Developing a Trigger-Guard

A Facebook friend has her own blog. It’s called LiberalWoman101’s Blog. She writes well and is particularly fond of writing essays. She’s even thinking of going back to school so she can write more essays! Personally I loathe essays. I want to be able to express my own opinion without having to refer to the work of others to make it count.

She recently posted an article about “The Stigmatization of Mental Illness and Why It Needs to Stop” in which she explains why it should be okay for people with mental illness triggers to come forward and ask for their triggers to be respected. In other words to ask for a ‘trigger warning’ if anything that bothers them should come up.

She asks for a world in which we accommodate for mental illnesses more, and actively try and to make the world feel less hostile to those who suffer from panic attacks, anxiety and depression, and also from bipolar disorder, dissociative disorder, schizophrenia, etc. I certainly find the idea attractive, though I also find it unrealistic.

I have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder and even hypo-manic depression. I know people close to me that are managing dyslexia, bipolar depression, anxiety and even schizoaffective disorder. I agree that people like myself may need to be handled a little differently, particularly when we’re young. The standard education system can be difficult when your brain is wired a little differently.

It would be helpful for educators to have a better understanding of mental illnesses and better ways to present the information to a variety of different brain types. However, many educators are also underpaid, overworked and underappreciated. Perhaps if we had special schools just for us with better funding, but this presents several new problems.

Who would pay for this? If the parents are expected to pay for it, then only those with wealthy parents could afford to send their mentally ill children to the specially designed school. It could be privately funded by a charitable organisation, which would require fund-raising events that would inevitably result in these young, easily triggered individuals on public display.

I know that’s not what Jessielle (the author of the article I’m referencing) intended either, an integrated system would be far more preferable. Sending people to specially designed educational programs only leads to segregation and further stigmatism. Which is my key point. Reducing us to labels and asking people to make accommodations for us just emphasizes the differences.

Now I realise that this opinion may be unpopular. It may sound to many that I’m suggesting we ‘toughen up’ or ‘just get over it’. To a certain extent, I am. The temptation to use your mental illness as an excuse to avoid responsibility is great. The desire to have someone look after us and tend to our delicate and sensitive natures can’t be denied. However,  I personally have no desire to live the rest of my life acting like a spoiled brat.

My brain is different. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong, or broken. It means I think differently. This is good. It can give me an advantage in many situations because I can think of solutions that a whole roomful of people can’t. My weirdness makes me powerful. Expecting people to be careful around me doesn’t make me feel powerful. It makes me feel weak, soft, and delicate.

Not to mention people all have their own problems. Expecting someone who is working every hour they can to pay their astronomical student loans and other debts, checking through masses of work handed in that clearly didn’t understand the assignment despite several attempts to explain it, to avoid saying things that may upset you is extremely insensitive. Have a little empathy!

The world is a harsh and unforgiving place. The sooner we accept that the stronger we will be. It’s only by facing challenges and finding a way to overcome them that we can really find out how tough we are. If we spend our whole lives hiding in our safe space from everything that upsets us, then we keep ourselves segregated. We reinforce the stigmatism.

If you want to walk around in a skirt, heavy boots, eyeliner and a beard (as I do) do so confidently. If people are weirded out about it, so what? It’s there problem not yours. If people say something offensive, they’re entitled to that opinion, and don’t let it break you or push you towards being someone or something you don’t want to be.

If a doctor tells you that you have anxiety or depression, or something multisyllabic and scary sounding, you don’t have to let it define you. You are more than your mental illness. Find out more about it, learn what superpowers it gives you, and be proud of who you are. People don’t need to add stress to their own lives by worrying about what triggers you. You are in control, and if anyone tells you otherwise it’s just because they fear your power or they have been taught that different is wrong and honestly don’t know any better.

Some of those that try to keep you from expressing yourself may have a mental illness or two of their own, and have been taught that they are victims of it. Show them they’re not. That they’re special, talented, and wonderful people. Being different is what makes us powerful. We don’t need to be taken care of. We can take care of ourselves.

That’s my opinion, and it’s served me well, after learning the hard way and deciding I’d had enough. If you have a different opinion, or think I’ve missed Jessielle’s point entirely, please feel free to comment below. I promise you won’t trigger me.

Have a great day 🙂

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Blog of Definite Purpose?

I used to write for a popular Geeky website. I learned a lot about blogging in the process. It was fun. I could do what I already did, which is trawl through Facebook and the web in general looking for geeky/nerdy things. All I had to do was write one article per day. On a good day this was easy, even with working a 40+ hours per week day job. On a bad day I couldn’t find anything I’d want to write about, or someone had covered it already, or life just got in the way.

I decided to do my own thing, and write about whatever I wanted. This has resulted in a lot of self-indulgent nonsense and has occasionally hurt people’s feelings. I think it’s time to go back to geeky articles. I enjoy it, and I actually have the time to commit to it. I’m no-longer working a full-time job as well as trying to find time for my own writing, and a social life as well.

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These new articles won’t be about my progress as a writer, or about the emotions I’ve been processing, or any self-centred pretentiousness. They’ll be about Books, Games, Art, Science, Technology, Comics, Movies, and anything else that I find interesting. I’m going to try and keep it to new developments, rather than re-hashing articles you’ve already seen show up on your timeline at least a half-dozen times already. However, occasionally I might find something that’s already been discussed, but I have something I’d like to say about it anyway. You may still see posts about my story ideas too, from time to time.

I’ll be making use of categories and tabs to make the articles easier to find, and sharing them to topic specific Facebook Pages I already had set up from forever ago. I may have to add new ones as the need arrises. For example. Today I saw an article about the classic 80’s teenage vampire flick “The Lost Boys” getting it’s own series on the CW. I don’t currently have a page set up that fits this news.

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If I end up writing an article on it, it’ll probably end up on my “Gothic, Morbid & Beautiful” page, though at some point I may also have to make another page for anything TV & Movie related. I had considered slipping the details of the TV version of “The Lost Boys” into the tail end of this article, but I’m thinking it deserves one to itself.

Feel free to send me any suggestions, leads, or geeky topics you’d like me to rant about. I’m still just trying to get myself out there, so I won’t charge you for product reviews like some other blogs do. I’ll take a donation if you’re offering, but the way I see it, you’ll be doing me a favor by giving me something to write about that could draw more traffic to my page and get build an audience. Click the ‘Contact Me’ me tab at the top of the page or this link.

If you’re new to this page, take a look around. If you’re a sci-fi fan you might be interested to know that I’m working on a book called Hermes925. Click the drop down menu above to read what I’ve written so far. Follow me so you don’t miss what happens next.

Have a great day.

 

Seeking Better Alternatives

I’ve been staring at the computer screen wondering what to write about. I’d like nothing more than to take a nap, but I’m running out of day and I still haven’t written anything. I wondered about writing the article about cultural differences between America and the UK, but I’d rather wait until I’m back up north to do that. Refamiliarise myself with my old haunts and friends, stir up some memories, and then write based on my observations.

I started to write about happened this morning, but I didn’t really feel like I had enough for a full article. I’ve mentioned before that my Mum practices complementary medicine. At least I thought I had. I can’t find the article now! She had a client scheduled for today, so helped her get my stuff out of the treatment room (where I’m currently sleeping and writing). The client cancelled, but we decided to make the best of having the table up and get us all balanced again and check for any adjustments needed to be made to our treatment.

My Sister had to act as my surrogate, because I was being difficult to read. She and Mum have worked together so much that it’s easier that way. It was fascinating watching my Sister channel my energy as Mum checked to see where the blockages were in my energy flow, and determined the best course of treatment. The results were a little different from last time, but with some overlaps. A combinations of homeopathic remedies and flower essences to help me deal with the underlying causes of my dependencies.

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A dragon, because why not?

I also wondered if I should write a little about my own magic, my belief in witchcraft and the aspects that overlap or contradict the beliefs of my family. Particularly my Dad, the Reverend. I think I save that for another day too.

I also wondered about following up on my previous article about adjusting to not smoking pot every day, or at all in fact. Especially since that’s one of the things I’m being treated for. Along with adjusting to dramatically reduced caffeine intake, stressing about events taking place in America that I have no control over, and worrying about getting everything straightened out here in the UK.

I also thought about talking a little about I conversation I had with an old friend about Hermes925. As I was talking to him I realised I’m not happy with a particular scene in my notes. The series of events that lead to the protagonist being stranded in space, alone. Again though, not enough to actually do a full article on, at least not until I’ve actually done the re-write. I may get a start on that tonight, but I may also put it on the backburner until I have some idea which way I’m going to go with it.

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Sleepy kitty, for reasons.

It also occurred to me that I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself to make this a trilogy, when it would be faster paced and more realistic to aim for a short story. It’s going to be written as a series of journal/log entries. It doesn’t fit with the protagonist’s character for these to be daily, or even weekly entries. In fact there could be months or years between entries. Just like my own journals. We’ll see.

I have Dark Crystal playing in the background, a pile of books waiting for me to read them, a pile of notebooks waiting to be filled, and another pile of notebooks and journals full of older writing to be sorted through. So I think I’ll just add links and pictures and call this article done. It’s a little disappointing, but they can’t all be winners. Follow me so you don’t miss out on the good articles coming.

Have a great day.

Warning: Do not Date!

As you can imagine my last article, Dating Disasters, made a couple of people unhappy with me. As I was coming up with suggestions for ways to mollify the malcontented maidens, it occurred to me that I’ve been a little one sided. There’s only the slightest little hint at my own issues and the behaviours that make me so bad at dating. If you’ve ever considered having any kind of romantic relationship with me, read this first!

Let’s start with the obvious shall we? I am not well endowed. I feel like I’d be a huge (or rather tiny) disappointment to the majority of experienced women. That’s probably why I tend to be attracted to women who seem shy and inexperienced also. If they don’t know any better, they might be satisfied with my meagre member. Regardless I tend to overcompensate for this by trying to be romantic. Gifts, meals, movies, flowers, etc.

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To make matters even more awkward, I had to have surgery on my junk when I was prepubescent because my foreskin couldn’t retract. For those of you who don’t know, boys tend to start getting random boners when they’re about eight years old. Sometimes younger, sometimes older, but usually before any sexual urges start to kick in. They’re just useless little hard-ons. In my case these uncalled for erections caused me quite a lot of pain.

The physical examination wasn’t fun. Nobody wants a strange man, even a Doctor, fiddling with their privates. They discovered that I also had an undescended testicle. I don’t remember the surgery itself, but I do remember having to have a metal frame holding the bed covers away from me to avoid the pain of any pressure on my privates. When I got out of bed, I would walk with a forward lean to keep my robe away. Pissing blood and urine through the stitches in the side of my penis was particularly traumatic. I still tend to any sexual contact with pain and anguish.

I wasn’t actually able to maintain an erection with anyone until Monica. I had other girlfriends before, but due to several embarrassing failures I was still a virgin when I met her. I was 19. That’s part of the reason why I was so easily convinced that Monica was ‘the one’, and why I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to perform with anyone else after we broke up. Thankfully I was wrong about that, but I still get nervous that it will hurt or won’t work at all. Every time.

Even when it works, I often barely feel it. Like the nerves down there were permanently damaged, or more likely ‘switched off’ by my brain to reduce the pain signals. As a result my love-making is rather selfless, focussing on her pleasure rather than my own. Not because I don’t want to be pleasured, but because I’d often rather handle it myself and avoid the awkwardness and embarrassment. Especially since it’s often futile. I might even suggest other things to do together in order to actively avoid sex.

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There have been a couple of women who have been so attractive to me that it wasn’t an issue. However, in one case she began losing interest and I began to worry it was because I was unable to satisfy her, and in the other case she wasn’t ready for a physical relationship. I’m sorely tempted to just give up. I’d rather write.

I’m also a terrible housekeeper. I spend almost all day in front of my computer or reading through my notes. When I need to take a break, I don’t do the dishes, or dust and vacuum. I play videogames. Usually Skyrim. I know that if I washed each dish I’ve used when I’m done with it, I wouldn’t really need to do dishes. However, the used bowl or plate usually sits right next to my computer until I’m sleepy, then I just add it to the pile in the sink and go to bed.

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On top of all of that, I still have a tendency to view relationships through Disney-tinted glasses and act as if the woman I’m with will be the last woman I’ll ever be with. If I’m not happy in the relationship, this results in me feeling trapped. I will usually respond to this in one of two ways. Either desperately trying to make the relationship work by putting her happiness before my own and actively trying to change myself, or by sabotaging the relationship to get out of it. In my marriage I would flip back and forth between the two.

In other words, I’m a terrible boyfriend. I’m the reason none of my relationships work. I’m really not worth the effort. It’s taken a lot of hard self-analysis to figure this out.

There we go. Hopefully that will make up for any hurt feelings caused by my last post, and ensure that no-one is ever interested in me again. At least not sexually. If I’ve helped anyone to process their own feelings of sexual inadequacy, that’s just a bonus. Share this if you know someone who might be going through something similar.

Have a great day.

 

 

Dating Disasters

A friend suggested I write an article about one of the most awkward and uncomfortable subjects I could possibly write about. My terrible track record with girls. I’ve been putting it off. I even tried coming up with something else to write about, but to no avail. So this is for you. A tale of trial and turmoil, detailing my dating disasters.

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I’m going to start with Monica quick. I’ll keep it short though since this isn’t about her, and the friend who put me up to this already knows. I’ve mentioned her before, so I’m using her real name.

Monica was, and technically still is, my wife. We met on campus at was was called St. Martin’s College back then. Now it’s the University of Cumbria‘s Lancaster campus. She was into Tim Burton’s Batman movies and Nirvana, and she was very interested in me. Since she was only going be there 3 months, I saw no harm in flirting with her rather heavily. So what if she says no, she’ll go back to America and I never have to see her again. Things got complicated and emotional when her Grandma passed away. I was morally obligated to help her through it. I could have been a jerk, but I’m not. She was the first to say “I love you“. She thought I was asleep. I wasn’t. I said it right back.

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The day she left I still thought I would never see her again. We’d been through a lot though and it hurt to say goodbye. She kept in touch, left her fiance (that’s right, she already had a fiance), and began sending me care packages from the states. She would call me late at night, and due to the time difference, this would often be between 2 and 4 am. She came back to see me 6 months later. Clearly this was love (or so I convinced myself). Despite the bravado and confidence I’d displayed during the 3 months we’d already spent together, I was fairly certain that this was the best I could hope for. She went back to America with an engagement ring.

Four years long distance before we (she?) decided it would be better for me to move there, to the US. We got married, had a difficult 10 years together before we broke up. I never regained that confidence I had when we first met, until the end. She kept telling me to be myself, but I’d already had to give up much of who I felt I was to keep the status quo. I had colours in my wardrobe. I had white shirts! I owned Khakis!! Yuck. I think the turning point was when she told me it wasn’t my job to make her happy. Okay then, I thought. I have no reason not to be myself.

I expressed some opinions that I’d been keeping to myself, and shortly after I was sleeping on a spare mattress in the office. We still haven’t raised the money for the divorce, or to settle the credit card debt accumulated during the marriage. We’re very definitely separated. I decided that there’d be no more compromising. If I had to change who I was then it wasn’t meant to be. I’d find someone who liked me for me, or it wasn’t worth it.

Post-separation girlfriend number 1. Let’s call her Betty. We met on Ok Cupid. I was immediately put off by the jar of homemade pickles she had posted among profile pictures. Pickles are gross. She was also blonde (I generally prefer dark hair and pale skin), five years older than me, and 2 hours drive away, in La Crosse, a town not far from Monica’s family. She chose to contact me anyway, using the fact that we’re both fans of the Elder Scrolls games, Game of Thrones and home cooking to entice me.

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Dating her was fun. Monica had been my first and only ‘sleeping partner’ until Betty. I had been a little worried that she would be the only one I ever could ‘sleep’ with. Betty had her own house, a beautiful garden and chickens. She liked to bake. She made a very good living as a retail assistant manager. However, I was on the rebound from a 10 year long marriage. I was emotionally torn between wanting to spend the rest of my life with her, and to prove to myself that I could make it on my own.

The decision because easier when the little changes I was making to my lifestyle began to add up. She didn’t like that I drank Mountain Dew, and wanted me to switch to coffee. I don’t like coffee, so she’s make mine with two thirds flavoured creamer. It wasn’t bad. She pick out clothes for me that were more ‘hipster’ than I liked. It was fun trying to get my moustache to curl though. She only played Elder Scrolls Online, and I never saw her play it the whole time we were together. We started spending more time watching tv together, and less time in bed, or working on the garden together. We did make pickles together. Did I mention that pickles are gross? She wanted me to try one. We broke up not long after.

By that time I already had an apartment in her town, La Crosse WI. I decided that before I got involved with anyone else, I needed to work on me and heal my broken heart. I was happier without Monica, yet I still ached for what I’d lost. I quit my job. Cashed out my 401k (retirement fund) and spent a few months just trying to get my head together. I thought I would write, but I wasted a lot of time playing Skyrim and dicking around on Facebook.

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I got talking to a girl I’d had a crush on while I was still with Monica. She flew from Colorado to be with me. The week she was crashing with me she talked almost nonstop about her ex boyfriend and how much she still loved him. We didn’t ever share a bed. I don’t even remember her name well enough to give her a fake one, but we’ll call her Jan anyway. She had a little problem with pills. I dodged a bullet.

After that I tried to avoid women altogether. Reasserted my decision to work on myself before I got involved, and managed quite well for a while. Still didn’t get any writing done, but I was making time for friends. It was two of these friends though that decided it would be fun to take me to a strip club. I’d never been to one before, but I’d heard it was like going to a freak show. A parade of ugly, talentless and scarred (physically and emotionally) women trying to make a living the only way they can.

The reality was not what I expected, and I came away from experience desperate for a woman’s touch. It’s almost ironic then that my next girlfriend had severe anxiety. She also lived in the town I had moved from, the same town that Monica and I had lived together in. Owatonna.

Let’s call her Sarah. Sarah remembered me from that time and began talking to me on Ok Cupid. She was smart, pretty, funny, good with animals, shared my beliefs, loved Star Trek: TNG, Dr Who and sci-fi/fantasy literature. She was almost perfect, except that I was still desperate for the one thing she was unable to give me. Just not desperate enough to respond to the generous, but intimidating (I still feel sort of inexperienced), offer of her roommate. I gave up on my plans to move back to Owatonna.

Again I was alone, and determined to figure out my emotional crap before getting involved again. I still followed the posts of one of Betty’s friends. Let’s call her Kahli. I had/have a bit of a crush on Kahli too, but I thought trying anything with her would lead to all kinds of awkwardness. Plus she’s really into sport, and I’m completely clueless. However, one of her friends made a smart and funny comment on one of Kahli’s facebook posts. Let’s call the mutual friend Reacher!

Reacher invited me and a bunch of other friends to get together and listen to live music at a coffee shop called Java Vino. I was going to flake, but she messaged me to get there because no-one else had shown up. It was valentine’s day. Clearly everyone else had plans. She wasn’t dressed to impress. The was wearing a hoodie. Her eyes were amazing. We talked and joked about all kinds of geeky things.

I invited her back to my place as a friend, and we watched a show she liked called Warehouse 13. She got sleepy so I let her take the bed, and I stayed up all night watching the show, and in the morning I made breakfast. She showed her appreciation physically. It was fun, but things got complicated. She has a teenage daughter. The two of them are best friends. Even this wasn’t a problem until Reacher got behind on the rent and was going to be evicted. She and her daughter were already spending most of their time at my  place anyway, so we upgraded to a 2-bedroom apartment on the condition that they keep up on the housework (their old apartment was a disgusting fly-ridden mess) and that her daughter would listen to me. We broke up because that didn’t happen, and most of her stuff was still in storage when I moved out to come back to the UK.

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There’s been a couple of girls I’ve been crushing on since, including a super-hot skinny young goth that was working at the same place I was, and another co-worker that was as geeky as I am and likes to knit. I decided that the potential sexual harassment lawsuit wasn’t worth it. I’ve also had offers from other girls too, one of whom was already married, and if I’d agreed to it, she would’ve been the biggest girl I ever slept with.

Now I’m back in the UK. Living with my parents. I can focus on writing. My heart no longer feels completely broken. If I ever feel the urge, I can just visit a few websites and get over it. I’m in no hurry to begin dating again, but it seems I always say that right before I find myself right back in the game.

Those of you who have been my friends through any part of this. Here’s a quick quiz for you. Leave your answers in the comments and I’ll tell you if you’re right. If I’ve used a made up name, please continue to do so.

  1. Which one would squeeze her body zits while we were hanging out?
  2. Which of the girls I actually dated were overweight?
  3. Which one of them had a chin like a fairy-tale witch?
  4. Which of them wouldn’t let me say “I love you?”
  5. Which one tried to get me into ‘My Little Pony’?

I hope you enjoyed my little walk down failure lane. Please make sure you follow my blog so you don’t miss anything. If you have any other article suggestions/ requests, please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Fourth Day in Wales

I actually have no idea what I’m going to write about. That’s why I don’t have a better title.

It feels like I spent most of yesterday copying and updating notes. I still have more to go through. I managed to get a new page added under the City of Gate: Chronicles tab, about the characters Al and Simonides. Unlike some of the other Chronicles I’ve posted here, these characters were originally devised by friends who were playing The City of Gate with me. The things that the dwarf and the half-orc do were choices that the players actually made in the game.

If you like the fantasy world of City of Gate, you can keep up with new entries by following this blog and the dedicated Facebook page, or actively participate in the story by joining in the game on Facebook. Pick a link.

You may have noticed that I tend to include links in all my posts. I do this partly to try and increase traffic to my own pages, but also to show appreciation to those that have followed me. I also link back to pages, stories and articles I like, or to provide a deeper explanation of something I mention in passing. If you would like me to include a link in a future post to your own blog, project, product, service or charity, just contact me.

I was also considering an update for the page header. I mentioned this on Facebook. Here’s a few of the pictures that I’m considering using for the backdrop of my logo, now that I’m no longer living in the US. I’d love to hear your opinion.

There’s something oppressive in the atmosphere today. Everyone’s feeling it. Even the kids are feeling unusually tired. Are you feeling it too? It could be just local air pressure I suppose. Either way, I’m not looking forward to working on my stories today. Looking at the pile of notes, some of which I haven’t read through yet, makes me want to play a video game or sleep instead!

On the other hand, I’m wondering if some of the stories I don’t remember, like ‘Mr Johns‘, are hidden somewhere in the books and loose papers I have yet to look through. I may do more reading today, and work on Hermes tomorrow. I’ve already found an older version in which the protagonist is an engineer by trade, hired by one of his repeat clients to work on Hermes as maintenance crew, instead of janitorial. It was called ‘the Far-reach project’ in this version, and Psi-mon wasn’t just another janitor with a knack for programming, he was hired as a software engineer. I may try incorporating these ideas back into the narrative. There was no N•Viron in the older version, but it shouldn’t be too difficult.

If I can regain my focus, and shake this odd fuggy feeling, I may even be able to get started today. I’m tempted to do what I already did for this article. Sit down, start typing, and see where it gets me. Sometimes it’s good to go back over old articles and notes, to remind yourself what you set out to accomplish in the first place. Then setting out in the right direction even though you’re not certain where it will lead. We’ll see.

Have a great day everyone! I look forward to reading your comments.

The Lord Highwayman

This is a story I first came up with nearly 13 years ago. I was raising the money to come to America, so I got a job in a candle factory. It paid better than the barwork I had been doing. I didn’t really care it was nights. All I had to do every day, until I hurt my back doing it and had to quit, was trim wicks all day. The conveyor belt was a little too tall for me, causing me to slightly over-extend for reach the far side of the belt. Don’t worry, my next job selling massage cushions fixed it right up.

The nice part was I was on my own. There was no inane chatter from co-workers to distract me. I could do the work on autopilot and let my mind wander. One day I was working there and got the song “Stand and Deliver”by Adam and the Ants stuck in my head. In particular I got to thinking about the line “Your money or your life!”, and thought it would be funny if the Aristocrat in the carriage volunteered his life willingly.

Just to clarify, he doesn’t want to die. The Lord has simply grown bored with high society and has been longing for some excitement. He’s already tried all the acceptable games, and even tried introducing some of the unacceptable ones. The crude games of chance and deception played by the lower classes. The suggestion was met with disdain by his guests. He sees this as an opportunity.

It surprises the bandit when the Lord’s eye’s light up and he begin’s yelling excited “Oh, my life? My Life! Yes, My life! I hate it so, it’s so boring and dull, but you! You are exciting! You live this wonderful adventurous life! Come now, don’t stand about in the rain, step into my carriage. I’ll take you back to my house and I’ll show you!”

Gun still raised, the would-be robber moves cautiously into the carriage. “Oh, no need for that, I won’t turn you in, this will be so much more fun! Driver” he knocks on the carriage wall behind his head. “Continue homeward!”. The Lord then goes on to explain his proposal as it comes to him. He would teach the ruffian how to pass for a noble, and would want for nothing. Rich clothes, rich food, rich lifestyle. They’d be introduced at parties and other social gathering as a cousin of some sort, having returned from many years travelling the world.

In exchange the Lord would teach their new protege the life of a rogue. The Lord already knew how to duel as a gentleman would, but he wanted to learn the rough fighting of the streets. He also wanted to learn the skills he assumed that all poor people had. Lockpicking, pickpocketing, sleight of hand and con-artistry.  It turns out that the Lord was more talented with a sword and pistol than the thief, and so the aristocrat happily pays for lessons in fencing and shooting. He also provides powder and ammunition that they didn’t have before.

However, the rogue has spent time at sea, and gotten to know all kinds of bad people. The Lord is soon introduced, in his new disguise as a scruffy old crook, to the criminal element of his city. He makes contact with people who, in exchange for the dirtiest coins they could find in his coffers, offer to teach him some of the skills he wishes to learn.

I was thinking of having the Highwayman find themselves well suited to the high-society lifestyle. Fitting in well with the gossips and showing a talent for talking while saying nothing. In the meantime the Lord finds the life of a petty criminal exhilarating. Unfortunately he doesn’t take any of it seriously and soon finds himself in a pickle. I’m thinking perhaps he steals from the wrong person.

Word takes too long to reach the former-bandit, and the Lord is killed. The story ends with the surviving character’s future uncertain. At the time I didn’t think much of it. It seemed to Prince and the Pauper meets Aladdin to me. I was also worried that I don’t know history well enough to make the time period authentic and believable. I could just set in a fantasy realm of course, but it seems like an easy out.

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I had originally assumed that the highway robber was male when I came up with the idea. As I was mentioning this story idea to my room-mate, he suggested that making her female would be more interesting. He also thought though that actual romance between the characters would be unnecessary. If the story is good enough, readers will still imagine them together anyway. They may even write fan-fiction far more graphically detailed than my naive mind could think of.

He suggested I even leave the genders vague. I like this idea. After all, people might still ‘ship’ the characters even if they’re the same gender, or different species even! He could be a dwarven Lord, from a bloodline that rival’s the King’s. She could be a wood elf! Of course, that could make the ‘cousins’ thing difficult to sell. I could even make them Vampires. I kinda like that last one!

So here’s what I need to know:

  1. Is this a book-worthy idea?
  2. Is it better than “War on Magic“?
  3. Should it be our world’s history, or a fantasy world? Would you prefer a sci-fi?
  4. Should the character’s gender matter? Do we make it clear or vague?
  5. What about race/species?

Should we crowdsource the whole damned story? I could write a new post showing you what I’ve written so far, and ask you questions like this about what happens next. If I have no follow up questions I could then write the next part of the story based on my favorite answers. That would be so much fun!

Should it be Vampires? The monsters, not the shiny models.

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What do you think? You don’t have to answer the questions I asked, if there is some other suggestion, inquiry or insult on your mind, please tell me :). Either in the comments below or via one of the other ways to contact me.

And please sign up for emails, it makes my numbers look good! 😉