Archives for posts with tag: achievement
Ursus arctos - Norway

Image courtesy of  Taral Jansen/Soldatnytt [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

January brought with it a blizzard.
Icy darts aimed for our knees
and the testing froze our sense
of belonging to that land.

The old bears sunk deeper in their caves,
groaned and turned their backs
on winter’s sluice
trusting that in time from it
would flow all the blooms of spring.

31/12/14

I wish to take this moment to applaud myself. Here, and in time for the end of 2014, I present my 200th poem for public consumption. (If you’d like to read them, there are 180+ poems available on this blog and another 20 poems in my book, Shining in Brightness.)

The threads of inspiration in today’s poem include a line about spring flowers in The Diary of Anne Frank, a childhood conversation about sluices with my Dad and watching Paddington (the movie) yesterday. There’s probably also a trace of my recent read, Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!

I shall make no secret of the fact that over these last few weeks I have found myself in a writer’s fug – and questioning my overall productivity. This surely stems from the seasonal tendency to review the year. Where is the novel I planned to write in 2014? What about all the poems I was going to submit to Proper Poetry Journals? When would I ever start earning any money from my writing (Indeed, when would I again start earning some Proper Grownup Money in general)? I am so, so, so tired. And it feels like I have been in this place (this winter?) for a very long time. It sometimes feels like this is the place people identify as ‘being an adult.’

When I was a child, my animal guide (or familiar) was undoubtedly the bear. In addition to my beloved teddy Edwina, who went to hospital with me and for years was carried all over the world as a security blanket, I collected figurines, books and anything teddy bear related. It was through this interest that I channeled my early writing. For over five years I compiled a monthly teddy-themed magazine.

It doesn’t surprise me, as I do a little cursory reading, that to call on the bear totem invokes grounding and strength. Since bears live a solitary life, they are examples of balance and comfort in one’s solitude. As expert survivors of harsh winters, theirs is an example of a wise animal-guide teacher. They are also associated with women of shamanic power who are able to communicate with other dimensions and pursue healing of self or others. The teddy bears of my past in no small way are the bears in this verse.

Finally, I must add that this poem was born of a prompt to “write about a heart that wouldn’t quit”.

2015, here we come
with our hearts that haven’t yet quit (even though they are a little tired).

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

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OldDesignShop_EasterBride1914BW

Image courtesy of the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury.

To the Valleys” describes the return of hard-working hartebeests who hope to woo brides back in their home village. I wrote this poem last year after “I do. Do you?” another imagined narrative about a wedding that did not come to pass.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books available through BeadedQuill’s Blurb Bookshop

An illustration of a prawn salad from from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1907. Courtesy of the Old Design Shop., a vintage image treasury.

An illustration of a prawn salad from from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1907. Courtesy of the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury.

Today I present two poems from the archive –

Now here is something to marvel at… (posted in 2012)
and
Is it worth it? (posted in 2013)

Both poems tackle the theme of worldly aspirations and success. In “Now here…” the concerns of juggling a shoestring budget are interrupted by observations of life’s ordinary marvels and man’s urban success (the Gherkin).

Is it worth it?” uses the image of a well-kept lawn as the metaphor for reigned-in success. Grass is that something else that reaches from the earth and applauds the expansive blue of sky. It exists as a blade of grass merely being for being’s own sake. When the grass has once again reached an unruly height, the lawnmower returns to cut it down.

I explain in the 2013 post that “Is it worth it?” was a based on an earlier short poem I thought I had mislaid. That poem, about prawns and trekking up a London hill, later reappeared.

Success, achievement and priorities have also featured in these poems

Highest Priority
How do you make a dream come true?
A definition, notably for the cloud-dwelling artists
The Character Building
926 breathless accomplishments


Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

ColetteReveEgypte1907

Writer and Parisian stage star Sidonie Gabrielle Colette worked out in her home gym. Photograph by Leopold Reutlinger (1863-1937) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The girl much complimented
for her great ass
would rather win a Man Booker.
Too bad there is no categ’ry
for her taut, perfected writer’s seat.


Today’s light-hearted five-liner conveys unashamed auto-biography.

The lack of craft and productivity in my writing annoys me. My attempt at the professional/ aspirational middle class life has been a total non-starter for the last half decade. While I churn these frustrations, I do a lot of exercise. I practise yoga when I wake. I walk in the nearby woods, which I follow with some exercise on the grass when the weather is accommodating. I attend dance and other lessons and in the evening, when I have the energy, it’s time for press-ups on my bedroom carpet. The press-ups started with one in April this year. The aim is to reach 100 by February 2015. Currently the mark is 76/78.

I am neither naturally athletic nor trim. When I was younger, I hated playing sport. At High School, playing a team sport was compulsory. I couldn’t face it, so I requested exemptions based on my health issues and cultural involvements. I was the kid who was picked last for teams in Phys Ed. I certainly failed Physical Education in Std. 3 because I couldn’t do a bunny hop. Yet I can now do a yoga crow and I can still cartwheel. Life is a funny business.

In my mid-20s, when I did a lot of Ashtanga yoga, I was leaner but not as strong – or as adept with a wooden sword. I don’t know how long this fitness spell will last (I keep thinking I’m going to get sick again, as I did in 2012, and it will all implode and have been for naught). For now, while other people may be earning reasonable pay-checks, building careers or producing more literary writing, I walk around with an apparently “great ass.” It has been called “the most perfect bum.”

Well, here’s to life’s small achievements, because this writer’s seat was hard won.

(Here’s an entertaining piece about writers and their physiques.)

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

Image from The Delineator magazine, Nov. 1891 via the Old Design Shop.

Image from the November 1891 issue of The Delineator magazine via The Old Design Shop.

November marks an anniversary month for this blog for it was in November 2012 that I started posting regularly. Looking back at the poems posted last year (Nov. 2013), I’m pleased to report that the month’s archive crop is a particularly good one. November seems to be a good month. Perhaps it’s an echo of all the NaNoWriMo productivity. Perhaps it’s the season for creative harvest. Stay posted.

From the archive, today I present “At the right age“. This poem touches on the themes of success, life choices, the current changing social strata-education-work climate and the frustrations of being a young person in the contemporary post-Industrial world.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

Can you believe two years have passed since the London Olympics? I was fortunate enough to attend an evening of paralympic events. It feels as though it was only last year that I was sitting in the massive stadium, with an enormous lion emblazoned across my t-shirt and yelling encouragement at the athletes. Clearly, it wasn’t. That moment was in 2012.

This time last year I posted a loose Pindaric ode to a golden mango.

In the spirit of archives – looking at the back catalogue in the present, possibly to inform the future – I encourage you to read this post about progress. Joanna Penn recommends measuring achievement across the span of four years by asking oneself, where was I during the last olympics? Equally, you can plot your goals by projecting, where would I like to be by the next games?

Where will you be in 2016?

In the meantime, I’m still waiting for this summer’s golden mangoes to appear on the local grocers’ tiers.

Find me on Twitter. I’m @BeadedQuill.

SSA40433

Looking Back at Cuttings and Proteas: a log entry about growth and development

Two years and 217 posts ago the BeadedQuill blog was born. On 15th June 2013, after decades of hiding my fiction writing in notebooks, I decided to share it with the wider world. To my 123 signed-up blog followers, I say a thank you. To my 659 Twitter followers and 24 Facebook followers, I also say thank you. I hope you derive some pleasure from my ramblings. To my other readers and supporters, I send appreciation across the cyber-sphere. To those of you who have purchased my work, long life and good health to you! Some of the profits will go into my National Insurance contribution.

Since last year, I have published two books, Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys and In the Ocean: a year of poetry. These books incorporate 129 poems written between April 2013 and April 2014. In the last 6 weeks I have posted a further 9 “fresh” poems. Since starting this blog in 2012, the grand total therefore stands at three available titles and 158 poems written by me out there in the world (and possibly a few rogue ones in letters and on scraps of paper). I mention all this as it has been said, “What can be measured can be assessed”. Productivity for April 2013 – 2014 stood at a poem every 2.8 days.

I’ll spare you the productivity tally for blog postings, but will say that being accountable to a public readership compels me to produce copy. This in itself has been a valuable working method that helped with producing articles and the two long-form projects on which I am currently working. (Spoiler: a potential novel and a non-fiction book about travel.)

I continue to work on brand BeadedQuill. This coming year I would really like to focus on matters such as ‘income stream’ and ‘product development’, ‘marketing’ and ‘audience/market development’. To be honest, these topics tire and frighten me a little. At present, I just want to write and practise (plus a bit of Bachata thrown in for diversion).  The business plan, currently a collection of scribbled notes and mind-maps, needs to be formalised.

In the year ahead, I must once again look into the following: journal submissions, the possibility of securing a literary agent, more readings and public appearances. I need to travel! (Buenos Aires for a tango holiday, ideally.) A change of landscape and diversion will recharge me, I believe. I’ve considered investigating doctoral research in creative practice.

This time last year I was in excellent health, after recovering fully from a nasty turn in 2012. This year, I wish I could say the same. Unfortunately, I experienced a little “flare” (the doctor’s poetic take on the matter) about four weeks ago. A glut of corticosteroids is bringing me ‘round, with a journey into highways of insomnia, mild hallucination (and hearing things), emotional intensity and a pervading drug-induced buzz. On occasions like this, the every two steps forward on the health journey seem undermined by the five steps back. Nonetheless, I pick myself up and go back to start.

“Zen mind, beginner’s mind is apparently a desired state for the eternal student. Encounter moments and activity as though for the first time. In this way you will let it teach you.” I wrote this as the opening of my very first post. This is still such a challenging approach. When your efforts seem to show progress, this provides direction and solace. I don’t want to keep going back to start – with The Writing or with health, or with any other number of circumstances of my life. It is nice to feel as though I’m building something.

To counter beginner’s despair, I say to myself, “There must be something redemptive here.” In addition to the number crunching at the opening, I am pleased to acknowledge that another year later –indeed, three years and seven months after my first conscious day of applying pen to paper – I am still engaged in the labour of Being A Writer.

Since my first post, I have also figured out how to insert a link to my Twitter account.

Baby arrived in the post

The real, hard copy of my latest book arrived on my doormat this morning. With 132 pages, she makes quite a substantial volume. My babies are getting bigger. (Click the image to preview “In the Ocean” for yourself.)

Hot off the press! My latest book

I am very excited to announce that my latest book, “In the Ocean“, is now available for preview and purchase! Simply click on the image to access my Blurb Bookstore. This volume collects together all 104 poems of my recent 2×52 project. For those of you who are curious about creative process, you will enjoy the postlude essay which accompanies the poems. Like the cool ocean on a warm day, this volume offers a refreshing dip with each poem. It’s perfect summer reading!

Image courtesy of Norfolk-based artist, Nicola Slattery. View her enchanting work at www.nicolaslattery.com

“Taken Care Of” courtesy of Norfolk-based artist, Nicola Slattery. View her enchanting work at www.nicolaslattery.com

The 2×52 project developed in April 2013 when I committed to posting two poems a week for a year. I completed my self-made creative challenge this April when I revealed the 104th poem. Next month (June 2014), all the poems will be available in a book at my Blurb bookstore. In the meantime, here are the 104=2×52 poems listed in all their glory! And for your convenience, so that you can click on the titles that pique your interest. Enjoy!

  1. On a rock amongst rocks
  2. Things of the Heart, Told in Quiet #1
  3. £299 from Strand
  4. A Thousand Scientific Facts about the Sea
  5. Nice Words #1
  6. Benefactor of the Blind
  7. On the Way to Westminster
  8. Solutrean Hypothesis
  9. I don’t work for you (or Modern Frustrations)
  10. red herring
  11. Tarantella (two versions)
  12. Conversation
  13. Pakistan’s Gold
  14. 29oC
  15. An arrangement of strangers
  16. Recycled
  17. Packed Lunches
  18. Tightly Sealed
  19. Another Summer’s Day
  20. Look At
  21. Hairpin (a short poem)
  22. A definition, notably for the cloud-dwelling artists
  23. Instructions
  24. Scherzo: Allegro before the Finale
  25. Impatience
  26. Screens
  27. Leo’s Entries
  28. From a Stone
  29. Autumn’s ripened harvest store
  30. The Character Building
  31. An autumn evening in
  32. Preceding seafaring that was not to transpire
  33. The Home Commute
  34. On the declaration of the first day of the Year of Our Light
  35. What we were all thinking
  36. Emulation
  37. Genuine
  38. Stuck
  39. An address from a lectern
  40. Her magical box
  41. Sun Doves
  42. At the right age
  43. Just Punishment
  44. Every morning, because it’s wonderful
  45. Is it worth it?
  46. A Bequest of Wonder
  47. The Benefits of 320 Kicks
  48. I do. Do you?
  49. Five Consequences of Repeated Actions
  50. To the Valleys
  51. supreme ultimate
  52. Operations Meeting, El Dorado
  53. Without realising it, the postman leaves a poem
  54. Another drop in this week before Christmas
  55. A quiet night preludes
  56. Let them eat
  57. I learnt
  58. A New Room
  59. Philip’s Log: Entries about my moonlit sylph
  60. Pairings
  61. Conscripted
  62. Bursting Art
  63. Afloat
  64. Would you ever live in Heather Green?
  65. London’s Molten Hour
  66. Two poems about grey
  67. My friend Ellen
  68. Nice words of the moment (from autumn)
  69. Today
  70. Outpourings
  71. She’d read it in books
  72. Tube sketch (one of a few)
  73. St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden
  74. Near Liverpool Street, under scaffolding
  75. On the occasion of a dinner party in Kennington
  76. Tunnel Days
  77. London. Is it worth it?
  78. At the moment: £2
  79. the currency of sugar
  80. High-end Liquids
  81. Glomerulonephritis
  82. Dying is probably easier than this
  83. The Age Show
  84. Nice words #2
  85. How do you make a dream come true?
  86. Do engineers dream?
  87. Appropriate Recompense
  88. It’s complicated
  89. Every Sign of the Zodiac
  90. Saying it plainly
  91. The Brothers Three
  92. This morning’s request
  93. Recipe
  94. Kindly exit
  95. In the ocean one night
  96. Degas’s Business Card
  97. A small heart panics
  98. Interior holdings
  99. Reviewing the pursuit
  100. Absorbed
  101. Nearing the End
  102. Different Rides
  103. Spring Wants
  104. Escucha