Bye bye, boxes

by Mhairi Simpson on December 2, 2014

Fifteen minutes ago I opened up a blank Word document and started typing. Two hundred and fifty-six words later, I know I’ve made yet another huge change in my life. These are the first words I’ve written since the beginning of October.

There’s something to be said for picking up a character who isn’t yet part of anything you’re actively working on. This girl, this superhero, is a first for me. Haven’t done any superheroes before. There are a few waiting in the wings but this one is the latest addition to the tribe of projects-in-waiting. There’s probably some jealousy back there that she’s getting a story before the others. Sorry, guys. That’s just the way it is. Had to work on someone I hadn’t already started writing about and she was it.

That said, as I sit here and think about what the point of this post is, I realise that I’ve always been writing about the same thing and this one page of words has reinforced that. It’s about being trapped. And by extension, about my own life. Society expects certain things of its members and it seems that artists of any stripe are generally least able to fit into the required boxes. I’ve struggled against those boxes for a long time, or rather I struggled to fit myself into them. Tried a few different ones but nothing worked. Money boxes, job boxes, property boxes, relationship boxes.

Maybe all stories are, on some level, about being trapped. Trapped by what you should do and what you need to do, what you’re expected to do and required to do. What people around you need and what you need. Hollywood endings are all about ignoring the boxes, but how many of us choose to step out of them and/or ignore them entirely on a daily basis?

Considering my network, most of the people reading this probably ignore the boxes anyway. Which is good. They enable me to do the same. I can be a little slow on the uptake sometimes. But hey, I’m here now! Ignoring the boxes. Or rather, walking past them on the other side of the street, carefully not making eye contact…

Bye bye, boxes. I have writing to do.


That hand is real

by Mhairi Simpson on December 1, 2014

I’m not sure I have the right words to put down here. This could be a very short post or a very long one and right now I don’t know how it will go. I haven’t blogged in a while, I know. It’s been hard lately. Hard to muster my thoughts. Hard to get out of bed, some days. Hard to eat or think. Hard to think about anything at all, like fishing in barren waters. There’s just been nothing there, a blank spot. The Nothing came. It took me. I drowned.

And then there was a hand. Where there had been nothing, there was a hand. Right there, in front of me. I only had to take it.

You know what a mirage is, right? You’d think maybe I hesitated. If it was a film I would have. I stared at it for a moment, alright, disbelief a veil between me and reality.

And then I took it.

You’d think once you were on dry land, solid rock, everything would resolve itself into clear shapes and paths again. Turns out, not so much. Everything is still very hazy, still wreathed in mist, like my brain can’t quite process that this is where I am. That the hand was real. The days are pretty bad. The nights are worse. I’ve never suffered anxiety dreams before, that I know of. They are currently a regular occurrence. I wake up hovering over the Nothing and tendrils coil up to pull me down again.

But today… today I got angry. I got angry at the Nothing. Most of all, I got angry at my brain for sabotaging my recovery, my path to health and happiness, the steady cool core inside me.

So I decided to do things today and this, this post, is one of those things. Maybe I’ll blog again tomorrow. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll write tomorrow. Maybe I’ll write today. Maybe I won’t write at all. Maybe I’ll never write again. But my brain serves me, not the other way around. For now, that’s enough.

The Nothing is me. The mind is me. I choose who rules. And for now, it’s me. My love, my compassion, my creativity.

That’s enough.

For today, that’s enough.


The most important tool

November 4, 2014

Sometimes it seems the hardest thing to talk about is the thing your heart is most full of. I’ve recently met up with a number of very tolerant people at FantasyCon and Bristolcon respectively who were apparently happy to listen to me expound on my philosophy of the imagination (FantasyCon) and who were happy to […]

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Hookers & Blowe available for pre-order!!

October 12, 2014

Author disclaimer: There are no sex workers or drugs in this story. I’ve been promising it for quite a while but kept wussing out of sorting the cover art. You see, Colin Barnes at Anachron was kind enough to send me over the original cover art but it needed some adjusting  so that the text […]

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“Fear is the mind-killer”

October 9, 2014

It’s a familiar quote to those of us in the world of sci-fi and fantasy but I’ve inserted it below as a reminder or as a full taste to anyone who isn’t familiar with it (I took this from Goodreads): “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. […]

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I am good enough – the thought police

October 8, 2014

After some consideration I have decided that policing my thoughts isn’t actually a bad thing – as long as I’m the one doing the policing, of course. To that end, I have decided on a new experiment, which will be conducted as follows: I am not allowed to think that I’m not good enough. Every time […]

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Some mullings: Beauty

October 7, 2014

Writing about beauty is not identifying that which makes something beautiful. It is in recognising that everything is at once beautiful and ugly. Light and dark. Free and imprisoned, while those who are truly free do not exist at all, for shape, form, requires limits, demarcation lines and those who are free have none. They […]

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Day 27: the devil’s in the details…

September 27, 2014

Today I am trimming the cards where I marked them up yesterday. Turns out my paper cutter is brilliant on brute force stuff and not so good on finicky, trimming-type stuff. So I’m sat here with ninety cards and a pair of embroidery scissors. No idea where my paper scissors are but these are more […]

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28 days to go…

September 26, 2014

I’m on a twenty-eight day countdown to Bristolcon. This is where I will be playtesting Be A Bard again (I’ve actually got a table in the Games Room, if you’re coming track me down!) and I want it to be a vast improvement on the deck people saw at FantasyCon. That ended up a bit […]

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What now? Levelling up…

September 22, 2014

I’ve been feeling a bit weird for the last couple of days. Listless, unfocussed, unable to work on anything consistently. I thought maybe I was stretching myself too thin – after all, I’m effectively launching about four businesses simultaneously (a couple of which seem to be going places without any promotional effort on my part). […]

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