Adult Education

Seeing someone say stuff like this in print will, undoubtedly be considered by many as ridiculous: it’s imagery, anybody can inhabit a character’s mindset. Except… this is something I’ve wondered about for a while. Imagery is important to me, and although it could be conceivable to argue that as a writer I have the ability to write as a person whose ethnicity I don’t understand…

More and more, this is not about the action, but appropriation. It is borrowing without permission. That is undoubtedly where a lot of GIF creation lies: as a means to express yourself, via the medium of someone else’s reaction. If you apply logic, it does stand up to scrutiny, but that’s not the key here. That’s empathy.

If you look through my blog, you will see a lot of GIFs used not as promotion, but simple reaction. I’ve certainly never used any of them as an active means of promoting myself, and often (when it comes to personalities such as Ru Paul, Idris Elba or Beyonce) you aren’t just using their image as a reaction, it’s a nod to your appreciation as them as a person.

Knowing when that moves from being empathic into appropriation territory is going to be a tough ask for many white people. Yes, I can type that sentence with absolute confidence, because we all know that person who does That Dumb Thing and never really considers the consequences. You only get naïvety as an excuse in the modern world… probably once now, if at all.

If you’re on the Internet, you’re interacting in public. Twitter might be trying to create a forum environment, and the illusion that you can say what you want without redress with their new Conversation feature, but the truth is this place never forgets. It is vicious and feral and has very good reason to be both of those things if you don’t respect the people using it.

The bigots, racists, and idiots who use this kind of article as sport won’t ever listen. That isn’t what articles like this are about. They’re meant to make the sensible and rational amongst us stop, think and change the way we do things, and if that rolls out to wider audiences and unexpected places, so much the better.

You can mark this point as the one where I won’t use certain GIFs any more, because I respect and understand the point being made here. I’ve spent time this morning deleting certain ones out as a result of reading Lauren’s article, and followed her on Twitter to be further educated.

Sometimes, you are part of the problem, whether you like it or not.


People should know when they’re conquered...

I refuse to lie down. It is perfectly okay to be angry, sad, frightened and uncertain. Internalising is dangerous: take it from someone who knows this only too well. The key here is for the antagonists to beat resistance down by any means necessary. Romans were baddies remember, destroying thousands of lives under the auspice of civilization.

Sometimes, it isn’t about giving in. Bending the knee is not necessary. You can help each other and not expect a reward. All of this, plus so much more is wrapped up in the concept that only one way is right, which is the one dictated by those in charge… except when that set of rules doesn’t work for them, and terms need to be altered…

People should never stop fighting until their last breath, or really what was the point of living in the first place?

Some people don’t like to lose. They think that being proved wrong is losing too. Defending their friends is considered as honourable, even if their actions are despicable. If your ethical code is inherently flawed, nothing is ever really going to look good when scrutinised. Eventually, everybody works out that the Emperor is naked, and you’re screwed.

What’s all this about? I hear you wonder: sure it might ring bells with current affairs, but that’s not my point. Speaking as someone who, once upon a time, put a metaphorical bullet in her own ethical code, defending the indefensible is a waste of everybody’s time. Admit you’re wrong, and accept the blame.

If you’re copying inherited behaviours because that’s how you were bought up? Time to unlearn. It can be done, but the longer that’s left, the harder it gets. Trust an expert on this. You may think everything is great right now, but the day all those carefully-placed conceits finally fall, and you’re under them all, it will take all you are to survive the impacts.

I refuse to allow my past to dictate the future.


there is a plan…

I’ve been meaning for a while to update this site’s look: with this change to the HTML it makes sense to try to match up animated GIF action with the headers. However, as GIPHY is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Facebook… time to look elsewhere for my sources. Eventually, of course, I’ll be able to make my own, and that will be a useful step forward in ability.

Set myself seven things to do yesterday, managed three. Therefore, today’s scheduled rest day has been shunted to tomorrow, as it’s a Bank Holiday here. I did largely relax last night though, and as I have a new phone now (SIM swap ftw) there’s thought to going to take pictures: as I can drive to places now for exercise, plus the fact I haven’t driven for two months…

One of the items on my list is planning for June: I have decided to undertake a major projects, which is asking for forty pieces of writing in two weeks. I’ll know quite quickly whether it is doable or not, a test of my increased capacity to focus to deadline. This is all about my ability to create something from only an idea, plus how to visualise that process from start to finish.

The latter is my biggest single step forward in two months. It also requires a significant shift in personal organization. I believe I’m up to the task, we will see if that confidence is justified by the end of next week. Not everything has to be done in the time frames aimed for, but if I am to succeed going forward, a lot does.

Watch this space.

Funny Girl

I had pudding last night, for the first time in probably a couple of months. Occasionally, over the Lockdown, I’ve sneaked a mini Bread and Butter Pudding in between meals. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy that experience…

I also spent most of yesterday doing the exact opposite of what I’d originally planned for Friday. I wrote a poem which, once it’s sat and gathered dust for a bit, will be one of the three I submit for the National Poetry Contest I will Never Win [*] and That’s Okay. Normally when I do these it is in the white-hot anger of having not won the previous year. Not this time.

This time, it is something else I am angry about. I doubt this will make one iota of difference to progression, but what it does make for is a poem with real bite, distinct from its predecessors and, amazingly, with distinct style too. All in all, it adds up to a comfortable new high water mark for the journey. It will make editing poetry this morning a lot easier.

I give this Poem

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Saturday’s Agenda

If all this gets done today, I can have Sunday off, and that’s all that really matters to me right now…

Sarah, speaking earlier

I’m sorry, I’m having WAY too much fun with all this faffing about: at some point, undoubtedly, we’ll end up going back to boring five line paragraphs, but the temptation to play with all of this for comedy porpoises remains quite strong. In all seriousness however, there are se7en things on my To Do List.

Six are pretty heavy duty, and if I can get traction on them all, and at least four completely finished, I’ll take today as a towering triumph. One is probably impossible today, because it depends on someone else. However, if I can buckle down and get all this sorted, it gives me the free time I need next week to write poetry collections, and right now that matters quite a bit.

Maybe I could ask WordPress to work out a Strava embed for this new system…

[*] Not with that attitude you won’t…

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.