Love What You Do

I’ve made it to 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon and am still going strong. This is a largely unusual phenomena: normally at this point in the day there’s be flagging, copious amounts of caffeine and that uncomfortable pit-of-the-stomach feel it was all going a bit off course. There’s been a hiccup (next time, save your CV somewhere you’re not likely to delete it) but apart from that, it is all going surprisingly well. The reason for this may come as something of a shock.

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A month’s worth of reconstituting old work has been a wake up call: amazingly, not everything that’s been written for the website is awful. In fact, some of the weekly output turned out to be surprisingly thoughtful with far more depth than previously recalled. It has ignited within me the desire to keep plugging away at the old stuff, polishing and tightening as I go.

As a result, next month is going to continue the trend. This has also provided inspiration to start a new collection of poems (graphic above) which have been written in the three month period since I was first published. There are enough fragments and pieces of work from January to March to put together a twelve poem collection. What I do with it once done is now up for discussion…

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I’ll be borrowing one of the (many) short story ideas we came up with this month as the one to run with via Twitter in April, plus we’ll see both #Soundtracking2019 and #Narrating2019 back in their daily 9.30pm slots. After a period where it was impossible to schedule anything via Twitter’s own Tweetdeck platform, harmony is now restored, and I have the rest of this month’s content already lined up and ready to go. It makes life so much easier…

The much-discussed residency proposal needs to be in for Friday. Then, over the weekend, it’s time to bring down the calendars and begin April’s planning cycle. There’s already a ton of stuff on the To Do list…

 

 

 

Begin Again

To give me a bit of a break from thinking too much about new things, this month’s become a period of recycling. The short story currently running on Twitter, for instance, has sat on my hard drive since forever. The poetry that will appear over the weekend was originally written this time last year (or thereabouts) and has undoubtedly benefited from a second look-over.

It makes me realise just how much has changed in a relatively short space of time.

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I knew the last week was going to be tough going, with a notable couple of rejections highlighting that however good poetry might seem to be, other people need to agree. Winning stuff is horribly hit and miss at the best of times, which is why this month is also about trying to pick up some feedback about how to best package my work going forward. However, there’s still a lot of potential on the board, and I really haven’t been at this very long.

Probably the most important skill that’s been grasped since this time last year is the need to listen to my ‘voice’ within poetry: reading aloud, things sound considerably different than when written ‘cold.’ It’s been a process that, I’ll grant you, has taken some getting used to. Training my brain to work in a fashion which is often largely counter-intuitive was the hardest ask of all, however. This where mental shortcomings really became apparent.

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Going back to old work therefore highlights my shortcomings (I thought it was enough a year ago for it to just fit syllable counts) and pushes brain to find better ways of doing the same stuff again. It also reminds me that, scattered across notebooks and in other places there’s a ton of half-finished poetry that I should frag together to construct a new collection. None of this is bad, it all just requires thought.

That’s the killer, of course: finding the right kind of thought to fit each day, situations that I find myself within. The story work I’m doing has stalled because, of all things, a poem that is included as part of the narrative. New work is hard, but going back to old work has a ring of familiarity and comfort to it which is, I hope, allowing me to expand brain’s capacity and capability.

By the end of the month, we’ll see if this change of approach has made a difference to my ability .

All or Nothing At All

I have had to sacrifice some Erotic Fiction to the Gods of Quality this week: the idea is still 100% sound but my execution? Not so much. However, I am planning some space to shove it into Thursday’s WiP Extravaganza, and so it will see the light of day at some point in March. It also makes me realise that I ought to carry on this series, but not at the expense of anything else. Therefore, I have decreed that April will be Short Story Month, and at least one thing I write during that period will be entered into a Contest.

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I already have some stuff on the table, but as we don’t have March scheduled as yet, it is going to have to wait. That’s been a bit hamstrung today by me spending close to four hours in the car as a taxi service in the snow, but I’ve made some solid progress, which means I am confident everything will be ready to roll on Thursday. Also, Novel Progress is STILL GO. That’s looking really positive, as it happens. I’m not ready to pitch this yet, not until it is done and I’m happy with it. After that, it is going to get sold for all its worth.

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Optimism and creativity remain high. This should hopefully lead to some random shiz occurring in the next few weeks (looking at you, output from Experimental Poetry.)

Even if it is cold outside, I’m keeping the grey matter ticking over nicely.

NaNoWriMo: Next Steps

As we discussed what seems like years ago, the plan with this year’s NaNoWriMo was never just to get to 50k words and claim success. There’s a lot to do, and I’ve been chipping away at the total since I claimed victory. The key this time around is that NaNo have provided new tools to allow people like me to set realistic goals for completion, well past the November cut-off point.

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This tracker is great, and really very forgiving (as I’ve had to reset once due to time constraints.) It gives the Christmas period some distinct focus, when I’m normally just wandering around in PG’s gaming. I had planned to be finished by now, but then there was a ton of unavoidable RL stuff and now starting I have a month from next Monday’s a decent shout at the re-do. It also gives me time to pick through the work with a critical eye, rather than simply rushing to completion.

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These trackers will be a real boon, because there is the ability to encourage other works to completion given a standing timeline. If I can make the process work with Contractus, I’m absolutely going to do the same with other work. For that fact alone, these new trackers have the potential to become an indispensable part of my writing routine.

Breathe In

autumn schedule

I’m here on a Friday to celebrate what has been a successful month for this little site. Starting on Monday is the very real possibility of multiple posts a day and a really rather packed schedule all the way until Christmas. Having already pre-warned you about Think-Tober, I went away and made better graphics, and that will begin via Instagram on Sunday. I suspect there’ll be a compilation of seven days worth of posts in this medium at some point across the weekends in October too.

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We’re still behind a bit, but once October’s Book of the Month titles are posted on Monday along with the last of the outstanding acrostics, there’s no excuse to keep up to date. This month will also see an alteration to Patreon tiers in an attempt to attract more interest, plus some subtle changes to the concept’s major remit. I’d planned to reassess every three months, so this part of my plan is still on schedule. Looking ahead, the Book of the Month will be taking a one-month hiatus in November to accommodate my participation in the 2017 NaNoWriMo event.

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I’ve written on and of for NaNo across five years, but only the last two have been serious efforts. This year, the plan is to come up with something I will turn into a potentially saleable novel. That level of completion and professionalism has, as yet, eluded me, but I believe I’m in a decent position this year to make that a reality. To make sure I’m utterly focused, rethought and re-organised Patreon content will launch again December 1st. Everyone who is currently a Patreon will also be getting an exclusive (and personalised) Christmas gift, as a thank you for your continued support.

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Until then, you can expect an increase in the amount of poetry being written, original works appearing and all sorts of other TOP QUALITY GUBBINS.

GSME #14 :: Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)

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It is time to get my writing aspirations back on track, and that meant today some serious thought over why I’m here and what’s happening long term with blogging as a future. This morning, a simple objective was publicly set:

There is a plan for this, that will play out across the week. I make no lie that it will involve incentives. This is a harsh reality in which we live, and I am well aware that to promote any ‘brand’ means getting dirty, providing sweeteners to help highlight what you do. I watched this play out across a weekend of ‘vintage’ bicycle festival: you pay to ride, and countless companies throw free stuff at you in the hope that you’ll like it enough to take the plunge and become a long term consumer. Our rider bags for Eroica were stuffed with alcohol, cosmetics and other gubbins. Free beer was offered during the ride, and when you completed. All of this has a purpose: buy into the lifestyle. That’s what I’m doing here, and if I’m up front about that, there’ll be no confusion.

The problem is, right now, that I’m not really terribly happy how Twitter’s platforms are being altered in order to make the company more relevant. We’ve spoken at length about the issues with analytics (that is still going on) but today my web-based platform of choice altered for good. On the back of last week’s ‘cleaner’ redesign (which owes a lot to the Android version of the UI) a fundamental change came into play that it took a while to work out. However, thanks to one of my most trusted followers, the answer was incredibly simple, once it became apparent some fundamentals have altered in Tweetdeck’s filtering functions.

At 5pm this evening, random tweets started appearing in my timeline from people I did not know. More importantly, these were accounts I did not follow, but in many cases had direct relevance to stuff I’d been discussing in my own timeline. The ultimate indignity was when Teresa May appeared, out of the blue, ON HER OWN ACCOUNT (that I’m positive nobody on my timeline would ever retweet). A sneaky switch to Hootsuite to check it wasn’t just a glitch showed promoted tweets are now appearing in their timelines, where this was not the case before. More significantly, it then became apparent what the issue was: these were cleverly picked posts being presented as ‘retweets.’ The thing is, unless I can see who’s retweeting them, or unless they are quoted, there is no way I can associate them with anyone I know on my feed. Once I worked out these were what Tweetdeck considered as a ‘retweet’, the filtering is a no-brainer.

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One click of a button and the noise effectively vanished. It is now apparent that Twitter’s not mucking about with trying to promote new followers: by presenting ‘retweets’ that match the same content I’m talking about? There’s a better than average chance I’ll follow someone. The key here is, of course, these messages are anything but random. They were carefully targeted, just as that alcohol and other products were at the weekend. The problem with me, sadly, is that I won’t ever play that game if you don’t ask first. Just giving me everything and hoping I’ll click won’t work. In that regard, I will probably need to make sure I start using my own personally curated lists going forward so I can avoid all the noise. Today was a salutatory lesson in what a company will be prepared to do in order to make their product marketable.

Personally, I want nothing to do with it.

GSME #11 :: Personal Jesus

social-media-asides

I should apologise for being a couple of days late with the Guide, but as history can show this as being Monday when it is in fact Wednesday, I doubt there’s too much of a fuss to be caused anyway. Health issues have inevitably derailed my progress, but they’re also a powerful means of driving social media. If you didn’t know already, drama generates interest.

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Let’s be honest here: I’d rather not have all this fuss and bother right before one of the most important periods of my life, but the Universe does like to mess with your head at the most inopportune of moments. Therefore, my views last week were exclusively driven by the fact I’ve become my own news story, like it or not. I could choose to read these figures in an number of ways, but at this point I’d just like to think that more people than normal care about my welfare, and that’s where we’ll stop. The better news, if we look at the graph on the right, is that I’m keeping close to exceeding a 2% engagement rate.

How am doing that is part of a structured change to my Tweeting habits.

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This Tweet has a picture, from my phone, of me waiting in the Hospital to see my surgeon on Monday night. If I’d have posted it *without* the picture it would have received less interest, because what the image does is make this less about having a conversation. The image, like it or not, draws you into my story. That’s why SnapChat and Instagram are as immensely useful and compulsive as they undoubtedly are as tools for generating traffic: the brain, in most cases, reacts more favourably to visual stimulus. This means that if I post something with a GIF attached, more people will read it, as is the case with a screenshot or a photograph. Once upon a time mobile download limits might restrict this as useful, but as WiFi becomes de rigeur and mobile devices become portable newspapers and magazines as well as gaming rigs… use more pictures.

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On the flip side, one well worded, concise and honest tweet is worth an entire blog post.

Picture + personal affirmation, in this case, results in a 9.3% engagement rate, if you didn’t believe me when I said that pictures sell. On the flip side however, being overly personal can turn people off. There’s the individual on my feed for instance who’s almost permanently ragging on their ex-partner for being horrible, and although there is a continued measure of sympathy for the situation, that person does go on Mute when it all gets too much. As is the case with life, balance is everything.

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Finally, you don’t need pictures, a personal dilemma or the end of the World to engage an audience. With the right words, a bit of thought and some planning, you can use Twitter to write blog posts, by ‘threading’ a series of tweets together with an appropriate picture at the top. This method of communication is proving increasingly useful for me, and I’ll be making the most of the format going forward. This week, there’s not much else to report really, and with an operation scheduled for the 16th, it will be a little quiet around these parts on Monday anyway.

Time to go practice what we’ve learnt and be ready to start again once all this drama is over.