Give a Little Bit

The #SixFanfics project is going very well, with the last two decades of content scheduled to go to the polls tomorrow. I’ve had a massively productive day and caught up on a ton of outstanding stuff, and now it’s time to start contemplating where to be placing my attention going into the second half of the year. In an attempt to pick up more Patrons, I have again listened to feedback over appropriate stretch goals.

It’s been coming for a while, but today dawned the understanding I need a website to sell stuff on before I can start selling stuff. An account on Gumroad’s sat gathering dust for some months, and it is high time to start getting it ready for use. I’ll be programming time in June (can’t believe I just typed that) to start organising the levels of content we’ll need to accommodate a virtual poetry collection, plus physical output.

I’ve produced a number of unique commissions this year, for special occasions (a christening and two weddings, if I’m being honest) plus I made all my Christmas gifts this year as one-off, special poems for all my mates. This is a revenue stream that needs more promotion than is currently the case. Therefore, over the summer, there will be plenty of opportunity to make this all a reality.

WSE New

I had something rejected this week that was, in my mind, probably the best piece of poetry I’ve ever written. It was the final straw that has made brain grasp that if I want success, waiting for other people to notice me is not enough any more. It is time to make the noise and push buttons and generally become what I have always been afraid of: a better person. This me is more productive, more proactive and more capable of changing the world around me.

This me is about to make everything better.

Love’s Great Adventure

Today’s been all about getting dragged, kicking and screaming, outside your comfort zones. I have pulled some Patreon work because, after due consideration, it wasn’t good enough. I’ve been writing experimental poetry all afternoon and it’s making me feel really uncomfortable. Oh yes, and then I laid my life bare in quite an unexpected fashion via Social media…

I’d not anticipated how hard this would be until the weekend, when part of my general discomfort was around just how much of my past would be hauled up for general inspection. As it happens, there’s a lot to be said for these choices being made as the right ones, when it would have been an awful lot easier to pick from some generic, obvious alternatives. This way, I will be challenged.

These first two polls are now up and running, and the results will be known in 48 hours. I’ll throw them about a bit later today and tomorrow too, just to see if I can garner a decent range of responses. After all, you never know who might pick these up and ping them into the Void for me… and it means that the results will end up as a genuine surprise. I’m not checking the polls until they’re done.

Once I know the results, I’ll fill in my graphic, and then we can get on with the business of writing. The plan is to have all six drabbles up in their own separate area by the end of the month: if this is successful, we’ll repeat the process with some new things later in the year. As always, it’s about working out whether your content is interesting enough to attract new people not only to your work, but also to potentially stick around as an audience…

2020 Week 18 Poetry: Sow

Poetry is having a rest next week, because I’m pretty rammed in May as it is and taking on too much, I have discovered, is a sure-fire way to burn me out. Therefore, here’s my last bit of stream of consciousness for a while. I am proud of these as a group of five, and we’ll probably revisit/revise this lot a bit later in the year. It’s useful to allow your brain space to shift and move.

It is amazing what happens when you relax and let words flow unhindered…


Sow

Here we are, staring disconsolately, fallow time between main course and dessert, lost in relationship’s parched weeds, future; tense, relationship.

Two plated, hot then cold: between minimal, extravagance once expected, now deflated, content remains unknown, grown, soon cast aside.

Fork civility, spoon-fed platitudes scraped, pushing scraps abound, innate remnants, sitting tenants pile pointless platitudes, resentful moods.

There we go, separate bills, fallow lives, consequences reaped; to sow once more, swipe left field-hand, season begins again.

April Short Story: Alone

This story was first serialised in 30 daily parts during March 2020 via the @MoveablePress and @InternetofWords Twitter feeds [9am and 5pm GMT respectively.] It was inspired by this song, written by The Divine Comedy:

It is now reproduced in a complete form, a number of small edits and corrections made to improve narrative flow and maintain correct continuity.

Enjoy.


Alone

Sadness, yet again, consumes a form which has grown used to constant intrusion. Around me the throng of rush hour commuters continue their journeys, existing internally, no sign of any emotion at all. I wonder: how many of you live within this province, cannot escape its embrace. A decision was made, out of my hands. Others, more intelligent than I will ever be, decreed this period of separation. Sitting, watching you leave, suitcase in hand, unable to change what had been planned for years, real significance of that moment has only now truly registered.

Life is less than it was, diminished without your smile. Kind, quiet words missed with ache in my chest that’s alien, uncomfortable. It has taken this long to realise existence without your presence devalues that entire experience. It has taken this long to understand your love. Finally, I’m home: familiar comforts surround an aching body. Age begins to make what was academic in youth more of a challenge: after food and a lie down, everything will be better… except the hole where your presence should inhabit. I wonder, was this correct course of action?

The decision was made, using other’s rules. Not my language, but theirs, inherited over decades. All that can be done, as has been routine for so long, is wait, and hope that one day, soon, perhaps tomorrow, I will see you again.

When moment comes, you will know how much I care.


It had been a terrible mistake.

She sits on Platform Two’s cold, unpleasant bench, staring at the suitcase on wheels, excuse to ignore everything including the anger within that refuses to diminish. This really was all her own fault, absolutely nobody to blame but herself. Love had vanished almost as quickly as it appeared: on reflection, perhaps that was the wrong word to be using. Next time, lust and desire could be more easily identified. Leaving the parental home for good will one day be a certainty; not quite yet. She can admit guilt, finally.

Right now, options have narrowed: apologising to Dad was, as it transpires far easier than was first imagined. Mum’s capacity to care never diminished regardless of daughter’s stupidity, close friends still sympathetic. It appears everybody else knew what was coming, except her. The train arrives with an almost apologetic sigh, aware self-reflection was in full swing, but that was enough for the morning. Wallowing was never healthy, however competent she had become at self-indulgence over the last six months. Her relationship was beyond officially over.

Abigail felt fifteen again: surface coped, blustered then bluffed itself through anything thrown at her, but beneath so much was uncertain, in flux. It didn’t help to have everybody else consider her a prodigious talent either. Fame was overrated, ability more so. She was lonely. Pulling black baseball cap further down across her face, this is moment brain wished driving lessons had not been ignored in favour of piano practice. Someone had already recognised her walking to the station: she’d denied her own existence, feigned ignorance and hurried onward.

Blissfully, this carriage is empty: she can hide in a corner, staring out of the window, looking distracted all the way until train terminates in London. She’ll avoid any contact with the Tube and grab a taxi instead. Only Mum knows she’s returning today, a big problem in itself. Her father is already condemning actions, and she’s not even in their postcode. He never trusted Abby’s girlfriend, still harboured significant issues over her bisexuality. If she could have just fallen in love with a man, even a boy would have appeased very obvious discomfort…

Father’s stream of disparaging WhatsApp messages continues unabated: if she’s smart, he’ll be a supporter of her cause by the time her cab stops in their leafy South London suburb. Right now, there are ten stops to move personal mood from combative to lost, in need of support… If only she could manipulate ex-girlfriend as easily as parents… no, not any more. There need be no feigning of emotional frailty: her own shortcomings caused this. The need to feel loved not just as an accomplished musician, but as a person. This woman. Abby, not Abigail West.

This is exactly NOT the moment she expects to hear a piece of her own music on the Spotify playlist expressly curated to avoid such things. Listening to what competition was up to is supposed to keep ears keen, help composition skills for an upcoming album… not floor her instead. Gravity is different, suddenly: this isn’t her writing, but piece she remembers as a child. Past and present uncannily overlap: nine years old, sudden change from the normal diet of classical music pieces her teacher would roll out as fodder for voracious consumption. This song…

Miss Canning is crying: Abby’s skill in sight-reading is uncanny, whatever this is being played isn’t just practice but personal. Only when looking up for an encouraging word is it obvious she’s missed something significant. Young teacher is now sobbing, uncontrollably emotional. Brain recalls teacher’s sweet, floral perfume, someone else’s tears on her face: hugging tight, embrace instigated at Abby’s prompt. Never leave the piano until a song is finished except, that day she broke a cardinal rule. Support matters more than appearance. Never forget care.

Except somewhere between breakout reality TV stardom and here that’s exactly what has happened: basic personality warped, priorities hastily rearranged… her soul left behind, forgotten in the clamour of online celebrity, interviews plus two massively successful orchestral albums. One more stop, she’s in town: fate is unavoidable. Maybe this is the moment to stop hiding in her own shortcomings and make a difference, change the way things work. If it all goes horribly wrong, at least she tried. That’s all that left now, possibility with accompanying fear.

She really hopes that, once back home, everyone she still loves will find it in their hearts to forgive her behaviour.


This is different.

I wake awkwardly, nap a surprise. There was so much to do: now the morning has gone. However, it doesn’t matter: sudden excitement does…

My landlord is on the phone: something has changed. Your name is mentioned, multiple times, no longer spoken in anger. You are in a taxi, on your way home and I cannot breathe, sudden dizzying disbelief. You are coming back to me. There will be fresh opportunity to see you again. Excitement is tempered with caution: last words whispered, before your departure. ‘I have to do this, just to see if I’m right. I know you’ll understand. You always have.’ Except, at that moment I didn’t. It took absence to let truths emerge and settle. It all makes sense to me.

That song you loved so much, favourite of my best friend: letting you go, so you can be free and then finally return here, better person for the experience… a bittersweet song you would play on the piano, like all the others that finally made you famous, a household name. A star. From young woman to recording artist, consummate professional…and yet, through it all, you never truly grasped what it was you had become. Those secrets, whispered late at night, safe because nobody was listening. I heard them all, understood how Abby had evolved: here, to now.

It will be wonderful to see you again, because that’s the front door. Familiar sounds, even to these ears, rapidly advancing in age. Your voice, enough to make heart beat faster: Abby is home, finally, and all the foolishness and stupidity will be instantly, summarily forgotten. My best friend cries, always does at such moments. My landlord will try to be brave, always attempts to and fails because out of these two humans he’s the one with more emotion invested in his daughter. I know how Sam tried with Abby, but ultimately feels she failed as a mother.

I was the companion, bright younger sibling, true best friend and so much more. Silent parent, moral compass, confidante… because humans assume far too much not only about the worlds people build and inhabit, but those other species allowed to live within such spaces with them. Abby stands in the doorway, smile incandescent. I thought this was unrequited love, before my owners used a better word: it remains unconditional; no requirements or boundaries.

Whatever happens, until my last heartbeat, no one will ever break bond between spaniel and mistress.


Salt Water Sound

Occasionally there are moments in your life where it becomes apparent that safe and easy are no longer cutting it. It’s roughly equivalent to plateauing  during a weight loss plan, or realising that all those exercise classes are just giving you somewhere to go, but not really offering anything significant in terms of progress. Unlocking ability can be tough for those of us who struggle with our feelings in the first place.

I have reached the point where something needs to give.

thorsmiles

Therefore, for my next big submission I’m trying something really, radically different: so far out of my normal comfort zones as to be a proper struggle. I’m not even sure at this point what I’m doing either, except in the last 48 hours that’s changed: an idea was begun with, and now concepts are beginning to crystallise. If this is how you do grown up writing, it’s a bit less cohesive than I’d like.

However, new experiences are occuring: there I am, washing up, when an entire passage just falls out of my head without prompting. That’s not happened for a very long time and so, it would appear that The Experiment (as it will now be referred to) seems to be at least making the brain function in a differently productive fashion. Where we go, and how it works out, we will talk about as it happens.

The Experiment does now have a name, plus three poems in it’s collection.

Red Dust

Lockdown has affected people in different ways: I’m discovering that many friends are missing their work routines so much they’ve simply recreated different versions of them at home. There’s one who is, I’m sure, looking at my heart rate belt stats and taking that as a personal affront, because BOY is she pushing me to work harder right now. Then there are those who, despite all this free time, can’t find ways to avoid the inevitable.

Even as the world disintegrates, some stuff cannot be ignored any longer.

giant_kitten

For me, life is pretty decent right now. The problem, inevitably, will be catching up from having been effectively poleaxed for the last two days of last week, but if it matters enough I’ll hunker down, it always happens. Sure there’s still those two things still to sort on the website which keep getting shifted down and across the To Do List, but that’s always been the way this things work out.

To remain happy, and keep momentum going, there will need to be some poetry revisited soon. I’d assumed it would be something old, but more and more there’s an itch, somewhere between my metaphorical shoulder blades. Maybe I should try ticking someone else’s box this time, and not just my own. Perhaps, even if I fail, it would be worth stepping right outside of the comfort zones and doing something truly frightening.

Except, in some ways, it really isn’t.

notthefuture

It’s like I’m living, some days, in the 2020 version of this 2017 article. People invent fresh terror to pile onto existing stupidity whilst all I’d like is less stuff and more time to write. We don’t need more Internet of Things, but less consumerism and a greater understanding of how to make humanity cope with futures where touching each other could end up as fatal.

Mostly, I need to redefine what I consider as appropriate validation in 2020.

2020 Week 17 Poetry: Far

I have absolutely no idea how this happened at all. It just fell out of my head in five self made-pieces, last taking prompts from previous four. It’s odd sometimes how these things just happen.

It’s a long way from where I was on Monday to where I am now.


Far

There to here’s strained gasp away
emerging resignation
pain never leaves anything, well
separation anxiety
stitched within this soul.

Here was now, a breath ago
hidden panic, exposed
juxtaposed across decades
disturbs uneasy timeline
stuck tightly to my soul.

Redefinition, emerging
greater confidence, self-defined
unexpected truth unwinds
experience repeated
expletive, summarily repeated.

Then to now, alteration;
recognition what before, no longer
adequate observation
delayed participation
reassign priorities, regroup.

There to here’s return to form
hidden panic assuaged:
unexpected, belief transcends
delayed, anticipation
emergent; new direction.

Warm Sound

I should have written this on Friday, but in reality it’s Sunday. The last three days, I’ll be honest, have been a bit of a blur: we’ve had a vomiting bug go around the family, which is a salutary reminder that maybe personal hygiene needs a bit of work. As the day draws to an end everything is almost back to the way it was: except, as the dust settles, I’m aware of a key difference between the person that started the weekend and the one who now finishes it here.

There’s been a lot of anger to deal with because of COVID. I try not to talk about it too much in any of my spaces except personal Twitter, where people know and understand me enough to grasp that however much you try and be kind, there are days when everything just goes Pete Tong. I also get hauled up a fair bit when I refer to people as ‘stupid’ in how they react: mostly people who should really know better. I can’t be mean like that. It’s not fair.

Today, the relevance of those comments has come home to roost.

dinkleberg

Everybody has a Nemesis. It’s how 007 got reinvented, the basis of a billion badly-planned Fanfics and kept Dr Who’s current season absolutely stonking. In my case, that evil is ignorance.  Read the instructions: do the work, put in the hours, make the effort. It’s easy to just do, but thinking is hard, painful and ultimately redemptive. For an awfully long time I never took my own advice either, but fortunately I got over myself eventually.

Calling people stupid as an insult however is going to have to change. A memory surfaced this weekend, as I was on my hands and knees clearing up after a particularly effulgent round of sickness. Trauma flashbacks, each time they take place, are easier to cope with but this one wasn’t. This one still sits in my brain, right now, making me upset as I type this. You used to be called stupid as an insult.

You had no way of replying coherently when it happened.

makeitstop

Next week, therefore, there will need to be some mental rearrangement. The government can become incompetent. People breaking lockdown and thinking only about themselves can be selfish. I’m not going back to delete those posts because honestly, a lot of white people are genuinely not covering themselves in glory right now, and my opinion on them isn’t going to alter that one iota.

However, the training is beginning to kick in. My counselling has taken a year to really take, but now the changes are indisputable. I need to be more kind: to myself, mostly, and then to everybody else without thinking. However, the latter won’t ever be a given until the former is properly taken care of. That meant writing this before anything else happened. It’s a public acknowledgement of progress.

Illsithee

Nobody’s perfect, me more than most. However, it’s improving.

Every step forward is progress.

Stronger

I’ve felt comfortable enough in the last few days to start looking at writing submission poetry again: mostly as I’ll be starting a new project for Patreon beginning next month.

One high-quality poem a week, for twenty weeks, is currently well within mental capacity. If I were a ‘famous’ poet, contributing to something like WRITE where we are NOW would be a nigh-on impossible ask at present. There’s far, far too much anger around the pandemic, nowhere near the levels of objectivity required to be considered as relevant or valid. I grasp what is needed to be considered as adult.

I understand now, perhaps more than ever before, the gulf between my world and the one I often aspire to. Therefore, there needs to be a structured approach to those feelings in able to properly quantify their significance. There is an idea on that front, however, for a contest that closes in August. If those words don’t succeed, that will become my own physical collection to sell in 2021.

I’m already looking forward to the next opportunity.

proudthumbsup

I also realise there’s a level of ignorance that needs to be addressed in relation to the mechanics of poetry: there’s been words here before on how I couldn’t explain adequately what a sonnet is without looking up the details. I was reading a submission guideline yesterday which referenced collection sizes with terms that weren’t even possible to Google, in order to understand what they meant.

There’s no chance when I’m up against stuff like this. That’s so far away from my world and life experiences as to be pointless for consideration. My journey, the inevitable mirror reflecting personal experiences, don’t include such places and people. I get that now, whereas before it would make me angry or frustrated. There’s no point in trying to become something you are not for validation that ultimately isn’t necessary.

These are harsh lessons to learn, but have to happen.

femalemicdrop2

There’s a pandemic collection in me, but not like anybody else’s because I’m asthmatic, already riddled with anxiety before all this began. This is not some academic dissection of the realities that did not previously exist. I was scared back in December, watched the chaos play out over months with a grim realisation life was in more danger than had probably ever previously been the case. I still am.

My pandemic collection will be a very frightened beast indeed.

Beautiful Noise

I’m still having trouble with a corrupted text file from last week, which is why at some point (probably tomorrow) you’ll see the rest of the Dr Who Fanfic appear on the site. Whilst I was sorting out these bits of my past, I’ve been enjoying an project doing the rounds: #SixFanarts, where Twitter Artists are using their own interests in fandom to draw classic characters from the places that have influenced their existences.

It occured to me this would be a great thing to do with fanfiction, and as it’s been a while since I flexed my creative muscles in that direction, it’s high time that changed. Therefore, for May, we’ll be making some interesting decisions using Twitter Polls, hashtags and graphics packages. I have plenty of shows that mattered a great deal to me growing up. Time to give the past an appropriate moment in the sun.

#sixfanfics_subjects

It’s simple, really: I’ll be posting some threads, starting next week, on both my ‘work’ and ‘personal’ Twitter, asking people to suggest either a) a TV show b) a game or c) a film from the six particular decades listed that I can use as basis for a drabble. This does also remind me that I’ve been alive during seven decades, which is not something to dwell upon, but it does grant a massive scope for potential.

I’ve had a number of conversations in the last few weeks that have highlighted stuff I’d forgotten about in TV terms, especially from the 1970’s, so it seems like a good idea to open discussion a bit to see if there’s anything else that has been lost to the mists of time. After all the votes get collated, I’ll present you with the goods. Can’t say fairer than that. It also gives me summat useful to concentrate on other than poetry.

talentindrinking

Let’s see where this new adventure takes us, shall we?