Holiday

I’m supposed to be having a couple of weeks off, but instead there is a compulsion to write here for the first time in a while. The reasons are complex, and will be discussed in other places as time goes on, but for now, this is the moment to start laying foundations down for new ventures. As that happens, it is also the moment to consider how far I have come.

Stories that make a person whole…

For the last thirty-nine weeks, I’ve captured myself on video explaining my plans going forward, and this undoubtedly has contributed to an ability to rationalize beyond what was there to begin with. The fortieth video will launch on a new platform, having finally removed myself from Patreon. Ironically, it was their own fault it happened. I was given the opportunity to join a marketing course, which showed me how to sell the ‘brand’ better.

This is not a brand, and never will be. I am a perennial work in progress, and trying to promote that on a platform which only sees fulfilment and cash as success really was doomed to failure. As a transactional person at heart, there needs to be a balance between what is truth and what is the line that won’t be crossed. It was therefore inevitable the relationship would end after it was obvious the company’s values and mine did not align.

I was sent a brand survey last week that was the last straw, and I made my displeasure known. Also, I didn’t sign up to win the $100 gift card because the exchange rate is woeful, part of a far bigger issue.

This week I’m going out with the youngest, will be taking photos everywhere, and hope to get some back end work fixed in an environment which is considerably more conducive than it was. Mostly, I need to be organized better, which is the perennial demon to appease. At least now that’s grasped, there are other things to talk about.

#Instaverse will be back in September, but so will occasional posting here too on personal issues.

The End

I try, as a rule, not to wipe people out with walls of text: nobody really cares about three lines in anyway. So, let’s make this short, sweet and to the point.

If I was pledging to you as a Patreon Creator, I’ve cancelled my pledge as of this morning. It’s 100% absolutely not you. I have run out of money, and can no longer sustain pledging to anybody is the main reason, but the secondary one is that I’ve effectively had enough of Patreon. As a creator, it no longer caters to my needs, which are making more money for me and not for them.

I have to be blunt here: without more cash, it’s becoming unsustainable to keep going. I’d make more money stacking shelves in a supermarket, even after tax. So, it’s time to relocate and change the game plan, in the hope I can get more support and more of that support in my pocket and less in someone else’s.

Therefore, starting September 1st, all my content moves to Ko-Fi.

I’ll give you more details on this going forward.

Ready to Go

There are lots of things I’d like to do in 2021. This is where I let you lot in on what they are.

The Ko-Fi exercise is going REALLY well, so much so that I’m expanding out to other places too. I have a Tumblr account now, where my experimental stuff is gonna appear, and having linked my Pinterest account to here in the last week, I’ll be pinning my poetry there too. It’s another place where exposure can happen, and all those things are Good [TM] going forward.

Next up, we have audio: there’s gonna be a selection of audio files to play with next week, and part of me is already wondering if there’s an easy way to make an image map for all of these (so that’s been shoved on the To Do List) and that faffing alone might well have been better served happening a bit earlier in my planning. However, there’s still a week left before Time to Talk Day, so it’s not a total loss. If it works, we’ll play with other things in a similar vein.

Finally, photography will be making a return in February. For most of this month when I’ve gone outside it’s to either exercise or do essential stuffs, which is really how this should be working anyway, so my subjects need to be integrated into exercise practically. There are plans afoot, and again we’ll start working on those next week. Everything is under control.

I just got to do it all now…

Change

It’s the UK’s @TimetoChange ‘Time to Talk’ Day in [FX: checks calendar] nine days and as this will be the last time that this event takes place under the auspice of the organization (who will cease to exist in March) it seems only right and proper to do something special. Therefore, I’ve decided to take my mental health journey, which is recorded in CURT; URBANE [click here for a link to purchase] and effectively present a virtual reading.

All 20 poems will be available here EXCLUSIVELY on Time to Talk Day, on a dedicated webpage. I’ll be sharing eight of those between 9am and 5pm on the 4th via my Twitter account too, with some extra bits and bobs along the way, and hope you’ll take a listen. In the end, all of this is about starting conversations, however small, about the things that worry or concern us. Talking about how you feel doesn’t just allow you the chance to explain what’s wrong, it can also help others understand and suggest where you can find help and support.

Time to Talk may be going away, but I fully intend to keep writing poetry about my mental health, and promoting conversations around it. I qualified as a Mental health First Aider late last year, and it’s only the start of a long-term commitment to help other people who might be struggling during the pandemic, and long after we’re back to whatever ‘normal’ ends up being. Poetry is a how I learnt to express feelings that previously I could not actually discuss, and my chapbook is an important metaphor in my continuing journey to enlightenment.

I hope you enjoy what I’ve made, and that you can take the time to listen to the poems when they appear next Thursday. Thank you for your support 😀

Nature Boy

If you don’t follow me as a Patron on Patreon (very easy, sign up now) you won’t know that right now, I’m in the middle of the first of four projects for 2021. That means that this week (and quite possibly for a significant portion of the weekend) I’m putting down the first draft of a 60 verse poetry narrative. The longest I’ve managed successfully thus far was 40, and that seemed to go down incredibly well. So, it’s time to put my creative skills to the test.

It’s also become something of an exercise in reassessment in the last couple of days: everything was beautifully planned and sensibly telegraphed, but when I sat down to write the characters had other ideas, and as a result we are in the land of unexpected diversion from the planned narrative. I take this as a good sign, that this means there’s enough depth to the story to allow me to let these voices point the direction to take and me to follow. There’s also some poems already that I am insanely proud of…

This also gives me the opportunity to look at what’s been previously produced in the last six months as a benchmark, and it’s apparent that this style is a definite evolution down the road from where I began. Finding my poetic ‘voice’ has been hugely complex during a pandemic, but undoubtedly this is evolution over the last twelve months. The next task is to see if any of that previous work can now be effectively recycled for other submissions, and I’m pretty sure at least one ‘collection’ can be resubmitted elsewhere.

These are exciting times I find myself within, and enthusiasm and energy with which to write, which has not existed for some time. A lot of that can be put down to being physically more active too, and the morning run I had today has undoubtedly made everything else that much easier to attain… let’s hope this is momentum on both fronts that can be sustained, and then capitalised upon.

She Bangs

Okay then, December is really not that far away. Next week is all about CHAPBOOK PROMOTION and so, therefore, it seems fair to explain what’s going on when the NaNoWriMo dust settles. Oh, for the record, here’s where we are:

Needless to say, 80k will probably be my end of month total. I am insanely pleased with a project that continues to write itself. I’ve also got a second idea that might get worked on over Christmas. However, for December, I am going to be taking a month off from my normal Patreon plans, in order to build up a decent store of content for the first half of 2021. If you’re a patron, I’ll be covering what this means via blogging on the site next week.

There will be traditional favourites: my .GIFmas Advent Calendar, some festive poetry and quite a bit of photography. However, the writing is going to take a break. There’s been no holiday this year, for obvious reasons. Therefore, it’s high time I took some time off for myself and maybe stopped stressing so much about the spectre of Content [TM]. More importantly, I’m doing REDJanuary again next year and that will take a phenomenal amount of mental and physical energy.

Watch this space for the launch of the Chapbook next week 😀

Little Things

I spent the weekend doing exactly what it was I said I’d do: no actual work, and certainly no blogging. A day of rest on Saturday meant Sunday was the most productive day I’ve had probably since early May. Looking back on the past, and what can be salvaged from it has uncovered a couple of utter gems, two of which I’ll submit tomorrow to the most prestigious contest going for poetry right now. I confidently predict neither will win, but I’ll feel wonderful about what’s been presented.

The last few times this particular contest has been prepared for it’s been… well, it’s felt like a Herculean trial. More importantly, so much need and desire to win was subconsciously wrapped up in the production process that, at the end, there was little joy in the work. I intend to go back and pull out those pieces and repurpose them in a group this week, if anything can be salvaged from them at all. That’s also a revelation from recent times: it’s okay to throw things away.

Not everything can be saved.

The reality of watching the revolving door of successful people come in and out of my Twitter feed used to be quite difficult. Now there is a sanguine acceptance that not everybody is the same as me, and not everyone is getting as much out of the platform as I am. That’s the big takeaway over the last few months: you can see the people who have bloomed, and who’ll have ’emerging during lockdown in 2020 as a driving force in [insert profession here] on social media’ inserted into their bios when the time comes.

For me, I suppose, it’s all still falling into place. There’s an optimism in both body and brain now which, I realise, has not existed since my teens. I never really grew up properly, that’s the key to all of this, that process is taking place for a second time and honestly, truthfully, I’m quite happy to ignore the fact that many notably traumatic experiences have been quietly thrown in a skip where established detritus is already burning furiously.

I am so very grateful to my husband and kids for putting up with all this shit for so long.

With my objective hat on, so much of that time wasn’t nearly as bad as history now recalls, the key is to separate the bad experiences from the good and then make sure only the bad ones are torched. It helps having photographic memories of those to use as a means of re-establishing reality: so many things never got photographed, for exactly that reason. There are also some pictures where I know, full well, I was acting to camera.

Managing expectations is an important part of any creative’s output: what can people expect from your work? What will become your signature styles and approaches? For me, the virtual world is so deeply ingrained into everything that to try and separate it from what I am has become impossible. Therefore, I’m going to stop trying, and focus instead on how my life is being changed and altered by its influence, so much for the better.

Knowing where you came from is essential in charting a path to any new destination.

Well Done

It is the best feeling in the world to obtain an unprompted compliment. Having had a couple in the last few weeks, I can tell you from personal experience to have someone care enough to come to you directly with feedback turns bad days into great ones. However, you have to be a realist. I’ve had my first piece of genuine negative feedback this week too, and if you’re not careful those kind of comments can put you back months.

Getting the balance right really matters. I know there are authors who don’t take kindly to being told what’s wrong with their work: it’s the equivalent of abusing someone because their Victoria Sponge is not decorated in the way other sponges should be. There is no right way to write, that’s the point. Sure, if you want a Booker Prize your icing and filling are gonna matter more, and probably need to look and taste a certain way. There’s clearly rules to follow.

However, for the rest of us, achievement is just ending up with a decent tasting cake.

Of course, none of this really matters if you get lucky enough to make a passable cake that someone of note really ends up taking a liking to. Most of us will bake a couple of cracking desserts in our lifetimes, but only the very lucky are emulated or considered as must-try formulas. I keep looking at the number of people who have rewritten Jane Austen for instance and wonder just how much money can you scrape from the romantic mismatch genre. The answer, of course, is rather a lot.

It also makes me laugh at how much original work I have churned out in the last year, most of which hasn’t been seen by anybody but me. In that regard, I am probably doing myself few favours by keeping the writing flowing. Maybe I should be going back to those pieces with more consideration and thought: can I build new recipes using these failed attempts? Quite possibly I can, and maybe the combination of seemingly disparate textures and flavours might produce a revelation.

At least I know now why I’m hungry all the time 😀

The next step in my journey is realigning myself with my work. There’s a lot written, sitting around me or on my hard drives, that needs to be considered in light of the events of the last couple of months. Now it is time to see what can be repurposed, what is disposed of, and crucially what can be done to minimise the amount of stress that submissions cause going forward. I think it is time to start preparing myself for self-publication.

After all, Christmas is not that far away.