Rants

Writing in a Digital Pandemic

I am obsessed with digitisation and technology at the moment. The poems I am currently working on reflect this, even the novel I have in works has very strong technological themes, and this is for a number of reasons.

  1. I work for an IT company so I have to know about the latest tech and cloud happenings.
  2. Technology is everywhere. We have literally become overrun by screens. First came the TV screen, then the computer/laptop. Mobile phones became smart. Laptops and mobile had their love child: the tablet. In my house I shamelessly have 7 screens and that’s only for 2 of us.
  3. The internet is everywhere. A natural evolution from the explosive technology that wants to ‘connect’ us all together in one, easy to manage system.
But this whole digital technology is invading every aspect of our lives. If you haven’t heard about the Internet of Things, google it now. Essentially, it’s the very-almost-realised idea that normal everyday objects will be connected to the internet. Your thermostat, your washing machine, your car, your lights, your windows, even your pets and children. I’m not joking. They will have their own IP addresses and interact with our ‘smart’ devices, with us, even anticipating our behaviour. It’s changing the very fabric of our society, well western society that is. We’ve all noticed it. It’s so hard to actually have a real, face-to-face conversation with someone without it being interrupted by some little black machine buzzing, singing or flashing at you. Head bent, we isolate ourselves from real interaction. We care more about taking photos and updating statuses than actually experiencing life. Since when did sharing become a marketing tactic for the capitalist business world? A world that does quite the opposite of sharing. It takes from us. It’s taken our relationships and personalities and turned them into something they can track, monitor and turn into big data analytics. Just so they can sell us more and more. Push together Orwell and Huxley and you get the modern day. Big Brother watching us through devices we pay to use, we want to have and believe are essential to our lives. This digital mass hysteria is our soma, keeping us distracted, keeping us wanting the next hit, the next product, the next upgrade. I believe it was Wells that stated that any utopia would not be a static system, but one that is constantly improving, always getting better, faster and more efficient, a constant wave of improvements. Is that not what the tech companies have created here?

The irony here, of course, is the fact that I’m sharing this to you through the very thing I am criticising. I’m just as absorbed as the rest. I just can’t figure out if, in the end, it is good or bad. The science and the technology really is amazing, I can definitely appreciate that. The things we can do now, the things that we know are incredible. The thing that concerns me is the power this creates for the few at the top, and in turn, the weakness in endows onto the rest of us. Are we unknowingly controlled by this system? Or if not now, will we be soon? I must sound like a hippie… ‘fight the system’ etc. That is not my point. Privacy is my concern. If there is a system, someone, somewhere will find a way to use it to their advantage. This system of using money to distribute power enables a system for the greedy. We should all be concerned.

I’m really trying to explore this new digital generation in my writing. Our growing dependence on a virtual world. I wonder if any of you are doing something similar? I would love to share some ideas. Hopefully I will get a poem up on here soon which will illustrate my point.
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What Age Is

Often people try to detatch themselves from their age because each age has alleged limitations in some way or another. It is true that age does not determine the amount of experience you’d had in your life, your ‘wisdom’ however that can be defined, or your intelligence. I think a lot people talk about what age isn’t about, so what is it about?

It’s less about the individual you are, and I think, more about how you fit into the larger society. An obvious statement being that people tend to spend more time, or be close people their own age. Quiten often, people that we know outside of our own age range are due to family or work connections. Of course I’m not saying that this is true for everyone, in every sense, but there are obvious trends. Clear differences between how 13 year olds like to spend their saturdays to 50 year olds.

Age places us in a bracket. It’s a way of making general assumptions about a group of people. Not just based on knowledge, but social role. When I go into bars and restaurants, most of the employees are young. When I went to University, most of the lecturers were older. I’m saying we should make judgements on people based on age, but notice that there are correlations. It’s these sorts of trends that dictate different kinds of advertising for different products. Just compare the kinds of holidays aimed at 18-30 year olds, to a resort for 50+.

So, no, age is not just a number. But it says something about you, your identity. But does not determine the individual. Just as you ethnicity, or beliefs do not define who you are, but are still all vital parts of who you are.

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5 Things I’ve Learnt in Marketing

Hello all. I started a new job in marketing about a month ago and I’ve previously had experience in similar roles so thought I would share some of the stuff that I’ve learnt about marketing. In University I studied English with Creative Writing and I most enjoy writing poetry. Plus I’m currently working on a novel, but more on that in another post. So anyone that wants to get into marketing, you do not need a marketing degree. All employers care about it that you have a degree and experience. Do as much unpaid work experience as you can. Placements and internships look great on your CV and give you something to talk about in an interview. Personally, I am most interested in copywriting, however these positions are near impossible to get if you don’t have actual experience. So marketing was the best choice to get my foot in the door. It’s the kind of career where you have to start at the bottom and work your way up. But also fun, because you get to be creative every day 🙂 So here are my five things that I’ve learnt during my time in marketing.

1. You don’t have to be an expert to write like an expert. Often copywriting projects require technical knowledge on a specific topic. For example, during my placement at Invest In Nottingham I was given the task of producing a B2B brochure detailing the benefits of businesses in the engineering and technology sectors investing capital in the city. Being able to copywrite does not require knowing a lot about everything, just knowing how to source and regurgitate material to a high standard. Often before even starting a piece, a significant amount of time is needed to research thoroughly. So, anyone that is thinking of going into marketing, be prepared to have to read a lot of material quite quickly and be able to pull out the relevant information. Find a system that works for you, but be thorough and be organised. I make a lot of lists, I find they help me organise my mind. Plus I take great pleasure in ticking things off one by one.

2. Love the internet. The internet is an incredible invention that has had a phenomenal effect on culture, and more interestingly, language. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram. If you want to be in marketing you will have to be completely comfortable in the world of social media. Learn about hashtags, SEO, what to post, when to post. Read a few articles but then try it out. The best way to learn is to simply play around on these sites. But it doesn’t end there. Website, photo editing and graphic designing knowledge may also help. The more creative skills you have, the better you’ll be. Learn about infographics too, they are awesome.

3. Confidence. 90% of marketing is confidence. Whether you’re talking people face to face, writing an email or designing an advertisement, always believe what you’re saying. If you go for an interview, the employer is expecting you to be certain of yourself, even if you’re scared and you hate interviews. Let’s be honest, nobody enjoys interviews. But if you have confidence in yourself then other people will have confidence in you. So that’s a simple one really.

4. Be everyone’s friend. In marketing, you never know when you might need specialist knowledge or service. The more people in your loop you can call upon for help, the better. Be there for other people too if they are in need, the more you help others the more they will help you. Plus, marketing is such a social role you need to be able to be comfortable with anyone. Don’t be shy. If you go to a networking event, make sure to make the rounds. It’s quality, not quantity, and I mean in terms of what you say. Make an impression, give them your card and smile. You want them to remember you, you want them to want to speak to you again. So if you’re boring or shy you will be just another generic face.

5. Always have a notebook. Okay, so this is a writer’s habit I have anyway, but still. You never know, you might be out on a casual stroll one Sunday evening through the town and see some magnificent piece of marketing work. Scribble it down. Or maybe you’re dozing in the armchair, stroking your cat and an idea springs to mind of how you can give that mail shot an extra punch. Always, always, always, write down your ideas. Maybe they will be useless, but I find that when I read through them, they inspire better ideas. So always write things down, because most likely the harder you try to remember, the more you forget. The way I see it is, your mind’s power is best spent on creating, not storing. Leave the storage to something physical. If you don’t want to carry a notebook, there are hundred of note apps these days that you can download for free on your phone. I use Evernote somewhat, but nothing beats actual paper in my opinion.

I hope this has been insightful for some of you thinking of going into marketing. I’m no where near an expert, I’m still young and new to the game but these are my thoughts so far. Agree or disagree with any of my ideas? Let me know in the comment section 🙂

Want to read some other blogs on marketing? Check out these pretty awesome sites.

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Back from the Silence

I did it again. I started a blog and then let it slip to the back of my mind. But in fairness I have been awfully busy. I graduated from University with a 2.1, I started a new job as a marketing exec and I moved into a house with my boyfriend. But now dust is beginning to settle a little bit, I now have more routine in my life and so this blog is back online. I feel kind of glad to be out of university, I feel free now. I want to start my own business and so I’m spending a lot of my free time doing that. It’s going to be a website that offers freelance creative content services to anyone for any purpose. So watch this space and hopefully it will be live within the next month. Website designing is a pain in the arse. I never knew how long and tedious it was. Does anyone know of any decent website builders? I’m currently using the GoDaddy builder and it’s as advanced as paint. People have suggested using WordPress to build it, so that may be my next port of call. My business idea came from wanting to be a freelance writer, and I started talking about this to my friends a lot of whom also studied English at university and were also just as interested. Then I started thinking some more and realised that I had quite a strong network of really talented creative types. Photographers, graphic designers, writers… so I thought why not make a website that combined all these services? I’ve never ran a business in my life, I’ve never even thought about it to be honest. But if I can make a way for myself and people like me to work in their own space, at their own pace and earn money… then well wouldn’t that be wonderful? Maybe it will be great success, maybe it will flop. But I might as well try. So here’s to trying, it’s more fun than letting life walk all over you.

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Mirrored Poetic Form

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I cannot for the life of me remember what the technical term for this is, but I have recently become fascinated by mirror poetry – where the first stanza is mirrored in the second. I read a poem of this form in Lucy Burnett’s book of poetry Leaf Graffiti and it’s incredibly clever. I attemped my own version and found it to be very infuriating. I’m not happy with the poem and this is by no means a finished version but if you give this form a go you will realise just how stressful it is to try and write a poem that works well and can be reversed. I have even more respect for Lucy Burnett after trying myself.

Oval – v. the mirror

By Lucy Burnett

 

I’m wearing no clothes. Right this minute, now,

my eyes averted down as though i am ashamed.

Centred in my parents’ room – the door is shut –

a certain sign, a symbolic line of suture. My scar is

six inches long, its darkened, slightly crooked smile

which makes me tilt my head like nurses do.

I slowly stroke the bruises of my swollen side

as I try and figure if the dent I feel is really there.

My skin appears to droop and sad around my fingers

in contrast to the fullness that I felt before.

My fingers knead my new-found lack of symmetry,

a half-aborted womanhood. The doctor promised me

‘the woman left will end up working twice as hard’.

I wonder, catch my own reflected eye, what if?

 

I wonder, catch my own reflected eye, what if

the woman left will end up working twice as hard?

‘A half-aborted womanhood’, the doctor promised me,

my fingers need my newfound lack of symmetry,

in contrast to the fullness that I felt before.

My skin appears to droop and sag around my fingers

as I try and figure if the dent I feel is really there.

I slowly stroke the bruises of my swollen side,

which makes me tilt my head like hurses do.

Six inches long, its darkened, slightly crooked smile

a certain sign , a symbolic line of suture. My scar is

centred in my parents’ room – the door is shut –

my eyes averted down as though I am ashamed.

I’m wearing no clothes. Right this minute. Now.

 

And here is my attempt…

Polarized

ripened flesh, a fruit ready for peel.
that smell like plucked buds or white linen, of
dry lips cracked like burning wood.
the moment I’ve been hoping for.
I thought I heard you say, “this is
the point of no return.”
the short carpetgap boiling between our feet
at room temperature. we reduce to
less than brief clothes could contain. feverish
silence, like sweat it sticks. vulnerability in
a question asked in shapes. the night now
blackened, enlarged, outgrowing all. my words
staccato, splintering into your eyes,
held in lockstare. heart pulses
pushing and pulling to a full stop.
fingertips meet magnetically.

 

fingertips meet magnetically,
pushing and pulling to a full stop.
held in lockstare. heart pulses
staccato, splintering in two. your eyes
blackened, enlarged, outgrowing all my words.
a questioned asked reshapes the night. now
silence. like sweat it sticks. vulnerability in
less than brief clothes could contain, feverish
at room temperature. we reduce to
the short carpetgap boiling between our feet.
the point of no return.
I thought I heard you say, “this is
the moment I’ve been hoping for.”
dry lips cracked like burning wood.
that smell like plucked buds or white linen, of
ripened flesh, a fruit ready for peel.

I welcome all comments and criticisms 🙂

Also, if you liked this post here are some other awesome poetry posts…

 

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Any Poem with Cats is a Poem Worth Reading

il_340x270.457958621_7luy[1]I’ve been reading Emily Berry’s debut book of poetry Dear Boy and I’ve fallen in love with it. She twists a surreal edginess in a pragmatic tone, you seem to begin in one place and end up in another. The narratives lead you through odd, surprising images, comical to a degree. Her phrasing is easy to follow, the simplicity accentuates the absurd in it’s frank manner, for example in one of my favourite poems My Perpendicular Daughter:

                                     …they hung her

upside down inside me: now she sticks

straight out, gets in the way when I stand

close to walls.

 

The role and expectation reversal plays imminently throughout her works, such as the immature parent, or the disturbing doctor. This theme is repeated in The Tea-Party Cats, where power is explored cleverly, the cats admired and the protagonist fearful of her otherness, her “taillessness”. I love the assonance of that neologism, phonologically reminding me of ‘tastelessness’. Images of formality, overt prestige and suave manner intimidate the voice of the poem, but all under an impression of artificiality. I wonder if this poem is exploring the kinds of people that society looks up to, presented as a group of seemingly narcissistic cats, especially the final three lines which conclude by threatening the cats’ previously established ‘perfect’ image. I think there is something about cats that imply a kind of underhand, elegantly deft nature, seen in “whose whiskers nicely referenced their bowties.”

I really respect what Berry has done here because as a writer I find it difficult address issues in this kind of light-hearted tone. Dark and depressing definitely comes easier, but Berry’s poems are playful, genuinely fun to read. This is the kind of stuff I’d like to experiment with. Let me know what you think about this poem, I’d love to hear your view and if you get the chance I would recommend having a flick through the book.

The Tea-Party Cats

by Emily Berry

 

We’re suspicious of the tea-party cats;

we don’t know why. They all turned out so well

today and aired their charming characters;

they were so smart they frightened us to death.

We longed to have their style and easy knack

of fitting in; we feared our taillessness

would show us up, or our sickly looking

skin. We tried our best all afternoon,

but nothing seemed to do – we spilled our tea

into the saucer, we couldn’t think of things

to say, we weren’t as dapper as these cats

whose whiskers nicely referenced their bowties.

We stood in corners, if you want to know,

nibbling biscuits though our mouths were dry.

Some of us slipped away before the end.

I stayed until the speeches, when the cats

thanked each other proudly, proposing

endless toasts; and then one of them exposed

a weakness, but quickly covered it up.

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The Daily Post published a post encouraging bloggers to explore the notion of names. When I read this I knew I had to respond as I changed my whole name, legally, by deed poll. I became transfixed on this idea of changing my name from quite a young age. It began when my much older sister introduced us to one of her friends that first did this. The first couple of times we met him he had one name and few months later it was completely different. By this I mean it had no correlation to his previous name at all, forename, middle name and surname all brand spanking new. I must have only been about 13 when the idea came into my head but from then on I knew that the moment I turned 18 I would too change my name by deed poll.

I won’t divulge my previous name, it wasn’t a bad name, nor did I change my name to distance myself from my family/past or anything like that. I just didn’t like it, and without sounding tacky changing it just ‘felt right’. When you think about it, your name is probably the word you hear most, so you have to like hearing it, and frankly I didn’t like how my name sounded.

The hardest part of changing your name is deciding what you’re going to change it too. I guess most ‘normal’ people have an idea of what they want to change it to, however I just knew I wanted to change it. I spent a lot of time looking through baby name lists, popular name lists, unusual name lists and I kept getting drawn to Alexis, because I’m an avid English student and writer and lamely I liked the ‘lexis’ part. But it didn’t sound quite right. I settled on Elexa because I preferred how it sounded, the ‘x’ being the most important bit. I have no idea why but I love the letter ‘x’, also I am not too fond of the letter ‘a’, so I decided to be different and use an ‘e’.

So that was the forename settled I had to decide on a surname. I wasn’t too fussed on this as I am bit of a traditionalist and always plan on taking my husband’s name when I marry (for a sense of unity not because I feel that this is in any way a subservient act), but for now I wanted something that had meaning but also sounded good as a whole. ‘Rose’ is a verb and noun and I love words that have ambiguous meanings and cross grammatical categories. To get really nerdy, my name, Elexa Rose is an example of the shortest, grammatical sentence, object + verb. Plus, it refers to Shakespeare’s quote from Romeo and Juliet:

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet”

A name is simply that, a name. I changed my name for no great philosophical reason other than how it sounded. I don’t believe it changed my identity, because who you are is in your behaviour, in your ideas, not in what people refer to you as – really it is arbitrary. But still I chose to spend £20 on the deedpoll website and a very long time sending copies of the certificate to and from banks, the government, my university, the DVLA. So why bother? Just because I don’t believe your name really shapes your identity, I still believe it has something to do with your character. Just as naming characters in my work I believe to be very important in shaping the character. I like having a name that is memorable, it stands out from the ordinary and many writers and artists publish work under a pseudonym and I think this helps in creating the ‘character’ that is the writer you aim to be. It changes how people first perceive you. Your name is usually the first thing people learn about you, so why not make it an awesome one.

Getting my friends and family to adjust to my new name wasn’t that hard. I did it at the same time as moving to a new city to begin University, new start, new name, so that helped greatly in the transgression. My old friends from childhood still sometimes call me by my old name, which doesn’t bother me hugely, on the whole 90% of the people I talk to call me Elexa or Lexy so the few who can’t quite change over, it doesn’t matter. It feels weird hearing it now though, it’s strange, when I hear my old name it still catches my ear but not in the same way that is used to. It doesn’t feel like my name any more. Elexa comes more naturally now and I definitely prefer it. It took about a year or two to get fully used to it, but to anyone wondering whether or not to make the change, do it, why not. It’s your name, you should be called whatever you want.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/writing-challenge-names/

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Becoming Elexa Rose

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