Write Now :: Inspiration

It was a few years ago that an Open University Creative Writing Course was taken to kick-start creativity. The first thing I was told, on almost the opening page of my Unit booklet, was that there’d need to be a notebook for ideas. This, initially, was met with much internal hilarity: when there are ideas, I just write them down complete online. Why on Earth would there be the need to keep notes?

Several years on, there is not a day where a notebook is not close by.

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Poetry is odd stuff: I’ll get a line in my head sometimes and then scrabble to keep it intact. That’s where pen and paper beat electronic means such as my phone, though I will freely admit that my tablet (and Pages) has become a useful fall-back notepad late at night or early in the morning. However, it’s those moments when a full-blown plot appears out of left field and EVERYTHING needs to be remembered now where this form is a massive boon.

Most of the stuff in the Book Of Shame is accompanied by such handwritten notes: both Already Grown and Reboot to Shell emerged fully formed. Occasionally it will only be a title that starts the process, and that was today’s revelation. 24 Adjectives for Pain was  begun from a conversation between myself and my Physiotherapist, and now needs titles to accompany the journey from flab to fit. The notebook will be put to good use in the next few days, of that I have no doubt.

Twenty-Four

Writing should be a constantly evolving process: if it’s not, how do you ever get better? Once upon a time there was no need to be organised, but with so much else going on… without it, I’m frankly lost. Listing to other people’s wisdom pays dividends, people, it is why there’s so much stating the obvious going on all around you. What may seem obvious to one person is inevitably news to somebody else.

If all else fails, a notebook can be used for shopping lists and doodling in traffic jams.

 

Pictures at an Exhibition: Three

Having pinned up my plans for October, it is time to go into a little more detail.

Symphony

The idea is simple: tell a story using haiku, pictures and with a musical background. It is a love story, because of the running joke that this is all I’m really good at. The #Soundtracking2018 Playlist will be the music that daily accompanies each haiku and picture selection. I’m still debating how to pull the #Narrating2018 selection into this, but there’s an idea… and so next week will be when all the disparate threads are stitched together. It helps that there’s almost 2000 pictures in my Flickr account to use as a basis, but that’s only half the plan.

October is when there will be new pictures too.

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I’ve missed setting a challenge for myself that involves more outdoor work. That’s what this is about, pushing comfort boundaries and putting my various skills to better use. Once I have the final details sorted, it will be time to pick suitable ‘locations’ for my pictures, and the format they’ll take. To mix things up a bit there’ll be composites like the graphic above, separate photos and haiku, and… well, I learnt a lot of good lessons from last year. Plenty of audio and visual media can be utilised for storytelling.

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I’m genuinely excited for October. There’s also other stuff to do, plus a couple of deadlines which need consideration, but there’s enough everything can all be fitted in.

Time to crack on with organisation

Blue Sky Thinking :: Dread

[INT; Alt’s Brain. Good and Bad are standing on opposite sides of a very large sinkhole, which has unexpectedly appeared in a vital part of the organisation structure. They stare at each other with uncertainty.]

BAD: Nope, this definitely wasn’t here yesterday.

GOOD: Wonder how much stuff we’ve lost down there…

[From the darkness of the hole there is movement, then a small, hesitant voice calls up.]

DREAD: Er… is there any chance of a rope…?


It’s not been a great week. I’m behind, but am determined to get everything back to a semblance of normality as quickly as possible. It would help if I didn’t have this constant, nagging fear at the back of my mind that there’s really no point, because if there was only one reader total on my blog last week, why exactly am I bothering?

One day, that could all change, but if I don’t try, how will I know?

Imposter Syndrome is a bitch.


DREAD

Between breaths, dread slides,
hand to shoulder, slightest pressure
restrict movement, arrest progress
perfect assassin, silent killer.

I will prevent, hold back, disarm
progression, confidence, belief
this life, not yours, penance made
each joy, removed, destroyed.

Hole opens beneath, hope swallowed, receding faith, destruction
sucked downwards, spat outwards, crushed beneath, opened up:
depression formed, weathered front, low pressure, happiness drowned…

You win.

I’m lost.

Sanity

smallest cost.


 

Poetry Archive :: Grace

The haiku, on the other hand, goes from strength to strength. It’s the fact there’s structure that makes this much easier to write. My ASD brain thrives within structure.

I gotta fix that and see if there is the means to allow chaos to thrive more…


Grace

Calm, unruffled shift
compose yourself: commencing
graceful attitude.

Ignore fanciful
focus instead: rotating
facets reflecting.

Develop passion,
enquiring: development
mind’s enlightenment.

From depths of belief
soul’s true calling: reasoning,
remake this life, whole.

Emerging, reborn
eloquence: serenity
perfect conclusion.


Poetry Archive :: Favour

This was a disaster. There’s good in it, however, and it will be re-appraised in time. Once I do, there’ll have been lessons learnt about overreaching, metaphor and the way poetry ought to sound, because this is guilty of a lot of bad things.

–  So, why is it here? Shouldn’t you only publish good things?

No. I need to show I’m aware of mistakes being made, and where there has to be improvement. pretending all I ever do is good might look like a good idea but, on reflection the bad matters almost as much. If a prospective publisher came and found this, on reflection, I’d want to show that this journey isn’t simply about shoving anything up for public view. Choosing work that needs work is a willingness to accept that this is still an evolution.

There is a lot of work still to do.


Favour

Easier option; smarter child
low maintenance relationship
this rump steak isn’t medium rare
consumed with resignation.
Without contempt; bandwagon jumped
that other person’s better choice
perennial balancing act
favour the little guy.

Favourite all, follow no-one
retweeting memes, .GIF memories
Facebook Group friends will never meet
virtual tryst not meant to be.
Juggling lives, ignoring fools
ideal position for abuse
the quiet ones always trouble
a fool with most to lose.

Weight every option, online plan
Compare my Everything dot com
patronage for niche ideas
bright stitched, constructed web of buys.
Coffee pot turned on from work
dimming lights whilst traffic jams
does mobile tech improve a life
perhaps just sham, not future proof.

Take a moment; values shift
advanced consumerism sucks
sheer weight of noise, heavy deafness
ears bleed, brains slowly waste away.
Other’s plans can’t dictate choice
firmly remaining present tense
eroding thoughts of future past
removal of free thought and deed.

Perhaps the answer’s in belief
ancient mistakes our lessons learnt
rebuilding ideals, firm intent
target those lives which need the most.
Success not measured by these things
material wealth to put aside
eternal hope springs forth desire
favour constructive change of mind.


Write Now :: The Book of Shame

I don’t know how other writers deal with rejection, except that it is something that anyone who writes will encounter the moment they throw themselves into competition. It is the inevitable consequence of attempting to be noticed, belief that one is only worthy when a total stranger decides your writing deserving of a wider audience. The problem, of course, is picking up confidence after failure, then carrying on.

I’m not sure if this is novel or not, but rejection here is dealt with via the Book of Shame.

Ever since I started entering contests in 2017, this is where the stuff is remembered: a copy of my poetry printed out, then stuck in place, with accompanying notes to remind what inspired the pieces, and what was learnt from them. The idea is to try and evolve after each piece or group of poems, alter approach and style to better mach the increasing amount of poetry that is being read, and then finally to transcend the feelings of failure. Shame, in this case, is not a bad emotion. It is the understanding that from failure comes progress, and to recall how that took place is as important as the poetry itself.

It’s easy to print the collections in a tiny format on my shonky printer: four poems to a page of A4 and then they’re cut up and stapled together. One of these two will now have four poems added for a second hit at a pamphlet submission, because I honestly think it is good enough. This is the first time that’s happened, and hopefully not the last. It will only get easier if I do more work, after all, and my workload/schedule is beginning to bear fruit in that regard. Who knew that if you keep writing, things get better?

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In the unlikely event I do hit the jackpot, its where I’ll have lots of lovely background stuff to pull from as what inspired me to write in the first place. Whatever happens, it has become a way of celebrating progress and not allowing failure to consume me.

This Book of Shame is one of the most important things I’ve ever made.

Blue Sky Thinking :: Doubt

[INT; Alt’s Brain. Things have definitely improved since our last visit. Papers have been filed, cabinets are slowly being refilled. The skeleton staff of GUILT and REMORSE are beginning to make some inroads, revealing lavender walls and a dark blue carpet. GOOD and EVIL have their own separate desks, on which are piled roughly even stacks of folders, behind which is a whiteboard with a series of To Do Tasks marked in red and black.

GOOD returns from the coffee machine with two mugs, placing one on her desk before taking the other to BAD, when she stops, face creasing in confusion… ]

GOOD: How many sugars did you say again?

BAD: I’m going to write this on a Post It and staple it to your jacket. Every day is the same: I say two, you repeat it after me, then off you go and forget!

GOOD: I *think* there’s two in there, but the best way is for you to drink it and let me know –

BAD: It’s BLACK COFFEE woman, I can’t drink that now, it’s far too hot!

[DOUBT suddenly materialises between them, dressed only in underpants and a reindeer headband.]

DOUBT: There’s no sugar, you were distracted by Beauty at the water-cooler again, YOU FAIL!

[As quickly as he appeared, DOUBT is gone, leaving the faint whiff of Stilton in his wake. With a heavy sigh, GOOD trudges back to the machine. BAD watches her with a satisfied smile. These shortcomings were always her undoing…]


I tried yesterday to explain what is like when I experience a mental overload. Then it occurred to me that poetry might be quite useful as a descriptor in this situation. This poem’s existed on the hard drive for a while, but never with a confidence to use as explanation. The time has come.

This is my brain, folks. It’ll be here all week.


Doubt

Disparate threads, basic command
thwarted, abortive path untied
slack flax unwoven, memories
playback fast freeze instruction,
coil induction feedback loop
return track, switch back, look out
reload to starting point.

Every action, reproduction
remember how, order direction
exhaustion, normal purpose
fatigue makes it worse, rehearse
varied needs, cover all, enthral
then overload, as brain explodes.
Noise, sound, panic compounds.

Sit, breathe, withdraw, ignore
wait, noise abates with time
blissful calm, relief morphs doubt
I’ll never find my way back out.
To dream, one day, far away
dissonance dim history.
Then sleep, escape myself.