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  • Say Yes

    2011 - 06.01

    So last Monday, I go to Starbucks to write as usual before work. The usual folk don’t bat an eyelid, but irregular early morning coffee folk keep kind of skirting around me.

    Just speculating, but this might be why…

    Later, whizzing past cars stopped at a red outside Notting Hill Police Station, I was blinded up a huge pollen-laden blast on wind and rammed into some poor sod’s wing mirror. Appropriately mortified, I fell off the side of my bike stammering my apologies.

    Turns out I needn’t have worried; he was so amused by the sword sticking out from my day-glo hump he either didn’t notice or care about the mirror. Pedestrians, street cleaners, drivers and policemen – complete strangers, the lot of them – grinned at (not necessarily with me, but near enough) all the way to Brentford. It was completely brilliant.

    Moral of the story: be an idiot. Run around with a sword sticking out your bag, and even London, a city often vilified for the coldness of its population, will love you.

    But it wasn’t just a sword in my bag. Oh no, I had a full warrior outfit in there, complete with (admittedly not very warriorly) 9 inch stiletto ‘Athena Goddess’ sandals (also known in student house as ‘Adele’s Stripper Sandals’. Can’t for the life of me see why… :P ). And I wore that costume around the Sky TV site. Why? Because we have the Iron Throne of Westeros from Game of Thrones there, and I have work-mate who is a fantastic photographer.

    And I have a warrior outfit.

    Who the hell wouldn’t say yes to the chance to dress up for awesome pics on that?

    ….

    ..
    .

    Apparently, quite a lot of people.

    In fact, on a site of thousands of staff members, exactly no-one else.

    And a year ago – perhaps even six months ago – I wouldn’t have either.

    I rode home thinking about this. Wondering how this had happened. How grabbing a random person to take a photo on my iphone like this:

    turned into this (pre-photoshopped awesomeness, watch this space):

    Best not to ask, really.

    For that matter, how had a fairly lame attempt to dress up as Magrat channelling warrior queen Ynci at the March Discworld Spring Fling event in Wincanton, behaving very much like this:

    Heels + bum skirt = ‘who the hell are you and what did you do with Adele?’       (photo courtesy of Robert Flach, aka Otto Chriek)

    turned into a pro shoot like this:

    I suspect I’m more of a Gabrielle, but I’ll totally settle for Xena

    And speaking of Wincanton, I wondered at how a random Facebook status hurrah about Terry Pratchett’s latest book I Shall Wear Midnight led to my friend Lola connecting me to her friend Chris, who is a personal friend of Terry, and who invited me along to Hogswatch last November. I didn’t know a single soul there, bar Chris by Facebook, but I said yes and went, and it led to me meeting and speaking to Terry, which led to me writing an (almost) entire first re/draft of my novel The Sinless Sword in December (Si Spencer needs to take a share of the blame/credit for that, for saying a big Yes that no-one else would have).

    Hogswatch 2010 led to Spring Fling 2011 where all sorts of wonderful and unexpected things happened and may yet happen (vis ‘Do you want to be Angua in public?’ ‘Yes'; ‘Can you learn Jacqueline Simpson’s Ubervald accent?’ ‘Er… yes?'; ‘How about a duet as Angua of Anything You Can Do?’ ‘Yes!’) and, not least of all, I wondered at how having my ‘fortune read’ by Bernard, the Cunning Artificer himself:

    Not sure what exactly was being ‘read’ here…

    led to my radio play Good By You being scheduled for performance and recording at Hogswatch this November. Discworld fans, it must be said, are brilliant at saying Yes. They represent a collective masterclass in seizing every moment, every opportunity, every offer, every chance to laugh and show kindness or encouragement to another. And I am grateful, and wonder how I will ever be able to pay all their goodwill forward.

    Behold, my mighty voice cast, post-reading/workshop

    As I cycled, I cast my mind a little further back and wondered how, in fact, an initial fitness photo shoot – just for fun, with my friends Bev and Dave (our esteemed photographer) – which yielded a lot of very silly photos like this:

    Attempted synchronised jump kick Fail No 12

    ended up with images like this from Long Exposure:

    Thas’ ma serious face

    Suddenly… I’m a model...? But… how? Because I said yes to one thing and it led to another and another? And now I have summer unexpectedly rammed with brilliant and bizarre photo shoots with several fantastic togs, like Sean Kelly, who says yes to everything mad we can jointly think of doing, like our new collection of Incongruity pictures –

    Mmmmmm, burger nom

    – and Dave and Victor K who have embraced the idea of taking short stories of mine and illustrating them, psuedo-graphic novel style, but using photography and photoshop?

    As I cycled home last Monday, I wondered at the way a passing joke in a body pump class about how a guy from Model Mayhem wanted to body paint me as Wonder Woman turned into an actual Wonder Woman full body paint studio shoot. I mean what are the odds that the one class I tell about it, has a woman with a best friend who is also a brilliant body painter? The astronomical odds boggle the mind.

    And I think: damn, how many doors have I unknowingly walked past because I didn’t look or speak or think? Or just didn’t recognise them for what they were, and didn’t say Yes?

    I probably won’t look like this, but that won’t stop me, Tash, Sean and photoshop trying

    I thought back to how a sensationally bad review on the first draft of The Sinless Sword  drove me to temporarily (and to my shame) abandon the book, instead turning my attention to a pitching competition through which I won the chance to pitch my TV series Violent Cases at BAFTA; through which I met actor Orion Lee, who offered to assemble a group of his colleagues to workshop the pilot; through which I became involved in Constellation Collectives; through which I ended up co-writing a short film to be shot this year; through which I had the privilege of working with talented actors; through which I off-handedly suggested running script workshop BBQs on Violent Cases and Life In Me this summer; which my actorly friends were unanimously enthusiastic about.

    Hang on… you mean that if I can these scripts pimped out in the next 2 months, I can have a bunch of talented peeps help me workshop them to Awesomeness?

    Apparently, the answer is yes.

    *pinches self*

    Riding home last Monday afternoon – after running around Sky in my skimpy outfit, stilettos and sword, after asking a random woman coming into the ladies to untie my tunic, after finding out that she ran the official Sky Game of Thrones website and not only wanted Dave’s pictures, but potentially also for me to dress up for a Game of Thrones stand at fantasy conventions – I tried to chase back these little threads of coincidence; I wanted to know why this year, and not any year before it, has been so outstanding for collaborative opportunities.

    I wanted to know why, after years and countless hours of dreaming in my own head, and bashing away at the keyboard on my own in my office (aka the Starbucks basement), suddenly I have more projects going public than even I can poke a stick at.

    Those years of grift have built a foundation and body of work, no argument. But perhaps more than that, it’s because somehow, somewhere along the way, I realised that other people weren’t going to say Yes to me until I started saying it myself – to myself, and to others.

    I realised that my office was also my prison. I started to asking for doors; looking for doors; and when they opened, I had to move past this idea that people are only writers as long as they’re writing; that the writing life is must be dull and lonely; that the writer is the channel for the adventures of others.

    Screw that. Jump through those doors. Say yes. There are a countless roads to Rome. If I first find publication through short stories being illustrated by amazing photographers, and I happen to be modelling my own characters, good for me. Not the usual door, but so what?

    Of course the risk is that I keep saying Yes and Yes and Yes and then realise that I haven’t slept for a week and won’t be able to for another two or three… or I’m having so much fun out in the world I haven’t the time to sit down and write about it…

    Is there such a thing as too much yes?

    Of course.

    So I remember wise words I heard recently. That it is ok to say No to protect a bigger Yes in your heart. That it’s ok to go out there and just be yourself as hard as you can, because only one person can say No to you – and that’s ok, because you’ve already made the decision to only say Yes.

    4 Responses to “Say Yes”

    1. David Long says:

      Amazing Adele – your positive attitude has cheered me up on many occasion and glad it is brought you some positive things this year.

      When I first met you I honestly didn’t see you becoming the Model, Gym instructor, Writer you are now.

      Awesome to work with – can’t wait for this weekend…

    2. Adele says:

      Thanks DL! And thanks for always supporting my mad endeavours and believing in me, even when I haven’t been able to do so myself. Sometimes I feel like the sum of the people around me, which makes it bloody lucky I’m surrounded by amazing people.

    3. Kasia says:

      Hi Adele!

      it has been ages since you stopped teaching at David Lloyd and I was wondering what had become of you, googled you and here you are :-)
      I love that whatever you write about, it is just so funny, so much humour. You are a great writer, keep doing it!

    4. Adele says:

      Hey Kasia! Fancy meeting you here :) Thanks so much for popping by!

      That was my first perm class at DL, back in the day. Two years ago now? Are you still there? What are you up to now?

      Hope to see you back there some time x

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