Spillwords.com presents: The Way Forward, poetry written by Amanda Steel, a multi-genre author, podcast co-host and e-zine editor.
There was a time when many people perceived online dating as something to be ashamed of. Despite meeting my last long-term partner on a dating website, it was something I rarely told people about. My then partner seemed so adamant that we make up a story about how we met. So, the embarrassment then rubbed off onto me and made me more determined not to admit to using a website to find someone.
Fortunately, more and more people now meet their significant other this way and are more comfortable talking about it. Where once, someone might lie about where they were going and who with, today they can be more open with friends and family. This is great for so many reasons, including safety.
Back before I met my current partner (also through online dating) it helped that I felt comfortable telling family I was meeting someone I had been talking to on a dating website. If I could tell them where I was going, that made it safer for if something went wrong and helped me to feel more relaxed for the whole process. I think this is a worry for many people, about who they are meeting. Reported news when dates gone wrong always exacerbates this. The same can be said about dating someone you meet in a bar or anywhere else though. In fact, if you’re careful you might avoid ever meeting some of the more unsuitable people face-to-face.
So, what are the benefits of meeting someone online?
Using how I met my current partner as an example; I was looking for a long-term relationship. So was he. This where it’s important to be honest, rather than saying what you think people want to hear. The site gave us the option to put this on our profiles.
We also shared common interests. That’s why it’s a good idea to talk about what you enjoy doing, in your profile. Empty profiles give nothing for the person reading it to go on. Most people, particularly those who are looking for something more long-term, will move on, assuming you hope to sell yourself with just a photo rather than your personality, which only suggests a short-term attraction.
We exchanged messages before meeting up, which helped us to learn about each other, obviously enough to want to meet.
More and more people are using local websites such as Isle Of Man Dating Site (or those local to wherever they live) to find someone nearby who they may not have met otherwise.
Meeting someone on a night out is more random and less likely to result in finding someone with the same interests, outlook on life etc.
Meeting online give you a glimpse of what someone is like before deciding whether to send a message and also makes rejection much easier when (inevitably) some people don’t reply.
For me, after years of being single, online dating helped me to meet the right person who fitted in with my life while I fitted in with his.
I doubt I would have accomplished so much of what I wanted to do, if I had dated someone who didn’t share the same ambitions, or at least understand them.
The following is a guest post by Anthony Briscoe, in response to this article (about the decline of arts subjects in schools)
I find it a boring trope that the arts are not important to a child’s education. I think that is fundamentally false. For example, I have dyslexia, something I have found in common with several people in the arts (and other professions). Dyslexia isn’t just not being able to read or write; like many things, it is a spectrum. It mainly affects the way the brain understands sequences and how an individual’s brain decodes those into action (cognitively or physically, hence its often close association with dyspraxia).
I find spelling difficult at times and written communication can be sometimes also be a difficulty (depending on its structure and rules, such as an essay as opposed to a poem). Of course, I’ve gotten better with age and practise, but as a child it was a huge hurdle. I found it a struggle to understand why I couldn’t do what others could do properly. I was getting told off for not spelling correctly or my writing being a little squiffy. Not only did it affect my confidence, but it also became a frustration. Why couldn’t I do what others seemed to find so simple? I remember how that felt.
I started becoming a bit despondent in class. Information didn’t seem to sink in, I couldn’t exactly write notes or anything, and still struggle a bit today. However, I was introduced to art lessons and school plays, craft etc, then things just clicked. Suddenly, I understood. The creative process helped my brain take in information and with support from my parents and school, I managed to use creativity and the arts to help bridge the gaps in my learning. I still use the techniques I used then, today. Often, I draw when listening to a lot of information, as it helps me take it all in and I can remember what I was hearing at the time, by looking at the picture. The arts have given me so much; confidence in myself, determination and made want to learn and do more with my education and life (it fills several sections of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; physiological, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualisation). My experience is not special, there are millions of people out there and children currently in education who, if the current decimation of the arts continues, won’t be as lucky as me. They will be denied the opportunity to be shown a different paradigm of learning, understanding or expression of frustration.
The outcome of the arts isn’t always quantifiable, in the way the education system seems so geared towards these days. It teaches more than what can be graded (the hidden curriculum).
Thanks to the arts and obviously the support I received from the places of education I attended (and of course my parents) I doubt I’d be anything like I am now, or happy.
To take more and more funding away, I fear will lead to some children being left behind, unable to express themselves in a system they may not feel they fit in and a further condensation of education to fit a quantifiable structure, often linked to capital.
* * *
About the Author
Anthony Briscoe is a performance poet and freelance artist from Blackpool, currently living in Manchester. His Poetry ranges from political-social commentary, space, advertisements replacing love and even clowns. Anthony likes to mix the serious and the silly to discuss meaningful issues through an absurdist lens, using his background in theatrics to add an energetic, engaging and entertaining performance to all his material.
You can find him on Facebook.
I attended a Peterloo writing workshop at the weekend. I’m sharing my scribbles here, because I doubt I can send them anywhere.
The first activity was to pair up with another writer and find out five facts about them. Then we had to write a paragraph about that person, using those facts.
The five facts were:
Lives in Leeds
In his mid-forties
Would like to visit Egypt
He lived in Leeds for a long time, before he finally fulfilled his lifelong dream of moving to Egypt, where he lost his return ticket and thought “to hell with it” and stayed there.
As he likes poetry, he started a night where he read poetry in Spanish. Nobody understood a word he said, but they liked the sound of his words and paid lots of money to listen to him.
Now in his forties, he has been able to retire with all the money he earned from this.
For the second activity, we had to write about finding an item belonging to that person, if a similar event to Peterloo happened today.
A Place Without Shoes
Among the deserted phones, bottles and keys
Black, except for the read
The letter N, obscured on the trainer
I called out for its owner
As if that would cause him to appear
But this wasn’t a fairy-tale
More like a horror story
He wouldn’t get far without his shoes
But I feared he no longer needed shoes
For the last exercise, we to write something based on what might happen twelve months after the event.
Death by Trainer
They arrived in droves from Egypt
Where he was much loved
And from Spain
Where his poetry touched lives
Each one waving a trainer
As a symbol of the one they lost
Nobody was sure whether the first or the hundredth
Was the one to hit its mark
But the prime minister’s cause of death
Was record as death by trainer
After they were all hurtled through the air
In perfect synchronicity
Sorry to anyone who is reading part of this for the second time, but I felt it was important to share and add an update.
After applying for a job through Indeed, I was invited to a job interview and told a company name and street, which matched a genuine company, then given a completely different address for the interview. Google showed it as a residential address.
I didn’t show up for the interview, finding this unnerving. I doubted it was even the company it stated to be. Within six minutes of the interview time I received a text message asking if I was on my way. It seemed odd that they wouldn’t call, unless they weren’t who they were claiming to be. Maybe my writer’s brain was over-reacting a little when it imagined a person or people lying in wait; plastic sheets laid out on the floor (like in Dexter). It is worrying all the same though, whatever their motives were.
I contacted Indeed. They looked into it and confirmed it was suspicious. The same day I received this reply, the company (or whoever they are) was allowed to post another job ad. This tells me the guy who emailed me from Indeed was just trying to appease me by saying what he thought I wanted to hear,
It concerns me that (as someone pointed out) people seem to think websites like Indeed run checks before allowing adverts onto the website.
It’s not about people being stupid. They might just trust that Indeed (and others) are doing what they are expected to do.
Next time the job-seeker might not be so lucky.
So, if you are looking for work and are offered an interview, check everything out beforehand and if anything at all seems off, trust yourself rather than any job website.
I’d watched The Walking Dead since the beginning, and before that I lapped up any TV show or film about zombies. It only occurred to me to write about zombies during Christmas one year. My sister’s birthday was the following March and I thought I’d write it as part of her present. That didn’t leave me long though. So, with only three months to write and edit, it became the novella After the Zombies. The original had so many mistakes due to the self-imposed time limit. I’ve re-edited it since.
When I had more time, I created a novel which followed on from the novella, but could be read as a standalone book. Now a few years on, I’ve re-released Not Human, with extra content which was previously a follow-on novella.
The thing I like about zombie stories, whether on the page or screen, is the characters. It’s not as much about the zombies. Of course they play a part, but I like exploring how people react.
In The Walking Dead, the show wouldn’t be the same if the only threats were slow staggering zombies. Each series usually has at least one human baddie.
I’ve tried to do that in my books too. In After the Zombies, the main enemy is the government who want to cover up a zombie outbreak in Manchester. Not Human has more threats though. Along with the government, Grace and her friends run into some unpleasant characters.
I also wanted to do something a bit different, though everything has probably been done before, but hopefully my combination of different things varies from other writers, not to mention its in my voice and not theirs. In the books, there are human/zombie hybrids (explaining the title Not Human) and a scene involving a zombie baby, but I don’t want to give too much away over that one.
The way I finished the book, ties up certain character’s storylines, with the possibility to write at least one further book. Although, I have no plans to do that, unless I feel it’s wanted.
(I originally posted this article on Medium.)
When I set out to write my YA novel (First Charge) I had two reasons for wanting to create my fifteen-year-old main character as a lesbian. I wanted to make it clear there was no chance of her becoming romantically involved with the secondary character, Theo. Their relationship resembles that of a brother and sister.
The other reason was, I haven’t come across many positive LGBT role models in books. The books I’ve seen — or in some cases subjected myself to read — all insist on having explicit sex scenes in them. Yet books about straight characters aren’t always like this. So why do authors seem to do this? I’m sure some books are out there to prove me wrong, but I’ve struggled to find them. I’m happy for people to tell me about them in the comments section.
People’s eyes light up when I say I’ve written a book about a lesbian mermaid and they seem disappointed when they find out it’s not what they think. I’ve been asked how Meredith knows she’s a lesbian if she doesn’t hook up with girls — that’s the polite version of the question. The simple answer is, because she’s attracted to girls.
Anyway, my character is fifteen in the first book, so this was never going to be erotica. She’s unsure about her destiny to save the world. Part of her enjoys being different (and her mermaid ancestry) but another part of her wishes she could live a normal life. The thing I wanted to do when writing Meredith was for her to feel confident about her sexuality; although relationships aren’t a priority for her and she’s conflicted in other parts of her life instead.
Without giving too much away, she does meet someone, but I didn’t write any explicit scenes. Even with the character of Theo, who sleeps around with a lot of women, I hinted rather than showing this. The reason for even including that was to demonstrate how he separates himself from people and doesn’t show his true self. He’s a shapeshifter descendant with the ability to change appearance.
I may have overdone it on the violence instead, but when you’re fighting people from an evil organisation who want to let half the population die, there will be some bloodshed. It’s essential to the story. The plot can cope without unnecessary X-rated scenes though.
Amanda Steel is the author of First Charge.
A list of links to buy the book can be found HERE