Ballroom Blitz

Oh look, we’re back… when I say that it makes it sound like everything is organised and finished, when the reality is that an awful lot of is sitting, waiting to be fixed. In Good News [TM] we have timescales now, and realistic levels of expectation. Welcome to the New Normal, and there’s quite a lot of stuff to catch up on so let’s get started.

This month, and in fact going forward long term, we’ll be sticking Instagram and website content into a combined output. It makes more sense to not keep trying to be lots of different things across multiple platforms, and to focus effort on content over variety. Therefore, if you follow my Instagram, you’ll see me using that this month as a means to deal with the COVID stuff, how I make ART as a CREATIVE, and some other bits too. It also becomes the way I’ll tell you how my efforts to become FAMOUS are going, or not, as the case may be.

On that front, we made it to a shortlist proper for the first time last month with some poetry. We’ll keep plugging away at that side of things in tandem with self-publication, which is going to happen before Christmas. That work begins in September, and I’m already looking forward to the output, of which there is much to choose from. Picking the best work is the easy bit: it gets harder when you’re the graphic designer and the production co-ordinator to boot. No matter, the work will be done.

The biggest single piece of news however is I’m working with the local Arts collective as part of their New Artists Network. That’s never going to stop being funny: at 53 I’m still less than two years into a professional endeavour, as you’re considered successful after publication. My first piece debuted in November 2018, my next piece appears in hardback, in October for World Poetry Day. So, technically I could call myself established from that point, but if you know me well that’s never happening. This doesn’t stop even if I do hit the target, multiple times.

I don’t ever see a true end to this period of creativity in my life.

2020 Week 16 Poetry: Me

It is odd, sometimes, how the things we least expect to emerge in our work end up doing just that. This poem is a case in point: the events of this poem are 100% true. The verse maps out a real, difficult event in my late 20’s. There is one deviation from fact, for the sake of a convenient conclusion, but this will be the second time this particular moment has surfaced in my poetry.

I know why this happened, at this point in proceedings. Lockdown is taking a quite particular mental toll on the trauma-affected areas of my brain: last night was a case in point. Understanding that this stuff is happening is one thing: dealing with it, when it happens, another thing entirely. Getting it out of the brain and onto a page/screen is undoubtedly helpful, however.

Next week’s poem, as a result, is a differenty beast entirely.


Me

inhale
calm, nerves flattened
introductions
largely unnecessary
we’re all friends here
except, over there
errant thoughts
middle finger raised
not this again

exhale
sudden, unexpected
rogue elements
since when was he
on my side, big man
small aspiration
celebrations
largely unnecessary

regroup
now what, possibly
strong assertions
largely unnecessary
strategic withdrawal
consider enemy
unexpectedly
anything but

accept
possibilities, blossoming
directions shift
negotiations underway
largely unnecessary
mind’s already sold
axis powers pact
forgone conclusion

success
largely unnecessary
bigger picture painted
sacrifice worthwhile
middle finger salute
achievement unlocked
exit, stage left
phone number, meet hand

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.

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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.

Supper’s Ready

There were a lot of plans made at the start of 2019: most were personal goals, attempts to improve cognitive process whilst pushing forward other important requirements, including health objectives. Superficially an idea existed to make Instagram less frightening and more a part of what can be done as a digital publisher. That started with the Places in Poetry Project, and last month took an important step forward.

Day 11 __ Religion

The #FaithIoW Project is a quantum leap forward from anything else that’s been produced for this form of Social media: for a start, people actually read and liked it. That alone sets it apart from anything else I’ve produced, barely scraping a handful of likes across entire runs of poems. We can have the discussion about popularity being unimportant until limbs fall off, but the fact remains that all exposure matters.

With no budget, starting small and being manageable are essential parts of the process: however, the business of habit forming becomes even more significant. Pick the right tags, push to the right audience, and just keep working. Produce your best output, continue to work and refine concepts, learn digital shortcuts and make the work itself shine not as someone else’s derivative content, but your own unique signature.

Day 3 __ Truth

Most importantly, every one of those 31 poems in October came straight from my soul, in a place of what is turning out to be pretty monumental change. As a result, this project has become a deeply personal, very important line in the sand: indicator not only of evolution, but a distinct shift in the landscape that surrounds this movement. You can find the images via my Instagram account, or in their new collective home on the website.

Feedback and comments are, as always, gratefully received.

Supper’s Ready

After I failed to get a residency at the local arts collective in March, the idea I’d wanted to work on became End of the Fear. That is the gift that keeps on giving, and it has taught me the value of not assuming that success equals a book deal or a winning submission. Success is not about what other people consider as worthy, it’s your happiness above everything else.

However, my submission did get me noticed enough to win a meeting with the head of the Southend facility (is that the right word, I wonder… hub, perhaps? Community centre?) and a promise I could appear as part of their ‘Future Park’ events: three minutes to sell yourself to the audience, using anything you want as content. In my case, I picked a poem written in January which remains the strongest piece I’ve written all year, ironically submitted for a major prize last week.

That means there will eventually be some pictures of the evening. For now, I am reminded that although using Social media has its own pitfalls, if I wanna be seen in the world, this is the way to do it. With Inktober coming up, there’s a strong temptation to do haiku again, because that was huge fun and I’ve come a long way in two years. My home town is an amazing backdrop for so many things, after all…

There’s a lot to consider on the back of this performance, and next week is an important deadline for a collection I’ve been playing with for over a year now. Today, however, is taking things easy. The stress and adrenaline are still very much in evidence, and so that means no exercise as well as no worrying over what happens next. For now, I celebrate what’s been achieved this year, and what might yet be to come.

Back to the Future

Tomorrow, we’re back to poetry after what was a scheduled break for real life and May Day bank holiday. I’m off to sit in the Jazz Centre tomorrow and write a poem, plus spend some time re-organising the game plan. You see, on Thursday night there was a bit of an epiphany about how the poetry’s picked and chosen going forward.

There needs to be a bigger human angle than was initially planned: initial selection of places was purely planned on geography. Sure these spots all have personal relevance, but what matters more, it is now apparent, is emotional resonance that specific spaces throw up. This became apparent last week in town, in a spot that didn’t previously merit a mark on the map but now does.

The poetic voice has most definitely altered during this planning progress. Doing counselling simultaneously is undoubtedly altering my mental landscape: this weekend proves that to be true beyond doubt. Therefore, tomorrow is a refocus of goals and objectives, where I need to go and take pictures, plus what the remainder of my locations will give in terms of emotional resonance.

Listing to a poetic voice that is altering on an almost daily basis is an odd experience, but the process is a natural progression from the space this journey originally begin in. I am not afraid of change, and never have been, and am confident everything will eventually find a level that is right and proper.

The goal, while this happens, is to keep on writing.

Look out any Window

Sometimes, I can be a little jaded. Considering the number of submissions made since January, the amount of work that’s been outputted (and already rejected) it is probably no surprise there’s an element of ‘oh, I wonder what I’ll fail at this week’ in the mindset. Except, when I look closely at what’s been learnt in the first four months of this year, there is a phenomenal amount to be pleased and proud of.

Most of that shift involves improvements in organisation and presentation. Learning how to make things sound more seductive, enthusiastic, being able to plan and block time effectively are undoubted steps in the right direction. Add to this an increased determination not to do anything other than my absolute best work for everything, however small, is altering my outlook with each passing week. 

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There are other, more subtle changes too. Setting sensible time-frames to complete projects, beginning to learn how long things will take are all helpful. Crucially however, it is my problem solving skills which have seen the biggest leap forward since the start of the year. What do you do when a muse just won’t co-operate? How do you make something happen that patently isn’t taking place and you have a deadline looming?

The key, undoubtedly is being ahead of the game.

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Next month, a lot of things will happen differently to accommodate a project I’ve been working on for some time. The planning’s been underway since the end of March, and is now beginning to come to fruition. I’m insanely excited about what’s coming, and hope you’ll consider joining me on the journey as we enter an area of creativity as yet undiscovered. Trust me, it’s going to be awesome.

Was It Worth It?

Once upon a time, I got quite obsessed over the number of people who followed me on social media. This coincided with Twitter’s public and high profile attempts to remove the legions of robots and fake accounts from their platform. The reality of this change is pretty stark: I’ve seen zero follower growth since April 2018 on the ‘other’ account. Ironically, this was the exact period that this project began to gain momentum: interest here is far and beyond what was ever thought possible in such a short period.

In my lessons and observations of Social media over the last few years, there’s been a veritable legion of people in the background, advising me how to ‘influence’ in all its forms. What is abundantly apparent is that the best success stories, people who genuinely deserve all the plaudits and numbers on their teams are those individuals who do, in fact, put in the hard graft. It doesn’t have to be sitting on Social media, either. The right combination of immediacy and backroom work pays massive dividends.

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I do love me some good organisation, but in the end none of it is worth the Post It notes you wrote it on unless summat budges. I’m pretty sure now the path that was originally trodden with what’s now very much a personal Twitter is the absolute opposite direction things need to head: if anything, I’d be going backwards. So, it is time to stop selling myself, and to start ‘selling’ myself. Those two quote marks are actually quite vital too. Before it was all far to serious. Now, if summat good happens, it’s a bonus, but honestly I’m not fussed.

Last time out, there was an agenda and I HATE THOSE. I’m not an influencer, just a woman with stuff to say and her own shit to sell. Not anybody else’s mouthpiece or spokesperson, just my words and stories that need to be told and might well find a larger audience if I push them. So, here we go. Gonna give it a year and see where we go. If all else fails, I might luck out and get summat published in the meantime, who knows?

It gives me something to do apart from the housework and exercise, if all else fails…

The Big Sky

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Good Morning 👍

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I’ve recently replaced my ancient Fruit Phone. Some of you would do a like for like exchange, but I’ve picked the Chinese upgrade that isn’t here for apps or looks, but comes with three Leica camera lenses. Photography is a love affair that began in my teens and shows no sign of diminishing. My obsession, as has been the case for decades, are the images with details often only I seem to find attractive.

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Now, of course, there’s comprehension as to why patterns such as these are so pleasing (and often reassuring, I’ll be honest.) There is a decent spread of subject matter in my work however: places, people, and only the occasional obsession into details. You’ll see my Instagram work linked on the front page, and nearly all of my artwork utilises my own work alongside stock photography. For the more curious, there’s a Flickr page with the complete history in pictures.

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I will admit to an obsession with looking up: late nights, early mornings, and the reminder that another day will take away the pain of before and help build strength going forward. It is also the intractable reminder of our place in the Universe, memo to be grateful for everything that is presented and not waste any time in enjoying the moment. This is the bit that’s still a struggle, but in the glorious brightness of the sunny days, everything is considerably easier.

There’ll be a lot more photography in the future, and as days begin to get longer in a few weeks you can bet that will involve being outside with the camera…

Beautiful Day

As we’re now closer to March than we are to the start of February, it is probably the moment to discuss what you can expect from next month’s theme. My daughter loves aesthetics: the complementary and the often dissonant, what one person might define as beautiful being a long way from another’s definition. Next month, both here and via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, we will be using Aesthetics as the starting point for a number of projects.

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Aesthetics, at least one definition thereof, refers to important principles in Art History. Speaking as a bit of an amateur lover of all things Art Movement next month will have 31 Haiku, available every day via Instagram and on the Internet of Words Twitter feed, which will explain key aesthetics, quite possibly chronologically if I get my life sorted out. So, you get a bit of poetry and some lovely pictures to boot.

#Beautiful

#Sprung

Of course, I’ll be continuing to use You Tube as a place where I don’t make videos but simply highlight other people’s work: in March you’ll get some alternative definitions of beautiful, as well as a bunch of songs about growth and renewal as part of our #Soundtracking2018 initiative. There’ll also be what is turning out to be a rather popular feature, the daily Short Story on the Twitter feed. This month, we’ll be using Valentine’s Day as our starting point, presenting a poignant love story… or is it?

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Needless to say, I have a lot of other ideas on the table for next month: keep your eyes on the official @InternetofWords Twitter for more details closer to the time.

For now, I have some homework to start…