Over the Rainbow

I’m really sorry everything fell apart for two weeks.

Writing right now has become aggressively visceral: I look at those people who seem to manage a lot better at these things and now grasp that they’re just not telling me as much as I am prepared to admit. Struggle, like so much else, is a subjective affair. What you think is wrong with someone (or something) could be a million miles away from the true reality of their situation. For me, it is important now to put the record straight.

I have submitted last week a poetry collection which, I realise now, was written not to hit a deadline or to try to gain me some traction in an incredibly fierce marketplace. I wrote it in order to move forward as a poet. It needed to happen in order to allow my brain the actual breathing space required to heal and grow. Is it possible to do this in your 50’s? Absolutely it is. I am emerging proof of a late-life renaissance in full progression. However, the consequences are significant.

That’s where we are now.

Validation in the last two weeks had nothing to do with a finished product being acknowledged, and everything to do with just saying stuff I’d wanted to ‘speak’ on paper for a long time. The collection that preceded it is a more general, less visceral version of the same desire. It’s now apparent that needed to happen to allow this lot of stuff out of my head and now, as everything is out, I’m left with a reasonably blank space in which new work can be created.

There are a couple of places I need to go back to, one piece of long-form fiction in particular which demands my attention, again because of the emotional baggage its holding on my behalf. Whether that happens next or later in the year, I can’t currently tell you. Now, I am between things. That means actually stopping, not getting sucked into something else immediately. It is allowing common sense to step in and go ‘right, nothing else for a while. Let yourself heal.

It is time to finally listen to myself and stop here for a bit.

I know why movement has become so important in my existence, because for the best part of a decade it’s been essential to not allow the past an opportunity to swallow current progress. Letting that stuff out has been a remarkable release of pressure. It also means I’m a bit lost as to where I go next: the main focus initially needs to be that I clean up what’s left here for content. The #Soundtracking and #Narrating stuff was supposed to carry on from May, but stopped after it became important to let other people speak.

Everything else is doable before the end of June. What now makes the most sense is to do that, and then use July as a natural break, so that’s going to be the plan. We’ll talk a bit more honestly about my self-publishing aspirations, how I can encourage more people to join me on Patreon, and get back to taking pictures. The fact I have literally zero photographs in the last couple of months was another red flag for my mental health.

A great many things need to change going forward.

Everything Else Has Gone Wrong

It’s probably best to start with an apology. This week’s writing aspirations, pretty much across the board, fell through the floor, thanks to a mental health incident on Monday. It has taken until today to sort everything out, rearrange plans and generally pick myself up from the fallout. The last time this occurred with a comparable level of severity was the moment I realised that my life needed a comprehensive redo about five years ago.

This time around however there’s enough support and coping mechanisms in place to allow things to bounce back with relative ease. It also helps that various new means of relaxation have been introduced into my routine as means to deal with the fallout objectively. Putting those things together means that there’s no need to suddenly delete a lot of stuff from the site and then simply pretend all these things were never planned in the first place.

Yup, that’s how I used to cope with failure: ironic in the week when a major Government official retro-edited his blogs to make him look smarter than is undoubtedly the case, I’m not the only person who when they fuck up tries to cover their tracks. No longer do we do this stuff: time to be honest, up front, before rescheduling everything in a more acceptable and realistic time frame.

The amended timescales for the drabbles is up: first two will appear on June 8th. The weekly poetry (graphic above) will get finished tomorrow and then go up as a complete, new piece on Sunday. We’ll start again next week, and move forward with some important changes to the way things get planned and presented. Plus, there’s some important behind the scenes faffing going on…

Thank you for understanding, and let’s move forward.

Different Class

I’ve been spending a bit of time faffing with the new WordPress Editor this morning, and will continue to do so over the weekend. It’s a bit of an unwieldy beast in places, and doesn’t like lots of images at once, but the potential for what I’m doing going forward is undeniable. For instance, making two column layouts in places where they don’t exist is, undoubtedly, a bonus.


Therefore, going forward, I’ll do my best to transfer all existing content over to this format with the least amount of fuss. It won’t happen with any of the old blog posts, but is likely to happen, over time, with all the poetry and associated pages, short stories, all my visual elements and the Soundtracking/Narrating stuff. I am giving though to shifting some major design elements around too, but that won’t happen until I’m properly confident with these new formatting skills.

I struggle with the technical, but this is worth learning, because the benefits it will grant for creativity are considerable. Hopefully you won’t notice the transitions either.

Love’s Great Adventure

This week’s been a real Educationfest [TM], not just personally but professionally. The most significant portion of this, in relation to writing, ultimately centres around how I place emotion into work.ย I’m not referring to the writing, but hope when things get sent away for submissions or competitions that I might win; this could be when everything changes.ย Expectation is a very cruel mistress. It’s time I stopped bending the knee.

This is the moment where something is created purely for my own benefit, sent to someone and then forget about, because there are more important things to be anticipating. It’s a terrible, destructive cycle of disbelief and anger and it will be broken this weekend, for no other reason than I have decided to produce summat as a tribute to my step aunt that shows a lesson has been learnt.

Writing is not for other people, it is for me.

Channel4jump

Yes, of course it’s great if someone else looks at your work and connects with it and YES it would be lovely to be paid but as I am now actively pursuing avenues where that money is not dependent on a third party facilitator, it is time to accept that expectation and anticipation are under my control now and not someone else’s to dictate. I should thank the people who provided the last form of formal rejection for that poke: when it’s apparent that your work was great, but didn’t fit the frame.

My work’s not here to align with other people’s world views. This is not about being contrite and supplicant when it comes to output. I say what I do, for very good reason, and there is NEVER a moment those words don’t do as I ask them. That’s the whole point with all the dance that is submission and rejection: this is not school. If you’re marking my work on your perceived notion of ‘correct’ then everybody is royally screwed. What matters as much, if not more than the words is the process within each journey.

factsvopinions

Therefore, this weekend I’m making something, just for me, as a result of the understanding that this is really how all of this should work: not writing as obligation, or to appease a deadline. Writing is expression, art, creativity but, most importantly self education. From these process, you learn to be better.ย Therefore, doing the lines is the equivalent of putting in miles on my static bike or reps with a resistance band. Getting better, stronger, and more capable only comes with practice.

Results are irrelevant if the journey matters more.

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.ย 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…

Clouds Across the Moon

This weekend, I’ll be putting the finishing touches to two pieces of Patron-exclusive content. Eventually, these productions will see a wider audience, for now they are the rewards for those willing to support in a time of what will be for pretty much everybody one of hardship. It’s been really satisfying to watch reactions to the initial bits of content too: I must be doing something right.

Once that’s done, there needs to some thought about what gets attacked going forward. The last time I entered something was the start of March, which really does seem like a lifetime away:ย there is an awful lot potentially to work with. I have some ideas floating about, it is not as if there’s nothing to do in that regard. However, there is yet to exist the appropriate brainspace in which such things can be accomodated.

Therefore, this weekend, between the work, it is time to decompress a bit.

dramatic

I am (sadly) one of those people whom is really not happy unless there is stuff to do. I find it quite difficult to just sit and do nothing, for instance. It is why the best holidays are where historical sites abound with pictures to take: give me two weeks on a sun longer and I’d die of boredom. It does also mean that being on lockdown has taken a bit of adjusting to: if all I do is work, that’s also counter-productive.

It means clearly delineating ‘work’ and ‘exercise’ time, separating spaces out so that work doesn’t follow me. Like it or not therefore that means no tablet or phone in the bedroom, even if acting as a virtual book. It has ingrained in me the process of getting ‘work’ done first before I start exercising or playing computer games. This may sound very rigid to some of you, but this routine is what keeps me sane.

These constants are what helps us move forward as adults.

shocked

These are unprecedented times we find ourselves within, and it is up to every single one of us to help each other survive and thrive going forward. By making content, I hope to provide not just entertainment, but thought-provoking stimulus. It’s hardly world-changing, explosive and controversial, I’ll grant you, but everybody has to start somewhere.

This for me is the right space to begin.

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,ย  a monthly amountย  will be thrown down to go do more interesting things on Wednesday evenings in the future.

proudthumbsup

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.

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.

insta_stuffs

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.ย 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.

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… โค๏ธโค๏ธโค๏ธโค๏ธโค๏ธ #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.