Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

New Year, New Poem

Red and green sparks slink across the sky.
Life is returning for a moment,
meek and mastered no more,
she is strong,
roaring as she stretches across my eyeline,
to remind me, once again, that nothing lasts forever,
except the joy of fireworks.

I feel it in the air,
bubbling and brewing under my skin.
There is magic in my drink.
Down it goes,
right down my throat and I take a deep breath,
like my life depends on it,
because I have been given another year,
and that is such a thoughtful, selfless gift to give a girl like me.

I see the sparks up in the sky,
above the forest,
dancing in the darkness as I pour another drink,
at four minutes past my second chance.
I feel it in my soul,
something is coming,
something sweet and so fulfilling,
and this time,
I won’t let it go.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Personal, Writing

A Letter To The Girl From 365 Days Ago

Hello beautiful,

You’re not dead, yet, and that’s a good thing. You also haven’t wished for it in a long time, and that’s also a good thing. Would you like to know why?

I’ll tell you, in time, but first, we have some other matters to discuss.

We’ll start with January. It is just about to start for you, and it begins the way that December ended, in lockdown. You are bored of all this pandemic business, as is everyone else, and as I write to you, I regret to inform you that it is not over yet. We aren’t quite in lockdown, but it might happen. The upside is, you are no longer afraid of it.

The thing you feared the most about the lockdown was that your boyfriend would go wandering and forget about you, and during the first lockdown, that did happen, but you manage to grab another one pretty quickly, just in time for the next lockdown, and the worrying began again, but this time you won’t be afraid of that. Not because you have found an intensely loyal man, or because you grew as a person and stopped being so insecure, but because you grew as a person and addressed why a man slipping through your fingers scared you so badly.

Oh, you are as impatient as ever. I was going to tell you about everything else first, but I suppose you deserve to know.

This was the year that you accepted the truth. You know exactly what I’m talking about, and I know for a fact that as you read this, you have a racing heart and a tight throat. It’s the same mix of guilt, panic and shame you feel when you think about that girl from school, or that girl you wrote White Wine about. It’s the same shame you feel when you watch the Scottish Affairs Committee (not giving any further context there, if you know, you know). It’s the same way you feel every time your family asked about your love life and the same way you felt when you were fifteen, writing (admittedly, quite good) poems about Carol Ann Duffy.

You know what I’m about to say, and you are staring at this letter, trying to rearrange the words or shove them back into my pen, but you can’t (primarily because I typed them lmao). I’d go back to the girl you were two years ago, or five, but I know they couldn’t take it. I know that they weren’t strong enough to take this journey, and if I’m honest, I don’t think you are, but I know that I was not strong enough for you not to.

You have been carrying this alone since you were a child, but it’s over now. I know that you know what I’m about to tell you, and I know that you are hoping that I won’t. The funniest thing is that your dearest friend in the world is just like you, and you have loved him, just the way he was, but for so long, you couldn’t love yourself in the same way. You accepted him, genuinely but you saw yourself as a freak. I guess it was less acceptable if it was two girls, to you? You celebrated him, but you kept yourself a secret, because you thought you were different, something shameful and terrifying, but much like the angel in the nativity, I come to you and I say “Do not be afraid, because we have missed out on so much life already, and we don’t have time to be afraid anymore.” Perhaps the angel of the lord wasn’t so abrupt, but you know me, I’m no angel.

It all started on a date with a man. He was crazy about you, and you thought you could do what you always do, act crazy about him and hope that he married you and gave you the child that you had always wanted. He probably would have, had he not guessed what you were. I still don’t know how he did, mind you. He asked you, directly to your face, and you felt like you were going to die on the spot.

“Are you a lesbian?”

It seemed like an unfair question. You had been willing to give him what he wanted. You would have been loyal. He would have been happy. He just didn’t need to ask questions. It was a good deal, really, but I suppose he couldn’t take it, because he knew it wasn’t what it appeared to be.

Truthfully, it wouldn’t have been a good deal, after a while. You’d get burnout from having to get through the sex, just like you had before and you’d start recoiling at his touch, he’d feel rejected, you’d get depressed. It would be the same as it always is. You’d cling to it desperately, because you wanted to be anything but what you actually are and it would slip away from you, because as it all turns out, men are not stupid, and they can usually tell when their partner doesn’t want them.

You told him that you weren’t “like that…” but you knew that you couldn’t hide much longer. You also knew that nobody was buying your “Shy bisexual” persona either. It was starting to become really obvious that you were just not built to be with a man. If a man who was a stranger could figure it out, then there was no more hope of deceiving everyone else.

I tried to pretend I was just thinking about it, like it was something I was considering for the first time but I had always known, and eventually, after several years of keeping it a secret, I told the truth for the first time. I wrote a bunch of angsty poems to tell the audience and I recorded an angsty voice note to tell the family. As it all turns out, lots of people apparently knew and were just waiting for me to say it, on my own terms, so… you really have nothing to worry about. You could do it, today, if you want. It makes no difference to the people that love you. Your mother still loves you, I promise.

Now that’s over with, we can talk about some other news. As I mentioned, Covid-19 is still very much a thing. You are very bored of it now, mainly because the British government is making a mess of preventing another wave and you long for the safety and competency of a Nicola Sturgeon or a Mark Drakeford, but, alas, you only have Boris Johnson to rely on.

Speaking of all of those people, you finally launched the politics segment of your podcast into its own podcast and you’re having a lot of fun doing it. It does your mental health a lot of good to pretend to be Emily Maitlis once a week.

Your birthday absolutely sucked because you spent it in lockdown and you were really sad, all day. That is why it was important for you to treasure your 28th birthday, but, noooo, you didn’t want to listen… I can’t tell you how the next one will be, because it hasn’t happened yet and nobody knows what the British government will do from one day to the next, but I hope it will be better. God willing, I would like to go to Toby Carvery for your next birthday, but we will see what happens with restrictions.

You will write a lot of things that you love this year, but your favourite is a song called Widow, that you released to raise money for Terrence Higgins Trust. You’ll be donating the royalties every year from now on and I can’t wait for the many years of fundraising ahead.

You currently have a duolingo streak of 506 days. You finally opened up and tried to make friends outside of the internet. You’ve written songs that have been played around the world. You went on a date with a girl, on purpose, in public and you didn’t bail on her or insist on it being a secret. You hit a million streams on Spotify. It’s been a much better year than you are expecting, and I’m proud of you.

You spent a lot of the year being confused and scared. Scared of the virus, scared of your secret, but as I write to you, on New Year’s Eve, staring down the barrel of 2022, I am so happy to tell you that the fear has less of a grip on you now.

I don’t know if it will ever go away entirely, but we’re getting closer to living with it, day by day, and for once, I am actually excited to stay up until midnight and say goodbye to a year full of difficult but necessary lessons.

I wish you all the best for 2022, and not just because I have an interest in what happens to you, but because at last, I am ready to accept that you deserve it. You deserve the absolute best, and you’re going to get it.

Love forever,
J x

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Music, Personal, Writing

Well, We Survived Another Year…

Hola amigos,

It’s almost the end of the year, which feels crazy, because it only feels like yesterday that we were heading into 2019!

The year started for me, with my usual attempts to ignore that New Year’s Eve/Day was happening. This all stems from my irrational vendetta against New Year, due to a disappointing New Year’s experience. Way back in 2011, I had my very first New Year’s kiss. I’m not even sure if that’s a thing, but in my mind, it was, because movies had taught me that this was a magical thing you could attain. Yes, a super magical, super amazing moment when you look into the eyes of someone special, and share a mind blowing kiss that will change your whole life… except, it wasn’t. I mean, granted, I did end up going on a date with the person I kissed, we stayed together for a little while, and for better or worse (arguably worse), they did change my life, but it wasn’t magical. Not the kiss, not the relationship, nothing, and so, since then, I have been in a one sided war with New Year. I have hated it since then, and I’d like to tell you that New Year 2019 was different, but, it wasn’t. I spent most of it getting drunk, and waiting impatiently to be able to go home to bed.

The rest of January wasn’t so bad, with a wonderful trip to my beloved Blackpool, where I filmed one of my favourite videos of the year, for 27, With A White Lighter. I wasn’t actually 27 at the time, as I had originally planned to release the book along with the video, on my 27th birthday, but, sometimes, life gets a little crazy, so the book was released earlier, at the very end of 2018, with the video at least being released when it was meant to be…

My 27th Birthday was one of the more stressful ones I’ve ever had. I began my birthday signing documents for my new house, and ended up having to have a very, very early night, because I was moving in the very next day! Moving is one of my least favourite things to do, but my new house came with some awesome bonuses, such as… Marmalade!

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Marmalade isn’t technically my cat, but she lives right next door, and likes to come round to hang out with me, and she is probably my favourite part of my new home, apart from finally having a local shop and decent transport links.

I also released my first music release of 2019 in February, A View From The Bridge. It’s one of my favourite tracks, and was originally planned for my second EP, Subliminals,  but as I was finishing things up for the EP, it kind of felt like A View From The Bridge didn’t quite fit with the mood of the other tracks, so I decided to release it as a single. It was a deeply personal song for me. I know that artists say that all the time, about everything they release, but it genuinely was. Throughout the year, I’ve been reflecting on my past, the places I’ve been, the people I’ve known, and how they have shaped me, which will manifest in full in my upcoming project Deus Ex Machina, which I’m really excited to share with you in 2020, and I think A View From The Bridge is part of what sparked that. Writing about my first real experience with love, and how it changed my life helped me gain closure on that, and I’m glad I was able to share that with you.

In March, I was busy preparing for the release of two projects, my EP, Subliminals, and my book, Ol’ Brown Eyes Is Back. It was a really exciting, but also kind of scary time, because I spent most of the time sending things out to reviewers, and doing press for the upcoming release. It’s exciting to be able to share my work with others, but I always get worried that people will hate it, which can make it a very nerve wracking time! I was very fortunate to get some lovely reviews, which I was very grateful for.

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While writing this post, I’ve been checking back through my instagram stories, to refresh my memory a little (as a typical millennial, if it happens to me, it is probably somewhere on my instagram…) and I noticed something very interesting in March. I posted a picture of a page from Brian Friel’s Translations. It’s my favourite play, and I have read it so many times I can recite parts of it by heart. The section I posted is my favourite scene, between the characters of Yolland and Maire, as they express their love for each other. I can remember the night I posted it. I was feeling pretty lonely, and honestly, wishing I could find someone like Yolland, to love, but feeling like it just wasn’t realistically going to happen. Maybe it makes me sound like a hipster, or whatever, but I felt, at the time, and in a way, still do now, that there just aren’t many people out there that I could be happy with. I know part of that is my own fault, because I am fussy, and unrealistic, but, to be fair, I only live once (apparently, although I still have my doubts), and I’ve had so many bad experiences, that it is a little hard to justify suffering through settling for something that doesn’t actually make me happy… but in the end, I think maybe I’ve found someone special, and there will be more on that later…

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In April, I filmed the music video for my single White Wine, which, as some people did point out, was the first time I openly acknowledged my bisexuality in my music. I know that some people wished we lived in a world where people didn’t have to say anything, or that it wasn’t a big deal, but… well, we don’t live there quite yet. I almost didn’t release White Wine, because while I have become more comfortable with my identity as time has gone on, it was still a scary thing to think about, to be so vulnerable, and open with a part of myself that I had kept hidden for much of my formative years, out of fear, but I’m glad I did it.

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May was exciting for two big reasons. First, I released Subliminals on the 10th of May. At that point, I had released several singles and an EP already, but honestly, it never gets less exciting to release new music. When I was a kid, I would write songs and dream of them being heard by someone other than myself one day, and now, getting to live that reality, and getting to share my music with others is genuinely a dream come true. I then released my poetry collection, Ol’ Brown Eyes Is Back at the end of May, and again, it never, ever gets less exciting to be able to share something I’m passionate about with people. With Ol’ Brown Eyes Is Back, I got to see another childhood dream, that I never imagined could be real, come true, when it reached Bestseller status on Amazon. I was, and still am so grateful that this happened, and that so many people blessed me with the opportunity to share my work with them.

I spent a lot of the summer touring to promote the new book and EP, as well as writing two new projects. The first, Virgin Vogue was a celebration of the LGBT community, for Pride Month, and the Anniversary of Stonewall. I wanted to create this project, to not only embrace my own identity, but also to pay tribute to the people who gave so much for me to have the rights I have as an LGBT person. I also signed to my record label, Underground Wonderland Records, in June, which led to the release of my third EP, Sleepwalking. The label was formed by some friends of mine, and I was deeply honoured when they asked if I would be their first signing, and even more honoured that they were inspired by something I wrote when naming the label. They have been so supportive of me, and have really helped me to take my career to the next level, and I can’t wait to share all the exciting things we have been working on with you next year.

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In the Autumn, I got started on two projects. I began work on collecting everything together for Deus Ex Machina, which, at the time, was just supposed to be a book, and I began writing my recent Christmas song, Christmas Citalopram. I originally planned Deus Ex Machina to be a mini collection, of around eight to ten poems, with different quick looks at relationships I’d had, but it quickly expanded, and is now a book, and a collection of songs, that I will be releasing in the New Year. I also started the fourth season of my podcast Sincerely, Jennifer x, expanding with new features and segments, including UK Politics updates, and news and pop culture coverage. Having built a podcast to four seasons, from something that was essentially unscripted rambling just a few years ago, is again, something I never thought I could do, and I’m very grateful to everyone who has listened and helped me achieve that.

I was very, very excited for Halloween. Not just because it is the perfect excuse to watch horror films, but also because I was ready to share my most ambitious Halloween project with the world, In The Garden Of The Free Children. It began, as an inconvenient idea that popped into my head, about a Priest, who was running from his past. I had no further thoughts on it, but the thought of that Priest wouldn’t leave my head, and it was very inconvenient because I was at the cinema at the time, watching something completely unrelated to priests, and I was essentially having to write down as many thoughts as I could on my phone, in the dark. As time went on, I began forming more ideas, and I was able to unite some old characters I’d created, with some new ones, in the story of the Garden. I was really excited to create an immersive experience for the project, with the documentary style audio drama, and interactive website, and it was really great to read the kind feedback so many of you gave on the project.

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By the time November came around, I was in the midst of preparing for the release of Deus Ex Machina, getting review packages ready, making arrangements for touring, and finishing up last minute edits, when life decided I needed a distraction. I had not been looking for a distraction. Despite the slight occasional longing for someone to care about, I had spent most of the year in love with two things and two things only, my work, and myself. I had decided somewhere along the way that I was focusing on me, myself and I in 2019, but then, again, as I said, life was like “Nah love, here’s a curveball”.

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Technically, I met the distraction in question in October, but they really became a distraction in November, so… I refer, of course, to my boyfriend. Listeners of the podcast will remember the absurd levels of smug, twee happiness of which I speak about him, and I’m sorry about that, but… I mean… he is pretty rad. Now, I did mention earlier, the scene from Translations, and this does have relevancy. In one of our conversations, I mentioned the scene to him, and he asked me to describe it, and as I did, I realised, that when I was thinking about it, and imagining it in my mind, I was thinking about him. I wanted to say those things to him, and experience that rush of love and true romance, with him. It was almost as if back on that lonely night of self pity and binge reading, in March, I had began manifesting the perfect person for me, and with a little bit of patience, he finally showed up, and well, there you have it, I sort of accidentally fell in love, without meaning to, after vowing to myself that I’d be focusing entirely on my work, and now he’s stuck with me. To be fair, he started it.

And now, what next? Well, I’m ready and super excited to share the new record and book with you next year, as well as a few surprises. I am currently still boycotting New Year’s eve, but we’ll see what happens, I suppose…

Besos,

J x


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RECENT FREE CREATIVE WRITING COLLECTIONS
In The Garden Of The Free Children
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Sad Girl’s Love Song

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Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

New Podcast Episode Available

Hola amigos,

There is a new podcast episode available, featuring some new poems, as well as discussions about the upcoming Christmas Crisis, the duality of man, whether it really is okay not to be okay, and my plans to abolish New Year’s Eve. I also answer questions from listeners on poetry, songwriting, Halloween, make up and my opinions on France.

You can find the new episode on your favourite podcast provider here, and you can find the episode guide for Sincerely, Jennifer x here.

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Besos,

J x



Read My Books

Hear My Music

Hear My Podcast

RECENT FREE CREATIVE WRITING COLLECTIONS
Virgin Vogue
Sad Girl’s Love Song
Drowning In Us

COME FIND ME
Twitter
Soundcloud
Instagram
Ask Jen

Facebook
Patreon

Tumblr
Amazon

Podcast
Spotify

YouTube
Rumbl
Email Me