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.

Unputdownable

This week, I have indulged myself in long-form narrative, and it has been smashing.

This writing project was originally NaNo, dumped in frustration because of a plot hole it was simply too hard for me to negotiate. The reason for that was very much tied up in trauma, it transpires, and I realised some inescapable truths coming out of the latest round of submissions: everything I’ve done with this project was to make deadlines or to assuage a desire within me that was never properly explored or explained. It’s no surprise therefore that this week, returning to it has become a revelation.

The Spotify soundtrack has really helped too, and after six years of mucking about, it looks as if starting tomorrow it will have a new direction. It becomes my vanity project, in effect, alternative to all the other stuff which now, like it or not, have become part of a work remit. That’s totally right and proper too, because without summat to look forward to or indulge in, everything else gets boring quite quickly.

Plus, let’s be fair, I’ve had enough of poetry for the time being.

However, it’s not been forgotten about, far from it. I announced today in Patreon that the cover above will be my first ‘proper’ pamphlet: Reboot 2 $hell is a project I’ve been working on, back and forth, for a couple of years, and is so niche that I realise now the only sure-fire means of doing it justice is to publish it myself. As yet, I’m not totally sure what form that will take, but can do nothing with the collection until I’ve created a layout.

So, there will be this secondary project running alongside the fiction for a couple of weeks, until I can create summat I’m happy with. There’ll be updates on progress, but I have ideas for some things that will personalise the project sufficiently. Needless to say now it’s been announced via Patron, I am obliged to make the imagined into summat real and tangible. That’s always a good motivator. This time however, there’s potential for making some cash along the way.

Let’s see if we can get a project like this off the ground without too much fuss.

EX/WHI :: Part 23

Previous Part :: Next Part


Arrival Plus One

The night before they won, she realised that nothing would ever be the same again.

Lying awake, Ami watches the man sleeping next to her on his own camp-bed with a mixture of disbelief and reassurance. He’s just as scared as I am, when all is said and done. At least now there’s no embarrassment or worry admitting that in public. Chris and her had talked for several hours after dinner was done, until their plates and uneaten food had vanished from in front of them. It had been taken as a prompt that their ‘captors’ wanted them in beds, a second one having been provided next to that which they’d both slept in previously.

She’d woken as was nearly always the case when her internal body clock hit 7am, to find that their world had been significantly reduced in size and depth: their note-taking space remained but new dividers had appeared: a single sofa and table, plus chairs were shifted against one wall, with what were clearly washing cubicles added opposite. It should worry her that nothing was constant any more but instead Ami’s brain is surprisingly willing to accommodate alteration.

Today is when we are to be tested. Chris had been surprisingly frank on her return from the bathroom: they were both now comfortable with the alien presences that had manifested within them, enough joint sanctity to be confident that this experiment, in whatever form, would be no different from a planned training operation. That meant at some point they’d be provided with equipment: as the thought manifests, so do two large wooden crates at the bottom of each bed.

Now she’s up, looking through what is being provided: fresh clothing and food, no new shoes or backpacks, so they’ll be expected to reuse what was provided yesterday. Chris is stirring and she takes it as a prompt, out of bed and into one of the two cubicles where towels hang next to a shower unit that switches on the moment she’s naked. There’s no need for temperature control either, water just pleasantly hot enough as to not be scalding but damn close, and Ami smiles to herself.

My captors have thought of everything.

There’s no fear either that her partner might take a leaf out of a fictional secret agent’s play-book and come join her: he might be built like 007, but Special Agent Chambers possesses considerably more respect for her than James Bond ever did for his partners.

He’s now also awake and showering…


Previous Part :: Next Part

 

Walk Away

I finished the last portion of my formal Mental Health Champion training at the end of January, but all of that ended up being overshadowed by RED January Fundraising for Mind. At the end of the month, exhaustion was real. It’s taken a week to get everything back to something approaching normal: during that time it became apparent that this year, I wasn’t really comfortable contributing publicly to Time to Talk Day.

That came as more relief than surprise, if truth be told.

thatsenough

The last couple of years this date in February has been marked by me trying to be honest about my own mental health journey. Last year however, a lot of the perceptions that personally existed around those feelings was quite significantly altered by counselling. It’s taken this long to really begin the process of unpacking all of the baggage that’s been trailing behind me, in some cases for my entire adult life.

I’d even planned to try and get out to support an actual, real-world event this week, but when it came down to the day something else came up. It too was mental health related, and I made a decision: this was the moment to do my talking elsewhere and not online. It’s a measure of how faith in my own ability has improved in the last twelve months that this was automatically the place that it made more sense to be.

It’s also cemented my desire to become a Mental Health First Aider.

mhfa_course

The course is not cheap and I suspect it will take me time to save, then it’s about finding the right time and location in which to take part. However, as I got so much from the MHF’s Mindfulness course when I first took it (you’ll find the details here) that it seems the logical extension from that initial process to pursue. It’s also a decent bet that my lived experience of mental health issues will become useful in training.

However, as a result of this revelation I have provided information to Mind which means that, at some point in the future, I may be called upon for interviews with the media. This might seem odd considering what has just taken place, but there is method in the madness. I am happy being interviewed, and a fair amount of front-facing public work will be taking place via the reading of poetry.

If I can read poetry to an audience, I can talk about mental health to others.

arrival_gif

The difference, I now realise, about contributing this year was literal exhaustion. I need to be both physically and mentally awake to do the job justice. Yet again, all of this is a bigger process, learning and expanding my remits across multiple spheres. As confidence and ability increase, so does the capacity to do good and help wherever the need arises. I like this new me, so much better than the person I was before.

There is new purpose I fully intend to learn from going forward.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World

As we established on Monday, my novel for November’s now finalised. The next step, as also committed to, is a written copy of the basic plot from beginning to end. I’ve been mentally getting this particular house in order during School Runs this week with my Spotify soundtrack, which has existed in several forms for a fair few years now. I realise already there are some gaps in action that need filling.

However, I can’t do that without the right pieces of music to help.

Music is immensely important to my creative processes: I can’t emphasise enough how much the right song will create vivid, compelling pictures in my head which I can then transcribe to the page. It doesn’t have to be classical either: this WiP has some unexpected pieces of modern music buried within… except I’m imagining them reinvented as folk songs, played on instruments from another time.

This musical accompaniment is perfect for my alternate historical setting, and it gives a special haunting quality to some key scenes. It’s also making me realise what an absolute godsend YouTube is for any writer looking to find the right atmospheric background for their endeavours. Now, if I could only find someone doing Prodigy songs on this instrument, I’d be golden… ^^

It’s likely the narrative’s gonna be done before the weekend, so that the missing pieces can be successfully filled whilst the most free time is available. Friday night therefore will be spent with headphones on and Spotify on my tablet, attempting to map the progress of what, I realise with some horror, will be the first of at least a two book series. There really is too much here to shove into one decent sized novel…

That’s a worry for another day.

Beautiful Dreamer

Seven days into the October #FaithIoW project, things are going pretty well.

Day 7 __ Dependence.png

The biggest single challenge currently remains the photography side of things, especially as there’s a phenomenal amount of Real Life still going on post my husband’s operation. However, content is planned for the whole of this week, which is a distinct improvement on where things were when this journey began. Therefore, I’ll take this as a success, even if the speed of other organisation isn’t going as I’d wish.

This week will see a couple of abortive projects resurrected, and some important groundwork for the beginning of November.

ternary

The NaNoWriMo site has finally undergone an upgrade: although not technically perfect, I can now organise my work for next month already. We’ll talk more about Ternary in the coming weeks, but I have high hopes for this project. It also provides a much-needed alternative to poetry, which is going to get a lot of love to meet some important late October deadlines.

There’s also going to be a return to the normal business of daily poetry, short stories and YouTube playlists: I have a story to finish from August too, and am working out the best way to do this along with the abortive playlists that were never finished when I got sick. The most sensible idea, it occurs to me, is to just carry on where I left off… I wonder, is that feasible…?

Only one way to find out, I suppose…

Surprise, Surprise

Yesterday, at about 10.45pm, I recorded my first poem. Well, that’s not strictly true: a lovely BBC Sound engineer in Manchester did it for me. 

At NO POINT in my planning was there provision to get anything other than a mention in passing for this project. It wasn’t about recognition, after all, just to give back to my home town, which I’ve now done with some style. To talk to one of the Project founders, and a poet in residence, was a brilliantly unexpected bonus. It took that Guardian mention and knocked it out of sight. I’m gonna be thanking these people in dispatches for quite some time to come.

EVERYTHING that’s changed my course this year has come from a willingness to be vulnerable, to place mind and body in situations that were previously frightening. The knock on effects from this are only beginning to register, but in last night’s recording I can hear my own fear, nervousness in voice that comes from being exposed to an audience. In time, I’ll get my head around it. It will get better with practice.

All these things will improve with practice.

Here’s the poem I read on the show.


Two Tree Island ::
Bleak, Hoarse

Golden hour,
I came here to begin
next chapter’s transformation

remade through other’s imagery,
inspired
earth to sky,
brown
to gold
adheres, presenting unexpectedly

grubby printed brilliance, webbed feet
pointing path, open silt bar
my usual; steaming,
anticipated
epiphany of
self abstained, regained.

I asked for a sign;
you gave
graffiti covered
rubberised playgrounds
broken boats
peeling
saint’s
names

Pier’s glorious insertion, failures forgotten
thousand harsh rejections sail away
masts of possibility remain,
renewed
mirrored sunrise
into grateful eyes.

Bleak, hoarse failure recedes
to seeds,
green runway, as above, first plane

softens

mumbling to trains.


I really hope this isn’t the last time I read a poem on national radio. This is a pretty high benchmark to exceed.

I do so love a challenge.

Find Time

It is high time for an update on the Project Du Jour, I feel.

The first poetry has already been pinned on the Places of Poetry site.

Watching poems appear on their site has been possibly the most satisfied I have ever felt about anything ever made. Public access projects are a rarity in the modern world: you’re not making any money, after all, so what’s the point in taking part? For me, it is exactly that which made this project so appealing. Nobody else gets to judge my work, it is simply accepted on merit regardless, will exist virtually as testament to my town.

IMG_20190513_092351.jpg

That allows a freedom of expression that is often lacking in other places: no need to write ‘a certain way’ or to conform to a particular (or popular) poetic style. My voice is allowed unhindered freedom of expression, and that in it self is a joyous, liberating experience. It means being able to express feelings that previously had no way of effectively releasing themselves from my brain.

If I’m totally honest with myself, that’s the best part of all about this entire project.

dav

I am still on target for a Wednesday finish: all poems will be ‘pinned’ by Monday night, and then it’s just up to me to do the back-end work as a follow up. After that, you can absolutely bet there will be a celebratory glass of summat raised at a project that’s fundamentally altered my relationship with poetry for good.

Somebody To Love

Starting on the 13th, the Mental Health Foundation is launching a week’s worth of posts around the topic of Body Image, and why it remains a serious mental health issue. Eating disorders, body dysmorphia, social media pressures and online abuse are rarely out of the news of late, and with increasing numbers of people refusing to be shamed or ashamed by the way they look, it seems the right time to be talking about these issues on a wider stage.

Inside.png

I’ll be contributing two special blogs next week: one on my own issues with body image and the fight to stop being obsessed with my weight, and some reflections on how age has altered how I feel not only about my looks, but how I present myself to the world. There will also be a special set of poems this week at 9am and 5pm, both under the #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek umbrella.

Outside

You can also join me in wearing a Green Ribbon during the next week as a means of showing your support for the initiative and those who require the vital help and support the Mental Health Foundation provide.

Purchase your Green Ribbon here.