Here’s the Thing

Undeniable Truth #286

(in a long series of ‘Things that Frustrate Me about Publishing’)

I absolutely HATE learning that I’ve not been shortlisted for The Thing, or indeed I’ve not made it past the first stage by getting the email that tells me who has won The Thing. When I am in charge, there will be communication at every stage of the process. I will attempt to provide coherent feedback. Mostly, it will all be far better organised.

Seriously, how hard can it be?

In other news, I played with the WordPress features yesterday and yes, this will be useful, once I can get my head around the process. Blogging every day will help with this, of course. We learn by doing, not complaining it got too hard. Therefore, there will be a great deal of doing and very little of the other stuff, because nobody has time for that.

I wanna use three images here as an example of what it is now possible to achieve going forward with the website: what you can’t see is that this allows me to make my pretty simplistic layout into something hugely sophisticated and smart. It will also fix an issue I have on various webpages that have previously needed to rely on grids for their construction.

It doesn’t look like much, but the consequences of this really are significant.

This Feature is Great

I promise I will learn to use it responsibly.

There will be an actual post tomorrow as well, not just me faffing about.

Shut Up

It is now unavoidable, and I’m not sure how to feel about it, but WordPress is now telling me, like it or not, everybody gets the new editor and likes it. It was WOEFUL the last time I tried it, but by the look of things now simple text is a thing of the past, because you already lost interest two lines ago and are looking for distraction. I really do hate notional progress.

oh look at this
three lovely GIFs
and no coding required

However, this is a fairly important step forward, because over there to my left, in the ‘Blocks’ menu, is one marked as ‘Premium Content’ which does suggest that there is now the opportunity to use the Work Website as a portal for paying subscribers (i.e.; Patreon users) which okay, I’ll accept is sufficient to take off the curmudgeon hat for.

Listen to my Places of Poetry Interview from June 2019

If I were one of those people who ascribe to fate throwing you a cheeky wink from time to time? This is probably a big deal. Who am I kidding, this is ABSOLUTELY a big deal, and will allow some subtle improvements to my site going forward. Probably the biggest one going forward, however, is this block:

Who Knows...?

Everyone is struggling at the moment;
might be a correct statement
but really isn’t well-meant
as way to make me calm:
I understand uncertainty
always constant, part of me
who struggled going out before
you lot got stuck at home.
This time it’s not just me afraid
so many of you worried
time all those armchair experts
redefined beliefs.
It’s not just you that’s frightened
panicking, not sleeping well:
always someone worse off
what if you were alone;
things are pretty tough right now
let’s face it all, together strong;
mental health’s importance raised
collective issues, owned.
Listen, watch your language,
open up with empathy
kindness costs us nothing
donations given free:
that mate you’ve not heard from
message colleagues, relatives
nobody escapes this thing
and no-one stays the same.
Everyone can change the way
we deal with mental illness
all of us possess those skills
kindness, with concern:
find the time to lend an ear
make somebody’s moment
find the time to listen;
who knows what you’ll learn.

Time to have a fiddle with these changes in situ, and see what I can find of use…

This is the Day

This is something I’ve wanted to do for quite a long time, and having my ability aligned with this week has been, well a bit of an achievement. It probably is the most important thing I’ve made for several decades, if truth be told. It has a reminder within it that I still have mental health issues, that aren’t going to go away any time soon.

Most importantly, it’s a request to get people talking.

500 Miles

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My mental health has been largely left unaddressed in the last eight weeks. This morning we began to fix that.

190520

Things to Note

  • This is not about breaking records (or indeed necessarily burning calories, which happens on a static bike or with weight training) but about BEING OUTSIDE, which is quite a scary prospect for someone with limited lung capacity. It is also, crucially, about having space to be able to THINK ABOUT WRITING. Some of my best work undoubtedly takes place when I’m walking.
  • Making writing easier is part of the current mental well-being plan. I’ve set some quite tight targets for June on the back of this, which should be easily doable with some pre-organisation acumen. We’ll measure the mental difference after a week, and review as a result.
  • It’s almost Summer. I should be outside more anyway; the more time I’m out there, the easier it will be to return to what someone else will undoubtedly refer to as ‘The New Normal’ which isn’t a reality for me until there’s a vaccine, because there’s NO WAY ON EARTH you’ll get me into densely packed spaces with other human beings until that happens.

 

cartoonspace3

The rest will depend on levels of fitness, ability to cope with circumstances, and other factors, one of which raised its head this morning.

It’s estimated 10,000 people have died in this manner since the Pandemic began. To imagine that happening every day, somewhere across the country, is a massively sobering thought. Sometimes, there are moments you will never provision for, that have to be ridden out, like it or not. It’s getting easier, though the anger this had to happen at all is never likely to ever diminish, will fuel future writing progression.

The consequences of this event will have ramifications for decades to come.

Treating ourselves with kindness now is absolutely the way forward.

Try a Little Tenderness

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Over the years, I’ve written extensively about my mental health issues: if you’re bored, go look up on the gaming blog the dates in previous years when Mental health days have corresponded with posts. Having spent time talking to professional media people over the last few months I realise a lot of those stories would not be considered as acceptable for general consumption, and not just because of their subjectivity.

It is easy to slip into stereotypical behaviour when you’re the one who’s struggling to cope, and the whole point of weeks like this is to try to alter everybody’s mindsets, including your own. Telling a story matters, of course it does, but doing so in a fashion that alters outlooks and challenges stigma means thinking long and hard about language, and how other people will react to your words on a page.

Language is the key to so many things.

haterstotheleft

I’m still caught up using insults that will undoubtedly resonate with those of my generation, but which are woefully cringeworthy in the modern world. It helps a lot in this regard to have a 15-year-old daughter and a 19-year-old son who constantly remind both me and my husband just how jaded and dated our language can be. Having a decent digital friends list is also an advantage.

This isn’t just about listening either, learning is vital. I possess the world’s most pathetic learning curve, so there are still insults that slip out, especially when stressed. Unlearning historic behaviour is a tough ask: however, if I can be taught to run from scratch, can find the means to beat personal bests posted when I was considerably more physically able? It’s doable. People can change.

The bigger issue, of course, is if they want to.

wtfmal
This week I’ve produced quite a lot of content in relation to the MHAW Theme of Kindness: there is a lot of history for me, online, where my own anger has superseded the rational. Many people have decided I was the villain too, and sometimes, they were right. Admitting your faults, especially in writing, is a tough ask for many, but an important part of the process to grant both redemption and healing.

Being kind to yourself, ultimately, is the hardest task of all.

This is Emotion

Yesterday started so well, and then I noticed an absolute schoolgirl glaring error, followed closely by a domestic flash point… and then it all went horribly wrong. With the best will in the World it is impossible to predict everything, but you can learn to read properly before committing to something. None of this really matters, not in the bigger scheme, and I may yet throw myself into the project I was going to, depending on how the next couple of days shake out.

In fact, today is going to be the benchmark for a lot of things: if that pile of stuff to complete on my left is achievable, then we might have some traction for next week. It will all depend on my ability to buckle down and do the work, which has been a bit of an issue on previous days when I’ve been in such situations. However, the ‘Grief Project’ as I chose to name it has been completed, far beyond my level of satisfaction.

It won’t change anything, but is a positive move forward.

hardlife

Therefore, that’s the goal: by 9pm tonight, everything’s needs to be ready to go for next week, which is the most significant career one for some time. I remember sitting at the start of the whole lockdown thing, wondering what might transpire as a result of all this, and I’d not even begun to grasp the potential that lay ahead of me. All that training to cope with stress and to carry on whilst traumatised… how lucky I am.

Honestly, it never crossed my mind that the weight of my past might have granted a hidden advantage at this point in proceedings. As that revelation continues to establish itself in my subconscious, it’s time to capitalise and improve, because that’s what all this is. Absolutely massive amounts of personal growth, based on the understanding I know what’s happening around me is intractable, so it is time to establish myself around it.

Let’s get started.

Think About Things

I think we all need Eurovision right now, even if it is a virtual version. I really feel that this year, more than any other year, Graham Norton snarking his way through a glitter-covered car crash is indeed what this country requires more than standing outside hitting pans with wooden spoons. Having heard what’s in store I am here for this, more than I have been for anything else that’s been apparently produced in the National Interest… because, we are best when in Europe.

We’ve not forgotten about Brexit, those of us with long memories and the realization that being a nation isle’s great and everything until you properly accept history has rolled on from 70 years ago. Eurovision is the event we can’t win, and won’t ever win again until we work out that to do that, you need to accept this wonderland of diversity for what it is: different, special, brilliant, moving, balls-achingly funny (one for the lads there) and a thousand other points in between.

We’ll never win until we stop taking ourselves so fucking seriously.

If you ascribe to the idea that Russia’s sole task in the modern world is to destabilise World governments and to totally pwn the opposition with organised precision in a MMO PvP battleground, they get how this ought to work. They’ve done a cracking job of infiltrating almost seamlessly into Eurovision for at least a decade, this year’s entry being absolutely no exception. The writer in me has already considered interesting scenarios should they ever be allowed to win…

However, this year should have been Iceland’s. I think we can all agree on this, and if you get HOT CHIP FFS to remix your song even before the Contest would have taken place… it’s a crying shame that a lot of these songs will never be allowed to compete against each other. The rules are very clear: once you’ve ‘performed’ in any capacity, that song cannot be entered again. It means this year’s offerings will be remembered longer in memory, I suspect, because of the backdrop on which they were set.

I for one am already looking forward to a top quality evening of mass Twitterbation (that’s totally a word now) over all the stuff that could have happened, and how the BBC’s used it’s already well-used abilities to create mass participation from the internet into entertainment. This will undoubtedly be a triumph for the organization who FINALLY gets how online works and got their act together a couple of months ago to source all the material required.

I’ll see you this evening :D

Carboot Soul

My phone finally died yesterday: the battery appears to have… well, expanded in place, which really does not fill me with massive enthusiasm that it’s safe. My husband has very kindly stepped in and is sourcing me a previously-enjoyed replacement unit. He doesn’t like to use the words ‘second hand’ when it comes to tech, but that’s what we should all be doing. It should not matter that you don’t own the latest, or the best.

I’m seeing a lot of tech snobbery of late, embarrassed to say I was a snob earlier this week myself. The assumption that if you own the latest thing then everybody else must too is… well, dangerous. It will also make you look pretty stupid in certain positions: my PC has only a monitor, no (functioning) webcam as yet, and good sound is a massive faff to achieve. I could have used my phone yesterday for Zoom, were it working.

meintheclub

What this is telling me, of course, is that I need to extract the digit and organise myself better. The truth, under all of this, is that massive group meetings scare the fuck out of me. All those ‘benefits’ that normal people will gain from the notion of being part of a participative event set me screaming. I’ve never worked well in those situations, doubt I ever will. The best work is done with communication on a one to one basis.

Then, everything else gets blocked out and I can focus on a person, the job in hand. That’s probably a lot to do with why I’m currently really not stressing about the whole being locked inside thing nearly as much as everybody else seems to be. I get there are lives and jobs and the like on the line, and I’m indescribably grateful to my husband who has heavy lifted all of us through this because of my health issues.

The fact remains, I was built for Lockdown.

timbrownworldtyping

That means, starting today, it’s probably an idea to start taking a few things a bit more seriously than previously. I have some cycling PB’s that won’t get broken without a concerted redefinition of training goals. It is the moment to start getting serious, and shit to become real again. Plus yesterday, after throwing a submission together and writing a cracking poem, it might be the moment to use all this grief constructively too.

Let’s see how we can do this day better than yesterday.

White Noise White Heat

Might be Thursday, feels like about a month since Sunday. I’ve rearranged the Patreon schedule a bit because frankly, there is very little of value in my brain right now. About 80% of the stuff that needs doing’s ready to go, but that 20% which remains encompasses all the thorny, hard stuff and nope, brain just wants to stare into the middle distance and ignore most efforts to engage.

It does not help that yesterday became incredibly stressful in a very concentrated, two hour burst. The outcome however was major: I’ll talk about that on Patreon today, and not here, in the hope that I might tempt some of you to come and join me. It’s only $4 a month to access all the blogs there, but appreciate that even that is a stretch for many people right now. Your definition of paltry is relative.

shun the prole

I’m at the stage where subbing to anything new is impossible, so am totally with you if the rush by so many creatives to ‘go digital’ is leaving you cold. However, this is my life now, like it or not, and I am determined to push the Patreon and Gumroad quite hard as the year goes on. However, there needs to be some other stuff done too, so today instead of stressing about how I make new things, we’ll recycle some old.

There’s at least one submission window in which older work can be repurposed, but it will require quite a bit more tea than has been currently consumed just to negotiate the online process. This is often more stressful than writing the actual work, if truth be told. However, it’s worthwhile if I can find another publication inroad: that’s the key, in all of this. Everything is publicity.

If people don’t know you exist, how will you ever be discovered?

Illsithee

Progress is hard, and if you’re carrying emotional baggage, extremely tiring. However, there was a period of about ninety minutes yesterday when I was on a high the likes of which has not been experienced for… well, decades. Achievement really is its’ own reward if done well, and yesterday was the first time since before my kids were born that I’ve been able to stand up, say what I wanted to say in the manner that mattered and solve a problem.

That, it has to be said, is a MASSIVE step forward.

Lies

Why is it that we are constantly trying to achieve the things that make us most frustrated by their absence? Why is it that the people we crave most to be part of our lives never seem to even notice our existence, unless it suits their agenda? Why am I asking all these dumb questions after only one cup of tea…?

Hang on, let’s fix that before anything else happens.

cookiemonster

It’s been a tough week, and we’re only at Wednesday. However, there are solutions for all my issues easily to hand, there’s progress on my Experimental Poetry (more of that on the work blog) and frankly, that’s all there would be on any other Wednesday. The problem is clearing out all the pointless stuff I can do nothing about from a brain that uses this stuff as means to berate me on my lack of progress.

Except, of course, that’s complete bollocks too.

I missed a deadline for a contest yesterday, that’s so not for Poets Like Me. That’s gonna end up as my next video project, as it happens: all these people I see, writing flowery prose or being all energetic and in people’s faces as if that’s the way we all write. I’m beginning to realise the gulf of difference between me and everybody else not as a disadvantage but a selling point. Different is defined by other’s ignorance.

Ascribing to the school of ‘everything happens for a reason’ as I did, for so many years, means that at the back of my mind this week will end up as more of a personal watershed than it ever appeared would be the case going into it. The loss of a family member to COVID shouldn’t have been inevitable, but it was. Knowing the truth is a long way from experiencing its consequences, after all. When that happens, everything alters.

This is, like it or not, a page in the book I need to write for myself.

volunteer

Blogging is therapy again, for the foreseeable future. Please fasten your seatbelts.