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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Intro

It’s almost time to begin a COMPLETELY NEW DECADE. Blimey.

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Everything’s in place to go too, more or less. Some poetry will be submitted tonight, possibly some other bits and bobs towards the end of the week. There are two calendars up on the wall, with ACTUAL COLOUR CODING to keep up with what is submitted. Honestly, the last time organisation at this level existed, it was college. NO EXCUSES this year, everybody. Everything gets improved.

Last year, the ‘target’ of publication was hit, but only once. Bearing this in mind, 2020 is when I produce my own pamphlets for the first time. It’s when there’s an effort to make money and not lose it, building body of work that isn’t just digital. I’ll be looking for feedback in January, and am considering a return to Patreon as means by which to try and finance this effort at entry level.

Everything on that side is still in a state of flux.

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On Wednesday we’ll sound the 31 Days of Exercise klaxon for RED January, and instead of filling your Instagram feeds with Haiku for the month you’ll get 31 days of my sweaty body instead. This means lots of time to sort February’s Love Poetry out (had to be done) and an opportunity to get out more to do photography. I had so much fun in June doing that, for Places of Poetry, that it needs to be repeated.

Let’s hope the weather allows this to happen without incident.

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ALSO MORE POETRY AS ART IN 2020. I know, this is not reinventing the wheel, and other people are better connected to complete these tasks, but if there is not the means for expression, humanity has been lost. It all counts towards that vital Body of Work

2020 will, whatever happens, be all about the output.

All Time High

Life, right now at least, is all about narrative. The NaNo project (more on this in the next post) is progressing better than anything I’ve produced of this ilk for several years. The reason’s simple: I want to do it. All of this is fulfilling ambitions that have laid dormant for as long as I can remember, fuelled only by the scheduled short story forays and that episodic fiction that will be finished for next year.

It’s becoming apparent in other avenues of existence that attainment is very much entwined with belief. Knowing you are good enough is not what is required if your bigger problem’s all about stamina. Being able to identify what needs work is possibly one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do. It also means that, like it or not, I can’t devote time to other forms of expression.

Don’t tell anybody, but I am really missing writing poetry.

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There’s a number of deadlines in December that are already being considered, a collection being re-written and numerous single poems in states of construction. It’s not like poems don’t exist in my head either: doing a month’s worth of micropoetry with imagery was enormous fun, so much so that there’ll be a Christmas selection starting December 1st… because, well, why not?

What November is giving me, believe it or not, is a chance to breathe. Only working to a 50K word notional deadline is considerably less stressful than anything else produced this year. It’s allowing opportunities to find the joy in other things too, which hopefully will leach through to other areas of my written work. Blogging is undoubtedly becoming easier, and I’ve even dusted off my gaming blog for a few posts already.

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I’ll do some work next week on getting dates and deadlines up on the wall: it’s not something I’ve done yet in this new space and that needs to change. For now, however, I think it’s time to take a cuppa to bed and decompress with some Solitaire on my tablet. Gaming remains hugely important to me, in all its forms, not just as relaxation, but in this case it most certainly is.

We’ll be back here again tomorrow to start again.

Back to Life

As my birthday has come and gone this means there’s a week left until we’re into November. It would be useful, I think, to try and make a return to what used to be considered as Normal Service around these parts, but the loss of my PC yesterday (and the fact I’m typing this on a keyboard on my knees on the sofa) has rather put a crimp in proceedings. NO MATTER.

It is time to get this ramshackle shebang back on track.

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What that means is POETRY EVERY DAY (as has been successfully happening with my #FaithIoW prompts) but with perhaps a little more interactivity than was previously the case. It’s nice to have work every day on Instagram too, and 2020 will be when I try and make that platform work a bit harder for me than is previously the case. It is also high time we had some YouTube content back.

Then there’s the short stories: the last one from August was left hanging. What will happen in November is that will be reposted and completed, before we go into NEW WORK in December. Also, yes, I PROMISE. EX/WHI will be back once the NaNo gubbins is all done and dusted. I know only too well what happens when my brain becomes overloaded with narrative, it all goes horribly Pete Tong and nobody has time for that.

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However, the overriding priority right now is to get this keyboard off my knees and onto a desk. That’s being delivered tomorrow (reclaimed from a dusty industrial unit) and once the front room’s organised, the sky will indeed be the limit. My new wall awaits, ready for a wipe clean perpetual planner and a fucktonne of Post It Notes.

I am ready.

Moving On Up

I can still remember with vivid joy the arrival one Christmas of my first ever typewriter. It didn’t last long, however: this was the early 1980’s, and there was already talk of personal computers quickly superseding the need for such antiquated items, especially as work could be saved and returned to without fear of data loss. In our house, in the early years of my relationship with my now husband was a Commodore for gaming, plus an Amstrad for word processing, using Locoscript.

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By Marcin Wichary from San Francisco, U.S.A. – Amstrad PCW 8512, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3481787

A lot has changed in those intervening 30 or so years: it’s my gaming rig that now serves as a word processor (I use Libre Office as it’s free and not Microsoft) but in the last few months there’s been some alarming restarts and freezes which my PC knowledge knows means my hard drive’s on the way out. Add to this a graphics card that regularly overheats and it is high time a replacement is found. However, I don’t want new.

Once upon a time, that was not the case, but now with all the issues around me in terms of consumerism and climate change, it seems only right and appropriate to go reconditioned where I can. Therefore, I’ve found a second hand desk larger than the second hand desk I’m currently using, and during the upcoming half term will be rearranging my working space which has been this way for the last 14 months.

Basically, it is time to expand.

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The biggest problem is that I’ve run out of wall space. Stuff is planned across one wall currently, and it is simply not large enough for what it is I want to achieve. Therefore, I’ll be shifting position and the sofa will be moving back to this space which it inhabited for many years. That too probably needs replacing, but with the current economic uncertainty…? That might well have to wait a while.

For now, however, this is a project that is going to grant me great joy, and hopefully rearrange the front room a bit in the process. I’ll make sure everything’s has pictures taken as we go too, so it can become a proper transition from one space to another.

I’m really rather looking forward to this.