Ballroom Blitz

Oh look, we’re back… when I say that it makes it sound like everything is organised and finished, when the reality is that an awful lot of is sitting, waiting to be fixed. In Good News [TM] we have timescales now, and realistic levels of expectation. Welcome to the New Normal, and there’s quite a lot of stuff to catch up on so let’s get started.

This month, and in fact going forward long term, we’ll be sticking Instagram and website content into a combined output. It makes more sense to not keep trying to be lots of different things across multiple platforms, and to focus effort on content over variety. Therefore, if you follow my Instagram, you’ll see me using that this month as a means to deal with the COVID stuff, how I make ART as a CREATIVE, and some other bits too. It also becomes the way I’ll tell you how my efforts to become FAMOUS are going, or not, as the case may be.

On that front, we made it to a shortlist proper for the first time last month with some poetry. We’ll keep plugging away at that side of things in tandem with self-publication, which is going to happen before Christmas. That work begins in September, and I’m already looking forward to the output, of which there is much to choose from. Picking the best work is the easy bit: it gets harder when you’re the graphic designer and the production co-ordinator to boot. No matter, the work will be done.

The biggest single piece of news however is I’m working with the local Arts collective as part of their New Artists Network. That’s never going to stop being funny: at 53 I’m still less than two years into a professional endeavour, as you’re considered successful after publication. My first piece debuted in November 2018, my next piece appears in hardback, in October for World Poetry Day. So, technically I could call myself established from that point, but if you know me well that’s never happening. This doesn’t stop even if I do hit the target, multiple times.

I don’t ever see a true end to this period of creativity in my life.

Airbag

Everything for next month is gonna get done quite late, far more than I’d really like. Of all the things that ought to be fixed in the business of organisation, it is this pre-planning which could really do with the most attention. However, over five weeks the entire process has improved enormously. One of the benefits of exercise every day has undoubtedly been a massive uptick in overall productivity.

That means that in February we’re gonna give Instagram another poke in terms of trying to build an audience. I have no idea whether it will work or not, but my basic understanding of hashtags should give a bit of a head start. It also helps possessing some neophyte design skills, which should stand me in good stead. I’ve already drawn a line over last month’s content… so, let’s see where it all goes.

insta_stuffs

I get the whole thing about identity and cohesion, so ‘building a brand’ should not be impossible, if there’s content. My biggest problem right now is ensuring that happens without anything else suffering as a result. That means there are now three planners up on the wall to my right: not just writing, but exercise too. There’s a blog post coming up about what I’ve learnt this month about aiming for realistic goals.

An awful lot has changed since the end of December. For the first time in many years, pretty much all of it is positive. Sure, there are still fairly substantive diversions that take place: in order to avoid finishing this blog, for instance, I’ve managed to tick off two highly important subsidiary tasks from the ‘Do When You get a Chance’ List. It’s amazing what I’ll throw in my path when it comes to avoiding the obvious.

In the end, however, far more than was previously the case, shit does now get done.

The Test

Tomorrow begins a project that has evolved significantly since being first planned. It will be ‘marketed’ on the Internet of Words Instagram feed, to see how using hashtags will affect reach, and whether it is possible to build an audience literally from scratch. It is a combination of art and poetry, which uses the fact that Wikipedia allows pictures to be shared from its database under a Creative Commons license.

It allows me to use Art History to inspire Haiku, and it is fabulous.

Stone Age Art

I’ve mapped out twenty-eight stops that cover most of the key tenets of Art History. With each one, there is a Haiku that will become, at the end of March, a journey from the Dawn of Mankind to the present day. I’m VERY pleased with the output thus far, and even more happy that I can now use Instagram and its various add-ons to create what is compelling and original content.

Haiku Page Day 2

However, what is most satisfying of all is the cohesive whole that these parts have made, quite a long way from the starting idea. This is not something I have the time to do every month, but it has undoubtedly inspired a lot of potential new directions for both poetry and imagery online. That’s what I’m here to do, after all. It is not solely about inspiring myself either, but (hopefully) making others think and enjoy what is being produced.

We’ll take a look at the end of March and see how successful (or otherwise) the project was.

#ThinkTober Week Three

Think-Tober

Finally, and with what is going to be a minimum amount of fanfare, here are the last 10 days of visual Haiku for October. I learnt an awful lot about myself and how my mind works best with these last images: however, we did go a fair bit off-piste with the ‘ink’ element. What this teaches me is that if I’m going to use a format going forward, then it needs to be defined a fair way in advance… which is now the plan with December’s Haiku ‘project’ which goes into pre-production this week.

I like writing on things, not just pieces of paper, making items props: whether its the crisp packet whose contents I then ate or the Butternut Squash that became dinner, I’m also keen on recycling whenever possible. I’d also want to find more interesting means by which the Internet can be utilised, especially where video is concerned.

There was a temptation just to use squares or rectangles for text. There’s gotta be more shapes, especially if it is Christmas.

Also, I gotta stop being embarrassed about doing stuff in public places. THIS IS ART AFTER ALL.

Of all the pieces I produced, this is probably my favourite, as it combines music and a real, tangible emotion of utter grief. I still miss David Bowie every day. This album has become my soundtrack for so many things and provided the perfect artistic backdrop for me to make Blackstar part of what I am. I hope he would approve.

By the end of the month, something significant had altered within me. This project was liberating, and enlightening. I truly showed what I was, and what was possible as a means of expression. I’ll absolutely be doing this again, in various forms going forward, quite possibly on a bi-monthly basis.

This is the most fun I’ve had making stuff for myself since my mid-teens.

#ThinkTober Week One

Think-Tober

Most of the time, when I have an idea, there’s nearly always been a moment in the development process when I regret it. However, that has not yet happened with Think-Tober. In fact, between you and me, this is the most fun I’ve had with a project since I came up with the Patreon at the start of this year.

I could, on reflection, have simply stuck all of these images on my better seen (and more widely read) personal Instagram account, but that would negate the point. It isn’t about the views. This is me, making art for myself. It is finding original ways to tell stories with words and pictures and is the best fun I’ve had for a very long time.

The plan is simple: look at the prompt word, then think of how the Haiku could be presented. Is it something I can do easily or will the process require a setup? How complex or otherwise do backgrounds need to be: would something too complicated detract from the point of the poetry?

There’s been some thinking too about the place in which I live, and how backgrounds and environments can be altered, constructed as frameworks onto which poetry can be inserted or placed. Every day is a new ‘scene’ to be created, built and then photographed. This is only my camera’s phone too: no manipulation save for the filters Instagram presents.

Then came the revelation that there is video too, so with thought these words can move and become something more than simply static tableau. That’s a concept that still needs some thought, but the door opened, as a result, is significant.

There is acting, in every day’s work: pieces of myself revealed (sometimes with intent, others by accident) that is turning what began as something academic into a deeply personal experience. Looking back on the last week comes the realisation that there is so much more that could be done, and it inspires me to attempt next week’s selection with more flair and skill.

Then comes the understanding that simple is best, sometimes: of all the week’s ‘work’ I think this is my favourite Haiku of all. When simply reduced to writing implement and paper, all the stresses and strains of the world fall away, and everything is perfect. Everything else, in effect, is superfluous.

I posed naked for this picture: of course, you can’t see that, only scars from surgery to the upper abdomen and belly button. I make myself part of the art but am never really comfortable with that process, so next week there’ll be more of the same, to push out of comfort zones and try to make statements. Each of the 31 days will be as different as possible: no repetition, and absolutely no compromise.

I hope you’ve enjoyed both poetry and art.