Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Project Failure

Yes, I wrote haiku in a spare address book.
Wasting stationery is a sin, damnit!
Just to clarify; this post is about a project that failed, not about 'Project Failure', which is something entirely different... By the way, if one tries to fail, and fails, has one succeeded?

Enough! On with the post:

You may have seen me talking about my 'yearly projects' before (I've done 'diary a day', 'line a day' and, last year, 'haiku a day'. Well, basically, I'm declaring last year's one a failure. Although I'm guessing I wrote well over 365, the aim was to write at least one every day. It was more about the discipline of sitting down every day to write, not the amount I produced. As usual with these things, I ended up messing up here and there, having a few days where I hadn't written anything, then having to catch up. I came to accept 'slipping' as part of the process (hey, life gets in the bloody way, alright!), but I knew there had been a lot of slippage since I last looked. About a week ago, I thought I'd go back and finish it off. The last entry I made was on the 15th of November... I decided not to carry on.

On the plus side, I think there's a couple of decent haiku what I did. However, my tendency to make them 'about the day', i.e. 'plot-based' (rather than about the image or setting) often hampers them. I realise, when I go back to reading other people's, that there's a massive gulf between most of what I write and the potency of the form done competently. The same can be said with respect to most writing, but there's something about this whole 'daily thing' I've been doing that can make it hard to see the wood for the trees. You know, you sort of spiral down into a 'just do it' mentality, rather than what normally happens spontaneously which is more, you get an idea every so often and think 'I might have something here', then you put it down on paper. But again, I suppose reading is a good guard against that 'spiral', and conscious concentration, so it comes down to my personal incompetence, really.

I find the whole analysis of it more and more distasteful as I try and look at it. What's wrong with intuition, just doing things? Well, that doesn't seem to be enough for me... I can at least say that writing a lot, regularly, is good for stamina (or rather, I've found it to be so). The real problem here is that I can't comment on much else, because I'm hardly in a position to say 'my writing's getting better', and even if I was, I don't think it has. And that's the big issue for me; I was less concerned with how these projects turned out - whether they could be deemed a success in and of themselves - but was hoping it would have wider-reaching implications for my writing as a whole, and I don't think that's the case. The 'haiku' thing may have been good to try and sharpen my viewing [of the world] process, but it didn't encourage any serious engagement [with poetry, or writing, as a whole]. And yes, I can use these haiku for another project [collaboration with the self, as Richard Barrett had it], but I want to stop building this material up and kidding myself that, if that's all I've come up with, it's been worthwhile. If I make a good poem out of it, then groovy, but right now my effort has been poor and I've got little to show for it.

Since giving up on the latest project, I've still been writing. Not enough, I'd say, especially given that hours in my job dried up in January, so I've had more time to do what I want (what's necessary, even?). I think the idea of putting tasks into your diary is good, as it can help you 'ring fence' time. In this respect, I need to take my own advice, because I do suggest it to others, but haven't done it myself. Then I wonder why I hate myself, and why I have to write another blog post like this!
This year I was going to plan something, like a poem a week (finished, that is, or to a decently-edited degree), or something like that. That's a good target - more than, on average, what I would normally be doing (I can write new stuff at that rate, sure, but it's the editing where I come a cropper). Then I did nothing. Had no specific, long-term fixation. I want to say that not having a project has felt liberating, or I've put more energy into something else, but neither's true (well, except for more social pursuits and the recent collaboration).

It must be time to wrap this solipsistic sh1t up... I never think I'm doing enough. I find targets helpful but sometimes I set myself big and slightly inflexible ones. So maybe I should do a weekly quota/target? Something less rigid, with more chance for affirmation (things are lonely enough without doubting yourself...). I know some people might find it pathetic that I have to go through all this, but then there are other writers that I speak to who find they need deadlines and extra motivation to get to solve their craft problems. I'm struggling a bit, for sure, but at least it's not a struggle from the bottom (i.e. doing nothing) up. It's a struggle from the near-bottom up. Hey, that was almost positive!
I always try and find justification for my posts, otherwise (by and large...) I don't publish them, and I think that is why I write about these projects. Anyone reading can see another perspective on the struggle for production, and certain other aspects of the work. Hope this one's helped, even if only in a small way!

Peace, love and light.

Sunday, 12 February 2017


Is Antonio Conte's future really that secure? After what looked like a promising start to the season, it seems that we were too quick to call them 'title contenders' and 'leaders'. Obviously, when Liverpool heroically held them to a draw at Anfield, that was just a blip, but now this. Against Burnley! Har har!

With just one point out of a possible total of three in their last one game, it looks like the steam has run out of the blue locomotive's chuffer. If their whole season had run at this horrible 33% rate, they would have, by now, twenty-five points, and be sitting fourteenth in the Premier League table (although their performance merits relegation, if you ask me), five points ahead of the relegation-zone-toppers.

Come on Chelsea, get it together!

Up next: Is there any truth to the rumour that Dider Drogba plans a return to Stamford Bridge?

Monday, 9 January 2017

The Enemies Project: North by North West Poetry Tour

Biiig news! It's barely more than a week away now, and Blogtastic is proud to announce the upcoming collaboration between myself and Laura Tickle. I've been saying for a while [in fact, it's on my blog bio thingy on this very site] how I'm open for collaboration with other artists, and my prayers have been answered. I'm extremely happy - and even luckier - to be given the chance to be a part of The Enemies Project, a massive and wide-reaching organism that has swallowed up most of the world and showcased a lot of talent across many disciplines in a [successful] bid to examine artists' creative interrelationships. I really enjoyed the one I went to a couple of years back at the Fly and the Loaf, and to perform at one is huge for me.

The process has been cool, y'know. Sort of different and sort of the same with respect to what I was thinking it'd be like. It's really exciting, I find, as there's a pleasant pressure to the whole thing. Might go into that more at a later date, might not. Right now, it's just important that you remember the date: 19th January 2017. You should also remember the venue [Edge Hill Arts Centre], and the time [1800hrs]. It would be great to see you there :) There are other dates as well, so here's a re-link to the North by Northwest Tour so you can check them out - hopefully I'll be at the Liverpool one :)

Here's a link to Laura's piece that appeared on Pages [more links to some of her other work in that post]:

Here's a vibrant flash fiction she wrote for Calum Kerr's Flash Flood, 'Carry Him Safely':

Steven Fowler already has a collection of collaborations published with Penned in the Margins [sold out at this link, but free sample available:], any other Enemies related stuff just check the link I've already given you.

And as for other poets and their works - Google it! I've not got time to go into it all, I've got poetry to do :D

Thursday, 10 November 2016


That's first as in FIRST, got it?

I just wanted to say a few words about my first taste of FLIM NITE, a [performance] poetry/comedy/spoken word/music-based meditation on a chosen popular film. Last Monday, it was the turn of Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away to be poured through the conceptual sieve of an eclectic mix of artists. It was really good fun.

It made me feel excited about life. Other poetry events have made me feel this way before, but FLIM NITE's extra charm comes from a sense of fearless confidence, honest experimentalism and refreshing changes of style. It wasn't all poetry by any means, however I did approach things from a poetic perspective.

I'm not a big user of technology in my work - Microsoft Word is usually as hi-tech as I get - but I enjoyed the artists' use of powerpoint presentations, music, recordings etc. There was only one instance where I'd say it was gratuitous. Also, as someone who's not generally a proponent of 'performance poetry' [as distinct from what I understand as 'slam poetry', which I think is more language-based with an emphasis on the spoken delivery, rather than delivery in general] I was still impressed with the uses of props, drama and different methods of delivery on the night. If you'd described this to me as I just have to you, I'd probably cringe, but it did work.

I was going to go into the specifics of each act, but it's really hard because there was a lot that went on, so to give you context would just take too long. There were some bits I felt didn't work so well, too, but overall I enjoyed the evening a lot. Plus, I think that right now it's more important to focus on the many positives we can, rather than try and get bogged down in much else.

This was the set list etc [minus open mic-ers]:

The next one's Die Hard, in honour of Jesus being born, and if I can make it I'd love to go. I'd recommend you do too.

Peace, love and light x

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Thanks :D

A huge thank you to everyone who has donated to my 'Sober for October' page, to everyone who has supported me with kind words and to everyone who has read this blog and followed what I've been up to. The £500 target I set my sights on was hit yesterday evening, and then I added up all the money I'd saved buying non-alcoholic drinks [not as much as you'd think! The alternatives aren't very cheap, unless you're happy with water] and donated that, so it's a decent amount.

I've said elsewhere that apparently it costs about £25 to provide an hour of a Macmillan nurse's time, so there's nearly a day of help that your money has bought. The JustGiving site also says that some money rolls in after the event is over, so hopefully there's even more to come.

What next, then? Well 'tis the time for novel writing for many, as NaNoWriMo kicks off again. I tried it for the first time last year and haven't really looked at it since (think about it regularly, but ain't done nuffink), so I think I'll try doing NaNoWoMo (National Novel Working Month), where the aim is to work hard at making those 50,000 words into something more novel-like (that should involve a lot more writing first, before I even get to the stage of editing), so we'll see how that goes.

I've many other projects and blogs that are queuing up for attention too, so hopefully I'll crack on with them in good time. Also; just found out I've not had work published at one place, but have recently submitted to another, I have other opportunities to pursue, other readings to attend, other things to read, other quizzes to take part in blah blah... There's plenty to think about, none of it necessarily involving sobriety, so, yeah... Hopefully some productive times ahead [he says, as the fates throw their dice].

This has turned into a thoroughly self-indulgent post, so I'd like to bring it back to its original message and end by saying, once again:


That link again, for any straggling donations [all welcome!]:

Monday, 31 October 2016

Ending on an END

Ok, that acronym bit is old now... What isn't old is donating money, which you can do via this link [thanks to all my donors by the way!]:

Anyhoo... Today I went out on a walk and found a bottle of Eisberg Alcohol Free Cabernet Sauvignon in one of my local shops. We used to stock it ages ago in The Wineyard, and I always wondered what it'd be like. I assumed it'd be something similar to fruit juice. At £3.49, I had to give it a go, and there I was, cracking open a bottle of wine in the mid-afternoon.

On first smell it seemed a bit sour, and on first taste it was a muted fruity affair with a bitterness akin to apple seeds, and a sort of chalky-velvet mouthfeel. Whereas the smell put me off a bit, I was reasonably happy with how it tasted. It took a while for the flavours to build up and for me to appreciate what they were - basic cherry, raspberry and maybe some blackcurrants. It's decent, but quite shallow.

Maybe all the wine needed was a bit of a breathing, and the aroma grew on me. Still a weak smell, but at least not off-putting. Yeah, bottom line, I enjoyed it. Without the body of the booze, it just isn't complex enough for me. It's not just like fruit juice, but then it kind of is too. I've paid more for 'actual wine' that has been disgusting and disappointing. This was neither. Presumably it's lower in sugar than grape juice from concentrate, and it's only 28kcal per 125ml glass, so, hey, it's got more positives on top of the taste.

In other news, the main reason I went to the shops was to get a pumpkin. Since going sober, I've been surprised just what fills my time... It was a good little laugh, getting a bit mucky and cutting out a menacing face, a nice nostalgia journey. I even roasted the pumpkin seeds and I'm enjoying eating them right now. The only thing I would say is that, even totally sober, I shouldn't be trusted with a knife...

Sunday, 30 October 2016

I Know Nothing Good Ever Comes of Thinking, But...

I'm so close to my target now! Just another push or two, please!

I was just thinking back to Friday and how much I really really really wanted a drink [I'm fine now, by the way. Feel ok, and yesterday I happily watched a frantic Liverpool game with only my Beck's Blue [and a pie... But no-one needs to know about that...]]. I had even considered, for a semi-second, buying a Golden Ticket. For those of you that don't want to click on the link I've just provided, Macmillan's Golden Ticket involves buying time off being off the booze for a minimum donation of £15. Isn't that a great idea? What a great way to raise that little bit extra! How innovative, proactive and flexible!

Guess what. I don't like it.

I was going to write a different post [posts, in fact] on why I was opposed to the 'Sober for October' campaign, but this is a good opportunity to hopefully do it more succinctly. I only decided [a couple of days before the event] to do it purely because I wanted to do something in memory of mum, but even that didn't erase the rankling annoyances that had built up.

Golden Tickets are obviously a bit of a cop-out. If you've decided to do a challenge, then surely you want to be honourable and complete it, I mean, if you've decided to embark on this process, what exactly would be the situation where you have to have that drink? A friend's birthday party? If they're a friend, I'm sure they'll understand what you're doing and why, so I think you can manage. A funeral? Well, yes, grief obviously affects us all differently, and if someone wanted to reach for a drink in a tough time I'd empathise, but it would be hoped that the participant would be able to see that this month is an opportunity to not do that, to see how you fare on rough seas without the rum tot. I've been reading a few articles about the links between sleep, depression and drink, and I'm finding it intriguing how I feel I'm doing in this sober month [given that I have a problem with depression and sleeping at the best of times]. First date nerves? Nah, use the campaign as a point of conversation, maybe big up your resilience and maturity, if that's your bag. So, admittedly without thinking too deeply, I can't come up with a good excuse for using the Golden Ticket. I'm not judging individual choices here, by the way, just remarking that the inclusion of a Golden Ticket could be an enabling/will-power eroding possibility dangled in front of innocent people who want to do some good shiz.

It's the charity itself I accuse of hypocrisy. So much was said in the TV campaigns of the health benefits, and of the idea of 'superheroism' - which I would argue [no scholarly opinions here] includes a pure idealism, something beyond reproach [not saying it's realistic, just that's my interpretation]. But, in sanctioning a frivolous short-term dismissal of the responsibilities of the challenge, Macmillan cannot be taken seriously regarding their concern over your health. I feel they guilt-tripped the public in their TV adverts, focussing on hangovers, as if one can't drink in moderation, saying that they are so unhealthy and childishly exaggerating their effects, how you can't be a functioning human being when you have one. All this chatter, but then an option to indulge again - for a price.

The ads and relating material [take this 'tick off planner' that I've been using, along with some of the blurb in the online shop] also try to encourage people's arrogance. There was a lot of "show your pride" sentiment which, quite frankly, baffles me. It goes against the ideals of heroism because a hero does good things because it is a good thing to do, not for reward, be it financial or otherwise. Pride, and especially the bragging that may come with it, go against this sentiment because they muddy the pure motives that are what heroism is all about.

Even without such an over the top elevation of participants, I think the whole idea of "showing off" that you're trying to help charity is distasteful. Why didn't they phrase it a different way, you know, 'raise awareness' rather than 'be an obnoxious nob'. The whole campaign reeked of tweeness, and, ugh, only by concentrating on my motives can I think about getting through it. I did like the focus on a brighter future in the longer TV ad, but it's silly to think that a month off the sauce is going to solve your life's problems. If alcohol was getting in the way that much, then you need to think about giving it up for good, not just a month.

Anyway, I'm going to stop this. I shouldn't take their advert so seriously, and should focus on the fact it's helped them make more money. I will just point out, though, that this isn't the first time their methods have been called into question:


Edited 31.10.2016 to not sound as s**t.