Hard Rain

A very intelligent and decent poet and facilitator wrote a blog a while back about progress and success. It shouldn’t matter that everybody else is being published, and you’re not. It really shouldn’t, except it does. Like it or not, the entire fabric of the literary ethos is constructed around what other people consider successful, whatever the fuck that actually means. To move forward, to be seen as capable, talking about when you’ll be published is no longer enough. It has to happen.

Many people pick the route of least resistance and publish themselves, and to be honest, it remains the best way to make money. There’s nobody else to pay but you and the printer… but the scope can be small, and the results can feel variable. When all is said and done, having other people tell you that you’re amazing and yes, could they publish your work because they think you have the potential to make everybody’s lives richer is… yeah, it’s a Thing.

This Summer, I realized how many other people needed to know I could do this. It’s also a Thing for family, your friends, your peers… when they see you working your arse off, submitting and continually failing… the assumption is that you are clearly not there yet. You need more practice, or the right place to settle your work. With time, writers begin to get the sense that even with everything else in place, the best ideas and the strongest output… it’s never just the words that matter. It’s you, too.

I have been massively lucky in the last eighteen months, but have also worked extraordinarily hard to put myself in spaces that previously were not available. COVID granted an unexpected boost : suddenly, travel to literally anywhere was possible using a computer. Instead of just doing the work, a great many extra virtual miles were walked and a tonne of extra online effort was inserted into everything that was presented. In the end, it was patience that was the missing piece of my puzzle.

It was all about waiting for the right moment. Two mutuals who I hugely respect decided to start their own Small Press in the Summer. They granted me a twenty-minute headline slot in a virtual event back in April. Then, when they saw me perform at their return to in person events in Brighton, I was asked if I’d publish with them. They couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been snapped up by anyone else. It transpires I do my best work behind a microphone and not on a page. Who knew?

I was first published in December 2018. Four years later, my inaugural poetry pamphlet will be published on November 30th. Many people have achieved more in less time, and many others have never managed so much this quickly. Success, it must be said, is very much a relative endeavour. I have a phenomenal number of people to thank for helping me here as well. I remember you all by sight, even if I end up forgetting most of your names. You are all absolutely smashing.

Flammable Solid is the next chapter of a journey I really hope never ends. I have never been more proud of myself or what is being produced at present. There has been so many compliments, so many brilliant people who have bolstered an often fractured sense of worth and ability and it is to them I look to now with grateful and bountiful thanks. Your compliments are more important than either progress or success. You have given me a value I never thought I’d ever own.

THANK YOU ALL.

PS: I did a different version of this on Twitter that actually thanks people. It starts here:

National Poetry Day: ɛvəluːʃ(ə)n

It’s that time of year again. Due to literally not having had the time to prep for either this or World Mental Health Day on the 10th (for reasons that will soon be apparent) I’ve had to be a bit sneaky this time around, and I am hitting Social media at the two most busy times for me: 9am and 5pm, with these blogs filling the spaces in between. This is the second poem: ɛvəluːʃ(ə)n

Here it is for those of you who like your poems not in graphic form:


ɛvəluːʃ(ə)n

consider this a fitting end
to each selfish       bastard

the code   which humanity
was never meant to cypher

humans once               lived here
extinct now                  no longer

a blip    the errant bug   this line
coldly remembered      as strata

I didn’t realize that strata was a plural form until I wrote this poem (a single layer of rock is called a stratum) and this then caused a bit of frantic, eleventh hour editing. If you can find people willing to look over your work, these are the friends you want to keep forever. As I also mentioned in the previous blog, this piece also echoes another piece of work written this year. We are only tourists on this planet, and it is very obvious that the holiday period is now coming to an end.

The more I write environmental work, the more I am drawn to doing the forms justice. I entered for the Gingo Prize but didn’t make it past the first stage: I’m hoping that in time there might be a longlist appearance. I think I’d take that as significant progress. Writing commercial work is very difficult for me, especially when it is about such important subjects. The more I practice, inevitably, the better I will get at the final result. I’m very proud of both these pieces.

If you enjoy this poem, please consider buying me a cuppa on Ko-fi.

National Poetry Day: The War on Trees

It’s that time of year again. Due to literally not having had the time to prep for either this or World Mental Health Day on the 10th (for reasons that will soon be apparent) I’ve had to be a bit sneaky this time around, and I am hitting Social media at the two most busy times for me: 9am and 5pm, with these blogs filling the spaces in between. This is the first poem: The War on Trees.

Here it is for those of you who like your poems not in graphic form:


The War on Trees

 This summer was a killer
behind beauty, lingers terror;
I'm not strong enough 
to
survive another.

 You see
nothing, I'm constant, craving
for rain, respect, the hands
that once celebrated grain

 now instead are tempted
by a wheel, the coin, nothing
at all.

 Our roots are failing, the
landscape, burning

 my name, becomes my fate.

There’s an actual, interesting story for this poem, too: the first two lines occurred to me as I was driving in heavy, rush hour traffic on a dual carriageway and unable to stop. Panicking slightly, I phoned home, knowing nobody was there, before leaving myself an answering machine message. I invented the distance dictation device, and really have to hope that’s not the first time a writer has panicked and done the exact same thing.

This year’s been a significant one for me in terms of environmental work, having plucked up the courage to submit a science-fiction based concept to a major concept. There are echoes of it in the second poem: this one is the constant reminder to myself that we know so little about trees, and we are treating them, as we are all nature at present, with little or no real care. I think many of my favourite spaces are close to being decimated by the changes in climate. I really hope that I am wrong.

If you enjoy this poem, please consider buying me a cuppa on Ko-fi.

Why I Write // Origins

If you have the time, and go far enough back into this blog to find the fan fiction and the early stabs at poetry, you’ll see that there were a series of blogs in the mid to late 2010s about what inspired me to write. With NaNoWriMo coming up, this will (potentially) be my twelfth year of writing a novel from scratch… except, of course, I’ve only ever managed to properly finish one narrative. No, that’s not true, there is another, currently about to come to an end on Ko-Fi, and when it does, I’ll need something to replace it.

This has set me thinking today about what I do this year, and why the long form is so hard for me, and a lot of this has had to do with my general inability to stay focussed on the long game. It’s why poetry is so attractive as an alternative too: stories told in 16 lines or 50k words… which would be more possible for me on any given day? As success comes with the poems, I find myself wanting to go back and revisit these old stories, and do more of them justice. The problem is knowing where to start.

I’ve given myself a week to make some decisions. Once that’s done, we’ll make a realistic plan, considering my current ‘professional’ workload. I have, in the background, been tinkering with a rewrite of the first piece of 007 Fanfic I wrote, Duet (on the site if you can find it :D) which has given me a bit of hope that going heavier into my own narratives could be doable. The biggest single issue remains self-belief, but the fact remains I now need a space filled in the Ko-Fi schedules. It has to come from somewhere.

Maybe this is the moment when I do something genuinely frightening with words again.

Video Output: Golden Mile

For the last couple of months there’s been a project on that I’ve not talked about that much, because it has taken most of my ability and brainpower to ensure it gets made. Now that a routine has been established, it’s time to relax a bit and step back. Welcome to the World of Me, finally establishing myself as a YouTube Creative.

I’d played around with poetry for a while using imagery: this included a couple of poems for Dreich TV, which have yet to see the proper light of day but are likely to do so as one-off specials over the Summer. Everything is currently available on YouTube, and the plan going forward is to use more of my back catalogue, where items have appeared in anthologies or elsewhere, as a basis to create new canvases. There’s a lot to work from now, which is lovely.

Therefore, we’ll be double-teaming online hashtag prompts and video on the site across the summer… but August is also the Sealey Challenge, which asks people to read a poetry book a day. I have a lot of work to pile through and am already planning the read list… it will be a pleasant change from worrying about my own output!

We’ll also do some blogging on this next month too. See you there 😀

The Craft: Output

For the last six months, I have been trying to use software as a means by which I can keep track of my poetry submissions. It all fell apart last month when I realized it was harder work to keep tabs on everything electronically when I’m sad my work just got rejected via email. It’s a solid approach, though: many people do this with spreadsheets or on paper. As a result, I have decided that instead of tech, I need to go back to basics. Therefore, after some poking around stationary websites, we have an answer.

Back to the Old Ways we go…

Yup, it’s time to write everything on index cards. As I’m not sure if this is gonna work, it was the plan initially to get stuff that’s recyclable. If it does work, Ideally, I’d love to get some old style wooden storage boxes instead, but let’s see if we can stick to the game plan first. I’ll be starting the process of reorganizing everything next week. I’ve managed to break everything down into manageable groups this time, and then it is just about keeping the system current. It matters because I have quite a bit of work now.

It also means I need to begin categorizing my work more precisely, which in itself was half the reason why I failed to keep everything up to date previously. After all, you never know when someone might turn up and want to publish my work… 😛

Progress and Process

Despite feeling decidedly sub-par over the last few days, a lot has been achieved. The personal branding on social media has undergone what will be an (approximately) monthly change, and we’re ready to move into the next phase of 2022 Will be Awesome (Honest). If you’ve not read last weekend’s post on what to expect, you can find it here, but that just covers my personal plans. There are some other things happening too.

February 3rd is Time to Talk Day. This year, the event’s moved out of the hands of Time to Change, who no longer exist as an entity. However, the legacy they left behind, thanks to hundreds of groups of Mental Health Champions, is very much alive and well. I’m working this year with a group in York, and my A-Z of Personal Poetry will be all over Twitter, Instagram and Facebook on Thursday. There’s a secret page here too, if you can find it before the event, where the selected poems have been recorded as audio…

There’s only eight poems featured here, but the full set of 26 will, once we’re done next week, be put together and made into a lovely pamphlet which I’ll stick up on the Amazons, after which every copy that’s sold will have a portion of profit sent straight back to YES (York Ending Stigma) I’m immensely pleased and proud to be able to help the organization this year, and hope to keep supporting them and their ideals in years to come.

I hope you’ll consider starting your own conversation next week, or perhaps take the time to make your own personalized A-Z of mental health priorities.

More of the Same

I’ve not done an actual update here for a while, and therefore it seems like the right moment to bring people up to speed, as November is going to be a busy month for me in many ways.

In the next four weeks, you’ll see me in two new online spaces: I’ll announce them both formally when they happen, but I’m very pleased about both. Having performed at the Gloucester Poetry Festival last week on an Open Mic I have another event next week, plus a Flight of the Dragonfly appearance on Tuesday. It’s all part of the daily process of improvement and growth, and I’m enjoying it greatly.

This year I’m also spending the entirety of November doing NaNoWriMo and attempting to encourage new people to support my writing efforts via Ko-Fi. So, you can expect to see a bit more of me around here than has been the case of late too… and if I’m not here you can guarantee I’ll be in the Gym 😀

I look forward to an exciting and enriching time all round.

Beautiful Day

Everybody I know is glued to CNN. Suddenly all proper work seems to have stopped mattering, except before we started here two events were booked on Zoom to attend next week, both to help me focus on creative practice and work out WTF I do about making money going forward. The second one, let’s be honest, is the one that matters most and I will be taking copious notes. It isn’t just about throwing stuff out and hoping someone cares any more.

NaNo has reminded me that I am a very capable fiction writer, who can create a compelling narrative with drama and human interest, and maybe once this is done that Amazon publishing account needs to be used more than it has been of late. There will be a poetry book in the next few weeks, sure, but maybe some of my other work deserves a platform too. A growing body of quality output grants potentially more ways to bring in some cash.

The video projects are also the gifts that keeps on giving, and hopefully if I keep chipping away at things, we might have a realistic chance at making that successful too. It requires me to be ruthless as well as artistic, which is a combination that is already providing some fascinating results. This weekend I launch a weekly VLOG on the YouTube Channel. It will be interesting to see how people respond to this and whether there is any traction in ‘educational’ content.

Watch this Space.

First Steps

I’m having some quite serious issues with not only publishing my work via social media, but getting that social media to inform me what is being seen. It could almost be considered part of a larger malaise where blogs generally are only of interest if you’re selling something, won a Thing or are posting cute pictures of animals. Obtaining and holding people’s interest is a tough ask right now. It makes me wonder where I should be going next.

Those thoughts have filled my head this week, and we have a plan for the exercise and personal parts of my life, but not yet for the professional. Things that were expected to happen this week haven’t and so there’s been a decision to put off making any more changes to that side of things until I’ve cleared my backlog of work, which will happen by the end of next week. After that, reassessment happens.

It’ll be quiet here until then, with a lot of background gubbins going on regardless.

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