Coming Around Again

“Who controls the past controls the future;
Who controls the present controls the past.”

George Orwell, 1984

A phenomenal amount of my life is spent writing: it has become the constant, therapeutic heart of existence. When it is difficult to explain something, or a subject invokes anxiousness or unhappiness, that’s a sure-fire sign that there’s a part of the past which has not been reconciled with the present. Most times that also means attacking the issue head on so that life can continue unabated. Except, for a long time, there’s been a period of the past which has been left alone for a very good reason. Last month, all that changed.

I’ve written about the precise moment that altered my outlook on Substack, but it’s not the whole story. There is so much complexity involved in this and the time period around it that, even fourteen years on, there are knots of emotional terror and uncertainty that are yet to be unpicked. So, it seems like the right time to do something about it. I’ve set up this mini-site with one intention: to allow myself the space and time to explain what happened around the period of my life in 2009 when I came close to committing suicide.

Warcraft was my life at that point: as a mother and wife, self-esteem was non-existent and there was depression unlike anything I have experienced since. What happened to change this was the belief that writing might yet give me a purpose, and it did. If it were also as simple as that, then this would not require an additional narrative, but there is a lot more at play. As the poetry is written about that time and what happened afterwards, there is already the beginnings of acceptance and closure.

When people were asked via social media what was the first thing they associated with Warcraft, friends and friendship was the top answer. It’s easy to forget sometimes just how many people there still are in my life who first found me via Azeroth (the home world on which the Warcraft factions, the Horde and the Alliance exist) and that countless people still live and play there. The reasons for my final departure have very little to do with the game itself, and a lot to do with the people who run the company. It does not mean those times are tarnished too, a fact that’s only just beginning to become apparent.

There are a lot of stories to be told, too: some of them reflect the early days of internet stalking and online abuse. Others document the terror of how online relationships can suddenly and unexpectedly go sour. These moments however are massively outweighed by generosity, camaraderie and sheer brilliance in both heart and spirit that were encountered across multiple virtual continents, in situations that still have the potential to make me cry unprompted, or laugh until there are tears of joy. It truly was the best and worst of times, and it is time to accept both for what they were.

In time, issues can begin to be reconciled, in a manner that makes me feel comfortable that the right road has finally been travelled.

This is a story of how a virtual world allowed one neurodivergent to live better in the real one.

The End

On Saturday morning I posted the last part of a ten-month-long opus to Twitter. A lot has changed since this began in March, most notably on Twitter. With the way things are heading, I won’t be posting any more original work on the platform again. The risks do not outweigh the rewards any longer. Still, it was a cracking experiment.

It seems a long time ago, too, and the idea did alter significantly as we went along: the key however was it was written daily. Therefore, if it were ever collated as a Thing, there’d need to be some significant editing along the way. However, that wasn’t the point. I’m here to push my own creative boundaries, and that’s what this did. Nobody uses social media as creatively as they can, with a very few exceptions. In 2023 the job here is to make sure I keep pushing the boundaries.

Innovation does appreciate a bunch of risk-taking.

If you enjoyed this adventure in storytelling?

Please buy me a Drink using Ko-Fi 😀


2023 is where I try and make a serious fist at building a digital audience away from social media. Looking at the state of Twitter in the past week, it’s not the place to do this on. So, we’re gonna try a new direction.

Welcome to the Substack Poetry Project.

The 2023 Substack Header: on a purple background of raised letters, the words 'No Gloss, No Veneer, No Filter' appear

If you are part of Ko-Fi, free paid access to all of this is provided as part of your package. For everybody else, there’s this link:


Paying £5 a month or £40 a year ( which is a 33% saving) which will get you the following:

  • Two posts a week, which will be based on current affairs, my brain space at any given time and may yet involve me being more open about my experiences as a digital creative. (If you pick the free option, there’s still one post a week you have access to, it’s just the extra stuff you’ll miss)
  • I’ll also write, discuss and then build a poetry collection EXCLUSIVELY for subscribers. No using stuff from submissions elsewhere or recycling old content. this is JUST FOR YOU. A mock-up of the cover can be found below. I’ll also illustrate the whole thing myself because, well, I can.
  • In December 2023 I’ll release a digital chapbook of the content exclusively for subscribers. It will not be sold ANYWHERE ELSE.
The cover of my 2023 digital chapbook, NOT A TOY. These words are seen on the screen of a Laptop, shown in close-up.

The Substack will also include exclusive access to video and audio. There will probably be a physical version too, and I can guarantee you’ll get a badge of some kind. You can blame my mate Darren for that new obsession. The plan is to finish off with 23 poems, give or take, by the beginning of December. It’ll be a lovely Christmas gift to look forward to.

You can also sub as a Founder, and if you do… I’ll provide you with all my work. That means Free, physical copies of EVERYTHING I MAKE going forward. No questions asked, I will be good to my word, promising 100% lack of grift. This tier will be extended to everybody who has supported me on Ko-Fi over the last few years.

If you choose to join as a Free Sub I will offer you discounts on individually generated, published work and anything I personally offer for sale via either Ko-Fi or the website.


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.


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:


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 
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.

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