Tag Archives: Camp NaNoWriMo

The Olympic Year – The Story so Far


2016 my first Olympic year milestone. I know generally people have a ‘5 year plan’, but I decided in 2013, when I gave up a full-time career (at a current loss of about £60K – what is money…) and embarked on my creative life instead that I would use the Olympic model. I was inspired by London 2012 and listened to many successful athletes talking about life before the Gold medal. For many this was their 4th (and last) games and winning has an almost entirely invisible to the public trail behind it.

2012 brighton 427

Part of the ethos of the blog is honesty, to share the rejection as well as success, expose the hidden underbelly creatives face daily. The theory behind the Olympics was my imagining but I have learnt in the past 3 years of networking that many of the poets and artists I admire are about 16+ years in. It is entirely possible. I believed it and now I know it is true.

Poet 2

2013 – Learning

In the first year I built a steady foundation. I used to write, was published in anthologies as a young writer and performed into my early 20s. I trained in Creative Writing on a modular writing course facilitated by (famous) professionals, in Leicester and lived a creative life (until I couldn’t afford to eat).

It has been over a decade since I last wrote and the writing world had changed, I was out of practise and out of touch. Workshops and writing classes were an important initial investment. It took me 10 months before I wound my way back to poetry, which although one of the smaller writing markets, has always been my natural home. I can write, but I am a poet.

I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, Spring and Summer and the official NaNoWriMo in November. I spent the words on a Non-Fiction manuscript I have been writing (mainly in my head) on and off for the past 13 years. It was the last thing I worked on in 2002, the year my writing stopped. I blew the dust off and picked it up again this year in Nano. I also worked on some short stories.

My main focus was to establish this blog and I spent hours typing away thinking ‘what if I actually used this time to write?’ I have no regrets though, this is an award winning, well established blog with lots of traffic and steadily increasing statistics.

My first public performance was in Leamington at Julie Boden’s Spoken Word night, where I met Dave Reeves. Within 2 weeks of finding myself back in the heart of poetry I met the local poetry scene and volunteered to work for Writing West Midlands. I performed at Birmingham Book to the Future Festival, in Stratford-Upon-Avon at an Emma Press Book Launch and Worcester.

I submitted some prose work and had a poem published.

I established INKSPILL – an annual virtual writing retreat. It was important to keep it FREE, catering for all those people who want and need it, but cannot afford it. In future years this may change, but now in its 4th year it is still FREE and accessible to anyone, although I do encourage a FOLLOW to the blog as a thank you. The initial idea came from an email I received about Iyanla_Vanzant’s Wonder Woman Weekend, which I couldn’t attend as I couldn’t afford to get to America.

I went to the Birmingham Literature Festival and Book to the Future Festival.

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After returning to performing poetry at the tail-end of 2013, 2014 became my touring year. Whatever I earn from writing will just about cover my 2014 fuel bill!

I became an Assistant Writer for Writing West Midlands and performed in over 107 places, I started taking bookings as a Headline performer. I also worked on commissioned projects, some for established festivals. I realised that as an artist, I enjoy doing unusual things with my writing and sought opportunities to do more than perform and write words.

I sent a pamphlet out and got rejected. Unlike 2013, where my focus was learning, this year was performing. I was writing lots and submitted a lot more work, with a clearer recording system. I had many individual poems placed and published and enjoyed celebrating the successful year in an event called ‘One Year a Poet’. 6 poems appeared in 3 anthologies, 2 poems were published in magazines, 4 poems published online. I had a poem on the Poetry Fence at Acton Scott Farm, another on the Wenlock Poetry Trail, Wenlock Poetry Festival 2014, 21 Haikus were used in an installation at the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), another was displayed in a local library by an Arts Network. That’s 36 poems out there in the real world. In August I decided, incredibly last minute to submit my pamphlet to V. Press. My hesitation was having to deal with rejection again.

Performance highlights include; performing in Worcester LitFest alongside Adrian Mealing for the first part of Jonny FluffyPunk’s show. My moustache poem had been written with him in mind, so it was great to perform it in front of him.

The moustache poem was part of a set with other work being collaborative between myself and Tim Scarborough. This duo experience was sadly short lived, as he fell in love and focussed on his drumming business. But if we have time in the future, it is not a closed door.

I opened the Arts All Over the Place Festival, in support of Mental Health. A cause close to my heart as it was through suffering depression that I made my life changes and found myself picking up my pen again.

I performed at Worcester Music Festival.

I did some 1 to 1 Mentoring for Writing West Midlands and promoted Daniel Sluman’s second collection ‘the terrible’ (Nine Arches Press). I reviewed this poetry book, loving hand made and  a joy to read,  Sarah Hymas In Good Weather 1 for Sarah Hymas.

INKSPILL included Guest Writers; William Gallagher, Charlie Jordan & Heather Wastie.

I went to Wenlock Poetry Festival, Worcester LitFest, Birmingham Literature Festival, Stratford Literature Festival, Arts All Over the Place, Book to the Future, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Worcester Music Festival.

Who could forget this was the year of 52. A poetry year created by Jo Bell, with weekly prompts and over 500 people taking part. An incredible project to be part of. I am so glad that Jo Bell invited me to take part. I also told several local poets about it and they have since had great success from work produced during this time, as well as forming friendships with many poets across the UK and beyond.

SS me

©Murdock Ramone Media

2015 – Submitting & Performing

My poetry pamphlet was accepted by V. Press, which has to be my biggest achievement so far. 14 months after embarking back on my poetry path, I had the opportunity to publish my first book.

V. Press have worked hard in creating a strong debut pamphlet and I had my first experience of professional editing, lots of changes were made to the content before the editing process could begin. I dreamed that my pamphlet would be published in 2015 alongside, Jacqui Rowe, David O’Hanlon and Claire Walker. This was not to be and although I found this difficult and even harder to see each book since, I know that my own pamphlet needed time to germinate.

11 poems were published online, 4 poems were published in anthologies and 3 poems were published in poetry magazines. I mainly worked on my manuscript poetry. I had one short prose piece published too. 18 pieces of work flying around in the real world and a pamphlet in the pipeline.

I continued to get bookings as a Headline/Guest Poet, including Cheltenham and Shrewsbury, performed in London for the first time at HARK Magazine launch, performed at Charity Fundraisers, entered Worcestershire Poet Laureate and was a runner up, became a Lead Writer for Writing West Midlands, took part in Caldmore Community Garden Poetry workshops with David Calcutt (Poet in Residence), was booked as one of ten poets for the Quiet Compere Tour, Midlands leg (Sarah Dixon),  went back to London to perform at The Poetry Café for the Paper Swans Press launch of Schooldays anthology, commissioned for National Poetry Day Light and Shade event and took part in my first Poetry Brothel event, organised by Caged Arts for Halloween and performed at Waterstones.

INKSPILL had guest writers; Daniel Sluman, David Calcutt and Alison May.

I went to Wenlock Poetry Festival, Worcester LitFest, Birmingham Literature Festival, Stratford Literature Festival, Walsall Festival, Arts All Over the Place, Poetry Festival Swindon, Book to the Future, Ledbury Poetry Festival.

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2016 – The 1st Games – Writing & Editing

This year’s story cannot be written yet, but I am still Headlining and have finally finished the pamphlet. It is to be published by V. Press, date yet to be announced.

I am delighted to mark the Olympic year with something so massive!

I am currently organising INKSPILL, guest writers will be announced in the Autumn and I am incredibly excited.

Festivals have taken a backseat this year, so have performances as I tied myself to the desk to finish writing and editing.

Submissions started well – since April I have not submitted anything as I have been attached to the manuscript and at times attempting to detach myself enough to see what is for the best. I am neglecting the end of July’s submission window as I want to focus on the current project. ‘Operation pamphlet’. Contracts have been signed and it is beginning to become real.

4 poems published online, 5 published in poetry magazines, 3 poems published in 2 e-books, 1 poem in a chapbook and 5 poems in 2 anthologies and the pamphlet soon. 20 – 40 poems flying around in the world. A grand total of 95 poems. I know I can smash 100 before the end of this 4 year marker. I don’t hold a number as a target. I just write and keep my eye out and when something takes my fancy I aim and fire. I have a long list of rejections as well. Learning what publications, journals and editors want and like is an ongoing process and involves reading and subscribing and supporting the poetry market. It is fun and I look forward to more training and success.

me MM

Saffron Toms © 2014


Pamphlet to be published by V. Press

Lead Writer Writing West Midlands

Facilitator/ Creator of INKSPILL (4th Year)

Poet – 95 poems published

BL me Universe poem

Rangzeb ©2014









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






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!

Camp NaNoWriMo – April 2014 Is About to Open!


footer-camp… STARTS AT MIDNIGHT (I hope to be in bed asleep by then!)

Last year was my 1st NaNo Camp and I excitedly stayed up and starting writing at midnight. Last April I wrote over 35000 words towards a Non-Fiction manuscript that I am still working on.

This year I have chosen a much more realistic word count 10K (it is the lowest you are allowed)!

I have planned my writing (not quite as a timetable) I only need a daily count of 334 words, should make it more manageable with participating in NaPoWriMo too! camp_12_mug_detail2 Are your bags packed? Have you got your cabin mates?

Do you have a plan for your writing? 2014-Participant-Vertical-Banner


Some things on the Camp Planner for Week 1:Week One

On Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. PDT, tune in for the first Campfire Hangout of the year. You want writing prompts? Oh man, have we got writing prompts.

On Thursday, check your Camper Messages for a pep talk from a writer just like you. We’ll send one every week.

And every day, look for challenges from @NaNoWordSprints and conversations in the NaNoWriMo forums.


End of Month Writing Deadlines & A Surprise!


I am hoping this evening that I will be able to write a poem for submission, I missed the opportunity to enter Furies Anthology Competition last night, as I just couldn’t manage to write a poem that I was happy enough to enter. starbucks

After I have made my final deadline, I need to get over to Camp NaNoWriMo2014-Participant-Square-Button and NaPoWriMo to prepare for tomorrow – the 1st day of both challenges.

I am still catching up with 52 poems and need to sort a few email / admin activities. I would also like to write some blogposts.

I came home to a lovely surprise this evening. I had work and after that had to travel back to my flat to collect a month’s worth of post, check the apartment over, collect my poetry from the library (it had been on display) for the Arts Network, go to the bank (cash a cheque from a school sent over a month ago) and get to the I thought ‘Oh, no! Not more!’ bubble-cloud-backgroundBut when I turned it over, I found a lovely hand written note. It was some Stanza poems and a poetry magazine from Claire Walker. The only thing about being so busy is missing time connecting with friends. I was sad that I hadn’t been in to offer a drink in exchange for this poetry parcel.

I hope to spend some time catching up in a fortnight – our Easter break, I know that I will need some time for R & R though and family time.084723-pink-jelly-icon-business-clock7-sc43 I don’t want to be so busy that I am backed up with things to do. I need some free time.

It was a great surprise though! Thanks Claire!

inkspill butterflies


Mulling Over Submissions


My writing diary is full, plannerI have started to use post it notes to list the MUST DO for each day… and just when you think you may see over the in tray, more opportunities are discovered!

I occasionally decide against submissions that I thought I would make (usually short stories that I haven’t had time to fully complete) – which is why I signed up for Camp Nanowrimo, to try to get a bank of short stories written.

I am currently editing a few poems written especially for 42 banner, writing a Bio for the Born Free Anthology, writing poems for some competitions and catching up with poems for 52.

Tomorrow there is a National Teacher Strike and the school I usually work in, us closed. Although I won’t get paid – I can put the day to good use and catch up with writing tasks. I also need to collect my library display – I think it came down a week or 2 ago. Before performing in the evening.

I have spent time this week looking at Oxford Literary Festival events, although I struggled to find my last Oxford event. There is a varied programme. But I think I will treat myself to some of Cheltenham’s Poetry Festival instead.

Worcester is also heating up – the poet laureate competition nears its deadline – I haven’t applied this year. There are already opportunities arising in WLF Literature Festival. Also Ledbury Poetry Festival, which I have wanted to go to since 1992…. has also arranged for 3 events to take place at The Hive in Worcester. I am looking forward to these.


© 2013 The Hive

NaNoWriMo & NaPoWriMo – It’s that time of year again!


2014-Participant-Twitter-Header-2 Last year I took part in the Spring and Summer camps for NaNoWriMo –footer-camp National Novel Writing Month – the main event takes place in November. I successfully completed all 3 challenges and have over 100,000 of writing I have done nothing with since.2013-Winner-Square-Button
 Whereas  napo2013button2 imagesCA1461L5I wrote a poem a day, some from prompts some from my muse. I am DEFINITELY signing up for NaPoWriMo but have decided that for NaNoWriMo it will only be to write a couple of short stories so my monthly target will be 4000 words as opposed to 50,000! I think the minimum is 10,000 but have read that this year they have extended genres and they mention Haikus… I wrote 21 Haikus last Wednesday and even that many poems don’t have many words.

People can sign up already for the NaNoWriMo Spring Camp which starts on the 1st April.
I have collected shiny new badges to display here 2014-Participant-Facebook-Cover  2014-Participant-Square-Button   2014-Participant-Vertical-Banner2014-Participant-Facebook-ProfileThere are also tips to help you plan. I have been both a planner/prepper and a pantster (someone who approaches the target word count without a plan, thought or direction!)

inkspill leave before edit Cabin sign ups start on March 25th.

How many of you are going to challenge yourself to camp this April?


I have submitted the site to appear on the participants list on NaPoWriMo and am fully ready to take part with a daily poetry challenge. As with last year (due to copyright issues) I won’t post an entire poem here throughout April, I post extracts and blog about the prompts and experience.


July- End of Month Review


Morning-Sun-mit That’s July – another month ticked off on the writing calendar. I read an inspirational letter recently from a freelance writer who embarked on her journey of success this year as well. She is successfully writing a column.


WOW – makes me feel like I haven’t been trying hard enough for the last 2 months. I haven’t even finished a writing schedule since May – July’s was barely started. I will forgive myself and promise to get committed to the writing plan again, at least I have NOT GIVEN UP or STOPPED WRITING!

So whatever you are writing KEEP GOING! Don’t put that pen down before you have explored all avenues and opportunities.

July Writing –

I was mainly involved in writing 2 short stories for Camp NaNoWriMo – a vampire story (1st attempt at this genre) and a Romance. (Also 1st attempt but am widely read in this genre.)

I have managed to nearly complete the Vampire story which could even begin to be classified as a Novella – I need to tighten it up and edit!

The Romance story is barely written but I have started it!

There is a market for a polished version of the Vamp Short and I will finish writing the Romance this summer if I can.

I also went to a regional Write In for NaNo this month in the city – which was fun!

I worked on rewriting the children’s picture book manuscript this month too and attended my 1st Critique Group in the city – where I learnt that I have a lot more work to do before even thinking of submitting – also a first attempt.

I have researched and read articles on writing – and looked for summer opportunities.

I also found out about an amazing weekend workshop – Link to follow – which has inspired me to create a writing event this autumn.

Half way through the month I started my Online Writing Course – Stunt Writing too. I have submitted the 1st two assignments for that. And am currently posting a DAILY GRATITUDE as part of my stunt – *use the category tool and ‘Daily Gratitude’ to read them all.

Maybe start your own!

I have managed to participate in blog writing challenges and am finally back ONLINE after being offline for 10 days or so over the moving period.


I have moved house, started to declutter, unpack and finished working. It has been a really busy month all round, regardless of the writing schedule. And the weather has been awesome – time in garden and allotment too.