Order from Chaos

Over the last seven days, it’s been easy to admit that work needs to be done around the website. Once that thought was out in the open, lots of subsequent internal soul-searching has taken place. If this whole shebang is going to be successful, there will never be a good moment to talk about money. After admitting this week that a fortune is never really likely to be made on the back of current submission content, it is time to be honest.

As a Digital Curator, it may be time to put down some more solid foundations.

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When I rebooted this site from its original purpose a few years ago, it was to accompany a first, tentative into the world of persistent crowdfunding via Patreon. There was some fuss at the end of that year when the platform attempted to pull a fast one over fees, and my principles suggested a step back from participation until such time as I felt there was sufficient confidence to sell myself again.

Once the site redesign starts next month (you can already be able to see the new logo above) I’ll be posting a Google Forms survey asking people if they’d be interested in becoming contributors to this new direction, which will include Patreon as an option. I’m not going to go back to the platform unless I know there’s an opportunity to make a decent fist of the endeavour.

I’ll be taking my cues from those of you willing to help fund me long term.

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Communication is key to this new direction: the last attempt of providing unique content was not really that well thought through. Now, I’m not only older but considerably more confident of what is possible with my setup and skillset. As a result, there are potentially a lot of very exciting possibilities on the table. This is not just poetry or fiction, photography or general creativity. New adventures are just a thought away.

More importantly, I’m now fully free of the shackles that were holding me back previously thanks to counselling. With the new confidence in myself and what is possible, we can start creating a truly unique and special place online, that covers multimedia and transmedia. It is not just words that sell, after all, and if I can generate content that nobody else is currently producing?

That has to be something to aim for going forward.

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For now, however, there’s some more deadlines to aim for, so it’s time to finish what’s been started before clearing the decks and starting fresh…

Highway (Under Construction)

Going away is always fraught with an element of danger, because with none of the normal things to act as distraction, my mind can wander. However, this brief weekend away has thrown up some really interesting possibilities. I think this time however, a lot of stuff has moved into focus, and as a result, it is probably time for a bit of a rebrand. Therefore, during March, we’re going to do things a little bit differently.

Prepare yourself for a much-needed site Spring Clean 😀

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There are already things planned of an artistic nature next month: Wednesdays are Workshop Days going forward (and I have no idea what that will mean until I go get a brochure from the people running them, so watch this space) and there’s a couple of days booked at the Arts Collective where I’ll have space reserved to work without restrictions. Apart from that, I’m clearing the decks.

That means we’ll restart all the scheduled content in April, which gives me much-needed time to find better ways of presenting continuous output in a more accessible form. Certainly as the number of YouTube playlists grows, maintenance and upkeep of those lists is increasingly problematic. Ironically also the lists get shorter: it’s an education watching copyright robots take down stuff, or videos suddenly being marked as ‘private.’

You’d think some people don’t realise the Internet can be seen by everybody…

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It’s getting increasingly frustrating having to do stuff piecemeal because I’m reacting and not planning sufficiently, and if my online portfolio won’t support the content that’s already here, adding to the problem will just make things worse the longer it is left unchecked. Therefore, rather than saying to myself ‘this will do’ it is time to stop managing with something that has become unfit for purpose.

There’ll be more details in the next week or so. Needless to say, I HAVE BIG PLANS.

City of Blinding Lights

Those of you paying attention will know I was away this last weekend: some of the scheduled work has suffered (no poetry this week, sorry) but in the main everything has been surprisingly well-organised. The stuff that should have appeared will do so at the weekend. I’m only a day behind on the Playlists. Frankly, this is the best it has ever been. No really, no hyperbole; a new and interesting crossroads has been reached.

Everything is coming together: a poetry collection I can be genuinely proud of in final stages of re-write. Poetry that is a completely accurate and honest representation of what I am becoming in reality. There’s even a short story waiting in the wings, amazingly apposite for current circumstances. With my objective hat on, none of this is really just luck or coincidence either. Years of hard work is coming to fruition.

This is the consequence of looking upward, forward to what could be possible.

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A lot of times, it is easy to self-convince that targets are being hit: however, if nothing comes from your work but rejection, is that really a perception worth hanging onto? It’s the ephemeral, mystical value of ‘polish’ which I’ve spoken about before: something that you truly believe is as good as it gets, until back it comes from someone whose  subsequently published selections you neither grasp nor understand.

It takes a lot of hard work to re-write things you were convinced were perfect before, I’ll tell you. Except, there will come a point somewhere in that process where you’ll grasp an inescapable truth: you were deluding yourself. It’s never an intentional lie, but evolves from understanding that we all improve, over time, with practice. Writing, as we have also discussed before, is no different to exercising, or learning to play a musical instrument, or drawing.

The more you push yourself, the better things get.

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This week therefore is doing this with pieces of work I’m already supremely proud of. The unexpected bonus from this has also been the emergence of some new pieces that are making me genuinely rather excited: creativity will inevitably spawn more of the same, often in directions that are totally unforseen or surprising. Then one just has to try and keep the momentum going.

This will be me, making sure that’s exactly what happens in the next week.

Negotiations and Love Songs

Really, this shouldn’t be being written, I should be getting ready to go away for some much-needed time off, except this week’s thrown up a lot of moments where my plans going forward have altered in both scope and significance. As a result, there is something that needs to be said before I go away: belief in yourself is, undoubtedly a part of the deal with ambition that never gets talked about enough.

I mentioned on Wednesday that I had an evening class/workshop that was being looked forward to, and it transpires that there was a lot more to the evening than I had initially envisioned. It was so successful, in fact, that if the organisation answers my email because I can’t find a link on their website,  a monthly amount  will be thrown down to go do more interesting things on Wednesday evenings in the future.

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You have to be careful when people are being paid to be nice to you, of course, that their affirmations and responses can be somewhat tainted by the fact that if they’re honest with you, that might not be the answer that you want to hear. Wednesday night, undoubtedly, can be seen in two distinct lights. It was in parts an enormous ego boost. In other parts it was a testament to how far I’ve come as a person.

Somewhere in the middle was a set of writing exercises, the opportunity to just think about writing and not worry about chores or demands from others. That was perhaps the most important thing of all, at the end of the day. Whatever else may emerge from the experience, I held my own with a group of people whose only experience of me was that session. I didn’t fuck anything up. That’s a massive bonus.

The truth of the evening’s success therefore can be distilled from these parts.

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It is a foolish woman who does not learn from everything that is thrown at her. Sometimes, undoubtedly, that takes some time to either register or absorb, but in the end being critical of your own actions is one of the most important life skills that can ever be learnt. Better is the state we all should be striving for regardless of whatever anybody else says needs to be done. Being successful does not mean you can be selfish.

The arrogance I see from those who clearly feel that success has granted them some kind of absolution from improvement is the most difficult part of a life online. How I’m choosing to deal with that is twofold: life the best life possible, whilst simultaneously maintaining healthy levels of cynicism and realism. It all works fine if internal balance is maintained, and that’s the plan moving forward.

Any true path to enlightenment, let’s face facts, is never going to be an easy one.

School’s Out

Here’s a thing. I’m off to what I suppose should be referred to as an Evening Class tonight, and am rather excited at the prospect.

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I wish there were more money to be able to do stuff like this with greater frequency, but it’s just not practical, when a London-based course could cost the equivalent of the monthly food budget. I’m already saving as it is for Mslexicon this year, and that means making some harsh decisions in the next couple of weeks as how everything is funded. I’m already making all the savings possible to let this happen.

However, there is an ulterior motive to doing a couple of hours on the High Street tonight: this venue has an open mic in two weeks, which will be a perfect opportunity in which to take some problematic poetry with me for performance later in the year. It also gives me a focus for the two days writing time I’ve booked at the local Arts Collective next month, as part of the county’s Book Festival.

It allows an opportunity to extend experience to other places.

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All of these venues are on my doorstep, so travel costs are minimal: the two day ‘hot desk’ opportunity is free as well, so I would have been very remiss to have not taken that one up. More importantly than that, of course, the capacity for networking exceeds all other benefits: if you want to be know, you do unfortunately have to put yourself about, and until I gain Banksy levels of notoriety, that’s a given.

It’s the part of this job description I’ve always struggled with, with social anxiety always there as a reminder that you’re never as prepared as you think is enough. However, each time something like this happens, undoubtedly things get easier. That whole thing about practice isn’t just restricted to exercise, after all. Doing something every day has considerable benefit in both brain and body.

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I have a t-shirt for the evening all picked. I will take something pre-written as a starting point to improve. I’ve packed business cards and favourite pencils. All that needs to happen now is to get through the rest of the day unscathed and this will be the first of a number of small rewards, to myself, for distinctive progress made. After all, even the most hardened of professionals benefits from some quality ‘them’ time.

I’ll report on the evening Friday, via a blog.

Leaders of the Free World

This week, a major part of my February output has changed. For this month’s Big Submission [TM] the plan originally had been to repurpose what is, in my heart, the more personal set of poems from a selection of three possible entries. Except, there’s been a bit of a lightbulb moment after a week of staring at stuff with no real idea of how I can rebuild those moments, in some cases from scratch.

So, on Monday, time made me walk away and re-approach a selection that… well, is emotionally quite difficult to read. It was the sense of dread this collection radiated that had kept it untouched for some time, but in terms of salvageability and improvement, this was the best bet. My third selection has neither cohesion or narrative flow and needs to be completely reconstructed.

Instead, this was the better bet.

It was hard work. I’ve cried more in the last 48 hours than has been the case for weeks. Mentally, I am exhausted, but what now exists is a piece of work that I am genuinely very proud of. More importantly, this is the piece that, regardless of what other people decide, will see the light of day in some form as a printed work before the year is out. Self-publishing, on whatever format, will happen in 2020.

It also puts into stark relief exactly how much work has been done in the last year or so, and how little grasp there is of what exists and in what form. I’ve taken the step this morning of archiving the key files off to backups in two seperate locations, not just on my hard drive. You can never be too careful, after all. Then, there really needs to be some time to sort out exactly what has been stuffed where.

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There’s an early Spring Clean coming, I think, a lot to do with this recent outpouring of emotional pressure. Many things can now be thrown away, for good, no longer required to move pace of my progress forward. They were, it occurs to me now, simply support structures anyway. Now I’m confident and comfortable enough to stand alone, none of it is required any longer. I can move forward, considerably lighter.

This really is the best work I have ever written.

2020 Week Six Poetry: Defend

Stream of consciousness poetry is very useful, but can ultimately become frustrating if you charge off down a dead end with no idea how to get back to where you began. There’s a bit of that in this, it must be said, but a lot more of the hangover from going full-on physically last month. None of the poetry I’ve written in this style thus far is wasted, when all is said and done, but this is not a particularly stand-out piece.

However, I can see a time when I might come and steal some of the moments from this and repurpose them for other ends. In that regard, playing word association football with a subject matter has definite mileage as means for kick-starting my brain.

Might do some love poetry next week, as I’m off FOR AN ACTUAL POETRY WORKSHOP on Wednesday: more on that tomorrow…


Defend

Strike forward, neophyte, heed drum’s hypnotic heart refrain: before us enemy entrenched, resistance obvious, sustained.

Clarion call, weaponised obstruction dismantled, opposition routed, positions reversed; push headlong, together stronger.

War room’s fighting, dominance descending, shove armies where sons line breaks, overrun; full retreat summarily complete.

Tide turning, Testudo formation; defend attacked, have their shield, battle’s two-step reinforcing conditions, ultimate confrontation.

Our metaphors, constant engagement; kinship beyond borders, only existence worth enmity’s peace, little death exhaled, repeats.