Yesterday was mentoring day. I’m not sure if you remember my overexcited post at the beginning of May ? Just to refresh you, I was selected to be part of Nine Arches Press Dynamo Mentoring Scheme . It was such a boost at the time, but things have gone off the boil a little, with paid work eclipsing creative, and my energy window being filled with fun, but exhausting things.
All this week I was so terribly worried. My critical voice was doing overtime “you’re not good enough/arty enough/poetic enough,” “you’re too old/too fat/ too ordinary.” I managed to squash the wise voice that kept pointing out that this editor of Nine Arches Press was driving from Birmingham to visit me, because there is something she likes in my writing. “She just feels sorry for you” says critical voice, oh so helpfully.
Truth be told, I liked Jane from the second I saw her. Friendly, funky and genuine. I think I might have been expecting someone like my rather over dramatic English teacher. I did the awkward handshake, offered coffee, forgot to take her coat, and babbled too much about nothing. Fortunately my babbling can’t have been too terrifying (I’m very aware of how much I chatter when I haven’t spoken to anyone for several days), and she stayed.
We chatted. Well I chatted, answered questions. I realised how very long it is since anyone asked me stuff, and then listened to the answers. It was liberating, and meant I felt I could let my guard down a little. We talked about where I want to be in a year (published in a magazine), three years (pamphlet), five years (book), and most importantly what I can do to get there. There are so many solutions to the isolation I experience as a writer, and being part of an online world will be a big part of my development. The amount of resources are astounding. If you know where to look.
We talked about what I have written so far (apparently I’ve written quite a lot of poems considering I’ve only been doing it a year), and how I can improve and grow. The work that she likes best is the work that is really mine. Work that is written from my belly, rather than my brain. She loves my use of imagery, and that I’ve got good technical understanding, and a good sense of rhythm. I suspect anyone who’s ever seen me dance may dispute this. She doesn’t like it when I tell the reader what to think, and don’t leave them room to breathe inside a poem. The worst ones are the ones where I’ve tried to use a different voice, to shoehorn my style into what I think is popular, or current. I just need to trust myself, and what I write.
I don’t feel excited. I feel quietly confident. This is an odd sensation for me, since I usually lurch between extreme enthusiasm and the depths of despair. My lack of confidence in myself and my writing is seen in my response to my less than top notch assessment result. The few hours yesterday have helped me to see a way forward, to feel I can achieve my goals, and most importantly to look forward to the future. I’ve not felt like that in a long time.
Have a look at http://www.ninearchespress.com/ to see what it is all about