrated, those wars are long gone. Next question.”

“Will you kiss me again?” And there were no more words and no space between them. Like the previous night the ancient creature’s control was complete. He did not betray his own urges but carefully transferred his energy in the outpouring of starlight into newest of his kind.