Orcish Orcish Everywhere, And Not A Drop To Drink

So I finished my three redrafts! I started to write a fourth, but I wasn’t feeling it, and so instead I’m honouring my promise to myself. Here are some more All-That-Is musings, for your reading pleasure (and, more relevantly, my writing pleasure.)


As I briefly mentioned in my last post, Orcs quickly evolved from standard brutes to into a “tribal” race. There are 10 united tribes, and 3 outcast tribes: I haven’t actually considered the social commentary of this, because this has been part of the mythos for years, but unless it really strikes me as wrong for some reason, it’ll probably stay in.

The 3 outcast tribes are Mud, Swamp and Fog Orcs. They refuse, on cultural grounds, to wear clothes – for the most part, the other Orcs don’t really mind (and would just tend to look the other way) but when it comes to stuff like “hey let’s present Orcs as a nation to get the respect of the other lands”, it suddenly becomes important that your citizens are…you know, clothed.

So they’re “outcast” tribes when kronKton (the Orcish homeland) is dealing with other nations, but internally there’s no real difference between them and the other tribes, except perhaps that they’re a little more hostile. The United Tribes have all agreed to certain Geneva Convention-esque rules; the Outcast Tribes have no reason to bother doing that, but they’re not all evil chaotic murderers or anything.

(for the sake of adapting the work into visual mediums, Mud Orcs tend to have clumps of mud at random spots: often spots that would be convenient for censorship. Ditto Swamp Orcs, and it’s rare to see a Fog Orc outside of the intense, impossible-t0-see-through fogs.)

tHe uniteD Tribes oF kRonkton, as they’re officially known (Orcish language recognises the importance of capital letters; they’ve just never really gotten their head around where to put them)  is made up of 10 tribes, for at least the first few hundred years. (I’m planning on writing this stuff for the rest of my life, so anything I write now is in the early years of ATI; if I decide to change huge chunks of it, I can do it in-universe, and have a world that changes and evolves with my own preferences, without having to retcon anything.)

  1. Diamond Orcs: Living in the mountains, these Orcs mine out diamond and use it for everything from food* to clothing, shelter and weapons. Once they’ve used up all the diamonds in an area, they move on. Fast miners, good at stripping resources, but their caves tend to be temporary (and thus a bit clumsily-made.)*inspired by Narnia, diamonds and precious stones aren’t just dead, cold things: if you catch them when they’re alive, you can eat them.
  2. Stone Orcs: Cave dwellers, who (unlike Diamond Orcs) will stay in the one area forever. Like ants, they mine out an elaborate home for themselves, extending it as the tribe grows. (they also see extremely well in the dark.) – they’re much slower miners, but extremely precise stonecrafters.
  3. Tree Orcs: Tree Orcs live either in or around the trees – they’ll hollow a tree out, or build treehouses. Think Tarzan: these big guys love swinging on vines and yodelling, and if possible, don’t visit the ground much.
  4. Lightning Orcs: These are the Orcs who live in Atmos, the world’s most dramatic city. It’s constantly in a thunderstorm, and as we all know, a thunderstorm means emotional turmoil. These are the least “tribal” of all the Orcs: they harness the electricity, tend to barter for food from the other Orcs instead of buying their own, and are heavily political creatures.
  5. Water Orcs: Water Orcs reside in houseboats, travelling up and down the rivers (or around the lakes) and fishing for food. A few of them live on the coast, but the rough currents make it difficult to sustain a lifestyle there. Rumour has it that some Water Orcs somehow live underneath the water, in bubble-like permanent residents.
  6. Wind Orcs: These are my personal favourite of all the Orcs – towards the north end of kronkTon, there are massive cliffs that lead to a desert. These Orcs have carved out homes in the cliffs, and have their own personal gliders, using the heat from the desert to travel up and down the cliffs.
  7. Fire Orcs: Incredibly resistant to fire and heat, these Orcs live inside Volcanos, and hunt the tough creatures that swim in lava.
  8. Metal Orcs: Extremely aggressive, extremely social, Metal Orcs are primarily traders and smiths: they get metal from the Diamond Orcs, get the Fire Orcs to smelt it, and create weapons that they trade with the other Orcs. They primarily exist because they travel so much, and kroNkton society relies on them. They hate non-Orcs though, and will frequently refuse to trade with them (they see it as “arming the enemy”) instead attacking on sight.
  9. Grass Orcs: These are the hunter-gatherer type Orcs; they live on the plains, make huts from woven grass, and carry them around with them as they track prey and collect plants etc. They’re great with leather, which they trade to the Metal Orcs (for binding and the like) in return for hunting weapons.
  10. Ice Orcs: The least social of all the Orcs, these guys live on top of the mountains, and are rarely seen by anyone but travelling Metal Orcs. They’re Eskimo-type “rugged up” dudes, but I haven’t really worked out what they eat yet.

I invented all the varieties of Orcs after playing a lot of Pokemon, and wanting to have a land where you could travel around and see all the extremes (fire, water, ice, etc) – when I started working on a Tower Defence game for All-That-Is (I use ATI for any stray projects I play with between my bigger creative works) it worked really nicely for me as well. It’s called “Orc Onslaught”, and you use the other 9 races to build different towers to defend you against the 13 different types of Orcs.

The Outcast Orcs are relatively underdeveloped: I haven’t really worked out the difference between Swamp Orcs and Mud Orcs (swamps, after all, consist mainly of mud) and I have absolutely nothing for Fog Orcs (maybe they could live on the coast? The coast seems pretty abandoned by the rest of the tribes) but since they’re “outsiders” I don’t really need to write too much for them. They can just be all mysterious and shit.

At some point, the Dwarves come to kronktoN after they realize how many precious stones there are: fast and efficient miners, they’ll strip the mountains of all the diamonds, and Diamond Orcs will die out. (I’m thinking that living diamonds might die out at the same time) This gives the rest of history extremely rare but extremely powerful armor and weapon artifacts: no one else is ever able to work as effectively with diamonds as the Diamond Orcs.

In the same decade or so, there’s a schism within the Tree Orcs, between those who believe that you should grow a forest, and those who believe you should just grow one massive tree, feed it so that it grows huge (there’s no practical limit to tree-size in All-That-Is…in fact, that’s the definition of a tree.)

Suddenly there are Tree Orcs and Forest Orcs, and so the number of Orc Tribes never drops below 10 united tribes (or 13 total.)

Until now, I’ve never really had a good reason for this schism. I want it to be a huge deal – not an all-out civil war, but Tree Orcs and Forest Orcs will forever more have a bone of contention between them. It’s politically interesting, and as I said in my last post, anything that gets my brain buzzing with ideas is something I want to include.

Now that I’ve got a bit of personality for the Elves, their philosophy could be a reason for the split – if they believe that hurting trees is wrong, perhaps some of the Tree Orcs really identify with that, and that’s why they split off: Forest Orcs will live much more like Elves, between the trees instead of inside them. If they consider the actions of Tree Orcs  to be really disrespectful/harmful to the trees, then suddenly you’ve got a great ideological reason for these two groups to hate each other.

Why the Elves and the Forest Orcs suddenly hobnob like this I’m not sure; I’ll have a think about this. World events are always nice, some bigger cause that this can be a side-effect of.

That’s all I wanted to talk about in this post: if anyone is reading this, I used to do a thing where I’d expand on any area of ATI that people asked for. It was fun world-building in directions that I’d not normally consider for me, and for other people it was a chance to have a few words of their choice turned into several paragraphs.

So if anything has caught your interest (either in these posts, on the wiki, or in the old posts I did a few years ago) then drop me a line by any means (comment, email, carrier pigeon) and I’ll expand on any element of my fictional world that you like.


The trouble with having a routine or schedule is that when it gets thrown off, it’s incredibly difficult to get everything back on track. Last night, I picked SJ up from a Missy Higgins concert (which she tells me was excellent) and as a result didn’t get to sleep until 1 or 1:30am. I don’t function without a good 8 hours of sleep, so I moved today’s 9-5 workday to 11-7.

It’s just hit 11:30 and I’m only really getting started for the day now. Damn you, routine.

Admittedly, a huge part of the problem is the return of my addiction to Morrowind. I really do consider it the best game I’ve ever encountered, and when I’m not playing it (or reading the various wikis that detail the world’s extensive lore) I’m watching a Let’s Play of Morrowind that I’m in love with – I’ve watched four hours of it in the last few days, and I can’t wait to watch the next 100+ videos.

But writing is how I make the dollars and cents and so I need to get my head out of fantasy and back into smut. I’m planning on revising three or four stories today, with the aim of having them all published by the end of the week. (Christmas, or “Kindlemas” as it’s referred to by the other smut writers I know, is the biggest-selling time of the year, so I want as much content out by then as is possible. Next week is show week, and then I’m on holidays, so this week is my last chance to get writing!)

To warm up, I was going to write a 6-minute story, but instead I think I’ll talk about ideas that Morrowind has been inspiring in me.

There are 10 “races” in All-That-Is, the fantasy world I’ve been working on for my entire adult life. ATI could be considered a cross between Morrowind and the Discworld novels; I didn’t start reading Pratchett until I’d been working on my own world for several years, but the comparisons are obvious. It’s very light fantasy, and I use it as a way to stretch my creative muscles when I’m between projects, and explore issues that I have with other fantasy works.

There are 10 races in All-That-Is: Angels, Demons (think “imp” rather than “Satan”), Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Gnomes, Fairies (I was a big Enid Blyton fan as a child), Ogres, Orcs, and an invented race called Peedlings.

All-That-Is started as a Dungeons and Dragons mod, but quickly expanded as I came up with interesting ideas. Fairies and Ogres were added to appeal to my love of Enid Blyton-esque writing, my desire to have an “all-good” race (as a response to the All Chaotic Evil trope you see so often in fantasy) brought Angels in, and Demons were added to further explore the idea. (Demons are an “all chaotic” race, but very few of them are evil.)

I could talk forever about each race, but if you’re desperately seeking more information, I did a few posts a few years ago that cover each race.

Today, I want to talk about Elves.

I don’t actually read a lot of fantasy, and so each race just started as a stereotype (or at least what I thought was the stereotype) – Orcs are big and stupid, Ogres are bigger and stupider, Humans are bland and fight a lot, and Dwarves are miners…and pirates.

(I have since learned that no, Dwarves are not typically pirates. I don’t understand why; it makes perfect sense to me. They’re rough, hardy, big drinkers, and they have massive beards. Of course they’re pirates. My mistake inadvertently added a unique element to All-That-Is, which worked out nicely.)

If I find a race boring, I play with them until I have an “angle”, and then they write themselves – the dull “hit things smash woo” Orcs quickly became the tribal race, with each different tribe learning to live in a different part of their varied homeland – there are Water Orcs, Stone Orcs, Fire Orcs etc etc.

Until this recent Morrowind-obsession, I haven’t been able to find any way of making Elves interesting. All I had for them was “they live in trees”. I tried making them the “ninja” race, to move away from the archery stereotype, and a few years ago my cousin Gavin suggested a two-class system; playing off the Asian influence, making half the Elves samurai and the other half ninja, but I could never get it to work.

Back when I started working on All-That-Is, when it first moved from a combat system to a world of its own (and was for a while just referred to as “The Peterverse”) one fantasy element that I deliberately left out was the “old” world – I wanted to start a fresh world, where you didn’t just read about ancient events that shaped the landscape, you got to live them. I’ve since found the reason no one does this: if it’s a new world, you don’t get that rich, lived-in sense of history (not to mention old and abandoned ruins to explore.)

As the world stands now, recorded history starts about 200 years after the beginning of time. That gave me room to play with two or three small things, but no world events: Angels have a life-span of about 150 years, so when they started writing stuff down, the beginning of time occurred a single generation ago.

I’m thinking of working around this by having writing be invented about 200 years after the beginning of time, but no one realizing that you could use this handy “writing” idea to record history for a few hundred years after that. Writing could be primarily used for fiction, shopping lists, and instructional guides until ~500 years after the start of the world, and when they try to sift through the writing that appears before then, it’s hard to determine what’s real and what’s lunch.

That gives me room for at least a few major world conflicts; the earlier they occurred, the less people would know about them.

Playing through Morrowind made me realize how inherently racist most “cursed races” are. From the Book of Mormon to interpretations of the Bible to Morrowind, when elves trangress, they’re cursed by the gods to have dark skin.

A lot of ideas in All-That-Is come from me wondering what happens if I flip a trope. What if it’s a new world, instead of countless thousands of years old? (answer: it’s much harder to give it depth.) What if humans are a tiny minority, instead of the default majority? (answer: a unique world that can probably never be affordably filmed.) What if you have an all-good race instead of an all-evil race? (answer: the world suddenly makes a lot more internal sense.)

And so I decided to make Elves a cursed race – they used to be a beautiful charcoal colour, but they angered (insert-god-here) so much that they’re all now white, or light green/grey/tan. And they hate their new colour. This immediately appeals to me, just because of how the audience will question their preconceived notions: seeing a white “high elf” kneel in subservience each time they encounter a black human, immediately seems to contradict the image that we’re used to in fantasy. I like it a lot.

Another idea: interesting ideas invariably come from simple contradictions – Dexter is a serial killer and a hero. Walter White is a mild-mannered chemistry teacher by day and drug-dealer by night. Michael Scott is the boss, but has no authority or leadership skills.

What if Elves were highly-trained warriors, with a Spartan-esque society that focuses on combat…while being a pacifist race? (anyone who’s read the Animorph series might see a similarity to the Hork Bajir – they were huge, fierce-looking creatures, whose impressive blades and strength were so that they could pick the bark off of trees.)

The reason for the pacifism: their warlike nature was why insert-god-here cursed them so long ago. They learned their lesson, and want to be peaceful forever more. It also provides the opportunity for a few interesting cultural things: they could have moved from their old, stone, warrior cities (providing interesting ruins that can be explored) – and while mainstream Elven society could be peaceful, there could be young rebels etc that don’t believe in it.

So why do they still train in the ways of war? The answer seems obvious, and ties nicely into everything above: they attacked another land, and were punished by that land’s god (or maybe several gods banded together: I do enjoy my god drama) – while they’re sworn to pacifism, if the other land/s decide to retaliate, they want to make sure they can protect themselves. And over time, it just became the way that their culture ran. (something you see all the time in real life; why the fuck do government offices only accept faxes and letters? Who the hell uses faxes or letters any more?)

This gives us an interesting take on an otherwise-dull race (their pacifism could even go as far as to include animals and plants, making their architecture immediately interesting; they never damage the trees that they live in, and so they specially grow branches and vines to house themselves) as well as booby-trapped ruins to explore that are abandoned and overgrown without needing thousands of years to get that way.

I always know when I’ve hit something that works, because my mind suddenly starts overflowing with ideas. Self-hating pacifist warriors who live in trees? As far as I’m concerned, pure gold.

And since I write All-That-Is almost purely to entertain myself, I’m the only one who matters!

It’s about to turn 1pm and I still haven’t done any real writing for the day, so it looks like it’s time to get to it. If I get 3 full stories ready for publication today, I’m going to allow myself another world-building blog-post, so if that sort of thing interests you, stay tuned!

Esme V. Fire

Quite happy with this one! It has magic in it, which I always enjoy.

Fireman? Firewoman? Fire…person?

Esme sighed as she approached her firetruck. The trouble with magic, she reflected, was that while it got you where you need to be quickly, that sometimes meant that you skipped over important parts of the path.

It had been a simple enough spell of purpose; she paid her fifteen hundred dollars, and in return she got given her perfect career. The career that she would enjoy the most, be most suited for…the career that would make her happy.

Purpose was a popular spell-type, and it had definitely resulted in a happier populace, but no one had mentioned to her that when it gave her the career, it would skip over everything to that point.

She knew that she was a fire…girl? No, that couldn't be right.

She knew that she worked for the fire department, for instance. The spell had given her everything she needed to know to start work – it had skipped her through training, given her all the knowledge she needed to put out fires. It had dropped all the vital information of where she worked and who her boss was, but it didn't tell her what kind of relationship she had with the chief fireman, for instance, or whether he was the sort of fellow who would appreciate a good chuckle.

But at least she'd found the job that guaranteed her the greatest amount of happiness, without having to sit in a dusty classroom (did you learn how to save people from burning buildings in a dusty classroom? She didn't even know) or worry about whether she'd make the grade or not.

So while Esme was grateful to the spell for putting her where she needed to be, she was starting to wish that she'd taken the slightly longer path. Not for the vital information, just for the details, the little bits that told her who she'd be fighting fires with.

Firefighter! That was it. She was a firefighter.


The Morrowinding

Last week, I recognised the onset of burn-out. I was starting to dread working on all the projects that I normally love working on, I was feeling constantly tired, stressed, grumpy…I was snapping at Sarah Jane, not being particularly productive, and just generally unhappy.

So I gave myself the weekend off. (well, specifically all-day Friday, and half of both Saturday and Sunday.) My housemate surprised me with her delight when I told her I was giving myself a chance to relax, so it's possible that I wasn't hiding my fatigue as well as I'd hoped.

The original plan was to just watch through a heap of movies – I have around 700-odd DVDs, and I keep myself too busy to watch them as often as I'd like.

On Thursday night, while I was cleaning up the lounge-room (partially in preparation for my day of DVDs, partially because it was just messy) I spotted my old Xbox. I made space for it, set it up, and didn't expect to spend the next two days playing through an old favourite.

I've been subscribed to the Morrowind sub-reddit for a while now, and so when I was deciding what film to watch first, I decided to pop it in and take a trip down memory lane.

Over the past 3 days, I've spent upward of 20 hours playing The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, and at least another 10 reading about it. It's been my favourite video game since a few hours after I first touched it – I'd guess that I've sunk more than 500 hours into it – and revisiting the world of Vvardenfell for the first time in 4 years (almost to the day) I was amazed to find the experience exceeded my expectations.

It helps that I no longer have the bizarre compulsion to complete every quest given to me by every stranger (no matter how uninteresting or unrewarding) and it helps even more that I've grown the patience to dive into the rich backstory. I sat down to play it for half an hour before watching a film, and 11 hours later I was shocked by how effectively I'd been completely sucked-in by this 10-year old game.

Morrowind is well-known as a game that will yield new rewards each time you play it – it's so hugely layered and beautifully crafted. My favourite element of Morrowind is the superb world that it offers – I only played a few hours of Oblivion (the next game in the series) but got so bored so quickly by the generic “medieval RPG” look and feel of it, and I've heard Skyrim isn't much better.

One project that I've been working on for almost 7 years now is called “All-That-Is”, a fantasy world that I build and play with on my down-time. While exploring Morrowind, and reading about the history of the world and the characters, my brain started popping with ideas that I wanted to explore, tropes that I wanted to reverse: the inherent racism in “cursed” races always going from light skin to dark skin; the idea of a pacifist race trained in combat, and how they deal with people who refuse to follow their pacifist laws…

In the next few days, don't be surprised if I make some ATI blog-posts. My mind is buzzing, and I'm excited to flesh out the races that I never really had much interest in.

Meanwhile, my weekend off worked – my batteries are recharged, and I've decided to slow down a bit. I'll keep working hard, but at least once a week, I'll give myself a day off.

I think I'll call them “Morrowind days”.

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.