School’s Out

Here’s a thing. I’m off to what I suppose should be referred to as an Evening Class tonight, and am rather excited at the prospect.

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I wish there were more money to be able to do stuff like this with greater frequency, but it’s just not practical, when a London-based course could cost the equivalent of the monthly food budget. I’m already saving as it is for Mslexicon this year, and that means making some harsh decisions in the next couple of weeks as how everything is funded. I’m already making all the savings possible to let this happen.

However, there is an ulterior motive to doing a couple of hours on the High Street tonight: this venue has an open mic in two weeks, which will be a perfect opportunity in which to take some problematic poetry with me for performance later in the year. It also gives me a focus for the two days writing time I’ve booked at the local Arts Collective next month, as part of the county’s Book Festival.

It allows an opportunity to extend experience to other places.

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All of these venues are on my doorstep, so travel costs are minimal: the two day ‘hot desk’ opportunity is free as well, so I would have been very remiss to have not taken that one up. More importantly than that, of course, the capacity for networking exceeds all other benefits: if you want to be know, you do unfortunately have to put yourself about, and until I gain Banksy levels of notoriety, that’s a given.

It’s the part of this job description I’ve always struggled with, with social anxiety always there as a reminder that you’re never as prepared as you think is enough. However, each time something like this happens, undoubtedly things get easier. That whole thing about practice isn’t just restricted to exercise, after all. Doing something every day has considerable benefit in both brain and body.

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I have a t-shirt for the evening all picked. I will take something pre-written as a starting point to improve. I’ve packed business cards and favourite pencils. All that needs to happen now is to get through the rest of the day unscathed and this will be the first of a number of small rewards, to myself, for distinctive progress made. After all, even the most hardened of professionals benefits from some quality ‘them’ time.

I’ll report on the evening Friday, via a blog.

Quiet Alone

I’ve decided to theme the next couple of months under a banner. It makes having to think up ideas a bit easier when the coldest of winter days do in my brain, and also allows a bit more forward planning than has previously been the case. There’s a lot of behind the scenes organisation being pushed forward for other stuff as well, to allow me vital time in 2020 to… well, look after myself more.

Therefore, we are starting 2020 with the theme of HOPE because after the last few weeks in the UK, everybody could do with being helped to believe that there are better things ahead. I can’t change the political climate or instantly improve environmental issues that everybody should be considering as urgent, but there are ways and means to make everything better. Hope can help with so much, and not just for ourselves.

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It will also be the first opportunity for me to see if all that practice in the last six months, the numerous rejections and polite silence means I’ve actually learnt anything as a poet. Undoubtedly 2019’s been my journeyman year, lots of polishing and rebuilding the building blocks for larger, more ambitious projects. With the announcement of a 2020 Mslexicon it will be time to try and make the cash required to get myself back to Leeds.

That will mean trying to attract interest in my work, enough that people may pay me for the content. I was reminded yesterday that I only have myself as promotions manager, and if I don’t sell the skills available, nothing’s gonna happen. Therefore, next week there will be some effort to get my donation methods more prominently displayed on my webpages and social media feeds.

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After that, I just have to put in the hours. Success only happens with hard work and application. The hope is, of course, that this year one of those many things I’ve written might finally stick on a target and gain me some much-needed publicity. I read someone say this year that a poet needs to work for five years to create a realistic body of work… which means this could still be a long road.

We will see.