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.

NICEjazz

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.

Airbag

Everything for next month is gonna get done quite late, far more than I’d really like. Of all the things that ought to be fixed in the business of organisation, it is this pre-planning which could really do with the most attention. However, over five weeks the entire process has improved enormously. One of the benefits of exercise every day has undoubtedly been a massive uptick in overall productivity.

That means that in February we’re gonna give Instagram another poke in terms of trying to build an audience. I have no idea whether it will work or not, but my basic understanding of hashtags should give a bit of a head start. It also helps possessing some neophyte design skills, which should stand me in good stead. I’ve already drawn a line over last month’s content… so, let’s see where it all goes.

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I get the whole thing about identity and cohesion, so ‘building a brand’ should not be impossible, if there’s content. My biggest problem right now is ensuring that happens without anything else suffering as a result. That means there are now three planners up on the wall to my right: not just writing, but exercise too. There’s a blog post coming up about what I’ve learnt this month about aiming for realistic goals.

An awful lot has changed since the end of December. For the first time in many years, pretty much all of it is positive. Sure, there are still fairly substantive diversions that take place: in order to avoid finishing this blog, for instance, I’ve managed to tick off two highly important subsidiary tasks from the ‘Do When You get a Chance’ List. It’s amazing what I’ll throw in my path when it comes to avoiding the obvious.

In the end, however, far more than was previously the case, shit does now get done.

Love What You Do

I’ve learnt a lot in the past year. Most of that’s come in the form of just how much time things take to work out the way you want them. Therefore, planning early and often has become the watch phrase. It means I’ve cheekily skipped last week’s episodic fiction to ensure the next part of the story is told properly, and in the way it needs to be. Most of you won’t notice the changes happening, of course, but for me they are life savers.

That means February’s mostly planned. Paper Hearts is gonna be my Instagram project: bit of poetry, some photography, nothing too fancy. Some days, just gonna be words. I like the idea of not being totally focussed on imagery this time. However, there has to be a LOT of work on the other parts of my equation, and now there’s no immediate timescale around certain projects, this can all be achieved in a far less stressful environment.

February also has some things to look forward to on top of the scheduled.

spidermaster

It’s Time to Talk day on February 6th (effectively two weeks from now) and there will be many words in my various places online during that period. I’ve also booked a creative writing workshop for the following week, so there’s something more to talk about than my own projects. Plus, there is the aborted from this month Video Content that will finally see the light of day.

Also, we get a SUPER BONUS FREE DAY on the 29th that isn’t normally there at all and it would be a foolish woman who did not plan something special for that. So I will, except as of right now I am not entirely certain what this thing will be. It’s going to be clever and massive and may actually involve tea (both beverage and mealtime) now I come to think of it and OH YES THAT’S A BRILLIANT IDEA…

Better go write this down whilst I remember it…

Sky High

We have reached the ‘Something has to Give’ portion of this month and sadly, it’s the most labour-intensive part of a larger equation that’s going to suffer. I’ve submitted to SIX different things so far this month, and with Red October January being labour intensive PLUS the Mental health Champion Training I’m not gonna lie, there’s really not been time for anything else. 

That includes self-care and family time as well, and as a result something really needs to give. Therefore, the video’s being put back to the end of February, the 28th to be precise, which will now allow me to tackle the backlog building so the website does not fall any further behind. It also gives me Sunday off this week which I intend to use doing as little as possible with a 5k run inserted somewhere.

Also, that header’s redundant. The poem I was going to use has changed.

A World of Colour

The new work is to tie in with video content I’ve already partially researched, and therefore this gives me more time to create summat that I have previous knowledge of. Don’t worry, the original poem will have its day in the sun, just not yet. It’s also given me a bit of space to work on what has ended up as a very submissions heavy month. These do tend to take quite a bit out of me, as I’m now discovering.

When everything was tentatively planned in December the actual workload was not really that clear: now it is, this gives me sufficient time and space to look past what’s happening now and plan ahead. I want a short story or two written as well going forward, as these are looking like an increasingly useful way of setting myself up a revenue stream. At some point, if I want progress, there has to be cash coming in.

The good news is that I’m getting a long weekend mid-February at the same Resort Parc (TM) where summer holiday turned into hospital stay. Let’s hope for everybody concerned there’s no repeat of that, and that I can spend a few days not worrying about anything except relaxing and enjoying myself. Once that’s done, it’ll be time to start working out the content for March, then we’re three months into the year…

Blimey, doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun.

The Race

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REDJanuary, Day 12. RED of course stands for Run Every Day. Let me tell you a secret, @redjanuaryuk: I am asthmatic. Running has frightened me for DECADES. Today I ran 2km, on a treadmill, without stopping. I could have done more, and am still a bit in shock. Somewhere in the last few years I got strong enough to do this. Now, I want to see if 5k is possible before the end of the month. You never know what's possible until you try… ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ #redjanuary #mind #mindmatters #community #dailyactivity #getactive #wellbeing #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthsupport #fundraising #movement #newyear #newyearchallenge #kickstart #redjanuary2020 #countdown

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This month will be remembered for many things, but particularly because after a number of false starts, I’m running. There will be those of you who undoubtedly will scoff at such a pronouncement, but it is completely serious. Never been able to do it properly, or indeed for very long. Sixteen minutes on a Sunday lunchtime is, like it or not, the equivalent of Planet Sarah putting its first female astronaut into orbit.

This whole endeavour wasn’t just to highlight mental health, but to address issues with my own. Could I use the internal health wake up call from the end of last year (cut the fats, improve the iron content) and make a real difference to what is being done in the Gym and on virtual trainers? Right now, the prognosis is looking quite hopeful. I’m five pounds down in weight, biggest single fat loss drop for… well, about three years.

Yes, it does seem to be working.

This week is the third one of January so I get to start a lovely new row of crosses. There’s been a very judicious use of fitness apps to keep the cravings (and my calorie count) in check and the result is undoubtedly being more awake. It means that when a mental health wobble happens (which was the case last night) it was dealt with far more successfully than has ever really previously happened either. If running equates to space exploration, this change is better health and longer life for everyone.

I’ve tried very hard not to evangelise over these achievements, just put my head down and get the work done. Fundraising is not nearly as high as I’d hoped at this stage but we’ll push things into a higher gear next week. There’s still not as much outstanding stuff done either but you can’t have everything. There’ll be clear air soon enough, and as I’m definitely more alert now than I’ve been for months?

Everything will be done in good time.