The trouble with adrenalin is it is the nemesis of sleep. Half past midnight, Mr G has spent the day without me, he is tired and I am lying there in the dark, willing sleep to come. In the end I am up and downstairs again and I have to write – write it all out of my system!
This alone is not conducive to sleep. I am stimulating my brain with thoughts and technology, a bright screen in a dark, quiet room. I could blame the Americano I had at 7pm at Park’s Café. Or the Indian meal I have just shared with 23 other hungry poets.
I know the cause.
My creative spirit has had a date with herself today and she is as excited as a child on Christmas morning. I have spent the entire day and night with like-minded souls and have pushed my own writing life and plan up into 5th gear.
I still cannot believe how strange it is that when you set your heart and mind onto something, everything falls into place – as if it was meant to be. Happily ever after (for now!)
Like all good stories (this one is true) I shall start at the beginning…
Mr G and I had plans for today as the weather was sunny and tomorrow is forecast heavy rain across the whole country. He bought me/us/ our garden some tulip bulbs last week and we were going to plant them and then go to the allotment to pick beans and sweetcorn.
We were awake early. We had breakfast and then chilled out. A while later the post arrived. We both had a white envelope and I was convinced the bank had mailed us both. I was wrong! AND I LOVE GETTING POST! Mine was the latest programme of events from a mailing list I am on. I discovered Writing West Midlands back in February and was gutted I had missed so much good input (in January) – I think I may have made up for it since!
I had already checked out the new programme online, some of it went in and some of it didn’t. So I read through the pamphlet and came across a Network Meeting held today. The last one I went to was back in the Spring and it led to meeting a fair few writers and signing up to a scriptwriting workshop/ course. That meeting was about an hour away.
This one was close to the boarder of Wales, I used a route finder and found out it was only 1.5 hours away. (My sciatica often kicks in after an hour of driving, but I thought I would be okay.) It was 11:30 when I decided to go and it took me an hour to sort directions (no sat nav as yet!) I had to write them out by hand as we are also not hooked up to any printer! (What kind of writer am I?!) I had to get up properly (we were in PJ chill mode) by the time I told Mr G of my plans I literally had time to kiss him and run out of the door!
Here is where the adventure begins…
For starters I had forgotten the rule of adding 30minutes onto the estimated time a route finder provides. Then the ‘country’ traffic was half the speed it should have been. Plus I was navigating myself from a scribbled A4 sheet and road signs. I reached the point when I thought this 70 mile journey was a waste of time and decided to find a nice tea room and then head home before the book launch tonight.
Then the writer inside me pinched me hard and said … Ian Billings and SIMON THIRSK! And I put my foot down and drove on!
I reached the stage I knew I would be late, I tried not to panic. I had been driving for over an hour and a half and I was still a good 20 miles away.
I began to get concerned once I arrived at my destination and got trapped in the one way system of the town centre with the name of a street for parking and no idea how to get there or what road I was on.
This had been advertised online (yes I checked the parking too!) as cheap rate parking for the day. I didn’t get close to a ticket machine to find out, some angel walked past me (and interpreting my harassed I am late for the writers’ meeting face to be oh my – I haven’t got any change for the meter) she offered me her ticket that had plenty of hours left on it. This isn’t usually possible in my part of the world as we have to type in our registration plates.
So now not only is my parking sorted, but due to the mini detour I had already seen the roads I needed to take to get to the library and it was less than a 5 minute walk. The only mistake I made was trying to get into the Council House building – which is not open at weekends – the library was next door!
And what a swish place it was (all our libraries have been redesigned as hubs for the 21st century.) I felt sad I wasn’t early, would have loved a mooch around, the children’s section was an actual castle! WOW!
(Real pictures of today will be uploaded and added tomorrow.)
I was late … Ian Billings (Children’s writer) who I also wanted to hear, was close to the end of his talk when I arrived and quietly squeezed into the back row. To make me feel better there were at least 4 others who all arrived even later than me (we had obviously all used the same route advisor!) 😉 I caught the gist of Ian’s projects and the end of the talk. (Later after the event – in the ‘networking’ part, I was able to speak to him at length about what he was doing/ working on.)
It was Simon Thirsk (joint-founder and Chairman of Bloodaxe Books) that caught my post-breakfast attention. They are a specialist poetry publisher that I recognise from my first time round, having been published throughout the nineties and early noughties. Most of the small presses and publishers I worked with are no longer in existence or have been gobbled up by main players, or lost there funding and disappeared.
In addition to all of this post-breakfast thought (and I hadn’t even had porridge!) I marvelled at the fact that less than 2 weeks ago I made the decision to stop sticking my fingers in all the genre writing pies and focus on one – poetry – get out there again as a poet and reclaim my space on the circuit. (I had established a name for myself before but in places that were 70 miles North and 200 miles South) I have never really existed as a poet in the Shire. That is what today has been about, but I hadn’t planned it starting with such a BANG!
I wrote pages of notes and picked up a little gold-dust too. The room was packed and some good questions were asked, lots of conversations were born out of them.
When it came to a close, I started to feel awkward as I often do before the mingle. I need to get some business cards made. (Next mission!) I knew I wanted to speak to everyone on the panel as well as some fellow writers and poets.
I met lots of interesting people and exchanged details with a few of them.
I met other teachers who (like me) have made the same decision to upgrade the creativity dream and downgrade the day job… by the end of today the total was 3. I wish us all luck and success with this one.
I then spoke to Jonathan, the Chief Executive who I have met and spoken with about 4 times this year (5 months), I wanted him to know my plan and make some offers. I will be following up emails on Monday and keep my fingers crossed for some very exciting opportunities. I was thinking of years to come (in my Olympian Mission/Dream) but basically ‘why wait?’ was his response! I can start now. Obviously as far as paid opportunities they will (hopefully) come later. Experience is something I yearn for as much as learning and I know all too well that catch 22 – of this is what I can do -this is what I want = ‘Lovely dear, where is your proof? What have you done?’ CV’s need to start somewhere.
I was having such a good time mingling that I nearly forgot I was 2 hours drive away from the Book Launch and a quick glance of the clock confirmed I had 2 hours. I said my goodbyes and exchanged details with people before hot footing it out of the library and back to my car!
I did look for someone to gift the ticket to (which still had 1.5 hours on it!) I saw that they had recycle bins. The back of my car has been full of shoes to recycle since the end of July. Now I have space behind my seat again to stuff everything I take out with me.
SUPPORT FELLOW WRITERS’ – WHEREVER IT IS POSSIBLE, this includes BUYING their books. We all know how important those sales are post publishing. Offer more than a congratulations if you can.
PART 2 Link to follow