Yes, it’s been a while and if you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ll know why.
However, it’s a cold Saturday afternoon but it’s promising to be warmer tomorrow. I also managed to sleep for a solid eight hours (if not longer) last night. That’s been pretty rare lately. I don’t intend to dwell on the events of the past few weeks too much. My mother did pass fifteen days ago, and I’ve not been in a great place emotionally. Seems that there’s this thing called “grief” and it can feel pretty awful. Who knew I’d suffer it this bad?
Joking aside, it’s been pretty tough. Not just her passing but the events leading up to it. I made mistakes. I went against her wishes and visited her at a point where it probably wasn’t wise to visit. She’d said she’d never want people doing that if there was ever a death bed situation, but I couldn’t live with myself. I still don’t know how I feel about that. Painful but maybe helped me come to terms with things. I’d also gone through my life fearing the word “cancer”. Odd now to think how I’d try not to think or say it because thinking or saying it somehow made it more real or likely. Never ever thought it would take my mum. Two weeks ago, we still thought it was just a gallstone.
But enough of that. Yes, I said I wouldn’t dwell but saying you won’t dwell and then dwelling is another of the odd features of grief.
I’ve managed to get through it thanks to two things. Mainly people on the internet saying nice things to me. I posted a picture of my mum to Twitter and received over 9000 likes and over 1000 comments, which blew me away. In the real world, we’ve had a single sympathy card. Just one. We’ve also only had one Christmas card. I suppose this is the problem of being a quiet family and not exactly having a great deal in common with people around us.
However, the other thing to help me was the advice of a doctor. In this case Dr Johnson. I remember reading years ago that he got through his own mother’s death by keeping very busy. So, I took his advice.
I’ve tried not to stay home too much – eaten at MacDonalds a few too many times which is depressing because 1. I’m alone and 2. It’s MacDonald’s — and I’ve been keeping very busy. I’ve been writing a lot but not so much my usual work. I needed to go the easy places my brain wanted to go. That also means I’ve also been shooting so much street photography that I question my sanity. My ambition is to finish two photobooks, each about 120 pages long, covering two themes which I’ve been working on concurrently. It doesn’t mean that I needed 120 photos per book since quite a few of the photos will span two pages. However, I do need a lot of good photos.
So far, the first book is up to 110 pages and the second 90. However, I’ll keep working and once the book is filled, I’ll start removing a few of the weaker pictures with new strong images that I hope to take. I’ve also avoided posting my best shots to Twitter in the hope it helps retain some value in the books and that somebody/anybody will eventually consider buying a copy.
[Interesting side note: one day I thought it would be a good idea to go to New Brighton. See what a seaside resort looks like in the middle of Winter. The answer: absolutely freezing and not worth visiting. I thought I might be able to get some reverse The Last Resort style photos: like Parr did the place in the Summer, I might get people huddled against the wind and sitting in front of holiday kiosks. No such luck. It was just bloody cold and depressing yet totally suited my mood. ]
[Below: a few pictures which haven’t made the cut for inclusion in my photobook projects].
Anyway, despite my wasted trip to New Brighton, thus, far, I’m pretty pleased with my efforts. My ambition is to buy ISBN numbers for them and to properly publish them myself. The ISBN route would be totally unnecessary but I’m intending to make a point to myself and to others. I’ve always written my own books, proofed them myself, and then set them up in publishing software. The irony of my hunting for publishers is that I don’t need them, except to get my books into bookshops and then promote them. I would obviously still need them for the proper books I occasionally create. Right now, I just fancy producing something from beginning to end on my own.
Assuming I can figure out how to fund these projects. I’ve had my Carer’s Allowance stopped on the night my mum died. Maybe that’s only fair, though they said it should continue for eight weeks. Just seems cruel given that I am now constantly fretting about money going into Christmas.
Never felt such a loser in my life. Don’t know what I’m going to do for money in January. More writing work would be ideal but it’s hardly likely.
Speaking of losing: I have one book already finished if I could only find an agent/publisher. People who have seen it seem to quite like it. It’s a book of caricatures with about 30,000 words of writing. I’d sent copies to various significant people, and I’ve had no meaningful feedback from any of them. That was a waste. In fact, such a waste of my time that I’m seriously considering abandoning my drawing and sticking with my writing with my photography a fun hobby to keep me sane.
I am sick of being a failed cartoonist. At least ex-cartoonist involves less work and heartbreak.
Anyway, since I’m no longer a carer (well, not for my mum… my sister is another sad story…), I’m no longer constrained to the house so hopefully I’ll be able to shoot more. I’ve also been rediscovering my interest in poetry.
Yes. I feel stupid for even admitting that. It’s a persistent paradox of my life that I am most highly qualified when it comes to poetry. My PhD is in English romantic poetry. I wrote my thesis on Byron. I know what good poetry looks like and I enjoy writing poetry (not sure it’s good or not). Just something along the way – call it my working-class paranoia – stopped me being more open about it.
Anyway, as part of my reclaiming my life, I’ve been writing verse and I’ve agreed to perform it in January at a local group. I’m still not sure I can do it but I’m trying to do the things I’ve wanted to do for many years but haven’t had time/opportunity/courage. I’ve had such an awful time these last few years, living with constant fear and worry, that I figure I might as well push myself to try something different. I’ve always wanted to perform so this is a chance to do that. And if I make a complete idiot of myself, you’ll all be the first to know.