Well Done

It is the best feeling in the world to obtain an unprompted compliment. Having had a couple in the last few weeks, I can tell you from personal experience to have someone care enough to come to you directly with feedback turns bad days into great ones. However, you have to be a realist. I’ve had my first piece of genuine negative feedback this week too, and if you’re not careful those kind of comments can put you back months.

Getting the balance right really matters. I know there are authors who don’t take kindly to being told what’s wrong with their work: it’s the equivalent of abusing someone because their Victoria Sponge is not decorated in the way other sponges should be. There is no right way to write, that’s the point. Sure, if you want a Booker Prize your icing and filling are gonna matter more, and probably need to look and taste a certain way. There’s clearly rules to follow.

However, for the rest of us, achievement is just ending up with a decent tasting cake.

Of course, none of this really matters if you get lucky enough to make a passable cake that someone of note really ends up taking a liking to. Most of us will bake a couple of cracking desserts in our lifetimes, but only the very lucky are emulated or considered as must-try formulas. I keep looking at the number of people who have rewritten Jane Austen for instance and wonder just how much money can you scrape from the romantic mismatch genre. The answer, of course, is rather a lot.

It also makes me laugh at how much original work I have churned out in the last year, most of which hasn’t been seen by anybody but me. In that regard, I am probably doing myself few favours by keeping the writing flowing. Maybe I should be going back to those pieces with more consideration and thought: can I build new recipes using these failed attempts? Quite possibly I can, and maybe the combination of seemingly disparate textures and flavours might produce a revelation.

At least I know now why I’m hungry all the time 😀

The next step in my journey is realigning myself with my work. There’s a lot written, sitting around me or on my hard drives, that needs to be considered in light of the events of the last couple of months. Now it is time to see what can be repurposed, what is disposed of, and crucially what can be done to minimise the amount of stress that submissions cause going forward. I think it is time to start preparing myself for self-publication.

After all, Christmas is not that far away.

Essential Four

At the end of last week, I applied for an opportunity that a year ago wouldn’t even have been considered as a possibility. It doesn’t matter, now it’s done, whether I’m successful or not. For the first time in probably two plus years, that process wasn’t about wanting to be chosen, but simple satisfaction at taking part. Somewhere between then and now, a fundamental part of my psyche has changed.

The portion of me that thought success only came from other people’s validation has finally realised this is the biggest lie in existence. If that kind of assuagement is what I seek, there are better, far less stressful means by which it can be achieved. They emerge from moments of kindness, helping other people get what they want and achieve their dreams and aspirations. I don’t need to write to do that.

Writing has become expression of moments I’ve been too scared to share until now.

Faith

Validation is achieved by the completion of projects, working to the timescales I impose. It will be when I choose to create and sell my own things and not be reliant on others. Poetry will combine with pictures, video with sound, and everything stops being a race or a contest. It is a freedom I realise only comes in the quiet moments when all the critics, both external and internal, are silenced.

It is the moments when you believe anything is possible, if the means can be located within yourself to release fear and uncertainty. It was one of those moments, a week ago, when I ran for three lots of four minutes without stopping on a treadmill and grasped that if I could knit those fragments together, pieces became a proper run. The confidence gained here combined with new found physical strength made impossible, real.

Understanding how to write without fear taught me how to run.

Day 5 __ Credence

In turn, running gives back to mental strength and creativity. The body self-sustains, creating calm where previously only chaos existed and those difficult tasks finally appear easy, academic. The freedom of expression that only previously took place after long periods of self-imposed reflection spring forth unprompted, with new enthusiasm and joy attached. Creativity really is in a new, exciting place.

However, I was the one who had to change, needs to keep altering myself. If the door’s not kept open to this new place in my mind, if change cannot be embraced and then directed elsewhere, all this good work can still be lost. The task now is not to lose sight of direction, focus or possibilities. With mental and physical strength, anything is and will be possible.

End of a Century

Tomorrow is June. That means that, once these blog posts are done, it is time to take down the old calendars and begin the process of planning what happens next. This part of the process has refined considerably since the start of this year, probably more than anything else I’ve learnt since the journey began. So much so, that the whole shebang’s gonna get an upgrade starting on Monday.

It is high time the rest of my life got the treatment writing does in terms of organisation.

rightgo

I’ve been trying to stick more exercise into the game-plan, the effect it is having on body and mind has become noticeable. That means, starting tomorrow (and no, does not matter it’s a Saturday), we try and stick to the ‘something, every day’ mantra when it comes to keeping fit. Yes, I still have rest days factored, but that means that every day that isn’t had to have summat in it…

With two exercise classes per week (Wednesday and Thursday) Friday is still the preferred recovery point, because of the amount of work that gets done during those two evenings: anything between 700 and 1000 calories depending on how my body co-operates. What OUGHT to happen is a comparable amount on the other four days: 600 calories is my notional baseline to start with.

dudyes.jpg

There also needs to be a balance of cardio and weights, which has lapsed somewhat since my exercise classes took preference. So, there’s a scribbled plan from yesterday’s lone lunch at the sushi restaurant: what I do when, how it covers the areas that need work, and then crucially whether I am capable of keeping it up for the two to three months required to make this routine a habit.

I fixed my writing shortcomings with organisation, and without it there’d not be the ability to give myself the vital forward motion required to feel as if progress is possible. Let’s see if that can also work wonders on my body. It can’t be that hard, surely…

Down Among the Dead Men

I’ve taken the opportunity, in the last week, to streamline just about everything I do online. If the plan is working there will be no discernible change to the landscape that is immediately apparent, and in this regard things appear to be moving quite well. Next month’s planning’s already in an advanced state, and we will be pursuing the project that was going to happen in October with a few tweaks.

Symphony

In simple terms, that means the following:

  • Daily Haiku on Twitter is replaced by 30 Haiku with an overarching, cohesive theme (Symphony). The entire project will then be archived in a new area on the website.
  • Daily Micropoetry continues as normal on Twitter.
  • #Narrating2018 and #Soundtracking2018 will both run in tandem with the Symphony theme: more details are coming next week
  • November’s Short Story (Piper) is not part of this project, and also continues as normal

Also, EX/WHI will be back up to date starting on Friday and will run in tandem with my NaNoWriMo updates, which will be taking over from all other content until November’s done. There’s then going to be a soft relaunch of the Internet of Words with new graphics and sections for December 1st.

Following so far? Good stuff.

simple

This is becoming both enjoyable and exciting again, and not like a job, which was the entire point of the Project to begin with. This is a place where my creativity dictates progress, and not the other way around. Allowing that to grow and expand’s been a tough ask across the last few months, but Symphony as reawakened the creative synapses, plus having taken a break from mass-producing submissions has been a great help. There’s still four more poems that need to be completed in last-pass editing polish Hell right now, but that’s not a problem.

I’m all over the faffing, and it is GOOD.

Write Now :: Drafting

Sometimes, you are the problem.

wounded.gif

No really, before you go off on one, and I ignore the whole ‘don’t inflame your audience’ rule of blogging, there’s merit to grasping that how we as individuals deal with learning new things. It’s particularly tough if, after years of just doing the same old same old it becomes apparent that to get better, stuff has to change. This has been the harshest lesson learnt via exercise, by some way. Just repeating the same stuff, over and again, will work to a point. If you want to really improve? Time to step out of the comfort zones.

reading-icarly

I am slowly bringing drafting to the table as a means of planning work before writing begins: in most cases this might only be a four or five line synopsis (so there’s an idea of beginning, middle and end) but in the case of my current poetry project? Well, we’ve gone a wee bit further. I did a thread in the week to flesh this out, as this is another means by which I can get a message across in Social media far more readily than is the case with the blog:

The key however to making all of this work best is the process of redefinition, and understanding that what once was good enough is no longer the case. Doing enough will not get work recognised on a wider stage. This is now highly personal subject matter that is being dealt with, but to maximise impact there must be a fluency to language and imagery which won’t happen straight away. The word polish is thrown around a lot as if a quick look-over will be enough, but the level of shine on your work should not be superficial. How you know it’s enough is also a matter of much debate.

michaeltakeshistieoff.gif

What’s comfortable for Michael is as subjective a response as your reaction to the .GIF. How you feel is enough is not judged by the failure of your work either, you could pour heart and soul into output and it simply never touches the soul of those particular judges. So, how do you ever make progress? In my case it is knowing I’ve done my best and then walked the extra mile. That means drafting more pieces, spending time doing things sensibly, making space to edit. Essentially, I respect my work.

By doing so, it then automatically develops a depth that simply would not be the case otherwise. It also means that when I fail, it is simply the first step in the journey to further improvement. That whole ‘why do we fall?’ metaphor in the Batman films is the mantra that plays out in the back of my head: each time I am rejected, it is a learning process, and up I get, ready to move on. Sure, it is both demoralising and often upsetting, but so is life. If it matters enough? You move on.

liffindsaway.gif

Therefore, the days of being a big old cry baby at not winning stuff is behind me. My success stems from the personal satisfaction gained no only in writing, but producing work to what I consider is a consistently high standard and, if this keeps happening, eventually something will give. Add to that some shameless self promotion and, it’s all good.

It is time to start learning, and move everything forward.

Strange Days

I completed the first of two bike events yesterday: 56 miles as a warm-up to 45 might seem a bit excessive, but having never done endurance before a lot of lessons were learnt. Also, the county in which I live’s reputation as being a little bit hipster, a little bit posh but an awful lot of self-obsessed, selfish idiocy remains 100% unopposed. Yesterday’s random poke was just that, and it would be easy to just dismiss it as such, except there’s anger at the fact this kind of behaviour isn’t going away, and is becoming increasingly ‘normal.’

I know I’m supposed to do no harm, but some days it is really a tough ask.

yeahyoufailed

I’m gonna work hard to get the £500 total donation to Mind for Sunday’s ride covered, and after that I’m wondering how to start making a tangible difference when there are days I have trouble with motivation. The obvious answer is to do something creative, because then the timetable is mine to dictate and cope with. I have a month to think up something suitable, and the idea situation would be to ask people to donate to a mental health charity as a result.

This is something that doesn’t go away, and I need to keep raising money. Not because I might one day need it, or because this is somehow a worthy cause to make my own self look decent and fair. This should just be something people do without thinking, like reading a newspaper or buying a burger. Giving people money to be able to help those in pain express how they feel, when they’re struggling, to find the means by which they can explain what is wrong and how that needs to be treated is an absolutely massive issue.

Some days, I can’t even explain what is wrong, and writing is what I do as a living.

newtype2

The trick, I suppose, is to just keep plugging away and to ignore the haters, which is how my life online has taken place since the start.

Closing Time

There comes a moment in your working week when, under the pressure of about 35 things you’d like to do but know are unrealistic, something gives. Before for me it would undoubtedly be the personal stuff that was thrown by the wayside, but this time is going to be different. I know where the finish line is, this year, because I drew it. In previous years I’ve taken work with me and combined it with relaxation. Things are going to be a little less regimented during this Summer.

know_nothing

A part of it has to do with not knowing what kind of Internet access we’ll have whilst being away, but mostly this is me recognising that my biggest failing possessed by some way is an inability to know when to stop working. Therefore this month will be a process of planning what needs to be done to cover the gaps for four weeks, and if it is successful I’ll repeat this process in February. This then gives me two clear months away from the daily worries concerning writing, and to focus then on Arguto. If this all works out, Issue 2 will be available on February 20th, 2019.

sacramento

The idea of a Winter and Summer magazine pleases me, and allows other stuff to happen in the background. It also allows the vital space to insert jobs like writing poetry for contests and editing existing work. All of this is eminently doable in the time-frames assuming I’m smart enough to organise far enough in advance. Right now that means sacrificing the occasional exercise day, but after the adrenaline-fuelled evening I had yesterday with the Football, both mind and body are pretty happy for the break. It isn’t just the mental stuff that needs addressing, after all.

Smile_and_Wave

Tonight’s plan is to get all of the You Tube contents from the last two and a bit months up to date, whilst simultaneously seeing if I can’t schedule the rest of July’s stuff at the same time. If all of THAT gets dealt with the weekend can begin to front load the stuff for the holiday. I’m mindful too that maybe I could do with a short story to publish whilst I’m away, as that feature has become far and away my most popular daily post via Social media. Maybe I could do something holiday-related…

Right, quite enough nattering from me. Time to write the words.

New Day Dawning

Instead of winding down proceedings ahead of my month off in August, there’s a plan afoot, starting today, to organise content to run in my absence. There’ll be a day next week when I schedule a month’s worth of poetry for the Twitter feed (hence the arrival of daily updates via social media, for which I need to make MOAR GRAPHICS) but after that it would be keep the place occupied and operational. Therefore, let it be known that the following will be taking place here during August:

ExWhy_small

I’m currently writing this in breaks between poetry and exercise, and am three weeks ahead. The plan is to stack up enough ‘episodes’ to carry through my holiday and into September. Therefore, this will continue to be published whilst I’m away on Fridays.

Mondays and Wednesdays will have a series of interconnected poems, scheduled in advance, under the banner of SIMPLE. This will be to allow me to spend the time during August to organise my Fanzine over at arguto.net without allowing this site to go quiet.

Simple.png

Everything will change in September, including the real possibility of a site redesign to accommodate the increasing amount of content. For now, enjoy this month’s content as it arrives, starting tomorrow 😀

Slow Hand

With the last month’s worth of content coming up before some much needed time off is taken, there’s a lot to think about going forward. I’ve come to really enjoy the business of having a daily schedule to work to, and it gives my mind and body the much needed sense of routine that I’ve now had confirmed is pretty much vital to keep me sane. However, there is often the feeling I’ve overreached, especially when it becomes a struggle to cope with what is promised but never makes it to fruition. However, slowly but surely, that backlog is being addressed, and by not overreaching, there is a way forward.

fabulous5.gif

The path forward is, slowly but surely, becoming clearer. I need at least until the end of the year, I think, to build a body of work as good enough of a foundation to prove this is the path to take, and then it will be time to start seriously sell myself. This will not sit well with certain people of my acquaintance, but no matter. What needs to be done will be, and those who care will support me as I move forward. There is already a friend sounded out who has the problem solving skills my brain cannot provide, as a starting point.

mornings.gif

Selling myself has always been a bit of a problem, but without that vital ability to do so, nothing will ever change. Therefore, August gives the opportunity to not worry about anything except planning and organisation for the journey ahead. Plus, I finally get to go to Italy, which is another of the dreams come true scratched off the list.

I have to say, the excitement is palpable.

Get a Job

It is almost time to unleash the latest of our monthly themes upon you, but part of my brain is all to well aware that there’s previous work to catch up on too. It doesn’t help that this week is kids’ Half Term, and therefore all normal pretensions of organisation get summarily kicked out of touch. NO MATTER. There are plans afoot to spread it all out across next week, which should have some free time locked within it.

This is also the moment where I announce formally that I’ll be taking August off from posting via the blog, but using the time to showcase the best of the previous thirty week’s worth of poetry. As there’s will have been sixty Haiku and Micropoems published during that period, it seems the ideal moment to allow me a bit of breathing space and the ability to showcase how my poetry has evolved since the start of the year.

Strong (1)

There’s FIVE Poetry, Short story and Fiction prizes currently on radar I feel are worth entering: there’s likely to be space for at least one more as time goes on. These require inserting into the game plan: two will be written whilst I’m on sabbatical, the other have to find a place my workload before. I may yet pre-programme a month’s worth of music and video in August too, but that will all depend on how things go in terms of bike rides and exercise.

The next couple of weeks are going to end up being crucial.