The strangest thing about being on twitter and mastodon is that I seem to be using social media a lot less. Allow for the fact that I go to insta once a day to put a picture of me (or something more interesting) and a picture of the top of the blog up there, I am spending hardly any time on facebook, twitter, or mastodon. Whether or not this is a good thing in the scheme of things, it’s difficult to tell. The issue here is that it means my activism has reduced to short spurts of activity, especially on twitter, rather than extended periods looking for news, retweeting relevant stuff, expressing my opposition to the current state of politics. Perhaps this is what Musk intended, to divide and conquer the left-leaning users of the platform he bought for an outrageous amount of money ($44 billion) that he didn’t have. Perhaps he thought that loss leader was justificable if only it bought a Republican presidency and disenfranchised those he calls “woke” (always a complimentary term, in my book, all you right-wingers out there). Only time will tell.
I am being pulled and pushed in all sorts of different directions at the moment, not all good, not all bad, most of them self-censored. Parenting remains something that I’m learning about, but, like I said to M last night, maybe I should make a real effort to actually complete 50k words of a book on the emotional impacts of parenting. I have 5k words already, most of them jokey about something that’s not actually funny or fun a lot of the time (no disrespect to our children nor to any others; it’s just a fact of life that was probably intended by whoever invented life). The problem, of course, is that so many other things remain unwritten as yet. The sequel(s) to Tettig’s Jewels; the three-quarters complete sequel to The Immortality Clock (The Mortality Code); the final part part of what is now intended to be an Antarctic trilogy consisting of Dead Men (published in 2012), Ice Child (as yet unpublished), and an unnamed third part; the novella I started writing in Agios Nikolaos; a novel about time speeding up and dark matter; revisions to a novel about the origin and history of acupuncture and the war in Afghanistan (The Emperor, The Practitioner, And I); final edits for A Fear Of Heights, my novel about Mallory and Irvine getting to the top of Everest in June 1924 and finding someone’s been there before them (and that all happens on page 1, so it’s not a spoiler), which I’m planning to publish in 2024 (100th anniversary, and all that); inumerable other fragments of prose waiting to be turned into novel-length narratives; and Aggie, of course.
None of this helped by the fact that I’m slap bang in the middle of what is always historically the busiest quarter of the calendar year for the day job, which this year is unsurprisingly relentless.
Which brings me to something else I want to say. I think there are any number of people who think my life is unbelievably glamorous and easy, what with me working from home for the last 20 years. I do understand that it might seem that way, looked at from the outside, where no-one knows the hours put in, no-one sees the pain of creation, or the hard, boring graft that goes, not only into day job (there has to be a quantifiable base for what I do, there has to be accountability on both sides of the equation), but into the writing, too. This is NOT a self-justification; it’s a brief uncensored elaboration of my frustrations, my genuine hard work (and I realise I don’t do manual labour, and never could because I’m not strong or determined enough), and a brief look back at over 40 years of life that have, at different times, involved long-term unemployment, 6 months of sofa surfing in London, waking up to shirts frozen stiff in another sofa-surfing era in Germany, living off 10p for the last week of pay month in the 1980s, working 16-hour days to complete what others weren’t capable of completing, pulling 48-hour shifts to ensure seamless IT network migrations, and having my heart broken at least four or five times (by work and by women). And I’m not unique in any of this. And just because I wear ear-rings, am personable some of the time, and have a left-wing bias and conviction in my views, and try to be altruistic, doesn’t mean I’m some sort of hippy-dippy merchant with a secret stash of cash. And I do still struggle, and will forever struggle, with who and what I want to be. There, got that off my chest.
And Aggie is now off stage, and all her chapters, except the first will move off-stage with her.