On Writing & Feeling like a Hamster in a Wheel (NaPoWriMo/ Camp NaNoWriMo)


I will start with my list of excuses;

  • I have been busy! (You can tell because there aren’t usually this many days between posts!)
  • I lost 14 poems through a file saving error and haven’t had time or heart to rewrite yet.
  • It is coming up to Easter and I still haven’t made plans for the weekend.
  • The weather has been GLORIOUS and the flowers we planted are in full bloom and in need of watering.
  • I have enjoyed getting a base tan* in the Garden.
  • I spent the weekend partying.
  • I am in recovery after a friend’s 40th and a weekend of poetry events (soon to be blogged about)!
  • Time has flown.
  • I have been working on submissions.
  • I have two performances to create a set for.

I could go on….

motivation auth

* Not strictly true – I am so pale skinned, I just freckle and burn.



Instead of filling me with excitement and revelling in words, both commitment to Camp NaNoWriMo and NaPoWriMo have left me cold. I know this happens to lots of participants, but I wasn’t expecting the experience myself.

I am WAY behind with poems for NaPoWriMo napo as I have to re-write from Day 3 -7 (lost files!) and then play catch up – a poem a day is a challenge but 14 + poems seems like a mountain I am not able to climb! Hoping for one crampon at a time and as I have 2 sets this week, tomorrow lunch time and Friday night, I could use some new material.

I have the added pressure of no working printer, Mr G has taken half day holidays as the weather is so good and I will be performing before he finishes work tomorrow and Friday is Easter weekend/ Bank Holiday so any poems to be printed need to be emailed to him before 11:30 a.m. today!


Submissions & Competitions

My plan yesterday was to catch up with NaPo – I had submissions (2 of them – 11 poems and a competition) that I had to hit deadlines for, leaving it to last minute again (the hamster is really whizzing around its wheel at this point!) I didn’t manage a catch up and thus fell a further day behind!

I did manage to enter my 2nd Poetry Competition though and it was an old fashioned postal entry, which included a jaunt to the main Post Office and back!

black-tablet-pcThe online submissions were not as successful, we spent the afternoon in the garden – I was catching up with reading writing articles – I am currently near the end of my March issue magazine with April and May waiting in the wings! By the time we went in, it was late and my brain was not playing ball.

After checking out the websites I found that none of my poems really fitted the bill. I have pencilled one in for next month, hoping I can write some suitable poetry over the next 4 weeks (perhaps some of my NaPo marathon!) and the other one I will leave until the next reading period in November and again try to write a suitable style entry.



There is NO POINT submitting work to magazines when it doesn’t suit there style, if you find yourself in my position it is far better to pencil in the next opportunity, read the last few issues and see if you are able to write in the preferred style or be true to yourself and back away, find a publication to suit your work.


PLANS (The best laid plans of Hamsters and Men!)

My plan now, today – is to carry on running with the wheel – keep up as not to fly out! I have already got the business emails out of the way.

  1. I will sort poetry for sets and email for printing
  2. I will re-write NaPo poems – the LOST file days
  3. I will catch up with NaPo as much as I am able


Camp NaNoWriMo camp_12_mug_detail2


For the 1st time I have an active cabin and I am the one not conversing – they are probably giving me pinches to wake me up or complaining about me on the forum.


The saving grace is that previously (2013) I completed 55K on Camp NaNo – April, 35K on Camp July, and 40K for the main NaNoWriMo in November – WIN! WIN! WIN! However, as yet I have done NOTHING with this writing. So this year I set about planning short story submissions to be completed as part of camp.

What I didn’t consider was the proximity of deadline to writing time, a short story should rest a few weeks before editing begins. Also (see list of excuses at the top of this post) I have missed some of the deadlines.

I am only hoping for 10K so I can still do it.  715 words a day is still a manageable target… if I start today…

I have re-jigged my plan, I know what I need to write – just need my muse to kick in with storylines.



Don’t be disheartened – if you haven’t started, there is always today. Just DO IT!

Work out the remaining word count – if, like me, you haven’t started more than a fortnight in, I suggest to re-adjust your target word count, make it manageable. The smallest you can have is 10K.

Make sure your writing is working towards something – don’t just write into a hole.

Believe in yourself and your ability to catch up! Think Fables – The Hare and the Tortoise!

writing plan



I also want to catch up with Blog Posts:

Poetry and Place Event at The Hive – Ledbury Poetry Festival/ WLF. (Friday 11th) poetry and place

Najma Hush’s Photogiraffe Exhibition Part 3 – Female Force – Event (Sat 12th) female force

Young Writer Group – WWM (Sat 12th) Write-On-2013-300x287

Guest Blog inkspill questions




The First Day of 18


I have broken up from work for the Easter break and am looking forward to 18 glorious days in my writing skin. partytime

There is already a lot of news to share.

Firstly, Mouth & Music which was a fabulous night that I am still on a high from, sent exciting news today.

Slap Magazine slap magazine (supporting local arts and performers) want to publish the photo Mary Davis took of Tim and I performing and much as it makes me want to get an instant body wrap, attach myself to a zumba DVD and pray for instant weight loss, I am still stoked with this news.

Secondly, I attended my first meeting tonight as an Assistant Writer for WWM Writing West Midlands. It was a buzzing atmosphere and great to be in a room with so many writers, many of whom I have already met; William Gallagher, Stephen, Roz Goddard, Hayley Frances, Ian MacLeod, Brenda-Read Brown, & Garrie Fletcher.

My writing diary is packed and my ideas file grew this evening.

1) Write the 14 lost missing NaPoWriMo poems (file issues last Sunday)

2) Write the new 52 prompt poems and catch up on a few gaps I have

3) Write a poem for our WWM Creative Writing group tomorrow – requested by Ian MacLeod

4) email Jonathan/ Hayley/

5) Catch up with Camp NaNoWriMo – some major words lost already (non- existent) camp_11_postcard1_detail It is ironic that this year (my 3rd camp) I FINALLY get an active cabin and I am not there to see it.

6) Write Strong Women poems and as a result decide whether to do Najma Hush’s exhibition opening.female force I really want to go to this event but am due in a city more than 45 miles away at lunchtime. I would love to be able to stay until 1:30 when it finishes. I am in two minds, I have mentally checked all possible solutions.  Train, buses etc, need to check them properly tomorrow (later on today) but if I do go I will only have an hour there before I have to whizz back for my meeting.


I have a whole selection box of Spoken Word events over the next week too;

This evening – Poetry and Place – Ledbury Poetry Festival, to see poetryandplace


poetry and place It is the first of three events which see Ledbury Poetry Festival linking up with Worcester Literature Festival (WLF) with performance events at The Hive. I am involved in performing at Poetry and Pollination in May, organised by Ruth Stacey and headlined by Ruth and Sarah Leavesley (who have both performed at Ledbury in the past) – very much looking forward to this event. Tonight will also give me a chance to catch up with some poetry friends.

I have submissions to work on, including poems, on Thursday I have Poetry for Lunch (booked for the next 3), followed by the special ticket holders Hit the Ode and then on Friday I will be performing at The Ort – the first ‘Friday night’ one. On Saturday I hope to attend a camp Nano meet / write in, followed by a writing group run by Apples & Snakes, Poet’s Place. They started the most recent group meetings in January and I have been unable to attend any yet.


Writing West Midlands – Network Meeting for Writers

Copyright © 2014 Lee Allen

Copyright © 2014 Lee Allen

Last week WWM (Writing West Midlands) had a launch event, to showcase Lee Allen’s new design, featuring many poets and writers I know or at least have met, at other events.


What a week it has been! Last week went REALLY slowly, this week has shot by. This evening saw the first of 2 meetings for all the writers who work for Writing West Midlands in creative writing groups for young people. It was an inspiring meeting and great to chat to everyone – I would say network – but happily I knew most of the writers there!

I have been at work all day and by the end of that I felt like I should /could just go to bed and sleep. I also had to forego SpeakEasy for the second time this year! SEThe set list this month looked good, including the Headliner, Ash Dickinson. No doubt May will roll around before I have time to blink!

The meeting was a great experience, spending a few hours with so many writers in one room. I hadn’t realised Hayley Frances had starting working for WWMit was lovely to see her again this evening and she told us about a project ‘Page Talk’ I may be getting my teeth into next month (May), of course I will be blogging about it.

And as always I didn’t have much of a chance to talk to everyone I wanted to – in fact I turned around and half the people had left!

I have several pages of scribbled notes, a ton of inspiring ideas and a few emails to fire off as a result of this meeting at the

custard factory

It was a great way to start my Easter Holidays – 18 days in my writing skin :)

AND I got to test drive my SATNAV gifted last night (thanks again Mike!) – and even learnt how to make the volume work. Happy with today’s achievements.

Mouth & Music – What a Great Night!


1441315_10151891604167737_769844637_n This month’s theme was all about encouraging collaboration, working in pairs, approaching someone you have never worked with before… the initial thought -after it was announced by Heather in March, was DREAD!

Finding the time was an issue…. would anyone agree to partner me…… all my insecurities came out to play and I buried my head in the sand for a few days…. then when I decided to grab the opportunity, I gave it a few more ‘be cool’ days, in case anyone emailed me – or so as not to pounce and appear too eager. In my mind I imagined everyone sending out frantic emails and pairing up and it would be like picking a team in PE*!

* Except this never happened to me as I played hockey, County Netball and was a top 8 long distance runner back in the day (when I was fit and danced) – I was usually picked around the middle of the team creations and so never felt too bad….

Thing was with Mouth & Music, when it was announced I knew exactly who I wanted to work with.

Tim Scarborough is a very talented Percussionist amongst other things – including a poet! A few months ago he treated us all to some music on his mood drum … it was beautiful he transported the whole room into a place of quiet, meditative thought and I for one wanted the sound to NEVER end! As soon as I heard it – I knew of the perfect poem and thought about asking him and then never gave it another thought – until in March this collaboration was mentioned.

Also as an aside for no reason other than force of habit the people I know all sit on the right and the others sit on the left – I wanted to bridge that gap!

I sent Tim an email, fully expecting him to not agree – to my surprise and delight he agreed.

Turns out not many people rose to the challenge of a duet. And we really did – organising 3 rehearsal/writing mornings. (1 of which I had to cancel to work)… 2 rehearsals and 2 hours typing is more prep than I have ever put in – and I got really nervous about performing again – as I didn’t want to let Tim down (which nearly happened when my phone screen blanked out on a cue line)!

Our rehearsals were great, I have not collaborated with other artists since my time involved in the performance circuit and theatre, back in the 90′s. It is something I miss…. especially with the solitude of writing – something I’ve had to get used to.


Rehearsal 1: we tried the mood drum and my Rain Watch poem – played around with it, recorded, re-read and rehearsed. It was instantly fine and right and Tim commented tonight that he wished he’d come to it cold, having never heard the poem and improvised (maybe next time Tim)!

Tim also talked about his Social SATNAV idea and we both worked on and shared poems from our gender perspective.

The 2nd rehearsal was a fortnight later – I had managed to work and rewrite my poem a few times and needed some help with the 2nd voice, we worked on this re-reading and getting it right. Then we turned to Tim’s notebook and came up with the idea of the inner monologue – and the inner, inner monologue – the socially unacceptable bit that we switch off for his original SatNav poem.

It was great fun writing the voice and using words I wouldn’t normally feature, including some swearing. This collaboration gave me the opportunity to write pieces in a new voice.

We also practised Rain Watch. So by the end of our collaboration – we had 2 new dual speaking performance poems and a re-emergence of one of my poems.

People loved our set, rehearsing paid off. It was lovely to hear people had enjoyed it and I cannot begin to express how brilliant it felt to share the stage.

The other performers brave enough to collaborate and work on material were of course our delectable hosts – Sarah Tamar & Heather Wastie, they even introduced props and entertained us as always.

Andrew Owens (host of Drummonds 42) and Michelle Crosbie (headliner at Lichfield Poetry Alight) treated us to a dualogue, Cathy & Alex - a story Andrew wrote, told in 2 voices. They were very brave (they both sang) and were first up. It was great.

Despite Heather inviting people to perform solo, the theme had put many regulars off and we were all a little worried about being thin on the ground (it would have definitely been warmer with more bodies) – we needn’t have worried -Mike Alma and Mogs shared poetry in touching and funny solo performances and we were treated to some music and audience participation with the sandwich love song.  It was a great night with electrifying atmosphere and everyone enjoyed it!

MM April

I was looking forward to the Headline poets, I have had the pleasure of hearing both David Calcutt (at Poetry Bites) and Nadia Kingsley (Shrewsbury Coffee House) before, never together. It was very enjoyable and they had books to sell ‘Road Kill’ was the one used for the performance, I shall look forward to an Easter Holiday read fest! AND this set inspired a seed of an idea between myself and fellow poet Claire Walker.

And as for Bleeding Hearts – what words can be used (I had better find some) richly political, rock meets folk at high speed and meshes as one and once again a chance for audience participation!

To top the whole night off … Mr Mike Alma, who has been entertained by Marie-Celeste epic journey tales since before the New Year gave me a SATNAV! Wow! Dreams came true. I may be able to find gigs in the future – no longer do I have to use AA Route finder (other route searches are available) - which I am sorry to say, lies a lot and leaves much of the important bits of the journey out – and gives journey durations 50% less than they are generally – causing me (if I find the gig at all) to be late! open road

Now I will have to come up with ever-more creative excuses like the battery went flat, I ignored the SATNAV or the dog ate my homework…. for being late or lost.

BIG THANKS Mike :) thank-you-typewriter


And just to finish this post – here is a lovely review from Mouth and Music;

It has not been customary to mention individual open mic performers in post-gig write-ups, but here’s the exception: Huge thanks to Andrew Owens and Michelle Crosbie for collaborating on a story by Andrew and, even huger thanks to Nina Lewis and Tim Scarborough who not only collaborated but also wrote some great new material. Thanks also to the regular open mic-ers who came along to listen and/or perform solo.

Featured spoken word artists, David Calcutt and Nadia Kingsley showed how page poetry should be performed. Quality work delivered with clarity and humour. Featured musicians, Bleeding Hearts were big, bold, entertaining and political. We sang along and stamped our feet, which also helped us get warm! It was brass (as they say up north where it’s even colder) but regulars are getting used to coming prepared for any temperature. It’s got to be warmer in May! See you then, when we’ll be rebranding, thanks to Gel Newey (Bleeding Hearts bass player) as Gob and Racket :)

I am still buzzing nearly 24 hours later! ;)



What a nightmare – had a rehearsal this morning before work for Mouth & Music tomorrow night, tried to find a new Found Poem to show (fortunately our set is at 9/10 minutes and we don’t need anything else)…. sudden dawning realisation that in the early hours of the morning I must have oversaved a document and I have lost the entire weekend’s writing! I have searched – all the documents are identical. Kicking myself because I always back up on email or memory stick…. lesson learnt! Just posting to remind you all to BACK UP! 

From a Week Off to a Week On (It)!


Last week I took a week off from performance events, open mics and any socialising generally. I worked for 4 days and wrote in the evenings (mainly napo2014button2, desperately need to catch up with NaNoWriMo)! 2014-Participant-Vertical-Banner I then had a 3 day weekend which consisted of a day off with Mr G to visit a newly opened Home store *they had 25% off, to buy paint and materials to start decorating our place, a missed birthday party, a 60th/ 40th Wedding Anniversary Party, planting seeds, catching up with writing projects, and missing the WLF Poetry Walk. wlf april-6-black-hill-no-sy

I have slept a lot too.

This week is the last week of work before Easter, I don’t get any pay in the holidays so I took on some extra work. I have 3.5 days work, a rehearsal (in a few hours) for Mouth & Music Dualogue set before work,  I am working all week, bar Friday (thank goodness)!

I have Mouth & Music  1441315_10151891604167737_769844637_n Tuesday evening, MM April a meeting with the other writers who work for Writing West Midlands on Thursday and on Friday night (after a day in my writing skin) I am going to hive1 for the first of three events which link the Worcester Literature Festival and the Ledbury Poetry Festival.


‘Four poets with assured and distinctive voices for whom ‘place’ is not just the geographical or natural environments that inform the poems but also the human histories that unfold there, the people who are part of the landscape and part of the poem.’

Angela France

Martin Malone

David Caddy

Fiona Sampson

After a busy week I have an even more action packed weekend (start of my 2 week Easter break). On Saturday Najma Hush (a.k.a PhotoGiraffe) is having her 2nd Exhibition opening in Birmingham. The Exhibition is already up. I planned to perform at her opening which is from 11 to 1:30 and will be amazing! I thoroughly enjoyed watching every at the Diverse Dancers Exhibition and have since met up with Najma several times at poetry events (which would make celebrating her photography even more exciting)! female force

It is also Birmingham’s Independent Book Fayre, great way of meeting small presses and networking – but I may as well forget that 11 – 5pm because I won’t have time to get to it, maybe next year. This event is also run by Writing West Midlands, who I will be working for on Saturday.

My issue with getting to the exhibition, is that I then need to travel across county to get to my Assistant Writing job for 1:30 and I KNOW if I make it to the Exhibition opening I am going to want to stay there. WWM

After all that it is also a friend’s 40th Birthday Party, she is celebrating at a pub with a band on and is having a buffet also. Plus it gives me a chance to see friends I missed this weekend and have not seen in a long while.

On Sunday I am celebrating an anniversary with friends who are having a lunchtime function.

I also hope to write and submit 1 short story and several poems.  typer

Have a good week! Happy Writing!

My First Poetry Competition


The title is not strictly true, as a young writer I entered one or two and I have sent off poetry for FREE subscriber magazine competitions, however this was the first Poetry Prize Festival Competition I entered. wenlock

For the Wenlock Poetry Festival. Funnily enough I was thinking about this earlier whilst doing some chores, I decided that I don’t feel strong enough, whether that is confidence or belief in my work to enter PAID competitions yet. With the exception of some local ones I have chosen to support this year.

My inbox just confirmed that. I have only been back in the writing chair of poetry since September and in that time I have produced many poems. I should count them and make myself feel good – I know I have written about 14 this weekend!

I received a lovely email, they have now shortlisted from over 500 poems they were sent and I didn’t make the cut, or at least my poem didn’t. It was very hard having an OPEN theme – it could be anything…. I look forward to finding out at the end of April.

In the meantime it is a blessing, the Wenlock Poetry Festival and promotion of this competition takes place on the same day we are all having a family meal to celebrate my Uncle’s marriage to his long time girlfriend, they are travelling up from London.

My plan is to concentrate on one off submissions alongside some anthology work and still build my own reputation, possibly broaden the tech, get out there on You Tube, keep up the public performances and give my writing some time. I feel I am pushing the writing at the moment.

It is nice to know my poem will appear on the Wenlock Poetry Trail as part of the Festival.

NaPoWriMo – Day 6




Day Six

On April 6, 2014

Welcome back for Day Six of NaPoWriMo. Yesterday’s prompt was a bit of a doozy, so I’ve something much more simple lined up for today.

We got rather complicated with yesterday’s prompt, so today’s is much simpler. Take a good look outside your window. Spend a minute or so jotting down all the nouns you see outside. Tree. Car. Bus. Dog. Then spend a minute or so writing down all the colors you see. Finally, think about taking place outside. Is the wind blowing? “Blow.” Is someone walking their dog? “Walk.” Spend a minute or so writing down these verbs. Now you’ve got a whole list of words from which to build a poem, mixing and matching as you go. Happy writing!



Delighted that I have FINALLY caught up with the first week of NaPoWriMo!

I found this harder than the golden shovel task of yesterday. I have got there – I question the strength of the poem, still – here is an extract all the same:



Walking in purple

through blue

over grey roads, across kerbstones.

Magnolia dreams seep into your dark mind.


NaPoWriMo – Day 5



The prompt for Day 5 confused me for a while and I found the poem the hardest I have had to write, mainly because I was trying to write my poem and make the other poem fit the end words, as opposed to looking at the poem and seeking inspiration from the words. Something I tried the second time.

Day Five

On April 5, 2014

Welcome back, all, for Day Five of NaPoWriMo!

Today’s prompt is a little complicated, which is why I saved it for a Saturday, in the hopes that you might have a little more time today than during a weekday. I think this is a very rewarding form, though, so I hope you’ll enjoy it! Today I challenge you to write a “golden shovel.” This form was invented by Terrance Hayes in his poem, The Golden Shovel. The last word of each line of Hayes’ poem is a word from Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem We Real Cool. You can read Brooks’ poem by reading the last word of each line of Hayes’ poem! (In fact, you can do so twice, because Hayes, being ultra-ambitious, wrote a two-part golden shovel, repeating Brooks’ poem). Now, the golden shovel is a tricky form, but you can help keep it manageable by picking a short poem to shovel-ize. And there’s no need to double-up the poem you pick, like Hayes did.


And here is the poem I chose:


Green Buddhas
On the fruit stand.
We eat the smile
And spit out the teeth.

-Charles Simic

I like both versions and as a special treat for you I am going to post both on here for now, I was struggling to choose an extract to share.



The Air is Black


We stand in the garden and talk about watermelons.

Planting seeds in green

trays, sitting like Buddhas

huddled up against the rain in garden chairs, music on

the ipod playing the

tracks we usually listen to on a Friday night, and still we talk fruit,

I stand,

move inside the shed, we

look up, rain can eat the smile

right out of the sky, town covered in smog and

pollution. Spit

my disappointment of the grey sheen out

at the sky from the

shed door – seed packet held between my teeth.








I hide the cake behind a slice of Watermelon,

bowl looks a healthy on one side. I carry the desert past the green buddhas

and on

up the

garden path, fruit

leading the way. I stand

and smile, remember how we

used to dance nights like this away. I eat.

I think of the

memories and smile.

Biting cold mouthfuls and

swallowing the pips I should spit out, the teeth

of the melon stuck in mine.





NaPoWriMo – Day 4



Today’s optional prompt is to write a lune. A lune is a sort of English-language variation on the haiku, meant to better render the tone of the Japanese haiku than the standard 5-7-5 format we all learned (and maybe loved) in elementary school. Happy writing!

If you want to know more about this type of poetry check out the terms post.



A treat today – with such short form I am posting the whole poem and then I plan to write some more over the next few weeks using this, new to me, form.


Beginnings  (or Preparation)


In the garden

we plant seeds in small

pots and hope.