Tag Archives: life

The Missing Bits & the Bits I Missed

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exit Last summer I was incredibly lucky to fly to Western Australia as one of the International Guest Poets at Perth Poetry Festival and I will be blogging about some of the adventure over the coming months. I didn’t have much time once I was back on UK soil as I had bookings and the tail-end of a summer to spend with Mr. G, as well as going back to work. Just as I was making videos and writing a review, I ended up in hospital with an unexpected operation. So nearly 12 months later… better late than never. Many people believe the myth that the problems I have suffered were as a result of this travel and the phenomenally long trip I had on my return to save some pennies! It was not the cause of my problems. My time in Perth was a joy and I can’t wait to share it with you!

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September was fairly packed – you can read the review here

My last performance was National Poetry Day, my health was already crooked, but I had been booked and didn’t want to miss NPD. Cut from the same cloth as my dad, do not miss a gig.

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It was a wonderful evening spent with fellow Poets Laureate Tim Cranmore, Heather Wastie, Suz Winspear and Betti Moretti and I had a lot of fun.

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I also particularly enjoyed going out for a meal beforehand and how much the audience enjoyed the show. Tim was a trouper for organising the event and it was pleasure to attend, despite being tanked up on antibiotics and painkillers!

 

Then came a whole series of things I had to miss. I missed so months of events, book launches, stanza meetings and editing groups. I had to pull all my Autumn/Winter bookings and by the time 2019 happened I had come off social media as I couldn’t deal with everything I was missing. I had a booking I made in June 2018 and a m/s accepted in July 2018 to edit and I couldn’t even manage to start working on these until March! I basically ceased to exist for a 1/4 of a year! 

October

I missed Swindon Poetry Festival as I was in hospital the day I was due to travel down, I had to pull out of a Guest Reading and Workshop for Brum Stanza, I missed the WLF Mental Health Event and a Reading for one in Malvern, I missed the DAN exhibition at Hanbury Hall which I was organising poets ekphrastic writing opportunities and performances for. I had to write my poems this year from photos sent to me by organisers and friends, this was the only writing I did and I didn’t manage that until December.

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My poem Wild Lilies and the Beauty of Abandoned Milk Bottles placed 1st in The Ring 21 Miles Poetry Competition and there was a digital exhibition 15th-28th Oct. at The Hive and a reading. I had only been out of hospital a week and was only really awake to take the daily dose of 27 tablets!

You can find the winning entry here

I won a tent and Mr.G and I can’t wait to use it! I cannot lie on the floor (or get back up) at the moment – so this will have to wait.

I missed being a Guest Reader for Neil Richards’ Book Launch.

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Wings made from the muscle of a river

November

The only event I managed thanks to the kindness of a lift and gentle persuasion from friends was Roy McFarlane’s Book Launch in Birmingham. I had to take 4 tablets during the course of it (and it wasn’t a long night) and the worst thing for me was I couldn’t hug anyone. Unbeknown to me at the time, it was a sort of swansong as that was pretty much the last thing I managed. Fortunately it was before I slipped discs in my back so I could still walk and sit! I held myself the whole time – but also didn’t want to miss it.

It was an incredible night which lifted my spirits. The room was full of creativity and love.

The Healing Next Time Cover

Cover artwork   ©   Barbara Walker

The book itself is a project Roy told me about early on in the process and is a powerful body of work.

The Healing Next Time

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I missed Remembrance events, a reading before the silence in a local town’s ceremony, organised by the Rotary and an evening in Worcester, Beacon Lighting. This is the first year I have been asked to participate in such events and it would have been an honour.

I missed the Verve Festival Pre-Launch Party and attempted and failed to edit my manuscript.

I missed deadlines on exhibition poetry and publishing the 4th issue of Contour (still outstanding), I missed performing at the newly opened Sandon Hall for Ben Parker’s event and sadly I missed out on a trip to Voiron for the Festival. voiron 2018 I had flights booked and everything! I couldn’t get a refund, but if I am well enough I can use the cost to cover a ticket somewhere European this summer.

I was also unable to take a booking for a special Poetry Night Roy McFarlane organised, a Q&A chat show style poetry panel.

December

By this time I had stopped taking any new bookings and resigned myself to life on the sofa, for a long while I had to live downstairs because I couldn’t make it upstairs! I still had to pull bookings for Guest Poet at Jennie Farley’s Book Launch for Hex.

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I had to cancel Meet the Authors, an event organised by Sue Johnson for Evesham Festival of Words. I had not been able to write for all this time and the panic set in about whether I would ever again.

I organised one event for the Hanbury Hall Poets to read at Park’s Cafe for the DAN artists. It was a great night and once again the only thing I did in December.

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2019 Jan – May

In the new year I decided to go to our local stanza meetings, they are held in homely comfort and do not last as long as event nights. Also I wasn’t writing or able to feel creative so it was necessary support for my soul. I had old poems to take and it was also a good challenge for an idled brain. I joined Worcester Film Poetry Collective, who meet monthly (in the comfort of home) with Elephant’s Footprint – this group led by Helen Dewbery and Chaucer Cameron has been a godsend. I have had lots of free time but have not been able to do much. Creating poetry films and animations takes an incredible amount of time, but currently 4+ hours is not difficult for me to find and it has been a fabulously rewarding way to spend an entire half day at a time.

By March I was able to think straight, off meds and able to tackle work on the now delayed manuscript. I was delighted to be a Guest Reader at Kathy Gee’s Book Launch for checkout (V. Press) and although I needed a special chair it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and lovely to reconnect with everyone.

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So much so that Kathy encouraged me to try Dear Listener the following week – which was when I realised I wasn’t ready. I tried again at the end of the Month with Poetry Bites, but couldn’t manage the 2nd half of the evening. However, listening to poetry enabled me to start writing again.

April was NaPoWriMo and this enabled me to crack that barrier and write freely. I have included some of my NaPo poems in recent sets and ended up with a few good ones.

By April/ May I started working on my festival show for Evesham Festival of Words and this month I have made the decision to try to get to some events every now and then.

June

I have managed Licensed to Rhyme, which was my first reading since Kathy’s Launch and that itself was my first reading for 6 months! It was a superb night. Great to see/hear everyone again and try out some edited NaPo poetry.

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The following night (last night), I read at the Worcestershire Litfest at an event organised by Suz Winspear ‘A Night at the Gallery’… more on that soon!

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Jilly Oxlade-Arnott © 2019

I had planned on going back this evening for the Anti-Poet, but my body isn’t ready, so I have to be sensible and give it a miss. But I am no longer absent from the scene and shall continue to strive for strength, mobility and pain management.

It leaves me with a very happy feeling to be back amongst poets, nestled in words.

Returning to the Land of the Living

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Alternative Title: Essay on Health!

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Like many adults the values instilled in us as youngsters steer the way we manage life. I was brought up to believe in working hard and only as an adult has my mum passed on the wisdom that all areas of life need or deserve 100%. Work, work has never been one of them and I am proud of my work ethic. Guilt is something I have not managed to shirk off from my informative years, so for me if you are off sick from work, that is that – you stay in bed and get better. However, when your post op body is weakened and you slip two discs in your back, staying in bed is not the thing to do and no one can expect you to put your entire life on hold whilst you recover!

The abridged version (it’s still quite long)!

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I was still on medication in the Spring which dictated what and how much I could do, (I have sciatica and my left leg/foot has been numb since November), I have been in Physio since November and my weeks have been filled with medical appointments, novels, trash TV, pyjamas & general convalescence. I have experienced the depression of long term sickness and the frustration of not being able to do much. I have advanced from not being able to bear any weight on my left leg to walking with a stick and nowadays, often without. I have a lot more mobility in my left foot thanks to Chair Pilates and a mum who encouraged me to do it. The Specialists I have seen all expect 9-12 months recovery time. I have been off work since the operation (which healed in March). I went to get the results of my MRI scan in May, which is when we discovered it was 2 slipped discs prolapsed on top of each other and the Advanced Physio talked to me about going back to work in the Autumn, but encouraged me to start back with Poeting (my term not his) as soon as possible. Mental Wellbeing and good for the soul.

It is with slightly less guilt that I have started to take his advice. I have a lot more spare time now I am down to 2 appointments a week and my brain works again now I am off medication. I am even having to renew my library books nowadays, I was devouring a novel every few days.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In March I returned to my desk to work through the edits for my next pamphlet (sent when I was in hospital in October). By the beginning of June that was all ready for the next exciting stage of endorsement/cover design. I have managed to forget about the fact that it was scheduled for release earlier this year and accept the delay caused by ill health. I am truly grateful for the understanding and compassion of my publisher, V. Press. It will happen later this year and I will enjoy it more as I will be able to manage better physically!

Back in March, I found I could write again and attempted some poetry events (which I discovered I wasn’t quite ready for). I had to pull out of Festival bookings, performances, Guest Readings at Book Launches, talks and a trip to a Literature Festival in France this Winter and it has been really hard disconnecting from the poetry scene.

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In March I managed to read at Kathy Gee’s Book Launch for ‘checkout’ published by V. Press. I was super nervous as I hadn’t read in public since National Poetry Day (September)! It was a superb night.

I did a workshop, then I got an almighty case of hives and had a weekend where an ambulance was called and I ended up in A&E with breathing difficulties – although the ECG had shown there was no problem with my heart. I’d had a double mammogram a few days earlier and although it felt as if my sternum was inflamed it was more likely pulled chest muscles.

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A week later, I attempted my first event, Dear Listener, featuring the current Birmingham Poet Laureate Richard O’Brien. I went as audience and was not performing, it was hard (physically) and by the 2nd half I was stretched out at the back on a sofa. I tried again at the end of the month at Poetry Bites, this time I did an Open Mic slot, which I managed by leaning up against the radiator (which was on and very hot)! By the interval I was stretched out in the adjoining room on the sofa, where I listened to most of the 2nd half before hobbling back in to watch. After this I decided to call it quits and wait for my body to catch up with my mind.

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Since January 2019 I have attended Stanza meetings, Worcester Film Poetry Collective meetings and a few workshops thanks to friends who were kind enough to give me lifts, (the equivalent of about 12/163 days) although even these can be physically uncomfortable they’re based in people’s homes which tend to have more accommodating furniture than venues.

Fast forward to June with another wave of Festivals, a medical specialist giving me permission to get back into it and the ability to write again, I was keen to get back on the circuit. Plus I’d already committed to several Festival Events (one pre-op). And so far, I am managing… which is a huge relief!

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So welcome back to the blogging, I am reactivated. It is currently Worcestershire LitFest and I am working on a project show for Evesham Festival of Words at the end of June. I may have to miss Stratford Poetry Festival next week and Ledbury at the start of July. But I am doing what I can. One day I will be ready to take bookings again and in the meantime I give myself permission to enjoy a soft re-entry into the world I love and miss so much!

Welcoming a New Year 2019

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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!

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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.

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©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.

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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?

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  • 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.

1 birm ort1

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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