Tag Archives: Mental Strength

The Stay at Home! Literary Festival 2021 – Week 1 – Part 2 #SAHLF2021


Welcome to the 2nd part of week 1 – these are just snippet reviews from some of my festival experience. Enjoy your bite of SAHLF 2021.

Thursday 29th

All the featured books can be purchased in the S@HLF Bookshop here.

Footprints: In Search of Future Fossils

This was my introduction to David Farrier, he is an award-winning author and Professor of Literature and the Environment at the University of Edinburgh.

In 2017 He received the Royal Society of Literature’s Gules T Aubyn award for non-fiction. Footprints: In Search of Future Fossils has been (or is in the process of being) translated in seven languages.

I admire Robert Macfarlane‘s writing and was excited to watch David Farrier discuss his book with Esa Aldegheri. We saw a short promotional video about the work the book covers and then an in depth interview covering everything from how will we be seen as ancestors by our descendants to future fossils, single use plastic and the attempt to imagine that which is actually beyond our imagining.

Footprints is a book which deals with how we get a sense of what our impact is going to be in the very long term on the planet and the people who will come after us, which is an issue that has entered global consciousness during the pandemic. Ironic when you think of what all the scientists, environmentalists, conservationists, ecologists and Eco activists have being telling us for decades. Finally people can see the result of human impact on our world. The planet has shown us.

Many of us see these issues from our present moment but in the opening paragraphs of his book Farrier writes: the fact that we also inhabit the flow of very deep time and he also references Percy Shelley (and Aristotle). Any author who cites a poet wins me over instantly.

Later in the conversation Aldegheri mentions the enjoyable use of poets being quoted in Footprints -Alice Oswald, Derek Walcott and Shelley. Farrier teaches English Literature and knows poetry can help us make sense of things that seem too big for our comprehension, poetry can change our perspective, give us multiple meanings.

I got a real taste of this book from this presentation. The Q&A included some brilliant questions from the audience and we got to hear about Farrier’s sabbatical research.

Creating The Perfect Page Turner

Thriller writers Penny Batchelor and Louise Mumford as they reveal the tips and tricks they use to keep readers obsessively turning those pages.

This was another great session, thoroughly enjoyed listening to the conversation between these two authors. They covered the usual ‘What If’ Pitch and 3 Act Structure, then went on to discuss how to use misdirection, characters and the art of keeping your reader engrossed. It was a joy to listen to and Batchelor and Mumford also generously threw in some book recommendations.

Penny Batchelor

Penny Batchelor is an alumna of the Faber Academy online ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She is a freelance journalist, a former BBC content producer and website editor for various educational institutions.

Her journalism has appeared in numerous publications including The Knitter, Vintage Life, Mollie Makes, Travel Africa, The Simple Things and Pretty Nostalgic magazines; and BBC Ouch!, money magpie.com, welovethisbook.com and The University of Warwick’s Knowledge Centre websites. She is the editor of her award-winning knitting blog A Woolly Yarn, which is now solely social-media based on Facebook and Instagram.

Author Interview – Yorkshire Times

Louise Mumford

Louise Mumford studied English Literature at university and graduated with first class honours. As a teacher she tried to pass on her love of reading to her students (and discovered that the secret to successful teaching is… stickers! She is aware that that is, essentially, bribery.)

In the summer of 2019 Louise experienced a once-in-a-lifetime moment: she was discovered as a new writer by her publisher at the Primadonna Festival.

Her debut thriller, Sleepless, was published by HQ on 10th Dec 2020.

The Circle meets Black Mirror in a thrilling, plausible and gripping debut. Frighteningly inventive.’ John Marrs, bestselling author of The One

Friday 30th

Remember me telling you in Part 1 I wasn’t going to bed down at the festival this year? Well, by the weekend I was dragging my sleeping bag in! So much so, I am even reviewing an event I didn’t manage to catch…

I was gutted to miss Dogged: Working Class Women with Emma Purshouse after being treated to a short extract a week ago at Paul Francis’ Book Launch where Emma was a guest reader. I know Emma and her work well and am delighted that she has successfully transitioned that broad water between poetry and novel.

Aside from face to face work during the first 3 months of Lockdown 3, I stay in. I take an occasional nature walk, a weekly supermarket drop in and the odd trip to the Drs/hospital or petrol station. And on Friday I braved the world and met a friend in her garden for a coffee and a catch up. This is the first time since December I have been out.

I had hoped to be back for Emma’s Midday event, but had a second cup (this was the first time since December I’d been out – and once out…) and on the way home had a run in with a huge silver van on single track country lane, delaying me further. Those of you who read AWF regularly will know that my poor laptop is struggling on and so even though I hoped to catch the second part of this event, the tech took another 20 mins to log in and clear itself onto Zoom, I missed it!

I know Emma will be doing more readings and promotion for this book and I will look out for those.

Set in the city, Dogged is the story of two working-class women in their 70s. Funny, warm, dark, and beautifully written, the novel has received rave reviews and has been described as “unputdownable”.

Emma is a working-class performance poet and writer, and the current poet laureate of the City of Wolverhampton. She was part of the ‘Common People’ anthology, edited by Kit de Waal, and is also part of Portopia which is a brand-new writer development project set up to increase working-class representation in screenwriting.

Emma Purshouse

Thanks to Ignite Books I did find this recording of an extract. Enjoy!

BIO: Emma Purshouse is Poet Laureate for the City of Wolverhampton. She is a poetry slam champion and has performed at spoken word nights and festivals across the UK – Cheltenham Literature Festival, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Edinburgh Fringe, Latitude, and WOMAD, among others – often using her native Black Country dialect in her work. Her most recent poetry publication, Close, (Offa’s Press, 2018) was shortlisted for the Rubery Book Award in 2019, and her children’s poetry collection, I Once Knew a Poem Who Wore a Hat, won the poetry section of the same award in 2016. In 2019 Emma was one of writers included in ‘Common People’, the anthology of working-class writing edited by Kit De Waal. Her debut novel, Dogged, (Ignite Books) was launched early in 2021, to critical acclaim.

The Millstone and the Star: Mental Health, Mental Health Problems and Writing

Mental Health and wellbeing (and writing through it) has always been important to me. Not least of all because I came back to writing (after a 15 year gap) after suffering from clinical depression. It is something I live with and know well the power of writing out.

This was an interesting presentation, an honest, brutal (at times, we were warned) and necessary. Sadly a fallout of pandemic life is people have experienced isolation on a level as never before and the loneliness and lack of human contact has increased mental health concerns globally. So this field is even more essential than it ever was – and it always was.

Somehow I had it in mind that this was a workshop, so I was surprised by Anna Vaught’s presentation, but it was /felt interactive and soothing to hear another person’s experience and learn about the work she does and of course the Millstone and the Star.

The programme demonstrates the positivity Anna Vaught searches for and despite the subject, this was an uplifting session to be part of.

How might writing help boost our mental health, and how might we write about and draw on the experience of mental health problems and mental illness in our fiction and non-fiction work? Sometimes, we carry a heavy weight and perhaps we cannot ever be mended – that is the millstone. Yes this does not mean we cannot nurture our creativity and produce fine writing; create something beautiful: there is the star. – © S@HLF Programme

BIO: Anna Vaught is a novelist, poet, essayist, short fiction writer, editor and a secondary English teacher, tutor and mentor, mental health advocate and mum of 3. 2020 saw the publication of Anna’s third novel, Saving Lucia (Bluemoose) and a first short story collection, Famished (Influx). Anglo-Welsh, she splits her time between Wiltshire, Wales, and the Southern US. She is currently editing a new novel, writing a novella and working on her first non-fiction book & a second short story collection. Anna’s essays, reviews, articles, and features have been featured widely online and in print. She is represented by Kate Johnson of Mackenzie Wolf Literary Agents, in New York City.


A Useful Article on Mentally Strong People (Shared Wisdom)


This evening I was surfing through Social Networks when I came across this article on Forbes website and it got me thinking.


2013 has been a real year of improvement

in health

in mental strength

in work

in writing

in life

It is the first time I have felt alive in about a decade and the difference? I am the driving force – this is my life and it is the only one I am getting and I have wasted enough of it already – and how have I wasted it? Well reading the list it all made sense. So here is a little expose in the hope that you don’t fall down the same rabbit holes and if you do at least you may be aware of it and how you can gain the strength and control back!

As with many people, I have experienced a year when my life took a 360 turn and I found it difficult to recover. These are the mistakes I made (and they are all things that MENTALLY STRONG PEOPLE wouldn’t do!);

1.    Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves.

2. Give Away Their Power.

3.    Shy Away from Change.

4. Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control.

5. Worry About Pleasing Others.

6. Fear Taking Calculated Risks.

7. Dwell on the Past.

8. Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over.

9. Resent Other People’s Success.

10. Give Up After Failure.

11. Fear Alone Time.

12. Feel the World Owes Them Anything.

13. Expect Immediate Results.

© 2013 Forbes.com LLC™ List by Amy Morin, a psychotherapist

Cheryl Snapp Conner is a frequent speaker and author on reputation and thought leadership.

Many of these things happen subconsciously but you need to be aware of them to change them. I became aware of how much damage I was doing to myself through these mental attitudes, eventually (after many years). Also things I’d considered to be barriers keeping me from happiness, really weren’t. Other factors that I hadn’t focused on were a problem and did cause difficulties.

lit8 There was a lot of rubbish things happening and my head was swimming in rubbish too!

(My photo of a bin!)

Everything which made me sad was to do with a life that was past and incorrect employment decisions. None of my unhappiness has come from my life with Mr G – which is the polar opposite!

1.    Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves.

EVERYDAY for years, I felt really sorry for myself for the cards life had played me and what my world had become. I blamed everyone else.

2. Give Away Their Power.

I stayed in an unhappy situation for 8 years, I fought against being pushed and victimised. I felt powerless, in the end I decided just to pretend I didn’t care because it never got any better. I tried to escape for 7 years.

3.    Shy Away from Change.

I hated change, fear it – knew it was guaranteed but hated it all the same. And refused to see the changes I needed to make for myself – in many aspects of my life.

4. Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control.


5. Worry About Pleasing Others.

Not consciously – not ‘pleasing’ but giving 110 % when less than 20% was deserved and 70% would have done. It made me very ill. I worried about what others thought, all the time.

6. Fear Taking Calculated Risks.

DEFINITELY – this plan to jump executed this year was in planning and development stages for 4 -7 years!

7. Dwell on the Past.

DEFINITELY – it owned me, controlled my future – owned my present and completely destroyed my life.

8. Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over.

See above – and because I changed nothing – nothing changed!

9. Resent Other People’s Success.

DEFINITELY – and this is one of the biggest areas of change (and again a lot of this has been subconscious action) I couldn’t stand other people’s happy news, let alone success. Now I take part in celebrating it!

10. Give Up After Failure.


11. Fear Alone Time.


12. Feel the World Owes Them Anything.

I felt hard done by and expected the change and turn around to happen whilst I sat idly passive and disassociated!

13. Expect Immediate Results.

DEFINITELY and that was without taking any action! And when nothing changed I would crumple a little more and another bit of me would disappear.

10/12 – Weaker minded people don’t usually obtain almost a whole list – even failing has to be done at 83%

paper boats

This list is something to bear in mind! Something to aim at – without being aware of the list – I have turned around a lot of my ways of thinking and am living a more positive life.

1.    I am happy with the life I lead – I have no reason to feel sorry for myself, I have discovered what makes me happy and I focus on the positive, things will go wrong, that’s life – but they will not be anywhere near as bad as what I have already experienced, and I have survived that!

2. Give Away Their Power – I own myself – including now in my work life – those I have to answer to think highly of me and so they should!

3.    Shy Away from Change – I don’t. Change is a constant and guaranteed. I embrace it. 

4. Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control. – No point if it is out of my control then I am powerless to it and needn’t take action.

5. Worry About Pleasing Others – I do – by being myself.

6. Fear Taking Calculated Risks – I gave up my job and bought a house at the same time…. what do you mean calculated?!

7. Dwell on the Past- it is there, in the past. Move on. Walk forward.

8. Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over. – Never more than twice at the most.

9. Resent Other People’s Success. – Nope, I celebrate it. One day – it will be me that has the news of success and I would want a party of people who were genuinely pleased for me!

10. Give Up After Failure. – Pick yourself up and carry on. Failure is a working success… a step to thplaye road of triumph. 

11. Fear Alone Time.

12. Feel the World Owes Them Anything.

13. Expect Immediate Results. – I have given myself 4 Olympics – just like the Gold Medal finalists of the summer of 2012. I have one & 1/2 decades left!