Work soul.

Worker me is; faceless, unopinionated and a neutral faux shell,
This is the personification of my living hell.
As I lose hours in pointless, irrelevant, workplace dross,
It is my soul that’s most at loss.

Chapter 2

The lost verses.

Isaac often wondered if it was his memory failing him or the effect of breathing noxious gases from first light until dark. He closed his eyes once more and recollected. Or hallucinated. The beginning was clearer; he reminisced about the taste of fresh strawberries and the smile of his mother as she passed them across the dining room table. That day was vivid enough, more so for the peculiar behaviour of his ever previously assured father. He had returned home so hurriedly, much earlier than usual, looking as though he had aged immeasurably since breakfast. He paced and spoke in hushed tones to Isaac’s mother, who’s eyes flickered and left her face vacant. He recalled the faux smile from his mother as she caught him observing and the unexpected tight hug from his father.

Thereafter Isaac remembered watching the hasty packing and unpacking of a rucksack. The sound of the radio provided a monotone background noise. There had been major setbacks in the War in the East, lines had been broken, loyalties betrayed and more young lives lost in a far away conflict. However, the effort protected our way of life. So said the voice. Isaac was reassured by his father, who repacked the rucksack; the tools of a pleasant camping holiday were examined and debated. Knives and staple foods seemed to take precedence over anything else.

The sudden fade and cutting of the news bulletin to announce an update was surprise enough, but the stillness of his father drew Isaac’s attention more. The newsreaders tone was rushed, without pleasantries and battling against a worsening static. His fathers head turned towards the radio, as though attempting to visually decipher the words now all but lost to the universe.

“Keep calm…”

And then the voice was indeterminable.

Chapter 1

The air was breathless. Stagnant, pungent, foul. These words would be readily used to describe the stale odour that hung across the abyss of a once vibrant civilisation. Crumbling and decayed Isaac walked amongst ruined walls now partially reclaimed by a destroyed ecosystem. A slippery moss was prevalent for as far as the eye could see, seemingly one of few organic organisms capable of surviving in the remnants of a dying world.

Isaac’s aged hands grappled at walls as he slid his way back to where he called home. Home was a make shift shanty house, constructed purposefully to keep the bitter cold out when the sun fell into the smog permanently on the horizon. Indeed, you would be hard pressed to identify the silhouette as a dwelling, with strategically placed mounds of rubble, propped corrugated metal sheets and precariously balanced panels of indeterminable origin. Unorthodox it certainly was, but effective nonetheless given the circumstances.

He was now in his seventies. Life had been hard from an early age. Social unrest, poverty, war, famine and the collapse of civilisation. Isaac often reflected upon these facts that he knew to have been the case. He often pondered the causes, the reasons for why things were as they had become. Isaac always arrived at the same conclusion, which was simply that it was no longer worth worrying about. And he based this outlook on one simple, verifiable and current fact. He was the last remaining member of the human race.

Back for good.

Returned from the brink to resume once more,
Resisting the urge to breach Catholic law,
As for the first time in life One felt genuine strain,
How gainful employment can be the root of such pain.

You must look outward, avoid insular,
Or resign yourself to permanent scar.
A scar so deep, so final, the end,
But unfair on others, who would remain to tend,

To the memory, the obituary, of a dear lost friend,
Who seemed so sober, so assured to the end,
But fear not dear reader you must worry not,
The author lives on, despite the slip knot.

I’ve been neglecting you.

Even I hadn’t envisaged such stubbornness. Despite your kind words, dear readers, I haven’t so much as given my WordPress blog a second glance for over a year. There are reasons for this. Indeed, it might be prudent of me to veil them as excuses. Love, marriage, house buying and the pointless waste of ones live that is a consuming, monotonous, soul sapping job.

These are the excuses reasons.

My creativity hasn’t waned. It just lies untapped. I like to think that it’s merely dormant for fear that one day I may try to reignite my passion only to find it is no more. Picasso used to go to bed at night worrying he would wake up unable to draw. I simply wonder if I will wake up. Only when asleep do I seem to feel release at the moment. It’s a shame the illusion and fantasy that dreams afford aren’t there to save the next morning. But at the very least inspiration can be taken from ones dreamworld.

So what next for Thim? My poetry has all but ceased since my last writings and what efforts I have put into prose has been in the form of a substantive, grown up novel. A novel, despite a great many hours of slaving still feels very much in a state of infancy. But it will come and will be shared with the world.

My immediate plan for this space is to develop my novel writing openly. And as if to give myself more work i intend to publish some content of a similar format. The direction this will take will be short chapters, inspired by a Twitter culture, whereby each instalment will be succinct and to the point.

To you all, I love you. Peace.

Thim.

Cold Summer.

Cold summer, you have diverted from task,

Brisk winds, leaves ones face aghast.

For no sun shines on the forsaken isles,

As one looks out, o’er rain soaked miles.

Change.

I have neglected you all.

My writing.  My friends.  Family.  Secret admirers.

You see – in August 2010 I woke up one morning and it was overcast and grey.  Mild but dull nonetheless.  Work was fine, I had not long received a promotion.  But with promotion comes responsibility.  And I needed a break.  So I packed up my car, turned off my laptop, put the Blackberry in a drawer and drove from my driveway to the south of France.

And I haven’t looked back.  I walked on isolated beaches of which no Trip Advisor review could ever exist.  I precariously parked my car on sand dunes.  I ate fresh bread and cheese as a staple.  Cheap wine by the bottle.  And I felt super for it.

And though I wanted to share this with everyone six months ago – I have reflected that this personal adventure was pure, indescribable fun.  I could not tell you how as words fail me.  But having no objectives for any given day, no destination – it was truly liberating – and I am not one to take notice of such concepts generally.

I had been working tirelessly on a new anthology of sorts and was keen to release it.  This has been all but done for a while – but what is the rush?  But still I must apologise.  For those of you who have emailed:  Thank you for your often inquisitive words.   For those that didn’t but wondered where on earth I was – I’m sorry, I was busy doing absolutely nothing other than living.

I will continue to write – I feel a novel coming on.  But that feeling usually goes away when I make time to write it.  I have started shooting photos again – going back to my teenage published roots.  Though I am refusing to apply pressure to myself on achieving every perfect angle these days.  And the poetry will come.  Some through an anthology and I have no doubt that in time I will put fresh verse onto this blog.

And what of the future?  I am heading eastwards.  Destination unknown.

Critical and constructive?

When I was younger my father was the editor of a small regional magazine.  It ran for twenty four issues with a circulation of around five hundred and this meant he spent more time with his early 90’s Amiga computer than my mother.  But this in the grand scheme of this article, unfortunately, is largely irrelevant.

I used to enjoy going with him to the Post Office Box to collect contributions and submissions that were received between issues.  He always used to grumble when there were less than normal as this meant he had to write more, but he made the point of telling me from an early age that people only write when they’ve got something to moan about.

And this, as it happens, has turned out to be so incredibly accurate.  Just think of the amount of times recently that you have sat down for the sole purpose of exploring your own creativity.  I like to think that I can use this blog as an outlet, but even so, the vast majority of my creative exploits are questionable in terms of whether I even intended on creating them in the first place!

I have come to the conclusion that it is almost a matter of provocation for people to write nowadays.  There must be a clear cause or benefit attached to their work, or by expressing themselves.  By this I refer to complaint letters, blog comments or criticism that does little to analyse the work of somebody, but serves as almost an attack on their doing it in the first place.  And the concerning factor for myself is that you don’t have to look far to find it.

My gripe is not with criticism that highlights the shortcomings of an argument put forward, or which enlightens the writer to a different perspective that they have not considered.  My annoyance level is frequently raised whilst I am casually browsing sites, and then start thinking about adding my own comments and criticism to what I’ve seen – often – I’m left bemused by the comments left by other readers.  It actually amazes me that some people, who are possibly talented in their own right, will go out of their way to find fault or complaint with another’s work.

I see it this way:  It is as though these individuals skip over from “analysis mode” immediately – and look to criticise from the outset.  Surely it is like walking into a library, locating your least enjoyable subject aisle, leafing the pages of the books and adding pointless narrative to the notes pages at the back.

At this point I feel I must clarify my position.  I wholeheartedly believe that feedback is the key to ones improvement, particularly in the sphere of writing in any form.  After all, readers are the consumer, and if they don’t like what you’re producing and you also ignore their opinion – a career change may well be advisable.  However, I do wonder how many good writers are swamped by poorly critiqued work.  I wonder how many of them (or indeed *us?*) are strong enough to determine quite what to take from most of it.

And I say this because often ones work has not had the eye of an esteemed professor cast over it.  A published author is unlikely to have dropped by to offer their expert advice.  I am sure you see where I am going with this, so I shall not labour the point further.

Therefore:  I invite you, the next time that you read a really good piece of writing somewhere online, to make sure you do add your views at the bottom.  It need not be “high-brow” intellectual stimulation for the recipient, just an acknowledgement that you like what they’ve done or if something might be better another way will do.  No doubt your words will be sandwiched between moaners and whiners, people who want to sell their wares and advertise their own work, but your worthy comment will reach the author and probably make their day.

I know when I get a bit of feedback, no matter how small, even if I don’t necessarily agree with it, it’s fantastic to have had your work appreciated, acknowledged and constructively criticised.

And my father was correct; writing is so much more easier when you have something to complain about!!

Lazy Days

Sunday need not be your only day

To relax, chill out and lie amongst hay,

For summer delivers such ample chance,

To procrastinate, dwell, no need to finance.

Because freedom is free, it costs not a bean

Until you wake up one day and you’re just a has been.

Go outside, browse and read.

I had a fantastic experience this week that I must share.

You see, I went outside into the real world.  And I discovered that it’s great.

This week I had a free day.  For the first time in a long time I had no plans.  No work, no pressing engagements and everyone I know and care about was at work.  I was as free as my time.  I wandered to my local town, a place I visit to do the monotonous essentials that life entails; banking, food shopping and haircuts.  I never have time or reason to visit shops that interest me.

So it was with great pleasure that I spent literally an entire morning in book shops.  I leafed the newly released, browsed the aisles I would otherwise ignore [Crime] and took the time to pick up volumes randomly.  I would go as far as to say it was liberating.  For at least two hours I was the person you see sitting on that one leather chair they place amongst the shelving, I was the customer the staff eye and mutter “this is not a library” under their breath.  And it was fantastic.

Holding a book in your hands that you have craved and waited for is a really nice feeling.  I get a great urge to hurry through the pages so that I can almost win a race with my own excitedness.  But I was faced with brand new emotions during this trip.  As to stumble across a book that you might otherwise never have considered, merely because ordinarily, you do not have the time with which to choose it, presented a whole new level of intrigue and excitement.  I am still pondering whether it is sad that this such basic a feeling should have taken me so long to appreciate or indeed discover at all.

It is a pretty common given that modern life is rushed and conducted at a fast pace.  We are rushed by others, but we also needlessly hurry ourselves.  I discovered the other day that I no longer considered taking a little time to select a book quite so valuable in my life.  Apparently, getting home a little more expediently after receiving my haircut was more important to me in life these days.  Though, as it transpired, those extra few minutes reading the opening pages of literature I might never have even previously acknowledged existed made my day all the more pleasant, and my purchase ultimately all the more worthwhile.

I am obviously not the first person to say “go outside” and “experience life”.  What I do know is that I would accept and agree that this was correct, but then do nothing to correct this imbalance.  By doing something out of routine and without following my normal behavioural patterns (if that is correct), I experienced a little more in my life.

So from now on I will be acting differently.  People will think that I’m out of character.  They will question why.  But I will be happy, amongst a growing pile of books, that I haven’t yet discovered.