One of my jobs on Monday (21st) apart from finally starting the long-overdue Spring Clean of the house is to make a list of the various Poetry and Writing prizes I would like to start aiming for in the months that follow. Twitter has become quite useful as a means of working out where such things exist, and is slowly allowing me to build a plan of attack in relation to what is possible in the time frames available. Right now, there are two poetry prizes and one short story prize that are eminently doable. There have to be more.
Then, it is a case of believing I’m good enough to try.
There are people around me (in a virtual sense) whose self-belief and inability to be blindsided by their own shortcomings is frankly astounding. I read blogs and posts and tweets from people who seem to believe they are capable of anything, with parts of my brain wondering how this is possible. I’ve become my own worst critic when it comes to ability, and that needs to change, but this only happens by decoupling the fear and doubt from my equation. All this stuff about how you are supposed to sound a certain way, or project a particular persona is all well and good, to a point.
I am proud of my work, but I’m not an idiot.
There is a list of dates and deadlines, things to do when on holiday as distraction. There’s a Long List of projects to complete, clearing the decks as planning begins for a new route forward. I think I’ve found an alternative to Patreon that will work for me.
Now to start building a framework to support this change.
Next Thursday is Time to Change Day where, for 24 hours, I can happily remind people that having a mental health issue is no longer the stigma it once was. There are days when I feel this isn’t the case, however, especially on Social media: that advocating tolerance and understanding is sometimes a tough ask. When the rest of the World has grown up not worrying about thinking before it speaks, or understanding why some people feel differently, every single interaction can be a trial. Except… this week, something has happened. Perhaps it is my perception that has altered or just the fact I’m now more aware of what can happen if people don’t think before they affect others’ lives.
Now I have the confidence to stand up and say stuff needs to stop.
I’m already seeing the effects of this in planning content. I’m beginning to grasp the confidence in the Gym to deal with the unexpected (like faceplanting into the floor when my arms gave out on a push-up and not dying of anxiety or embarrassment.) I’ll still have moments but talking about mental health has benefits far and away from your actual condition. That empowerment of your self-belief might look and sound like technobabble bollocks, but it really isn’t. Getting your shit sorted is not hard, though sometimes it will feel that way.
If you can find the right support network, things get a helluva lot easier.
It is not just a case of standing up for what you are and believe, however. Learning from others is a vital part of the process. It doesn’t have to be formal instruction either: the benefits of simply hanging out with like-minded individuals, watching at a distance and crucially saying nothing at all can all reap benefits for the open-minded. Change is not simply the process of alteration, but adaptation and acceptance. All of these things work together if you are prepared to put in the effort. I am in the most exciting place I have ever existed in terms of creativity, too. Today, I’ve made some significant changes to the two major fiction pieces I’m re-writing, alterations I’d not have been capable of making a year ago.
Knowing when to say No, and being prepared to change are opening creative avenues I did not think would be possible, and it is beyond brilliant.
Having made the decision yesterday to call time on Patreon, I am left with an inevitable void. The first plan of action is to make sure that this site remains regularly up-kept, which was a problem back when I’d be chasing myself for content. Today therefore we’ll fill those gaps from last week (which serve to indicate how everything slowly went south) before spending this week weeding out all the good features I played with and the other gubbins that can be thrown away. I’m no longer afraid of admitting I screwed ideas up. You have to try lots of stuff to find out what works and doesn’t, after all.
What has been a resounding success is the Twitter Poetry: I’m particularly proud of the Daily Haiku, which when married with GIF imagery becomes a brilliant way of entertaining. Therefore, that will stay (and I’ll make them all into a Moment on Twitter at the end of December) and will become a bi-monthly affair. I also really enjoy doing the graphics for all these little interludes, so there’ll be more of that too, on reflection. The plan in 2018 will be to extend them to Instagram, add more self-generated art to the process, and make these a true extension of my personality.
After that, the short stories have been unexpectedly popular and this is definitely something I could do, having serialised Fanfic here. There was an abortive attempt to do the same with my own fiction but the problem was not having a finished product from which to work with. Therefore, once the current novel’s complete, I’ll start work on re-imagining an existing work for serialisation. There is also a plan to start producing some fiction inspired by my favourite computer game. You’ll want to watch this space for more details.
I am cautiously optimistic that once I streamline this site, things will get a lot simpler to both post and archive. There’s enough content to keep everything ticking over nicely, and still allow me a life in between. All in all, I’d say things are looking up.
Many of you read my triumvirate of blogs on a regular basis, and will know that all three together are the best way of judging my mental state. I’ve made no bones over the years of how important writing is for keeping me sane, and the last week has brought home the understanding that it also has the capacity to make me reassess myself in ways I’d not previously considered. Last week’s essay asked questions of my past that I’d not been comfortable answering until now. This resulted in a weekend where I went through a phenomenal amount of personal angst, to grasp that history cannot be avoided and ultimately has to be dealt with, whether I like it or not.
This week, therefore, is fairly crucial in proving to myself I am learning lessons. The first 48 hours are always quite stress free: it will be this time next week where I’ll see if the changes in diet, the alteration to my working practices and my change of focus are beginning to have an effect. There is a lot of stuff that I want to do before Christmas, most of which have nothing to do with personal comfort, and are wrapped around beginning to give back to those who have helped me get this far.
I’m going to be privately contacting a number of people I want to particularly thank for their support but I’ve had a plan for a while to use November’s Haiku in the same way I’m doing with the Inktober prompts via #ThinkTober on Instagram. Therefore, I spent some time on Sunday finishing up a series of 30 Tweets that will be Haiku for November. I won’t say in advance who these thank you messages are for, only that I have spent a quite some time working out who’d be gifted a poem.
I’ve already spoken about NaNoWriMo, more details of which will be discussed next week. What also needs to change, as a result of what I’ve learnt from this month’s worth of Patreon content, is what I’m offering in terms of tiers and rewards.
It’s become apparent with my mental reactions to the content I’m producing that there is so much more I could be doing, but cannot due to the self-imposed structure I have in place. Therefore, in my month’s worth of downtime in November there’s going be some hard thoughts about how things change, and I will be polling my existing patrons quite extensively on what they would like to see. If you’d like to be part of that process, you can become part of my Patreon family with just a click of the above banner.
I look forward to taking some genuine steps into the unknown in the months that follow.