A Whole New World

I’m behind on archiving the Short Stories right now, but by the end of February, they’ll all be there for you to read. This year, we’re doing something a little different and, if its successful, it’ll be the norm going forward. You see, in 2021, 12 stories come together to form a thematically-connected narrative…

January’s Story sets the scene (and I won’t give it away for you if you’ve not read it, there’ll be a dedicated page for this whole thing appearing over the weekend) and now, we’ll be using Twitter’s Poll facility to gather some important information to help me write April’s story. In March, we’ll return to the protagonist from January’s tale… who’ll we be following with some interest throughout the rest of 2021…

What these either/or answers will do is effectively dictate the action at crucial points in the narrative. I did a two pronged Choose Your Own Adventure using the Polls last year that worked very well: the links to that are Here for Version One and Here for Version Two but, as I discovered, this was a tough ask to manage and plan. Instead, this time around we’re using Polls in a slightly more flexible fashion.

I’ve found that thematically linking stuff together is making for a far easier time of things everywhere, and this allows me more time to experiment with other forms of writing and creation. I hope you’ll enjoy the journey we’ll be going on this year and who knows, there might be more than just words as an accompaniment this time… perhaps other forms may emerge as entertainment in the world of UltraReality…

Ready to Go

There are lots of things I’d like to do in 2021. This is where I let you lot in on what they are.

The Ko-Fi exercise is going REALLY well, so much so that I’m expanding out to other places too. I have a Tumblr account now, where my experimental stuff is gonna appear, and having linked my Pinterest account to here in the last week, I’ll be pinning my poetry there too. It’s another place where exposure can happen, and all those things are Good [TM] going forward.

Next up, we have audio: there’s gonna be a selection of audio files to play with next week, and part of me is already wondering if there’s an easy way to make an image map for all of these (so that’s been shoved on the To Do List) and that faffing alone might well have been better served happening a bit earlier in my planning. However, there’s still a week left before Time to Talk Day, so it’s not a total loss. If it works, we’ll play with other things in a similar vein.

Finally, photography will be making a return in February. For most of this month when I’ve gone outside it’s to either exercise or do essential stuffs, which is really how this should be working anyway, so my subjects need to be integrated into exercise practically. There are plans afoot, and again we’ll start working on those next week. Everything is under control.

I just got to do it all now…

Change

It’s the UK’s @TimetoChange ‘Time to Talk’ Day in [FX: checks calendar] nine days and as this will be the last time that this event takes place under the auspice of the organization (who will cease to exist in March) it seems only right and proper to do something special. Therefore, I’ve decided to take my mental health journey, which is recorded in CURT; URBANE [click here for a link to purchase] and effectively present a virtual reading.

All 20 poems will be available here EXCLUSIVELY on Time to Talk Day, on a dedicated webpage. I’ll be sharing eight of those between 9am and 5pm on the 4th via my Twitter account too, with some extra bits and bobs along the way, and hope you’ll take a listen. In the end, all of this is about starting conversations, however small, about the things that worry or concern us. Talking about how you feel doesn’t just allow you the chance to explain what’s wrong, it can also help others understand and suggest where you can find help and support.

Time to Talk may be going away, but I fully intend to keep writing poetry about my mental health, and promoting conversations around it. I qualified as a Mental health First Aider late last year, and it’s only the start of a long-term commitment to help other people who might be struggling during the pandemic, and long after we’re back to whatever ‘normal’ ends up being. Poetry is a how I learnt to express feelings that previously I could not actually discuss, and my chapbook is an important metaphor in my continuing journey to enlightenment.

I hope you enjoy what I’ve made, and that you can take the time to listen to the poems when they appear next Thursday. Thank you for your support 😀

Nature Boy

If you don’t follow me as a Patron on Patreon (very easy, sign up now) you won’t know that right now, I’m in the middle of the first of four projects for 2021. That means that this week (and quite possibly for a significant portion of the weekend) I’m putting down the first draft of a 60 verse poetry narrative. The longest I’ve managed successfully thus far was 40, and that seemed to go down incredibly well. So, it’s time to put my creative skills to the test.

It’s also become something of an exercise in reassessment in the last couple of days: everything was beautifully planned and sensibly telegraphed, but when I sat down to write the characters had other ideas, and as a result we are in the land of unexpected diversion from the planned narrative. I take this as a good sign, that this means there’s enough depth to the story to allow me to let these voices point the direction to take and me to follow. There’s also some poems already that I am insanely proud of…

This also gives me the opportunity to look at what’s been previously produced in the last six months as a benchmark, and it’s apparent that this style is a definite evolution down the road from where I began. Finding my poetic ‘voice’ has been hugely complex during a pandemic, but undoubtedly this is evolution over the last twelve months. The next task is to see if any of that previous work can now be effectively recycled for other submissions, and I’m pretty sure at least one ‘collection’ can be resubmitted elsewhere.

These are exciting times I find myself within, and enthusiasm and energy with which to write, which has not existed for some time. A lot of that can be put down to being physically more active too, and the morning run I had today has undoubtedly made everything else that much easier to attain… let’s hope this is momentum on both fronts that can be sustained, and then capitalised upon.

How Will I Know?

Those of you following me on the Socials will be aware I’m doing a bit more exercise than has previously been the case. This began with a post-Christmas burst which made me realise that the only thing holding me back from real, tangible progress is myself. It is very easy to let good habits slip when all you want to do is wear PJ’s and eat chocolate, but the older I get the harder it has become to maintain the consistency I crave. Therefore, it is time to adapt.

There’s still a bar of chocolate wound into my workouts. The occasional treat is perfectly admissible. This isn’t about only drinking protein shakes and boring people senseless with the power of positive thinking. It is knowing that, at some point, you just need to shut the fuck up and do the work. That’s the case for the writing too: November’s NaNo went out to people to read and this is, without doubt, the most positive feedback I’ve ever received. Even the dislikes are positive.

Therefore, it was time to do something with it.

It’s been entered for a contest I doubt we’ll make traction in, but for the first time a 10k submission actually looked like a story I’d like to read, not just something with a niche interest window. I’ve also been given some brilliant late-plot feedback that means there’ll be stuff added once the current poetry project’s past first draft and needs to have a rest. I’d not expected that to do what it has to my brain either, and so we’ll be working on that for a bit longer than anticipated, but no worries. Exercise is helping me think on the go.

I don’t expect any of this to be successful, so if it happens I will be beyond surprised. However, what this does do is allow me the opportunity to believe that this is the right path to be treading, and that the decisions that are being made, make sense. It’s as much about self-confidence as it will ever be about success. In the end, there has to be a method of self-propulsion that doesn’t require other people as fuel. It transpires words can move you forward.

Who knew?

Ruby Tuesday

Hang on, how did it get to be Thursday again so fast? There’s been a lot on this week, it must be said, and I have a ton of important stuff to knock off at the weekend. Most importantly, VIDEO IS BACK and we’ll start knocking off some more poems for the Virtual Chapbook next week. Add to all of this that I’m recording poetry for Time to Talk Day, which is not that far away now… but this post is not about the future, but THE PRESENT.

I’ve made a daily return to Ko-Fi this week, with some measure of success.

This stuff used to happen on Instagram, but as was discussed on Tuesday, we don’t do Facebook-sponsored content here any more. Instead, Ko-Fi’s a lovely sweet place where I get to call all the shots, and it’s nothing at all to do with anything except content on my terms. Therefore, we’ll Haiku there for a couple of weeks and maybe introduce something else as time goes on. I know various other people use this for short stories, so it becomes a pseudo-subscription model…

Also, there is currently quite a lot of mucking about with Spotify. Anyone who has been paying proper attention in the last couple of years should have more than a proper grasp of the significance of music in my life. Let’s be honest, it underpins just about everything I am. The playlist above for the 2020 NaNoWriMo got a facelift today (because we have a new book cover) and, rather amazingly, the 2021 Novel’s already got a soundtrack being added to…

Things are looking pretty productive, and long may it continue.

New Shoes

Yes, we’re only two weeks into the year, despite the last one feeling like it was at least a month long. I’ve allowed the original domain tied to this site to lapse, and finally we’re feeling as if this project might be getting somewhere. The sharp-eyed amongst you will notice new prominence to both Pinterest and Ko-Fi on the front page: there is more than one way to sell yourself online in 2021. Most importantly, I have left Instagram for good, and could not be happier.

The final straw was WhatsApp’s decision to force me into a user agreement which effectively shares my data with their parent company, and (if I were in the US) would allow Facebook to sell it to anybody who paid enough. I’ve had a lot of conversations over privacy in the last few weeks, and the events in the US have been the galvanising factor in making me decide to move away for good. I really don’t care about convenience, but need to maintain control of who holds my information.

This video was, believe it or not, from 2014, which feels the equivalent of Shakespeare popping up live from the Globe trying to give a cohesive argument for why his plays should remain relevant in the modern world. You either ascribe to the idea of privacy and freedom or, it appears, you don’t. There is no middle answer, because the moment you sit there you’ve transformed into a commodity. Your data, like it or not, becomes all anyone ever wants from you. Opinions are invalid, and change pretty much impossible… which is where most people are now.

It’s too much fuss to change. Except, if you’ll let your freedom be so easily taken, what happens when people come for all the other stuff?

This blog’s remained largely apolitical since it was relaunched. However, that’s never what I’ve been, and as injustice becomes increasingly apparent, I have little desire to pretend it isn’t happening. That’s other people’s jobs and not mine. As part of my personal education policy going forward, a lot more questions are about to be asked not only of the World, but of those people who decide that you don’t talk about ‘that stuff’ in their social media.

That’s a sure-fire way of not being prepared for when the Revolution hits.

Beautiful Dreamer

A lot of new things have begun on Patreon in 2021, and I do mean A LOT. The episodic fiction and flash fiction pieces have remained, having bedded in nicely after three months. It’s not yet the right space in which to LANzine full-time; that will however return when the moment is right (probably as specials during the year when I need to fulfil a creative itch). That has facilitated therefore a tranche of NEW FEATURES including audio, extra bonus video and… art criticism.

No, really, hear me out.

2021 is the year when horizons are expanded in lots of different directions, which includes philosophy at weekends, plus considering my thoughts and ideas on why art matters so much to me, because it does. I was a graphic artist for two decades before my kids were born, and although there are only neophyte fine art skills thus far, a good font combination when presented is truly beautiful. The golden ratio is grasped and applied in photography. None of this is news, and now it’s time to start deepening that knowledge.

Therefore, I’ve added a portion of art exploration and criticism to Patreon. It’s available to everybody on subscription and I hope it might encourage interest on a wider stage. We’re not just talking about painting and all that stuff you find in museums either. Just about everything around you contains an artistic element within it. Knowing how mathematics fits into this too is really rather crucial, because there is undoubted beauty in chaos and confusion. Understanding why that is remains really important in order to grasp the overall significance of what makes us happy.

Let’s see if a combination of art and philosophy is the key to my own personal renaissance…

Things We Lost in the Fire

Yes, I’m still here 😀

There is, unsurprisingly, a PHENOMENAL amount to catch up on. For those of you who don’t read the front page, husband and son were diagnosed as Covid positive at the start of December. Both were phenomenally careful and did everything they should have done when outside, but with a son in his early 20’s at college and a husband making regular trips into London on business, it shouldn’t really be a surprise they came into contact with infection. As of right now I’ve been tested twice, and been negative both times. It still could happen, and we weren’t taking any chances… and now that possibility is significantly reduced.

Over Christmas the original domain linked with this site before IoW came into being has lapsed, and as a result a large portion of old links require an update. It’s on the To Do list with a lot of cleaning up, which will happen quietly and without fuss in the next few weeks. The missing short stories will also be added, plus a number of other things retired and removed with the minimum of fuss. In their place, I’ll be highlighting content that’s been produced elsewhere, placing a greater focus on my exercise and mental health issues, and how the two are now pretty much inextricably linked.

I’m looking forward to the new direction we’ll take as a result.

A lot of my working process has altered during the break, with a far greater emphasis on Patreon as the way forward. It seems the right moment to start taking this stuff seriously, and with the very real possibility we’ll be in lockdown in the UK until March? I suddenly have a lot more free time than was previously anticipated. There’s some experimental things on the table, and I’m already playing about with ideas, which you’ll see being developed as time goes on.

There’s also the return of the Short Story to Twitter, plus going forward I’ll be working on photography and poetry mini-projects on this platform. Right now however my attention’s focussed on hitting some January submission deadlines and preparing other, quite major works for later in the year. There’s a lot potentially to do, and right now nothing is off the table. I have a lot of back catalogue from last year just asking to be freshened and reenergised, after all…

Give it a few weeks, and it’ll be like I never left…

The Story of Us

Last week, there was another rejection.

It wasn’t a surprise: in fact, on reflection, it was anything but. Writing what I thought needed to be produced to be considered as a contender was always the plan. Only now does it occur to me that until someone decides I’m worthy, success in these worlds will never take place. It’s completely out of my hands, however much effort goes into the work. I’ve not been published enough in the right places, and by the right people to be considered saleable. This is a discussion that keeps happening, and won’t stop until it finally registers.

Today, it registered.

Before someone is prepared to take a chance on me, it’s all about patience, and learning to pick the right things to aim for. Finally, there is the acceptance that what I write for contest is distinctly different to what is written elsewhere, and maybe if there could be less focus on expectation and more on enjoyment, we might get somewhere. The last big collection completed, currently still in contest, fits that definition well, and if it fails, we’ll send it off again.

Starting next year, it is time to reassess my working practices and redefine a lot of what counts as output, for no other reason than I am coming out of a significant period of mental readjustment. Looking at work that is often bitter and introspective, it makes sense why a lot of this will not be of interest to anyone. The good work shines, and beginning to spot the real quality is happening, slowly. The fact remains, my best work is produced in a very particular way.

It is also the moment to start practising a new routine.