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First Steps

A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct…

Frank Herbert, DUNE

I’ve been planning a particular project now for several months. As the launch date approaches, a moment or two of self-doubt is inevitable. Have I considered everything in terms of variables? Are my timescales realistic? What if nobody is interested? In this case, however, the results won’t be measured by traditional notions of success, at least not by me. I’ve already overachieved wildly. This is new, glorious territory.

To accommodate the new direction, for the entirety of May my normal working output will alter. Instead of daily poetry (9am and 5pm) you’ll instead get a new hashtag to follow: #EndOfTheFear. What this means right now remains a surprise, you’ll need to come back here next week to get the full rundown. Both Narrating and Soundtracking playlists remain unchanged, and there’s still a short story to read along with.

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This coming week therefore is a lot of legwork and preparation. Because of the way the month falls (2 days in April/3 days in May next week) there’ll also be a lack of poetry. There’s a very good reason for this: again, it’ll become apparent soon enough. Once upon a time I’d have tried to keep doing everything uninterrupted, but I’m smarter than that now. Some things must be put on hold, to dedicate full focus on larger aims.

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Once upon a time, everything just happened in my life. As I explained on Friday, a lot’s improved since the start of the year. Undoubtedly a lot of it is to do with how the process of work is approached: organisation, planning, realistic goals all factor into the equation. Occasionally, something unexpectedly brilliant happens and you realise that maybe, just maybe, this is the right path all along.

Strap in, folks. Things are about to get amazing.

Poetry Archive :: Avocado

Really no idea what happened here. You can tell it has been a long week.


Avocado

A fruit from this tree,
persea americana;
mass phenomena.

Ancient nutrition
long before that toasted snack;
climacteric fruit.

Healthy yet fatty,
contradictory; texture
smooth taste sensation.

Millennial angst,
green-fleshed monster: symbolic
arbiter of wealth.

Avocado, shade
bathrooms, guacamole; build
California rolls.

Poetry Archive :: Fern

Again, huge fun from a static start. Enjoy.


Fern

Tiny, fractal
universe unwinding;
Euclidean space,
Mandelbrot growth.

Unremarkable
except, close up
noteworthy mathematics,
expansion, precise.

Most uncommon weed,
ancient arbiter, history
except, in truth
bifurcation a lie.

Such a tiny plant,
significant in context;
coal’s building block
Victorian motif.

Pteridologist, step up
fern expert: educate
wondrous species,
spiral history.

Look out any Window

Sometimes, I can be a little jaded. Considering the number of submissions made since January, the amount of work that’s been outputted (and already rejected) it is probably no surprise there’s an element of ‘oh, I wonder what I’ll fail at this week’ in the mindset. Except, when I look closely at what’s been learnt in the first four months of this year, there is a phenomenal amount to be pleased and proud of.

Most of that shift involves improvements in organisation and presentation. Learning how to make things sound more seductive, enthusiastic, being able to plan and block time effectively are undoubted steps in the right direction. Add to this an increased determination not to do anything other than my absolute best work for everything, however small, is altering my outlook with each passing week. 

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There are other, more subtle changes too. Setting sensible time-frames to complete projects, beginning to learn how long things will take are all helpful. Crucially however, it is my problem solving skills which have seen the biggest leap forward since the start of the year. What do you do when a muse just won’t co-operate? How do you make something happen that patently isn’t taking place and you have a deadline looming?

The key, undoubtedly is being ahead of the game.

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Next month, a lot of things will happen differently to accommodate a project I’ve been working on for some time. The planning’s been underway since the end of March, and is now beginning to come to fruition. I’m insanely excited about what’s coming, and hope you’ll consider joining me on the journey as we enter an area of creativity as yet undiscovered. Trust me, it’s going to be awesome.

Tragedy

Sometimes, like it or not, it’s time to admit your shortcomings.

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I am a curious mix of many things: an awful lot of Internet, social pressure, parenthood, genre bias… and the list goes on. So much, from so many often contrary sources. Music is an essential part of that, so is computer gaming. Writing, photography… you get the picture. Except, in the last two years, a lot of the foundations on which this picture was created has slipped away, out of my control.

Therefore, we have reached the point where it becomes necessary to go find the original pictures on which my puzzle is created and work out what pieces are missing or damaged. Except, in that process, there’s a revelation: I’m not restricted by that original look and feel. There is absolutely no requirement to keep living in the 80’s, or pretending it’s the 90’s. Nostalgia is what underpins other people’s lives and not mine.

You can create different compositions with the same pieces. Who knew?

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My long form fiction, it transpires, has become an incredibly useful timeline when it comes to demonstrating how much has been learnt in the last decade. It also means that this work is not anywhere near the quality I need to try and sell myself with. With an important couple of submissions coming up, time to be brutally honest. What you think is great has elements of that within, but needs a heck of a lot of work.

Poetry right now is going great guns: proof of that’s becoming apparent. Short stories also have a phenomenal amount going for them, and working on those is absolutely worth time and effort. The long form, however, needs you to evolve further than is already the case. You’re not good enough. Not yet. It’ll come, in time, just like everything else has and for now, getting upset about what’s been lost is counter-productive.

Time to accept reality before drawing a line in the sand.

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Making life changes is hard work, kids. You don’t sleep properly. Lots of old stuff you’d conveniently forgotten about rises up and attempts to ruin progress made. Just remember that conflict makes the most potent source material. What you are now, after all, is a form of intellectual evolution.

Time to work out what I can save with confidence.

The Shape I’m In

I’ve spent the last couple of years raising money and awareness for various mental health charities, and promoting the events that happen (Time To Talk amongst others.) I also cycled for Mind last year and raised £500 whilst completing the RideLondon 46: thank you again to everybody who supported and helped cheer me on during what was an extremely transformative experience.

This year, I’m making a conscious decision to spend an entire week using words and pictures as an explanation as to how we are often incredibly hard on ourselves as people when it comes to self-image. This is a subject that I don’t often talk about publicly, but my obsession with weight and appearance has been a significant stumbling point to mental well-being across the years, especially after my daughter was born.

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Beauty is an incredibly subjective concept: perception of self massively dictates the ability and confidence of us all to be what it is we wish to become. If you are one of those people lucky enough to block out jibes and taunts of others, confident enough to stand as you are, looking happy and relaxed, those are skills you should be proud of. It has taken me a lifetime to feel a measure of that, and it’s far from a given.

I have some good words standing by for the third week in May (which is not long off now, hence why we’re talking about this now) and I hope you’ll consider reading (and sharing) them for a wider audience, to help the Mental health Foundation spread the word. If it wasn’t for their Mindfulness course, a lot of my progress forward would not have been possible, and it is high time I thanked them publicly for that assistance.

The first poem and article will appear on May 13th. I’ll see you then.

Poetry Archive :: Moss

No regrets about the crap pun in verse #5 ❤


Moss

Small, flowerless plant
seedless, simple leaves: clumped stems
surprisingly dense.

Dispersed on swift winds,
beautifully fragile spores;
yet hardy, stubborn.

Cracks between old stones,
surviving dessication:
liquid renewal.

Comfortable bed,
thermal insulation, or
growing medium.

Moss’ sterling work
untold uses: shady greens,
non-vascular stars.