Dean Friedman is Following Me on Twitter

Back in March 2020, just before the first lockdown hit, something happened that, it must be said, made me realize that whatever other people might try and attest, Twitter will never be anything other than one of the best things that ever happened to me. The story I am about to recount was first told on my personal blog, but is being repeated here again because, finally, I’ve begun to write the poem whose title is the same as this blog post. It’ll hopefully be done this month and then, I will share it with everyone.

Meanwhile… I feel some time travelling coming on…

Imagine, if you will, it is 1977.

I am 11 years old. I hear a song on the radio for the first time that immediately captures my attention: Ariel. It’s by a bloke called Dean Friedman: an American singer-songwriter, for whom that is, at the time, his only ‘major’ US hit. However, this is not about success, but quirkiness catching both my ear and that of a Radio One DJ I listen to obsessively: Noel Edmunds. Thanks to him, I am compelled to seek out Friedman’s second album ‘Well, Well’ Said the Rocking Chair and shortly afterwards I become obsessed with one particular track.

I still carry that same song with me, to this day.

It remains the quintessentially perfect piece of narrative storytelling: a breakup song to end all breakup songs, but not obsessing on what’s been lost, but how to pull yourself together after the fact. It’s uplifting and smart and has the most killer saxophone solo in the middle, but what keeps it fresh in my head after forty years are these four lines of poetry which, let’s be honest, have never been bettered:

Take a look at the place you call your home
you’re reflected in all the things you own
and the seeds of reason you have sown
they’re a measure of a part of you that’s already grown…

Not gonna lie: for a good few years I literally carried those lyrics around with me too, wound tight inside a tea ball locket. I am happy to reveal that to you, dear readers, because I know we’re at that stage in our relationship now. It’s remains on a playlist that gets listened to weekly, and has been stuck into numerous other best of compilations over the years. When I inserted it into an online one back in March 2020 which was posted on Twitter, things started getting funky…

I can still remember the complete, abject disbelief when I first saw this on screen. Not only had the man whose song I’d made into a mantra for moving forward liked the fact I’d highlighted the song in my playlist, HE WAS NOW FOLLOWING ME. How was this possible, exactly? I didn’t @ him, he wasn’t directly mentioned in dispatches, but here he was, and remains. Dean’s still working online and playing gigs and has new songs out as I type this. You might move away from the people who influence you, but those people remain a constant regardless. In all the chaos we’ve now collectively experienced, it’s good to know Mr F remains one of the good guys.

I promised I’d write ‘Dean Friedman is Following Me of Twitter’ nearly a year ago, and the draft is still there, waiting for the right moment… and here I am, starting 2022 on a high. It seems the right moment to pay back a debt, too, so time and effort will be taken to ensure the final result is the right, fair and correct summation both of the story and his connection back to an 11 old girl who knew that, some day in their future, words would matter like nothing else ever could.

It’s taken a while, but I think I’m ready to do my pre-teen self proper justice.

Black and White Town

I’m beginning the slow process of returning myself to full ‘working’ capability this week, which means if you are subbed to the Newsletter that accompanies this website, you’ll be getting a message in your Inbox tomorrow offering you FREE STUFF. For now, however, the last seven days have been about forward motion, plus setting up new processes for our restart in September.

I don’t allow myself nearly enough time to dream any more, and being the kind of person who can rationalize failure before there’s even a chance for success is a pretty decent means by which all joy can be sucked from situations. However, with my work turning up on a Podcast this weekend, it does feel a lot like I’m making clear, unassailable progress. Even I’d struggle to make this anything more than a win, so this then begs the question of what to do next.

There’s been a piece this week that’s pushed mind and body out of the comfort zone as a result: it’s part prose poetry, part pure poem, and covers a part of my life I don’t really talk about very much, mostly because I’ve never really thought about it that much. Doing so this week therefore has been an exercise in using my newly-found objectivity to rationalize what was one of the most frightening experiences of my life. As it transpires, that also makes for quite interesting reading.

It also allows me to think about a return to Podcasting, which I’ve really rather missed. Let’s see if I can persuade enough people next month that I’m worth both the time and the support…

Holiday

I’m supposed to be having a couple of weeks off, but instead there is a compulsion to write here for the first time in a while. The reasons are complex, and will be discussed in other places as time goes on, but for now, this is the moment to start laying foundations down for new ventures. As that happens, it is also the moment to consider how far I have come.

Stories that make a person whole…

For the last thirty-nine weeks, I’ve captured myself on video explaining my plans going forward, and this undoubtedly has contributed to an ability to rationalize beyond what was there to begin with. The fortieth video will launch on a new platform, having finally removed myself from Patreon. Ironically, it was their own fault it happened. I was given the opportunity to join a marketing course, which showed me how to sell the ‘brand’ better.

This is not a brand, and never will be. I am a perennial work in progress, and trying to promote that on a platform which only sees fulfilment and cash as success really was doomed to failure. As a transactional person at heart, there needs to be a balance between what is truth and what is the line that won’t be crossed. It was therefore inevitable the relationship would end after it was obvious the company’s values and mine did not align.

I was sent a brand survey last week that was the last straw, and I made my displeasure known. Also, I didn’t sign up to win the $100 gift card because the exchange rate is woeful, part of a far bigger issue.

This week I’m going out with the youngest, will be taking photos everywhere, and hope to get some back end work fixed in an environment which is considerably more conducive than it was. Mostly, I need to be organized better, which is the perennial demon to appease. At least now that’s grasped, there are other things to talk about.

#Instaverse will be back in September, but so will occasional posting here too on personal issues.

Ready to Go

There are lots of things I’d like to do in 2021. This is where I let you lot in on what they are.

The Ko-Fi exercise is going REALLY well, so much so that I’m expanding out to other places too. I have a Tumblr account now, where my experimental stuff is gonna appear, and having linked my Pinterest account to here in the last week, I’ll be pinning my poetry there too. It’s another place where exposure can happen, and all those things are Good [TM] going forward.

Next up, we have audio: there’s gonna be a selection of audio files to play with next week, and part of me is already wondering if there’s an easy way to make an image map for all of these (so that’s been shoved on the To Do List) and that faffing alone might well have been better served happening a bit earlier in my planning. However, there’s still a week left before Time to Talk Day, so it’s not a total loss. If it works, we’ll play with other things in a similar vein.

Finally, photography will be making a return in February. For most of this month when I’ve gone outside it’s to either exercise or do essential stuffs, which is really how this should be working anyway, so my subjects need to be integrated into exercise practically. There are plans afoot, and again we’ll start working on those next week. Everything is under control.

I just got to do it all now…

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.

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