Everything Connected

It’s taken until Saturday for my brain to be awake enough to process everything currently taking place. Living with a mental health issue can sometimes be a curse, especially when you hold yourself to such a high standard of output. However, on the flip side, it gives you a unique insight into life and how it is lived. On many occasions this week it has been an almost painfully slow task to react and move forward, but with the benefit of sleep and reflection, there’s a lot to be learnt about my practice, and how it is progressing.

Once upon a time, my daily writing workout began with the first blog of the day. Right now I’m creating a poem from an unseen visual prompt when I wake, plus organising two Create Your Own short stories using Twitter polls, and this is a whole new use of brainpower in quite focused bursts. It’s meant a lot of mental energy being expended in unexpected areas. It has also promoted a desire to go back to fiction, which is helpful, because NaNoWriMo is fast approaching. This year, we’re doing something a long way away from previous years’ efforts.

I spent two hours last night planning the direction of my narrative. I’ll also be creating a Playlist this weekend. I should have been writing a post for Patreon, and yesterday I accepted that, if I am the boss, it is occasionally okay to miss a deadline if it means my mental health benefits from that action (which it undoubtedly has.) Balancing all the requirements right now is hard, but getting easier. Any change to routines always results with this kind of mental discomfort.

At least now I know what’s going on.

Most importantly of all this week I made a video from scratch. It’s only just beginning to register how much mental effort was pumped into this, and why as a result I might have felt so tired yesterday. I’m immensely proud of what is here, and already have a vastly different, second piece planned. There’s no point in resting on my laurels either: being able to produce and promote my own work means there doesn’t need to be extra cash to pay others to do it. The more leant, the more self-sufficient I become.

In the end, this is the most important progression of all.

Same Time, Same Place

I may have mentioned that a poem of mine is going to be published in a hardback anthology on October 1st (now did it, stuff is forgotten so quickly of late…) and with this publication has come a flood of memories from that time last year when the ambitious plan was born. Twenty-four poems in a month seems like a lot, but as it transpires that was exactly the right amount. It was also at the same time that I went into counselling, at the time to investigate the possibility I might be autistic.

It’s amazing how things alter once someone else is there to shift focus. What seemed to matter most back then had pretty much consumed everything that I was. The obsession over a diagnosis had driven everything for close to a year… and then, it became apparent that this was the least of my problems. Looking back at that time, the poetry was what kept me from falling apart. It gave a focus away from all the emotional and mental pressure. My home town became the backdrop for a process of self-healing that is still going on today.

Everything that has followed from that point onwards has pushed me further into a Universe that’s been waiting for my arrival for some time. It was the process of being able to contribute to a project whose validation came not from other people, but purely from myself. What I considered as good enough was the resultant 24 poems and hundreds of photographs, and to then find one of those poems considered good enough to make it into the Anthology… there was a whole second level of belief added to the first.

Sometimes, we need the approval of our peers to move forward. I won’t lie, the increasingly common instances where I am complimented for work, out of the blue, is a gift that continues to keep giving long after the initial moment of brilliance. Its why such moments end up being printed from the Internet and kept. Whatever else may happen, to have positively affected someone’s life, if even for a moment, if a rare jewel of brilliance, and should never be underestimated or belittled.

Over a year on from Places of Poetry, validation now happens in many ways. The dopamine hit is different, my needs and desires altering on an almost daily basis. What remains is the reminder of how much of a debt of gratitude I will owe Andrew McRae and Paul Farley, whose project allowed me to become a better version of myself whist the rest of my existence as in turmoil. That generosity will never be forgotten, and the lessons learnt will shape me as a poet and artist for the rest of my life.

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 πŸ˜€

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…

Little Things

I spent the weekend doing exactly what it was I said I’d do: no actual work, and certainly no blogging. A day of rest on Saturday meant Sunday was the most productive day I’ve had probably since early May. Looking back on the past, and what can be salvaged from it has uncovered a couple of utter gems, two of which I’ll submit tomorrow to the most prestigious contest going for poetry right now. I confidently predict neither will win, but I’ll feel wonderful about what’s been presented.

The last few times this particular contest has been prepared for it’s been… well, it’s felt like a Herculean trial. More importantly, so much need and desire to win was subconsciously wrapped up in the production process that, at the end, there was little joy in the work. I intend to go back and pull out those pieces and repurpose them in a group this week, if anything can be salvaged from them at all. That’s also a revelation from recent times: it’s okay to throw things away.

Not everything can be saved.

The reality of watching the revolving door of successful people come in and out of my Twitter feed used to be quite difficult. Now there is a sanguine acceptance that not everybody is the same as me, and not everyone is getting as much out of the platform as I am. That’s the big takeaway over the last few months: you can see the people who have bloomed, and who’ll have ’emerging during lockdown in 2020 as a driving force in [insert profession here] on social media’ inserted into their bios when the time comes.

For me, I suppose, it’s all still falling into place. There’s an optimism in both body and brain now which, I realise, has not existed since my teens. I never really grew up properly, that’s the key to all of this, that process is taking place for a second time and honestly, truthfully, I’m quite happy to ignore the fact that many notably traumatic experiences have been quietly thrown in a skip where established detritus is already burning furiously.

I am so very grateful to my husband and kids for putting up with all this shit for so long.

With my objective hat on, so much of that time wasn’t nearly as bad as history now recalls, the key is to separate the bad experiences from the good and then make sure only the bad ones are torched. It helps having photographic memories of those to use as a means of re-establishing reality: so many things never got photographed, for exactly that reason. There are also some pictures where I know, full well, I was acting to camera.

Managing expectations is an important part of any creative’s output: what can people expect from your work? What will become your signature styles and approaches? For me, the virtual world is so deeply ingrained into everything that to try and separate it from what I am has become impossible. Therefore, I’m going to stop trying, and focus instead on how my life is being changed and altered by its influence, so much for the better.

Knowing where you came from is essential in charting a path to any new destination.

Give a Little Bit

The #SixFanfics project is going very well, with the last two decades of content scheduled to go to the polls tomorrow. I’ve had a massively productive day and caught up on a ton of outstanding stuff, and now it’s time to start contemplating where to be placing my attention going into the second half of the year. In an attempt to pick up more Patrons, I have again listened to feedback over appropriate stretch goals.

It’s been coming for a while, but today dawned the understanding I need a website to sell stuff on before I can start selling stuff. An account on Gumroad’s sat gathering dust for some months, and it is high time to start getting it ready for use. I’ll be programming time in June (can’t believe I just typed that) to start organising the levels of content we’ll need to accommodate a virtual poetry collection, plus physical output.

I’ve produced a number of unique commissions this year, for special occasions (a christening and two weddings, if I’m being honest) plus I made all my Christmas gifts this year as one-off, special poems for all my mates. This is a revenue stream that needs more promotion than is currently the case. Therefore, over the summer, there will be plenty of opportunity to make this all a reality.

WSE New

I had something rejected this week that was, in my mind, probably the best piece of poetry I’ve ever written. It was the final straw that has made brain grasp that if I want success, waiting for other people to notice me is not enough any more. It is time to make the noise and push buttons and generally become what I have always been afraid of: a better person. This me is more productive, more proactive and more capable of changing the world around me.

This me is about to make everything better.

Love’s Great Adventure

Today’s been all about getting dragged, kicking and screaming, outside your comfort zones. I have pulled some Patreon work because, after due consideration, it wasn’t good enough.Β I’ve been writing experimental poetry all afternoon and it’s making me feel really uncomfortable. Oh yes, and then I laid my life bare in quite an unexpected fashion via Social media…

I’d not anticipated how hard this would be until the weekend, when part of my general discomfort was around just how much of my past would be hauled up for general inspection. As it happens, there’s a lot to be said for these choices being made as the right ones, when it would have been an awful lot easier to pick from some generic, obvious alternatives. This way, I will be challenged.

These first two polls are now up and running, and the results will be known in 48 hours. I’ll throw them about a bit later today and tomorrow too, just to see if I can garner a decent range of responses. After all, you never know who might pick these up and ping them into the Void for me… and it means that the results will end up as a genuine surprise. I’m not checking the polls until they’re done.

Once I know the results, I’ll fill in my graphic, and then we can get on with the business of writing. The plan is to have all six drabbles up in their own separate area by the end of the month: if this is successful, we’ll repeat the process with some new things later in the year. As always, it’s about working out whether your content is interesting enough to attract new people not only to your work, but also to potentially stick around as an audience…

Beautiful Noise

I’m still having trouble with a corrupted text file from last week, which is why at some point (probably tomorrow) you’ll see the rest of the Dr Who Fanfic appear on the site. Whilst I was sorting out these bits of my past, I’ve been enjoying an project doing the rounds: #SixFanarts, where Twitter Artists are using their own interests in fandom to draw classic characters from the places that have influenced their existences.

It occured to me this would be a great thing to do with fanfiction, and as it’s been a while since I flexed my creative muscles in that direction, it’s high time that changed. Therefore, for May, we’ll be making some interesting decisions using Twitter Polls, hashtags and graphics packages. I have plenty of shows that mattered a great deal to me growing up. Time to give the past an appropriate moment in the sun.

#sixfanfics_subjects

It’s simple, really: I’ll be posting some threads, starting next week, on both my ‘work’ and ‘personal’ Twitter, asking people to suggest either a) a TV show b) a game or c) a film from the six particular decades listed that I can use as basis for a drabble. This does also remind me that I’ve been alive during seven decades, which is not something to dwell upon, but it does grant a massive scope for potential.

I’ve had a number of conversations in the last few weeks that have highlighted stuff I’d forgotten about in TV terms, especially from the 1970’s, so it seems like a good idea to open discussion a bit to see if there’s anything else that has been lost to the mists of time. After all the votes get collated, I’ll present you with the goods. Can’t say fairer than that. It also gives me summat useful to concentrate on other than poetry.

talentindrinking

Let’s see where this new adventure takes us, shall we?

The Stolen Earth

I promised you last week that there would be history arriving:Β here it is.

It’s March 2008Β and I’m a bit nervous. The appointment of Catherine Tate as David Tennant’s new companion in the TARDIS, after the departure of first Billie Piper and then Freema Agyeman, was controversial. Not for me, however. The chemistry between the two was obvious, and not in the manner that had been created previously. Donna Noble was a good old-fashioned companion.

Her season in the TARDIS was more than I could ever possibly have hoped for.

Doc&Donna

I’ve been a WHO fan since Patrick Troughton in the late 1960’s. The reboot was, it has to be said, all I could really have wanted in my life when it reappeared, and since then there have been periods in which I have drifted in and out of love with the path the new show has taken. Peter Capaldi left me cold. The last season, with Jodie Whittaker, is undoubtedly some of the most fun I’ve had since the Doctor and Donna.

However, only one pairing ever got fanfic written about them, and it still remains, stuck on my hard drive after over a decade. There’s three parts to this, and they will require you to have a working knowledge of that 2008 season…

episodelist

Season Four is available to watch, right now, on Amazon Prime, so if you happen to have some free time, or indeed own the DVDs as I do *cough* you’ll need to have watched up to the end of Forest of the Dead to be at the correct narrative point. Strange Days was originally posted on LiveJournal (yes kids, I was there) after the end of that two part episode. It introduces a plot device that will be seen again in Wednesday’s vignette.

Enjoy something I first shared with a small part of the Internet over twelve years ago.

strange days

Read Strange Days Here