Popping in…

Hi everyone! I know it’s been such a long tine since I’ve posted in this blog – quite a few things have happened.

I’ve received my PhD qualification – a labour of love, fear and doubt! I’m so relieved that I was able to complete it. It’s definitely a marathon rather than a sprint, and if anything it tested my resolve and commitment to a long project.

Where I am now, though, is interesting. After 30 years, I know myself well enough to know my shortcomings and frustrations. My biggest gripe with myself is the inability to sit in one place for a long time – figuratively and literally. It’s another reason why I’m so proud that I managed to finish the PhD in the first place.

I write plays – and then poetry – and then games. I feel like I’m spreading myself thin in many precarious avenues – and of course, self doubt gets to me. I did my PhD in playwriting, right? Surely I should stay and write more plays, produce more, keep going on building up my theatre company. I think about it everyday. I haven’t done a single production this year – and it’s what people ask me about, which is of course understandable. It’s a financial issue and a creative one – but I really do want to get back into it.

Even with poetry, I’ve been on and off for this. I did one open mic this year as opposed to a lot more last year, including a one person show. There is a reason for this. I’ve mentioned on some of my social media about my mental health and how, since 14, has been a roller coaster of sorts. I was hit particularly hard the end of last year and into 2017 – it was hard for me to think clearly, to get out of bed, to get out of this numbness and guilt. What was strange about this year particularly was a feeling of disassociation – one time I left the house, I felt as though I couldn’t feel embodied or grounded in a physical space. It scared me so much, but doing daily yoga and meditation has really helped with that.

So I went back to coding, something I did when I was younger. This feeling of sense of self and embodiment fascinated me throughout my PhD research, which drew me to VR and then AR. Since then, I’ve been learning to code – creating my own novels with an interactive AR layer. It’s a marriage of physical and digital – which I’ve found so interesting and it’s really helped me to find some sort of direction.

I feel a little unbalanced, however. I want to find some way of marrying all of these elements together. I feel bad for neglecting Stars or Mars and increasingly, my poetry. I also remember wanting to create a new initiative called Bards to the Future: a collaboration between Futurists and Artists, which I feel I’ve failed to do anything with as well. I feel ideologically and financially (very much this) stretched – this with my mental health dips have left me with very little self efficacy, and with that, self esteem. To be honest, that’s why I haven’t performed or delivered a paper for a while. I just don’t want to revert to my past self, who was terrified of doing such things, and I don’t want to erase all the effort I put into being able to do this. I love doing it.

I feel as though I haven’t caught up with so many people that I’ve wanted to, which adds to the guilt.

So what do I do now? I’m still working on my games at http://www.criticallitgames.co.uk. Now, I want to try something that incorporates all of these things together. Theatre, Poetry, Novels, AR, Games. I had such an idea walking home last night – which I need to work on and draw a structure from this. An issue that I had with my plays (and theatre in general) is mobility. The physical live nature of theatre makes it fleeting – which makes it precious but also any energy generated from this interaction fades out very quickly. Can AR, gaming and live streaming be able to prolong the conversation of issues raised in theatre? Can the impact be stretched temporally and in terms of audience?

I’ll get back to you with that.

I just want to thank everyone for their support and willingness to listen. Much love x


The Art of Selling Yourself

I have only recently watched those Dove Beauty Sketch ads, and something within it shocked me to the core. It’s clever that it has a well disguised drop (it’d do badly as a dubstep track) which underpins the nature of the ad. Oh, you clever marketing people.  The ad is basically saying: People think I’m beautiful when I think I look ugly – maybe I’m seeing myself in a bad way. Maybe I just have low self esteem. Ah, but here’s the rub:

““I should be more grateful for my natural beauty, it impacts the choices and friends we make, the jobs we apply for, how we treat our children, it impacts everything. It couldn’t be more critical to your happiness.”

OUCH – THAT BURNS. So in other words, we’re still looking from validation from other people, and they’d better be damn right or we’re screwed!

Now, I’ve soaked up all the negative things like most humans do, who are engineered to look for danger, the possibilities of getting screwed over. Where are your sponges? I’ll explain what I mean by these sponges later.

I’ve been *taught* (not through assumptions, actually taught) to downplay my looks from a child. If anyone called me attractive (as some people have in my life – everyone has experienced it), I was told to say “No, I’m ugly as sin” or something maybe less stinging. Nowadays though, I think why? It makes me feel like crap, it makes the person complimenting me feel like crap – nothing can be seen as good coming from this. Nothing. It’s selfish to do that. Then I remember all the times people have called me ugly (I remember being called too ugly to rape). I can think of more of the latter than the former. Why is that? Because that’s where my sponges are. That’s where they’ve grown. I soak up negativity from things to do with my attractiveness and things to do with my intelligence.

Schooling taught me many things: I’m stupid. I have no opinions. I should go with the flow. I shouldn’t go to university. Again – not an assumption. I was told *not* to go to UCAS sessions, I was told *not* to apply to university as they thought I couldn’t cut it. A teacher called me an automaton because I had nothing worthy to say. As someone studying a PhD now, there is a growing temptation to turn around and flip them the bird, but why? I don’t see the gain. However, my sponge is still there. I know so many intelligent people and yes, I do feel incredibly stupid around people.

But my years of learning marketing have taught me something. When you advertise a product, people have to take your word for it. Whether you know diddlysquat about it or not is something you hide under your poker face. But selling yourself is different.

You know yourself (to an extent), and you have the best customer testimonial for it. Imagine if you say, “I’ve lived with myself all my life and I’m worthless. Rubbish. Couldn’t put up with me if I tried.” You’re not going to think “I’m going to prove them wrong. Yeah, that’s right. I’ll go out with them and they’ll see they’re beautiful!”, unless they’re a Disney character or have a lot of time on their hands. I want to soak up all that positive stuff that’s floating around out there and gain a new sponge. Sponges need to get replaced anyway, or you’re just cleaning yourself with your old dirt. Find those old sponges and chuck them out. Realise all that nice stuff about yourself, whether it’s self generated or not.