Is It Worth It?

Last week I received a completely expected rejection.

Normally, there’d be those people who tell me that expecting to fail is bad: the only way in which work is ever likely to succeed is when I believe in it first. The biggest issue, without doubt right now, is finding method by which that faith can exist within me with confidence. Fiction in my remit isn’t good enough: narratives are inconsistent, often incoherent and ultimately self-indulgent. What needs to happen is a complete readjustment of attitude and outlook.

More importantly, belief in that particular part of myself has to be significantly readdressed.

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How do I know this? It is the success in other forms of writing which highlights these shortcomings. This isn’t about winning contests either: poetry is now a more comfortable, capable means by which emotion and direction can be communicated. For a very long time it was impossible to adequately express extremely deep-seated issues. Poetry became a tool used to clear away obstructions, allowing access to places I was scared to go to otherwise. Words in that form have, quite literally, set me free.

All that time I’ve been writing blogs and fiction regardless of quality or often coherence. This release was undoubtedly valuable but not nearly as beneficial as poetry remains. Think of it as being stuck in a completely alien environment with no verbal or literal means of communicating with the outside world. Most sane people won’t start learning the language using long, complex sentences. You begin with single words: food, love, tree, bird, basic things that are then strung together.

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This is learning to draw and learning the basics of proportion and perspective as an artist; being able to boil an egg, chop up ingredients consistently before training as a professional cook. All of this experience, decades of writing, has never been quite enough to make a vital leap of capability. Knowing this is the reason I’ve always said a novel will be published, but never presented anything capable (or finished) to do so.

Self has held back because it was just too frightened of making that vital jump, until now.

The answer, I’ve decided, is probably to start at the beginning. All the novels that are sitting, half done on my hard drive don’t hold the answers to the question I’m looking for. I need to start again, using the tools I now possess, to write differently. Recycling a fractured past has begun to do more harm than good. What is needed to move forward is something better, different and largely unknown. This is not the time for rigid structure and direction.

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This is about writing what I really am, seeing where that new-found ability takes me.

Drink the Elixir

Right, back to the grind starting Monday, with ALL NEW OUTPUT because there’s no excuse after (effectively) a month off. Sure, there’s a ton of things that could be done too but for now, time to sharpen the existing skill set. Go with what you know, right?

Altered

You already know therefore that April’s short story is one of the set that I started this month for another project… so, a little teaser might be in order, to give an idea of what’s coming. A terrorist with cold feet and a policewoman in the midst of a crisis of conscience walk into a place of worship… 

Starting April 1st for 30 days: 9am (@MoveablePress) and 4pm (@InternetofWords)


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Sometimes, simple is best. There’s millions of songs out there, but all I’m interested in are the ones with a single word title. The 30 best, in my opinion, will begin appearing in the @MoveablePress Twitter feed at 9.30pm every night from April 1st. Hooray for having scheduling back and working again!


drink the elixir

ALSO #Narrating2019 is BACK after a brief hiatus: having struggled for a few months when it came to content, a rethink took place and now, all told, things are a lot less stressful. Every night from 9.30pm on the @InternetofWords Twitter feed, it’s time to talk drinking: what you want, how you take it, and more importantly what that stuff does to your body…


GREEN

Poetry’s been produced a bit differently as well this month: both haiku and micro-poems, for the entire four week period, are presented under the same banner. I had thought about maybe 30 verses of both as an overall, arching theme but that would need a little more organisational groundwork than currently exists, but is likely to happen later in the year. For now, eight words have been picked as titles, all relevant to the changing season.

Micropoetry @ 9am and Haiku @ 5pm both on the @InternetofWords Twitter account, before poems are archived to the blog on Saturday and Sunday.


There will be other stuff too, but for now, this is enough. See you bright and early on Monday morning 😀

Ballroom Blitz

This weekend, for the first time for a while, I willingly wrote some poems.

All around me, almost constantly, is the reminder of ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’ that makes the difference. I could try and pretend it isn’t that way but like it or not, this is part of your rite of passage, in whatever new fandom you find yourself working within. Call it a community, commune, movement or any number of other adjectives to describe a bunch if people with a similar interest. Needless to say, you’re in fandom.

Entering the Poetry Fandom in my early 50’s is quite intimidating, but this is not unusual. There are lots of women doing this, I even read an article about some of them. The key to escaping mediocrity’s gravity is to get published or lucky on Social media. Both need a phenomenal amount of work. I’ve only really been at this for a shade under two years. That’s no time at all, and there’s this continuous reminder, day in and day out, that I’m not doing enough.

Fuck me, woman, you only just got started.

I’m ready to work again: there’s a personal project being tinkered with starting this week (once I have a residency proposal sent off to the local art collective) plus the normal run of creative outputs, but let’s be honest, none of this is keeping me in chocolate and new trousers, so it is time to see if the Dial a Rhyme service might have some merit. Honestly, what’s the worse that could happen?

On top of this, there’s a bunch of other things happening, at least one of which is deeply personal. I gotta hope that doesn’t derail everything else, but it’s always a chance. That’s the thing with life, you never know what’s going to happen next. So, do you sit and wait for opportunities to come drop into your lap, or do you get yourself out there, waving your wares to the World, in the vain hope that something might stick?

This new career isn’t going to fashion itself. Down to the business of shameless self-promotion.

Poetry Archive :: The Slightest Touch (Redux)

The original for this one is here, and if I’m honest, you might be hard pressed to discern the difference. There’s not really a ton of change, and this one was a bit saucy before we started. However, if pressed, this feels like an improvement.

Next week is the last of the old stuff. NEW THINGS BEGIN AGAIN IN APRIL \o/


The Slightest Touch

Sensitised, moving
side to back; sense arrival,
waking arousal.

Coarse flesh, rough hands brush
back, touch hip: pulling closer
face blurs as lips touch.

Lost in joint passion;
blessed manipulation
bodies twist, combine.

Looking down to you,
hands grasp: shifting weight above,
organ pulse inside.

Your slightest touch lights
chain reaction: seed, life’s spark
little death our end.

Learning to Fly

Some days, it gets old. When publishers use online resources to gather your submissions, but then can’t be bothered to offer the same courtesy in order to let you know you didn’t make it. When rejection letters are so generic and yet positive as to be, quite frankly, depressing beyond belief. The long periods when you sit around, ignorant and clueless, no idea if your work has been chosen, or even if it’s been read. Then, to add insult to injury, some famous writer turns up in your Social media mentions before preaching from their position of wealth and success, telling you to never give up.

Yes, you will continue to fail, but not nearly as much as you think.

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There’s a lot of virtual fatigue around these parts of late: whether you’ve had enough of the news coverage, political turmoil, the naysayers almost joyfully predicting the Apocalypse has already arrived… none of this is any help at all when the future, at least for you, is tied to a bunch of people who don’t seem to care one iota about what you’ve done, until suddenly they decide they can make money from it.

That’s the key to breaking the control such things have on creativity; this is not about what you’re writing to make money. Of course it would help, and we all need to be careful of the promises made to ourselves and others when such lofty claims are thrown about. In the end, writing has to be about deriving pleasure from the action. You need to find the means by which development takes place, allowing creativity to move forward. Without this, there is stagnation, and ultimately depression.

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The key, of course, is to keep trying. The mark of the best writers is the undiminished enthusiasm for all forms of their craft, regardless of their situation. In my mind, the  famous writers sitting on social media, telling others how to succeed are doing it wrong. There, I said it. There are rules, sure, and there are processes certainly, but the best way isn’t what somebody else tells you to do. It’s the way you feel happiest. Learning is incredibly subjective, and if you’re struggling with difficulty in that department, it can feel like an uphill slog.

It’s become an industry out here of coaches, supporters, service industries you can’t live without: programmes for editing and grammar, insistence you need to have never published online, that virtual books are somehow less important than their paper counterparts… and the list goes on. In the end, your individual version of success will vary. Other people will only consider you successful when you earn money from your writing. Personal satisfaction, growth and evolution become completely irrelevant.

Those people are wrong, too.

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In the end, you do feel everything, like it or not. Good and bad, capable or otherwise. As you continue to fail, success can seem a lifetime away, if all you define progress upon is the validation of others. This is my (by now daily) reminder that they don’t matter. I do. This is my journey and not theirs, and although their intervention affects progress, it will never be the best reward. That comes every time someone thanks me for a post, or enjoys a poem. This is the stuff that cannot be bought.

This is the true satisfaction derived from the written word.

Ride on Time

This week, I will mostly writing short stories.

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The plan today was simple: see if I could kick-start my brain into spouting forth some ideas. As of 18.00 this evening, there’s actually EIGHT stories in the folder designated for my output, an increase of two since my 15.00 update. However, only one of those isn’t speculative fiction, and in this particular case (considering whose contest I am entering to) it’s probably a good idea not to go down that route first of all. However at this rate, I’ll have multiple entries for any number of sci-fi sites…

How does this work for me? Well, it depends on the initial idea: some right now are two paragraphs of a narrative that is then sketched in as notes underneath. One is fully fledged, beginning to end with spots of dialogue that occurred to me whilst writing. The story we’ll be concentrating on has beginning and end, plus a very distinct structure, so the plan for that going forward is to complete the framework and then go back to add depth.

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The stuff that doesn’t get immediately used is already being earmarked as short story material for Twitter going forward, so everything is likely to appear at some point on the website. However, if anything leaps out at me as being superlative it will be earmarked for commercial gain ahead of anything else because we are already halfway into March and these website upkeep bills are not going to pay themselves.

Content really isn’t my biggest concern right now, what mattered most of all were strong, compelling ideas. Without sounding like this is easy (really isn’t) adding depth to narratives considerably less stressful than making sure your story’s believable and immersive. The sweet spot, of course, is you idea combination of that and a little something special which makes your work leap off the page and grab your reader by the brain.

In my chosen story, that’s already woven into the fabric of the narrative.

beautiful

I’m not gonna lie: I could not be happier. Tomorrow, hopefully, the rest of the meat is added to the bones and there’ll be a tentative first draft to play about with. At the same time some video gets recorded, am planning to start small at home. All of this will come to fruition for April, and then we can start getting some pennies in the bank. Let’s just hope the rest of this week is as productive as the start…

My Favourite Things

Last day of February, and starting tomorrow there will be no more poetry until the start of April. The burnout really is real, and it has been a very long time since I threw myself into something that worked as wish fulfilment before anything else. Enter Ternary which is a writing project which is likely to be familiar already to those of you who have been here for a while.

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This used to be The Sayers which began as weekly fiction. Now it’s been amended, extensively edited and is in the course of being completely re-written from scratch. That’s what I’m going to do with my free time in the next few weeks, as well as the other stuff that you’ll have seen in Monday’s blog post. It has a soundtrack Spotify playlist (under construction) and I keep writing bits of dialogue down as stuff occurs to me and in that regard, it’s already a success.

The ultimate irony however is that it begins with a poem.

Progression and development means different things to different people. For me, even if I can’t stand the sight of it right now, poetry’s become part of my psyche. It is also remarkably important in the alternate history I’m writing, that the piece which starts the book pretty much underpins everything that takes place during the first part of what, on reflection, was always going to be a trilogy. How I decide to publish it remains to be seen. This year’s submissions elsewhere will probably determine that path.

For now, there’s the unbridled joy of a new thing to do, and that honestly the last thing I care about now is how other people get to read it when it’s done. All that matters is the telling: we have a beginning, middle and end, with all points in-between covered. That in itself is a glorious state of affairs that’s not taken place for quite some time.