The Hungry Chimera

This week I’ve had two poems published in a literary magazine in the US, The Hungry Chimera. It’s a stunning and contemporary mix of stories, poems, and artwork that give you a little dark thrill. I probably sound like I’m saying this just because I’m in it, but I honestly think this is one of the most beautifully put together magazines I’ve been in. And my two poems are right at the beginning!

The Hungry Chimera

I can’t wait for my copy to arrive! You can buy a copy or download the digital issue for free here. I’m featured in issue 2.

Speak soon!
🙂

Healthy Body = Healthy Brain?

You know that feeling when you’re tied up in a few too many tangles and you begin to feel a bit like you’re drowning? I know that feeling only too well. I have a habit of excitedly starting several projects  – sure that I can manage them no problem. ‘Another submission? Sure thang!’

But I’ve been feeling really tired lately. I’m still really keen to do everything, and I want to get up and write or read or speak, it’s just some evenings I want to close my eyes, lay on the sofa, and just not think at all. This is probably totally normal after a long day of writing for the job I do through the week. But still, it’s made me feel a bit soft, squidgy, and rather like a long and floppy flump.

flump

So I’ve decided to be really mindful of myself, my body, how I feel, and how I think. Not giving your body the fuel it needs will cause even the most considered engine to burn out, just as pushing yourself too hard can result in a total system breakdown. I’m not the fittest person in the world, but I’m not horribly unfit. I love cake. I love biscuits. I love wine. And mead. And chorizo. Oh GODS I love chorizo. I’d had quite long periods when I’ve done yoga, but at the moment I just don’t feel like there are enough hours in the day. That statement itself is full of irony though – as a quote sticks in my head by some Yogi or other about that fact that if you can’t find the time to meditate for 15 minutes then you actually need to meditate for 30 minutes. The point is that life shouldn’t be that rushed. Isn’t it the Italians that say the rest of the world can’t understand ‘the fine art f doing nothing’? That sounds wonderful to me.

Anyway, more strenuous exercise is usually not up my street anyway. I have something called Charcot Marie Tooth Disease, which means I’m basically not as co-ordinated or strong in the extremities as would be expected. Even if I speed up to a ‘trying to act casual’ trot if I’m rushing for a bus chances are my ankle will go over or my knees will give out. Anyway. calmer exercise is ideal – something like walking.

So I can keep track of how much I’m moving, I’ve bought a FitBit. Urgh. I’m definitely not going to become one of those people who becomes all consumed with tracking everything, but it is fascinating to see how I sleep, and watch my heartrate through the day. I also picked a FitBit with breathing exercises programmed into it so I can do little min meditations through the day.

I’ve only had it since last week, but it’s definitely giving me a bit of added motivation. I’m thinking about how much water I’m drinking, how many steps I do, and my overall activity a lot more, even if it nags to get me up for a little bit every hour. I’m hoping if I look after myself better my mind will be able to deal with multi-tasking and everything else a whole lot better. The worst that can happen is that all the added activity actually makes me even more tired – ha! But luckily, so far I actually feel quite good.

And this might mean that I get to eat cake guilt free. Woopee!

mindful

Your One Phone Call

I’ve been a bit slow with updating this blog with little poems I’ve had published here and there, so I thought I’d do a mini one now!

A few months ago, Your One Phone Call published two of my poems on their website – ‘My Place’ and ‘Sun Burn’. You can read them through these links.

Working on bigger projects has meant that I haven’t had as much time to send off smaller pieces to anthologies and web journals. And there’s a few places that have requested bits and pieces from me and I still haven’t quite completed them, argh! But still, there are a few upcoming little pieces to expect from me in the next few months in The Hungry Chimera, Lungs, and Magma – among others. I’m particularly thrilled about Magma! They’re one of the top poetry magazines in the UK, and whilst I’ve been shortlisted before I never knew if I’d actually make it into an issue. And now I’ve done it! Woohoo!

to do

Right – back to work on the novel (I’m DEFINITELY doing a post sometime soon about the massive task of doing the first edit. I had no idea how long it would take to even look through a single chapter!) and my next poetry collection. Not to mention editing the White Noise & Ouija Boards Anthology, doing edits from WoMentoring, finishing up my science fiction series for Shoreline of Infinity

So much to do, so little time.

🙂

WoMentoring

A few months ago I hit a bit of a wall. I’d been writing some short stories, and though the ideas kept coming, the wall I hit was more of a metaphysical one. I totally couldn’t tell if what I was writing was actually good or complete baloney. There was no way to tell. Though the stories were all different in terms of tone and theme, I couldn’t grade any of them, or work out if some were better than others or why. It mightn’t sound that bad, but an inability to judge what you’re doing probably means you can’t edit either. So how could I tell if I was making the stories better, or worse?

Totally coincidentally, I spotted that a poet friend of mine (also being published by Valley Press this year) was a Poetry Mentor through something called WoMentoring. I investigated further, and discovered that it’s a collective of literary women who are trying to help women writers who are lost in the mires of uncertainty. Their mission is:

‘To introduce successful literary women to other women writers at the beginning of their careers who would benefit from some insight, knowledge and support.’

You choose a mentor from the lists of relevant exceptionally talented women and write a little letter, telling them what you need help with and why. I wrote to a mentor (the fantastic Tracey Emerson) and heard back within a few weeks – and it was a big fat yes! I sent her three short stories and a clutch of flash fictions and the feedback Tracey has since sent back to me is just wonderful. Overall, it’s actually really encouraging, though she’s picked up some niggles here and there that I’d never have thought of but are altogether right. It’s made me think about what to look for whilst editing – and I think it’s at this point, after days and days of the early editing is over, when I start to lose the plot.

The next stage for me is to rework one of the stories and sent it back to her for another look. I’m taking my time – I need to do it justice. I’ve officially finished the first draft of my first novel now, so I’m resting it for a month or so (if I can!) to do these WoMentoring edits and work on editing the White Noise & Ouija Boards Anthology. And then back to the novel!

If it’s relevant to you, I can’t recommend WoMentoring enough. I really can’t. I somehow still can’t believe it exists without a catch! What it does is give you hope, a hand to hold, and a way out of the wilderness. It’s perfectly summed up in this illustration, created by one of the mentors:

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You can read all about WoMentoring (and how to even become a Mentor!) here: https://womentoringproject.co.uk/ .

The Thing About Endings…

It’s been a helluvafewweeks. All go, and no stop. Writing, writing at the day job, attending the Northern Poetry Symposium, editing an anthology, blogging… All at the same time as managing the rest of life and bit of a sick cat.

This task mash-up normally results in my not being able to really concentrate on anything, and the sensation of my heart flit-flit-flitting in my head, rather than my chest. Does anyone else feel this way? From the outside it sounds like panic, but I don’t know if it’s actually just adrenaline. It means I’m alive – though sometimes I do wonder if feeling so alive on a long-term basis might actually do me some damage.

Brain

I’ve been keeping going with my novel plan – 1000 words a day. Sometimes I’ve done a little more, sometimes a little less, but it’s worked out pretty much there. I’m on the cusp of 36,000 words now, and since I’ve planned it as quite a shorty this means I’m in the final leg.

Endings are hard. I love writing beginnings, I love the beginnings of films, of plays. I love learning about a world and seeing the people in it for the first time. I love the mystery, the wonder. I love first impressions. But endings… Those are far more difficult. When I was younger and I used to write little stories here and there I most often used to kill the main character, as it seemed the only thing to do. So many dead protagonists… Died for nothing.

The truth is, I find it hard to imagine anything being ties up in life, so how can I emulate that in a novel? Every action we take starts a string of consequence, and sometimes they can come back to meet us again later. We go through awful things and great things, and both stick with us, so how can anything truly be resolved? This might reflect my own inability to leave things behind than anything else! And I know you don’t need everything to end at the end of a novel, but you do have to learn something that’ll change the way you live afterwards. I’ve tried to remember my favourite endings to novels and they tend to be novels that close quietly, with a thought, rather than an explosion or definite END. I don’t have such a problem ending poems, but I think this is because I see those as a snapshot. Even the poems with a  narrative tend to end on an important feature, rather than massive change. Maybe there’s something to learn from that?

Anyway, all going well, I should finish the first draft by the end of May. I’ll print it and rest the whole thing in a super-secret-cupboard during June, and then resurrect it in July, and start the long and (at the moment obscure) editing process. I imagine the editing process is going to take a LOT longer than the drafting processing. I’m not giving myself a tight deadline for this – and I’m just aiming to have it completed by the end of the year. This will mean I can work on all the other projects zipping about above my head – the full poetry collection, the book of short stories, the graphic novel, the children’s book… Not to mention the requests I’ve had for extra poems and bits and bobs for journals, and the Ghost Anthology I’m guest editing for Three Drops Press. Eeek. I’m sort of forgot about all that.

Oh well. Wish me luck!

MudFest!

It’s MudFest this week, people! MUDFEST!

MUD

If you haven’t heard about this yet, it’s a splendiferous showcase of live art, performance poetry, eclectic live music, an indie marketplace, a poetry kissing booth… And it’s the launch of the new WOMAN Anthology from Mud Press. The event is being directed by Founding Editor Georgina Wilding as part of the Nottingham Poetry Festival, and (in my humble opinion) this looks to be the highlight. George has been promoting the festival all over the place, and even popped up on BBC East Midlands prime-time news to perform and bit of spoken word poetry and advocate poetry to a ‘not-so-sure’ audience. As you do.

I’m incredibly proud to be a part of Mud Press, in that I became their In-House Blogger some time ago. But even if I wasn’t part of the team, I’d still think this event kicked ass.

You can read my blog detailing the ‘10 Reasons MudFest is IT’ over at the Mud Hub.

The Where: THiNK Creative Space, Cobden Chambers, Pelham Street, Notts, NG1 2ED

The When: Friday 28th April, 5.00pm – 8.00pm

Enjoy!

NaPoWriMo

What is this weird string of code, you may ask?

Those who are familiar with the term will recognise it as the abbreviated term for National Poetry Writing Month – which is April. I think the equivalent novel writing month (NaNoWriMo – November) has received far more popularity, but Poetry month is definitely on the rise. You can visit the website here.

napofeature1

Like many other poets I connect with online, I’ve been participating in the Month by writing one poem a day. That’s the general rule! It doesn’t have to be a complete poem, even a draft (which has been mostly the case), but a few other projects have sprung from this activity too.

I participated in the Month last year too, and I felt like that time I came out with a plethora of poems which seemed to fit quite coherently into a body of work that could be published together if I wanted to. At the time I had quite a singular focus, and I think that really showed in what I ended up with. Quite a few of those poems have since been included in anthologies. This year’s output has been far more eclectic… And dare I say it – more exciting!

It’s a habit of mine to work on quite a few different literary projects at once. I can’t help it. Typing and DOING can never keep up with the stream of ideas, and this can be really quite frustrating. I record every concept but sometimes returning to an idea doesn’t fill you with the same spark you had when you thought of it. So much of it I shelve for a future time when I might not have so many ideas.

Anyway, I’ve been forcing myself to be easy-going (quite the oxymoron) when it came to NaPoWriMo. The point was to develop a good flow of writing, so that I would be comfortable sitting down and just making a lot of it up, rather than feel the pressure to make something that’s perfect every time. Because who does that, really? It’s enough to put you off even trying. I honestly think this is why so many potential storytellers don’t even try. It’s the anticipation of failure.

So I’ve been writing all sorts of things, predominantly poems and short stories for two potential projects later in the year. I’ve also been doing a bit of brainstorming for an inclusion in a science fiction anthology later in the year which requires up to ten poems from each author. The publisher already has 7 from me, and they’re keen to receive more.

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Working on these has actually prompted another unexpected project… But one that feels, well, RIGHT. In the past six months or so I’ve been really keen to write a novel or novella, but none of the ideas I came up with felt like the write one, so they ended up as short stories or poems. But this one seems to have enough in it to make it to a full and rounded length, as well as being character lead, whilst still discussing certain philosophical issues. It sprung from a poem I wrote, and within half an hour I had a rough one page plan of plot, and narrative. So I’m going for it! And furthermore, I’m setting myself a target. I’m to write 1,000 words a day in order to have a first draft within a couple of months. Whether this story is any good is one thing, but I think it’s time I forced myself to see something at this length through despite the doubts, despite pulling my own hair out, despite the days when I can hardly string two words together. I can do this.

So wish me luck, and maybe you’ll be hearing more about this project soon…