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Status Update July 2020 - Of Renders, Awards, and Not Writing (featuring handsome naked Alex) - Pax Asteriae Fiction

Status Update July 2020 – Of Renders, Awards, and Not Writing

A 3D image of a naked Alex Jaska, created by Pax Asteriae for their cellphone. (Not this image, obviously; this one's far too small.)

The bank’s sorted, although not without my getting angry. They say they locked my entire account — in the middle of a global pandemic — because I hadn’t logged into online banking in 6 months. Which I would have known, they say, if I’d logged into my online account. But I hadn’t. And they failed to inform me of this in writing so unsurprisingly I had no idea.

I am genuinely considering contacting one of the financial pages in a newspaper to ask if this kind of asshattery is considered normal. I’ve banked with the NatWest for a depressing 20 years (the same amount of time, funnily enough, that I’ve had this mobile number). I can’t see myself banking with them for another 5 now, let alone another 20.

Corporate stupidity aside, life continues much as normal, which is with a fair bit of work and not much writing. My wildly self-indulgent project named itself last night. Peculiar, given I can’t get actual projects to name themselves, but there we go. It’s called The Bastard and the Deep Blue Sea (and I can call it that because it’s wildly self-indulgent and no one else is gonna see it~) and I can even see how the cover will look. I drafted out the text layout last night.

Now I just need to write more than four and a half chapters, when work and home life will allow.

Thing is, I got back into the 3D work I used to do a long time ago, and it keeps distracting me. At least this kind of procrastination is productive, though. To your left there is Alex, one of the Radial main characters. I can now finally render fairly realistic looking versions of my boys. (And that is my new phone background!)

And, bonus, I can now render smutty pictures of them, which amuses me vastly.

The strangest thing about it is, even though it’s procrastination — you can lose hours without even realising just from tweaking skin settings and minutely adjusting lights — it’s a little like digital colouring for me: it forces me to think. The wildly self-indulgent project came about from a render I did for a challenge: I fiddled around, created a character, and suddenly he had a plot and back story and was demanding I write about him. (He may now have changed his mind on that.) A weird but fun post-Fourth Arc story for Radial turned up in my head while noodling around with one of the aforementioned smutty pictures of Milos and Alex.

And, slightly more weirdly, another render I did for that challenge was an Honourable Mention and won me $5. Which I was happy about not for the cash, but because I really enjoyed setting up that render. It almost came together by itself and the end result both came out how I’d wanted and rendered very quickly (not a guaranteed thing!) so I was on the whole very happy.

Not sure what to do with all the renders. I’m having fun creating pictures of Alex and Milos’s everyday life to a certain degree — there’s a sparring picture from the Fourth Arc, and one of Milos training with his long-suffering martial arts instructor (who turned out to look a bit like Sean Bean). I should probably add them to Patreon, free for the ones I already shared elsewhere, and maybe figure out a tier (or add a new one) for the smutty stuff. I don’t know.

So… not dead yet. Still coming up with stories, even if I’m still struggling to actually write. Even when I remind myself that no one else is gonna read TB&TDBS, sometimes I still freeze up. I’ll get over it soon, at least for that. And I’d like to be able to figure out where the story’s going for this intriguing Radial story that seems to start with an unexpected romantic getaway under the guise of work, and then actually turns into work.

We’ll see how things go.

I’ll get around to sharing pictures of my bullet journal at some point too.

Health & Life Update

In short: even in these pandemic-ridden times… no, I’m not dead.

My desktop PC went off due to a Windows update and has so far declined to turn back on again.  Currently eyeballing a mini-PC replacement, but the one I’d wanted is no longer available… and the one I want would come from Hong Kong, so I worry it’d get stuck in Customs with the global health issues just lately.  Shouldn’t do, but some Arax Pitta face masks went into Customs and never came out.  They were ordered before the outbreak, ironically, but probably hit Customs as the virus gained traction so… I suspect someone in Customs now has some fancy grey masks they didn’t go to the effort of buying.  (I bought replacements that didn’t come from overseas.)  A new PC is much pricier than a set of masks.

My mental health took a nosedive at the start of last month and has yet to recover.  For various personal reasons I can’t see this improving in the foreseeable future.

My physical health has started to decline further.  My main issue is a congenital hip disability I’ve (unsurprisingly) had since birth.  Ironically, the issue isn’t when I walk, it’s when I stop.  Standing still and upright for any length of time is painful; doing the recycling is agonising.  Sitting is no longer quite so great either: sitting for work yesterday put it slightly out its socket for most of the day.

Annnnd last night’s dream involved an all-girl pop band that turned into a group of eldritch horrors with long, glowing snouts and fantastic hearing.

It’s been an interesting time.

And on the subject of ‘interesting’ and ‘not dead,’ I’m not so much self-isolating from the coronavirus as I am just… going about my normal day.  I already work from home, and because my hours can change overnight I always get my shopping delivered.  Just livin’ that prepper life, apparently, only I’ve never felt the burning need to stock up on excessive amounts of loo roll.

We have two sets of neighbours: one to the side, one behind us.  The ones behind us have sent us xmas cards three years running now.  The ones beside us I’ve seen only once, a couple of years ago, when she came round to ask if we needed her to prune the hedge between properties — and she only did that because I’d already cut down all the overhanging leaves, which were a good three or four foot over my drive and shedding leaves over my mother’s car.  Aside from that, they mostly sit in their back garden chain-smoking and making it impossible to do anything in my back garden without needing a respirator, the stench is that bad.  Which in the current climate at least looks less weird, I guess.

They both know my mother’s disabled; today the ones behind us came round to ask if there was anything they could do to help.  Not seen hide nor hair of the ones beside us since the aforementioned meeting.  …And a good thing, really, because my mother’s desperate to chew them out over the incessant smell and the fact they keep driving over our drive’s drop kerb — which has a section of normal raised pavement between theirs and ours, so aside from being plain rude it’s also illegal.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Other than that it’s business as usual.  We already have plenty of hand sanitiser as my mother’s nurses weren’t always… reliable about using the sink (yes, really; one in particular never washed her hands unless prompted.  She was promoted, presumably out of harm’s way because her beside manner was atrocious) so we had to make it easy for them.  It’s just been a matter of using it even more often.

Not made writing any easier though, things have stalled a little, at least as far as actual words-on-page go.  Ideas?  They’re still bubbling along, including one loose end that might now be less so, and handy really because I couldn’t work out why my thoughts kept returning to it.  Obviously it wasn’t entirely daydreaming…

All in all, things have been just… meh.  Here’s hoping everything — and I mean everything — blows over soon.

A nighttime park in black and white by Jesse Bowser on Unsplash

By The Street Light

Unlike her preteen classmates, Emma had never feared the night. Instead of closing in sleep, her eyes lifted to the skies and the stunning scatter splashed across a midnight canvas, and as she grew older and her classmates discovered sex, Emma flung herself into her hobby instead. It would never amount to anything. Just a bit of fun. Just Emma alone with her telescope on long, cold nights.
She shoved her hands deeper into her pockets and shivered as the wind curled icy tendrils around her. In the haze the park’s haloed streetlights blotted out the stars, but she stared up regardless. Not long now.

Estraya stood out from the start. Painted metallic lips, bobbed silver hair like a bad Sixties sci-fi; the most beautiful face Emma had ever seen. Not the usual kind of girl she found at the bar.
She hadn’t found many girls at the bar; she needed bravery for that.
Bravery Estraya had in bucketloads, in one broad wink, and Emma fell hard.

They met again, and again, and again. Never at the bar, but instead in stranger, more mundane places: halfway from work, going in opposite directions; in the nearby coffee shop at lunch; and, most often, in the park at night. Estraya always greeted her with a hug, lingering longer each time. The faintest whisper of lip against her cheek, a fresh scent that set her pulse racing.
“How do you do it?” Emma asked once. Seated beneath the streetlight their arms never quite touched, but Estraya still warmed her.
“Do what?” Estraya had beautiful dimples.
“Find me.” Whenever I need you, but Emma didn’t dare say the last part aloud.
Estraya’s smile grew. Her hand grazed Emma’s. “Magic.”
With anyone else, she’d dismiss it as flippancy. Estraya made her believe it.

A deep thrum shivered through her bones, easily rationalised as a low-passing helicopter. She bathed in a white beam.
Emma wasn’t brave, but she was patient.

“I have to leave,” Estraya announced abruptly.
Her hand had crept into Emma’s the evening before. Emma never wanted to let it go again. “Why?”
“It’s complicated.” There were no dimples. Not today. “I don’t want to, but I’m needed.”
Emma thought. “A family thing?”
The shade of a smile grazed Estraya’s lips. “Sort of.” The bench creaked as she leaned back to survey the invisible stars beyond the streetlight. “It’s far away.”
Grief stalled Emma’s heart. “You’ll come back?”
Estraya’s smile blossomed. “Do I have a reason to?”
Emma wasn’t brave, but her patience was as infinite as space, and Estraya’s cheek tasted as sweet as she smelled. “I don’t know. Do you?”
She discovered Estraya’s mouth tasted sweeter still.

​Robed in light, Estraya descended regally, but her warm hands, so at odds with the void beyond, held Emma’s tightly and her magnesium kiss burned brightest of all. “Come with me.”
A year ago Emma would have demurred, but Estraya had bravery enough for both of them; Emma needed only one word.
“Yes.”