Since we last talked I have knackered my computer -- unstable node B failure or some such bollocks -- and bought another one. It was this terrible toss-up: computer or a bed? I couldn't afford to buy both. You can tell what won.
My car was hit by a tosspot who smacked the side so hard that the back tyre practically exploded and the wing mirror and its casing were smashed to smithereens. (Smithereens is a good word.) When I tried to jack it up to replace the tyre, the jack punched through the frame of the car. My neighbour got his bottle jack out at hitched up the car, which lifted off the floor and then crashed back down again as the frame was holed again. Swearing sotto voce to myself, the consonants a gentle fricative rain in the London drizzle, I put my hand under the car ... and peeled away a segment of the undercarriage like wet leaves off a pavement. It was rusted to buggery. So now I have a new car. It is blue, and small, and goes from A to B like the clappers and plays music and Radio 4. This is all I care about.
My house is mine once more but it needs painting from top to bottom -- two mist coats and a top coat, ceilings and walls, every room. This is not going as swiftly as it might, but on the other hand, it's not costing me as much as it would to get it painted by professionals. The bathroom, which is finished bar the gloss paint, looks sort of fabulous. I have three scary metal fish offa Greenwich market to put on the walls, in the manner of Hilda Ogden's murial.
I have a smart new fireplace and wooden floors and a kitchen which is gorgeous. I have burned through my money, I have little furniture and am sleeping on the floor on a 9cm foam Ikea mattress pad but it turns out that this is really great for my back. I sort of hate work at the moment but at least I have some. Could be much, much worse.
Things I have learned while not posting on LJ:
(1) Do not pull the first piece of flaked paint off the woodwork. Even if it is all sticky-outy and begging to be pulled. NO. STOP IT. DON'T. If you start, the next think you know it will be 1am and you will be surrounded by mucky white flakes of paint like the dandruff of a diseased giant, your door will be denuded and you will have to paint and sand the bugger.
(2) If you write stuff and publish it online, and someone reviews it without slathering you in the sweet honey of unmitigated praise, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you get defensive and utter any variant on "interrogating the text from the wrong perspective"; "you do not understand that I did that ON PURPOSE, stupid reader", "kindly remove your rec from the internet, you philistine" or "writers get no respect". Resist your grand toys-out-the-pram moment, grit your teeth, smile and say thank you for reading -- because at least they did read it, even if they are wrong, wrong, wrongity-wrong. To do otherwise makes you look very very silly. Also pompous and ungrateful and generally delusional.
(See also "feedback is my coin and you're not paying me, so why should I produce?" To which the only possible answer is "you shouldn't. TEH INTERNETZ HAZ SPOKUN" )
(3) I see that as it is WTF o'clock, fandom is doing the warnings debate yet again, in -- SURPRISE! IT'S FANDOM! -- a fairly obnoxious way. I genuinely, genuinely do not get this.
Dear writer who will not warn,
If someone says politely, "please could you let me know in advance whether there might be something in here which will make me and others like me ill" then why wouldn't you do that?
Back in the old days, when we typed uphill both ways in the snow, with frostbite, and slash was the edgiest thing in the land, there was a problem: everything was in text files and you couldn't even italicise words, never mind hide a warning. I could understand a bit of pissing and moaning about having to spoil your own cunningly laid surprises then.
These days you young whippersnappers don't even know you're born. There's whiteout text, LJ-cuts to other posts ... good lord, you could even make a YouTube video in which you sing about your story's oh-so-dark sensibility, dubcon, violence, goats, excessive featuring of capri pants and other crimes against fashion. I'd watch it. I'd even sing along if it were catchy enough. [Handy hint: goats rhymes with boats, floats, moats and groats, so if you're writing an AU set in the age of sail you are WELL IN THERE. :::two thumbs up:::]
You could always throw some theatrical shapes by going on about your artistic integrity being compromised but it makes you look a bit daft. You could also say that books and movies don't warn people -- which isn't strictly true. Someone who wishes to avoid material which might make them ill -- not a bit sick, actually ill -- can look up warnings on the BBFC website or read film/book reviews.
Even if it's true that artistic endeavours in the wider world do not warn for potentially damaging material, shouldn't this world, this self-constructed fannish would-be utopia, at least *aim* to be better than that? To be more courteous and more thoughtful about people who have to deal with problems enough without being kipper-slapped in a forum they thought was safe-ish? Surely, a simple 'here be dragons, email me if you need details'-type warning is not too much to ask.
Also, may we dispatch the argument "well, I can't warn for everything! What if someone has nightmares about baked beans or trumpets or squirrels"? You can warn for things you might reasonably expect to cause readers difficulty. Everything else you judge on a case-by-case basis. If someone takes issue with you over not warning them for something and you think it's unreasonable, it's entirely possible that they're wrong. They might even be self-righteous and obnoxious about it. Or you might be. You won't know until you've thought about it. Yes, it's unpleasant to be attacked but so what?
To quote your own argument back at you: it's a big, bad world out there. It's no one's job to protect you from the horrifying emotional toll of someone being angry and rude about your fanfic.
In conclusion: Donna Noble pwns you all (though if fandom could stop with the incessant babyfic I would be so grateful given my compulsion to read everything on the Daily), gloss paint is vile stuff, who scratched my fucking floor, and -- given that I am fortunate enough to support the fourth most shit team in the premiership and therefore we did not get relegated -- when does the football season start again?
Lots of love,