Love’s Great Adventure

Following on from Tuesday’s reminder of things past, today is very much about what is to come. The Places of Poetry anthology launches on National Poetry Day, which is a week from now. I’ve got a couple of things ready to roll, and hope to have my first proper video complete by then. After that there’s the virtual launch with a bunch of people far better qualified at doing this stuff than I am. There will be lots of notes taken.

It’s what then happens next that now occupies my mind.

I’ve spent the last few days preparing what needs to be done. Now it’s just a matter of making my way through it, then organising myself appropriately. There’re calenders to print and possible new things to enter/submit to, and after that some time an effort should be given to make a new biography and headshot for the web page. As I picked up my inclusion to the anthology on spec, there is always the opportunity this will bring in interest.

Next week, we’ll start talking about my next potential project.

The Big Sky

It is time to begin the process of producing my first self-published pamphlet. I am quite likely to die of old age before someone decides my aesthetic suits their idea of a marketable product, and because of a number of changes in circumstance, I am now in a position to produce summat for myself that could be used to send to publishers. There’s also the investigation beginning of how I self-publish to Amazon, which was promised in the first half of this year.

The latter will not as I’d initially planned, but a thematically linked set of pieces I’m now in the process of putting together. I’ve decided on a title, and have designed a cover which gets exclusively revealed to Patrons before anyone else. For the Amazon production, I’ll need to spend a bit of time immersing myself in the process of production before deciding on the final running order. Once both of these are decided, we’ll pick a title for this group. Currently it is down to three possibilities.

Most importantly of all, photography for both books will be mine. There are plenty of stock images I could use, but in this case it would be useful to put my own work in place with the words. Certainly, in the case of the chapbook, showing off skills as a designer as well as a poet and photographer will demonstrate I think that there’s a real understanding of how all those elements fit together, and how to use them all effectively.

We’ll be spending our time over the next few blogs looking back at End of the Fear, which is when poetry and photography came together properly for the first time. It is entirely possible that the same will happen again next year with a similarly-themed project. At present, it is still at the planning stage, but I’m comfortable with the skills that have been learnt over the last eighteen months, I could come up with something even more dramatic.

Remind me of this in six months 😀

Just a Little

This week’s been a bit unexpectedly brutal. You’ll be seeing this on a Saturday but it’s sitting in Thursday’s blog spot, for reasons that are all over social media. I assume that people read here and follow me, and therefore do my best not to repeat the same stuff. Therefore, if you wanna go catch up, this blog is not for you. Here is where it is admitted, to the room, there is a new poetry collection in progress. I dunno where it will go, or whether it will even see the light of day.

The key here is that it is demanding to be written.

So, why is there a picture of a tasty chocolate bar here? This simple confection has been the subject of a very vocal, extremely entertaining family ‘dispute’ for a couple of weeks now. It was the first time, in some time, I’d felt comfortable enough to really contribute to anything frivolous. Amazingly, the Penguin became a metaphor: you can be yourself, even if there are consequences. It is okay to be different, if you can accommodate other people whilst doing so.

Then, a publication I enjoy launched their pamphlet contest and I found myself thinking of reasons why I couldn’t enter. I’d be never good enough for them, there are other things in contest, you don’t need to do anything else… and there were reasons piling up to not try something new. My brain was already placing obstacles in my way, to produce something of the standard required.

I’m not going to be that person any more.

The rules, therefore, are simple: no miring myself in chaos. No stressing about it. Write when you feel like it, don’t get lost in the work. If it makes you overly emotional, walk away. The task here is a realistic interpretation of where you exist as a human being. If all that can be achieved, I’m doing pretty well. So far, I’m halfway through. Once this is written, I’ll probably do some more. Undoubtedly, as I do, a Penguin will be involved.

Being kind to myself is part of the new rule set.

Audacity of Huge

Sometime in the next few months, for absolute certain, there will be stuff to buy on this website. It’s been coming for quite some time, but like everything else it has required a rearrangement of priorities. It takes on average about a month to readjust to such changes. This is probably the third shift in circumstance I’ve worked through since the start of the year. All in all, things are going remarkably well considering.

The sale of ‘stuff’ will fall into three distinct categories: written work, artwork, and merchandise. Two of those things should come as no surprise to some of you, but the third one might. Artwork is a new avenue for me. The inaugural piece will be something my daughter has produced (and which we will be splitting the profits) but I expect to start experimenting with my own graphic pieces as time goes on.

As for merchandise… well, this is going to be another way to help support me if you don’t want to go down the Patreon route. We’ll talk about that more next month. Needless to say, I’m all over this, just not really in a position to say any more until the remainder of this month’s workload is complete, which will be happening tomorrow. I’m quite proud of the progress however, this is a new direction, with a lot of satisfaction attached.

Watch this Space.

Idioteque

Monday seems a long time ago, it has to be said. The weather has not helped in making things easier: my optimal operating temperature is somewhere in the low 70’s (about 19-20 degrees Centigrade) and frankly, anything above that my lungs are not best pleased. Therefore, large portions of this week have been physically a challenge negotiating… but I have. It’s helped to shove all my exercise in early: this morning I managed a new dead lift personal best.

It’s a totally inspiring means to begin a day. It also puts into perspective, if it really needed to be highlighted, that all the work that was done in lockdown to keep fit and maintain my equilibrium has now produced not simply progress, but real potential for new opportunity. This journey is no longer about doing enough, after all. I want to exceed expectations, and start really turning back my body clock using exercise. The same is true with the writing. When I practice every day, things get better.

It is time to look at the results thus far, to find means to work past those expectations too.

Today, we’ve begun the process of introducing two new strands of content to Patreon for September. It’ll all be finished by the end of August, plus this weekend a ton of new things will (quietly) appear on the website here. The architecture is already in place, I just need to do some technical wizardry to make it happen, between a couple of bike rides and quite possibly some more writing.

There’s a lot more too, some mental health projects in progress that I can’t talk about yet (including some art) plus everything that we’ve previously discussed. There will be some fairly serious organization on that front starting next week, but once we have the Patreon LANzine ticked off for the month, everything becomes significantly less stressful to complete. Final pass on that will be Monday morning.

Keep an eye on the website this weekend, and watch the magic emerge before your eyes…

Unputdownable

This week, I have indulged myself in long-form narrative, and it has been smashing.

This writing project was originally NaNo, dumped in frustration because of a plot hole it was simply too hard for me to negotiate. The reason for that was very much tied up in trauma, it transpires, and I realised some inescapable truths coming out of the latest round of submissions: everything I’ve done with this project was to make deadlines or to assuage a desire within me that was never properly explored or explained. It’s no surprise therefore that this week, returning to it has become a revelation.

The Spotify soundtrack has really helped too, and after six years of mucking about, it looks as if starting tomorrow it will have a new direction. It becomes my vanity project, in effect, alternative to all the other stuff which now, like it or not, have become part of a work remit. That’s totally right and proper too, because without summat to look forward to or indulge in, everything else gets boring quite quickly.

Plus, let’s be fair, I’ve had enough of poetry for the time being.

However, it’s not been forgotten about, far from it. I announced today in Patreon that the cover above will be my first ‘proper’ pamphlet: Reboot 2 $hell is a project I’ve been working on, back and forth, for a couple of years, and is so niche that I realise now the only sure-fire means of doing it justice is to publish it myself. As yet, I’m not totally sure what form that will take, but can do nothing with the collection until I’ve created a layout.

So, there will be this secondary project running alongside the fiction for a couple of weeks, until I can create summat I’m happy with. There’ll be updates on progress, but I have ideas for some things that will personalise the project sufficiently. Needless to say now it’s been announced via Patron, I am obliged to make the imagined into summat real and tangible. That’s always a good motivator. This time however, there’s potential for making some cash along the way.

Let’s see if we can get a project like this off the ground without too much fuss.

Ballroom Blitz

Oh look, we’re back… when I say that it makes it sound like everything is organised and finished, when the reality is that an awful lot of is sitting, waiting to be fixed. In Good News [TM] we have timescales now, and realistic levels of expectation. Welcome to the New Normal, and there’s quite a lot of stuff to catch up on so let’s get started.

This month, and in fact going forward long term, we’ll be sticking Instagram and website content into a combined output. It makes more sense to not keep trying to be lots of different things across multiple platforms, and to focus effort on content over variety. Therefore, if you follow my Instagram, you’ll see me using that this month as a means to deal with the COVID stuff, how I make ART as a CREATIVE, and some other bits too. It also becomes the way I’ll tell you how my efforts to become FAMOUS are going, or not, as the case may be.

On that front, we made it to a shortlist proper for the first time last month with some poetry. We’ll keep plugging away at that side of things in tandem with self-publication, which is going to happen before Christmas. That work begins in September, and I’m already looking forward to the output, of which there is much to choose from. Picking the best work is the easy bit: it gets harder when you’re the graphic designer and the production co-ordinator to boot. No matter, the work will be done.

The biggest single piece of news however is I’m working with the local Arts collective as part of their New Artists Network. That’s never going to stop being funny: at 53 I’m still less than two years into a professional endeavour, as you’re considered successful after publication. My first piece debuted in November 2018, my next piece appears in hardback, in October for World Poetry Day. So, technically I could call myself established from that point, but if you know me well that’s never happening. This doesn’t stop even if I do hit the target, multiple times.

I don’t ever see a true end to this period of creativity in my life.

Umbrella

As if there was not enough to be doing in June, I’ve taken an extra fortnightly task onto the list: Time to Change’s Story Camp. Running this week until the end of August, I’ll get a new prompt every other Monday. It encourages us to ‘tell our story’ about mental health and, in this case, I’ve decided that response will come via poetry. I’d not expected to have an automatic, almost visceral response to the initial prompt either, but it happened. This was written late Monday night and posted on Wednesday, and might be one of the best things I’ve produced for some time.

In the chaos of this week, to use my voice when so many others are being silenced seems… wrong. It really does. I appreciate that these events are arranged in advance, with no idea of the potential chaos that may unfold around us. That response needed to be the point of the poem: my own experiences at this point should absolutely not be taking centre stage. In two weeks, the world could well be in a completely different place, but for now personal history needs to mark this moment with significance.

Having someone else provide the prompts however is, undoubtedly, a bonus. Not having to think of directions or ideas, having an opportunity just to create has been what this week has been all about, and writing here after a week of doing just that? It is incredibly satisfying. Therefore, when all these are done, we’ll collate them together as a testament to how the Summer played out from my distinct and unique mental health standpoint.

You’ll see that poetic graphic a few times therefore in the next ten days: I’ll post it, optimising exposure times, just to prove I have learnt a few things about how Twitter has worked over the years. Now that’s done, it’s time to go sort out the Drabbles for next week, swiftly followed by the inaugural YouTube video … now, about that…

2020 Week 20 Poetry: Anger

In the past few weeks, strange things have begun to transpire in the poetic parts of my brain. It’s not a worry, far from it: daily practice and a new openness to moving words into different spaces that were previously unexplored is producing some fascinating new combinations. Undoubtedly this will continue to be actively influenced by the introduction of video content into the equation.

I have an idea for my first full collection.

There’s a new pamphlet in the works.

What a time to be creative, and lucky to be alive.


Anger

What began, only remains sacrificed with ungodly zeal, altered outlooks reveal disquiet,
unexpectedly adroit, passively regressive understanding, Zen demanding.

Insidious fuse, unconsciously lit, don’t think she’ll get away with it: scarlet womankind,
sexuality unwinds, leisurely descent, decent laments loss of splattered purity.

Anger explodes, abode decimated, consecrated ground shaking; liberties taking quickest
path, highest land abandoned, no longer sacrosanct.

As her lust settles, desired reanimates, immediate placation of destructive situation...
everything resisted; actively assisted returns to movement, circumstance.

Such drama, crisis cavitates creating pressure, tension’s taut suspension; what was end
begins renewed; gentlest caress quietly begins redress.

Strong

It’s time for your weekly update of The Poetry Experiment, which has now come to encompass not only a general reaction to Lockdown, but responses to specific COVID-related events. There’s a lot been done in the last week as well, which is reassuring when I’m not really in a particularly productive place right now. It can’t be helped: we’ve lost a family member this week, and there’s been some other drama to deal with.

It’s time to focus on positives.

Number of Poems Written: Eight.

monkey typing

I made myself last week sit down and plan how this ‘story’ is going to pan out, because that’s what this is. There’s a period of reflection before everything went mad, a focus on three days within that period, and a series of emotions I’ve felt as a result of the entire event. Poems are emerging quite organically as a result: of the eight we have thus far, there’s one at the start, five in the middle and two at the end, making a basic framework.

I’m pretty pleased with what’s been produced thus far too, and how things are fitting into the ‘play’ I’ve imagined this could end up becoming. The next stage will be to read through everything and start focussing on the feelings and descriptions I think are missing, that form part of my lockdown experience and should as a result be recorded. I’ve set myself the notional target of the end of this month to have all the pieces in place.

Emotional Investment: High.

goodmorning

We have not as yet reached the ‘everything sucks, I hate myself’ part of this project. That’s always a massive bonus, that if I can get the majority of the hard graft done before paranoia and anxiety set in, so much the better. It helps considerably having Patreon as a constantly running set of deadlines to hit going forward, so there’s always this background awareness of what needs to happen, and has to take place.

As a displacement activity today, in an attempt to see if I can get my brain to do anything else but mourn a loss and grieve over other things, I’ll be pulling poetry together for some online submissions. As these aren’t being specially aimed for, as is the case with this work, that should lessen the emotional impact of worry over whether my stuff was ‘good enough’ It is the recycling task I should do more of going forward.


You can expect an update on progress in the next week.