Yesterday’s Men

I was rejected yesterday, twice. Normally, this would have been the cause of much angst and hand-wringing: now there’s simply not enough time to stress about it. I’ve got fingers in so many places that being told I’m not good enough for awards/prizes I could have told you is true is far less of an issue than it ever was previously. I’m never gonna have a fair swing at at least one of these things until there’s a far bigger CV to waft, for starters.

Realism’s a great leveller, when you’re on the right side of it. By that, I mean you can get upset when work is rejected, of course you can, but knowing what you’re currently producing is not consistently good enough to stand beside your peers… Looking back on one group of poems, written back in August, it really is a bit of a wake-up call. So much has changed, for the better, in just over six months.

That thing about practice? It’s so utterly, honestly truthful.

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There’s therefore six poems, sitting to my left, asking to be repurposed elsewhere. I have a whole pile of early poetry to print out this morning, all of which is going to get reworked in April. There’s a lot to be said for having a well-organised collection, and with one of the two days this week I get to work in the Arts Collective in Southend, I will be systematically trawling through my stuff to see what can be recycled going forward.

The other day is the first proper re-write of a series of poems that are incredibly dear to my heart, and which will form the basis of my first self-published work this year. I’ve already scoped out a path with which to produce these, now it’s about getting the work to a stage that I’m happy with. They will be sold in association with Patreon, via the medium of Gumroad. 

I’m already looking forward to the process.

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After that, there’s the redesign to work on, of which more shortly on the writing blog. For now, however, I have two days in Leeds to look forward to, a number of new and interesting places to go take photographs in, and a kids’ 15th Birthday to plan for. It’s all go here, and I’m having to do it all whilst struggling to be able to type properly. All that exercise yesterday has made me ache, rather a lot…

I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Dead in the Water

That’s Donation #8 in the bag :D Doing it earlier in the day is not the way forward however: I managed to lock my keys in the house, felt a bit wonky immediately afterwards and am not quite sure that walking home was a good idea. However, I ate really well in prep for yesterday and this morning… well, let’s go back to last night first, because something new happened.

Once upon a time what happened last night would have put me back MONTHS. Today, once I’ve written this we’ll have a good couple of hours rebuilding a collection that was, by my own benchmarks, pretty ropey in parts. It’s also a testament to how far I have come as a poet in the last 12 months: the initial choice of submission may yet get done, we will see, but for now this is enough.

The title might be my greatest moment thus far.

Then there’s a short story that I hope to be able to first draft by the end of next week. It should have happened last week but there is, sometimes, no way of making creativity do the stuff you want to deadlines. I do at least have the idea sound and plotted, and as we’re working to a fairly tight word count, that does mean the writing itself won’t take forever. After THAT? I am giving serious consideration to taking March off.

If I say I’m going to do nothing, this is normally when the most productivity takes place: why, when I go away this weekend, the laptop comes with me cause then, if inspiration strikes, it’s time to just type and not care. The balance between needing to do stuff to deadline and just writing what you want is tough to reconcile when you have a brain like mine. To function correctly, there has to be some imposition of order.

However, what can then happen is that the pressure of the deadline makes everything else become far less attractive to complete. It is an odd situation to find myself in, and normally when it happens that’s all productivity summarily scuppered. Not this time, however, and that is allowing me to feel… well, surprisingly unfettered going forward. Whether it will be the commercial breakthrough I need is now largely irrelevant.

Whatever happens, my collection will be published this year.

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I have no qualms about self-publishing. I can send the work then directly to real publishers as a visual CV, and anyone who bags a copy has the chance to own something that might one day hold some actual value. It’s a win/win with the only disadvantage being dipping into savings to make it happen. However, as a long-term investment, I feel it is worth doing. I may even Kickstarter the project as a result.

This is a step into the light that has been a very long time coming indeed.

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The Fix

The poem began on the day I forced myself out of the house and into the countryside (such as it exists here) and that really proves the point that sometimes, external stimulation kick starts writing ability. I ended up with an opening line but no more: this morning after a night full of dreams where getting lost would finally provide inspiration to find the path back to my destination, ending became beautifully obvious.

My subconscious when all is said and done can be very easily read.

There’s two poems for this submission: after going to see the eldest at Uni and having a birthday meal (he turns nineteen this week) they’ll both be finally looked over and then sent. Next week is the re-write of an existing poetry collection for submission again. With the changes to style, content and approach that have taken place over the summer, I suspect little may remain of what is started with. We shall see.


I have a confession to make. I watch very little TV these days. It is therefore a bit of a stunner to have a bunch of things approaching that will be consumed, rather voraciously, leading up until Christmas. The BBC’s adaptation of His Dark Materials begins in early November. Tonight, the first proper TV adaptation of H.G.Wells’ War of the Worlds is on BBC1. In anticipation of this, last night, Netflix got fired up, and a new documentary series was begun.

This series is pretty much made for someone like me, and the opening episode did not disappoint. I’ll review it properly once all the content has been consumed, as the range of designers covers a fairly eclectic definition of the word. Let’s hope that the BBC does not shonk Wells’ original vision, and that the good vibes over their adaptation of Pullman’s work with all the contentious stuff left in really is as good as the trailers suggest.

At least it gives me summat to write about in the week :D

Island of Lost Souls

As you read this, I hope to be standing on an island, taking pictures. That is the plan, at least, as it is Day One of Photography for the poetry project. This was always going to be the mentally busy one too, and it is certainly working out that way. Keep an eye on the Instagram feed for pictures, of which there will be several as the week goes on. I’m hoping for decent weather: if the BBC website is to be believed, that’s not a problem.

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However, having the running order sorted now, everything feels a fair bit more organised.

It’s roughly four locations a day that need covering, and they’re lumped together in geographically-sensible groups, so there shouldn’t be too much travel time. I’ve already scoped out all my locations and have some pictures of them all, this is just me taking pictures of the things picked to be part of the final collages. Needless to say, quite a bit of work has gone into all this.

boosh

All things being equal, I’ll be back here LIVE on Tuesday, as all those locations are gonna be covered after I’ve done counselling…

Timebomb Zone

Day 4: Wow, that’s a two hours I never want to repeat again. I’m utterly with Duncan Jones: kids are hard work. I know, they didn’t ask to be born and you were the one who make the choice [and therefore accept the responsibility], but BOY some days is it tough. Anxiety-producing, pain inflicting, nerve shreddingly tough. If the sun was out and the country hadn’t just imploded, it would be easier. Today therefore is penance, and I’m surprisingly okay with that.

The Next Chapter Bar

There’s a significant fork in the road up ahead. Watching my husband cycle last night, his level of fitness is a reminder that if things matter enough, you will find a way. I don’t eat badly, exercise more than has ever been the case before and slowly, so very slowly, improvement is coming. It is on days like today when I’m mentally wiped that those gains matter so much more. Pushing beyond comfort zones might not be the answer for some, but for me there are days when if I don’t, the consequences can be catastrophic.

I should have started this particular journey with more vigour about 20 years ago.

The Next Chapter Bar

Decided to enter a book contest with the manuscript that keeps getting rejected. It’s really good, deeply personal and largely autobiographical, and I know full well why nobody I’ve sent it to thus far has shown the slightest bit of interest. So, if it gets rejected AGAIN it doesn’t get rewritten a third time. It stays this way, and we look for specialist publishers to send it to, and if that fails I fucking publish it myself, because sometimes it isn’t about compromise. Sometimes, what matters most is the idea, as you wrote it, not how someone else wants you to tell the story.

Occasionally you don’t write in the hope someone else validates you. You need to validate yourself.

Point of View

DAY 12: Huel for breakfast, followed by an early session of PT. If you wonder what all of that looks like together, in a vastly more accurate visual than Fitbit can produce… there’s an app for that now.

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Amazingly, you can see the rest between sets here. The blue at each end is my walk to and from the Gym, which I purposefully pushed to be more aerobically efficient. There might have been some scoffing over this app, especially as the company has been fiddling with heart rate zones on a customer by customer basis. However, this undoubted level of accuracy is hard to ignore. I have a new favourite toy.

Maybe it wasn’t a waste of cash after all.


What you think is a great idea late in the day can become somewhat more panicky and ill-advised in daylight. HOWEVER, all the poems are together, in one place, all formatted correctly and now just require an edit. Oh, that sentence is so simple to write and yet so horribly complex to complete. No, it’ll be fine. There’s no need to build my part up, everything is doable. There’s also half a mind to shove a short story into the mix too. However, there’s a real and rather pressing secondary deadline looming that has had little or nothing done for it and which now needs to be looked at as a matter of urgency.

I do love to run fast and loose with my content.


History will remember that to reinvent oneself, there needs to be a kick-ass soundtrack. When you sing songs about battle, there is a reason: to celebrate victory, but be mindful of just how close you are to defeat. For every person who won it all, there is the loser, second place, the also-rans. For me, inspiration exists every day: self penned, fantasy created in my head that drives everything forward. You can be whatever you want to be, as long as you believe it enough.

One day I’ll explain the true significance of this piece of music. For now, this is the soundtrack, walkout music to the boxing ring.

Everybody needs a theme tune.

In Darkness let me Dwell

His hand is comfort, wrapped around
the shattered fragments of my broken whole.
Warm mouth relieves the stress of
countless moments, lost in others hearts unheard.
I rest content, no need to feel or know
the pain of lovers gone, with judgement passed.
This is the peace in darkness,
dwelling silent and complete, without concern.

There is no need for words or knowledge yet,
we are enough as one, together bound.
This calm surrounds the whole, brings peace
to all the chaos of before;
Because you heard the cry I gave and knew
this fear of being isolated and alone.
In darkness let me dwell within you whole,
a final respite for my troubled soul.