Archive for July, 2011

21/07/2011

Taking a break

I found out yesterday that on Sunday evening my grandmother had a stroke, and it would appear to have been a fairly severe one.  I also found out that my mother will almost certainly be having a long-awaited surgery sooner than we had expected.  All of this means that I have an awful lot on my mind right now, and that blogging will have to take a back seat until I get my head back together.

So that being the case I am going to take a two-week break from my blog.  Thank you to my regular readers for sticking with me, and I’m looking forward to starting up again on the morning of Saturday the 6th of August.

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19/07/2011

Screw the future, I wanna go back to the past.

I guess you could call me a modern old-fashioned girl. I prefer my gothic wardrobe to be much more 90’s Kindergoth, than an homage to Amy Lee.  I prefer my books to be made of paper than bits.  And personally I think every affordable car has sucked since 1990, when they discontinued the Citroën 2CV.

So with the 1990’s mentioned twice in that short list it will come as no surprise to anyone, that I was a teenager in that particular decade.  It will also come as no surprise, at least not to any of my regular readers, that I prefer my video gaming old school as well.  And hey, if those old school games come from the 90’s as well, well that’s only a good thing too.

I mean don’t get me wrong, I love some modern games.  For example, EVE Online is a wonder to behold and Crysis is a masterpiece of storytelling and first person gameplay.  But there’s something about revisiting the games that captivated me back when I was a troubled teen that just fills me with joy. It really is like regaining a piece of my youth.  Especially when while doing so I am happy to realise that even then I had pretty good taste in games.

So there I was yesterday, reading up on an old Playstation 1 (PS1) game, hoping there had been a PC port made of it.  Well as it turns out there was never a conversion to PC, but some clever people have made several freeware emulators for the PS1.

Some of you are now thinking “Well duh, they’ve existed for ages.”  Yes they have and yes you’re dead right.  But I had, foolishly as it turns out, figured that no-one would bother to make roms for a cd-based gaming system.  You’d think that considering I make ISO’s (a way of making a 1:1 copy of a cd or DVD, so you can store it on your hard drive) for all of my games as a matter of course, I would have at some stage thought “Hmmm, you know what?  This might just work for PS1 games.”

Well anyway, I am now the happy owner of a perfectly functional PS1 emulator.  It’s hiding behind a particularly large MP3 from all the 16 and 8 bit emulators that are currently in control of my PC.  But in a few days the joypad I ordered today will arrive, and lil PS1 will undoubtedly spring out and kick each and every one of their asses.

So what does this mean for the future of my blog?  Well once my joypad shows up in the mail expect reviews of such classic gems as Kings Field, Wild Arms, Tenchu – Stealth Assassins and Vandal Hearts.  Since all console games are easier to play with a joypad than a keyboard I’ll be really digging into the back catalogues of systems like the Megadrive, Super NES, Neo-Geo and even plunging deep into the past with the long forgotten Master System.

So my future and the future of the review portion of my blog most definitely rests in the past.  And I didn’t even need a suped up Delorian to get there.

16/07/2011

A few more thoughts on the clerical abuse of children in Ireland.

I’m worried that something fundamental has been missed in all the dust from both the Cloyne Report and all the previous reports into clerical abuse in Ireland.  These bishops, who took direction to pervert the course of Irish justice, did so on the orders of the ruling head of a foreign nation. Think about that, they ignored Irish law, the law of the nation they supposedly claim citizenship of.  Surely that is an act tantamount to being treasonous. A direct betrayal of the nation and people of Ireland, at the behest of a foreign power.

That being the case perhaps that, is the route to take with non-pedophile leaders within Ireland’s church. Simply strip them of their  Irish citizenship and expel them back to their master in the Vatican city. After seizing any, and all goods belonging to them personally for redistribution to those who their acts have directly harmed.

In addition why have we not officially rebuked the Vatican? Surely a just response to their interference with the internal affairs of another sovereign nation would be to cut all diplomatic ties for a set period of time.  Then if necessary forcibly remove them and their mouth pieces from all positions of authority in our nations system of education?

As for the pedophile priests themselves and in fact all pedophiles, life sentences, life meaning life.  Pedophilia is not a curable illness, they do not get cured. There are cases in the U.S. of convicted pedophiles who have been chemically castrated, self injecting with testosterone to get around their treatment.  That being so they should on conviction be held indefinitely, in a facility capable of keeping them separated from all children, for the rest of their natural lives.

There are those who would say this is an extreme and cruel punishment, well let me say as an abuse survivor, it is not.  Child abuse is murder.  Plain and simple.  The person that child was, the person they might have been is killed over the course of one abusive act.  They will never again be the same.  The person they become will never feel whole and will never be truly okay ever again.  It is the most heinous act that can be perpetrated upon a child.  Actual murder would be almost kind in comparison, at least their suffering is done, but the abuse survivor never stops hurting.  It will often be the first and the last thing they think of each day.  It will prey on their minds, fill them with fear and dread when they go to any location, where they might conceivably see their abuser.  Often they will never lead fulfilling adult lives, often the most normal and natural parts of life, will have been soured and destroyed for them.  And worse still their families will usually suffer the after effects with them.

Every time there is a new revelation about the clerical sex abuse of young children, there is talk about recompense, but little is done beyond a weakly worded letter to the Vatican.  A letter which the Vatican then promptly ignores.  If Ireland wants to be seen as a truly civilised, modern nation, then surely we should be seen to act to protect our children and where justified avenge those who have been failed in the past.  That is what a mature nation should do, protect the young.  While making it clear to the entire world, and any who would shelter those who abuse our children, that if you harm our youths, we won’t respond with a letter.  Instead we will as one united nation, respond in a legally defined way, that will amount to a complete disaster, brought down upon your representatives who perform or cover up any such act.

14/07/2011

The Cloyne report – a few thoughts.

I delayed writing todays post until some of the dust could settle after yesterdays release of the report into child sex abuse in the Cloyne diocese.  This report is one, which has a great impact on me personally.  You see I grew up in that diocese.  I can be absolutely certain that I knew at least one of the priests it refers directly to.  And I believe, strongly believe that it may have missed something crucially important in their investigation.

So to start at the beginning.  While I grew up in the Cloyne diocese and attended a Catholic run school, I of course had massive exposure to the local priesthood and occasional exposure to Bishop Magee.  While the priests by in large were a less than memorable casting call of insignificant men, Bishop Magee seemed, to me at least, to be precisely what a bishop should be.  He seemed to be well read, erudite, incredibly intelligent, charming, compassionate and above all a man with a real connection to his flock.  Well as it turns out  I was mostly right.  Though you would have to remove compassionate and connected, while adding the descriptions cowardly and lying, to that list after yesterdays revelations.

I often think that most of the kids and teenagers in my hometown, had some idea that there was a lot of child abuse happening.  There were a lot of very, messed up young people around us.  But for myself I didn’t have some idea, I knew for certain.  After all I was being abused myself.

I’m not going to go into detail on what happened.  To be clear though, it was the worst thing that ever happened to me.  I changed me forever.  And despite my not being abused by a priest, it has cemented my thinking on this subject.  Why?  Well because one of my abusers was one of those specially chosen lay-people who are called on by the church in their locality to perform specific acts.  Acts such as presenting the Host to the faithful at Mass.

This is where I believe that the Cloyne report may well have missed something.  Not acts by priests but acts of abuse perpetrated by senior members of the laity covered up by abusive priests.

I’ll tell a little story to illustrate.

One of the men who abused me was a primary school teacher, a senior leader in what used to be the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland and as I said a layperson who at Mass would give the Host to the congregation.  The latter being an act typically performed by a priest.  He was immensely well-regarded and respected in the local community.  He had also been actively abusing young boys for decades.

One Summer while on camp in West Cork with the scouts, he took myself and five other scouts out to set up some event for later in the day.  On the way back we all dropped by a former senior priest from my home town.  I remember that priest very well, you see he had the most beautiful, gentle and affectionate pedigree Dalmatian.  The dog was adored by most of the children in the town, the priest was widely suspected of interfering with children by the adults.  Over the course of an hour I saw a very close friendship between the man who was abusing me, and a priest whose true identity I am certain, absolutely certain is shrouded under a pseudonym in the Cloyne Report.

In the end the man who was abusing me was eventually caught when he raped a young boy with Down Syndrome, on the grounds of the primary school my brother and I were educated in and went on to serve prison time as a result.   I was never psychologically able to bring forward a case, but we’ll get to that another time.  But the day he was finally imprisoned I cried for hours with relief, you see up until that day I was scared to leave my home most of the time.  In case I would see him.

He was found guilty and imprisoned, during and after the court case, it was widely known that after a police investigation there were dozens of complaints against him.  There was absolutely no doubt as to his guilt.  And yet, during the case, the principal of the primary school, a Christian Brother, and at least one priest of the parish would go on to give testimony applauding his character.

What I fear most from the Cloyne report is not what is now known, it’s what may have been missed in the investigators, completely understandable, tunnel vision.  You see that day in West Cork I learned something important about human beings in general and pedophiles in particular.

Human beings create communities, it’s our great strength as a species.  However, as we all know well from the numberous reports of pedophile rings, they also form communities.  And those communities will usually go to extreme lengths, to protect their own.  So I sit here sickened by the acts of these men, these would be leaders of their faithful, and terrified by that prospect that these abusers may well have hidden the heinous acts of others like themselves, who were not men of the cloth.

12/07/2011

The ending of a Golden Age.

As I sit writing this post, somewhere high above me, the very last flight of a Space Shuttle is taking place.  Being 33 years old, I am of course, a member of the generation who grew up during the second Golden Age of space exploration.  When I was a young kid, way back in the dark and distant past of the early 1980’s, NASA’s Space Shuttle was, I think, to every young person the height of human accomplishment.

Humanity had never flown so high, nor so fast ever before.  Of course we were wrong.  The Mercury and Apollo generations had not only flown faster and higher, as well as far, far further, but they had done it all with technology, that made my pocket calculator look cutting edge.

We’ve had two Golden Ages of spaceflight now. First the pioneering  Golden Age.  The age of space adventurism. Embodied by first the Mercury, and then the Apollo programs.  Back when what was known about space, could be comfortably written on the back of a postage stamp.  The time when brave pilots, flung their bodies out of Earths atmosphere on top of what amounted to over-engineered, fireworks.

Then came the second Golden Age, the age of space science.  The age of the Shuttle program, the age of the Hubble space telescope and the age that finally gave us a sustainable, permanent foothold in space, with the International Space Station. Well that second Golden Age ends on July 20th.

Some people will question why the ending of NASA’s 30 year-long orbiter project has any impact, on a transwoman from Ireland?

The fact is that I’ve never viewed space exploration by any one nation to be solely in that nations best interests.  I more see space exploration as belonging to and being about humanity, and as a furtherance to any prolonged future we might have as a species.  I believe that anyone who thinks in detail about Earths history, and the future of the human race, will probably agree with me that, sooner or later we need to move at least some people off of Earth.  If for no other reason than the fact that, the planet Earth has killed off 99% of all the species to ever call it home.  Our home world is not a friendly place, and sooner or later it will get around to squashing our species like a bug.  So better for us all that a seed of our species be settled elsewhere when that does inevitably happen.

But the truth is the main reason for my affection towards Atlantis, and her now retired sister ships, comes from something deeper than a love of science, or a rational fear for the future of my species.  No the real reason comes from a deep romantic view of those shuttles, and what they represent.

They represent to me a path to that last avenue available for human exploration.  Not just exploration of a place, and let’s face it space is a hell of a big place to explore, but exploration of what it means to be human.  The passing of the era of the Space Shuttle represents the final passing of the 20th century.  The century that having been both a child and an adult in, I still feel, and probably will always feel, was my century.  It represents an ending to both the optimism and pessimism of both the 80’s and 90’s.

Ah hell, let’s call a spade a spade, it represents another Concorde moment.

For the second time in less than 20 years, we as a species are making a grand leap backwards.  The first was the ending of civilian supersonic flight, with the grounding of the Concorde.  The phasing out of the Shuttle program is the second.  For now the human race is to look back instead of forward.

But with the shortsighted vision of national space programs being shortened even more by recessionary time, I live in hope of a third Golden Age.  A new age of the civilian astronaut, the age of the next door neighbour astronaut.  An age when the vision, courage and desire of a better future by private citizens will lead them and us to greater heights, and more distant goals than the previously nation driven exploration ever could have.

Perhaps, Virgin Galactics, Spaceship One will be seen by future generations as the moment when, real meaningful human space exploration really began.  By proving that you don’t need to be a superpower nation, to fly through vacuum and see the Earth as a jewel in the sky.

But for many like myself, who sat up late in the night to watch the shuttle take off on television, (back when they did occasionally show those on Irish and British terrestrial television), they’ll need to create some real life Captain Kirks, to come close to the excitement and romance created by that big, chunky looking spacecraft, sitting on its launchpad, waiting to take all our imaginations and hopes into space with it and its crew.

09/07/2011

Rationalising myself for myself.

Okay folks, this one could be a little triggering for other transfolk, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Also don’t comment just to give me hassle over my personal use of a given word, or term.

Well, I’m a transwoman.  That’s kind of obvious huh?  I mean what with my blogs tagline saying it and everything.  But I figured I’d just throw it out there for anyone who hasn’t figured it out yet.

Unlike, what seems to be,  a lot of gender variant people I happily use labels.  After all I’m a writer and labels are a major part of my stock in trade. When I write any piece, fictional or not, I use a series of labels to describe people.  Fictional and even factual people usually fall into a combination of two or more archetypes.  “Archetype” being, for me, just another word for “Label for a given character type”.  Labels aren’t inherently bad, just like truth, justice and sex, whether it’s good or bad comes down to personal perspective and usage.

So Amanda, where are you going with this?

Well, I think in labels.  Which is handy as a writer, but a nightmare as someone who doesn’t really fit many labels.  My transition (the act of transitioning from one gender expression to another), initially began as a journey from living as male to living as a woman.  I felt pretty clearly in my mind that I was female, and that pretending to be male was killing me by inches, so changing gender was the best option available to me.  But a couple of years in I was hit by a personal problem with my transition.

I was Amanda, very definitely Amanda, but half way to what is often the end goal of male to female transition, gender reassignment surgery (GRS), I didn’t want to go any further.  And for a person who deals with labels the whole time, who thinks in labels the whole time, that left me with a problem.  What am I?

I am female, a very tomboyish female, but female none the less.  My passport says female, my wardrobe says…well it says trashy goth-girl a lot of the time, but still female.  But here I am quite happy to have what someone once described as a meat strap-on, and more over, I’m pretty damned happy to use it.  You see, I don’t see Miss Happy as being a male piece of flesh, I mean a few snips and a bit of jiggery-pokery and I would have a pretty little kitty of my own.  But the thing is for me GRS would be a let down.

This is for two reasons.

Firstly it would come down to the Porsche Boxster effect.  Imagine you bought a Boxster, you easily had the extra few grand needed to buy a full-blown 911, or even a 911 Turbo, but you decided to buy the Boxster.  Then one day on a three lane road you’re at the traffic lights.  You’re feeling pretty damn good, you’re sitting in your Porsche and life is pretty nifty, when what pulls up next to you on the left but a 911, then on the right up pops a Turbo.  That’s gotta be a pretty shitty feeling.  That sinking feeling that you’re so close to automotive perfection, and yet you’re so frikkin’ far away.

Well for me, NOTE I SAID “FOR ME“, that’s GRS in a nutshell.  So close to the natally assigned equipment but just that one, utterly, impossible step away.  Or to put it another way, if there’s a surgery that will let me bear children of my own, I’ll have it.  But there isn’t so I’m buggered if I’ll risk my life for a surgery, which, again, for me will only lead to a genital version of the, Porsche Boxster effect.

The second reason I became dead-ended and thus a little confused, is the fact that after a lot of soul-searching I realised that I would be happiest of all as a true, functional hermaphrodite.  A natural  impossibility in human beings.  Yes intersex people do exist, that’s a different situation, but as far as I know there has never been a fully functional, true human hermaphrodite.  But in recent years I have read more and more accounts of people who have transitioned from one gender, and then purposely frozen midway.  Because that’s as close as they can bring their own bodies, to what for them is their ideal physical form.

And much to my own distress, I’m one of those people.

Let me now make something clear.  I wish I didn’t feel this way.  I wish I could have a complete transition and come out the other side with a body that fits my mind properly.  For one thing it would save me from a life filled with immense emotional pain.  But, I can’t.  When I close my eyes, what I think of as my internal body map, says that I should have a female set of equipment, but it also says I should still have my oversized clit as well. Even to me this sounds odd.  But when I think about not having my current equipment I get a sense of panick, but worse still when I think about never having a vagina I get precisely the same panick. And so I’m stuck in physiological limbo.  Neither physically male nor female, nor a true fusion of both.  Neither one thing nor the other or even the other…other.

Which brings me back to labels and then the title of this post.  As a writer I use labels constantly.  The man, the gay man, the woman, the lesbian, the puppy, the beagle puppy, the beagle puppy running away with my best pen, etc.  So while a lot of people rage and campaign against them, I actually like them.  They’re just words, a way to denote difference between one thing and another thing in a literary sense.  Though of course people do tend to turn labels into weapons, when they feel the need to punish one group or another for the heinous crime of existing. And that should be stamped out.  But over all labels can be useful.

But my automatic use of labels, led me for a while to a place where I despaired.  There are no labels in the English language to describe me.  My native language, the language I use as both my canvas and paint, has no space within it for what I am.

Who I am is no problem.  I’m Amanda, lesbian and writer.  (yes I know technically the last two are “what” descriptions, but they’re also a large part of who I am).

But if you know the word for “male to physical hermaphrodite with a 90-95% female mind” I for one would love to know what it is.

So as we can see labels are important to Amanda Harper, but what’s with the title of the post?

Well I for one spend most of my life rationalizing things so that I can either understand or live with them.  For example to survive the after effects of the sexual abuse I went through as a child, I had to rationalise and thus make comprehensible, some of the ways my mind protected itself.  So my final realisation that I physically needed to be something impossible, required some interesting mental gymnastics to allow me to make it rational and thus survivable.

I won’t go through all the steps, because frankly this post is already over 1200 words long and I would like to be able to do something else today.  But the end result was the following.

I am Amanda, I am mentally and emotionally female, my body though seems to need to be both gendered or better yet be of no defined gender.  However since that is impossible and having GRS would just leave me in the same place but from the other direction, I will simply have an orchiectomy and enjoy being a punkish-gothy girl with a meat strap-on.

So now some of my dear readers are pulling their hair out in clumps, wondering what the point of this post was.

The point is this.  Your gender is your own property.  It doesn’t belong to the world.  It doesn’t belong to the state.  It’s an intrinsic part of who and what you are, and thus is actually one of the very, few things in your life that will ever truly belong to you.  What ever it may be you should be entitled to enjoy it, to love being it, to not have to spend years of your life doing mental gymnastics just so you can justify your own existence to YOURSELF.

So after years of self exploration I find myself within sight of my final destination.  Just a girl with a cock who loves other girls.  But because of the world I was born into, and the society I was indoctrinated into,  I will still find myself justifying myself, rationalizing me for me, just so I can live with who I am.

07/07/2011

Wonderful Webcomics – Something Positive by R.K. Milholland.

I started to read Something Positive (S*P) almost seven years ago.  I found it, like I’m sure many people find their favourite webcomics, quite by accident.  At the time I was in a particularly unhappy place in my life, and in need of a lift I had typed two words into google, “something positive”.  Well, unsurprisingly, this led me directly to this wonderful webcomic.

So what’s S*P about?  Well it initially started as the story of the main character Davan and his two, violent, female best friends, PeeJee and Aubrey.

Davan was, and still is, a darkly cynical character, but he’s also “that” guy.  The male best friend who holds back your hair and listens to you as you bitch ad nauseam about your bad boy/girlfriend # 301.  He’s pretty smart, when he’s not being an idiot, but ultimately he’s an over all good guy, who keeps catching the shitty end of the stick.

PeeJee and Aubrey are two asian women who are not meek, shy, retiring, obedient…well to be short-winded they’re threatening, violent, sweet and very funny.

So for a while, the comic revolves around these three characters, and their large group of messed up friends.  And when I started reading it that’s what I thought I was getting.  I was wrong.  In the years since the day I first opened the S*P archives and read it from the beginning, S*P has dealt with subjects varying from sexuality, death of a parent, disability, Alzheimer’s, unrequited love, requited love, fanboys, scary anime kittengirls, hairless-boneless cats and a musical about Jesus.  No, not the musical you’re thinking of, the one in S*P is called “Nailed” and I would actually pay lots of good money to see it.

Visually S*P is nothing special.  I mean it’s far from ugly, but it’s drawn in a bog-standard cartoon style.  And actually this is a strength, you read it and the drawing style manages not to detract or distract from the story.  The story is where S*P really shines.  From very nearly the beginning, Milholland manages to create characters you want to see, set in a set of well written, closely woven, short and long story arcs.  And while it would appear that he has it all very well planned out, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear that the whole thing is in fact, an incredible  visual stream of consciousness.

Okay let’s make this simple.  I like many webcomics, and can recommend at least ten right off the top of my head.  But if I was asked to recommend just one webcomic to someone, hell if I was asked to recommend just one comic, Something Positive would be that comic.  I simply can not sing its praises loudly enough.  Load it up and read it, you won’t be sorry that you did.

05/07/2011

Shagging away those recession blues.

Yes it’s official, apparently Ireland has the fastest population growth in Europe.  And apparently, this flies in the face of common practice in the times of recession.

Supposedly the things  people are actually meant to do during a recession are:

a) wander aimlessly shouting “Gi’s a job!”, while their sanity is slowly unspooling.  

b) stand for unending hours outside the dole office, looking sad and depressed.

c) sell off everything you own to pay off the loan-shark, who has an appointment with you tomorrow.  Said appointment to also be attended by Mister Brick and Mister Lumphammer.

However, apparently what people in a debt riddled, recession haunted country are not supposed to do is, shag each other senseless, thus creating a baby boom.  Woops, sorry statisticians of the world.  We didn’t mean to.

You see what happened was we were walking across the bedroom.  You know, going to bed, like you do, when we both (sometimes we three/four/five/half the county) slipped on banana peels and wouldn’t you know it, Tab A got accidentally inserted into Slot B.  Then after I screamed and slapped him hard somewhere painful, he extracted Tab A from Slot B, washed it and reinserted it into Slot A.

Nine months later our bouncing baby boys, Ian Montgomery Francis and Eugene Uistean, were born.

Okay, no, being serious for a moment, why the hell is this surprising?  I may be just a poor lil transgirl from Cork, but even I can see why this is happening.  Ireland is in the grip of its, Great Depression.  Our national finances are shot to hell and all we have to show for the good times are Bertie Ahern’s Erection

Is it not a glorious erection? (image via e-architect.co.uk)

and a tram that seems to be permanently filled to the rafters with skangers, drug users and drug pushers.  And often all three are in fact the same person.

So why the hell wouldn’t people be having lots of sex, after all endorphins and orgasms make for happier people, and then be more than happy to hold a little, breathing, pooping piece of a possibly better future?

Next time in the news, Scientists are stunned to discover that in Ireland it rains water from the sky and amazingly, the water is wet.

02/07/2011

A writers fear of success.

As some of my readers will know, I am an aspiring novelist.  In fact I am just about finished my first manuscript, there’s about one hour of editing left to go at this point.  This proximity to success though, has raised something very unexpected inside me.  Bone chilling terror.

I guess I should start at the beginning.  I started writing my novel, a trisexual poly amorous love story, about four years ago.  I actually started it by accident.  I had started writing a short story about a lonely transsexual woman, but somewhere in the first five hundred words that short story decided it was going to be a novel.

This was all well and good except, at that point in time I didn’t have the slightest clue as to how to write a novel.  Queue four years of very intensive study and learning by doing.  From the beginning writing a novel was for me a step into the unknown.  I knew I could tell a story, where the wheels started to come off the wagon, was when I was forced to ask myself if I had the technical language skills needed to write that same story.  Truth be told, I didn’t at the time and when I was honest with myself, I knew I didn’t.  While my grammar wasn’t terrible, my punctuation was truly awful.  I think if there was a court for cruel abuse of the common comma, I would probably have been put on a par with Herman Goering.  I was seriously that bad.

So with that knowledge I simply started by embarking on a journey which could best be described as a semi-conscious, stream of consciousness.  I just made every effort to get my story down on paper, good grammar and punctuation be damned.  Back then this was an act of desperation.  I needed to tell this story before I forgot it, and well feck it, I could fix everything else later on, when I knew how to.  I didn’t realise it at the time, but I now know that I was right to do so.

After about a year I had the first, incredibly rough draft of my manuscript.  It had the story I needed to tell in words, which were, mostly in the right order and full stops which were also mostly in the right places, but not a lot else.  I handed a print out of it to various friends, each with a different outlook on the world, just to find out if it was actually interesting.  It turned out it was.  So I started to study how to edit, how to punctuate and how to use word processing software to format properly.  All of this means that as of now my manuscript has been rewritten about a dozen times, some times with very few or subtle changes, sometimes with whole chapters being rewritten.

After two years of unlearning what I was taught in primary school, I can now use a comma, well sort of.  I wouldn’t say I get it right all the time, but at least I actually use them now, and some of them must be in the right places, even if only by accident.  The easiest thing to learn was formatting, but then I always find computer based skills easy to pick up.

All of this leads finally to today.  Today I am scared.  Not though because very, very soon I have to start looking for an agent or a publisher to take on my manuscript.  Like, probably all writers, I truly believe my manuscript, despite being a kind of chick lit, has some important things to say.  I believe it’s pretty well written, it certainly matches up well to the standards of the authors I prefer to read myself.  I truly believe in my heart of hearts, that it will sell and what’s more that it will sell extremely well.

No, I’m scared of it being successful.  I’m scared of what being a successful author might mean for my life, for my friendships, for the family I’ve created around myself.  I’m scared of what my very real and unfortunately severe health problems might mean for my career.  I’m scared that being successful will paint a bullseye on my back for  people who hate what I am, or who I am.  Most of all I’m scared that at thirty-three years of age I may have peaked.  That my first novel is as good as my writing will get, that I will never live up to the potential my partner, my little sisters and my friends  see in me.

I’m not used to being scared.  I’m generally pretty fearless, you kind of have to be to change gender, to be a dominatrix, and to do all the other crazy things I’ve done in my life.  So I don’t cope well with being afraid.  Especially when it’s a fear of something which I never even imagined I could be frightened of.

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