The Shape I’m In

I’ve spent the last couple of years raising money and awareness for various mental health charities, and promoting the events that happen (Time To Talk amongst others.) I also cycled for Mind last year and raised £500 whilst completing the RideLondon 46: thank you again to everybody who supported and helped cheer me on during what was an extremely transformative experience.

This year, I’m making a conscious decision to spend an entire week using words and pictures as an explanation as to how we are often incredibly hard on ourselves as people when it comes to self-image. This is a subject that I don’t often talk about publicly, but my obsession with weight and appearance has been a significant stumbling point to mental well-being across the years, especially after my daughter was born.

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Beauty is an incredibly subjective concept: perception of self massively dictates the ability and confidence of us all to be what it is we wish to become. If you are one of those people lucky enough to block out jibes and taunts of others, confident enough to stand as you are, looking happy and relaxed, those are skills you should be proud of. It has taken me a lifetime to feel a measure of that, and it’s far from a given.

I have some good words standing by for the third week in May (which is not long off now, hence why we’re talking about this now) and I hope you’ll consider reading (and sharing) them for a wider audience, to help the Mental health Foundation spread the word. If it wasn’t for their Mindfulness course, a lot of my progress forward would not have been possible, and it is high time I thanked them publicly for that assistance.

The first poem and article will appear on May 13th. I’ll see you then.

All Time High

This week, sadly, has not been nearly as successful as last week. There’s a major reason for this, that I’m not discussing on the other blog either, and honestly it is not relevant thus far to anything else here either. Except, of course, this major change in emphasis was inevitably going to have some consequences. The main one is wanting to cut back on Social media. Instagram’s already dried up, for which there’s no great loss.

I’d like to thank everybody who has contributed to the stuff I’ve done, and simply admit up front that my desire to encourage talk is sadly not currently being met by an enthusiasm to engage. It’s no wonder so many people are tired. It’s a tough world out there at the best of times; right now is particularly taxing. The bigger problem is watching those who think talking means just listening to them and agreeing.

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The other consequence is having anything of real interest to discuss. Until my brain decides to start playing nicely again, there’ll be some freshening up of the website, archiving of long-overdue gubbins, plus occasional personal ramble into working processes. I suspect this will be the way things pan out until the Easter holiday is done and dusted with, which means a return to ‘normal’ around the 23rd.

There are a remarkable number of things right now being worked on, however, and it might be an idea that next week those lists are refined and re-ordered. More importantly there’s not a definitive list of what’s been entered for and that ought to be organised, so at least there’s the knowledge of what rejections are being waited for…

Bear with me, it’ll all work itself out in the end.

There’s No Other Way

Following the weekend’s revelation that my mental issues are scuppering progress on editing old work, we’ve made solid progress on a new approach to writing long-form fiction. In fact, as it transpires, this approach is a bit of a revelation:

I speak a bit about the process on the Other Blog: it was meant as a means to release mental pressure, and give me something to aim towards going forward. Buoyed by this, tomorrow is the day when I work on the short story I’ve written and not yet completed that I’d like to enter for the formal contest that began all this trauma in the first place.

If this works to my satisfaction, there’s a second short story to follow.

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However, right now I’m trying my best not to be obsessed with doing just one thing if something else pops up, comes along and demands attention. In practical terms that’s trying a new submission avenue this week, that doesn’t have a deadline and demands what I consider to be my best work. I have no idea if it will work or not but what is apparent is how much the process is being enjoyed. That’s what’s been missing for the last few months.

If I can find the things that truly spark joy when creating, there’s a far better chance of something finally being considered as good enough.

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.

Alone Again Or

Yesterday, I filled in a survey for a large organisation who, if I’m honest, was never set up to deal with the likes of me. The girl with anxiety issues, constant bouts of Impostor Syndrome, fear of failure and inability to understand what other people are talking about, on her worst days, puts the cause back months. Today however that girl’s still in bed, not wanting to push forward or achieve greatness. In her place this doppelganger is at the PC, putting in the hours, covering for inadequacy.

The world’s a tough place to negotiate at the best of times, especially in these fraught days of political and social uncertainty. The survey asked me a simple question: what do I miss in my life, now that there’s so much dedication to the writing cause? The answer is simple: friends. People who understand what this is like: the constant rejections, the uncertainty, doubting yourself and the output you produce. When I look at the successful people in my timeline, perilously few show the weaknesses I deal with.

Maybe that’s part of the problem.

Twitter presents the world with a platform to be whatever they wish, yet so many believe that’s the kind of person who never shows vulnerability or shortcomings. Undoubtedly the people I now gain the most from in terms of interactivity and support are those who show this more vulnerable side, not afraid to be honest with their failings. It is also becoming increasingly apparent that anyone who arrogantly believes their opinion is the only right answer will never be worth listening to or indeed debating with.

When I’m writing poetry, or fiction, or whatever else might be needed of me in terms of words, success is what is aimed for. However, less and less that success equates to being able to put well known organisations next to my work. Validation in a capitalist society inevitably is being able to earn a wage from your efforts. It doesn’t help that ‘best-selling’ ‘successful’ writers are all over my social media: many act like they’re some kind of literary evangelist, offering answers and succour in exchange for your fealty.

Except reality is a long way from that truth.

A lot of individuals consider any public admission of failure as unacceptable. It is understandable, especially as such concepts are often grouped with social constructs or lifestyle choices that directly fly in the face of continued success. The pressure to achieve, present the ‘right’ impression or outlook, places incredible amounts of stress on the most hardened of individuals… and yet, showing this is inevitably negative. That’s not true. To err is human. It is the most basic part of ourselves, and should be embraced.

Today, sitting here, I know there’s a rejection waiting to drop in my Inbox. I could probably write the generic message that will accompany it. It will include phrases such as:

‘hugely high standard of entries’
‘incredibly difficult decision’
‘so difficult to choose a winner’
‘because of the high volume of entries, no individual criticism of individual work can be provided…’

and there’s the killer. Nobody’s willingly prepared to offer free criticism, or comment. If you want to learn how to do this, you’ll more than likely have to pay someone for the privilege. Take a course, hire an editor, and even then nobody may care one jot about what makes you passionate because, in the current market, nobody wants poetry that rhymes. Your narrative is unsaleable, according to people who claim to share your passion, but only if it will make them money.

This is a tough world, and it is not getting any easier.

Not gonna lie here, I have JK muted on Twitter. Her ideas and mine are quite a long way apart, but if personal proof were needed that the unknown can become successful overnight, this is it. It would be a foolish person who did not respect the achievement of others: it is also a foolish person who will believe that only one route to success exists, and that is to exactly emulate the actions of others, without being true to yourself first. You are what you are, good and bad: I believe that you need to embrace both to be truly comfortable with your work.

One day, my work will get noticed. There’s a fair chance that won’t happen until long after I’m dead, part of why the notion of ‘success’ needs to change in the here and now. As it is just as likely I’ll not be around to enjoy that definition, maybe this is the moment to find the joy elsewhere, and stop worrying about the idea that you’re only good when people you don’t know read your work and enjoy it. I’m already at that stage, or else you wouldn’t be here now. So, in that regard, this is progress.

What matters most, right now, is honesty and not publicity.

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!


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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 😀

Poetry Archive :: The Sensual World (Redux)

It has been mentioned elsewhere that this week has very much involved an improvement to process, but that was primarily wrapped around short story writing. This piece has not significantly altered from it’s original, when all is said and done. Crucially the verse benefits from an increased awareness of my inner poetic ‘voice.’ That has been subsequently lent to short-form fiction this week too: finding the means by which descriptive passages can gain that same lyricism is a skill that was previously lacking.

Also, crucially, capital letters are no longer a Thing.


The Sensual World

Smooth, grasping hand pulls forward need,
equal pressure soft lips then feed:
upon sweet fruits these bodies yield
whilst layered warmth ‘neath cotton shield.

As coupling cements joint dance
desire sires passion, both advance,
beyond blood’s simple pulsing beat
each small release; orgasms fleet.

Quiet coalescing, strengthened whole
compelling mind, intertwined souls:
together locked, deepening tryst
no pain or doubt ever exist.

Successive sparks of passion flare,
between two hearts burden declares
smooth strengthening, our final form:
life redefines accepted norm.

Our sensual world, never far
within whatever space we are
requiring simplest care to fuel;
eternal fountain, love’s renewal.