School’s Out

Here’s a thing. I’m off to what I suppose should be referred to as an Evening Class tonight, and am rather excited at the prospect.

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I wish there were more money to be able to do stuff like this with greater frequency, but it’s just not practical, when a London-based course could cost the equivalent of the monthly food budget. I’m already saving as it is for Mslexicon this year, and that means making some harsh decisions in the next couple of weeks as how everything is funded. I’m already making all the savings possible to let this happen.

However, there is an ulterior motive to doing a couple of hours on the High Street tonight: this venue has an open mic in two weeks, which will be a perfect opportunity in which to take some problematic poetry with me for performance later in the year. It also gives me a focus for the two days writing time I’ve booked at the local Arts Collective next month, as part of the county’s Book Festival.

It allows an opportunity to extend experience to other places.

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All of these venues are on my doorstep, so travel costs are minimal: the two day ‘hot desk’ opportunity is free as well, so I would have been very remiss to have not taken that one up. More importantly than that, of course, the capacity for networking exceeds all other benefits: if you want to be know, you do unfortunately have to put yourself about, and until I gain Banksy levels of notoriety, that’s a given.

It’s the part of this job description I’ve always struggled with, with social anxiety always there as a reminder that you’re never as prepared as you think is enough. However, each time something like this happens, undoubtedly things get easier. That whole thing about practice isn’t just restricted to exercise, after all. Doing something every day has considerable benefit in both brain and body.

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I have a t-shirt for the evening all picked. I will take something pre-written as a starting point to improve. I’ve packed business cards and favourite pencils. All that needs to happen now is to get through the rest of the day unscathed and this will be the first of a number of small rewards, to myself, for distinctive progress made. After all, even the most hardened of professionals benefits from some quality ‘them’ time.

I’ll report on the evening Friday, via a blog.

All Time High

Life, right now at least, is all about narrative. The NaNo project (more on this in the next post) is progressing better than anything I’ve produced of this ilk for several years. The reason’s simple: I want to do it. All of this is fulfilling ambitions that have laid dormant for as long as I can remember, fuelled only by the scheduled short story forays and that episodic fiction that will be finished for next year.

It’s becoming apparent in other avenues of existence that attainment is very much entwined with belief. Knowing you are good enough is not what is required if your bigger problem’s all about stamina. Being able to identify what needs work is possibly one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do. It also means that, like it or not, I can’t devote time to other forms of expression.

Don’t tell anybody, but I am really missing writing poetry.

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There’s a number of deadlines in December that are already being considered, a collection being re-written and numerous single poems in states of construction. It’s not like poems don’t exist in my head either: doing a month’s worth of micropoetry with imagery was enormous fun, so much so that there’ll be a Christmas selection starting December 1st… because, well, why not?

What November is giving me, believe it or not, is a chance to breathe. Only working to a 50K word notional deadline is considerably less stressful than anything else produced this year. It’s allowing opportunities to find the joy in other things too, which hopefully will leach through to other areas of my written work. Blogging is undoubtedly becoming easier, and I’ve even dusted off my gaming blog for a few posts already.

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I’ll do some work next week on getting dates and deadlines up on the wall: it’s not something I’ve done yet in this new space and that needs to change. For now, however, I think it’s time to take a cuppa to bed and decompress with some Solitaire on my tablet. Gaming remains hugely important to me, in all its forms, not just as relaxation, but in this case it most certainly is.

We’ll be back here again tomorrow to start again.

Supper’s Ready

After I failed to get a residency at the local arts collective in March, the idea I’d wanted to work on became End of the Fear. That is the gift that keeps on giving, and it has taught me the value of not assuming that success equals a book deal or a winning submission. Success is not about what other people consider as worthy, it’s your happiness above everything else.

However, my submission did get me noticed enough to win a meeting with the head of the Southend facility (is that the right word, I wonder… hub, perhaps? Community centre?) and a promise I could appear as part of their ‘Future Park’ events: three minutes to sell yourself to the audience, using anything you want as content. In my case, I picked a poem written in January which remains the strongest piece I’ve written all year, ironically submitted for a major prize last week.

That means there will eventually be some pictures of the evening. For now, I am reminded that although using Social media has its own pitfalls, if I wanna be seen in the world, this is the way to do it. With Inktober coming up, there’s a strong temptation to do haiku again, because that was huge fun and I’ve come a long way in two years. My home town is an amazing backdrop for so many things, after all…

There’s a lot to consider on the back of this performance, and next week is an important deadline for a collection I’ve been playing with for over a year now. Today, however, is taking things easy. The stress and adrenaline are still very much in evidence, and so that means no exercise as well as no worrying over what happens next. For now, I celebrate what’s been achieved this year, and what might yet be to come.

Grand Designs

This week, all told, has pretty much gone exactly to plan.

Okay, there was a bit of a moment on Thursday and Friday, when I wondered (again) whether counselling during a major project was a good idea or not, but as it transpires everything is very much on track. I have completed poems too, plus so many fragments to sort that Monday of next week’s being put over just to that: organising what’s been produced so far, and what is as yet untouched.

Right now, there’s a lot of work still to do, but very little worry over how it will get done. Before I started the location work that was an issue, but not any more. The photographs are having exactly the desired effect: kick-starting brain into poetic action. In fact, the more places I go to and take shots of, the more fertile these ideas become. Next week however, I will take a pad an pen with me because however convenient it might be, typing on my phone is sub-optimal.

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Favourite picture today #EndOfTheFear

A post shared by Sarah Reeson/Internet of Words (@internetofwords) on

Once the fragments are collated and saved into my master document, it’ll be time to work out which locations are still missing pictures, before I begin building the foundations of the collections’ permanent online home. They’ll be linked to the Places of Poetry website (of course) but the pictures I have will form this secondary holding space. As this is free to me (only costs the time, which I’ve rationalised as good practice for my picture taking skills) it will end up as a nice online portion of my CV.

Without further ado, it’s time to start pulling the disparate pieces of this puzzle together…

Rip It Up

As a wise man once said: break’s over. Time to get back to work.

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On my way back from Blood Donation #6 this morning [four more and I GET A BADGE] the entire plan for January’s Short Story got thrown in the furnace. Instead, we have a NEW PLAN and, in even more SHOCK NEWS, the luxury of a cushion of content at the get-go. I do love scheduling things, but that largely involves having the ideas ready to roll. This time, WE DO. This is, quite frankly, unbelievable scenes.

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It’s not just this stuff that’s raring to go either. The reason why EX/WHI‘s not on the site either (but should be tomorrow) is that late last week, an opportunity presented itself to take all the sad, rejected poetry from this year (of which there is a fair amount) and reinvent it as a collection. How could I refuse? Add to that the best of my online output for the year (I checked, they’ll accept work that has been published online but that isn’t part of a collection) and BOOM there was a lovely flurry of very productive activity.

Quite a few things were ‘refreshed’ from the ground up, whilst a couple simply got cut and pasted into the .PDF. It was a particularly good exercise in knowing what works with my poetry, and being brutal over what used to be good and is absolutely no longer the case. Oh, and for a contest that closes tomorrow, there’s a new poem too: the chances of that winning its particular prize are astronomically tiny. In fact, should even get a mention in dispatches, I’ll eat a snood.

I don’t have time to chat, there’s still far too much to do here. If I can truly get on top of this as the New Year rolls in, there’s a good chance to feel suitably invincible for several weeks.

That’s something worth making an effort for…

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That graphic means only one thing, and it’s TIME TO LOOK AHEAD. Lots to talk about, so let’s get started.

  • This Website Needs Reorganisation

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    If I’m sending potential mentors here, it time to get things sorted. At least two pages as of writing this have no content. I can reorganise some links to be more coherent. Mostly, it all needs a once over and the smell of fresh bread to be more enticing. Therefore, over the next couple of days, stuff will magically appear. Plus, I’ll be dragging out the essays that were written for the Book of the Month project…

  • ‘Quite a Few’ Short Stories in Planning

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    This feature has really taken off over the last few months, and it is consistently (along with the curated music lists) my top engagement with readers. As a result, we have a bit of a binge on, with content being planned a massive SIX MONTHS in advance. I think, on return from the break in September, we’ll stick a synopsis at the start of the Twitter feed before the story proper begins…

  • The August Poetry Recap

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    As I have mentioned previously, August is a ‘content lite’ month. However, Twitter will, every day at 2pm (@Internetofwords) and 6pm (@AlternativeChat) provide you with one of the best poems from the last six months, as a reminder that I’m still alive even if on hiatus, and that I’ve written a LOT of poetry since the start of this journey. Yeah, some of it is better than the rest, but HEY everybody has to begin somewhere…

  • Gumroad ‘Coming in October’

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    All things being equal, I’ll have Issue 1 of Arguto to sell at some point in the future. It will give you a tangible piece of literary output, with content not available anywhere else, including pictures and, guaranteed: one short story, one haiku plus a micropoetry sequence. It’s going to Gumroad, as will be some other exclusive items you can buy to help support my journey. Watch this Space.

  • Instagram is Back (well, sort of)

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    No, I’m not Facebook’s bitch, but if IoW is gonna fly, I am gonna need to sacrifice a piece of the soul to the Commercial Gods. This is particularly true now they do video. When the new stuff is ready to go, I’ll let you know, but it will be art/poetry based… and there’s already planning…

  • Supporting My Journey

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This is your scheduled reminder that I’ll take Paypal payments and you can buy me a cuppa on Ko-Fi. If you’d like to donate, click here.


Summertime

I hate to be the one who points this out, but June is now only eleven days away. This means there needs to be far more training to ride bikes in public than is currently the case, and there is now the commencement of quite serious planning for the #Soundtracking2018 and #Narrating2018 content on the YouTubes. Music’s easy, in that glorious honeymoon period where all songs with Summer in their title are fair game for playlist inclusion. However, that’s not our subject matter for the short story or additional content.

It is time to delve into the utterly bizarre shiz that lives a stone’s throw away from conventional memes and top informative content.

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My daughter loves her dank memes, and it was her who made this playlist possible. Some of the stuff she watches is truly bizarre, and once you hit those rabbit holes it can become very hard to get away without losing hours of life. When they say all human life is online, they’re not kidding… and the truly surreal nature of some of it is… well, just that.

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I’m really enjoying the preparation for next month’s content.

I hope there’s something within it to both educate and inform.

Wondrous Stories

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This site is still not nearly as ‘done’ as I would like, and as a result, for the next few days, lots of stuff’s gonna get poked and prodded. That will include adding pages for the two new ideas I decided to throw into the mix at the 11th hour on New Year’s Eve, and are already looking like the best ones I’ve had for quite some time. Both are completely autonomous too: they rely on a regular scheduled post, and the ability to organise myself once a week for the next fifty-one.

#Narrating2018 is the more esoteric of the two ideas: taking random memories from my past and recalling them in the present, then using that inspiration as a basis for more content and reflection. This month, that means colour documentaries from the 1950’s to the 1970’s, uploaded by a disparate bunch of individuals to You Tube for posterity. It is memory preservation without the often annoying subtext/soundtrack that modern YT content creators think is funny or relevant. I like my past untainted, so it can be judged objectively.

Then there’s the #indy31 which forms a larger part of #Soundtracking2018: a year’s worth of music that matters to me, on a month by month basis. I’ll be sorting out my You Tube channel next week in anticipation of actual usage, where these songs can go as fully formed playlists, plus some written accompaniment as context. It is all very simple: other people have done the work, I’m just curating the results. It is one of my skills, which should be used to the fullest potential possible.

Soundtracking 2018

All these things are a part of my life I live with a passion, but have never really taken the time to share with other people. It seems sometimes like too much effort to do so, when in reality the only real problem is being willing to share. In a world where so many people have lost the basic ability to both accommodate others and embrace their differences, it is high time I left my prejudices at the door and celebrated things just for what they are and not what others tell me to believe. More importantly however, my own, often dangerous inability to think outside the box I live in has the capacity to serve as a real hindrance. If I can show willing to step outside my comfort zones, then maybe this will encourage others to follow suit.

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The proof of all this will, undoubtedly be in the consumption. Time to shut up talking a good game, and start playing it.

Communication Breakdown

Origins

Those of you paying attention will know that yesterday was my 51st Birthday. These events are often odd affairs: I can remember my 40th as one of the darkest periods of my life, whilst a decade on I was in Paris, with my family and staying in the fanciest Hotel I’d ever experienced. As human beings, we tend to put a lot of emphasis on these celebrations, and it is only this year that I’ve begun to understand why that is. Those revelations will undoubtedly serve as personal blogging fodder for several days: for now, I wanted to spend some time explaining how a very particular group of people have influenced my journey to this point.

You see, without exception, it is those who take time to be critical whom I respect the most.

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Being positive is, for a writer, often the coward’s way out. I can remember moments when asked to critique other people’s works, I’ve struggled to find anything positive to say. In those cases, the compliment sandwich becomes a difficult meal to make. You know how this works: two positives that act as the bread to a filling where you get to lay bare all the bad stuff. Except sometimes, there is only filling. As a society, we are now pushed to be positive for a lot of very good, noble and totally correct reasons. There are extremely sound foundations for encouraging this behaviour… except when your sandwich is sans filling…

It is a balancing act I’ve always found hard to maintain because I was made a blunt instrument. I’ve had to learn to communicate a balance, and over the years on my three blogs you can, if you take the time, watch this evolution take place. There will be days when I continue to say ‘fuck you’ to various sections of the establishment, and that remains the case because there is the realisation that these people just don’t listen regardless. If your idea of criticism is the passive-aggressive format that at least one of my stalkers took in an attempt to try and make me feel guilty for ostracising him? I can see the difference now. That ploy’s not going to work anymore.

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With everybody else, I can find a working relationship. Language differences do not matter: I can Google translate now if required (and I do when the need is there) and honestly if the willing exists on both sides, everybody wins. The best criticism I get, consistently, is that which simply holds a mirror up to my own failings without fear. It happens far more than most might realise too: the exchanges via Social media, realisations that are highlighted by (often) the most unexpected of people. The number of individuals who still DM me when typos turn up in posts is a true joy and is never going to get old. It isn’t pedantry, but a physical manifestation of care, and I will forever remain grateful.

Being online is becoming less dangerous with each passing day as a result. Those who are annoyed enough to block me from their lives have done their job in teaching the lessons around how sometimes, however hard you try, people will just hate what you are regardless. Occasionally those blocks, however, are for sanity, and the understanding that someone isn’t listening to anyone but themselves. For the people who really matter you just mute and allow them the chance to vent, because they give you that respect in your space to do the exact same thing. Having taken all my Twitter mutes off this morning after a period where I just needed to breathe (metaphorically speaking) there a readiness to engage again.

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Writing isn’t just an exercise in self-satisfaction, despite what some authors might say to the contrary. It is as much about being able to grasp and accept the critical responses of others as it is being able to do the same to them. I am happy to be edited, which was once not the case but only to a point. If I feel someone’s suggesting the removal of a point I feel is crucial to an argument or a narrative, it will stay intact. If someone sees the World in a differing way to me that is absolutely fine (and I can respect this) but not at the expense of my own view or indeed feelings on the matter. If it is obvious someone is not prepared to compromise… then you walk on. With too much else to do, some fights are simply not worth your time.

However, I listen to all the criticism I get. Good and bad, positive and negative, I have found the means to assimilate it all. That is something I know many people just can’t do, but for me, it has become as much of the process as the writing itself. I have been forged in the heat of decades of pitched Internet abuse, attacked by trolls and fools as well as finding some of the best and most brilliant friends a girl could ever ask for in her journey to enlightenment. Sometimes, you take it all because there’s the understanding that on some days, you get nothing at all.

This is what I have become, and it is glorious.

#ThinkTober Week Three

Week Three of the Haiku project ended up as something of an experiment in different canvases. Some worked, others didn’t, but overall I learnt a great deal about organising myself more effectively. Needless to say, all of this is useful information to take going forward in the weeks to come.

One of the most significant changes will be that if I use myself as a canvas, I’ll need to get somebody else to take the pictures. This picture is a bit more blurry than I would like: had I been better organised, a far more professional picture could have been taken. Also, fountain pen ink is by far the best thing I’ve found to write onto my skin. This won’t be the last time that happens, I’ll wager.

Welcome to the green space outside my house: one of the trees here fell down a few years ago and crushed my car. This one, however, appears to be made of sturdier stuff and became my backdrop: I did think about writing on the bark, but am pretty certain that would qualify as vandalism. Card and BluTack had to do instead.

In the interests of full disclosure: this spider was not killed in order to make the Haiku happen. I found a long-dead spider corpse (with an already detached leg) to play a stunt squashed arachnid. I still need to put this unit together, now I come to think of it… ^^

I need to make more use of custom card cutouts in the Christmas set of Haiku I’m planning. Hobby shops probably will be able to provide me with some festive shapes, and I’m smart enough to be able to design some of my own. There’s also the opportunity to print out my words and then place them against plainer backgrounds, which is an approach I’ve not utilised…

This, of all the Haiku I’ve done, is my absolute favourite of all. It required me to have to write a poem only using the Scrabble letters and then finding a way to place them on the board where particular letters had to be duplicated. Okay, that’s not exactly how a game would work either, but you can’t have everything.

Yes, I texted this one in because I was short for time.

I think it works regardless 😀

… and that is Week Three done. That leaves me another 10 days worth of Haiku to complete, which I’ll post as one complete post after the Project is finished. Many thanks for sticking with me thus far, and I look forward to seeing you for the last part of the journey.