New Shoes

Yes, we’re only two weeks into the year, despite the last one feeling like it was at least a month long. I’ve allowed the original domain tied to this site to lapse, and finally we’re feeling as if this project might be getting somewhere. The sharp-eyed amongst you will notice new prominence to both Pinterest and Ko-Fi on the front page: there is more than one way to sell yourself online in 2021. Most importantly, I have left Instagram for good, and could not be happier.

The final straw was WhatsApp’s decision to force me into a user agreement which effectively shares my data with their parent company, and (if I were in the US) would allow Facebook to sell it to anybody who paid enough. I’ve had a lot of conversations over privacy in the last few weeks, and the events in the US have been the galvanising factor in making me decide to move away for good. I really don’t care about convenience, but need to maintain control of who holds my information.

This video was, believe it or not, from 2014, which feels the equivalent of Shakespeare popping up live from the Globe trying to give a cohesive argument for why his plays should remain relevant in the modern world. You either ascribe to the idea of privacy and freedom or, it appears, you don’t. There is no middle answer, because the moment you sit there you’ve transformed into a commodity. Your data, like it or not, becomes all anyone ever wants from you. Opinions are invalid, and change pretty much impossible… which is where most people are now.

It’s too much fuss to change. Except, if you’ll let your freedom be so easily taken, what happens when people come for all the other stuff?

This blog’s remained largely apolitical since it was relaunched. However, that’s never what I’ve been, and as injustice becomes increasingly apparent, I have little desire to pretend it isn’t happening. That’s other people’s jobs and not mine. As part of my personal education policy going forward, a lot more questions are about to be asked not only of the World, but of those people who decide that you don’t talk about ‘that stuff’ in their social media.

That’s a sure-fire way of not being prepared for when the Revolution hits.

You’re So Vain

In the last couple of months, it has become increasingly apparent that what I enjoy in poetry is not what many people consider poetic. Certainly, looking at stuff that’s been submitted for deadlines versus what from others has made the cut into publications, there’s a gulf of perception and creativity that needs to be vaulted in order to break into particular market sectors. I’m simply not esoteric enough.

The problem, a lot of the time, is rhyming.

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The more that is read, the harder it becomes to understand what is presented. I see  narrative threads with clever metaphor, but cannot feel as everybody else. Much of this verse presents as completely different to what is believed as natural, which is to rhyme when occasion demands. Perhaps it is because of a love of music, a demand for lyrical synergy, which pushes me away from the nature of this ‘poetry.’

It is more likely that personal path to enlightenment has not yet been fully discovered.

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There are flashes appearing, slow evolution of stiff verse into more fluid forms, but it is taking time. This is development that can’t be forced either, needs to feel right and free. It helps that the more that is rejected, the easier it becomes to grasp there’s actual understanding and progress. Eventually I’ll get there, but there’s an increasing realisation that most of the work produced at this point needs to be shelved.

It may yet be that there’s more merit in finding the means to produce esoteric as a lead in to my own style, or simply that this journey could produce something completely different as a consistent final product. Either way, evolution is hard work. A remarkable amount of heart and soul gets thrown into every piece. Just as long as I keep writing, eventually, there will be a moment of progression.

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Nobody said any of this was ever going to be easy.

I am What I Am

It was bound to happen eventually after a month of fairly heavy-duty counselling and the loss of my husband’s mum. This whole project only exists because I’m lucky enough to be able to do so in time that’s not taken up with being a carer and a mother. For the last week, poetry had to take a back seat, because other stuff became more important.

Now, however, there’s space to breathe again, so it’s high time we worked out June’s content.

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Starting in June, we’re using two media buzzwords, fused together as an overall theme for proceedings. Until the ‘Places of Poetry’ project is completed (which will hopefully be mid month) the weekly verse continues to take a back seat. There’ll be two new playlists (plus I promise faithfully all the old ones will make it to the website) plus a short story based on an offhand comment someone made last month on my Twitter feed.

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What has happened in the last six weeks or so is a subtle shift in how new work is created and edited, based in part on continued and very useful feedback. Hopefully this will show not only in the blog posts, but across the full spectrum of written output. There’s a lot to be learnt, and it is only two years ago that all of this began in earnest. Some days, it feels like a whole lot longer.

I look forward to seeing you for this new stuff in the usual places starting next Friday.

Alone Again Or

Yesterday, I filled in a survey for a large organisation who, if I’m honest, was never set up to deal with the likes of me. The girl with anxiety issues, constant bouts of Impostor Syndrome, fear of failure and inability to understand what other people are talking about, on her worst days, puts the cause back months. Today however that girl’s still in bed, not wanting to push forward or achieve greatness. In her place this doppelganger is at the PC, putting in the hours, covering for inadequacy.

The world’s a tough place to negotiate at the best of times, especially in these fraught days of political and social uncertainty. The survey asked me a simple question: what do I miss in my life, now that there’s so much dedication to the writing cause? The answer is simple: friends. People who understand what this is like: the constant rejections, the uncertainty, doubting yourself and the output you produce. When I look at the successful people in my timeline, perilously few show the weaknesses I deal with.

Maybe that’s part of the problem.

Twitter presents the world with a platform to be whatever they wish, yet so many believe that’s the kind of person who never shows vulnerability or shortcomings. Undoubtedly the people I now gain the most from in terms of interactivity and support are those who show this more vulnerable side, not afraid to be honest with their failings. It is also becoming increasingly apparent that anyone who arrogantly believes their opinion is the only right answer will never be worth listening to or indeed debating with.

When I’m writing poetry, or fiction, or whatever else might be needed of me in terms of words, success is what is aimed for. However, less and less that success equates to being able to put well known organisations next to my work. Validation in a capitalist society inevitably is being able to earn a wage from your efforts. It doesn’t help that ‘best-selling’ ‘successful’ writers are all over my social media: many act like they’re some kind of literary evangelist, offering answers and succour in exchange for your fealty.

Except reality is a long way from that truth.

A lot of individuals consider any public admission of failure as unacceptable. It is understandable, especially as such concepts are often grouped with social constructs or lifestyle choices that directly fly in the face of continued success. The pressure to achieve, present the ‘right’ impression or outlook, places incredible amounts of stress on the most hardened of individuals… and yet, showing this is inevitably negative. That’s not true. To err is human. It is the most basic part of ourselves, and should be embraced.

Today, sitting here, I know there’s a rejection waiting to drop in my Inbox. I could probably write the generic message that will accompany it. It will include phrases such as:

‘hugely high standard of entries’
‘incredibly difficult decision’
‘so difficult to choose a winner’
‘because of the high volume of entries, no individual criticism of individual work can be provided…’

and there’s the killer. Nobody’s willingly prepared to offer free criticism, or comment. If you want to learn how to do this, you’ll more than likely have to pay someone for the privilege. Take a course, hire an editor, and even then nobody may care one jot about what makes you passionate because, in the current market, nobody wants poetry that rhymes. Your narrative is unsaleable, according to people who claim to share your passion, but only if it will make them money.

This is a tough world, and it is not getting any easier.

Not gonna lie here, I have JK muted on Twitter. Her ideas and mine are quite a long way apart, but if personal proof were needed that the unknown can become successful overnight, this is it. It would be a foolish person who did not respect the achievement of others: it is also a foolish person who will believe that only one route to success exists, and that is to exactly emulate the actions of others, without being true to yourself first. You are what you are, good and bad: I believe that you need to embrace both to be truly comfortable with your work.

One day, my work will get noticed. There’s a fair chance that won’t happen until long after I’m dead, part of why the notion of ‘success’ needs to change in the here and now. As it is just as likely I’ll not be around to enjoy that definition, maybe this is the moment to find the joy elsewhere, and stop worrying about the idea that you’re only good when people you don’t know read your work and enjoy it. I’m already at that stage, or else you wouldn’t be here now. So, in that regard, this is progress.

What matters most, right now, is honesty and not publicity.

Hymn Before Action

This weekend, it is time to instigate some change in my working space.

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The reduction in content and volume has been on the cards for a while: half this stuff never gets used, and I could do with more space. My PC desperately needs a clean, and I can schedule everything needed to publish over the weekend. There had been a plan to do some garden work but looking at the weather forecast, that is highly unlikely. Everything needs a chance to dry out first. These internal changes will very positively impact my working space and (hopefully) lead to far more productivity going forward.

It’s also way more fun than painting a fence.

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I’ll document my changes, and be back on Monday with more novel gubbins, some new poetry and thoughts on how to sell yourself in the modern world.

Enjoy your weekend, folks.