Tag Archives: life

Welcoming a New Year 2019

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man standing on brown rock cliff in front of waterfalls photography

Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Pexels.com

I have not been online much since October when I had an unexpected operation. I have been off work and not able to sit for long periods at the desk. With over 26 tablets a day it has been hard to focus or concentrate.

I am currently working on my next pamphlet which was accepted by V. Press last summer. The latest edits came through in October just before I found myself in hospital so I have been unable to keep up with the schedule. I have also had to pull out of every artistic event/gig/festival since the Autumn too. My last performance was National Poetry Day.

It has been a difficult enforced hiatus and I feel very disconnected.

I had to disconnect myself from social media on the phone as I couldn’t deal emotionally with reading about a world I couldn’t manage to be a part of.

Now it is the New Year and I am growing in health and strength. I have a festival event to organise, poetry from workshops in 2018 to display, a manuscript to work on and I took the role of a Director of Worcester LitFest back in the Autumn, a role which hopefully by next month I can actually manage.

I missed the Lit Festival in Voiron but from my WPL project there have been poets not known before to the community who are very much involved in the Twinning now. I will have the opportunity to meet them this Spring before (hopefully) going to the festival this year. I won a poetry competition I entered in September and Sarah Leavesley wrote an article for Poetry News (Poetry Society) about Two Cities (ATOTC – A Tale of Two Cities). The USA side of the project also had a reading in September.

 

 

So thank you for visiting the Fountain and splashing in all the archived posts. My STATS for 2018 were healthy (the best year yet). Each year the blocks tower upwards with the exception of my Poet Laureate year when I ran a second site.

I promise to work on updating pages and adding new material this year. But my first port of call is that manuscript!

man with fireworks

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

 

Behind the Scenes

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Time has flown by and yet stands still over here in the Fountain. There is lots going on behind the scenes. Firstly, my début pamphlet is reaching the final stages; post editorial and pre-production, secondly I have already started working on INKSPILL – our online writing retreat which started in 2013 when the blog was created. Thirdly, I have finally (after 3 years) had a summer holiday with Mr G. and I have just celebrated a milestone birthday and celebrations continue (although not every day) until the end of next month! Not to mention watching the Olympics and moving/unpacking a small amount of the rooms that need to be emptied and decorated.

I will complete monthly reviews for July & update The Write Year and Events pages as soon as I get a proper chance to sit at the desk, hopefully early next week.

August has seen a Poetry Canal trip – where I had a go at steering, an honorary Tiller Girl, a couple of Open Mic nights, exciting movement with the pamphlet, a meeting (for INKSPILL) at Shakespeare’s Birthplace, a book launch for Lacuna by Kieran Davis, a workshop using Historical documents and lots of parties.

I am looking forward to working on submissions again after not submitting for several months and celebrating the end of my summer with a Poetry Picnic and an Open Mic. The first fortnight in September is nearly fully booked and of course I have to put an end to playing and get back to work and that tricky balance between work – the house (still unpacking boxes) and writing.

My book launch will hopefully happen in October, along with Festival season.

Until then, there are 1000s of posts to enjoy here in AWF, so click around the calendars and have some fun! If you have never heard of INKSPILL – check out the links via the menus and keyword searches.

IMG_1288 poet © R. Nichols

The Olympic Year – The Story so Far

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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.

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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.

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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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2014Performing

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

OLYMPIC YEAR

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ups and Downs of Creatives: Motivation & Mindset

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notebooks The Ups and Downs of Creatives

YOU ARE NORMAL – IT IS NORMAL!

  • Writing can be particularly isolating – get out and find Local Creative movements or find an online community.
  • Keep your motivation up. If you’re not excited – then who will be?
  •  Be brave – look in the mirror and see courage – and if not, repeat the words a few times.
  • Find time to put in practise
  • and practise what you learn

MOTIVATION

Look at some great examples (people/work) and aspire, see what achievements they had, do you see yourself having the same?

maya creativity

  • Share your own learning experience
  • Pass it forward

Then you get to a place you feel you should be and it is all waterfalls and rainbows after that? Wrong.

You keep growing – keep learning – keep failing and succeeding. Many creative areas are like small planetary systems and the orbit around us is called REJECTION – occasionally you see a small opening – shoot for it and make it through to success – and even success comes with a ton more lessons.

Don’t let that put you off wishing for it – in fact wishing for success is your first step towards it – pull it closer towards you.

Be prepared for your confidence to take a knock – and quite often you are the one responsible for throwing such punches.

Be prepared for a lack of self-belief to raise its ugly head from time to time.

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GOAL SETTING

Set goals – be clear on what it is you want to achieve and when things go wrong make 1 of 2 decisions;

– kick it to the kerb and try again

OR

– decide that fate has other plans and move in a different direction  – fight or flight really – of course it is TRULY something you really want – keep fighting – don’t give up – but set a time limit on the punches (mine was 16 years*, now closer to 13, despite it taking 9 months to find my writing niche).

Right now, especially if I reflect on the past 4 months, there are things that haven’t gone as well as I would have liked. Things that have failed completely (note I say ‘things’ and not I – rejection is not personal) but also there has been success, achievement and a few opportunities I had not dreamt would be on offer this early on the path of my goals.

A happy summer 2011 SEEK HAPPINESS

Of course a certain amount of dream/ambition and perfect working world comes from a place where we seek happiness. If you are serious about making it part of your life/existence you will need to accept that it will be jolly hard work (often not jolly at all) … but if you love what you’re doing it won’t feel like work and when it does and you feel it dragging you down… do what I do and think about what WORK used to mean/be! I can guarantee you are doing better now -right?

Stress(ing) takes up abundant amounts of energy and you may find (if like me you still have paid employment to keep you alive) that this is becoming ever more stressful.

DAlma© 2014 Deborah Alma

This year for many reasons (not least that I am finally well enough to do so) I have taken on more career work. The result of this has meant losing writing days – for the first few months this made me angry. Mr G was working away and I wanted to spend my free time with him, not the laptop – and I am glad I did, because we got through it and are now reunited and the laptop can make an appearance at any time without neglect or imbalance occurring.

Looking back considering what a challenging (timewise) writing year it has been so far, I am not doing too badly. There is one major project that I wish I had spent more time on in the New Year, on the flip side although I have inevitably delayed something exciting and forward propelling from happening, I have created new material which wouldn’t have been written in time or possibly would never have existed.

writing space 2 mote carlo CREATE SPACE

Remember to create some space and time for you to address what’s happening, what you are thinking. What do you want your life to be like? Start with the ideal and work backwards.

What is important to you?

What creative direction would you like to take?

 TOP TIPS:

  • step out of your comfort zone
  • seek new opportunities
  • plan and schedule – only say YES if you can do it
  • Celebrate the good times and try to acknowledge the bad times, they will often teach valuable lessons. Many times over, usually.
  • Remember all those famous people who failed, that we only see the success (which is why I like to blog the fails too). If you have been walking around without an eye on the internet for the past decade and happen to have missed the list and have no clue what I’m talking about…. here are just a few popular examples:

DURING THEIR LIFETIME…Motivate faith

Vincent Van Gogh: sold only one painting, and this was to a friend and only for a very small amount of money.

Emily Dickinson: had fewer than a dozen poems published out of her almost 1,800 completed works.

I have (and probably you have) already beaten this in today’s world of publishing.

Theodor Seuss Giesel: 27 different publishers rejected Dr. Seuss’s first book.

Steven Spielberg: was rejected from the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television three times.

Stephen King: The first book by this author, the iconic thriller Carrie, received 30 rejections, finally causing King to give up and throw it in the trash.

J. K. Rowling: was nearly penniless, severely depressed, divorced, trying to raise a child on her own while attending school and writing a novel.

ELVIS PRESLEY got fired after his first show;

“You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”

world poetry day LOOK BACK

Look back – YES

I look through my schedule, which I annotate as I go with highlighters/markers, I know my key: Performing, writing, submitting, publishing etc.

Then I have a system where at the end of the month I write on a small post-it all the MAJOR achievements, that way when I reflect I just look over the 1-12 post-it notes.

Other people keep their TO DO lists in a separate notebook and just look back through these.

It needn’t mean extra work for you, but this reflection will boost your creativity/ output and success in the future.

I have also learnt to let the dips happen, they are a natural (and necessary) part of any creative career. Plus many creative people are likely to suffer depression, anxiety… so let go, give in and feel the rip and pull of the tide until you enjoy it as much as the gentle white horses of the sea covering your feet on the sand.

The best way to deal with it or anything is to

JUST KEEP GOING!

motivation keep on

Happy Writing x

* Brief information on my plan = 4 Olympics… all this is training for my first – 2016.

INKSPILL Guest Writer Heather Wastie on Her Writing Journey

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Heather Wastie our Guest Writer has been kind enough to compile of list of what has happened to her on her writing journey, I find the personal stories about writing, it amazes me that there are so many differences, remember it takes time, keep believing!

Here’s Heather, ENJOY!

 

 

 

Heather Wastie headshot

 

My writing journey – some of the key factors and events up to 2014

Heather Wastie

  • As small child, made up songs at the piano, writing new words over the top of music I couldn’t read

  • Wrote my first poem, about the moon, at infants’ school

  • Carried on writing – at school and outside school

AWF pencil sketch

  • Translated menus into Black Country dialect for Friends of the Black Country Museum annual dinners

  • Had articles published in local canal society newsletter

  • When I went to Sunday School, wrote mini musicals and produced them

AWF pencil sketch

  • At University began a song-writing partnership with another student –mostly he wrote the music, then I wrote the lyrics

  • Entered Bard of the Year competition run by Poetry Digest, performing my own work from memory for the first time (published in anthology)

  • In one year, was published every month (bar one!) in Poetry Digest magazine.

  • Winner Poetry Digest Ina Carlyle Love Poetry Competition 1996 (published in anthology)

  • Poetry collection Until I Saw Your Foot published by Lapal Publications 1997

  • Edited 2 oral history books about people in the Black Country 1997-9

  • Self-published Poems of the Head in Dynamic Relation to F M Alexander 2007

AWF pencil sketch

  • Entered my first poetry slam in Bilston

  • Through entering slams, began writing and memorising longer poems

  • Did well in slams but have only won one – PUREandGOODandRIGHT, Leamington 2010

  • Formed Brewers’ Troupe performance poetry company with Emma Purshouse, co-wrote, co-directed and performed site-specific piece SNUG in Hollybush pub, Cradley Heath 2010

  • Poetry collection The Page-Turner’s Dilemma published by Lapal

    © Peter Williams 2014
    © Peter Williams 2014
  • Publications 2010

  • 2011: Winner Apples & Snakes Jawdance Audio Poetry Competition;

  • Winner British Science Festival open mic competition with poem, The case of Sir Bernard Spilsbury; Shortlisted for Birmingham Poet Laureate;

  • 3rd place, Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition

  • Got ACE funding to be Writer in Residence Museum of Carpet 2013, writing poems, monologues and songs from oral history interviews

  • Created and performed Kidderminster Stuff show about Kidderminster and its carpet industry with singer/songwriter Kate Wragg 2013

  • Commissioned by Canal & River Trust to create audio piece Idle Women and Judies. Booked for live performances of the piece in canal museums.

  • Wrote and performed How do wars start? With Worcs Poet Laureate, Fergus McGonigal, funded by Kidderminster Arts Festival 2014

 

 

 

 

 

PUBLIC APOLOGY to Heather for the formatting – text was all consistent size in original document.

 

 

Week 3 September 15th – 21st

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The week before saw several poetry events & meetings. Mouth & Music, SpeakEasy, Stanza, the return of the Writing Group after the summer for Writing West Midlands at The Hive in Worcester and my One Year a Poet Party, peppered in between all this was a submission (of 3 poems) – fingers crossed.

Needless to say at the beginning of this, the 3rd week in September I was cream crackered – (TIRED)! The 15th was actually scheduled to be a heavy deadline day, a lot of the work was prose and I hadn’t had enough time to invest in it – it is shelved until a day it will be useful. I cut the stress by cutting out the deadline. T4

It has been a hard lesson to learn – THERE WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH TIME TO DO EVERYTHING – I have to look at each week and decide on the focus – is it writing or performing, new work or a different genre, some days it is just reading – all of it important.

I had some notes by the end of 2013 – look out for X in 2014 – now at the back of the diary I have that same note for 2015 – sometimes you got to practise an aim before you can shoot. I need some more learning time before I am ready. It really is a waste of time to send anything less than your BEST work and if you need more time, use it for something else or save it for the following year – trends may have changed by then, but we are constantly told to write from where it takes us – not study and write to theme, that produces empty, authorless writing which will go out of fashion quickly. Why use crayons when you can learn to blend and paint with oils?

So basically I spent the 15th – bleary eyed, trawling through writing schedules, considering the remaining writing, likely outcome and how much my heart pulled and basically slashed an ink line through every item on the list. It freed a day to read and think and after the OYAP celebration, I needed that. Tuesday was also a full on writing day but I also had work, I looked again and chose what to pursue and what to strike off the list at this time. Writing diary

All the while conserving energy and getting over the week before. On Wednesday 17th some of the Worcs Lit Fest crowd  – Maggie Doyle, Fergus McGonigal and Polly Robinson were performing in a tea room in Wolverley for an afternoon of Pop Up Poetry. The sun was shining, all the household chores had been done, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to write – but listening to Poetry was something I could manage.

It had started by the time I reached my destination and I was having an off day with regards to confidence and feeling perhaps some people were getting fed up of me being absolutely everywhere – which I think was just in my own head, people seemed genuinely pleased to see me. I declined performing in the 2nd part and instantly regretted my decision especially when the question changed from ‘are you performing?’ To ‘why aren’t you performing?’

It was lovely meeting Sue, Susan Wood who organised it all and Sue Johnson (incredible workshops) and I met for the first time. It was great to hear a poet who had stood up for the 1st time and everyone seemed to feel inspired.

There is some film of this event, when I track it down I will add some to this post.

wolverley tea shopFacebook The Village Store/ Tea Shop

On Thursday I performed at Poetry For Lunch at the Mezzanine at the Library of Birmingham with Jan watts. It was fun and I am only sorry that I can’t get to more of these. I missed the special on Tuesday of this week, to celebrate 1 year since the opening of the new library and since then I have been working.

I couldn’t manage HIT THE ODE in the evening – Fergus McGonigal was performing, it would have been great to support him but I was just too tired.

On the 19th I hit the stage at The Ort to perform a varied set, last month it was really hot in the café and it was hot this month too – mainly because it was packed with people – which is great for Debbie Aldous as this night seems to go from strength to strength.

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I had planned a weekend off poetry and a break from writing. I did celebrate a big birthday – it was Tim Scarborough’s 50th Birthday (the percussion poet I collaborate with).

happy bdayKathy rainwatch

Putting You in the Picture

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I am about to go out to assist at the Young Writers Group at The Hive, before I do I wanted to drop in a quick teaser.

I have so many things to blog about so here’s a list of what’s to come;

  • Stafford Arts/Poetry Festival
  • Ben Norris at the MAC One Man Show
  • Mouth & Music – more from Ben!
  • SpeakEasy with Brenda Read-Brown and Peter Wyton
  • Naked Lungs and Birmingham Literature Festival
  • Stanza and Mad Hatter’s Party
  • Writing West Midlands
  • Lenny Henry
  • One Year A Poet – my celebratory open mic for invited guests.
  • Jobs, writing & submissions
  • On Writing – Hark.

I hope to fill you in Monday – I have booked the morning off following my party and will make a start on the backlog blogging then!

Where I Am At – 21 Months in…

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I love the fact that even when I am not writing, I am reading about writing. This summer I have also looked for art opportunities for paid work – the whole idea of teaching irregularly was to bolster on arty days too, last year it was a big leap of faith and I decided that over complicating it would send me crazy, budgeting for the year, I realised I could get by on just supply teaching – although the long holidays and short ones in between have seen me dip into the savings… that’s what they were there for. The leap may have taken a nano-second but it wasn’t impulsive, I have saved wages to bolster this new artistic/creative life of mine and I know – potentially – when I am strong enough I can equal my salary, not through writing alone as I am sure you understand, but having fingers in all the pies – which has always been my style. At 15 my careers advisor advised that I give up half of my hobbies! I have never uttered the words ‘I am bored’ but I am prone to an occasional day of collapse, like yesterday.

Each year of this 16 year plan I am sending my self an email from my future self, stating current position and outlook, hopes and upcoming opportunities and a fantasy projection into the next year. I know I have already surpassed my expectations for 2014 (name on bills, booked for slots, paid performance work, involvement in Literature/Arts festivals) but unfortunately my Outlook inbox froze and somehow the future self email got deleted. I checked the deleted file, nothing – I searched for it – it had gone – POOF! Disappeared…. maybe there was something that I wasn’t supposed to read. But just in case I might copy the email somewhere else this year as back up!

Excitedly in 6 days time I am hosting my first event, a poetry party (with a sprinkle of short stories too). I decided that I wanted to mark One Year in my poetry skin with a celebration. I have invited people who have been a great influence, support, become poetry friends, all of them incredibly talented and all of them willing to perform in an open mic poetry party.

Last year on the 14th September I attended my 2nd network event (Writing West Midlands) drove for hours to the border of Wales to attend as I very much wanted to hear the speakers; SIMON THIRSK & IAN BILLINGS.

Here’s a link to my original post about this turning point day in which I speak to people, get a writing job, attend a book launch, meet lots of lovely poets who I now consider friends.  A whole day with poets – 12 hours and 140 miles….

Turning Point

Book Launch

This was the day I decided to be a poet, to rekindle my love with the pen. After spending the first 9 months of 2013 revising and learning the craft of writing & submitting short stories and the occasional poem. The actual date of my first open mic was 2nd October, this clashes with several festivals including Birmingham Literature Festival and a Mental Health Arts Festival, so I decided the pinnacle turning point should be celebrated instead!

I CAN’T WAIT!

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August is Hotting Up – Despite the Rain!

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Well here we are already in the 2nd day of August. What an inspiring start to the month I had. I love August anyway (because it is my birthday) but last night was a delight. I was lucky enough to get to the event in Birmingham organised by Shakti Women Ltd – A Night with Maya Angelou. It was a great night of sharing and a lovely way to meet new people and enjoy conversation. I hoped it would be inspiring and uplifting – and it was – like becoming a woman all over again, that special passage into something else….

©womensfundcentralohio.org

©womensfundcentralohio.org

There were musicians, actors, poets and storytellers entertaining us and paying homage to the great lady herself. I had written a series of poems the evening before and performed my first 10 minute set to a very appreciative audience. I will post a proper blog post soon, trying to track down some pictures and I hope (although I haven’t asked yet) to get a guest blog or interview with one of the Shakti women, the work they do and who they are deserves publicity.

I came home adrenalin pumping and despite being home earlier than most gig nights I couldn’t consider sleeping, it was the early hours of the morning when I finally crashed out. I needed to stay on social media to find out the winners of the OXJAM slam – which is where the rest of Birmingham were Friday night. Congratulations go to Aysha Begum who was a 1st time SLAMMER and winner of this event.

Aysha has also been working on intergenerational projects and is piloting a performance evening event she hopes to manage. I have booked my ticket and am excited at the possibility of performing on a narrow boat. We will be spending 3 hours on the canal – having a workshop, performing poetry and eating sandwiches and cakes with tea, a tea party theme. It should be a great experience and one, of course I shall blog about.

stock-illustration-5714066-pancake-breakfast-of-kingsToday has been a non-poetry event day, Mr G has taken this week off – this time our mission is to start to decorate and sort the house, today would have been the perfect day to start as we experienced monsoon rain! Where were we? Enjoying a LARGE all day breakfast and then walking around a garden centre picking out all the plants we loved and didn’t buy last time – as they had a 20% sale! Bargains, a whole trolley of plants for a tenner each. (£10.00) He has been busy planting them out tonight, whilst I sat in my comfy new sun-lounger and read a few chapters of my book. It’s a hard life!

planner

There are only 12 days this month that I am not poeting – one of those is my birthday, the other is my brother’s birthday and I am away for 5 of them. So that’s really just 5 FREE days I have this month, WOW! Good job I am not working as well. I love being busy with writing and events though – I have several submission deadlines for the end of August and so when I am not out on the road performing, I will be busy writing (or sleeping – which is more likely)! As I have mentioned I have cut back a little on events this week as Mr G has the week off and we really do have to make some headway with the decorating.

jan benches Tuesday is my day off though, Jan Watts is having her official book launch for Benches in Birmingham – on the canal in a narrow boat and later in the Library of Birmingham. I have arranged to meet up with a poet friend who I only get brief chances to talk to at gigs, we are having lunch before the afternoon of fun! On Sunday the KAF festival will have started and Sarah Tamar is hosting a workshop on the Mouth & Music theme – War and Peace. I shall have to see how I feel after a week on the house – it is in the afternoon, so at least I stand a chance of being awake and it will get my muse working hard on poems I will need for performing on Tuesday the 12th August too.

  • The following week I am working on an exciting drama project (blog post to follow soon) – unfortunately I cannot be in the production because it is taking place on my birthday and I have arranged other things, but I will be there for the initial devising. It will be great to put that hat on again. There are some open mic/ gigs, a Stanza meeting, my brother’s birthday and oh, MY birthday to celebrate!

 

  • The next week I have performances, workshops, and a Book Launch for Restless Bones Poetry Anthology. Very excited about seeing this in print FINALLY!

 

  • In the final week of August I have at least 3 performance events – one of which I have been especially asked to perform at.

After that it is back to work – it doesn’t stop though – there are already about 10 events, some to watch some to contribute to already lined up in the diary for September as well as more writing deadlines – not that I am complaining – love what you do – then none of it seems like hard work! That saying is so true. i heart write

 

 

After writing all of this I am really looking forward to a lazy Sunday reading books in the garden surrounded by our just bought new plants!

 

July Review

Standard

At the end of June’s review I wrote;

Roll on the sunshine! Morning-Sun-mit

I was looking forward to the Summer holidays. Well, sunshine happened  – lots of it and the sunburn from the 52 Event formed a base tan that other people commented on when I was out Tuesday night. I have very fair skin and usually just freckles darken and I get a golden glow, my legs remain blue! This year – thanks to outdoor events and our lovely garden (that Mr G is constantly tending and creating) I have a tan – for the first time in my life and even my legs have some colour!

This sunshine is wonderful – but it has kept me away from the laptop – which I could use in the garden, but find that scribbling in my notebooks and catching on up reading a far more appropriate garden relaxing activity!

I have also had an exceptionally busy time offline and Mr G took a week off – which is a week I barely logged on at all.

 __________            July         _______________

Brought me abundant opportunities, some fabulous events and wonderful experiences.

Blogs and Projectslaptop

I continued to write poems for 52 and got behind on my MOOC course (due to real paid work), I hope to re-enrol next time this course is offered. It is a shame but I don’t think I could deal with the stress and pressure of catching up.

I didn’t hear back from Naked Lungs and presume they have invited other artists to collaborate on the pop up event for Birmingham Literature Festival. I also missed there open mic event this month but have already booked a slot for the one at the end of August.

The blog now has 778 followers, an extra 13 people joined in July. I am grateful to you all and hope you enjoy splashing in the Fountain.

Last month the most popular post was;

Views
Writing Short Stories – Tips on Planning and Structure More stats 367
 

It continues to gain popularity with over 300 reads once again:

Writing Short Stories – Tips on Planning and Structure More stats 306

I am delighted – because many of them may have been 52ers that the most popular post in this last week of July was…

52 Meet and Perform for the Stratford Poetry Festival More stats 146

Followed closely by Tips on Planning & Structure.

Submission and Publishing type

My poem Clench – appeared in the July issue of Hark, an online magazine.

I had another poem ‘Fallacy‘, a 52 poem from the weather week accepted for print publication, the anthology will be out later this year. This was as a result of entering GBWO – Great British Write Off.

Jean Atkin kindly published my 2nd farm poem on her blog for Acton Scott Farm, it was called ‘Combine Harvester’ but it has been re-titled ‘The Cart’ because that is the subject of the poem.

 

I submitted work to the Mental Health Festival Scotland

HCE – Here Comes Everyone for the Girl/Boy Issue

Popshots – Time Issue

I also worked on several short stories – unfortunately I didn’t have the time to get them up to scratch before the deadline, after finding out about them a month too late.

 

Offa Press rejected my mini sample manuscript, I have yet to find out which 2 lucky poets have been taken on by them this year.

Popshots rejected my submission for the Time issue.

motivation secret

I have read many articles about not taking rejection personally, I didn’t seek these articles out, I did spend a weekend catching up on reading my writing magazines, but I am also a firm believer in the universe responding (even when you didn’t think you called) – I needed to read the wisdom and toughen up. Rejection is just part of the course.

 

 

 

Performing Poetry

The month started with a 9 day break from performing, although during this time the Ledbury Poetry Festival had started and I did attend some events. At the beginning of the month I drifted into auto-recovery after an exceptionally busy week working full time and supporting many events at WLF – Worcester LitFest. Later on in the month I took another 9 day break – so the performances and events this month have taken place over less than a 2 week period.

I need these sorts of breaks more regularly now after 10months of flurried activity. I enjoy events more if I am not too tired to stand up and besides I knew with work and writing as well, I wouldn’t have the energy to keep the relentless touring up. That was never my intention.

Stratford -Upon -Avon Poetry Festival and Ledbury happened this month.

There were as always events which I missed and open mics I had no energy to attend, my hope is that before the end of the year I may get to attend them all at least once.

I am gutted that I lost my opportunity to send audition video in to support Hollie McNish on her Birmingham Tour in October. Scheduling and technical equipment were against me, couldn’t even use my mobile as it broke! I guess also part of me felt I wasn’t ready for this, despite talking to her after ConFab in Malvern and her telling me how much she enjoyed CakeMan…. if the Offa experience is anything to go by – the poet can love and adore you and your work – it won’t necessarily lead to the powers that be, publishing house, agents or Performance Companies agreeing!

When things should happen I will be ready to jump – I did get my 2nd exciting booking for paid work this month and a new role for me to try on for size to boot. Both BIG opportunities I have had this year I have grasped with a quick and confident YES! Both will lead to more things and both are beyond what I imagined I would achieve 10 months into my poetry journey / 20 months into my writing journey.

143551349motivation worth it

 

 

 

 

Mouth and Music Summer mm

Speakeasy Poetry

Spoken Word at The Ort This was a pre-book launch set by some of the contributors to the Born Free Anthology Restless Bones

Poetry on the Farm – celebrating the end of Jean Atkin’s poet residency by performing in the Old Barn, inspirational day! Setting up Poems for the Farm 10 best

The Event

Performing at The Shakespeare Centre, Stratford Upon Avon as part of the 52 Event 52

The week following this I was fairly exhausted by the 4 day run and 300+ miles of driving on top of some work. I was also writing for submission and Mr G had taken the week off to spend time together in lieu of a holiday. I missed 5 events this week, but had a lovely week with Mr G in the beautiful garden making it even more special.

42 – Dark Fears and Desires Read about it

 

Events Celebrate the World

Ledbury Poetry Festival Ledbury PFLedbury

I also went on a crazy quest to meet my old English Teacher – the one who encouraged me that poetry was where my writing talent lay! He works with Carol-Ann Duffy and she performed at a secret gig in Worcester this month. Read all about the crazy here

The Poetry Army – who I was supposed to perform with at The Artrix, postponed until 2015 due to ticket sales. I was gutted, but will be involved next summer instead, with more confidence and hopefully I will love it all the same. This event was double booked with a wedding invitation we had already accepted, so at least we were both able to attend the wedding. Although I missed performing at The Black Country weekend because of a wedding head the next day!

Antony Owens & Joseph Horgan– Book Launch at the Inspire Bar, Coventry the-year-i-loved-england Reviewed here

Jo Bell and 52 – Picnic/ Performance Event Stratford-Upon-Avon Poetry Festival 52

Poetry Party – my first one and it was wonderful, well worth the journey and a great night spent entertaining each other together. Not to mention some delicious food, thanks to Saleha Begum.

 

The Poet Within Quotes-On-The-Craft-of-Writing-bilo-gde

I lost complete confidence this month, I know again this is a normal status/ state to experience – but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. Losing faith in your ability, in your words is like being trapped in a box with no air. Absolutely terrifying. Fortunately I pulled myself out of the 2 week slump by posting about it and within a few days of enjoying events my thoughts shifted back to believing in the magic.

I have had a crazy 10 months, I am constantly learning and experiencing, opening new doors, facing new challenges. The strength of the writing community keeps me going, people are supportive and always there to offer advice or critique should you want it.

Even my worse writing days are 100 times better than the decade I forgot to pick up the pen.

A month of writing and opportunities.

summer 3 Here’s to AUGUST! bf bd

How has your month been?