You and Me Song

I have to admit there was an ulterior motive, making the 600 miles or so round trip with my husband (very graciously) doing all the driving. It was all about walking into a place I’d only seen in pictures and never visited. It was also having to make myself known to people that had only been met online. This has happened before, on several occasions, it must be said, but back then it was different. The person I am now carries things that never encumbered me back then. It was not the same. I am here, now, a much better person.

I didn’t like myself very much at all back then.

Day Two at the Festival and I listened to Victoria Adukwei Bulley read poetry that was uncompromising and often uncomfortable to hear. There was a poem about Ultra Black Fish (third on the linked page) that hit me so hard in the brain, I’m still recovering from the impact. Their debut has just been published and if you fancy buying me Quiet, it’s on my Throne Wishlist :D

As a neurodivergent, however, I will admit Jane Burn was the reason why I’d picked the session. It was a master stroke of programming to get me with both poets, let’s be honest. Jane did not disappoint. I was too nervous to go ask for a signed book, though. Next time, for absolute definite. Jane is a fucking force of nature, and you need to see them live. I also especially approve of performing barefoot.

Then it was about wandering around, feeling faintly nauseous, and getting to the point where it was time to do the Open Mic.

It went okay. It was the best performance I’ve managed, exceeding the 20-minute set on Zoom. Now all there has to be is an actual collection to perform, though when it gets to that I think I’d like to do what Jonathan Davidson suggested in a workshop I did with him: first half needs to be other people’s poems I really enjoy/has inspired me and second half is my own stuff. That seems like a wonderful way of acknowledging the path that’s been walked to get to this point.

Don’t tell anyone, but I didn’t really sleep at all, Saturday to Sunday.

I was too busy flying around the larger Universe I’d discovered.

Old Friends

To help with my anxiety, I will often imagine what it will be like in stressful situations in order to manage the inevitable expectations (or not) that follow. Never in my WILDEST DREAMS could I have imagined what happened on Friday night. It still wears the t-shirt of unreality: how did this happen? How has my life not really understood the significance of these new online friendships? When will I next get to buy Kim Moore a beer?

Friday night was a revelation. Firstly, I met Imtiaz Dharker. The Universe opened a door to a place I did not know existed, and in she walked. The sonnet she wrote about her husband, after his passing, is possibly one of the most perfect pieces of poetry I have ever heard.

It was also the night when I got to see Joelle Taylor perform for the first time. Nobody has ever used Zoom in quite that way before for me ever, and it was enough to reduce me to tears.

There will be those who might try and malign the hybridity of this, but the visuals worked perfectly. The microphone is being performed behind. That’s the key. This is the space where magic is created, and it was just that. This was the perfect balance of female experience too, from different spaces and into an incredibly willing mind. Even now, I’m still not totally sure it all took place at all. It had the intensity of a fever dream and the impact of a full-blown storm.

By the end of the evening, I knew I’d made the right choice to travel in person, though. It would have been magnificent at home, but being there was transcendent.

That T-shirt is now one of the most important things I own. It was properly earned too…

The Test

I had forgotten how good the poems were that I submitted for this Zine. However, that pales into insignificance when placed beside being in the same publication of someone’s work who I totally adore. That’s the moment you can never plan. They are precious.

This is significant progress.

Video Killed the Radio Star

It was inevitable, of course, after last week’s 200 plus views triumph of video making and poetry reading that there would be a plan. I’m going to post this and then spend my Friday night making title cards for the next two projects in the series. Without giving anything away, they will be called ‘Wander’ and ‘Golden Mile’, both of which will have a connection to water. They coincide with journeys to two different locations in the next couple of months.

September’s is provisionally entitled ‘Fast as You Can’ and has nothing to do with Fiona Apple. This is me, using my free time as a means to create content, and it helps establish a routine that will get me publishing five poems a month with videos to accompany them. If anything, it will show potential organizations that a) I’m not fucking about and b) I can do my own promotion. Maybe one day someone will pay me for this… who knows?

Whatever the outcome, I am having fun organizing it all…

Believe

For the last three weeks I’ve been working on a project which is (almost) put to rest now, there’s just the small matter of subtitling it and checking I’ve not fucked anything up terribly. It’s the next step forward in my poetry journey, too. A proper narrative. Actors, and locations. Big undertaking with only me as production team, writer and director. It takes me back to when it wasn’t video, but film production that was being learnt.

I have no idea how any of this will be received, either. Criticism is fine, there’s no worries about people telling me what they think. This isn’t just about the content after all, more whether it is possible to make something from nothing. Once upon a time, I’d struggle to be organized enough to get through a week as a mum without having the ability to do anything else. This is a whole different world, and I am so pleased to have had the time and space to inhabit it.

The timing of this couldn’t be better professionally, either, because a job opportunity has emerged where this stuff can actually be used as credit. That’s not why it was done, of course, but the point remains that if people are going to take me seriously, this is the kind of content I need to be able to output. For that alone, this might end up being the most important thing I do all year.

A Change is Gonna Come

May was always going to be important for me. There is a LOT changing in my life, new skills and ideas coming to the fore, and this will be the month when that INFJ-T in my Twitter profile also comes into its own. Everyone has something they need to do away from their normal plans and routines. Advocacy is mine. I always tell myself you can’t change everything, but there are most definitely parts of the world that you can. This is the moment. This is my time.

If it can co-incide with a period of general growth and consolidation, so much the better. I have a 10km run and a 30-mile bike ride on closed roads to factor into the equation. There are some very important poetical events taking place too: my first ever legitimate book launch event of a poem in an anthology. I’ll be reading again with my favourite venue hosts, who are expanding into print over the Summer… and I’m involved :D

All things considered, this is going to be a month when everything changes. Once upon a time, I’d have viewed that with trepidation and fear: not any more. This is my future, slowly coming into view, and to be quite honest I would rather not have it any other way. Life is all about adapting to change and being mindful of how you must always be listening and growing. I never used to take stuff like this seriously, either. A lot has changed in 5 years.

Becoming More Like Alfie

Yesterday was a triumph of form over function. Who thought that a prose piece would cause so much damage, and that defending other people would be used as a means to attack my position. It is indeed all fun and games until someone’s ego is damaged and then all you have is memories and a far larger block list. Welcome to October, where everything is in free-fall.

Except, as it transpires, this is perfectly fine. No .GIFs of cartoon dogs have been burnt in the making of this blog. I have a minute of video this morning utilising two webcams and Discord, which is fucking light years ahead of where I was two months ago. Knowing how to use it, of course, is a different matter entirely, and now the tech needs to percolate in my brain.

I might be able to manage a poem a week on YouTube, though…

These are all small steps. Seeing my own work up is a step in a decent direction. It all works well in my own mind’s eye. That’s what this is all about, when everything is said and done. It is a slow, measured progression of ideas that started on paper. Now I can plan, and consider new ways to evolve myself, in new forms and possibilities.

All of it, in the end, is only working towards a single goal: expression.

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…

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.Ā 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.

thisisgood

There’s therefore six poems, sitting to my left, asking to be repurposed elsewhere.Ā 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.Ā 

I’m already looking forward to the process.

reading-icarly

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.Ā 

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.

colbert_numbers

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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