Down-time and stress

It’s funny what relaxes you.

There was a conversation on /r/AskScience about different body shapes – why some people only gain weight around the mid-section, while for others the weight is evenly distributed around the body.

I’m one of those people who only gain weight on my torso – a personal trainer at my gym once told me that it was the worst kind of body-type to have, because the closer your fat is to the heart, the higher your odds of a heart attack. I don’t know whether that’s true or not, but it’s handy in inspiring me to attend the gym more often.

(also handy is Gym-Pact, a website that my friend Mike put me onto. Pledge how often you’re going to go to the gym and your credit card details, and it’ll charge you a pre-decided amount every time you fail to go. If you hit your target, you get money from people who didn’t. It’s a clever little site, and I’m planning on signing up later this week.)

My Dad has the same body-shape, and so I had always assumed it was genetic. The comments of the reddit thread I was reading, however, suggested that where you put on weight was determined by hormones, specifically those produced when one was stressed. The more stressed you are, the more the weight focuses around the middle.

Now I haven’t independently verified this, but it doesn’t really matter. The point is, for the first time in my life, I stopped and went “Hang on, am I stressed?”

Turns out that I am! It’s not something that normally bothers me, but having attention drawn to it like that was a bit of a downer. Since then I’ve been thinking about it, and realised that I don’t really remember the last time I wasn’t stressed.

Things seem to feed into one another – this week was meant to be a chilled week for me, but yesterday I spent alternating between a rush editing job that I picked up and a Melbourne International Comedy Festival application for We Should Know Better; today has been a bit better, but I’ve had morning appointments almost every day this week and don’t really have any breathing time until Sunday.

Since learning that I’ve stressed, I’ve been feeling it (which sucks) but I’ve also become more aware of what I do to deal with stress.

I’m not good at time off. I can’t imagine not being run off my feet – as soon as I have time off, I fill it with more things to do. So my method of relaxing is to do something productive.

Sometimes it’s sorting files on my hard-drive: I find this to be very soothing. Often it’s working on All-That-Is, which is a nice form of “creativity without deadlines” that I quite enjoy. Very occasionally it’s playing a computer game, but I rarely find a game that doesn’t make me feel like I’m wasting my time. (puzzle games, that’s the trick. It’s so satisfying, finishing a puzzle.)

Recently, and this brings me back to the start of this post, it’s been organising my Kindle library. I’ve downloaded (one could say “pirated”) a bunch of books that I own in physical form (eBook piracy is surprisingly challenging) and I’ve been adding covers, correcting meta-tag fields…you know, all the stuff that one does on their downtime.

It’s funny what relaxes you.

6MS: The City

So, uh, how obvious is it that I’ve been reading Discworld?

He was obviously part of the mob.

If you didn’t know the mob like Claudia did, you would have said that was a foolish statement. You would have looked down and not seen a mid-level member of the criminal organisation that secretly ran more than four-fifths of the city.

You would have seen a dog.

But Claudia had been a beat cop for more than a century now, and if you survive that long, it’s because you know things. You know how to look past class, how to look past species.

You saw the stance, the attitude, the carefully positioned hind-legs.

And more than anything, you looked into the eyes of the beast, and you saw the criminal mind at work.

Claudia was walking a new recruit, Jacques, around the scummy side of the city. It was dangerous, but Claudia wasn’t worried – she’d been here for long enough that the people knew not to mess with her. Even the mob wouldn’t touch her, as long as she didn’t interfere with their business.

(after more than a century on the job, Claudia had learned that upholding the law and interfering with the mob’s business were, more often than not, mutually exclusive.)

And so their walk-and-talk had led them past what looked like nothing more than a dog to the untrained eye.

Claudia wasn’t sure whether to smile or roll her eyes when Jacques bent down to feed him a scrap. The dog just stared at her; to Jacques it probably looked like disinterest, but Claudia recognised the disdainful stare of a mobster being patronised by a cop.

“Howzit, Jerr?” Claudia asked, and Jacques almost fell backward in surprise when the dog answered.



Kindle: The Update

So a while ago I spoke about getting a Kindle. Well, since then my birthday has come and gone, and a Kindle Paperwhite mysteriously arrived in the mail one day…and boy oh boy do I like it.

For the last six months, I’ve been heavily into the John Green-inspired “T-shirt and blazer” look, and the Paperwhite is the perfect size to fit into the interior pocket of all my blazers. So now everywhere I go, my Kindle comes with me.

Turns out that when you have every book you own in your pocket all the time, you start reading a lot more. And when you start reading a lot more, you start thinking about books a lot more, which results in more reading. Since I got it, I’ve read three or four books, which is (embarrassingly) more than the rest of the year put together.

If you have a Kindle, I strongly recommend checking out ManyBooks – they’ve put together a huge collection of public domain books in easy-to-download (and extremely presentable) formats. Gutenberg ain’t got nothin’ on ManyBooks. It took me a while to work out how to find the books I was after, but once I did, I downloaded well over 100.

I’ve also picked up a few of my favourites (Night Watch by TPrattz is, it turns out, so much better than I remember it. It’s a genuinely great book, and makes me want to start working on my fantasy world once more.) and have been plowing through those.

The only downside is that the interface makes it a bit awkward to organise my books – over the months I’ve been writing erotica, I’ve picked up a few, and every time I hand the Kindle to someone to have a look, it seems to resurface. I’m playing with calibre to try to fix this, but no luck so far.

In conclusion, if you read (or want to read more) pick up a Kindle! I can only speak for the Paperwhite, which I’m crazy about, but I’m sure the others are good too.


A rare weekend post!

I’ve been having a lovely Sunday so far. It’s been a great mix of “lazy” and “productive” – I’ve gotten a fair bit done, over many hours, by interspersing the work with lots of sitting around and chilling.

Right now, for example, I’m procrastinating from tidying my room, unpacking the car, and doing the grocery shopping. But I have full confidence that all of those things will be done. Why?

Because I went to the gym today.

Going to the gym is something I really dislike – we’re biologically programmed to want to hold onto our calories, but I try to overcome this and go at least 3 times a week. During show week, that often dwindles down to “1 time”, and occasionally even “0 times”.

Here’s a confession for you: I’ve turned into a bit of a fatty. I’ve been slightly overweight for years – nothing you’d notice unless I were actually naked in front of you, but I’m naked in front of myself quite regularly, and so it’s become increasingly clear to me that I’ve put on a bit of chub.

I don’t want to be overweight, and that’s why I pay $70/month for a gym membership. My sedentary lifestyle (combined with my desire to eat delicious foods) mean that if I don’t go out of my way to avoid it, I quickly pack on the pudge.

Lately, two alarming things have happened: I’ve noticed myself “fat-breathing” – you know what I’m talking about, that horrible noisy mouth-breathing that only seems to come from the overweight. Unless you’ve been jogging, I don’t think you should be able to hear yourself breathing like that. (I’m grossing myself out a little just thinking about it.) Fat-breathing is new.

The second alarming thing is that I’ve noticed a fat roll. Like I said, I’ve had a belly for a while now, but only in the last few days have I actually had a distinct roll of fat. I blame the abundance of chocolate I was surrounded by over my birthday, and my complete lack of self-control when it comes to being surrounded by chocolate.

I pride myself on having a pretty incredible will-power. I’m extremely capable, and choose to spend my time doing quite difficult things: organising TV shoots, or monthly panel shows, or trying to make a living out of writing erotica. I can sit down in a chair and force myself to write even when I have no inspiration. If I put my mind to it (and have the time) I can go to the gym every day for a month.

When it comes to chocolate, however, I’m helpless. If there’s chocolate in the house, it doesn’t matter how rationally I know it’s a bad idea, I will eat it. That’s a simple fact. I have spent many years fighting this, but I think a big part of growing up is accepting these things, and so I’ve accepted it – I simply cannot resist the sweet call of chocolate.

So my solution is to simply never buy any. I’m extremely good at that.

The problem comes when I have chocolate in the house for other reasons: we bought a lot for an event held recently called “Chocolate-coated evening”. Some of the chocolate melted in the car, and was no longer suitable for the event, so we kept it. And, for the most part, I ate it.

Chocolate, busyness during the last week (show last night! Went really well. Possibly our best yet) and my birthday all came at once, and the result?

I’m a bit pudgy.

To fix that, I’m going to go to the gym every day until I get overwhelmed with busyness once more. I figure if I go extra when I’m able, that will help make up for the times that I don’t go at all.

And now I’m going to start unpacking the car. While listening to music, so I can’t hear myself breathing.

This entry is exactly like my day has been. Drifty, relaxed, but hey – it got done! Happy Sunday, all.

6MS: Good for her.

I had technical issues while writing this, got a phone call at the end, and didn't actually see the text on the photo until I'd finished…but excuses aside, I don't think it's too bad. Enjoy!

It was her masterpiece.

Jutting out of the water, everyone around could see what she'd created – what she had created.

Some, she knew, would say it was ugly. Some would say it was an eyesore. Some would say it was totally unnecessary, but she wouldn't let any of that bother her.

It was her creation, her mark on the world, and that was all that mattered.

She wouldn't live to see it, but as it happened, she was right. She left her mark, and as she'd ignored, everyone hated it. Everyone, by extension, hated her, and rarely did a day go past without someone asking “why would anyone create such a monstrosity?”

As part of the elegant simplicity of her statement (or lack thereof, depending on how you looked at it) it had no practical function. It sort of looked like it did, but that just added to its infuriating nature – at a glance, you'd wonder if someone lived there, or if it was a shop, but once you were familiar with the area, you'd know that no, no one did. No one could.

It got to the point where the locals would roll their eyes as soon as anyone asked.

“Oh,” they'd say scornfully. “*That*. Yeah, it's…no, it doesn't do anything.”

And so in a way, she succeeded. Her creation outlived her. She left her mark, she ensured that no one would ever forget her, that no one who saw it would ever doubt that she was there.

It was knocked down over two hundred years later. But two hundred years, that's more than most people get.

Good for her.


Why I don’t secret.

There’s a big discussion in the erotica forum that I frequent (to follow trends, get opinions on covers, and be inspired by how well other people are doing) about keeping your choice of career a secret.

I’ve never been much for secrets. I had to keep a secret from SJ for about 3 months (more on that later) and it was horrible. I almost spilled the beans a number of times, and any time she was talking to someone who knew, I was on edge.

Never again, says I. It’s not fun, and I’m not good at it.

Pretty much as soon as I started making money from erotica, I started telling people. I didn’t broadcast it, or introduce myself to people by saying “me Peter, me write smut”, but if someone I knew asked what I was doing for money, I’d tell them.

A few people in my line of work just tell everyone in that they write romance; I do that on occasion, but mostly people I won’t interact with regularly – other extras on set, bored wait-staff, or my dentist.

Since I’ve told my family (who were all cool with it; all of them but my Dad asked if they could read a story or two) I’ve “come out” about smut-writing everywhere but Facebook. I didn’t want the wider world to know before my family did, simply because that would be a pretty crap way for (say) my sister to learn about it.

(Facebook is an interesting bag – I feel like I’m forcing it into people’s faces if I post about it on there. My extended family read my Facebook closely, and as most of them are religious, I suspect that they don’t really want to know about it.)

(If I ever start making serious dollars, I’ll post about it there, but until then I’m happy to keep it under wraps.)

I’m a big fan of Kevin Smith – I think he’s a great writer and an even better speaker. I’m actually a bigger fan of Kevin Smith the man than I am of his films – I’ve seen all his stuff except for Red State, and while I love Clerks, Clerks II and Dogma, the rest I can pretty much take or leave.

One thing that he heavily promotes is “owning your shit” (I can’t remember if that’s his exact words or not.) – the logic is that if you own your weaknesses (being fat or having a small dick or whatever) then no one can “dig it up” and try to use it against you.

I write porn. For years, it was just for fun – in the last few months, I’ve started making money from it. (about a year ago, I started writing for commission, but that was only ever spare change, and I’ve only recently begun trying to make a living from it.)

My best-sellers are what’s called “PI”, or Pseudo-Incest: step-fathers, step-siblings, adopted cousins etc. Consensual, fully-grown adult incest, I should specify. They sell well and I’m good at writing them – I have absolutely no attraction toward my own family, but I’ve always enjoyed the fiction of it – so that’s where most of my writing energy goes. They make up something like 70% of my income, with two books alone being about 25% of that.

I also have no shame about my body (except perhaps that I’m a little chubbier than I’d like) and so I’ve done a little bit of online porn. Nothing hardcore (though I don’t honestly have any objections to doing that either) – there are a few alternative erotica sites that pay you to do stuff like masturbate on-camera. I’ve done two videos so far, and they’ll be released in the next month or two.

But as well as all that, I’m also a kids’ puppeteer. For a while, I wondered if I should keep all the above under wraps (or even decide not to do it at all) – if I were to create the next Sesame Street, would it all come tumbling down when a video of me jerking off surfaced, or if people found the story “Backseat Fisting” amongst my catalogue?

If it does, so be it. Morally, I have no issue with the people behind “Play School” also being porn stars. I realise that I’m particularly liberal when it comes to these things, but as far as I know, there’s no connection between being filmed having sex and being dangerous to kids. If others disagree, that’s their problem, and if it means that they won’t buy my products (or the network refuses to air my shows, etc) then so be it. I’m not the kind of person who lives their life by the standards of others, and I don’t want to be.

You only get one chance at life, and it doesn’t make sense to me to make decisions based on what other people might think. If this attitude of mine results in bad things happening to me, then I’ll learn that lesson at the time.

Until then, I’m going to live my life as well as I know how to. And right now, that means writing chapter four of my latest commission (in which the adopted daughter seduces her mother to get her step-father’s attention) and then go home and redraft the story of the wizard who helps his owl work out how to best be an owl.

If it all goes up in flames, I’ll have this to hold on to: while it was happening, I had fun.

Have an interesting life.


6MS: Forensics

Officer Malone stopped at the doorway of the house.

“Do you smell that?” she asked.

The rest of the team paused as well. There was no reason for any unusual scent to be present, but they’d learned over time to trust Malone’s senses; she’d built up such a reputation for her instincts that some of the newbies were actually afraid to go near her, afraid that she’d be able to unearth some deeply-buried skeleton in their past.

No one did, but just to be safe, gas-masks were applied to everyone but Malone herself, and the team pressed forward.

The first body was laid-out neatly; hands across her chest, carefully placed on the bed. As if to contrast her, the other body hadn’t been cleaned, hadn’t been moved – and definitely hadn’t been preserved.

Malone reeled in disgust as the smell all but overwhelmed her sensitive nose, but didn’t run from the room, didn’t don the gas mask hanging around her neck. She gave herself a few minutes to adjust, and then sniffed once more.

“Mint,” she mused, but before she could investigate the unusual smell, spotted the gun.

She gestured with her eyes, and a member of the forensics team reached down to

Back on the horse

I’m aware that a disproportionate percentage of this blog is just about me blogging and my daily routine. But on the rare occasion that I want to sit down and blog, that’s just what I want to talk about – I haven’t really promoted this anywhere, so right now, I’m writing just for me.

It’s Wednesday of the mythical “next week” that never comes, and I’m finally back in some kind of routine. I’ve accomplished plenty over the last few days, but this is the first day that I’ve managed to wake up at 8/blog/write a 6MS/get started on the day’s work by 10.

It was my birthday 6 days ago – instead of having a party, I decided to organise a big comedy gala. It went off without a hitch, and is actually one of my projects that I’m most proud of. I’m going to turn it into an annual event, so mark it in your diaries – November 8th, 2013: Chocolate-Coated Evening will be back.

I was so busy organising everything that I didn’t really think about the fact that I was 25 until a few days later.

When I was 15, I put together a “time capsule”; a bunch of stuff that I thought my 25-year old self would be interested in. It’s been a long and crazy 10 years, and earlier this year when I went to prepare the time capsule, I couldn’t find it.

Rather than weep and sob, I accepted that I should have kept a closer eye on it between the 10+ times I’ve moved houses/3 times I’ve moved states. It’s a pity, but I won’t lose any sleep over it.

Opening that capsule has been so closely linked with “turning 25” in my brain for 10 years, that without it, I don’t really feel like I’ve had that birthday. It wasn’t until I was talking to SJ and the phrase “in 3 years” came up that I freaked out a little – in three years, I’ll be 28. That made it much more real.

I’m doing okay with it all – honestly, I’m too busy to think too hard about it. If it hits me, it’ll hit me, but until then I’ll keep plodding along with my various projects.

Apparently 29 is the one to freak out over. We’ll see how I feel when I get there.


So I am officially terrible at blogging.

The longer I’m out of my routine, the harder it is to get back into it. This week, I told myself, this week I’ll be up at 8 every day, stick to my schedule…on Monday I had an extras shoot, yesterday was cup day, today is…the day before my birthday.

Fortunately, my method of procrastinating is “getting work that I’ve been putting aside done”, and so today I’ve wiped my old computer, sent some invoices to clients, and uploaded an edit of the most recent We Should Know Better episode. I haven’t done any writing since the start of this month, my new office is crying out to be set-up, and I’m hosting a gala tomorrow night without actually having written any material…but I have full confidence that it will all pull together.

Next week, however…the gala will be done, my birthday will be over, my office will be set up (I’ll do it over the weekend, if not before) and there will be nothing to stop me from sitting down and getting some serious work done.

Except, y’know, it’s show week.

We’ll see how it goes.