Back to the Future

Tomorrow, we’re back to poetry after what was a scheduled break for real life and May Day bank holiday. I’m off to sit in the Jazz Centre tomorrow and write a poem, plus spend some time re-organising the game plan. You see, on Thursday night there was a bit of an epiphany about how the poetry’s picked and chosen going forward.

There needs to be a bigger human angle than was initially planned: initial selection of places was purely planned on geography. Sure these spots all have personal relevance, but what matters more, it is now apparent, is emotional resonance that specific spaces throw up. This became apparent last week in town, in a spot that didn’t previously merit a mark on the map but now does.

The poetic voice has most definitely altered during this planning progress. Doing counselling simultaneously is undoubtedly altering my mental landscape: this weekend proves that to be true beyond doubt. Therefore, tomorrow is a refocus of goals and objectives, where I need to go and take pictures, plus what the remainder of my locations will give in terms of emotional resonance.

Listing to a poetic voice that is altering on an almost daily basis is an odd experience, but the process is a natural progression from the space this journey originally begin in. I am not afraid of change, and never have been, and am confident everything will eventually find a level that is right and proper.

The goal, while this happens, is to keep on writing.

Goodbye

This weekend, I tore up an application form. I’d picked it up in February, from the Poetry Cafe, fully intending to create an entry for the May 1st deadline… except other stuff kept getting in the way. A brilliant run with fiction over the last few weeks has meant that poetry (other than scheduled) really hasn’t happened for most of April. On reflection, that’s no bad thing, because there’s about to be an awful lot of poetry in May.

It’s also becoming tough to financially afford to enter everything I come across that uses such events as pseudo-fundraisers. After a while, you have to start making serious choices over what matters most, and ultimately, sitting looking at the next six weeks, there just isn’t any more spare cash left. It was easier therefore to admit defeat and try again when not only more cash exists, but when more time is available.

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It can be quite easy to get caught up in your own ‘bubble’ of things that look really important, but ultimately do not help you allow to grow as a writer. For me, at this point in the development process, there is more worth in being out in the Real World, gaining experience and talking to people than will ever happen being at home, and not focusing on anything except my work. Introspection is no longer useful.

What is needed is a shift in perspective and outlook: I’ll be editing a fiction piece this month, writing some poetry for Mental Health Week, but all of my focus is now on the major project forcing me not only to spend time outside, but to interact with those people for whom this town is their job and their home. That’s the input that’s been missing for a while, and I’m already looking forward to the possibilities.

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You can follow my daily progress starting May 1st. I hope we can both let go of the past, and use May to change outlook on the World in general.

F.E.A.R

Friday was my ‘soft-launch’ day for this project, which has been in planning, it must be said, since January. We’ve already discussed that daily poetry will vanish as a result, because let’s be honest, this requires a lot of thought, and not an inconsiderable amount of legwork. We’ll be doing the proper launch on Wednesday, where I’ll be at the local Library, starting a bit of essential historical background research.

All will be shared via Twitter, Instagram and blog, because that’s how these things work.

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You can also expect a reduction in the amount of floral pictures and of the sky. It’s time to find favourite architecture, of which there is an awful lot in the borough, plus landscapes and estuary views. I get to go down the pier for utterly legitimate business reasons and there will be some personal history revealed along the way. I’ve lived here since I was 22, after all. This town is very much in my blood.

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For my regular readers, many of these images will be familiar. These are places you’ll have seen before. What will be new is the poetry that accompanies them.

I’ll see you on Monday as months of planning finally comes to fruition.

Money Money Money

In the next blog post you’ll read, I’ll begin detailing a project which I’ll be working on without being paid. All of this: the website, hours of work, dozens of poems… I’m not paid for any of it. The single contest I’ve won, thus far, reimbursed me the ten quid train fare bought when I went to perform the poem live. A number of people have generously donated cash, over the last year… but no, I make nothing long-term as a writer at present.

Why on earth begin a major project when there’s nothing for me at the end of it?

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I am incredibly lucky with my personal circumstances, no doubt about it. There is a level of financial stability to do multiple things at once right now without major concern: the biggest single issue encountered, without fail, is finding the hours in order to complete anything major. It requires considerable planning and effort, something I’ve been mentally unable to complete until now. 

Success has for many years equated to the need to provide a pay-cheque at the end. If you’re not making money, you can’t be successful, and yup, that’s true to a point. Except, to be noticed and get a chance at publication in a marketplace saturated with other writers, you need to be very, very good. What happens therefore when you just want to create something that makes you happy, keeps you busy, and can give people enjoyment?

Should it even matter that I make money for everything that’s produced?

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This upcoming project was never designed to make me rich, but as a means by which I could show capability of producing content to a specific timescale, with my rules and objectives. The overriding point isn’t to get rich, but to be happy and give back to my home town something intangible. It’s not about cash, because in the end I’d be doing all of this regardless, for my own benefit. This is a personal labour of love.

In a world increasingly obsessed with capitalism, writing without a pay-cheque becomes less of an issue over time. My enjoyment, ultimately, is grasped in the production of work, the process of creation. Effort in promoting, multiple attempts to find anyone interested in publication, ceaseless parade of submissions and rejections doesn’t make me happy. Writing makes me happy.

This project is about making me happy.

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Now motivation is out of the way, it’s time to consider inspiration.

First Steps

A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct…

Frank Herbert, DUNE

I’ve been planning a particular project now for several months. As the launch date approaches, a moment or two of self-doubt is inevitable. Have I considered everything in terms of variables? Are my timescales realistic? What if nobody is interested? In this case, however, the results won’t be measured by traditional notions of success, at least not by me. I’ve already overachieved wildly. This is new, glorious territory.

To accommodate the new direction, for the entirety of May my normal working output will alter. Instead of daily poetry (9am and 5pm) you’ll instead get a new hashtag to follow: #EndOfTheFear. What this means right now remains a surprise, you’ll need to come back here next week to get the full rundown. Both Narrating and Soundtracking playlists remain unchanged, and there’s still a short story to read along with.

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This coming week therefore is a lot of legwork and preparation. Because of the way the month falls (2 days in April/3 days in May next week) there’ll also be a lack of poetry. There’s a very good reason for this: again, it’ll become apparent soon enough. Once upon a time I’d have tried to keep doing everything uninterrupted, but I’m smarter than that now. Some things must be put on hold, to dedicate full focus on larger aims.

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Once upon a time, everything just happened in my life. As I explained on Friday, a lot’s improved since the start of the year. Undoubtedly a lot of it is to do with how the process of work is approached: organisation, planning, realistic goals all factor into the equation. Occasionally, something unexpectedly brilliant happens and you realise that maybe, just maybe, this is the right path all along.

Strap in, folks. Things are about to get amazing.