Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Introducing Your Bard

So I decided to do one of these blog things. I can’t say I’m entirely sure what I’m doing here. Writing fiction is really more my style, but it’s been pointed out to me that it’s actually rather fun (and perhaps not entirely self indulgent) to write about real life experiences for the benefit of an online readership. I don’t know yet who that readership is going to be but I guess this is my hello to you people (yes, all three of you) and a little background info on what I’m doing here, what you can expect, why I’m doing it and where I hope to get to.

I’ll start at the very beginning....

“I Have Many Fandoms.”

I’m a lifelong, die hard geek. This is the first thing anyone needs to know. I’ve spent the past two years working at ‘Doctor Who’ charity events, before that I was propelled through adolescence by ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and discovered my love of both science fiction AND comedy through ‘Red Dwarf’.

In many ways ‘Xena’ was my first fandom: not just a TV show that I loved, but one which allowed me, at the tender age of 13, to begin to explore the sort of activities which would not become a regular part of my life until some 5-10 years later. I read my first fanfiction via a none-too-nippy dial-up internet connection that cost my parents a fortune and tied up and phone lines for hours on end. I attended my first conventions – both the small local affairs and one big national one. (Starfury: Chariots of War – anybody remember that one?) I also created my very first costume – a VERY slap-dash Gabrielle outfit thrown together from the contents of a scraps basket, along with a fighting staff made out of string and a bit of wood.

Fifteen years on I have made more costumes than I have room for, attended more conventions than I can remember, raised thousands for charity as a ‘Doctor Who’ companion impersonator, and even had a brief dalliance in being just a normal person with a job and a mortgage (it didn’t work out so well, I don’t recommend it.)

So why the switch back? Well call it nostalgia inspired by all those repeats on the Horror Channel, but I can’t help but feel I missed a trick what with only really getting involved as a kid. I love my work with the ‘Doctor Who’ fan community but the show itself has become hugely irksome in its treatment of women. The female characters are, alas, two dimensional and poorly written, and Xena was beginning to provide a refreshing contrast.

So I made the decision to plunge back into my old fandom, this time with all the experience of my 15 years on the scene to really make the most of the world and what it has to offer. Naturally I am a very different person to who I was 15 years ago, but still with a lot of personal growth to do. As such, I have decided to use ‘Xena’, my love of the show and my love of fandom to set myself personal goals in various fields of my own life. Inspiration is key to all things, after all.

So here are my personal projects and what I hope to achieve (and blog about):

1.) Kick-Ass Costumes to Kick Ass In

As I mentioned above, my first Gabrielle costume was a real throw together with no real sewing involved. I have honestly used more thread when sewing on a button! My aim is to get back into making my own costumes from scratch as I have done for years pre-‘Doctor Who’ cosplaying, and ultimately to create several of Gabrielle’s outfits, learning new skills and strengthening old ones so I can create something I’m REALLY proud of as a costumer.

2.) Run Gabby Run!

This brings us neatly to the second plan. All bar Gabrielle’s earliest outfits show bare midriff and a fair bit of leg. As such this requires me getting in shape, and so I have resolved to start a new fitness programme as of January this year. The first stage of this is to embark upon, complete and maintain the C25K challenge of running 5km in half an hour. I did this before and not only got very trim very quickly, but also got one hell of an energy boost from the regular exercise.

3.) “Why Do You Think I Do Yoga Every Day?”

Cardio and weight loss aside, I also want to be able to build up my core strength, posture, flexibility and balance. Furthermore, as someone who has suffered from depression for half her life and anxiety for two thirds of it, I have found relaxation, meditation and breathing exercises to be HUGELY beneficial in managing my condition. As of mid January I made the decision to come off my antidepressants after some three years of on them. (Sertraline, valium, citalopram and venlafaxine if you’re curious. No, not all at once.) As well as the physical benefits extolled by Gabby (and demonstrated by Hudson at SF:COWII) my aim is to use my yoga practice to gain control over my mind and my mental health without the aid of drugs.

4.) Swordplay

I have always admired performers who can use combat on stage and screen and make it look good. A friend of mine has, for twenty years, demonstrated such skill in sword, staff and bow and he has agreed to teach me how to use combat in performance. Having done two years of basic character acting as Amy Pond and Rose Tyler, it will be great to be able to add to my repertoire with some basic combat moves when I start cosplaying Gabrielle.

5.) The Great Midlands Run

After C25K comes the 10K. Which happens to be the distance of the Midlands Run which takes place in my local Nature Reserve and which my dad has run in several times when I was a kid. This takes place in June, so my aim once I have completed the 5K challenge is to build up to this 10K race. My wonderful friend Jon-Michael, who is my combat trainer, hypnotherapist and all-round motivator, will be running alongside me, and I plan to raise money for charity – like I do with everything.

6.) The Reward

By lucky coincidence, next year marks the 20th anniversary of Xena, and as such what better time to treat myself to the Xena Con event out in Burbank, CA? This year I am out in LA anyway attending the Gallifrey One ‘Doctor Who’ convention, and had briefly considered flying out a little earlier and doing both. But hopefully this way I can also use the interim time to make new friends on the ‘Xena’ scene, either via forums or by blogging about the inspiration ‘Xena’ has become for me, and by the time February 2015 comes around I shall also have a lovingly crafted collection of costumes to take with me, and a newly sculpted bod, and can have a wonderful time knowing I have achieved some big goals in every sphere of my life.

So there ya go. Its a year long plan of costume projects and fitness programmes so here's hoping that blogging about it may help give me some motivation to stick to it, as well as flexing my writing muscles in new and inventive ways!


  1. Cool! You have a follower already! I look forward to seeing the process of having those costumes made :)

    1. Thank you. I'm trying to get a few posts up before I go on holiday. Really surprised at the number of views already! :)