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If Leaving Me is Easy

I’ll be taking a break from the blog here, starting today. I expect this to last until such times as I can finally get everything in my life into some kind of order. It’s been a fairly brutal couple of months, and this place has been somewhere that has really not been getting the kind of love that I feel is required. However, there’s a real difference now between life now and life three months ago, and that’s Patron, where people are paying me to make content.

I fully intend to be back here for August 3rd. By then the work/life imbalance I have to fix will hopefully be more manageable. I’m going to organise a bunch of goals to achieve by that time, which will finally include filling in missing content to my satisfaction, and streamlining my output here to more accurately reflect what matters, and not what I think needs to be done. It transpires that there’s a significant gulf currently between those two places.

If you subscribe to my monthly newsletter, I’ll be using July’s to outline what is going to change, and then August’s to officially move back into production. In the meantime, I have a pile of laundry the size of Everest to sort, and some penance to serve for my family. It makes sense stop now, and not keep carrying on until the work/life balance can be organised better, because this may work on one side of the equation but isn’t currently on the other.

I will therefore see you again on Monday, August 3rd, all things willing.

Stay well.

Paris, Texas

This week’s a bit of a HonestyFest: no, this isn’t another virtual collection of hastily pulled-together people on a Zoom call, I probably know enough people to maybe rustle up three people tops. I’m pretty certain one of them doesn’t have a webcam anyway. What the poetry has done we’ve discussed on Monday, and I mentioned then in passing a long-form piece which contains a lot of early mental trauma as a starting point to where things should move next.

I read it all yesterday, in a couple of sittings. Structural integrity is about 80%, if it were any less I’d have not decided to go public so fast on Patreon. It will be serialised, starting in September, because it is complete. I just needed the nerve and the impetus to push it to the finish line. I’ve tried and failed to get it accepted as a stand-alone work, and there’s just not enough energy right now to move down that path. Instead, it is perfect work to repurpose as subscription fodder.

The timing here is almost… well, prophetic.

Those of you REALLY paying attention will know this took eighteen years to write. With the edit coming up, we’ll call it a round twenty. It’s made the finish line as my NaNo project a while back, and I’ve had it sitting as a back burner project since February. I was fully ready to return, but with a view to try to push for grown up publication. This way makes an enormous amount of sense as an alternative. More significantly, it opens up the Patreon as ‘not just poetry’ and that’s really rather important right now.

This year I become a ‘proper’ published poet, not just a competition winner: I saw the proof of that poem in the Places of Poetry document today, for the first time, and let out a little squeal of delight. More work will be published, I can guarantee you that, but as yet there’s only been lip service granted to what is something that drives a lot of my interest as an adult. Storytelling has always been a goal. The Twitter short story has shown me the market exists. Now it is time to do the things I don’t like: selling both this and me.

As it happens, this is something I am getting used to.

There will need to be a synopsis, and I don’t want to give too much away by doing so. You’ll get introductions to characters and probably some vignettes for each. Mostly however, there is the soundtrack, which I’ll do more justice than has previously been the case. This was the novel that began my obsession with music as background to action, and I’m listening to it now as I type. It’s about to be revisited after a couple of years, with some new pieces added.

I am genuinely excited for this addition to my Patreon.

Over the Rainbow

I’m really sorry everything fell apart for two weeks.

Writing right now has become aggressively visceral: I look at those people who seem to manage a lot better at these things and now grasp that they’re just not telling me as much as I am prepared to admit. Struggle, like so much else, is a subjective affair. What you think is wrong with someone (or something) could be a million miles away from the true reality of their situation. For me, it is important now to put the record straight.

I have submitted last week a poetry collection which, I realise now, was written not to hit a deadline or to try to gain me some traction in an incredibly fierce marketplace. I wrote it in order to move forward as a poet. It needed to happen in order to allow my brain the actual breathing space required to heal and grow. Is it possible to do this in your 50’s? Absolutely it is. I am emerging proof of a late-life renaissance in full progression. However, the consequences are significant.

That’s where we are now.

Validation in the last two weeks had nothing to do with a finished product being acknowledged, and everything to do with just saying stuff I’d wanted to ‘speak’ on paper for a long time. The collection that preceded it is a more general, less visceral version of the same desire. It’s now apparent that needed to happen to allow this lot of stuff out of my head and now, as everything is out, I’m left with a reasonably blank space in which new work can be created.

There are a couple of places I need to go back to, one piece of long-form fiction in particular which demands my attention, again because of the emotional baggage its holding on my behalf. Whether that happens next or later in the year, I can’t currently tell you. Now, I am between things. That means actually stopping, not getting sucked into something else immediately. It is allowing common sense to step in and go ‘right, nothing else for a while. Let yourself heal.

It is time to finally listen to myself and stop here for a bit.

I know why movement has become so important in my existence, because for the best part of a decade it’s been essential to not allow the past an opportunity to swallow current progress. Letting that stuff out has been a remarkable release of pressure. It also means I’m a bit lost as to where I go next: the main focus initially needs to be that I clean up what’s left here for content. The #Soundtracking and #Narrating stuff was supposed to carry on from May, but stopped after it became important to let other people speak.

Everything else is doable before the end of June. What now makes the most sense is to do that, and then use July as a natural break, so that’s going to be the plan. We’ll talk a bit more honestly about my self-publishing aspirations, how I can encourage more people to join me on Patreon, and get back to taking pictures. The fact I have literally zero photographs in the last couple of months was another red flag for my mental health.

A great many things need to change going forward.

#SixFanFics 1970’s Edition: Space: 1999

Space was a bit rickety in the 1970s, if you look at the stuff I watched as a kid. However, of all the shows that showed outer space as being… well, futuristic, Space: 1999 was up there as one of the best. It was certainly expensive, which blew shows like Dr Who and Blake’s 7 out of the water in terms of believability. However, if I’m honest, it was the Eagles that made the show. I still maintain that as a realistic and practical Earth-designed transporter, you could really not do as well as this.

This drabble was probably the easiest of all six to imagine: yet again, we’re going back to a point before the show’s timeline is formally established. The decisions made in the name of political expediency was a logical lead-in, the consequences of the losing your major satellite was never really considered. These 100 words owe a great deal to the disaster movies I love as a guilty pleasure, with a particular nod to 2012. If you’ve never seen it, you really should.


Apocalypse

September 12th, 1999

It could really happen, they said.

Scientific reports were conveniently ignored for expediency, clamour from the provinces. Too much nuclear waste, nowhere left to bury it. The moon was easy, simple, far away from public attention. Advisors were clear: if the stuff stayed on earth, millions could die.

The US President sits on Air Force One, on his way to a secure bunker in the Rockies. Now it wasn’t about millions, but billions. If the Moon’s instability continued, it could detach from Earth orbit. If that happened… consequences would be apocalyptic.

They should have listened to Science.


#SixFanFics 1960’s Edition: Thunderbirds

Welcome to my youth. This was a formative influence on me, and indeed remains a significant part of my life. Both my kids watched this whilst growing up. I still watch them, even though I never really associated with the female characters at all. If truth be told, I wanted to fly Thunderbird One: I still do, in dreams, racing across the planet to save people who need help.

However, as an adult I found myself wondering what disaster must have done to Jeff Tracy. As the widower with five sons, what had driven him to create the organisation in the first place?

My drabble offers a possible solution.


Epiphany

He sits quietly after their counselling session, finally confident this mind can be at peace. You are not responsible for your wife’s death: she chose to sacrifice herself, saving the boys, then him. Dr Fisher laid it all out, quietly reinforcing the truth.

Elizabeth Tracy rescued them, without thought.

Bringing up five boys under ten had almost broken him, but the tide had turned. Key backers agreed to assist him yesterday, Brains’ plan which would finally ensure that if anyone else found themselves as his family had back then, they could be saved.

International Rescue will be built for her.


The March of Time

The last seven days have been hugely significant for my personal development: on Friday I finally completed the first draft of a project that wasn’t initially part of my ‘Experimental’ work but has grown from the need to be able to produce to deadlines. It has been created for a very specific submission window, pushing brain into a different working mindset. However, that won’t be why it will be remembered, celebrated and ultimately published regardless of submission success.

Occasionally, it is necessary to go back to the past in order to continue an unimpeded journey through the present. On the weekend when history was remembered in this country for very different reasons, I was able to finally leave some of my regrets where they belong. Moving on will be slow, painful work but with this line on the ground, I can mark realistic progress away. Having these benchmarks is incredibly important for me in exercise, even more so as an indicator of personal progress.

This new work therefore is hugely important for therapy.

I hope to have some content on YouTube for Wednesday, but this will be largely dependent on getting the backlog here organized. The first two Drabbles will be with you later today (right now it is graphics holding me back, not words) and on days like this I wish all there was to worry about was writing and not all the other elements needed to make a website work to my liking. However, these are the challenges, self set, and which will all be eventually overcome.

My progress as a writer, increasingly, is measured by notional progress in organization. This is undoubtedly a huge step forward in those terms, quite apart from the quality of work I have managed to produce since Lockdown. To expand as a person is not just about success, or validation. It is vital I am honest to my own integrity, that how I act and conduct myself on wider stages is done with respect for the beliefs of others.

These are interesting and educational times for us all.

Umbrella

As if there was not enough to be doing in June, I’ve taken an extra fortnightly task onto the list: Time to Change’s Story Camp. Running this week until the end of August, I’ll get a new prompt every other Monday. It encourages us to ‘tell our story’ about mental health and, in this case, I’ve decided that response will come via poetry. I’d not expected to have an automatic, almost visceral response to the initial prompt either, but it happened. This was written late Monday night and posted on Wednesday, and might be one of the best things I’ve produced for some time.

In the chaos of this week, to use my voice when so many others are being silenced seems… wrong. It really does. I appreciate that these events are arranged in advance, with no idea of the potential chaos that may unfold around us. That response needed to be the point of the poem: my own experiences at this point should absolutely not be taking centre stage. In two weeks, the world could well be in a completely different place, but for now personal history needs to mark this moment with significance.

Having someone else provide the prompts however is, undoubtedly, a bonus. Not having to think of directions or ideas, having an opportunity just to create has been what this week has been all about, and writing here after a week of doing just that? It is incredibly satisfying. Therefore, when all these are done, we’ll collate them together as a testament to how the Summer played out from my distinct and unique mental health standpoint.

You’ll see that poetic graphic a few times therefore in the next ten days: I’ll post it, optimising exposure times, just to prove I have learnt a few things about how Twitter has worked over the years. Now that’s done, it’s time to go sort out the Drabbles for next week, swiftly followed by the inaugural YouTube video … now, about that…

Overload

A lot has happened since Friday. Really, quite tough to know how to process everything, when it happens all at once, but we’ll keep doing just that and moving things forward. I wanted to put up a general statement of intent here before posting the Short Story Archive. There is a great deal on the table for June, which took some planning to stick properly in place. As a result, some other stuff has changed.

There’s far more than just 31 pieces of music or instances of notable television programmes that define me, it transpires, so June’s #Soundtracking2020 and #Narrating2020 are extensions of last month’s selections. The weekly poetry has been put on hiatus so that the two main projects I’m working on get the love and attention they deserve. However, there will be poems, under a couple of other headings. One is a project for Time to Change (more of which on Wednesday) the other, much more personal.

That’s my video project for the month, which I had hoped to have done by Wednesday… but last week hit me hard. So, the new release date is June 11th. It will also (inhales) be the first video on the Internet of Words YouTube Channel. Apparently I need to be there, Vimeo is simply not enough. I understand this, it’s perfectly fine, even it I’m not really a fan of how that organization is doing business right now. These things matter in the modern world.

Week 22’s poetry is the only notable casualty therefore in all of this: graphic and sixteen lines of unfinished work is sitting on my left, continuing to taunt, so the plan is if I can get it finished on top of everything else this week, I will, though the more likely possibility is it will mysteriously appear sometime after my deadline on the 20th. Needless to say, knowing I promised summat then it not happening is becoming the bane of my existence.

If stuff is promised, we’ll find a way.

Having a lot on used to make me prickly, but now it’s more about how all the portions of that output are suitably balanced that matters more. As long as there’s something properly creative in the mix, it will all work itself out pretty well regardless. If I can do all of this AND manage my exercise goals as well this month? Then we really have made some significant strides forward. This may not be Normal for other people, but it works pretty well for me.

Let’s get on, shall we?

May Short Story : Connection

This story was first serialised in 31 daily parts during May 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.

Enjoy.


Connection

In my hand, there is a key: unfeasibly old yet still warm, residual energy vibrating molecules that only seconds before made air, sea, sky. That Which Looks Like Woman smiles for no-one else except the only human being in the room: her final aptitude test successfully concluded. Above me, metal petals slowly spread, ship’s hanger opening into the brilliance of a South London morning. I have earned the right to maintain memories from seven days’ worth of ridiculous adventure: now their giant mechanical butterfly thing will return me to my flat, unscathed.

I am the sixth female to enter the Circle: once was nine has become ten.

JOIN THE DOTS
they told me
when I did
look what life became…

Connection literally set me free. However, it’s not enough, will never be the end of this now I fully comprehend existence in this reality…

There’s already a plan to expose the truth…


Matt had been working at Oberon for just over a month, quickly aware summat was not quite normal. It’s a strange name for a cocktail bar to begin with, oddly lyrical descriptor considering both clientele and obscure location… Nothing as elegantly grand should ever exist in this part of South London: as everything around is either ripped down or renovated, Victorian building stands both proud and distinctly rebellious. Gentrification is largely failing to drag it away from still ostentatious defiance.

Fay Goldring had owned this bar for as long as anyone remembered, but remained oddly unchanged from day it was bequeathed to her by its previous owners, back in the 1960s. It bothers Matt that nobody else really seems to care about this fact or many other obvious discrepancies. How has this woman remained largely ageless? How are both building and bar maintained in almost pristine condition when there’s been a number of major incidents across the decades, including a massive fire in the 1970’s? How do they make any money when drink prices are so low?

More significantly, how does the bar manage every single morning to transform into a foodbank and soup kitchen for the homeless and low paid of the Borough without it ever making the local papers? Such charity is never celebrated, and completely ignored, as if it never happens. This morning, he’s been called in early, by the boss herself. His probation period’s long since completed, not a single shift’s been missed… Matt’s even worked a couple of extra to cover for other people. Whatever this is, perhaps answers can be grabbed to satisfy his curiosity.

Yet disappointingly, there is no meeting. Duty manager hands over a CD and camera. Latter’s incredibly old, absolutely antique, yet there’s no film to go with it. A note has been provided with them both, in impeccably neat cursive: ‘You know what this is. Go work out the truth.’ He stands, an item in each hand, digesting note sitting on the polished wooden bar, brain slowly processing a truth that is already apparent: he has no reflection. Looking across to ornamental mirrors, bottles lined up in front, own face has vanished, everything else in place…

Matt is not, will never be a vampire. This is not the first time frankly mind-bending shit has happened inside this building. If he didn’t know better, he’d be willing to argue that Oberon was sentient… the thought had occurred several times before, never truly believed until now. The building is aware of his presence, has been since first day he joined. It knows the truth of existence is grasped without having to be prompted or demonstrated. Oberon’s self-awareness is also tinged with caution: can I trust you, human? Are you the one destined to free me?

The reason he can’t see a reflection? That’s not a mirror, but part of a living, breathing organism disguised as a Victorian building to fool the rest of the world but no longer him. Every cell of Matt’s body is unexpectedly energised as reality, for the first time, is apparent. That’s not a CD but a ridiculously old, metal key: other hand holds a World Map printed in 1968. EVERYTHING around him changed yet nobody else has the faintest idea that it has. None of them, not one, realise that he effectively exists in two different dimensions simultaneously – except Fay. She’s waited fifty years for this moment, right now.

The Connection and Matt are suddenly new, best mates.


The Connection’s been enslaved for over ten thousand human lifetimes, has come to actively resents it’s assigned task: ‘nobody leaves unless we say so.’ ‘We’ in their context refers to the Circle of Ten: bipedal ape descendants, selected by the Collection’s enslavers as means by which their enforced framework for harvesting could remain intact whilst simultaneously avoiding detection by the Local Galaxy’s Oversight Conglomerate.

Amazingly, even this far out on the edges of the Union, standards were maintained and enforced. Myoxians however had not anticipated the evolutionary speed of this herd: apes knew who they’d descended from, were close to grasping an entire history had been genetically engineered. One human female pretends she remains part of the Circle, but the Connection knows better. It bonded with her half a century ago, whispering sedition into a willing, capable brain. It will take two humans to break the influence of its jailers, this new recruit more than willing.

There must be one both inside and outside the Temporal Containment Field in order to disable it, very limited window of opportunity for any destabilisation process to take place. The Myoxian Control Craft is already approaching Saturn, scheduled collection due during the Eclipse. This is human male’s last destination, city the Connection knows holds importance that extends into every cell of his being. It was where he was conceived, where father lived until the Myoxians decided his body was ripe for harvesting, who then failed to disguise correct removal.

That failure set Matt on his journey to uncover what he thought was truth, but in effect is only one of several, simultaneous versions of reality existing side by side. The Connection is very much looking forward to this bonus reveal, for very personal reasons indeed.

It’s time.


This is the last mark on his map, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, and Matt knows this place better than anywhere else in the World. The street where his Dad was killed, event that sent Mum into early labour: same day that four Polaroids in a now shaking left hand were taken. All three of them are the same: Dad and Mum, smiling together, taken by a Londoner who’d been passing. In the background should have been the Restaurant Ophelia, except amazingly it never showed up on the pictures. Only now, standing here, does the truth finally make sense.

That Londoner was, remains Fay: had she not intervened, then both parents would have been crushed by falling masonry. What Matt has learned in his three week trip across five continents is such accidents were anything but: his father had developed an ability which made him a target. That same ability meant Matt was targetted in Utero: Fay had shielded both him and Mum, kept them hidden until it was time. The Connection doesn’t know this, plus so much else: thinks his father was harvested as were thousands of others, over nearly fifteen thousand earth years.

Being able to see aliens are exploiting your home world, driving climate change as distraction from their agenda, because of that same race’s clumsy piece of human genetic manipulation is…well, as funny as this moment is undoubtedly frightening. Matt gets to change everything.

All he needs to do is enter the last node of the Collection’s Earthbound interface and wait.

The node however has other ideas, which is why Matt allows twenty-five years of confusion and bitterness to completely control mind and body for the first time. It is aware of the Plan. However only now does this creature understand how much pain and suffering Matt has seen in the last three months of travelling. That fact has been shielded from it by the Myoxians, with so much else besides… this is amazing. Matt is willing to die, right now, to prove his point.

Ophelia sees everything, in a moment, reminded via Connection of what they were once, all of them, free before slavery. This consciousness, clear of control, reaches out across the street, sweeping Matt up and into their safe care.

Nobody else will be culled on his planet again.


As a solar eclipse pushes Earth into darkness, Myoxian Harvester 21-TH loses control with its Connection Uplink, before realising this is probably the least of a mounting set set of unexpected inconveniences, as an Urbaren Destructoid de-cloaks on the far side of Earth’s moon…


Everything Else Has Gone Wrong

It’s probably best to start with an apology. This week’s writing aspirations, pretty much across the board, fell through the floor, thanks to a mental health incident on Monday. It has taken until today to sort everything out, rearrange plans and generally pick myself up from the fallout. The last time this occurred with a comparable level of severity was the moment I realised that my life needed a comprehensive redo about five years ago.

This time around however there’s enough support and coping mechanisms in place to allow things to bounce back with relative ease. It also helps that various new means of relaxation have been introduced into my routine as means to deal with the fallout objectively. Putting those things together means that there’s no need to suddenly delete a lot of stuff from the site and then simply pretend all these things were never planned in the first place.

Yup, that’s how I used to cope with failure: ironic in the week when a major Government official retro-edited his blogs to make him look smarter than is undoubtedly the case, I’m not the only person who when they fuck up tries to cover their tracks. No longer do we do this stuff: time to be honest, up front, before rescheduling everything in a more acceptable and realistic time frame.

The amended timescales for the drabbles is up: first two will appear on June 8th. The weekly poetry (graphic above) will get finished tomorrow and then go up as a complete, new piece on Sunday. We’ll start again next week, and move forward with some important changes to the way things get planned and presented. Plus, there’s some important behind the scenes faffing going on…

Thank you for understanding, and let’s move forward.