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.

A Change is Gonna Come

I have, this week, made a change in the way things happen during my work day. This will, hopefully, improve overall productivity going forward. It’s going to take about a month to see if this is indeed successful or not. For now, therefore, it is just about doing the job and seeing how the result at the end of it stack up against what’s normal output previously. Three days in, the results are surprisingly good.

There’s also been quite a bit of time on Zoom calls in the last couple of weeks. There are a remarkable number of free things available to take part in, and it is well worth taking the time to investigate what is available for your writing speciality. As a result of this there is going to be a bit of old manuscript editing going in between the downtime between NaNoWriMo writing sessions. That work’s my most successful previous novel, as it happens…

Change will take place when all of these things can be successfully combined, and then maintained. My first issue is normally about a week to ten days after instigating the initial course correction, so see me this time next week to work out if all of this is having the desired effect on life or not. The initial signs are optimistic, though, especially in areas not related to writing.

Keep everything crossed for me this time, please.

Beautiful Day

Everybody I know is glued to CNN. Suddenly all proper work seems to have stopped mattering, except before we started here two events were booked on Zoom to attend next week, both to help me focus on creative practice and work out WTF I do about making money going forward. The second one, let’s be honest, is the one that matters most and I will be taking copious notes. It isn’t just about throwing stuff out and hoping someone cares any more.

NaNo has reminded me that I am a very capable fiction writer, who can create a compelling narrative with drama and human interest, and maybe once this is done that Amazon publishing account needs to be used more than it has been of late. There will be a poetry book in the next few weeks, sure, but maybe some of my other work deserves a platform too. A growing body of quality output grants potentially more ways to bring in some cash.

The video projects are also the gifts that keeps on giving, and hopefully if I keep chipping away at things, we might have a realistic chance at making that successful too. It requires me to be ruthless as well as artistic, which is a combination that is already providing some fascinating results. This weekend I launch a weekly VLOG on the YouTube Channel. It will be interesting to see how people respond to this and whether there is any traction in ‘educational’ content.

Watch this Space.

Back in the Saddle

This week is not about poetry, to be honest. It is about politics and freedoms and NaNoWriMo but, at the back of everything there is the beating heart of what I am, good or bad, are the poems. I’ve taken a week off the promotion because next week we’re going to go full-on, and right now nobody cares about my journey, they all want America to do the right thing because if it does, we all might yet stand a realistic chance of redemption.

Therefore, blogging has been kept to a minimum. I’ve done a phenomenal amount of groundwork on NaNo too, so much so that I wrote enough in the first 72 hours to propel me well into next week. This is truly the narrative that is writing itself, and I’m grateful for my short fiction/flash fiction training via Patreon right now because its making breaking the plot down into manageable, sensible sections a hell of a lot easier.

This week’s blogging therefore becomes of secondary importance to bigger pictures, which includes TWO video offerings instead of one, plus some much-needed background work on catching up with elements that were either too complex to visualise previously or I simply did not have the brain-space to accommodate. Needless to say I expect to end this week considerably stronger than where it started. I’m hoping my beliefs will be proved wrong…

Beautiful

As I’m typing this, my chapbooks are in the final stages of printing. I’ve ordered some special sparkly pens to do signing in. There are postage materials standing by. Basically, I’m ready to roll, and there are pre-orders standing by. That’s the most surprising thing of all. People are willing to buy this unseen, which is all I’ve ever really wanted as a writer. The goal of my work in print was achieved this year, and this is the logical progression.

I’m also calling time on trying to sort out the issues I have with WordPress and getting paywalled content properly operational. As a result, next month will be organising a lot of backlog and finally taking December off. That’s the plan I’m working towards, because the last time I went away was a weekend at the start of the year which, quite frankly, seems like several lifetimes ago. Therefore, we’ll take the end of 2020 as a ‘relax, regroup and refocus’ exercise, because I’m planning to do RED January and that’s gonna be a hard ask.

I couldn’t be happier however, as video poetry is going great guns. I’ve had nearly 100 views on YouTube, only half of which are me. This is the surprise gift that keeps on giving, and this week I’m going to start the video blogging that was promised back in March. There’s a script already written, and as the UK goes into Lockdown (again) this week, I am ready to do my work with considerably more enthusiasm and belief than was the case back in March.

This time, I am ready.

Ready for the Floor

I’ve spent a long time over the last week or so with novels. It will (probably) come as no surprise to you to hear that I’ve spent a lot of my life living in my own narratives, mostly as a means by which the darker aspects of reality become easier to cope with. This weekend I sent one of the better efforts off for a speculative punt at publication, which means I’ll be editing it quite extensively starting next week. We also have NaNoWriMo proper starting on Sunday.

If you want to be a Buddy, please let me know via the comments and I’ll add you to my list.

After that? I’m still waiting for the final word on chapbook printing. I have new poetry on the go and a new video scheduled for Friday. Plus, thanks to rapid developments in software and hardware? Weekly video is coming to Twitter. Still not quite sure how it is gonna work, but I have plans. Once it all congeals into summat workable, you’ll know about it. Needless to say, literally MINUTES of thought have gone into this. MINUTES.

Watch the Socials, people.

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 😀

First Steps

I’m having some quite serious issues with not only publishing my work via social media, but getting that social media to inform me what is being seen. It could almost be considered part of a larger malaise where blogs generally are only of interest if you’re selling something, won a Thing or are posting cute pictures of animals. Obtaining and holding people’s interest is a tough ask right now. It makes me wonder where I should be going next.

Those thoughts have filled my head this week, and we have a plan for the exercise and personal parts of my life, but not yet for the professional. Things that were expected to happen this week haven’t and so there’s been a decision to put off making any more changes to that side of things until I’ve cleared my backlog of work, which will happen by the end of next week. After that, reassessment happens.

It’ll be quiet here until then, with a lot of background gubbins going on regardless.