10 things I need to share about MY Mummy Guilt

It’s a sad and common state of affairs when the people who our society expects to raise the next generation are too busy worrying about what they are doing wrong to focus on the little people they love. And it’s not like I want to spend my time stressing about what other people think. I DON’T WANT TO CARE ABOUT THE DIFFERENCES IN HOW WE RAISE OUR KIDS. And I’m going to assume that I’m not the only one. I don’t want to be constantly comparing what I do to what you do. So why are we so hardwired to judge ourselves and others on how raise our kids?

I’m not sure if it’s some kind of instinct built into us to make sure kids don’t get neglected, but I don’t know about you but my mummy guilt reflex is OUT OF CONTROL. Obviously if you know more about this (and that wouldn’t be hard) feel free to get in touch.

I’m not prescribing any wisdom, because I have none to offer let alone assert as truth but here are some ideas that help me cope with the constant struggle to keep sane in the face of parenting:

  1.  My kids are fine. Your kids are fine.
  2. We all develop differently and put all the weight of the development of our kids on how we parent is bananas.
  3. If the kids are kind, fed, washed, loved, safe and happy then why do we care?
  4. We know more about keeping kids safe and happy than we ever have.
  5. No one is a perfect parent
  6. You can’t parent if you don’t look after yourself at least a little.
  7. Instant maternal or paternal love is not guaranteed. And parenting is easier for some people than others.
  8. Looking after kids is a constant learning process.
  9. Biology only goes so far
  10. No matter what you do someone will judge you so just do the right thing by your family

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Rabbits… A Podcast

I’ve been listening to Pacific Northwest Stories The Black Tapes since the beginning of it’s run, and I reluctantly dipped my toe in the TANIS mystery, which promptly swept me up in a slightly obsessive haze of vague ideas about ancient environmental phenomena. And now they’ve released a new series, this time under the production name of the Public Radio Alliance.

So why the switch? If you know send me a message…

Black Tapes deals with ghosts and demons, TANIS deals with mythology and folklore, and now Rabbits takes on Augmented Reality Games (ARG), exploring what happens if you raise the stakes and take the ARG to a whole new level.

Carly’s friend Yumiko has dissapeared and the last time she saw her she seemed to be getting drawn into an ARG known simply as “9” or “Rabbits”. The game is cloaked in secrecy but what is clear is that the game is elaborate and has very high stakes. 

The second episode dropped last week and episode 3 is set to come out around the 28th of March. I’m enjoying it so far, it’s a bit slow going initially,but the mystery starts to deepen within the first episode. The series definitly follows in the footsteps of it’s big sisters Tanis and The Black Tapes, with a similar soundscape and narrative style. There have even been a few nods to the other podcasts that avid followers might get a giggle or smile out of.

Never listened to a podcast?

This month is #trypod month in which those of us who are obsessed with podcast attempt to bring you to the dark side and get you to try a pod cast you might really love.

So why not try Rabbits?

One way to download a podcast is to download a podcast app from your app store, I use Podcast Republic, but Stitcher and Podcast Addict are also highly regarded. Then search in the app for “Rabbits”.

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Wash out

I do believe Summer may have lulled us into complacency. I hate being hot and sweaty but I had kind of resigned myself that it was now my lot in life to slowly roast to death in the gradual onset of a massive climate change. But that is still not quite how seasons work and the first big storm of Autumn certainly made an impact. Our little turtle house held up pretty well but our neighbour’s canvas tent, a magnificent gorgeous thing in more friendly conditions, was completely washed out to the extent that they made a midnight evacuation to less porous accomadation. 

The claps of thunder brought a sheepish 9 year old to the foot of our bed and he sat with his step dad, watching the radar and checking on the fire started by a nearby lightening strike on the emergency services app.

By the morning we were pretty much the only loiterers left, besides a sad, slumped canvas tent and the less wet patches signifying where the caravans had been.

Then like a cliché in a hastily written blog post the ducks arrived.

Tonight I will attempt to battle with my eternal nemesis; the wet weather campfire.

Wish me luck…

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Call out to clever cloggs

Got an idea you want to chat about?

Obsessed with something niche?

Are people tired of hearing about it?

Do they get that glazed over look in their eyes?

Do they sigh loudly when you mention it?

Do they cross the street when they see you coming?

Do they start screaming when you open your mouth?

Don’t stress we’ve got your back!

Starting this May our podcast gives a voice to the obsessed, the fanatical and the heartbreakingly earnest. We want to hear what you’ve got to say and if you can say it in 2 minutes we can give you the proverbial floor to convince us all that we should care about your thing.

What we need from you:

  • A 2 minute “pitch” for your idea, cause or obsession explaining why we should care about it too.  You can mention a specific project if you like  before your 2 minutes but it isn’t an ad so we can’t really take pitches that are just promotional.
  • 10 minutes of your time
  • A photo of you and/or the thing you care about

OR

If you are a performer you can share a song, poem, play or short story.

So if I can’t promote my stuff what can I talk about?

Well you can expand it to talk more generally. For example, if you have a podcast about true crime you can promote it before your 2 minutes, but in your 2 minutes you might talk about why people should care about wrongful convictions. Or if you have a small business you might want to talk about the importance of shopping local or buying handmade instead of mass produced. We are totally happy to plug your stuff, but the point of the 2 minute pitch is to squash as much information about the stuff you care about into it, your promotional message can be given pride of place before or after it when listeners will have time to process it.

No matter what you love we want to hear from you

Email morgan.pinder@gmail.com

Or message this blog!

 

​What do pop culture representations of transgender individuals tell us about current understandings of transgenderism?

​”What do pop culture representations of transgender individuals tell us about current understandings of transgenderism?”

Disclaimer: I wrote this for my university unit about the way societal norms assign “otherness” to certain groups who “transgress” those physical “norms”.

I don’t profess to be an expert in any of the issues discussed and I truly hope that this is not a totally ill-informed piece of B.S. I realise this is a highly emotive subject for a lot of people whose lives are touched by these issues and I hope I’ve been sensitive to that.

Thanks for reading 

Love your guts

~ Morgan

The growing representation of LGBTQ individuals in the media and the public sphere has been largely focused on lesbian, gay and bisexual narratives and discourse, but transgender representation in pop culture has undergone a slow, often independent transformation, from a pathology to an aspect of individual identity. The interaction between transgender narratives and societal norms is fraught and problematic with factors that include but are not limited to; ideas of deception and honesty, language, casting and representation, and user created content. The purpose of this essay is to explore the aforementioned issues in transgender representation in pop culture and how these factors effect and reflect societal attitudes using cultural and cinematic examples which demonstrate turning points or key signpost indicating attitudes to transgender identification.
I have made the choice to use the term “cisgender” where possible instead of “straight” as it is less problematic as it does not imply that being transgender is abnormal. Oxford English Dictionary defines cisgender as “Denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex” (Oxford Dictionaries, English, 2017). This is not a widely accepted term as it is a term defined through transgender discourse and many people choose to still identify as straight, but, as transgender representation is the subject of this essay I felt that normative terms would be counterproductive. The idea of transgenderism as inherently violent or deceitful and therefore threatening to a safe stable society is reinforced through the straight and “other” dichotomy, and the language that surrounds it, hence my choice to avoid the term straight, rejecting the idea of the “other” as being a force of corruption or deceit (Barker-Plummer, 2013).

There are two key approaches taken in popular media culture when engaging in transgender discourse, being  the “Wrong body” approach and “genderqueer” approach (Barker-Plummer, 2013). These approaches vary considerably in their depictions of transgender individuals with “wrong body” approach explaining transgender experience in terms that still exist within a binary understanding of gender and is less troubling to the pre-existing heteronormative culture and discourse than the “genderqueer” approach which disrupts this gender binary and opens up societal understandings of gender by disassociating gender from sexuality, as the process of transitioning gender is not always linked to any change in sexual desire (Barker-Plummer, 2013) which is important when discussing media depictions because “wrong body” discourse often depicts the transgender individual as sexually deceptive, linking gender transition to dishonesty in a way that is not helpful or accurate. 

Queer representation as a whole has come along in leaps and bounds in the past few decades with series’ such as Queer as Folk (Queer as Folk Season 1-5, 2009) and The L word (L Word, The – The Complete Series, 2004) gaining an extensive and varied pop culture following. But by contrast Transgender has been relegated to being the  “other” in the queer communities with transgender identities being marginalised. Even within these queer communities, sometimes transgenderism is seen as embarrassing and not quite fitting into the LGBTQ community historically (Mills, 2006). The place of transgenderism in queer media is a relatively recent development by comparison.

Prior to the 1990s the dominant popular culture view of transgenderism was represented by extremely undesirable characters such as the murderous Norman Bates, based on the deeply troubled killer Ed Gein in Psycho (1960), diabolical serial killer Buffalo Bill of Silence of the Lambs (1991) and even the raunchy musical Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) which has often been reclaimed by transgender communities, features Dr. Frank-N-Furter as a sexually predatory mad scientist. Both of these aforementioned characters are vastly different, but are both linked to violence and deception, a common trope in transgender narratives to this day. The pathologizing of transgender identification in the media links transgenderism to deception, mental illness and often sexual violence.

Comedy depictions of transgender characters tend to render the transgression of socially accepted binary gender roles ridiculous and comedic. Examples of these cinematic depictions, especially prevalent in the 1970s to the present, are Tootsie (1982), The Birdcage (1996) and Priscilla Queen of the Desert (1994). Unlike the pathological treatment of transgender  narratives these lighter modes of cinematic discourse often reject the violence at play in the criminal transgender narrative, and whilst these films often poke fun at transgender people, they also deliver heart felt moments which can make transgender individuals more relatable without compromising their identity (Priscilla Queen of the Desert,1994). However these heartfelt moments are often borne out of the individual redefining themselves to fit within the gender binary, implying that it is because of their rejection of a transgender identity that they achieve humanity or redemption (Tootsie, 1982). Then with the advent of Boys Don’t Cry (1999) and Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001) the new trope of the tragic transgender figure emerged, this was a character who was a victim, rather than a perpetrator of sexual violence, often committed by homophobic and transphobic males.

In Boys Don’t Cry the story of Brandon Teena is depicted in heartbreaking detail, and as this was based on a true story Brandon became the iconic tragic transgender hero (Rigney, 2003) for a movement towards more sympathetic depictions of transgender individuals. Stories like this are brutal, devastating and crucial to societal understandings of the transgender experience, but it does not paint the whole picture. In order to be represented accurately the transgender community needed to not just be sympathetic but these characters need to be given agency in a variety of narratives. The lack of agency often afforded to transgender characters denies them equal importance by virtue of their non binary gender identification.

The tropes of commercially produced transgender narratives i.e.; the psychopath, the comedic figure and the tragic hero, are giving way to a new kind of transgender narrative, one in which the transgender individual is the self determining protagonist, in which the transgenderism is not uniformly a point of derision, revulsion or pity. In these narratives, such as Girl Meets Boy (2014) the transgender person is afforded an agency and power that is usually only given to cisgender characters. This move towards a less marginalised view of transgenderism is partially a result of greater acceptance of transgender identification and partially as a result of greater representation of transgender people in the media industries. This move towards the less binary “genderqueer” approach allows for a much greater societal understanding of the issues faced by individuals and communities that identify as transgender. 

A common approach to depicting transgender characters is using the “coming out” storyline as the point of focus. This is a useful dialogue in that it engages in discourse surrounding societal gender norms. This process of coming out means that an individual expresses their queer identity to those around them. The media often depicts a negative fallout from this situation with the implication that the person coming out has been keeping the truth from their loved ones, further implying deception and malice rather than a process of discovery and divulging the discovery to trusted parties. This idea of secrecy and deception surrounding the transgender identity is echoed and reinforced by even some of the most earnest and well meaning transgender narratives. The process of linking honesty to coming out is apparent in the narrative and title of the recent series Transparent (2016). By linking coming out to honesty in the title implies that before the character “came out” they were being dishonest, and Maura’s adult children react in a variety of ways but a common thread is that their father was being dishonest by changing the way she identified her gender (Funk and Funk, 2016). Treating transgender identification as deceptive attaches a variety of negative connotations to the transitioning or gender exploration process which can have lasting repercussions on popular perceptions of transgenderism (Barker-Plummer, 2013).

In order to assess the level of transgender representation in produced media it is important to address issues of casting. Popular cinema has a history of casting cisgender individuals to play transgender roles. This suggests an unwillingness to display the transgender body, implying that it is undesirable and inappropriate for public viewing. Even in queer produced media such as “Boys Don’t Cry”, a breakthrough piece of transgender cinema, featured cisgender actor Hilary Swank as the transgender protagonist, Brandon Teena. In more recent times Amazon series Transparent has a male cisgender actor, Jeffery Tambor playing a female transgender protagonist, with transgender actors playing supporting roles. Greater representation is gradually being given to transgender actors in transgender roles with Laverne Cox playing prominent transgender roles in Orange is the New Black (2013) and the 2016 Rocky Horror reboot, and transgender actor Michelle Hendley starring in the 2014 movie Girl Meets Boy. This increased representation is still only a sliver of the commercially produced and distributed media however, it is indicative of changing views towards transgender bodies and a greater acceptance of genderqueer narratives in both audiences and media industries. 

Online media, unlike previously discussed cinema and television media modes, has the ability to immediately reflect and react to changing perception of gender in society due to the increased accessibility to means of self publishing or production. As a result of this user generated content online social media platforms have a far greater level of transgender representation on formats such as YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress and Facebook (McInroy and Craig, 2015). YouTube in particular showcases positive transition stories, transgender information and has the ability to foster positive niche communities, with their own celebrities and figureheads that better represent their “genderqueer” identification. However not all of these online movements are organic, with social activism and advocacy finding a strong voice and online presence. The It Gets Better campaign, which asks prominent and everyday individuals to share messages of affirmation and hope with LGBTQ young people. This movement engages with “queer worldmaking activities” (West et al, 2013) creating a safe space for transgender identification, and making a conscious and concerted effort to carve out a positive outlook and hopefully future for transgender youths who have a statistically higher rate of suicide than those identifying as “straight” or cisgender (West et al, 2013)

Despite the growing acceptance of “genderqueer” thinking and transgender identification mainstream media still holds tight to most of the tropes that marginalized and pathologized transgenderism in the media. The creation of positive transition narratives and queer world building is falling to new media that is reliant on user generated content, allowing it to operate outside the gender politics of the traditional media and cultural structures and industries. The less filtered immediacy of social and user generated media allows previously marginalised groups access to communities they might never have reached otherwise. Whilst this form of DIY media allows transgender individuals to exchange and share information, form online relationships and form communities it can also be a source of disinformation if each contribution is not able to be vetted effectively by the reader, viewer or listener (Fox and Ralston, 2016).

The spectrum of popular culture is so vast that  the narrow focus of this essay, that is television, cinema and user generated online content, whilst indicative of the current views of transgender identity, neglects some of the elements of popular culture such as music, visual arts, books and graphic novels which have often more quickly adopted “genderqueer” approaches. By not including an in depth look at these media modes I am not seeking to deny their importance, but rather address more widely consumed media modes. 

The move away from the “wrong body” approach and transgender tropes, to honest “genderqueer” narratives that explore transgender issues with the same respect and depth as cisgender issues receive has been slow moving and sometimes reluctant in its progress but is being pushed on by a wave of support and representation from user driven content. The result of this push for more accurate transgender representation is a greater knowledge of gender issues in society at large, a greater acceptance of transgender individuals and the creation of safe spaces in online media for transgender people to interact and support each other. Societal attitudes towards transgenderism still tend towards marginalisation but there is potentially change on the horizon as levels of understanding and more open gender discourse filter through various subsections and branches of society.



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References

Barker-Plummer, Bernadette (2013) Fixing Gwen, Feminist Media Studies, 13:4, 710-724, DOI: 10.1080/14680777.2012.679289

“Boys Don’t Cry”, director. Kimberley Peirce, 1999,.

“Cisgender – Definition Of Cisgender In English | Oxford Dictionaries”.Oxford Dictionaries | English, 2017, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/cisgender.

Fox, Jesse, and Rachel Ralston. “Queer identity online: Informal learning and teaching experiences of LGBTQ individuals on social media.”Computers in Human Behavior 65 (2016): 635-642.

Funk, Steven, and Jaydi Funk. “Transgender Dispossession in Transparent: Coming Out as a Euphemism for Honesty.” Sexuality & Culture 20.4 (2016): 879-905.

“Girl Meets Boy”, director. Eric Schaeffer, 2014,.

“Hedwig And The Angry Inch”, director. John Cameron Mitchell, 2001,.

“L Word, The – The Complete Series”, studio. 20Th Century Fox, 2004,.

McInroy, Lauren B. And Craig, Shelley L. (2015) Transgender Representation in Offline and Online Media: LGBTQ Youth Perspectives, Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 25:6, 606-617, DOI: 10.1080/10911359.2014.995392

Mills, Robert. “Queer Is Here? Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Histories and Public Culture.” History Workshop Journal, no. 62, 2006, pp. 253–263. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25472884.

“Orange Is The New Black”, director. Jenji Kohan, 2013,.

“Psycho”, director. Alfred Hitchcock, 1960,.

“Queer As Folk Season 1-5”, studio. Warner Home Video, 2009,.

Rigney, Melissa. “Brandon Goes to Hollywood: ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ and the Transgender Body in Film.” Film Criticism, vol. 28, no. 2, 2003, pp. 4–23. http://www.jstor.org/stable/44019160. 

“Rocky Horror Picture Show”, director. Jim Sharman, 1975,.

“Rocky Horror Picture Show; Let’s Do The Time Warp Again”, director. Kenny Ortega, 2016,.

“Silence Of The Lambs”, director. Jonathan Demme, 1991,.

“The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert”, director. Stephan Elliot, 1994,.

“The Birdcage”, director. Mike Nichols, 1992,.

“Tootsie”, director. Sidney Pollack, 1982,.

“Transparent”, director. Amazon, 2016,.

West, Isaac et al. “Queer Worldmaking in the ‘It Gets Better’ Campaign.” QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, 2013, pp. 49–86. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.14321/qed.0049.



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​I do not wish to alarm you but your human is on fire again

It was a beautiful Sunday night in May, the crisp cold night air tickled my nose as I stood on the front doorstep, quietly deliberating what to do with my evening. The night was young and the sounds of cheeky crickets drifted across the calm suburban landscape. A bath maybe, or a moonlit stroll? Perhaps a game of chicken with the stupid fluffy canine a few doors down. My tail twitched as I remembered how close the mangy mutt came to taking a substantial chunk out of it last time I paid him a visit. No, no adventures tonight, a nice relaxing bath sounded just right. I sat down and extended my tongue, when a sudden noise disturbed me. Then the smell of smoke filled the air and I knew exactly where it was coming from. Sighing, I stretched and stood back up, the bath would have to wait. I wasn’t particularly hungry but one shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Or let a stray human get away unscented. 
Straining like I never used to as a kitten I jumped the fence and walked carefully and cautiously past the tall stinky boxes the humans put their waste food in. There she was sitting on the steps of the neighbours; the woman next door was on fire again. Careless bloody human. She looked so cold bouncing her legs up and down. I have no idea why the hell that silly hairless creature goes out there just to set herself alight and breathe smoke out into the night air. Trying not to think about the pain that is now shooting up my thigh I attempted to hobble gracefully over to the steps were the human is perched. The human, notices and acknowledges me with the usual series of grunts and garbled noise. She’s not terrible as far as humans go, a bit unfriendly sometimes, and smelly, but not aggressive or dangerous. Not like the small human that lives there, which charges unprovoked at anything that moves. They need to put a muzzle on that thing, I’m sure there would be a cage or something that could house such an agro beast. You wouldn’t catch my human behaving like that. She would know better than to bring one of those small aggressive humans into my house. Its a good thing she has me to look after her but this human, this human is so lost without a cat to guide her.

I sidle up to her to make her smell a bit better. I tentatively rubbed up against her leg, just to let her know that I’m open to food if she has some. Her legs are black today, and she cleans my white fur off her. Yeah sure, you smell of smoke and you look like you are about to die of hypothermia, but yeah a couple of hairs are the main problem here. She didn’t appear to have any food, disappointing, but sadly not surprising. And I had wasted precious bath time. I thought I may as well leave her to her combustion. I don’t understand the compulsion to light bits of stuff on fire and inhale them deeply. It can’t be good for her. Oh well. Not my human not my problem. I head home, but decided to walk around the fence this time, not to repeat the same undignified landing and risk pulling another muscle. I know I shouldn’t sticky beak but all of these stray humans moving into the neighbourhood without cats to look after them is really troubling. I suppose, I thought shuddering, it could be worse they could have a terrier. 



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​6 Ways You Should Not Open Your Writing Portfolio

As a writer it can be difficult to effectively showcase your work to prospective employers, educational institutions or for any other multitude of reasons. There is the dilemma of choosing which pieces to include and whether to write new material for the purpose. But in the digital age it is so important to make a good first impression and hold your readers attention. A strong opening piece can be the difference between landing an interview and going through the shredder. Whilst we cannot tell you exactly what to open with, we have compiled a list of common mistakes and faux pas many writers are guilty of regardless of their experience.
Don’t open your portfolio with:

1. A Musical Number

Regardless of the shininess of your jumpsuit , the innovative arrangement of David Bowie’s Life on Mars for a 40 piece orchestra, or the stunningly nimble backup dancers it will inevitably get lost in translation to the written word. Maybe save the money you would have spent on doves and the time spent on hand sewing sequins and put it to better use. Wipe off the sparkly face paint, turn off the smoke machine, buy yourself a new computer or a couple of hundred lattes and sit down and write something a little less, umm… audio visual. 

2. Xenophobia 

It’s just not helpful and it tends to alienate people. Save your bigotry for the employee lounge after you get the job. 

3. Hardcore Harry Potter Fan Erotica

Yes, we all see what you did with that wand euphemism, well done. Nobody outside of your niche forum needs to read that, you are just making everyone uncomfortable. Please keep all theories you have about Snape and Hermoine’s implied hidden romance to yourself. 

4. Personal insults

Whilst it can be humorous to lightly poke fun at your readers, it’s important not to go too far. Questioning their taste in reading your work might be self deprecating and amusing, however avoid statements like “What are you doing reading this steaming pile of rubbish you total wanker?”, this may put people off.

5. A Buzzfeed Style Clickbait List

Give your readers a bit of credit. Whether you are writing your portfolio to show potential employers, as part of an education program or to impress that barista you’ve been trying to chat up, it’s important to remember that the person reading this has seen every trope and writing cliché under the sun. Just churning out patronizing “content” is not going to cut it. It’s lazy, you’ll look like a jerk and undermine everything else in your portfolio.

6. Windings (or boxes if you haven’t installed the font yet)





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Camp Shower’s Big Adventure

Today I:

  • drove 20kms at 100kmph
  • Went around 3 round abouts 
  • Went into 2 shops 
  • Dropped the kids off at their various schools
  • Drove in town for 15 minutes

All without noticing our camp shower on the boot of my car until some lovely guy at the traffic lights told me.

1. Ffs Morgan get your shit together
2. High five camp shower for hanging on like a trooper

Coffee time me thinks…

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Mary

“It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils…” 
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, 1816

The young man sat hunched over his work, occasionally lifting his head and darting about the room in a flurry of activity. The workshop had been brightly lit when darkness first fell, but the illumination  of the all but extinguished candles had dwindled and the young doctor was too preoccupied to tend to such tedious practicalities. His project and the focus of his mania lay dormant on the table. Inanimate for the moment, a state of affairs the young man was hoping to rectify. 

There was no divine clap of thunder, no maniacal laugh, no subservient assistant, just a young doctor obsessively and frantically tending to his work, alone. He was about to reach the culmination of his efforts, the proof of concept, a concept so ground-breaking. An act of pure creation, an act that would raise man to the realm of God.

The cold  pallid  eyelids fluttered gently opening for the first time, the pupils shrank, the dead eyes focused sharply in on its surroundings, suddenly the beast realized it’s own consciousness. It’s muscles twitched, his fingers curled, his sutured skin stretched and contorted as he moved. The young doctor had very deftly and brilliantly applied his keen surgical skills to the task but instead of a work of beauty he had made a being so hideous he could not bear to look at it.  The doctor stood aghast, struck with terror, he looked almost as pale as his creature, what had he unleashed?

The beast crawled at first, dragging his semi limp form across the ground, then as he gained awareness of his extremities and their potential he rose and ambled awkwardly towards the doctor, he walked with the uncertainty of a newborn foal, vulnerable and innocent despite his grotesque appearance. Reaching out for his creator, he could not know how vain his search for affection would be. The doctor shrunk away in horror, as his creation opened his wretched mouth and letting out an agonised wail.

She woke with a start, looking about her to be sure that her subconscious had not conjured the monster into being. She saw nothing of the kind, the only spectre to be seen was the very embodiment of self centeredness that was sprawled across the bed. The pretend husband she adored, but whose indifference in the face of her pain was devastating, she sighed, wiping away the few stray tears trickling down her cheek. The night was still in it’s infancy and faced with the grim prospect of spending the hours next to the apathetic form peacefully snoring beside her, she sat up, carefully patting the dresser in search of the candlestick and placing her feet on the gentle ripples of the hardwood floor. The rain continued to beat solidly against the glass panes. Reaching out again she sought out the flimsy, worn matchbox that had travelled to Lake Geneva with them. Striking the match and shielding the flame from any subtle breeze. Armed with the dim glow of the candle she made her way into the hallway and down to the tiny, temporary nursery.

Despite enlisting the help of a local girl she sought to reassure herself of the wellbeing of her little boy who was recovering well despite the unseasonable cold. Like his father the little boy slept peacefully, utterly unaware of her anguish and fear. She lightly placed her hand upon his chest feeling his little chest rise and fall. 

Earlier that week, in the evening, bored and listless from yet another day of dark and idleness, the occupants of the house were surprised when the dashing romantic, inspired by his own genius burst through the door. The excited and smug smirk that played across Byron’s face seemed out of place in the glum tedium that had been the unending sunless summer. He proceeded to enthusiastically read from a book of ghost stories, but his enthusiasm dwindled as he realised that his brilliant idea was falling short of delighting his audience. After blaming his source material he threw down the book and slumped into a chair, raising the attention, momentarily of the lazy hound that had settled at the foot of the chair.

“What a lot of rot! I could write a better ghostly tale than that, hell Polodory here, wet as he is, could do better” 

He gestured to his long suffering doctor, who looked up pitifully from his current occupation, pretending not to be gazing at Mary. She was painfully aware of his attentions, she often shifted awkwardly under the intensity of his gaze, praying that his attentions be drawn elsewhere, perhaps to the neglected note book in his lap that he barely feigned writing in when caught staring by the others. Claire, Mary’s half sister, leant against the mantle, trying vainly to catch the eye of the young Lord who was deliberately avoiding acknowledging her. The dashing and flighty young poet had made the mistake of encouraging her in London and now here she was having attached herself to Mary and Percy in order to get closer to him. Mary had trouble understanding the fuss that was made over Byron; he was a dear friend but only a fool would become romantically entangled with him. Everyone fawned over him, even as she sat next to him, elbow to elbow, Percy was utterly bewitched by his presence. Despite finding her husband’s infatuation with Byron vaguely annoying, the doctor’s attentions unnerving and her half sister’s impositions barely tolerable, she was glad they had come. The grey, ashy summer by the lake was not what she had in mind, but it was better than sitting idle in London, wallowing in her grief.

“We should all write the most ghastly story we can and see whose is best!” proposed Byron, an idea that was met with enthusiasm by more than one of the party, but the prospect filled Mary with dread. The poets were assured success, they always were. Even when they were dissatisfied with their own work and moped around like intolerable children, there was always someone to praise their genius. She had always wrote, how could she not as immersed in literature as she was, but her aspirations were always dragged back to earth by the weighty legacy of her mother and father. 

She sat, distracted, trying desperately to be attentive to the presentations of the others. These were not their best work but it was still far in excess of her own failure to contribute. The mortifying lack of progress in her writing constantly vexed her. 

She shook herself awake again, she still stood by the little bassinet, she must have drifted off. This was familiar to her as she hadn’t experienced a single solid night’s sleep since the loss of her first baby and now she was fearing that little William would not make it through this year without summer. Even her mother managed to deliver a child safely into the world, it killed her, but she did it, and now Mary, the daughter of literary royalty could not nurture a child or write anything more than an extensive collection of love-struck letters. The value placed on her existence by the process of exchanging her mother’s life, who had given so much to the world and meant so much to so many, for her own had placed a great burden on her shoulders, how was she ever going to be able to do something worthy of this exchange?

Even the horrifying man in her dream managed creation, and what hell did he unleash? What hell… what creation… she paused. Struck for a moment by a lingering thought. She became fixed on her purpose. She turned making her way back down the hallway, trying desperately not to let her rapid footsteps betray her excitement, willing the floorboards not to creak and her nightgown not to shuffle.

 Padding down the hallway and then cautiously creeping into the room she headed for the writing desk across from the room where Percy laid. 

Settling down at the slightly wonky Writing desk she decided to try to fill a page, just one page for the story of the doctor and the creature. If it was terrible she could burn it and it would never have to see the light of day, or more importantly the scrutiny of her friends. She did not invest much hope in this endeavour. At least she would have something to show her companions if nothing else. She would at the very least show it to Percy, he was determined to find her genius, he expected great things from her, great lofty things that she felt unable to provide. He was both her harshest critic and greatest advocate. They were allies, they were radicals, swept up in a youthful haze of exuberance and ideology. Death, tragedy and scandal had already marred their imperfect union, but surely the universe would not have more harm to inflict on their little family. She looked back to the paper lying in front of her, dipped her nib in the ink and began industriously fill page after page until the light of dawn creeped the through the half drawn curtains.

The rain pelted down on the window, a window that did not look out over the serenity of Lake Geneva, rather the grim bustle of the London streetscape. The occupants of the lake house had left many years ago, most of them had died not long after that dark, cold year. Even little William had succumbed to his sickly nature. Mary sat quietly eternally grieving her children, husband and friends. She held a scrappy, dishevelled manuscript. Carefully opening the pages she gazed upon the scrawled text, she didn’t read it, she didn’t need to, she knew every word, every letter, every tiny blot of ink. The careworn pages were yellowing and the corners were curled and torn.

A story stitched together, a story with a life all its own.

She had lovingly assembled this book, worked tirelessly and pursued its publication. Her own handwriting lined the pages ranging from frantic to slow and careful. She tenderly touched the words written by another hand, Percy, he had a hand in all her creations, but the he would leave her to face the reality of unleashing them on the world.

Rejected and bewildered the creature roamed the earth purposeless and confused. He did not know what to do with the heavy weight of his existence. He had long since seen the demise of his wretched unfeeling creator, spurred on by causing his destruction he was adrift in the world. Alone. What use was an existence without a purpose? What use was a creature without a peer of any kind? A creature standing on an ending plain of ice. Cold and alone. 



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100 Days of blogging

So for someone who writes a bunch I don’t seem to share a lot. I’m trying to get a bit more proactive with my writing so I’m taking up the challenge to submit 100 days of words out into the ether. It may be a case of quantity NOT quality but try to bear with me through this period of aggressive and perhaps excruciating overshare.

Criteria for each post…

  • Must be 300 words or more
  • Must include 1 original photo as header
  • Must be posted by 11:59 pm

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