Saturday, January 31, 2004

Stuff.

Well, it's starting to look like we probably won't be staying in Spain after Lurid's current job runs out. That makes me feel a touch sad, since I've really fallen in love with Barcelona, but what the hey.

So, if we're not staying here then where are we going to go? Dunno, really. Lurid's got a couple of things a-brewing in the UK, one in So'ton, one in Surrey. Permanent, like. I could do with some permenance, TBH. Apart from that there's a place in Boston that needs someone for a year. It would be a touch upheavalish but truth to tell, a year in the States wouldn't sit ill with my plans. I've wanted to see America for a while now; there are places I would like to see and people I would like to visit. It is, as they say, all good.

Unless we end up in Slough or somewhere. That would suck.

This is all very up in the air, obviously but I'm going to check out the employment sitch for unwed S.O.s; don't know if I need some sort of visa or permit or whatnot to work in the USA.
Kid's stuff.

Hmm...

Thursday, January 29, 2004

ARGGGHHHH!

Don't! Just don't do that! Don't put on your writer's guidelines that you'll let me hear back in under a month, and then sit on my dead people story for more than two months so I don't know if you want it or if I should send it to someone else or what, and THEN when I go to your site have a thing up saying you're closed for submissions! Now what am I supposed to do? Did you get behind on your reading over Christmas? Is my story in the pile of Things To Read? Or did my story run smack BOOM into a brick wall of close-for-submissionness? Should I contact you, or will you get all shirty and defencive and can my story because I added one more email to the tottering pile of emails you don't have time to reply to? I hate webzines! I especially hate Goth webzines! I hate writing! I hate everything! You're all a bunch of cheese-weevils and I hate you!

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

One of the sleeping editors just woke up.

w00t! I got a poem accepted! I got PAID! for a POEM! I'm so chuffed. I mean, it's only $2, but it's still poem=money, right?
Worm heads-up: Don't open any attatchments UNLESS you are sure you know what they are...

(...you stupid pillocks.)

'Kay, the latest worm has been doing the rounds for a wee while now but I thought I'd mention it. This bugger is transmitted via a zipped attachment.

It tries to get you to open the attachment by putting a message in the email body that tells you the email was in a non-standard format that couldn't be displayed, so the actual email is being sent as an attachment.

This is what we experts call "a load of bollocks."

The attachment is a WORM, dur-brain. It does all kinds of nasty things. It digs out your address book and has a quick shufti, then sends itself on to all those unfortunates therin. (For the benefit of passing idiots: This means that the worm-laden email can appear to come from someone you know.)

It also seems to have a keylogger involved somewhere, which might let a hacker find out your passwords and user names.

Once again: These are ordinary-looking emails containing an error message which asks you to open an attached file. Attached file is wormy. Do not click on it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

howwasshe.com

When I make shit like this up, people ask me how come I'm so cynical. They ask me where I could possibly have met guys like this. They imply that making shit like this up is a symptom of some secret misandry on my part.

I am not a misandrist. I hate everyone.

And my mind can never be as foul as reality.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Show and Tell.

Why? Why do I do this? What demonic force is it that impels me to overcomplicate every damn thing I do? Oh, sure, I've got loads of little bits and piece of writing scattered up and down my hard drive which could be dusted off and punted out to TSR, but because I'm a collosal toxic perfectionist I think I'll just quickly write write a huge great ten-page story. I know, let's make it about a Doomed Hero who is on a Quest for Redemption, so I've got to explain just what said hero has done that wants redeeming without making the reader hate said hero for doing it, and do all this without too much thinky exposition because it's supposed to be a sword and sorcery type deal with much hacking and magicyness and action, rather than long boring treks through the character's psyche? Oh, and why don't I make it even more interesting by using tons of flashbacks, so I've got to manage changes in perspective and tense and still keep the momentum of the main story ticking over?

Please. Kill. Me. Now.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Fed up.

'S a bit grim out, all dark and foggy. Don't know if it's the weather bringing me down or what, but I'm feeling sullen.

Been looking into those pay-to-click programmes. The idea is that advertises pay them to display their links, and the pay-to-click guys pay you a little bit of money-- between half a cent and five cents, usually-- if you click on the links.

What I bet really happens is, you click on a whole pile of stupid links and they never pay you. In the absence of a proper job, tho', I'm giving it a whirl just to see if I'm right. Doesn't take long anyhow.

Shit, I need a job. I'm getting all kinds of stupid ideas.

Spoke to University of Canned Fish on the phone the other day, about clearing my debt to them and finally getting some kind of acknowledgement that I exist. That yes, I pissed away four years of my life and huge sums of money trudging backwards and forwards to a big aluminium shed full of alkies and useless gits and staff who were too busy looking for their next job to give a fuck if you lived or died, let alone passed or failed.

It's fucking ridiculous. I probably owe them like a fiver or something but the tightfisted little gits won't release my certificate, or even tell what I've got a certificate of, until I cough up yet more cash. Should have done all this before I left England of course, but at the time I was so pissed off I just couldn't bear the thought of giving those bastards one more penny.

Anyhow: I finally got someone to answer the phone (no mean feat, considering that the vice-chancellor is trying to replace all the staff with Ikea coffee-tables by 2008). Unusually for Canned Fish U. the woman on the other end was actually polite & helpful. She even sounded sober. Like everything else at Canned Fish U. the computer system is fucking useless, so she couldn't actually sort anything out right then. However, she did let slip that I've got a Certificate of Higher Education, whatever the fuck that is, when the money finally clears.

She said she'd get someone to email me with details of how to proceed, but I haven't heard anything. No surprise there. Fish U are so fucking useless you can't even give them money without a fight. So far they've ignored at least five letters, a dozen or so phonecalls and a survey form. Look, I'm trying to GIVE you MONEY! See? you know money, don't you? Mon-ey.

Why the fuck am I doing this to myself? Why do I continually struggle to make something of my life when quite clearly the Universe at large intended me to sit in a bush shelter somewhere wearing fingerless green gloves, alternately necking Thunderbird and screaming at imaginary people.

On a lighter note, I am number four on Google for Teeside+smack+heads. That makes it all worth while.

Friday, January 23, 2004

AwwwRIGHT!

TSR-flavour thing taking a bit longer to write than I allowed. I just had this cool idea, y'see, and it had to be done, but it needed a couple of goes before I could finally boot the door down... NE way, I have the outline down, & actually about 66% of the work is done now, I just need to translate it. ("Big ol fuckoff bone dragon w/wings all like BWAAAAAARRRRRN!" = "A great and terrible undead being, a beast not of flesh but bone, animated by unhallowed magics from before the dawn of Man, etc etc.")

This might be cool if it works out. I mean, obviously I'm a supreme being and by all that's right and proper you pathetic fleshlings should be begging to give Me your money, but this'll do for a start.
classesusa.com

Hmmm...

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Ragh.

I am in the most unremittingly FOUL MOOD. There is much HATE within me.

It has been building from within for many weeks now, but is coming to a head. Today I decided to make good on my New Year's res. to get better at maths, and began cracking some books. Halfway through a polynomial I started to get this weird semi-flashbacky thing to my university course; all the hate and anger at this bunch of supposedly professional fucking people and how the whole lot of them had, one way or the other, fucked in the EAR my last best hope at turning my life around.

Yeah, I could have worked harder. I could have bullied the technicians, I could have complained when marks were deducted from perfectly adequate work for no reason, I could have done this, I could have done that.

But when...

on the first day of your foundation year you are told that half of you can expect to fail the entry requirements for the degree and the rest of you can't expect to graduate anyway, because Foundation Year oiks never graduate,

And when...

in the first year of the degree proper the vice-chancellor decides that the whole department is to be shut down at the end of the course (and starts selling off books and equipment and sacking staff, and stands up in front of the entire student body and tells them that they're all rejects,

And when...

the Sonic Arts staff think you're a bunch of knucklebrained philistines who shouldn't be allowed to play with their nice shiny musical toys and won't give you the time of day,

And when...

not one but TWO lecturers on your course get booted off your course for incompetence, after a term or two of having to listen to them talking complete shit for hours at a time,

And when...

One of the lecturers who got booted off your course for incompetence is still taking you for lab and marking your labwork,

And when...

You're competing for lab-space and the technicians' attention with guys who break stuff and threaten violence if they don't get their way,*

And when...

your course involves a lot of recording work and your right ear decides to make things really interesting by packing up,

And when...

on the first day of your final year it turns out that the reason you don't understand any of the new maths is because they somehow failed to teach you about a YEAR AND A HALF of vital mathematics, which you will now have to learn in a seperate tutorial, because of course you have so much free time in your FINAL FUCKING YEAR ,

And when...

the one thing you were absolutely convinced you could pull off, your final year project, gets shitcanned because the alkie stoner fuckhead who was supposed to be ordering the parts for it fails to order said parts despite repeated and increasingly frantic requests that he order said parts because he's too busy being an alkie stoner fuckhead,

Then, I think you will agree, IT'S JUST A WEE BIT FUCKING TRICKY!

Six people made it to the end of my course. Six. And one of them was from the year above us. Last time I saw him he was talking about legal action. Good.

I'm increasingly loth to go back into conventional education. What the fuck do I have to show for those four years except ?18,000 of debt? Fuck all. All I got was fucking older. Now I can't even get the crappy insecure dangerous minimum wage jobs that I was getting before I went to Uni. If I don't make it as a writer, my life is utterly and irredeemably fucked.

Can I hurt them with magicks now? Just a little bit?

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Fatbeards unite.

Thinking seriously about approaching TSR for writing work. (Stop laughing.) Apparently they will consider new writers on the basis of a short story, after which you might be lucky enough to get picked up on a work for hire basis. (I said. Stop. Laughing.) Probably not very easy to get into this sort of work, but I feel that my fantasy writing is now of a high-enough quality to have as good a chance as any. (STOP LAUGHING! STOP LAUGHING NOW!) There are drawbacks, of course: less creative freedom, being restricted to a certain setting, a certain formula. That might be a good excercise, though, and any kind of writing job is better than the jobs I've been doing.

So my plan for this coming fortnight is to finish at least one piece of travel writing (there's a local church I'm dying to snoop round) and one short fantasy story of the pointy kind. Should keep me pretty busy... (RIGHT! THAT'S IT! I'M GONNA MAKE YOU LAUGH ON THE OTHER SIDE OF YOUR FACE! I'M COMING OVER THERE AND YOU'RE GOING TO DEAL WITH MY SWORD OF SHARPNESS +5!!! I WARNED YOU!)

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Home.

Just been tinkering with the new digital camera I got from my folks. It's great. My other camera, the cast-off one, is really a webcam and doesn't even have a preview screen so it's impossible to compose pictures properly; also, the colours are weird, not enough blue. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, because the resulting images are fun to play with, but I would like to take some "proper" photos. I want to submit some pix of Barca to Jade's globalwatch thang, and the other cam just isn't good enough for that.

Took a few pix of the view from the great big window at the back of the flat, just as an experiment. I love the view from my window. Maybe it's the fact that I'm up on the highest level of my building, maybe it's the hills in the distance with the big communications mast up there, picking up signals from all over the sky, but when I stand there and look out I feel airbourne. I feel like I could fly off anywhere, like the sky's the limit. Sure, I know I don't have a job right now (and that when I do get a job it'll probably involve rubber gloves and bog-brushes), but when I look out of my window I realise that doesn't matter. I'm free. Just being in this part of the world is a lesson, an experience, a source of joy. When and if the time comes for me to leave, there'll still be a piece of it locked inside me for the rest of my life. I draw strength from that.

No matter what happens, no matter where I go, I'm free and flying.
Oh, joy unconfined *grimace*.

Ah, the lovely lovely editors must be sobering up: I've just now got the first rejection letter of 2004. Part of me is dejected, of course-- I worked damn hard on that story, and it was pretty much written with this very webzine in mind. I wanted sooo much for them to like it! On the plus side the rejection letter was really sweet: they loved the story, they raved about the writing, and they went as far as to recommend another mag that might take the yarn in question. How scrumptious is that? It was almost as good as an acceptance.

Unfortunately, the zine they recommend isn't accepting new submissions until March this year. Never mind, I'll just send it to one of the other gothic/horror/ghost-type webzines out there... oh, wait. They don't like multiple submissions, and they're all still SITTING ON THE STUFF I SENT THEM LAST SUMMER. Four week turn-around, my foot. I realise that these webzines are usually a labour of love rather than a moneyspinner, but if you pay ten quid a pop for a three thousand word piece of original fiction you either attempt to honour your advertised response time, OR you change your advertised response time, OR you bite the bullet and accept simultaneous submissions. I don't care if your Granny's just died, I want a response!

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Work-related maunderings and a self-education rant

Dammit, but I want a job. Only been back a few days and already I'm tearing my hair out (metaphorically speaking, duh) at the thought of my continuing unemployment. When your partener is an academic, lenghty spells of unemployment in Foriegn Parts pretty much come with the territory (a friend's bloke was out of work for 2 years and that was in Australia, and he was all degree-having), but knowing that doesn't help. I like to be up and doing. Currently I'm tracking down electronics-flavoured employers (there are many manufacturing plants out on the way to the airport, including a dirty great Siemens), but I don't hold out much hope. Not much hope either for the English teaching option, since I can't afford to do a TEFL and frankly I'm not convinced my English language sk1llz are up to snuff. GCSE in English (B*) striking fear in no-one's heart.

Thing is, if I want to start an OU course in the autumn (and boy do I want to), I need to be working now or I won't be able to afford it. Arrgh. Also it looks likely now that we'll be heading back to the UK after September, and I really want to get my Castillano match fit before then. Working with Spanish people would help with that, so non-job-having puts a crimp on things. Arrgh argh arghhh.

These, friends, are my Cunning Plans...

Cunning plan A: Work on my travel writing, try and get a foot in the door, so that by the time I return to the UK I have some dosh in the bank and some clippings to wave at editors. If this pans out, of course, I shan't be so frantic about the degree-having coz I'll be doing what I lurrrve. Ditto the short fiction, tho' I feel there's less money in fiction than in articles so no breath-holding there.

If plan A fucks up, then there's...

Cunning Plan B: Get all fluent and things in Spanish, thus paving way for translation work, teaching, ect. when back in UK. If I train myself up to A-level standard I can just barge on in and sit the exam.

Should B gang aglay then there's...

Cunning Plan C: Finally get results off of stupid uni and actually get some work IN THE ACTUAL FUCKING FIELD THAT I HAVE FUCKING TRAINED IN AND STRIVEN FOR AND SWEATED FUCKING BLOOD OVER FOR LIKE SIX YEARS ON AND OFF, YOU KNOW, IF IT'S NOT TOO MUCH TO ASK, IF YOU DON'T MIND, PUUURFUCKINGBLOODYLEASE.

Cunning Plan D: See if I can't knock my art & design skills into some sort of exploitable shape. It's a long shot, but something might come of it.

Cunning Plan E: Some strange synthesis of all of the above. I do not know what form this might take, but suspect that one exists and everyone else knows about it except me.

Cunning Plan F: Invent a religion or something.

Plan G is less cunning. It is the Life of Minimum Wage Machine-Minding and Related Crap. All I need for that is a prescription for Valium and maybe some mild brain damage.

There's also the Novel, but that doesn't really count as a plan. The novel is more what I'm doing everything else for; it's not a living, it's a way of life.

I'm 30. I don't, as I have said, feel old. Yet I'm approaching the cut-off point, the point where the world says that you do not pass go, do not collect a career, do not do anything except resign yourself to being where and what you are, no matter how much you hate it and how far below your weight you are punching, because you will never be given the chance to do anything else.

Nothing new to me. It's only the same old song I've been hearing all my life, ever since I was a kid, ever since I discovered that if you don't have a conventional education there is no place for you in the world, that self-educated people are nothing but worthless freaks. Sit down. Shut up. Get that floor mopped. Get out the way of the real people. Accept mediocrity as your lot. Do not hope or strive, do not do anything except what we tell to do.

Self-education is the way forward. I took over the reins of my own education when I was eleven, and I did an okay job. My big mistake was buying into the hype surrounding conventional education, assuming that I needed their grades, their bits of paper; trusting the lie that if I collected enough bits of paper they'd let me into their world. My biggest mistake was ever handing those reins over to strangers, to a system whose outlook was and remains utterly alien to me and whose concerns are frequently inimical to my own.

See, the Western education system is not about aiding the success of the many, it is about abetting the greed of the few. I wish I could go back in time and say all this to my younger self.

I can't, of course. But I can say it to you. Only you know what you are capable of; only you know what you might be able to achive. Do something for me, right now: Ignore the voices of self-doubt and remembered criticsm for a while. Forget "I can't afford", "people like me don't" and "I'm not good enough"; forget the things they said and the names they called you, stick your fingers in your ears and go "Neener neener neener!" till they're gone.

Just be for a moment. Look down inside yourself, look at the things that thrill and impassion you. See all that you might be, see all the potential locked away inside. If you don't see anything, try again later. Eventually you will glimpse it, that buried treasure, and it will astound you. Grab a little of it to take out to the world. Just a fragment will do for now.

I am currently looking into ways of formalizing my self-education somewhat. I will discuss my findings at a later date. I know it's possible (in the UK anyhow) to barge on in and sit an exam even if you haven't done a conventional course, like a GCSE or an A-level or whatever, so long as you sort it out with the exam board and pay the exam fees and so forth. I'm looking at ways in which I can expand on this principle, if it's possible to pull the same stunt at higher levels. Basically I want to see if it's possible to get a degree without setting foot in another fucking bloody university. (Apart from the OU, I mean.)

Understand: I will win free of the trap I am in. I will make someting of this little life and it will be bigger and brighter than even I can imagine right now. I will walk through the world that has rejected me like a ghost walks through a ceiling. When they shut the door in my face I will find new doors, different doors, better doors; dammit, I will punch a dirty great hole in the wall and wave the rabble on in after me.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I saw a cleaning job in the small ads and I want to catch the post.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

j0.

Back again, after a longish interval. Ah, bliss. No filthy readers to worry about for at least a few weeks. Decided to give the internet a bit of a break so I could bond with meatfolk more effectively. Internet tends to piss me off these days, and I didn't want to be all pissed off around freinds and family who have 0 to do with pissedoffness.

The hols were good fun, for the most part, but going back to see my folks gave me a lot to think about. Nothing I can really discuss here, tho', as it involves other people who might not be best pleased if they found themselves putting in a cameo turn on my blog.

Hooked up with loads of mates, both real and imaginary but mostly real. Sorry to have missed some of you. Looking forward to seeing Cherry and sleaze again in Feb.

The spooky perverts were a bit quiet. More alcohol and bad food = lower level of magickal consciousness. What I need is a short fast, I suspect, but past experience would suggest that jumping directly from overconsumption to vichy water is... unwise. I'll leave it a week or two.

Not much on the writing front. I tried, but all I have to show for the festive period in that respect is several reams of word-salad. Maybe I wasn't trying hard enough. Maybe I was trying too hard. Maybe this is something that happens to everyone sometimes and I shouldn't worry. Maybe I'm doing something totally wrong and should worry like mad. Buggered if I know. I'd ask another writer for advice but writers suck.

ME: I want to be a writer.
WRITER: Writing is hard.
ME: I know. I still want to be one.
WRITER: Writing is really really hard.
ME: Yeah, I heard you the first time. Still want to be one.
WRITER: Well, then you should write.
ME: I do write. I write a lot. Sometimes I get a bit stuck, but--
WRITER: Ah-HA! You don't do the work! If you don't do the work, how can you be a writer?
ME: Look, I'm doing the work. I want to know how to do it better, consistently and successfully. I was wondering if--
WRITER: How dare you hang our shiny writer medals on your unworthy carcass, grubby non-writey person? Go and get me a beer and make me BEANS ON TOAST!

Writers suck.


Spanish going okay tho'. I'd sort of hit a plateu just before Christmas and now I seem to have beaten it.

Other than that: I find myself on a bit of a downer. My stupid uni is still ignoring my letters, so even now, a year and a half after I chucked it in, I still don't have my results. I still don't have a job, either. World fails to appreciate GENIUS in midst. Stupid world.

New Year's Resolutions: Get another tatt, play more bass, paint more, draw more, get good at Flash, get good at Spanish, do more practical electronics, improve pure math as well as applied, write more, travel more, and ROCK THE FUCK OUT.

Here endeth the lesson.