All That Jazz

On the first day of May, start of my ’24 Poems about Southend’ project #EndOfTheFear I took this Tweet as a good omen:

This being half a week, with a Bank Holiday tacked on at the start of next week, had been initially earmarked in my planning as Legwork. I may have lived in Southend for decades, but for a fair portion of the last 10 years I was genuinely scared to even go out my front door. A lot has changed, this mind was vaguely aware of. Today has taught me not just how much is different, but how I have altered too.

I went to the place where main town Library used to be… except it’s not there any more and instead there’s a Gallery, which hosts exhibitions such as the Sub Cultures one above. It taught me that a band I’d always thought were Southend based were indeed formed here, their album cover that’s ingrained into memory that stretch of road between here and London I always thought it was.

That however is nothing compared to the surprise I got going downstairs in the same building and discovering The Jazz Centre (UK) has been there for over two years. I’m partly embarrassed then staggered into disbelief that a place like this, which I have a real, personal interest in, could exist literally on my front door without realising that was the case. I’ll be off there again next week to write a poem.

However, this got me no closer to working out where they’d moved the Library. Eventually I found it, in a space that used to be a car park, and have brought home some selected reading on places and people of the town so that I may open my brain to the potential possibilities history can offer in writing poetry. Change has already wrought a profound effect on that progress: my initial plan is gonna need some revision.

Once upon a time this would have caused me considerable stress, having spent so long pulling disparate ideas together. Not any more. Now this shift in course feels like natural, correct progression, means by which both project and I will evolve as time goes on. It means that across the weekend we’ll look again at potential sites to dedicate poetry to and quite possibly amend a few.

I’m already looking forward to my destination tomorrow in anticipation.

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.

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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.

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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.

Which Way?

The purpose of taking November off from ‘organised’ work was twofold, as those of you paying attention will know. Firstly it was to get NanoWriMo not just to 50k words but beyond (which is what has happened, more on which will be retro posted in the next 24 hours.) Secondly, but probably more importantly, this month was to take a look at what my Patreon produces, and to see if what I’m asking and offering is fit for purpose. This is the moment where my conclusions are cohesive enough to make public.


Not Enough Content I Enjoy Making

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Poetry has been the revelation since June: that I can write it, and that occasionally it hits the target. However, poetry was never my primary goal when I started the Patreon. To produce output I enjoy, and to do so consistently, is taking over increasing amounts of time I’d like for fiction and other projects, and as result it is probably time to reassess generally how much of it is written and when. The same is true of the Book of the Month essays, and what will now happen going forward is an acknowledgement that creativity is being stifled by possessing too rigid a framework. That’s why my November Instagram project has stalled: there’s insufficient nutrients required to feed the idea.

What this means is that I’ll be deleting the November ’30 Things About Me’ posts on Instagram and starting fresh in December. Next month there’ll be more thought given to meaningful content I enjoy making, not just things to fill space. Planning is important, but only if I can stick to timetables, and that means becoming flexible with pre-planned output and occasionally being more spontaneous. Just occasionally though, because you and I both know what happens when you let the plan go out the window…


More Fiction, Less Fact

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One of the overriding advantages doing critical essays for three weeks out of four is that it allows me to have time to write fiction in the spaces in-between. However, what became increasingly obvious as time went on was I much preferred the stories to naval gazing. Therefore, starting next month, there’s going to be an attempt to do more of the fiction with an emphasis on shorter stories and other forms of storytelling (looking at you Instagram and Twitter.) I like the Book of the Month ‘concept’ and what has thrown up, but for now want to be focussing more on the borders between what is real and what the Internet tells us is the same.

Therefore, the Book of the Month ‘concept’ is being retired to every third month, beginning in January 2018 with Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction. There’ll be more on this, and on how the BoTM concept will change in the next few weeks.


A Better Portal, Properly Organised

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The biggest single takeaway from my feedback is that people like what I’m doing, and want more of the same. To make sure this happens therefore this website and the layout therein are not really fit for purpose. They weren’t to begin with but the last few months have gone to demonstrate that I need better presentation and more organisation at this end. More importantly, Patreon itself is not selling me as I would wish, and that too needs to be altered.

Therefore, December will see me thank my Patreons with personalised Christmas Haiku, a seasonal thank you for their generosity and support, before I redefine all my Tiers  for 2018. All existing Patrons will be receiving physical gifts regardless of what tier they are on, with all rewards then going digital only starting next year.  I’m also committed to a full web redesign over the Christmas period, meaning that when we start the year anew in 2018, both Patreon and this site have a cohesive design and are far easier to navigate.


What this means in terms of content here is still being planned. I’ll have more news for you on that front starting next week.