Sunday, 31 October 2021

Happy Hallowe'en 2021!

 It's Hallowe'en 2021! Many things throughout my life, good and bad, have happened on the 31st of October, and it's always good to reflect, but more importantly look forward. Given that under this name I write a lot of dark poetry and horror, it's always been a special time of year, so I love Hallowe'en. I also celebrate Walpurgis Nacht, which is precisely six months before (or after) Hallowe'en. They are such magical times of the year, don't you think?

For example, It's been ten years to the day since a very important event happened in my life, where a story of mine was read on local BBC radio during the breakfast slot. I was unable to hear it at the time as I was on my way to work, but it's good that my writing was getting out there. It kickstarted my next creative burst of writing which lasted for several years.

Hallowe'en, like the autumnal season, can be a period of change. Coincidentally, I also have made many important decisions on or around Hallowe'en. I applied for one of the best jobs I've ever had on Hallowe'en, and although I stayed there less than two years because ultimately the opportunities and money were better in my next career move, it was a really friendly and supportive place and I miss it a lot.

A lot of writing also happens around this time. NaNoWriMo always starts the day after Hallowe'en. In case you don't know, NaNoWriMo is a global marathon writing session, whereby participants write a minimum of 50,000 words in a month; a short novel, if you will.

My publisher released my latest novel this week in time for Hallowe'en, written under a pen-name; I am under an agreement with my publisher to not to reveal my pseudonym, unfortunately, but early sales figures show it selling at a rate that all are happy with. At this rate I should be able to afford a bag of chips at the end of the week (joke, hahaha).

To all my readers, I wish you a very happy Hallowe'en, or Happy Samhain if you celebrate that!

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Let's be open about mental health: World Mental Health Day today


Mental health has been seen as a taboo subject for a long time, and is often swept under the carpet. I say it should not be, because mental health is just as important to a person as physical health, and often more important. It's World Mental Health Day today, and I urge each and every one of you to look after your mental health.

I don't mind admitting that I've had issues with my mental health in the distant past, particularly when I first had eye-sight issues over a decade ago. I also have PTSD from a past incident a number of years ago; not a lot of people know that but let's let it all out and lay the cards on the table. There's nothing to be ashamed of there, and if anything, one should be lauded for being so open as I'm being here. But please respect my boundaries if I don't want to discuss some things further.

I should add that I am not a mental health professional and I don't try to claim to be one, I don't run any kind of groups for it either, so I don't feel I can offer any advice on this issue beyond saying value your mental health. If help is needed, seek it from qualified professionals. I will speak (write) here only from my personal experience, which can hopefully inspire you to find your own path to mental wellness.

One of the most important things with my own mental health is to set positivity as a goal. It can be easy to get overwhelmed and find negativity in the slightest little thing. When feeling down, little moments of joy can add up. At one particularly low period of my life, sitting and meditating over a cup of tea, focussing only on the flavour as I drank re-grounded me to celebrate the good things in life instead of being overwhelmed by negativity. Little things like savouring the flavour of a good cup of tea helped me on my road to recovery a number of years ago.

It's important to remove negativity from your life if possible, or protect yourself against toxicity. One person I met had some rather nasty opinions on mental health; they were indubitably a toxic person, with opinions that would vary between saying that persons with mental health issues were just selfish, to saying that mental health didn't exist and people should just "man up". Naturally I didn't keep such people in my life. I am now surrounded on a daily basis by people and friends who promote wellness and positivity and support.

In conclusion, your happiness and growth is vital. Your mental health should be a priority. Your mental health is a necessity. Do whatever you need to do to ensure you can grow and bloom, and don't be ashamed of who you are. Be open, society has changed and those who are stuck in the past who want to try and shame people for speaking about mental health can get with the program and enter the twenty-first century. And don't be afraid to get help from the relevant qualified or trained professionals who can support you when you need it.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Music is important

Screenshot of diverse Amazon Music playlists
Music is important to me. Songs are poetry set to music. and can be powerful and inspiring. Music inspires me, and can be truly evocative. I often imagine music as a soundtrack to my life at certain points. For example, the day I left my crappy high school for the last time, I remember thinking about the final strains of "Nessun Dorma" with its powerful, overpowering "vincerĂ²!" to overcome years of unhappiness I had endured there, as I walked out and did not look back.

I am no musician, I cannot read music or even know the right vocabulary to describe it most of the time, but I appreciate what I like and the work of the artists that I enjoy listening to. I have extremely eclectic tastes, everything from classical, Welsh folk, queer pop, movie soundtracks (I love these in particular), 90s indie, 80s pop, German rap and rock.... I can never predict what I'll get into next.