Toxic Undertones

Quite recently I’ve been caught off guard with a handful of ‘bad’ social media interactions which have served as a stark reminder of how toxic and volatile the underbelly of social media really is. There seems to be a consensus of those laying in wait, ready to pounce upon negative situations with their own negativity sparked from a desire to either be a troll or to be an opportunist in the face of adversity in order to get follows, likes and interaction. This can seem to happen at any time and it’s something I’ve always known but presently perhaps forgot while my momentum is building and my following is growing.

As an author in the modern social media age, my market is based mostly within it, and as much as I would love to just turn around and walk away, I’m not in that position just yet, although it’s just another driving factor to get me there. Having a higher following on social media will attract many lower level folk who are trying to get their own foothold and sometimes they use whatever leverage they can to climb. Such recent experiences have forced me to back away from my usual level of engagement, especially on Twitter which is a particularly volatile, mob cultured petri dish of assholery that can turn on you in an instant. The ‘mute notifications’ button has been utilised is recent days.

While this post isn’t an attempt to vent, it’s become an opportunity to do so and that’s okay, this is my patch. And my philosophy on book reviews is simpler now: they don’t actually matter in the broadest of senses, I cannot help but sometimes notice the ilk of review that is literally an attempt to troll, or be funny. Although after a night’s sleep the nagging pain they cause is gone, and I am big enough and old enough to know my stuff is in the public domain and that it isn’t for everyone but any type of cross word against me will affect me, I’m human after all. Any review really, is a good review, because it’s proof somebody took the time to look at your words and possibly buy it. Most of them aren’t constructive, even the positive ones, what I can do with ‘your book was great’, although I still appreciate the sentiment. No matter what anyone says, they’ll never know the journey, the struggle and the ultimate satisfaction of being a better person for finishing the crafting of a book. Their words about your words will never match them.

I guess all of this is just the symptom or the outcome of reaching a new plateau of a bigger following. This blog is growing and the content includes reviews and investigations of other parties who might not appreciate that so perhaps this is a glass house situation. My ambition has always been to write books and tell stories, no amount of toxicity will stop that, after all I am radioactively coated in stubbornness, so I’ll always survive, it’s all I know what to do. It’s up to us as individuals not to get lost on the journey.

Weekly Ramble #78

The truth is, even though I’ve written recently about reverting to zero, that whole deal has summoned some wonderful people. It’s actually been very touching to hear from so many who approached me after that post, which started out as just a vent about the lamenting struggle it is to be noticed in this world as an author. We all have those moments that get us down. The whole taking a wider look around and realising this might be not as great as first perceived. 

I suppose we are all a work in progress. And even though since that reverting to zero post, my sales have been one more than zero, I’ve realised I have something worth way more than that – the support of some decent people from all over this rock which now seems a little smaller. That support is way more valuable than anything else on this journey, trust me, it means so damn much to have people swoop in and offer their words and kindness – you know who you are and for what it’s worth, you’ve improved my stance and mental health on the subject.

I’m fine, and I will be fine. This whole process of writing books is a build me up and tear me down type of deal – that may sound deep but it is. I pour absolutely everything into my writing, every essence of me are in those words, every emotion I have will go into creating something from that number, zero. Even though all of us who create have aspirations of what that work will do, it’s what you don’t expect to happen that gives out the true pleasure and satisfaction.

I will take the support of those who have supported me and do support me over anything else. They have offered me something I never thought I would find, let alone look for.

Being genuine in this world is probably the best thing you can give someone. Thank you – from a writer who isn’t afraid to go forward because of that.

 

Weekly Ramble #74

I’m starting to embrace and enjoy the semi lock down lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, I miss people, I miss gatherings, I miss the opportunity to have conversations but many of the lifestyle elements right now I am enjoying. 

It’s a case of embracing what is good in a shituation. That’s what this is and for so much bad that has come from this, it’s also been a huge opportunity to take on things that I wouldn’t normally take on. In the beginning I got myself back into booze nearly every night. Drinking for me has always been a vessel to good times and so I leaned on that perception to have a ‘few’ every night and for a while it worked as a coping mechanism. We all know that’s a slippery very short term slope and especially so for the health situation and of course the scales which I quickly became unhappy with.

The lock down was something that began to piss me off, no matter what I did and so my mental health took a hit for a small time but I’m pretty damn good at getting my ass up off the ground. I took one big look at myself and said ‘I can do more with these days’ and I’m lucky enough to have a work that has continued to pay and employ me, just on a different basis. I have to attend work for two shifts every 6 days, day time or night time.

For someone who’s been held down by the excuse of work for pretty much everything I eventually crawled away from that because of all this time I now have. I’m getting up before 9 every day, I’m eating clean, I’m exercising every morning and then leaving my afternoons to write and read. This is the best shape my schedule has been in for a long time. It’s like being semi retired and I’m doing stuff I’ve always wanted to do. Maybe finding the best out of a bad situation is really the best way any of us can cope…

How are you coping right now? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #70

What are you doing to look after your mental health? Right now more than ever do we need to be conscious of our subconscious because every so often in times that are different it’ll peek out from behind the curtain and catch you out..

Many of us are creatures of habit. We rinse and repeat in a our lifestyles, it’s how they were designed. The ‘routine’ was our nuts and bolts. In most structures, if you take the nuts and bolts away, things fall to the floor. Our brains are no different, and after extended time in isolation and away from those who make up the construct of our human routines, it’s getting difficult. Everything is making me fed up.

If you like me, you’re probably sick to death of hearing phrases like ‘unprecedented times’ or even ‘corona’. The news is a plague in it’s own right. It’s sole content is this crap the world currently faces, yet another uphill challenge but this one has us all directly gripped. I try to stay away from it. This whole deal won’t change in days or probably weeks. Journalists, or at least some of them have slipped in my opinion of them. If you watch the daily briefings in whatever land you are, and there’s an opportunity for Q and A, you’ll hear the upmost absurdities being regurgitated from their mouths.

Recently here in the UK the daily brief has included questions from real people who are asking what we want to know (not journalists). Not about the stupid fucking economy but when will we be able hug our grandchildren, or take them to play in parks. Real questions that have a human implication to emote. Journalists default to this mode of questioning that is both aimed at making a figure head stumble and bring a somewhat level of misery to everyone else. Are they things we need right now? How are we going to relate to them if they just ask questions that trigger bad thoughts?

A key and gospel way of looking after your mental health is to choose. And by choose I mean not be around certain people and places. While this is hard because we are isolated, I have abstained from listening to the Q and A part of the daily briefings. While I wholeheartedly support freedom of speech and questioning the authority to an extent, there is some journalism that is just destructive and bares no necessity in the modern world. Fuck off with your negativity and stop trying to divide us. The one thing we will always have as a species, isolated or not is each other, let’s keep it that way shall we….

Weekly Ramble #68

Many of us crave structure to be productive. We are worker bees after all and to be busy is to live and then this whole lock down thing happened…

I find solace in the two shifts I have to work every week. Even though the 5/6 days off is nice, work has always given everything else in my life a structure. While I left my home over the weekend for the first time in nearly a week I sighed in relief to just be out driving – where I get many of my writing ideas.

With the world seemingly closed, the roads are deserted apart from the army of truckers who are hauling everything to keep this world turning, shout out to them. Even with them on the roads, it’s quiet. Spring is in full force here in the UK and green has exploded everywhere. A part of me wants to see trees take back their rightful place along with many of the critters who are crossing streets more than people.

Quarantine and self isolation is hard and it’s weighing big on us all. I must stress to you all even while it is distracting, you have to stay busy. Immerse your mind in something, my Mrs is taken up crochet while on furlough. Learn a new craft, try something new or I dare say it, read a book. My sales have near enough tripled over these past few weeks. We’re all indoors, hopefully away from harm and so use this time.

Self care is a big deal right now. Stay away from the constant droning of news which is just churning out numbers right now. Put the news away for a while and realize apart from staying in there isn’t much else you can do in this fight, but staying distant is enough for now. We’ll get through it. The storm will pass and the story will continue. Anything and everything is what it will take, do that.

Hope you are all staying safe. Have you tried anything new?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #66

Solitude is difficult. Even as an introvert myself human interaction with strangers plays a part in my my life. Just seeing other people gives comfort that none of us are alone in this. For a world that is so well connected there’s a deep sense of loneliness in all of this and some are going to struggle. Those who live alone especially so. 

But even if the most dire of situations you’ll find opportunity. There is only one agreement about this rather mystery illness that’s sweeping the world; it’s contagious. What can you do to fight a contagious disease; stay healthy. Use the time given or lent to you for exercise, catching up on sleep and for cooking good healthy food. All three of these register as self care in my eyes and in times where you cannot physically socialise to feel better, find other ways.

This distancing deal might be around for a while to come. Standing in two meter lines at checkouts and only going out every ten days, my grandparents had it worse and I’m not comparing because I know the impact this is all having. The economy is going to fall to shit, jobs are going to get lost but if you have your health, your body will look after you throughout whatever tough times lay ahead trust me.

The world needs you to take care of yourself so do it by any means necessary. 

 

Weekly Ramble #60

The bravest people amongst us are the ones who realise that they need to reach out for help. To seek a solution for whatever problem you face means deep down you care. And self care is so damn important in this life.

It’s okay to not be okay sometimes and admitting that is a victory in it’s own right. The truth is I have the highest regard and respect to those who talk about it in any way, shape or form. It’s alright to express your emotion in whatever way that helps process feeling. By all means cry, laugh, growl, sit in silence or even blog about it; hell I’ve processed stuff by writing whole novels (my poor readers…).   

I can only speak from experience when times have been tough in life and although it may appear you are falling down branch by branch landing between your own legs each time, trust me when I say eventually life does give you a break (from the nut shots).

Some things aren’t forever and this includes the suffering our minds can go through; just think of it as another stage in this journey called life. As much as it’s easier said than done coming from a guy in a ‘good’ place currently, these days we’re all not far from spiraling.

You could feel like that one in one thousand kid roaming the school hallway knowing and feeling that this place isn’t where you fit in; I’ve been there and some day soon that sensation of not belonging, much like school will fade. You’ll find those who are like-minded, that’s a human instinct to find others like yourself and school; it’s a public place, you have to do it for now but not forever.

You could be working a shitty job for a shitty boss just trying day in day out to prove your worth; some folks will never understand or appreciate that worth; by all means work hard and gain experience but not everyone deserves your energy and graft.

Remember that your own mind well being comes first and there are numerous ways to overcome rough patches; take a social media break, binge watch an entire series on Netflix , and personal favourite; keep a diary of how you feel and then look back on those days gone by to see how strong you’ve become. Lean on your friends, those who are true friends will be there when you are in need.

Life has a funny way of getting better eventually and whatever storm your in now, will blow over, trust me, even though I don’t know everything…

Do what you have to do to take care of yourself in this life.

What quote gets you through life?

I shall close with my go to quote from one of my true heroes…

 

Image result for buffy living quote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #52

Anxiety, depression and loneliness are all things we should talk about way more. Even in this modern age where we appear to be more connected than ever before, we still face these issues on a pandemic scale. You would think the concept of social media would help to battle such issues but from my experiences it can foster depression and possibly make it worse. Perhaps the original intention of social media – if it ever was good, has been overlooked and overshadowed.

2010 – you’ve got to get a Facebook profile picture..

2019 – you’ve got to get off Facebook…

It’s strange how time can turn things around, or in this sense nearly a decade .The same generation (folks like me) who knew a life before being internet reliant and then embracing it is now choosing to come away. Perhaps the old saying too much of anything is bad for you turned out to be pretty accurate.

The reason I link mental health and social media together is because last year these two subjects culminated in what I recall as a particularly dark time for me personally. I know many people who have been on their own mental health journeys; many of them blog or post about it (the good guys!), and well I’ve been quite vague until now because it is still fresh and context along with timing has urged me to share it only now – plus compared to last year right now I am probably in one of the best places I’ve been for a long while, as I said it’s funny how time can turn things around.

Off the heels of my 4th book release and the 2nd one of last year which didn’t go particularly smoothly and subsequently didn’t turn out how I envisioned. I’ve only learned all of my ‘book stuff’ by doing/ trial and error and well the release of Cemetery House was indeed just another day at the learning factory – sequels are a specialist thing in indie publishing, and while I did put the whole thing on a pedestal with a long running social media campaign and a whole bunch of expectation, let’s just say in my head I didn’t exactly get a hole in one. By this time I had already drafted the Darke Blood sequel and immediately I pulled the plug on releasing that this year – it wasn’t ready and neither was I.

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There was also a bunch of other stuff going on at the time; that whole year had been building up towards me moving into my own place with my more than better half. Moving places is naturally stressful even if it went quite well – there is more paperwork than any book I’ve ever written… So by the end of November and with my mind trying to crawl towards a better place I took the huge dive into deleting the Facebook app off my phone – for those who know I was always on Facebook; that’s my secret captain… I even decided to go dark across all platforms probably apart from this place. This may have been the best health decision I have ever made in my entire life –  arguably probably better than no carb Thursday or no meat Monday… Immediately my mind and focus turned towards other things, of course the move was coming but very quickly and after being burned by book 4’s ‘debacle’ I wanted to write again!

For those who have read my books will know they are about more than genre and even the main plot. In everything I have created there is an underlying message within. I took on a new writing project and with my crusade against staying off social media I went a further step creatively and decided to hand write my next project. My vision was to take away page counts, word counts, windows updates and the temptation of logging on to Life Invader as well as finding my writing routes. This was just Lee, his pen, some paper and words. At this time I was still healing and so I got writing and subconsciously put together a story that reflected how I was feeling in a sense.

That recollection of feelings reflected via a story ended up becoming a book called ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ which is due for release this December. Because it was handwritten and had a sole focus on just telling a story it turned out to be quite short but it could arguably be my most powerful and important project. And so we go back to the start of this entry… Anxiety, depression and loneliness are all things we should talk about way more, you’ll find these subjects in my next book and they are talked about. That is something we need to do so much more. There are some creators I know that also talk about self care – this is just as important, finding away to get through stuff is a vital part of talking about it!

Now I’m not just using this as an opportunity to sell some books, this has never been about that, it’s an opportunity to use my writing for something more than just telling stories. 

By the end of December last year I had mostly recovered and dove into Indie Book Reviews which has probably been a lifeline for me. Connecting with other authors and bloggers who face what I face gives me a great sense of not being alone in the huge overpopulated world of social media. Even now I am weary of Facebook, it’s #4 or #5 on my platforms for author stuff, this place  is numero uno followed closely by the tweet machine.

For what is my 52nd ramble post – a year of rambles, although I started this series little over a year ago – I would like to take this opportunity to everyone who reads this and say thank you! This blog and your support has given my writing a new lease of life and very soon ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ will be my redemption, whether or not it is a success actually doesn’t matter, it’s the journey of creation that truly matters. 

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