Survivor’s Guilt

Image of Jay Faulkner with Dion, Simon and Tom. Sepia tones. There is a white crack on the picture surrounding Jay's smiling face and splintering out across the rest of us.

Everybody dies, there’s no getting around it, but we each hope to leave the world a little better through the lives we touch, the changes we enable and make, the children we bring up. If we are very lucky, friends and family members, sometimes people in the wider world, will reach out to tell us …

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Dad and loving it!

Dad and loving it! Image of me as Nosferatu, with my 16yr old daughter pretending to be scared by me. Paint effect used.

My urge towards fatherhood kicked in about a year after we got married. The emotional high of that (truly spectacular) day had gradually faded, settling back into the warp and weft of history, and the comparative mundanity of a day-to-day existence stretched before us. Was that it, then? The game of life complete? Hm. A …

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Reasons to be cheerful

Ian Dury & the Blockheads image tweaked to say Dion Dury & the Blockheads, complete with punk pink tache and beard.

I’ve moved out for a fortnight while the builders do their stuff, and got a little mixed up with my schedule. I should have done an extra Hobby post last week then put out my Personal blog today. Ah, well. As I was typing the following update on Facebook, it occurred to me I could …

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Facing fears

Facing fears

Fear leers at us through the cracked lens of time; a thousand different forms threaten to reach through, clawing at our stomachs, crushing our throats, spearing our hearts with electric jolts. The present is not the problem, you understand. In the here-and-now we need only face what is and respond accordingly, but our minds… our …

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Just… so

Just... so

It started out with colouring, back when I was little – vast areas of white waiting to be brought to life with wax crayons, coloured pencils or felt-tip pens. The materials were always low quality, of course. We were poor. Crayons snapped under eager hands, pencils tore gashes in cheap paper, which had a habit …

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The end, and after

Li'l Pete and Lucy-pie

It’s been a difficult time. Those of you who follow me on social media will know that our beloved puss has been ill for a long while. On Wednesday 23rd Feb, my wife gently suggested that I spend a bit of quiet time with Lucy while I still could. We snuggled up together on a …

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Letting go

Letting go

Fear freezes us, very often. We tighten our fingers, clinging on to the known and the settled, but that instinct can be counter-productive. Ask any parent. I’ve got *three kids, and two of them are filling me with fear at the moment. I want to protect them, desperately, but I also know that if I …

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Stuff is nonsense

Stuff is nonsense

‘What do you want for Christmas?’ I used to have a million answers to that one; these days I’m more likely to say, ‘I don’t need anything.’ Hah! It always drove me mad when my parents said it, but I’ve started to come around to their way of thinking. Perhaps it’s age-related. Perspectives change over …

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Want-to wants

Want-towants

Do you know what you want? Okay, but do you really want it, or do you just ‘want’ to want it? There’s a difference, see, and it took me a long time to understand that. Take writing, for instance. I’ve always had a facility with words, so writing and editing should have been a shoo-in. English Literature was my favourite subject at school, and I followed it right the way through to university, which begs the question…why did it take me so long to get into the industry?

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Re: Con-nection

Kelly White, Pippa Bailey, Myk Pilgrim, Joe McMahon, Nick Parkinson, Dion Winton-Polak

First up, I have to confess that I attended very few actual panels, no readings, and I avoided the karaoke bar like the very-literal plague. Well, here’s the Dion’s-eye view, anyway… The first day of FantasyCon was a wobbly affair, full of awkward moments and anxiety, calibrating and recalibrating as we came together for the …

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FCon-templation

Horrific Tales

I was going to focus this post on FantasyCon 2021, which I attended in Birmingham last weekend, but I found that I couldn’t engage with the event in the normal way. This is not a criticism – with Covid-19 still very much on the rampage, I’m not sure any of us felt entirely comfortable. Instead, I’m going to talk about the significance of the event to me past and present, my mental state leading up to it this year, the fears and hopes I carried, and the final actual experience of reconnection with my tribe.

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Acting on instinct, finding new roles

Acting on instinct, finding new roles

I was too shy for the bug to bite properly, but I always enjoyed Drama classes at school. I was good at remembering lines, and there was something quite fascinating to me about climbing into somebody else’s skin. Actors are the ultimate practitioners and conveyors of living-empathy. Were I to take another spin around life’s wheel, I’d like to give it a real go, but in the meatime, I’ve found a few other ways of scratching that itch.

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How to win at (almost) everything

How to win at (almost) everything

The search for that golden status known as ‘successs’ haunts our society. We judge ourselves constantly, comparing our lives to others, seeking their approval, trying to drown out our own insecurities. From an early age, we are taught that there are Winners and Losers in life, and that there’s nothing worse than a Loser. It’s utter bunkum of course; what matters is perspective.

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Principles, promises and values

Quill on parchment. Text reads: Principles, promises and values

Writing is a very personal business, and entrusting someone with your manuscript can be a daunting prospect. It feels appropriate therefore, to set out the principles that guide me and the values I hold personally. You may judge me by them and hold me to them.

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Geek families (Finding Me, part 3)

Geek families (Finding Me, pt3)

I threw myself into fatherhood with great enthusiasm. We didn’t know what we were doing – who the heck does? – but Clo and I supported each other and figured things out as a team. One of the things we figured out early on was that children are adaptable. So long as she was loved and cared for, Summer-Rose would be perfectly able deal with whatever world she grew up in—and if that happened to include weekends camping in ruined castles while Clover and I got our medieval groove on, then all the better. It provided a change of scene and gave her some childhood magic.

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The Minotaur (Finding Me, part 2)

Minotaur in the labyrinth

It’s a funny old business, life. Some people seem set up, right from the start. They know who they are, what they are, and how to get along. Some folk even seem to know what the future holds for them – or at least they have firm plans. I was a late starter; blinking, dazed, and unsure of myself. University gave me independence and self-confidence, my girlfriend gave me love and companionship, and I thought that was all I’d need. It was stability, but I still hadn’t found ‘me’. Not yet.

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Seeking Resolution

I recently discussed ways in which we can avoid conflict when editing (or being edited) in a blog post called ‘It ain’t what we say’. You might think of today’s post as something of a follow-up, though it has applications in the real world too.

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Reinvention (Finding Me, part 1)

Student party

I’m happier now than I have even been – personally, socially, and professionally. If that sounds like a boast, I beg forgiveness, but when I look back along my footsteps, it feels nothing short of miraculous. I’ve been through bad times and mad times. These days, life feels pretty sweet. The secret? It came down to finally finding ‘me’.

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Breaking through (Cracking Isolation, part 3)

A helping hand

Welcome back all, and thanks for bearing with me. In part 1, I spoke of my childhood experience of loneliness and some of the ways in which I began to break free. Part 2 had me thinking about the different behaviours I’ve seen in other people that revealed their own isolation, either overtly or covertly. As I said at the time, I’m not a qualified expert on the matter, so please keep that caveat in mind as I now consider what we might actually do about it in this, the final part of the series.

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Spotting the signs (Cracking Isolation, part 2)

Statue of a fairy, desperately clutching on to a windblown dandelion, almost carried away by it.

It doesn’t take a pandemic to keep an introvert or an agoraphobe locked away. We like small, controllable environments. Plenty of people have found themselves isolated by virtue of their career, whilst others are minimising human contact out of a sense of social responsibility. Isolation is not always a bad thing. However when isolation is combined with feelings of loneliness and helplessness, it can feel like the cruellest affliction.

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