Category Archives: work

My Time in the Wilderness

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Wasn’t really in wilderness at all, just poetless and writingless, so, yes… wilderness!

Mid-March I just stopped, completely unplanned and unintentional, muse seemed to have left the building and I was physically & mentally drained, all my energy was used up working the daytime and by the time it came to the evening, I was falling asleep an hour after getting home from work.

I decided to let it happen, rather than push on with my performance agenda. I was feeling sad about not writing, but even typing up previously penned poems seemed too much. At the time I wasn’t worried, knowing this time would pass.

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There were 5 submission pieces I had scheduled to work on, three poetry nights (Mouth & Music, Howl & Speakeasy) that I missed and a Stanza meeting, due to an important family occassion (which weeks later led to a new poem being penned). All this went out the window and was swapped for work, sleep, real life mortgage hunting, meetings and TV.

I was activiated after 7 days by Mad Malvern Book Promotion events https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/malvern-book-promoters-mad-march-book-promotion-events/ and working for WWM (Writing West Midlands) – who have sent incredibly exciting news this month. The following week I had another week off, missing Hit The Ode and some submission deadlines. I was performing again by the weekend in a charity event at Martineau Gardens ‘Nomad Variety’. https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/nomad-variety-at-martineau-gardens/

Followed by a celebration of WORLD BOOK DAY with two events/readings in Walsall.

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https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/celebrating-world-poetry-day/

The only reason I missed a 3rd week of events in March was to cover my transport costs to LONDON, which due to such a hellish journey (a breakdown on the hard shoulder on the outskirts of London resulted in a 3 hour delay, making a three hour journey take closer to seven hours, we were running late as it was) I am hoping to be reimbursed. imagesCAJBX1JQ

I missed Poetry Bites with Jacqui Rowe, particularly sad not to see Robert Harper’s (Barefiction) full set and missed Jayne Stanton too. The following night I missed Drummonds 42 with Andrew Owens. My Caldmore Community Gardens workshop was cancelled – having already turned work down, I treated myself to a much needed writing day and at least sent a backlog of poetry to David Calcutt for his Natural Histories website.

http://naturalhistoriesblog.com/others-writing/

I also worked on a couple of new poems from notes in my writing journals, from previous workshops with Angela France and Jean Atkin.

On Friday I went to London for Hark Issue #4 Launch and reading – very exciting! Once I had slept all of Saturday in recovery of a 22hour day on 5 hours sleep, I found as if by magic, I had woken up with my poetry muse back! We have been celebrating every since.

LINKS TO FOLLOW

Bet You Thought I’d Gone and Left You All! NEVER!

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Apologies to regular readers for the radio silence, I took a fortnight off from everything apart from work and sleeping. I didn’t write (except lists), perform or surf blogland for some time. I would love to tell you I have been on a cruise or a desert island… because the ‘nose to grindstone’ story isn’t as riveting!

You will be happy to hear, I am back with you and will spend lots of time this evening updating the blog and sharing all my great news with you…. because even when life enforces a period of hibernation upon you, the world continues to spin, we have had a solar eclipse and everything!

Besides I was not hibernating in reality, just working hard and needing to replenish energy stocks through sleep. Mr G is still working away and time offline enables me to gain realtime with him, which is gold-dust precious at the moment.

Plus we have had Mother’s Day, World Poetry Day, St David’s Day, Saint Patrick’s Day (not that I marked either this year with an event), and lots of Birthdays which I have barely had the chance to send social media wishes for.

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HAPPY MARCH – hope you have a good one! Watch out for some new posts and lots of EXCITING news!

SOL (Slice of Life) – Refresh

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I have enjoyed slicing for the past year or so, although I admit I don’t post a weekly slice, just dip in from time to time (usually when another blogger’s slice has caught my eye)… but as I came home from my appointment this morning, I got to feeling excited about the day I have planned and I realised (to my horror) that one of the reasons it feels so good is because it has been so long coming!

A few years ago I changed my life, gave up a regular full time career with a good salary (and 80 hour weeks) for a life! I have until recent months balanced my teaching and writing lives quite well, I need one to pay the mortgage and the other to feed my soul, I hope that in years to come the writing life will have the bigger portion of pie, but I doubt it will come with a golden wage…. although it might. I realised when my health suffered that there is more to life than money and a career and emotional wellbeing plays an immense role in our physical and mental health. I would rather be alive and get by, than sit on piles of cash, exist on 4 hour sleeps, exhaust myself to the point of collapsing, take the brunt of negativity in the workplace, wake up hating everyday before it begins and not have any time or pleasure cells left to enjoy spending my HARD earned extra cash.

Today I have a LOVELY day off! I was looking at the work in my diary so far this month and due to numerous cancellations by rights I should have managed a writing day before now. The universe threw broken cars, broken phones, sleepless nights, masses of chores, a few poetry events and weekends with Mr G (as he is currently working away I like to keep the weekends free as best I can to plan stuff together). I also pretty much took the Christmas Holiday off too (from writing/ internet) which means that it has been about 5 weeks since my last day of great creativity and action. No wonder I feel rusty!

Today in between appointments I am working on submissions for this month and listing new inspiration and ideas in my notebook (yes, you should always carry one around). I also have tomorrow morning off and hope to get productive on the laptop before going to work.

inkspill notebook

I called this post ‘Refresh’ because we live in a world of tech – we refresh pages all the time online, we sometimes forget to refresh ourselves. You know how the computer struggles when you have 11+ windows open and you’re waiting for it to load, well life can get like that too.

Think about yourself this – what do you need to do to REFRESH?

As far as the past week – you can read the relevant parts here:

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/a-weekend-of-writing-words-poetry/

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2015/01/18/mouth-music-3rd-birthday-spark-off-special/

the rest of my week has just been work (although I did work in an interestingly named location – ‘World’s End’ … it was a bit of a tough day too) and box sets – Mr G and I finally finished watching Dexter.

Join in with the SOLC here:

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https://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/challenges/

A Shard of Writing Time

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I am hoping to post my review of the wonderful and busy month of October soon, I have taken on a lot of day work and have some projects on the boil too – time on the computer has been non-existent and following an extremely busy half term I decided to take the weekend off, including online, that was off too!

The result is that stressful cyber loss that involves backed up emails, more updates on social media than you will ever manage and some old news being new news to you. Out of touch in just 48 hours!

I will endeavour to use some writing time tomorrow to catch up with myself before our Bonfire Party.

INKSPILL: Guest Writer Charlie Jordan – Thoughts on Writing & Editing Part1

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ticket 2014Charlie Jordan –

Guest Writer charlie jordan

Thoughts on Writing & Editing (Part1)

Rambling thoughts of a 6 ft poet……

 

Eat cake, drink tea and then look back on something you’ve written – it definitely helps the editing process! And if you can, leave it untouched for as long as possible – an hour, a day, a week…..the longer the better, as distance will give you a clearer perspective. Sometimes you stumble on something scribbled long ago and forgotten, and can spot the potential lines crying out for a new poem, or the fact that the whole piece of paper belongs in the recycling bin.

Be prepared to write badly. We all do, sometimes. It’s ok, and with hindsight you’ll love some of your work more than others. Some will seem as awkward as teenage diaries, or embarrassing old school photos. 😉 Just keep going, start something new and keep the faith….. my boyfriend is a scientist and uses statistics to say that the chances are the next piece will be better….or something like that, but with several graphs and copious numbers and scientific theories…..

Morning pages are a good idea if you’re stuck in a writing rut – see Julia Cameron and just sit down with bed-head hair, pen & paper and a cup of tea and scribble whatever is in your head to clear it out onto the page.  Then you can mine it for the odd random good thought to work with, or start something afresh later that day with a clear head and a few pages of notes already scribbled – proof you are a writer! Although these pages are never to be read by another, no matter how much they love you. If i’m doing them, I make my handwriting so illegible that even I struggle to re-read them. Or maybe that’s just because it’s too early and my hand was still asleep at the pen…..

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Don’t write the same poem. Again. Don’t write the same poem! Of course we’ll all have certain subjects we return to, or familiar themes, but try new things too….which is where a writing exercise or a workshop can highlight a new area for you and will be refreshing. Write about cheese, or your grandmother’s hands, about the first day at school, the urges you have when you order coffee from the cute barista, write in the voice of an excited 5 yr old at school playtime etc. You will still come through quite clearly in any of these subjects by the way, even if you can’t spot it! I did a residency at WBA (West Bromwich Albion) football club and wrote a piece as a small boy and performed it, to be told – ‘Oh that was just like you!’  so we’ll still leave a trace of our own DNA behind. Sometimes writing surprises you. I was introduced at a gig, by the uber talented and lovely Polarbear poet, as being a romantic poet who wrote about love. I was horrified. I thought, hang on – just because I’m the only woman on the bill, doesn’t mean I’m a soppy loved up girl. Then I realised I was, despite my tom boy image. Damn – poetry can do this – it outs you!

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  • Say yes to things. Obviously not if it’s unsafe – so don’t agree with you wildest friend to step into a lion’s cage while wearing platform wedges and drinking tequila…..but in the writing sense, say yes. Offer to help at an event, or read at one, or mentor someone, or go on a writing course, or co-write something with someone. Be honest if you’ve not much experience, but go for it and you’ll learn all sorts of things in the process and meet new people and something positive will usually come from it.
  • This is how I began writing, applying for a short writing course – even though the last thing I’d written down was 20 yrs earlier. I discovered I was the only newcomer on a course squished full of extraordinarily talented & experienced people, mostly published and who all seemed to know each other already and were all very knowledgeable about things I’d never heard of. Yikes. But it was fine, they were a lovely bunch, some of whom are now friends. And I was a novelty, so perhaps that was refreshing for them too. Never feel you have to pretend to be anything you’re not – just be yourself – in life and in writing.

 

  • P.S sometimes you’ll say yes to so many things that there are barely enough hours in the day…… I’ve had one of those months lately and my computer breaking and deciding not to work again, just out of guarantee…..grrrrrrrr….hasn’t helped, so this is being scribbled extraordinarily hastily while doing a radio show….and preparing for the Poets Laureate Takeover day in the LOB (Library of Birmingham)  tomorrow – Sat 25th October.*

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Thanks for your input Charlie, especially in light of your busy schedule and technical failing of all technology! Great advice!

 

* I advertised this on social media and didn’t get a chance with Inkspill and 94th Birthday celebrations to get to the library or advertise it on the blog! Missed a treat I’m sure. It was part of the Voices season.

Birmingham Poets Laureate Take Over

A morning of pop up poetry readings, performances and workshops led by former Poets Laureate

Saturday 25 October 2014, 10.30am – 1pm throughout the Library of Birmingham

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Drop into the Library of Birmingham for poetry performances, poetry surgeries, workshops and plenty of interactions from some of the city’s former Poets Laureate and Young Laureates. Join the band of wandering poets to celebrate and showcase the best of Birmingham over the years.

A morning of pop up poetry readings, performances and workshops led by former Poets Laureate including Jan Watts, Charlie Jordan, Roy McFarlane, Giovanni Esposito (aka Spoz), Adrian Johnson, Simon Pitt, Chris Morgan, and Julie Boden.

Former Young Poets Laureate Matt Windle, Damani Dennisur and Lauren Williams will also be on hand to inspire youngsters to take up poetry.

Pictured Charlie Jordan and Jan Watts poets

More from Charlie Jordan soon – look out for Part 2

 

Latest Projects

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Naked Lungs

I am really excited to be taking part in a collaborative performance in this year’s Birmingham Literature Festival (Oct 2-12th). The event is organised by Naked Lungs, following interviews in the summer, they have chosen 4 poets to collaborate on the performance project.

I am delighted to be part of this exciting venture and to meet two new poets last week too. We met in the city to discuss the project and visit a community garden project in Digbeth, which brings nature and city to a meeting point. Inspirational.

I am now working on writing some poetry to send to them as a starting point. We perform at the Library of Birmingham on the 11th @ 4:30pm

It is the same day that my writing mentor job starts too… and both opportunities are funded, which is great news, has taken 12 months, just over to arrive in this position. All the hard work is worth it.

When you have an idea, you have to action it, take risks, run, jump, keep faith – it is meant to be – it will.

I also get to perform a set next week (25th) for an event at Cherry Reds that Naked Lungs run. Fingers crossed this is a gateway to more performance work.

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MONDAY! Monday! On Writing and Time Management.

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Monday rolls around all too quickly, HALLOWEEN 2011 081 you know I made the assumption that connecting back into a much missed creative life would take away the Sunday Slump of the rat race and the Manic out of Monday… how wrong I was. A lot of the internal struggle is created by the fact that the writing isn’t paying (yet) and so to keep my house, car, life (like many writers) I still have an evolving career/ day job.

If the tax man is reading this – YOU OWE ME MONEY – lots £100’s on a tax rebate….. would be helpful to receive that soon – believe me I doubt they read the blog (big brother paranoia) but when I tried to contact them through the website and calling I just got an automated message telling me if I was owed money they would know and would be dealing with it — then it automatically HUNG UP! Now this may be true but I tend to be a little unlucky with bureaucratic red tape and things that may take a few months usually roll on for years if my names and codes are attached to it! imagesCAEEZNXM

Anyway back to the post. I have had a productive morning, waking early on my writing day, doing some laundry (despite the rain which is supposedly clearing by dinner time!), starting my diet and exercise regime ready to not be uncomfortable in my skin at my brother’s wedding this Autumn and in the hope I fit back into some of my dresses this summer. By the time I logged on it was 10:30, I felt guilty and then I THREW AWAY that negative feeling, I could have slept in until 10! alarm-clock

So I made a start (as I always do) at the beginning of a writing day, by making a list. A set of goals, jobs to do, things to research, write, read.

paper-notesI am well disciplined and stay off social media until there is a break point or after the list has been completed is better. Breaks tend to elongate without you realising once you are trapped in the social media bubble. The way I see it is I wouldn’t have access if I was at work. I am at work (writing) – I have no access. My brain is so easy to kid!

Sometimes (depending what is on the list) time gets rolling fast and it will be time to pack up before I have ticked off the 1st two items. I do NOT worry. The post-it list is stuck in my writing diary, ready with the starting point if my next writing session.

Today’s list consists of research and writing. Plus I had a few business emails to read/ respond to. That’s the biggest surprise I think in writing, the fact that ADMIN takes up so much time. It took ages to flag up the emails, despite using designated email addresses for different areas.

to do I have currently applied for a pop-up performance arranged by Naked Lungs for this year’s Birmingham Literature Festival, have 2 – 4 short stories to complete (2 this week if I can) and several poems to write, some to follow up the workshop at Acton Scott Farm with Jean Atkin, some for a performance tomorrow night (1st one in 13 days, took a bit of a break!), some for this weekend and others to catch up on other projects I have only had time to dip in and out of. I also have my first official book review to write (for which I was paid, a complimentary copy of the poetry pamphlet)!

I have 14 websites to looks at/research, a character to create from a world I know very little about (eek!), I have a scratch night I probably won’t make pencilled in* and a book launch. This weekend is the Writing West Midlands Creative Writing Group and a deadline for some written submissions.

* Conserving energy (and petrol) WLF – Worcester LitFest in a fortnight and lots going on before then too. Plus I now have to fit EXERCISE into the schedule – and don’t suggest parking and striding to the gigs – I get red faced after about 3 minutes and would need a shower when I arrived and most venues have no dressing rooms or facilities!

So I had best get on with my list! imagesCAISM7Z5

 

Time Management:

  • Split chunks of time, I find not being to prescriptive works well (in my day job, things have to fit in allocated slots of time) and it feels good to break free! I started at 10:30 and said I could have a break in an hour, that kind of thing.

 

  • Know what you need to do, get your head down and try to do it.

 

  • I say try because creativity cannot be forced or pushed, some days it comes easier than others. So the true TIME management falls in making sure there is time to complete your projects when you have those duff days. This is usually a 4 day buffer at least, depending on length of editing/ proofing time.

 

  • I always try to get things written in time to give it some rest and a look over/ edit before submission – this is usually a period of a week if you have enough time to do this it can be beneficial.

 

  • Keep your unfinished list to know where your starting point is next time.

 

  • If you can that starting point should be part way through something -or the start of a task based on researching or something you can get into straight away. The problem with starting with your next writing job is the possibility you will be staring at a blank screen for some of the time.

 

  • Try not to lose focus. I often set alarms on my phone, that way I don’t even have to glance at the onscreen clock anyway.

 

  • Try to ease the pressure off. You are your Boss, it is always beneficial to get on with the Boss right?

 

  • And just like real work (unless you work in Health or Education/ Public Sector) take some breaks and give yourself treats and incentives for reaching target! Not food though – you don’t want a writer’s (saggy) bottom!

 

Good Luck! Green-Clovers-Vector-Illustration

PS I used part of my break to write this – I am now walking away from the screen!

Kidderminster Creatives Poetry Slam – UPDATED

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KC SLAM 3

Sunday night saw the May Bank Holiday Inaugural Poetry Slam hosted by Kidderminster Creatives at the Boars Head Gallery (BHG) – I was so pumped when I got home, this is why I want to be up to date with blog posts and write in real time! To be fair I was still excited when I woke up on Monday!

KC Poetry Slam 4th May

It was my 1st ever slam, Fergus asked me to take part. I am not real a slam poet, my material is not that click, beat variety…. After this experience I am tempted to follow the winners lead and write just 1 slam poem! The lovely thing about this slam was that everybody got a prize. 13 poets took part.

Those bowing out (like me) in the 1st round took a 2nd hand poetry book, the 2nd round, shiny new books & the winner a gold jelly man trophy, a book & £50! 3 poets in a round – apart from mine that had 4… There were 3 poet laureates and several slam champions for us Slam virgins to pitch against.

It was great fun & entertaining. I was happy with my 2nd hand copy of Ted Hughes, Birthday Letters and having the freedom to drink and be entertained as 5 (highest scoring runner up + winning poet from each group) became 2, Math Jones and Maggie Doyle went through… to entertain us with a brilliant final.

KC SLAM

It was a superb, hyper night!

 

Maggie Doyle WON!

KC SLAM 2 Congratulations Maggie, who can now be seeing taking Oscar to many events to be photographed! She was up against tough contestants and many who had won slams before. And has written a tongue in cheek beat poem since last weekend, influenced by some of the more ‘beat’ participants!

http://kidderminster-creatives.org.uk/

 

An Exceptionally Busy Week!

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I have just looked at my calendar and freaked out a bit!

The next few weeks are extremely busy with going back to work after the Easter break and performing!

I have also got to try and fit some writing in, particularly deadline pieces and poems for NaPoWriMo and 52, as well as the 10,000 words target I have been working towards in rough draft short stories and flashes for Camp NaNoWriMo – which sadly this year, I have barely been in the cabin, on the website or present online or in any reality writing meets at all.

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Tonight I am performing at Word Up, tomorrow we have a BIG family meal to celebrate my Uncle’s Wedding which took place in London a fortnight ago.

 

 

 

  • Sunday I am hoping to make it to the Much Wenlock Poetry Festival.

 

  •  Monday there is a TV script workshop I have been invited to attend – although physically getting a ticket is proving to be a mission!

 

Tuesday I am back to work. Then I am performing at the following events;

 

  • Saints and Sinners is Wednesday, run by Pigeon Park Press.

 

  • Thursday I have Poetry For Lunch – the stanza group are taking over.

 

  • Friday I have a Stanza meeting.

 

  • Sunday I have my FIRST EVER Poetry Slam!

 

  • Monday (fortunately a Bank Holiday) I have Najma Hush’s *PhotoGiraffe final exhibition event, Abstract Elements

 

  • Wednesday Confab Cabaret

 

  • Thursday SpeakEasy

 

  • Friday Poetry & Pollination – Ledbury Poetry Festival & WLF at the Hive  do415com open mic

 

  • Saturday – Writing West Midlands Assistant Writer Role

 

Then I am performing Tuesday, possibly Thursday and definitely Friday of the following week!

WHOAHOO! That’s some schedule with work as well!

Power naps start TODAY! ws_Empty_Battery_852x480

 

The Disorganised Muddle: My Life

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imagesCAWTNYTO Today my writing day has been reduced to a morning (one which included fraught calls to estate agents and management companies, as the tale of selling my apartment takes another twist!) and also a search for my lost purse, which along with some cash and bankcards has my driving license which needs to be sent to the DVLA for renewal! Life! It’s never easy – I envy the organisers amongst you – try as I might, I am a messy, muddle, piles of things kind of person. A difficult mould to break.

Yesterday afternoon I spent some time in solitude in my sunny garden (with new summerhouse roof – the reason I accepted work on my writing days this week) catching up with reading my writing magazines. I made notes in my writing diary and a list of things to do in the next 24hours, which included looking at websites of upcoming submissions.

One of the opportunities I found earlier this year which I hoped to try was an application to be a festival poet at Glastonbury. This year I am really learning when you find out – apply and submit – don’t sit on it for months and wait for the deadline inked in the writing diary!
Well the deadline was the 7th! I thought it was the 17th… must screw my head on better next year. They have 100s of applicants and it wouldn’t have necessarily led to anything – I have friends on the circuit who have poetry personas and are SLAM champions and I think this is probably more the sort of style they are looking for to entertain the masses, not that fringe tents get masses. It is something I would like to do – will get my material prepared before Christmas ready to send in the New Year!

I feel so deflated when I miss opportunities, but as I have said before it would be impossible for me to hit all the targets I pen out in the diary, unless I win the lottery and have the pleasure of writing full time. Now where is that Lottery Scratch card Mr G bought me…only joking, I may be disorganised but I know where that is!

AWF circleOne thing I HAVE started organising is this year’s writing retreat. In February I asked some writers to be involved, fully preparing myself for rejection… and to my delight everyone responded within a day or two confirming their involvement. 2013 was a pretty awesome online retreat, but 2014 looks to be even better! Pencil it in your diary, the last weekend of OCTOBER.

SAVE THE DATE: 25-26th OCTOBER 2014