I can hardly believe that it’s May already! I have fallen behind with posting because I have been busy doing. I thought March was a great month – until April KICKED IT! That’s the greatest reward about doing what you want to do. Every month brings achievement. I still have to pinch myself sometimes – but then why should I be surprised? I am working hard towards a goal. Along that road there are setbacks and fortunate moments. That is all I am experiencing, it’s not so special. It is however, something I am very grateful for, especially after my writer self has been stuck in the dark for so long.
The greatest thing is that writing is like riding a bike, you don’t forget how to do it. People tell me I am lucky and I don’t doubt their opinion (despite knowing what I know about my luck – which is the polar opposite of luck, something akin to calamity)! What people forget (just like those gold medal winners at the Olympics*) is that there was a lot of groundwork first and I have to admit, some natural, bigger than I am influence at work here.
I haven’t just come to writing. I have come back to writing after more than a 10 year break. I am a published poet and had my first success as a 15 year old. Nowadays that would make me a young writer, but this term wasn’t used back in the day, nor were there the opportunities of 16-25 groups and collectives, or even an essence of taking writers seriously unless they were adults. The world was different back then.
Later on, after graduating, I went ‘back to school’ to train on a creative writing course that was tutored by professionals in each field. It was modular and covered pretty much every genre. There were many times when the said professional told me that I should pursue that area of writing as that is where my talent lay, there is no greater feeling.
Of course, that’s nothing special lots of people can write across genres and actually if you want to make money from writing it is important that you can. Some people might need to learn their trade and improve over time, whatever you set your mind to – you should be able to realise with time and effort. Every success person says so.
There is also that school of thought – that when you key into your natural, born to do expectation that you can become successful. I know I will never play football professionally, I doubt I will swim the channel – but I have full and complete belief there will come a day when there is a book on the shelf in a bookshop with name on. So you pursue what you love and if you happen to be naturally talented, then go you!
It is a skill people can learn – but your unique voice is what will sell your work – and editors can tell when that’s not a solid, three-dimensional form.
Yes, I have experienced success already. Yes, I am grateful, yes I am a surprised & excited by what is happening. There are plenty of people who have done more than me and still not achieved – similarly there are people who haven’t done nearly as much and have received more kudos in a shorter amount of time.
The biggest LESSON is this –
Get a mirror, look at yourself… that’s your competition. It is easy to fall into comparing your success with others, but don’t. Look at where you are and where you were, that’s your success!
* Olympics – back in 2013 I started writing again and gave myself a 16 year span, equivalent to 4 x Olympics, in September (9 months in) I rediscovered poetry and have settled on this being at the core of my writing plan. Although I can write in other genres, I feel no novel in me, I do feel many poetry collections, it is the form that happens the most naturally. It is amazing looking back to September and seeing how far things have come on in just 7 months! I only imagine how great 1 year, 2 years will be.
This year the opportunity for Poet Laureate has come up and I decided against standing for it – despite everyone else thinking that I would go for it! Maybe next year or the year after. There are so many possibilities out there to grow and expand, it will happen.
So onto April. Let’s see how it went.
714 Followers now enjoy splashing around in the fountain, that’s 34 new followers this month – thanks to you all, especially a big thanks to those of you who like and comment – it is good to know I am not alone.
I attempted to complete Camp Nanowrimo and NaPoWriMo, however, it was a really busy month and I will raise my hand up and admit (unlike last year) I didn’t make it! I managed to write lots of poems, some days writing more than one. I have kept the prompts and will continue to complete this mission over the next 8 months.
I had hoped that joining Camp NaNo would help me get the short stories written that I needed to complete. Unfortunately I didn’t even get started and it was a shame because this year – FINALLY I had a full cabin and they were active and supportive, I just bit off more than I could chew. At the moment, this year I am working on so much that I am unsure that these excellent writing opportunities are good for me. I will look carefully at my schedule before I decide on the summer camp.
I am still participating in 52.
Last month I told you that I had 2 poems published in the up and coming Born Free Foundation anthology. The exciting news is that at a gig I did at The Ort, reading poems I had written for 52, several new poems were heard. The next day I submitted them by request and I believe they will appear too in this collection. So that’s 4, the most I have had in any one place at any one time!
Wenlock Poetry Trail / Festival
I managed to get to Wenlock Poetry Festival, find my poem AND get a photo or two of me in front of Croft Originals. (More photos to follow.)
Copyright Paul Francis 2014
Copyright Paul Francis 2014
Acton Scott Historical Farm
Jean Atkin has become the resident poet at Acton Scott Farm, she has created a poetry fence. WONDERFUL! I was lucky enough to get a short poem on there.
Copyright Jean Atkin 2014
This month has been action packed, I have had many great opportunities!
I missed several events at the beginning of the month due to fatigue. Cheltenham Poetry Festival will happen again next year as will the WLF Hill walk and poetry event (although it was pretty much rained off this year)! Later in the month I missed all World Book Night events & also a writers’ network meeting arranged By Heide Goody/ Pigeon Park Press, a FREE writing workshop at the MAC & a local arts network meeting.
I had rehearsals for my first collaborative performance with Tim Scarborough, a talented drummer/ percussionist and poet.
Mouth & Music –
Dualogue – great set by David Culcutt and Nadia Kingsley (who I missed again in Stratford-Upon-Avon last night) and a great night for all. My set with Tim went down really well – and I am collaborating with him again now on a different set/event as well as taking the original set back on the road to Birmingham later this month.
Writing West Midlands –
Worked as an assistant writer and attended a meeting with the other writers which was great fun as well as informative and has led to further opportunities to support the Hayley Frances’ Page Talk project, a creative month resulting in a performance. I think I may end up being used to literally volunteer as a steward on the festival day – 8th June, or maybe there will be more I can offer/ do as a practioneer/writer.
The Hive –
WLF & Ledbury Poetry Festival had there first joint venture, organised by Ruth Stacey to bring poets and poetry to people in Worcester. This event was great and I really enjoyed seeing Angela France again and talking to Martin Malone.
Female Force –
Was Photogiraffe’s 3rd exhibition launch, it took place at the Urban Coffee House, I was only able to make the first half as I had to go to work as an assistant writer. It was a great event and I am looking forward to her 4th and final exhibition this week (Monday night)!
Poetry For Lunch x 3
I took advantage of the Easter Holidays – I usually have work at the time this event takes place at the Library of Birmingham. I read for a couple of weeks and then this week our Stanza group took over.
The first week of these 3 sessions we had the honour of Frank Skinner in the audience – he actually stood there, watched and was entertained for some time before (I presume) hot footing it down to the Hippodrome!
Thanks to everyone for letting us have the whole session.
Jan Watts has organised an extra morning event this Tuesday – but I have to go back to work and earn some money!
PFL (the one with celebrity audience)
Hit the Ode
I have managed to get to these gigs for the past few months, this one was very special – due to the headline acts; SHANE KOYCZAN – Winner of the US Slam Poetry Championship, JASMINE COORAY & JODI ANN BICKLEY.
You can always tell QUALITY line ups when you look around the room and spot HEADLINE ACTS just paying to watch!
I had asked for a spot and was put on the reserve list. I had already performed at Poetry For Lunch and then a minute before they started Bodhan came and told me there had been a no show and so I had one of the 6 spots, much to the envy of many poets in the room, everyone wanted to perform on the same stage as Shane. I felt awful because I hadn’t prepared a set or practised, as I didn’t think anyone would give up these gold-dust spots. Fortunately I had a handbag full of poetry and I took the page to the stage this time!
I needed to do this as my 1st experience, in February was the worst, WORST set I had EVER performed and it knocked my confidence a lot. I attempted to perform from memory before I was ready – I have since performed from memory at Word Up and do now know (for tonight’s SLAM) 3 of my poems off by heart.
It was a great night and my poems went down well. It’s great when headliners talk to me about my poetry – so thank you Jodi.
HIT THE ODE
This was one of the best gigs for Spoken Word at The Ort – for attendance (standing room only) and acts, lots of musicians/ bands. It was a high energy gig and it was here that I performed some of my 52 poems that will be published alongside the animal poems in the Born Free anthology.
Word Up was great as always, I missed last month due to an events clash. It was great to see everyone again and Kate Walton (Story Tramp) made it as she had come home for a quick visit before hitting all the festivals, it was lovely to see her again. A night of great, high quality performances and lots of fun! Ian Bowkett was headlining and it was great to see him again! This time he came with his poetry book and I had my first 21st Century experience of the download card experience. I will be getting an e-reader copy.
Next month I am going to have the miss the waffle house afterwards though as I didn’t get in until after midnight.
Wenlock poetry festival
This was a great weekend festival, which I managed to get to for the last day, I still haven’t had time to update my blog post about Wenlock, but I will be posting it soon and will pin it.
George & Dragon open mic with Mark Niel – Shropshire/ Wenlock Poetry Festival
Throughout the weekend there were Open Mics and a Poetry Slam, I made it in time for the final lunch time open mic organised and hosted by Mark Niel – it was great and wonderful to see Anthony Owen popping in to read a couple of his poems from collection. It was great to see so many people had come for lunch and poetry, tables were even reserved in the small front bar at The George & Dragon.
I was walking back from the Edge Arts Centre later in the day and was stopped by a couple who had seen me perform and wanted to tell me how much they loved my first poem.
Saints, Sinners & Fools, Pigeon Park Press
Last week saw the Pigeon Park Press host an event in Kafe 6/8 (which is another one I haven’t had time to post up on the blog yet). They run about 4 events a year, I missed the Winter Stories event at the end of last year due to clashing events. This night clashed with Drummonds 42 but as that is monthly and these are one offs and I had been invited by Heidi Goody, I thought I would go. It was great to share poetry with a new audience and it was also the first time I have seen a play extract performed as part of spoken word/open mic night.
Again, it was great getting feedback on my poems from people who hadn’t heard any before.
I have been mainly concentrating on performing this month as you can see, alongside attempting new writing – particularly poetry – as part of NaPoWriMo. However, I realised last month that there are many opportunities that I miss due to being busy and ultimately to achieve my goal I have to start getting published again.
A Minor – I submitted some poems.
Wenlock Poetry Competition – my 1st poetry competition entry. I didn’t get placed.
Lichfield Poetry Competition – my 2nd poetry competition.
Poetry on the Farm – I wrote 3 Farm poems for Jean Atkin, resident poet at Scott Acton Historical Farm, she has chosen one for the poetry fence. I hope to get to see her and the farm sometime this month. (Work keeps getting in the way!)
I also developed a poetry page on Facebook and have had 100 likes in just 12 days 🙂