Get the Balance Right

Coming back home from Somerset, my mind began to formulate a plan about what happens here after the poetry project is done. I’ve purchased a new planner, will print out some month to view calendars shortly for the three months to September, when the three major projects I want to work on all have deadlines. One is going to be a re-write, another the completion of a project I’ve been trying to finish for months, the third an original piece already in progress.

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This time, instead of killing myself trying to do everything new, it makes real sense to reinvent existing pieces in a new way. How that happens doesn’t really matter that much at this stage, just that this is the way things will work, so that planning can be instigated well ahead of time. Both July and August are quite busy for me personally, so this will be essential work to ensure everything gets finished on time.

The clarity of thought over this progression is considerable too: no worries there won’t be time, or that the final results will not be of sufficient. On top of this then can be laid other awards or submissions that could be achieved with the existing portfolio of work: breaking myself up into three month lumps is perfect means by which all this stuff will be properly organised. The space on my wall’s already set.

Let’s do this.

Feeling Groovy

The hard work is now done: 24 poems are ‘completed’ for my Places of Poetry #EndOfTheFear project. There will now be a much needed period of Not Thinking About Poetry At All before I begin the last pass edit/polish process. During that time the online portion of affairs will be organised, in anticipation of uploading the pieces to the ‘official’ website. Without getting too smug, I’m incredibly pleased with what’s been produced.

End of the Fear #1

When the idea first germinated, I had no idea of how much personally I’d be affected not just by subject matter, but the places themselves. Nearly all of these poems have been in part written at the places they’re matched with, and doing so ‘in situ’ has quite fundamentally altered the process of how I approach writing. My writing style is also significantly different now to the way it was when this journey began.

The plan remains that not only will I offer some history behind each of the chosen locations on my own website, but a peek into the creative motivations of each piece, so won’t go into too much detail here as a result. Needless to say the most satisfying poems undoubtedly come from those areas where my mental and physical interests connect most strongly.

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Most satisfying of all however has been the photography process, which has netted over 500 pictures of the borough, a useful and satisfying pool of visual accompaniment. It’s made me realise that perhaps, the most important part of process involves doing stuff that makes me happy. If one change is made to daily life as a result of all this it will be to find hobbies that keep that sense of satisfaction alive, and that’s already being worked on.

There’ll be no blog on Wednesday this week, as I’m off to the West Country for a funeral, but we’ll be back on Friday with some early details of what the website portion of proceedings will look like when the Project is complete.

I’ll see you then.

Summer Breeze

We interrupt the process of editing and website development with a brief post to state that yes, everything is still on schedule, despite the fact I’ll need to be in Somerset next week for two days for my mother in law’s funeral. The plan remains that the first of the poetry will go up on the Places of Poetry site starting the 17th and unless summat really unexpected takes place, that is where we are heading.

Needless to say, the next four days will be full of hard work. I’ll report in on Monday when I’m done.

You’re So Vain

In the last couple of months, it has become increasingly apparent that what I enjoy in poetry is not what many people consider poetic. Certainly, looking at stuff that’s been submitted for deadlines versus what from others has made the cut into publications, there’s a gulf of perception and creativity that needs to be vaulted in order to break into particular market sectors. I’m simply not esoteric enough.

The problem, a lot of the time, is rhyming.

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The more that is read, the harder it becomes to understand what is presented. I see  narrative threads with clever metaphor, but cannot feel as everybody else. Much of this verse presents as completely different to what is believed as natural, which is to rhyme when occasion demands. Perhaps it is because of a love of music, a demand for lyrical synergy, which pushes me away from the nature of this ‘poetry.’

It is more likely that personal path to enlightenment has not yet been fully discovered.

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There are flashes appearing, slow evolution of stiff verse into more fluid forms, but it is taking time. This is development that can’t be forced either, needs to feel right and free. It helps that the more that is rejected, the easier it becomes to grasp there’s actual understanding and progress. Eventually I’ll get there, but there’s an increasing realisation that most of the work produced at this point needs to be shelved.

It may yet be that there’s more merit in finding the means to produce esoteric as a lead in to my own style, or simply that this journey could produce something completely different as a consistent final product. Either way, evolution is hard work. A remarkable amount of heart and soul gets thrown into every piece. Just as long as I keep writing, eventually, there will be a moment of progression.

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Nobody said any of this was ever going to be easy.

Life on Mars

I am already thinking ahead to what happens after End of the Fear. Some people might suggest finishing summat before starting summat else, but I am not them. My mind, on any given day, has the capacity to generate all manner of new and potentially interesting content. The problem, to this point, has been how all of that is filtered and then disseminated. Not any more.

June’s a bit of a line in the sand: a couple of major publications begin their Awards cycles, whilst others come to an end. I expect a lot of poetic material to become effectively recyclable at that point: first dribs and drabs are beginning to arrive. Some work is already written specifically for entry, what needs to take place once poetry project’s done is a sensible, organised re-arrangement of everything that I have, and where it could be relevant.

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Planning ahead has granted vital wriggle room for the longer-form works, and I fully intend to finally put time aside to make at least one novel-length work worthy of submission. I’ve made a choice, and based on my development in literary skills, hope it is possible to create summat that’s saleable but still retains the essential essence of what I am. That’s the biggest issue I’ve had since this all began.

I appreciate that my ‘voice’ still needs a phenomenal amount of work: the poem I won a contest with back in December was, in essence, an ‘ape’ of an original work. My ability to parody has always been pretty solid, but I’m as yet to find success with my own voice. It’s not really existed until now, if truth be told. Sure, the stuff that has come before has a resonance in me, but freeing mind via counselling really is altering both pitch and tone.

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However, I’d be lying if I didn’t say how much fun it is learning new stuff pretty much every day, that my mind is a completely different place than it was at the start of the year. That’s never going to rewarded by a magazine, or acknowledged with a cash prize. I get to keep all the credit, and long may that feeling continue. These are days of miracles and wonder, and I am loving every single one.

Come Together

I am running behind this week, or at least that was the case until today. Thanks to my subconscious, which has provided some quite memorable moments during the last few days, I have a completely formed romantic comedy in my head. It’s a really pleasant change from the normal fare of poetry and responsibility, and tells me that maybe, possibly, the brain is adapting to my change in mental circumstances.

There is always a small, inherent fear that when taking on a large scale project you’ll simply not possess the mental fortitude to complete it. Once upon a time that was most definitely true: this morning I went back five years and deleted the remains of the last project I’d tried to complete on this kind of scale and failed. The mental fallout from that project still haunts me on bad days.

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I managed to gain a stalker as a result of that series of events, someone who refused to leave me alone and went to increasingly frightening ends to make his displeasure of me obvious and very public. Once upon a time I thought it was useful to keep those memories and moments in my thoughts, reminder of what happens when you fail. Except, now I understand this does nothing but damage current ability to be creative.

Slowly but surely, ghosts from my past are being exorcised. It’s neither pleasant or pain free, but what is becoming apparent from the process is exactly how resilient I am capable of being, and that the work being produced is good, really good. Everything changed when it stopped being about keeping other people happy, and the realisation dawned that doing stuff for myself mattered far, far more.

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The slow, steady path to self-sufficiency and enlightenment continues apace. It’s not just poetry this week, but short stories and microfiction. Every new thing I try shifts things in a different direction, gradually expanding my skills. Confidence breeds more experimentation, less fear and a continuing desire to try more things, attempt better projects, produce the best work I can.

I’m never, ever going back to being the person I used to be.

Poetry Archive :: Outside

Here’s the second of two specially-written pieces for #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek: as discussed last Monday, body image is a big deal for me and is something I’ve struggled with for decades. Now, however, it is not nearly as problematic as was once this case.

I suppose, as a result, you could also consider this piece as autobiographical.


Outside

Presentation, count
ways to look better: measure
perception, result.

Camera’s a lie,
pointless deception: smoothing
flaws into focus.

Step away, redress
internal balance; preserve
personal conscience.

What’s possessed within
far more vital: true beauty
growing from within.

Outside, realised
transformation: evolving,
solid impression.