Magnificent (She Says)

I have finished my impromptu project: I need to talk about why it needed to be written now.

You see, NOW is when I do my best work. It’s not perfect, by any means, but it is beginning to become apparent that if I want to have an immediacy and vitality to what is being produced, miring myself down in self-doubt is what is ruining a lot of current output. It stops sounding like me, because There’s this obsession that to be successful, I ought to sound like other people. Confidence is the biggest single issue here, to be able to produce quality amongst quantity.

I’m also not the kind of person who can wander around for months and just wait for the right things to emerge. Patience isn’t an obstacle to progress either: this has become like learning to be a better cyclist or a more competent weightlifter. A daily practice is required, constant testing of spaces around me to see if they are more or less capable of supporting progression. I’ve spent a quite painful couple of months mired in emotion. This collection marks the transition from that space, into a new one.

There’s still a bit of emotional baggage to drop, it must be said, but without doubt there is more optimism for this group of poems than has ever existed before. To capitalise on that means a focussed effort towards change, growth and expansion. It also demanded a rearrangement of my priorities without the world collapsing as a result, and (mostly) that has taken place. I’m a bit behind, but nowhere near as far behind as when this last happened.

Everything is slowly becoming clear. That’s the end result in all of this: having a sense of evolution in a manner that allows further writing to develop without the need for everything to fracture. I’ll be editing this at leisure, and then we’ll send it to the place that inspired its creation.

This is a VERY good day as a result.

August Short Story: Happy Hour

This story was first serialised in 31 daily parts during August 2020 via the @MoveablePress and @InternetofWords Twitter feeds [9am and 5pm GMT respectively.] It is now reproduced in a complete form, a number of small edits and corrections made to improve narrative flow and maintain correct continuity.

It also forms the basis of a larger, flash fiction (250 words) based narrative under the umbrella title of ‘The Nexus Bar and Grill’ which is available to read and enjoy for $15 a month (plus a ton of other content) on my Patreon.

Click here to become a Patron.


Happy Hour

Prophet Red Amis, adjunct of Chan, First of the Ears of Foundation, now grasps a place in the Universe.

During day three in the asteroid belt, between too much alcohol and far too little sleep, for the first time more than just their thoughts can be heard in the womxn’s brain. Amis isn’t sure at first, wonders perhaps this could be more interference on the container’s comlink: it wouldn’t be the first time since they left Moon orbit, except that’s crew commands, machine chatter. This is music, unlike anything they’ve heard; sad, yet achingly beautiful.

Within the flowing progressions, without doubt, are words: sudden panic sets in, need to write communication down before it’s forgotten. The basic Container Plus cabin deal is BBS: bed, bathroom, screen. It is a good thing all Firsts are taught Lateral Thinking during training. The Prophet wouldn’t be here in the first place had they not exhibited exemplary skills during their final year of Psychic Attunement. With no idea of how much more might yet be revealed, or what revelations subsequently could emerge, this impromptu space must be used with care.

Looking down to their right index finger, a spot of blood appears on command.

Let First Words be drawn; Mind will record, message from history that contains everything.

‘their Past reminds
no action fixed
take Present tense
control, defined
Future is ours
all in good time…’


There are rules here, just like anywhere else. Be respectful and polite; no Swipe no Drink, Jukebox Ver. 3.5 is all we have. Please stop asking ‘why not a karaoke upgrade?’ The United Space Agencies never considered catering or entertainment as priorities and probably never will. This ship is not a luxury liner, it’s a scheduled transport, so expecting waiter service or me to come bring breakfast to your cabin ain’t happening. Once this trip took seven months, now it’s six weeks, because two thirds of this bucket is matter engines, and we’re just screwed on the front.

You can do Earth to Mars in 42 days on the Mankind’s Optimism, so why would anybody want to live in a converted container for that long? They do though, without fail. Sixteen fools shoved into cargo space. I’d never wanna be that close to the engines. That’s why I sleep in here. Between freezer and grill’s been home now for almost a decade: not gonna lie, it’s the best job ever. Pay’s going straight into Mineral Bonds: four trips from now I get to retire, for good. I’m going back to the Moon, home to the dark side. There’s a poetry in that I appreciate.

Not the Sith, Syd Barrett: quintessentially English singer, songwriter, musician who co-founded the rock band Pink Floyd in 1965. I was born exactly 100 years after the band was formed, in the place they made musically their own. I know he left them before that album was made… Don’t start with me about music trivia, because not only will I own your ass, but set fire to it before ejecting the ashes into space. Welcome to the Nexus Bar and Grill: I am your host, sous chef, fry cook and the only guy on board who knows all the porn channel access codes.

NOBODY is having sex on this bucket, of that you can be absolutely assured: everybody has personal VR however, so this is the currency that really matters. Except today, maybe there is more to consume these 46 claustrophobic minds than just trivia quizzes and personal pleasure… Today is different. Can’t tell you why, no means to describe it: start with the best night’s sleep I’ve had for dunno how long, maybe since a bed on a planet and not this hammock in space. Everything seems… brighter, cleaner. That’s actually a thing, especially here – I’m late.

05:45 ship time: technically I gotta open for business in fifteen, except nobody’s awake until at least 08:00. Except, today there he sits, surly, outside the glass, staring at a space where I’ll stand to start warming up the grills. It’s only an illusion, but still. He’s creepy.

Today, he can sit: I’m gonna watch him for a change.


This is an odd man, undoubtedly, and I’d wager he’s gaining particular pleasure trying to unsettle me. In all my years as an OffWorld Process Server this has to be the most convoluted subpoena process I’ve ever instigated. It’s also fair to say my client is one of the most obnoxiously horrendous individuals I have ever met. What motivates me, right now, is the effectively free round trip to and from the Red Planet, plus a pay cheque that will cancel every outstanding debt I’ve accrued in 35 years.

He believes I’m male, they all do, because no womxn would be stupid enough to do this. You’d think in this day and age people would grasp that there’s more to humanity’s continuing future than dicks and holes, but nope, evolution still has quite a long way to go in that regard. As I sit here, waiting to alter this cook’s future forever, not for the first time does it all feel like a massive waste. When I’m debt free, what then? There’s no plan, never has been. I am, and remain, without a purpose. The thread of motivation is close to breaking for good.

If I were a religious person, would this be easier?


Any perfect storm, when it arrives, is never expected. Universal chaos sees to that, part of the game plan only when you grasp enough of the rules to see beyond your own personal gravity. Humanity’s problem is perception. All these separate, disparate existences, waiting for some undefinable cosmic magic to weave around them, drawing consequences to results, potentials from outcomes. A long time ago a human being speculated how such threads in cosmic chaos might be predicted, and was right, but…

…only to the point where mankind was somehow the most important factor to consider. That’s where Isaac Asimov was wrong. If Humanity were the only intelligent life that existed in the Universe, his theories might have held more credence. They are not alone, just as yet unaware. Those who understand that time’s linear nature is the most dangerous restriction ever placed in a human mind, also grasp that assuming you are the most morally superior intelligence because there’s never been anything else as comparison will undoubtedly present consequences.

When the arrogant look back on their First Contact experience, in centuries to come, history will, as it always does, conveniently forget their contribution. Those of us able to look both back and forward grasp the significance of painting a bigger picture, with broader strokes. Except if Humanity is ever truly to evolve past its inescapable ego, it is a moment for those individual’s outlooks to be presented, challenged and summarily reinvented. Our job here is simple: provide the tools, step back, and see if the semi ape-descendants can bring the goods.

It’s all we’ve ever done since the dawn of this Universe.

Let’s just not talk about how we broke the last one and had to start again, okay?


Prophet Red Amis, adjunct of Chan, First of the Ears of Foundation, regains consciousness and takes a moment to grasp what happened.

This ship is no longer moving. Rapid deceleration normally indicates engine failure, yet if that were true there’d be alarms, compartments sealing automatically, panic. None of these currently exist. The Prophet is aware everyone else is unconscious except two unaffected minds. A male cook, plus the asexual courier remain unaware of what is transpiring around them. Nothing in their worlds has altered, not one iota, yet the Prophet understands, only too well, absolutely everything else has. Then there is that third presence, directly outside their cabin.

As old as the Universe, and that which had come before, ancient energy regards Red Amis with increasing interest. This arrival, overheard by accident, significance of moment already grasped; suddenly removed from linear time, womxn resisted command sent to everyone else to sleep.

You are aware of my energy, not afraid of its origin

“You are a prophecy I have grasped since childhood.”

Red Amis speaks to the space where before was nothing and now exists… motion, fractal expansion, molecules that hold no human form yet are undoubtedly human in origin… before blissfully for a second, two entities become the same, one space for the same atoms, seamlessly overlapping before suddenly, the presence has vanished.

Then, all the womxn can do is laugh, because the answer to everything was only ever going to be another question.


For exactly seven minutes and twelve seconds on September 21st, 2099, the container vessel NSS Utopia Planitia appeared to vanish before reappearing on Martian radar. Automated reporting put this down to a system glitch.

History would remember it with slightly more significance.


Audacity of Huge

Sometime in the next few months, for absolute certain, there will be stuff to buy on this website. It’s been coming for quite some time, but like everything else it has required a rearrangement of priorities. It takes on average about a month to readjust to such changes. This is probably the third shift in circumstance I’ve worked through since the start of the year. All in all, things are going remarkably well considering.

The sale of ‘stuff’ will fall into three distinct categories: written work, artwork, and merchandise. Two of those things should come as no surprise to some of you, but the third one might. Artwork is a new avenue for me. The inaugural piece will be something my daughter has produced (and which we will be splitting the profits) but I expect to start experimenting with my own graphic pieces as time goes on.

As for merchandise… well, this is going to be another way to help support me if you don’t want to go down the Patreon route. We’ll talk about that more next month. Needless to say, I’m all over this, just not really in a position to say any more until the remainder of this month’s workload is complete, which will be happening tomorrow. I’m quite proud of the progress however, this is a new direction, with a lot of satisfaction attached.

Watch this Space.

Moving Right Along

Welcome to our new normal: two posts a week, making better use of both time and resources available with smart use of time and space. Mostly right now it’s time that’s being optimised, but later this week the surrounding space will be getting an upgrade. It’s 90% cosmetic, but will prepare the ground for both video and audio production improvements. I planned to do this far earlier in the year… but we all know what happened then.

What’s the plan? Well, right now we’re starting small. Five minutes a week on the blogs, probably 10-15 minutes a month on Wobbly Adjective, which a Patreon-only reward. Once that’s notionally organised better, I’ll start making videos for poetry. After THAT, we might try mucking about a bit but honestly, that’s quite a long way down the line. I realised quite soon after confidently predicting that all things were possible back in May that, realistically, that’s not really true.

I’m happy to admit that to the room now and move forward.

Right now, I’m playing with visuals a lot more than I’d first thought would be the case at the start of the year. I’m never going to make it as a traditional artist, but there’s potential in graphic design. That part of my soul’s been active for many decades. Maybe this is the moment to stop pissing about as much as I do and make something worthwhile. There’re some avenues that are available to pursue. Let’s see what happens.

I don’t also have a September game plan for Instagram either. Perhaps full on imagery is the way.

That might be a plan…

Enjoy Yourself

Hopefully, by the end of today, I’ll have all the pieces of Patreon content in place to be accessed by those kind enough to be paying me for Premium Content. This also includes the free (but password protected) content for Newsletter subscribers: I’d hoped to have it done by the 15th, but as we have discussed previously, I’m still struggling with the notion of timescales. Once this is all fixed, I will be turning my mind to the idea of further monetising this site.

Since Patreon began, the amount of original content here has effectively reduced to just blogs. I do not intend to go back and lock off any older work to monetise, but admit that some of it is now not representative of the current direction. Therefore, starting next month, we’ll be rationalising everything and deciding what stays and goes. To give you an insight of where that will take the site long term, here are some of my early thoughts.

  • Short stories continue unabated: I have used this month’s story as a lead into new Patreon content, and that story will be saved and advertised as an encouragement for people to sign-up. Starting in September we’ll go back to stand alones, with a plan in 2021 to produce a full set of twelve stories across the year. These are so popular that I’ll just keep running them until people stop reading them. No charge, just stories.

  • Publishing news: I currently have two poems due in anthologies for publication before the end of the year. You’ll see news here before anywhere else. That’s the point of having a public presence, after all. I’ll also use the Newsletter to keep you up to date with events as they happen. What is likely to happen is that starting in September posting frequency here will move to twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Short Stories will always publish on the first of the month regardless.

  • Episodic Fiction: I have promised myself we’ll have EX/WHI restarted this year. We can do that quite easily, and so starting in October, it will appear on Thursdays. Once it’s done I’ll provide a complete .PDF as Premium Content. I already have a new story in the works as a follow on, but that will be completely tied to my subscription model. I’d expect to see that appearing sometime in Q1 of 2021.

This is a slow and thoughtful rationalization of everything that I produce. I hope you’ll join me as things alter, and we enter this new phase of my professional career as a writer, because that is what this is, a genuine progression of content and output.

The Last Time

An awful lot got done this last week, but not nearly enough. It’s always the way, you provision time for things to be completed, and then it becomes apparent that you’ve massively underestimated the amount of work required. I am becoming fantastic at this, and therefore there needs to be a bit of a rethink over the time management side of things. Fortunately all of this effort is front-loading. It’s architecture, and that always takes the most effort.

After this, everything gets considerably easier. I just bolt stuff on top and suddenly, there’s content. I’ve seen other people state that learning how to project manage is the skill they wish they’d properly grasped before starting anything. Nothing is ever an exact science. I get, thanks to exercise, how a shift of one muscle group or a rethink of your body placement can be the difference between success or failure. Again, that just has to be translated to my other issues to address.

This is me, permanently shifting stance to maintain balance.

The latest piece of Patreon content is out this month, and (honestly) this is the best thing I’ve made this year. I’m charging a five a month, more or less, for people to read it and although some days the process feels like pulling teeth, it is worth the effort. This month we’ll have a digital print to sell too which I need to do some research on in terms of sales. I’m going to do a run of 25 ‘prints’ all numbered which my daughter and I will sign. When she makes it big in the future, she’ll be the signature everybody wants 😀

Me, I’m here to make some money to pay for web hosting and printing materials. Just trying to break even at this time is the goal, or to get a decent amount of cash for my time. There is a break even point I have notionally aimed for, and when that is reached then I know there’s real, tangible progress. Until then, yet again, it’s all architecture. The foundations are placed, you build walls, a way in and out, and incentives for people to come and stay.

That’s all you will ever realistically be able to achieve.

If you’re a Patron, there’ll be space for you soon here that’s exclusively yours and nobody else’s. I’ll provide passwords by the end of this week assuming that everything goes to plan… but who knows what will happen between there and now. I’ve watched the World go south a few times this year, and coping is getting easier each time. In this case, one can only hope that it’s not a major disaster close to home.

That’s the thing about life right now, you never quite know what to expect…

Idioteque

Monday seems a long time ago, it has to be said. The weather has not helped in making things easier: my optimal operating temperature is somewhere in the low 70’s (about 19-20 degrees Centigrade) and frankly, anything above that my lungs are not best pleased. Therefore, large portions of this week have been physically a challenge negotiating… but I have. It’s helped to shove all my exercise in early: this morning I managed a new dead lift personal best.

It’s a totally inspiring means to begin a day. It also puts into perspective, if it really needed to be highlighted, that all the work that was done in lockdown to keep fit and maintain my equilibrium has now produced not simply progress, but real potential for new opportunity. This journey is no longer about doing enough, after all. I want to exceed expectations, and start really turning back my body clock using exercise. The same is true with the writing. When I practice every day, things get better.

It is time to look at the results thus far, to find means to work past those expectations too.

Today, we’ve begun the process of introducing two new strands of content to Patreon for September. It’ll all be finished by the end of August, plus this weekend a ton of new things will (quietly) appear on the website here. The architecture is already in place, I just need to do some technical wizardry to make it happen, between a couple of bike rides and quite possibly some more writing.

There’s a lot more too, some mental health projects in progress that I can’t talk about yet (including some art) plus everything that we’ve previously discussed. There will be some fairly serious organization on that front starting next week, but once we have the Patreon LANzine ticked off for the month, everything becomes significantly less stressful to complete. Final pass on that will be Monday morning.

Keep an eye on the website this weekend, and watch the magic emerge before your eyes…

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.

Little Things

I spent the weekend doing exactly what it was I said I’d do: no actual work, and certainly no blogging. A day of rest on Saturday meant Sunday was the most productive day I’ve had probably since early May. Looking back on the past, and what can be salvaged from it has uncovered a couple of utter gems, two of which I’ll submit tomorrow to the most prestigious contest going for poetry right now. I confidently predict neither will win, but I’ll feel wonderful about what’s been presented.

The last few times this particular contest has been prepared for it’s been… well, it’s felt like a Herculean trial. More importantly, so much need and desire to win was subconsciously wrapped up in the production process that, at the end, there was little joy in the work. I intend to go back and pull out those pieces and repurpose them in a group this week, if anything can be salvaged from them at all. That’s also a revelation from recent times: it’s okay to throw things away.

Not everything can be saved.

The reality of watching the revolving door of successful people come in and out of my Twitter feed used to be quite difficult. Now there is a sanguine acceptance that not everybody is the same as me, and not everyone is getting as much out of the platform as I am. That’s the big takeaway over the last few months: you can see the people who have bloomed, and who’ll have ’emerging during lockdown in 2020 as a driving force in [insert profession here] on social media’ inserted into their bios when the time comes.

For me, I suppose, it’s all still falling into place. There’s an optimism in both body and brain now which, I realise, has not existed since my teens. I never really grew up properly, that’s the key to all of this, that process is taking place for a second time and honestly, truthfully, I’m quite happy to ignore the fact that many notably traumatic experiences have been quietly thrown in a skip where established detritus is already burning furiously.

I am so very grateful to my husband and kids for putting up with all this shit for so long.

With my objective hat on, so much of that time wasn’t nearly as bad as history now recalls, the key is to separate the bad experiences from the good and then make sure only the bad ones are torched. It helps having photographic memories of those to use as a means of re-establishing reality: so many things never got photographed, for exactly that reason. There are also some pictures where I know, full well, I was acting to camera.

Managing expectations is an important part of any creative’s output: what can people expect from your work? What will become your signature styles and approaches? For me, the virtual world is so deeply ingrained into everything that to try and separate it from what I am has become impossible. Therefore, I’m going to stop trying, and focus instead on how my life is being changed and altered by its influence, so much for the better.

Knowing where you came from is essential in charting a path to any new destination.

Well Done

It is the best feeling in the world to obtain an unprompted compliment. Having had a couple in the last few weeks, I can tell you from personal experience to have someone care enough to come to you directly with feedback turns bad days into great ones. However, you have to be a realist. I’ve had my first piece of genuine negative feedback this week too, and if you’re not careful those kind of comments can put you back months.

Getting the balance right really matters. I know there are authors who don’t take kindly to being told what’s wrong with their work: it’s the equivalent of abusing someone because their Victoria Sponge is not decorated in the way other sponges should be. There is no right way to write, that’s the point. Sure, if you want a Booker Prize your icing and filling are gonna matter more, and probably need to look and taste a certain way. There’s clearly rules to follow.

However, for the rest of us, achievement is just ending up with a decent tasting cake.

Of course, none of this really matters if you get lucky enough to make a passable cake that someone of note really ends up taking a liking to. Most of us will bake a couple of cracking desserts in our lifetimes, but only the very lucky are emulated or considered as must-try formulas. I keep looking at the number of people who have rewritten Jane Austen for instance and wonder just how much money can you scrape from the romantic mismatch genre. The answer, of course, is rather a lot.

It also makes me laugh at how much original work I have churned out in the last year, most of which hasn’t been seen by anybody but me. In that regard, I am probably doing myself few favours by keeping the writing flowing. Maybe I should be going back to those pieces with more consideration and thought: can I build new recipes using these failed attempts? Quite possibly I can, and maybe the combination of seemingly disparate textures and flavours might produce a revelation.

At least I know now why I’m hungry all the time 😀

The next step in my journey is realigning myself with my work. There’s a lot written, sitting around me or on my hard drives, that needs to be considered in light of the events of the last couple of months. Now it is time to see what can be repurposed, what is disposed of, and crucially what can be done to minimise the amount of stress that submissions cause going forward. I think it is time to start preparing myself for self-publication.

After all, Christmas is not that far away.