Overload

I mentioned in passing on Monday that I’ve had an idea in my brain for a while that might work as a ‘proper’ collection of poetry: that is, a lot of pieces, which when strung together create their own, self-contained story. I’ve only worked with small numbers of poems previously, because the idea of anything over twenty at once quite frankly made me feel unwell.

However, a lot has changed in the last three months. Lockdown has been surprisingly kind to me in that regard, and whilst many are struggling to put anything worthwhile together, I really have thrived under the pressure. Therefore, not only is the idea for a massive opus no longer just that but exists (at least in two parts) on paper, but the theme that will hold it all together is clear: mental health.

I feel there is a great hole here, waiting to be filled.

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Nobody has experienced mental health difficulties in quite the way I have. It has created a unique mindset and outlook. Every word written is, like it or not, affected by that outlook: therefore if I can write a 70,000 word fanfic to a strict deadline I sure as fuck will make a poetry project come to life in the same timescale. What needs to happen is the setting for it all, and that’s already happening.

Putting the right foundations in place is the key, it is apparent already how that allows the business of words to correspond with ideas. There’ll also need to be a soundtrack too, and that’s being built on the newly-introduced daily walks around the block (note my block for this exercise is 4km long) as the rhythm of movement then corresponds to the business of lyrical suffrage. Trust me, that’s what it will be.

A great deal of suffering will take place for this art.

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Many things are aligning, and radar is pinging back new places to be, other positions to consider. Every time something positive takes place that too sets up reverberations in the ether, possibilities previously not considered. I like these ideas being sonar, sounds from nowhere pinging backwards and forwards until their target is located. It appeals to the science part of my brain.

Strap in guys, things are about to get surreal.

Give a Little Bit

The #SixFanfics project is going very well, with the last two decades of content scheduled to go to the polls tomorrow. I’ve had a massively productive day and caught up on a ton of outstanding stuff, and now it’s time to start contemplating where to be placing my attention going into the second half of the year. In an attempt to pick up more Patrons, I have again listened to feedback over appropriate stretch goals.

It’s been coming for a while, but today dawned the understanding I need a website to sell stuff on before I can start selling stuff. An account on Gumroad’s sat gathering dust for some months, and it is high time to start getting it ready for use. I’ll be programming time in June (can’t believe I just typed that) to start organising the levels of content we’ll need to accommodate a virtual poetry collection, plus physical output.

I’ve produced a number of unique commissions this year, for special occasions (a christening and two weddings, if I’m being honest) plus I made all my Christmas gifts this year as one-off, special poems for all my mates. This is a revenue stream that needs more promotion than is currently the case. Therefore, over the summer, there will be plenty of opportunity to make this all a reality.

WSE New

I had something rejected this week that was, in my mind, probably the best piece of poetry I’ve ever written. It was the final straw that has made brain grasp that if I want success, waiting for other people to notice me is not enough any more. It is time to make the noise and push buttons and generally become what I have always been afraid of: a better person. This me is more productive, more proactive and more capable of changing the world around me.

This me is about to make everything better.

Free Your Mind

Weekly poetry is BACK and frankly, I could not be happier 😀

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Creativity is an odd thing: you can decide to set time aside to write, or draw, or indeed do anything else but unless your brain decides to also turn up and take part? All the planning it the world is largely pointless. What works best for me, undoubtedly, is having certain tasks running as a permanent background hum. After a couple of years working out the kinks, this is now the most productive means of being… well, productive.

If I want fiction to work, fiction needs to run in the backgrounds (hence why FINALLY EX/WHI is back this week) and the same goes for poetry. These daily mental exercises, literary gymnastics in my head, make it easier and simpler to push other things front and centre. So, whilst the front of house poetry this month’s all about HOPE, round the back it’s all much darker and… frankly a bit angry.

There is the potential for an awful lot of ranting in the next few weeks if I’m not careful, so all these OMFG YOU’RE ALL IDIOTS first drafts need to be tempered down a bit. There’s also later on the potential to revisit some old works, the back catalogue is finally beginning to attain both breadth and depth. I’ve discovered today a local Open Mic night, so it might be worth an exploratory expedition to see how that works.

Reading in front of an audience is an extremely enjoyable fringe benefit of the poems, after all, and that gives me the opportunity to refine technique and content. How something sounds is probably more important than the words themselves, and I can read one word as another when performance happens, means by which more depth can be inserted than simply exists when written…

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These are exciting times ahead.

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.

Noises Off

So I promised a review of Thursday’s gig. I’m tempted to do it in rhyme, but my brain’s pretty much fried after the stress of last week, coupled with this week’s workload. So, in the absence of actual ability…?

Bullet points, go!

  • The Chalkwell venue is cracking, I hadn’t realised just how welcoming and conducive to performance it is. The acoustics are lovely (no mike needed) and so that was the first hurdle successfully overcome.
  • I got there ridiculously early so everything could be scoped out and walked around, thus assuaging my location anxiety (which is considerable) allowing brain and body to feel comfortable (which they then did.)
  • There was the chance to go first. I’ll always go first. Last is torture. Headline acts need to start early, and support can do the later shit. This needs to become a Thing.
  • One poem ( [Fifty]: /Two ) went down incredibly well. Randomly, people came and complimented me. This was a surprise my brain was not actually ready for. I’m still not over that joy.

Official pictures will appear later this week and when they do I’ll update the front page: needless to say I am VERY happy with how everything turned out. Time will be spent this weekend getting a Residency application sorted out. It is time to take my Internet Poetry Opus to the next level with some space and time: using the space as a means to plan the way forward.

I’m also reasonably confident this content is enough off the beaten track to be interesting as a pitch, with the work pretty much complete as is. What I’d like is the opportunity to perform it, with some audio visual accompaniment, and that will need space and time to plan and organise. Needless to say, it’s gotta be worth a try and if it fails, I’ll do it anyway.

This is, of course, how End of the Fear came into being in the first place.

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Needless to say I’m pretty excited about the fact that in 2019, I’ve performed my poetry live at three different venues. 

Who knows what 2020 will bring…

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.