Archives for posts with tag: travel

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.

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Don’t waste the joy of new places on absent sources of heartache. Don’t Waste Paris on a Broken Heart.

Ah, this is a good one from the archives: Tied up in 8 Tentacles of a Goal Octopus.

As an update –

I don’t yet live in my wooden house with a deck overlooking a lake.

For travel in 2013, I took the train to Buckingham for Christmas. As a day trip I went out to Rye and Camber Sands in August. There was a little tango in London over the summer and in early November. Buenos Aires, Shanghai, Morocco and New York still await.

Yeah, well, the doctoral research…

2013 was a year of proactive companion searching which included internet dating, singles events, blind dates and being picked up outside my local  indie coffee shop. All in all, there were about 8 men across 10 months. Too much effort, though good fertilizer for poetry. I am taking a man sabbatical. Currently I am investigating oocyte cryopreservation (egg-freezing) plus fertilization and other options for the future. A different sort of proactive.

I’m still scratching on my much loved, old faithful tomato-box. Today I was focussing on a little Bach Courante. I’ve been working on my bow hold.

I certainly own more clothes than I did a year ago and have a had a few outfit compliments. I’m into wearing a bit of eyeliner. The old school pencil kind. I think it’s about an excuse to use a pencil, on my eyelid.

And as my grand finale, I note that I’m clocking up my tally of titles. I brought out a second book, Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys, in November last year.

Hooray for the octopus!

 

‘Tis the night before
I head off to find Christmas.
with an inflatable bed
and homemade biscuits.

All through this lodging
there is hardly a clatter;
only Depeche Mode on my laptop
and my landlady’s patter.

To the front door she shuffles
and hooks up the chain.
Yesterday’s outside,
while we’re bolted in.

22/12/13

My paternal grandparents had a beautifully illustrated copy of The Night before Christmas published by Little Golden Books. To me those pages smelt of sweeter Christmases in the past where children ate candy-canes and hung up stockings over a fireplace. This was the same Christmas of The Nutcracker’s Sugar Plum Fairy, so it is not surprising that sweetness filled the nose and tempted the taste-buds. Magically, unlike the other books in the dust-coated shelves, it did not smell musty. The paper itself was sturdy and even in those days, to my childish eyes the illustrations had an old-fashioned look about them.

I’m sure my father read the long poem to us. It’s his voice, with a little added theatricality, that I hear when I recall the famous opening lines:

Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house
not a creature was stirring not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung from the chimney with care
in the hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The atmosphere of expectancy and magic built up at the poem’s opening inspired my musings on this quiet evening. With gifts wrapped, cards distributed, Christmas baking done, bags packed, and now even the front door bolted, it seems that all that there is left for me to do is board my train at Euston tomorrow.

The second part of The Night before Christmas bounds with abundance and jollity. With St Nick and the reindeer enters a quicker pace and the energy of the festival. It is that part of the holiday to which I’ll be travelling. However, here in the quiet before the fracas, here I write next week’s posts at my desk, muesli consumed and coffee at hand.

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

I’ll be quiet on Facebook and Twitter over this festive season, but I’d be delighted if you’d look me up:

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill

Image

 

This last weekend I did lots of kicks. Yesterday, I did enough repetitions of cloud hands to wake up with aching arms. 

Are you ready for Christmas? I am far from, but did issue my second book of 2013 in time for its November deadline. Preview Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys here.

Shining in Brightness, my first book of poetry came out in February. The verses draw on 12 years of travels, study and growing up experiences between the ages of 18 and 30. Peruse some of the poems and accompanying essays here.

Both Emily’s Poems and Shining in Brightness (pictured above) are available as old school, cover-and-paper volumes via my blurb bookstore

I continue to pen poems towards my 2×52 project. The aim is to write two poems a week for 52 weeks, to total 104 poems across a year. The most recent four poems use the subject matter of martial arts, eating a boiled eggs and wedding celebrations to explore the themes of relationships, directing one’s action towards a goal and dissolved projections/dreams. 

I do. Do you?

Five Consequences of Repeated Actions

To the Valleys 

supreme ultimate

Twitter: @BeadedQuill

Facebook: BeadedQuill

scrumpled dashes dots and lines
between the tracks
        09:33
2 mins until the train arrives
    for Kennington via Charing +

On the tracks
     far from my reach
the scrumpled ball of paper speaks:
    I am a poem between the tracks.


I am quite conscientious about dating my scribbles and working notes. It is a habit ingrained from my junior school days where we were always under strict instruction to date our work. This meant a neatly turned out rendering of the date in cursive. It was always positioned on the far right of the second line of the A4 page. We were not to write in on the line below. This was to be left as ‘a space’. On the next printed line, a neat pen length in blue was to be ruled across. It was all in all a comforting, focussing ritual that made us take note and prepare. It also squared work in a referenced point of time.

When I was older and the formatting was no longer dictated, I simply scribbled day and month in the far left of the page. During high school and university, many a page of notes commenced with day/month suspended in that far left-corner square created by the margin cutting the first line. In that spot where the staple holds pages, a date held mine.

Now I inscribe day/month/year: 14/11/13. Usually these temporal locators  precede a writing session. They reassure me that I am ‘punching in’ for my regular writing routine. These time-markers still find their way into left-hand corners, but also veer to the right. Sometimes they’re added at the end of a jotting, as in the instance of the lines above, which are dated 13/9/12. 

On occasion I shall note the place in which I am writing, but this detail is more often indulged in during personal correspondence. I reveal my location to those closest to me so that they may imagine me there during the then.

Please have a look at my first volume of poems, Shining in Brightness.

I tweet about my life which this last week included 7 hours of training, accidentally burning rice and writing about the gap year I took in my twenties. Please do follow me as @BeadedQuill.

the Shard in tall majestic glints

the architecture of its age

success of Empire State

and iconic like

 

afloat in grand isolation

there is also

an island set on a

raft of mahogany loss

 

a wall hit and under constant repair

encircles the floor

about which nobody knows

a floor matted with digested grasses

I tweet as @BeadedQuill. Please follow me.

I called in once:

Please confirm.
I called again:

No email yet.

I came in-store to sign your forms

You took the card and swiped it then.

I called in once:

Please confirm, the booking’s through.

Yes, yes, of course. Someone will be in touch.

I wait a day,

No news, no word.

This is absurd! It’s not my job

to chase, when it is yours.
2012

I was making a travel booking, but through a series of miscommunications and delayed replies the whole thing descended into chaos. For a long time I have been reluctant to share this poem online because I thought it was inappropriate to rehash the negativity of this scenario. However, I have come to realise this is poem captures an interaction which many of us who have had the pleasure of travelling or booking anything have experienced. The poem captures that unfortunate moment when you end up running around after your booking to such a degree that you wonder, am if perhaps working for the business rather than receiving service as a customer? It was out of such frustration that the above poem wrote itself.

Out of some sense of free market courtesy, I have removed the name of the business that originally featured in the title. In all fairness, some of the staff offered a very genial, professional service on this occasion and have done so in past instances.

Nonetheless, here is the poem. Perhaps it can stand as a trace of a contemporary interaction.

If you enjoyed the above, please enjoy a preview of selected work from my first volume of poetry: SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS

On Twitter, I am @BeadedQuill. Follow me as I muse on creative process, writing, muesli.

For a season,

transient over the ice-pack,

her bundle regarded hope

while his averred fealty.

Both solicited the dragon’s gate

yet overlooked the soft pearl which sustains

the breath and pulse of para-reality.

The Solutrean hypothesis proposes that the first people to settle in the North Americas travelled from the landmass now known as Europe. It is suggested that these nomads may have moved across the frozen ice from Siberia.

In the spirit of “A Thousand Scientific Facts about the sea” and the rusting brass badges of “At Noon,” this poem is not intended to be factually accurate. Instead, this is a story of woman and man travelling with their bundles. While they journey, the pair seeks the large, recognizable, mythical landmark that will herald their arrival. In doing so, they overlook that which small, self-creating and enduring.

If you enjoyed this poem, I invite you to preview my volume containing a “mystical decade’s” worth of work. SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS may be viewed at blurb.co.uk

I tweet regularly about my forays into quirky stuff. Please follow me. I’m @BeadedQuill

A blue sky over Notre Dame

Advice for *

 

Don’t waste Paris on a broken heart

next to the Cathedral Notre Dame

where yellow-petalled violas squint

their purple eyes at you

shadowing their beds

as you turned: his hands on her,

embracing on the Seine.

 

From April 2012

Who takes the bus to Paris from London? (You didn’t know one could take a bus to Paris from London?) Well, that’s what I did one weekend in March last year. Pooling the £25 or so for the bus fare, but determined not to skint on museum entries, I made use of the last few days of a valid Schengen visa. My primary reason was to visit a friend, who happens to live a twenty-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower.

It was a wonderful weekend of catching-up, art viewing and walking the pavements of a new city. This poem developed from a moment during which I stopped outside Notre Dame, near the children’s playground, to enjoy the sun. I caught sight of this scene on the other side of the river. In my pause, the violas in the flower-bed beside me were caught in my shadow.

If you enjoyed the above and would like to read more of my poetry, see my first published volume, SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS.

Follow me on Twitter. I’m @BeadedQuill