six things: Jon Stone

About Jon

Jon Stone was born in Derby and lives in Whitechapel. He is co-creator of micro-anthology publishers Sidekick Books and arts magazine Fuselit, as well as various collaborative live events in London. He was highly commended in the National Poetry Competition 2009, the same year his debut pamphlet, Scarecrows, was published by Happenstance. A full collection, School of Forgery, is due out from Salt in 2012. He also co-edited the anthology Birdbook I: Towns, Parks, Gardens and Woodland with Kirsten Irving.

Jon’s website:

• One thing that’s always worth getting out of bed for

I have a hard time answering this because I’m a different person in the mornings, and it takes threats, rather than incentives, to get me out of bed. The threat of being fired or intensely disliked, or of failure, for instance. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things ‘worth’ getting out of bed for; it just means my values at that time are rather skewed. I’d say a continental breakfast with coffee, pastries and orange juice, shared with friends, is well worth the epic journey from under the duvet.

• One thing about myself that often obstructs me

At times, I genuinely believe in a supernatural will that undermines me – either something sentient that lurks in computers, or a divine force. My brain’s left/right balance is rather precarious, and I often convince myself this is the only purely logical explanation for multiple setbacks. Against this unspeakable beyond-mortal power that I imagine entertains itself by frustrating me, I really don’t stand a chance, and so I lose the heart to carry on.

• One thing I’ve learned the hard way

There’s never going to be a ‘turning point’, a top of the hill moment when everything suddenly starts getting easy. We all seem to get brought up on this idea that eventually things will slot into place and the path before us will seem free and uncluttered. I even remember talks from writers and other figures in school and university that concentrated on this grand moment – winning a prize, getting a dream job or landing a publishing deal. Suddenly they went from fighting for a foothold to beating off suitors with a stout stick or immersing themselves in a life of meaningful labour and decision-making. It might happen to some people, but I’m evidently not one of them.

• One thing that gets under my skin

The cult of the genius. That is, our collective belief that unto each generation comes a very small number of super-talents who define our times, and everyone else is just fooling around. People are attracted to it because of the narrative simplicity of history being told through key figures, but it’s entirely dishonest and the choices are arbitrary. It’s also destructive, in that its double-or-nothing nature encourages individuals to gamble their talents on proving themselves to be that arch-genius, rather than reaching out to each other and forming collectives that perform a genuine social good.

• One thing I’d love to change

I would want to turn up the general level of empathy we feel for one another. There’s a poem by Ian McLachlan that I often call to mind where the narrator develops “a serum that makes feelings essential” and delivers this serum using a Locrian bow. I would totally shoot people with that weapon. I’m thoroughly sick of that very English attitude of: “Don’t bleed on my rug; it’s just back from the drycleaner” – airily dismissing other people’s serious problems while whining about minor inconveniences.

• One thing I hope for

I still hold out hope that one day the bulk of my time will be spent doing work that I really believe in.

About six things

‘six things’ is a series of micro-interviews with interesting and creative people, in which they’re asked to respond to a standard set of six prompts. A new ‘six things’ is published on the site each Saturday.