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.

thisisgood

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.

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. 

Burial

Yesterday, I did a two and a half hour poetry ‘workshop’ at a local place I wasn’t aware existed until earlier last month. The details will be covered in a Writing Site post tomorrow, but there is one part of that process I’d like to highlight here. For one of the exercises, I was asked to look in a mirror and imagine myself as an animal. Except I panicked, and almost ran out of the room in terror.

Mirrors and I have a long history of not liking each other.

mirrors

It’s a complex equation: body dysmorphia, general anxiety, plus a lot of other neuroses. It is still tough to look at myself completely in a mirror and be comfortable with the image I see looking back. Certainly over the last few years, it has become easier. I end up watching myself however sometimes, just because it is tough to reconcile what is seen with what I know is a far larger and more complex truth.

It’s what makes the Gym some days quite a tough ask, and why I tend to just get on with what needs to be done and not focus on things that use the mirrors as notional guides for positioning. Last night however, I was hugely proud of myself. I took what was the initial panic and reined it in, thanks to my counselling, before pushing through the exercise. It began largely negative, but then ways were found to switch it round.

The final resulting piece was a revelation.

It’s odd how somebody else’s definition of understanding can alter yours, if you allow the process to run its course. It is, of course, the basis of all education: some questions will only have one answer, others are laid out, shades of gray so subtle and often interchangeable as to be indistinguishable from distance. It’s only when you allow complete acceptance of someone else’s ideas that you accept ability to shift your own.

It’s that concept which is vital to make your children understand quite early on: the reason why you teach people rules is so that you can understand them, but once you know them, they are a lot more flexible than you might first realise. The fundamentals of poetry and art are complex and often frustrating, but to know them is to allow the ability to then move away, at your own pace, to new and exciting places.

Last night’s unassuming two and a half hours has started something rather interesting.

COMMENT

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.

COMMENT

Everything Connected

Rejection email arrived at 2.30 pm yesterday, exactly as it was promised, which is undoubtedly an improvement on a large number of previous submissions I’ve made. There’s stuff in my Submittable account from two years ago that organisations have failed to even answer or remove. It’s an exercise in torture that is made worse by the realisation you’re not quite there enough to be relevant or noticeable.

On the plus side, I can cycle through the stages of grief quite effectively:

  • Shock and denial (I don’t believe it, it’s happened again, how many times etc)
  • Guilt, added pain (did I polish enough, were my answers not smart or memorable)
  • The anger ‘dialogue’ (this isn’t fair, I deserved that, why won’t someone notice me)
  • Depression (fuck this I’m going running/weightlifting/walking)
  • Realisation (this is how life works, stop judging yourself by others’ benchmarks)
  • Reconstruction (tomorrow, we work harder and will LEARN FROM THIS)
  • Hope/acceptance (what a brilliant sunrise, gonna be a good day to progress)

all happen in increasingly shorter amounts each time one of these submissions that matters takes place… which let’s face facts is EVERY SINGLE ONE.

If I didn’t feel everything, this would be a lot easier.

allthefingers

Today therefore we are exploring other avenues in terms of exposure and interest. They may come off, they may not. The key is to not close yourself off to alternatives and at least walk down every avenue once that potentially opens to you. You’ll know which ones are right over time anyway, it’s part of the ‘trust your gut’ portion of this exercise. It also helps having a good working knowledge of the environment you find yourself in.

In this respect I’m ahead of the game. Sure, being live and immediate really helps, but it is also about the business of building a presence and reinforcing that over time. Most people scrabble to do this after they hit the target and get recognition: I’m already here. All this stuff is created and is slowly being added to, a useful resource and testament to how slow and steady holds its own benefit.

planttotheface

There are two more submissions today, they’ll be my best work again. Whether I’m successful or not is out of my hands. That’s someone else’s decision to make and ultimately mine to accept: with each one a part of me is lost. It is replaced with an acceptance that this is the path I choose willingly to tread, and as such all that can be done is to hope that eventually, one day, we hit a target first time.

Stardust

I earmarked this post to be a post-meeting discussion on how the small mental health crusade is going in reference to my Gym, but amazingly, despite being told the person I needed would be available today, they’re not. Plan B it is then, e-mail in their inbox on his return. However, this does now mean I have no subject for today’s post…

That’s not true at all.

I’m gonna talk about short stories on the writing blog today, and what’s been learnt since Mslexicon in July. It has taken this long to get everything else back on track, so that I could return and effectively finish off August’s attempt. It was such a good story too, that the closure needed to happen. By doing so, another door has opened, and I’m back in the groove. Next month’s story, as a result, is almost completely planned.

Stardust.png

Undoubtedly the progress I’ve made with NaNo this year is creating a more fertile environment for ideas to grow. What hasn’t happened in previous years is the means by which to capitalise on those positives, but that’s all going to change. Next year is going to be HUGE. Redefining myself becomes easier with each new revelation or progression. I have absolutely got this.

I hope I can really surprise people with what there is in store.