Ok, I have tried to keep my two lives distinctly separate. Mainly due to the fact that as oart of my work agreement to let me publish my books I don’t openly mix my real persona and my writing persona. Interestingly enough there are others who I work with who publish books and use their real name and delve more into a genre closely linked to my work (aka Crime Thrillers…..use your imagination).
Well, to that end it has been a balancing act of Tobey Alexander vs Real me. Those who follow my Instagram account or are fans of my Facebook Pages will see some crossover of posts but nothing too strong as I even keep my work-life out of my personal stuff.
So I have decided it is time to blur the lines a little bit and give some explanation as to what motivates me and drives me in the hope it gives a little foundation to the worlds I am creating and the stories I am trying to tell.
I shall begin here…
I have never been one for ink, tattoos, body-art but recently things have changed and I have seen a big self-reflection which brought me full-circle to this tattoo and in the essence of opening myself up (it does tie into my life taking the step to publish as an author so bear with me!)
BE HERE NOW
In 2011/12 I watched Spartacus the TV series with Andy Whitfield. As a result I went on a massive fitness regime which became a massive focus of my life. At around the same time I decided I wanted to write my book which had been a WIP (work in progress) for a while. I concentrated and both things developed very well.
Needless to say, I was shocked when I found out Andy Whitfield died of cancer (I was late starting the TV series). While I was doing my fitness routines research (and obsessing over how ripped him and the whole cast were) I found out they had made a documentary about the last year or so of his life which was a Kickstarter campaign. As soon as I found out I had already missed the boat but managed to make contact with them and donate to the cause. It isn’t very often I donate to charities specifically but this one seemed to touch me for a number of reasons.
Time passed and I applied for a new job at work (a role that would change me as a person from the very core ultimately). At the time I found out I had passed a very rigorous pre-selection internally I had a package arrive through the door. It was a leather bracelet with the name of the documentary BE HERE NOW embossed on it. That reflected a tattoo Andy had on his inner forearm which reminded him to enjoy the moment.
So around the time I got the new job I got the bracelet and it became synonymous with a mantra I would sometimes forget.
As I progressed through my training the following year it was the single most challenging experience of my life. It was an absolute rollercoaster of ups and downs that ultimately left me succeeding but at the same time being extremely stressed I found myself having a little “dip” when I first became operational.
Now I recall, before this “dip” I was on a job at work and lost my bracelet. Through my course I hadn’t been wearing it for fear of losing or breaking it but once out and about it was back on in an instant. Losing it really annoyed me as it meant so much to me and I remember the next training session was when I let my head get the better of me and instead of adhering to the idea of BE HERE NOW I was too busy being a million miles away on any of a number of train tracks that run through my head at any one time.
So, I dipped and I ended up making very good friends with someone who helped me through it.
It wasn’t a skill thing, I had allowed my busy head to fill me with self-doubt and get the better of me. Once we found out what was getting on top of me we found a way of getting around it and ultimately I remember my bracelet.
But it was gone! What could I do?
I researched and couldn’t get a replacement…..so I designed my own. I had a custom made one that tied in the original with my work (it had a thin blue line in it and was made of paracord). It arrived and I felt whole again in a way until the embossed labelling began to peel and I realised I had chosen the wrong design.
Around the same time my oldest son A fell ill with HSP and was hospitalised. Anyone who has experienced the illness of their child will know that horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach when it feels like your world is being ripped apart and you would do anything to accept the pain on behalf of your child.
All I wanted to do was take it for him but I couldn’t. All he wanted to do was climb Snowdon again. In the meantime, I had released Footprints On The Other Side and was trying to make a go of that. I remembered then the broken bracelet and let him have it, I explained the meaning of those three words and told A not to worry about tomorrow, next week or next year and BE HERE NOW.
He made a recovery, to this day we still have residual effects but we adapt and overcome, and the bracelet took a place in his bedroom that he refers to occasionally.
Telling him reminded me of my need to BE HERE NOW too so I ordered a new replacement. I ended up getting sent two as one got lost in the post, much more hardwearing and robust and it became my stable for a long time.
And then on a job my arm got caught on a piece of fencing as I was on a job and it hooked on the bracelet. It was that good and strong I was stuck and could have really hurt myself.
So now what? My own bracelet had betrayed me in a way but I couldn’t part with my reminder to BE HERE NOW.
Wearing it allowed me to build everything in my writing worlds. Every time I tried to plan too far ahead in my books and stories I got lost and then come back to the here and now and start again. I am a sod for getting carried away and I would need that reminder to keep me centred.
Now back to the origins……the Be Here Now Documentary had been available for some time but I hadn’t watched it. Why? Because I didn’t want to cry! Since donating I had been on my own roller coasters and it had made me avoid dealing with sad things a little and become what’s referred to as “INTENSE” by my friends and peers.
Earlier this year I decided the time was right and sat watching the documentary a few weeks after I caught my arm on the fence. It’s funny how your subconscious comes into play I suppose because I watched the documentary and through teary eyes couldn’t stop thinking I needed to replace my bracelet.
Having sobbed and felt the full impact of the documentary I remembered when I had first seen his tattoo on the Kickstarter campaign.
It all made sense and fell into place for me.
No bracelet, no replacement….why not follow his sentiment and show myself a permanent reminder of a phrase that effectively transitioned me through so many things over the last few years.
Within a month I made my appointment and allowed the three little words that had been my influence to take pride of place on my arm.
Sure there were those around me who disapproved “you do surprise me” was one phrase but when I pointed out the reasoning, explained it to them it made sense. It had become something that meant more than just the words but had been my anchor and my guiding settler to bring me back when I allowed my head and life to get the better of me.
So ironically I am in the process of designing another tattoo that explains my writing personality. A Raven, compass, sword, three smaller ravens all leading to an open book….all things growing from the page. In another post I will explain the meaning behind it all in another open post to give you an idea about me.
Some of you may have made it this far through the blog post, some may not. Because, in the end, who am I to people other than a name on the front cover of a book or two. But the reason I ever dared to release and even write my books were for these three words….BE HERE NOW.
Having written my stories I was happy to let them fester and disappear yet how could I motivate my children to embrace the moment, grab it and run with it if I didn’t do it myself? The only way was to BE HERE NOW. Not to worry if people think my books are crap, yes some people will, but what does that matter to the NOW? That’s possibly in the future so for me I now write when the moment takes me. My style is to plan an idea, plot and then open Word and just write. I don’t micro-plan chapters I have a rough idea and just let the moment be when I decide to write. I find that my story flows much more naturally this way.
But in the end this will probably not get you to buy one of my books, it may be nothing more than a read to drum some interest in me as a person I do not know.
But it was me…
Explaining some things as both Tobey Alexander and “The Other Guy” (so many clues in the text to say who I am and what I am).
I hope you do take some time to Be Here Now with me, in my books.