I’m at the start of my third year of writing “seriously” and my seventh year of having M.E.. I feel less than terrific about both of these things. If I compare to this time last year, when I was merrily writing travel pages, and confidently submitting here, there and everywhere, things feel considerably less buoyant. I feel considerably less buoyant. Sinkable, in fact.
I’m trying to muster positivity, but the bare fact is M.E. is limiting my life. It feels kind of good to say that out loud.And kind of awful. I try to downplay the impact and try to “be positive” but my reality is that I have about four useful hours each day. I frequently go over those, sometimes deliberately, sometimes through guilt, and very occasionally because I’m having too much fun to stop. Then my body makes me. No option. I’m on day five of my post Christmas crash. This year’s festive period was particularly tricky, and I’m not surprised I’m so ill. I’m just sick of being sick. There’s so much I want to do, and so much that needs to be done to try to make things better, lying at home feels both privileged and pathetic.
How to regain hope then? I’m struggling to find the answer. I’ve a nagging feeling that I need to calm down, stop pushing and start enjoying the minutes of wellness that I have. Ha. It’s impossible. I love the ups and downs and adrenaline. Recognising what is important is the hardest thing. Perfection is subjective, and my lens changes every five minutes. Mostly I need to rest, but while body has a way of just “stopping” my mind won’t quit, and I can’t even divert myself by reading or watching a good film. Or a terrible film. Even Gone with the Wind has failed to distract.
I usually end these moany posts with a flash of perkiness, but in all honesty I haven’t got one. I am writing again. I just need to regrow my skin.
Thanks for reading, and any hints and tips are gratefully received x
Lots and lots of submissions sent today, it’s a funny mix of happy excitement (they might accept) and nervous negativity (they might not) but the good far outweighs the bad. Having work accepted for publication validates it somehow; it moves beyond just being liked by kind friends, and into something that is valued by people who want to sell their magazine or increase traffic to their blog. Having said that, the loveliest feedback is when someone takes time to get in touch to say how a poem moved them. Writing needs to be read, and knowing someone has felt some kind of resonance is the most precious thing.
Health has been frustratingly up and down…four days laid up last week but, thrill of thrills, I managed two outings with dear old friends last week, which lifted me and left me feeling warm and loved. Marvellous stuff. Exciting things are happening work-wise too, and I’m hoping to bring more news soon.
I’ve a couple more pieces to polish before sending off, then I’m going to knuckle back down to doing some actual writing. I have a fancy to write some short fiction again, so I’m at the germinating ideas stage which is always exciting.
My brain is more than quite contrary. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been drawing back from writing, feeling unsure where to go next. I almost need an anchor, and I certainly crave the balm of encouragement. I’m not fabulous at asking for these, so I tend to withdraw instead. It’s also the time of seed-sowing and plant tending, which is always my favourite distraction. I love the perpetual hope of a garden. As a consequence, I’ve felt that little actual writing has been happening other than hurried pieces for my final poetry school assignments. Thinking back though, I realise my brain has been sorting and storing and assimilating ideas . I realise I’ve been jotting down phrases that strike me as interesting or odd and I realise that I never really stop writing. Drawing back a little gives me time to breathe and reconfigure. I’m not alone in having my sharpest ideas at that magical point between sleeping and waking, and the simple act of changing focus gives my mind chance to wander and to wonder.
I’ve had one of my favourite poems published too, it’s a favourite because it began at one of those curious moments of absolute clarity and peace. More often than not I am tied up with anxiety, so these moments are rare and precious. I wanted to capture the calm power that I feel and absorb from the sea, so I focused on creating that rhythm. This poem has been slow to perfect ; it’s over a year old and has had many tweaks and twists, This final version is one that I’m happy with, and one that had its final polish has part of Wendy Pratt’s excellent How to Write a Poem workshop that I took at the start of the year. The workshop was entirely online, but Wendy helped create a fab collaborative feel, and it was great to have feedback and interaction from other poets. You can read View from Cook’s beach on Saltwaterzine, and it’d be ace if you’d like it and give a spot of feedback.
I need to begin my next round of submissions and polish up a couple of competition entries, but I think I’m going to spend as much time as I can with my seedlings too. It’s all about balance.
Thank you to everyone who likes, shares and comments on my work and my posts. It’s so valuable both personally (you’ve no idea how much it boosts my confidence) and in terms of getting my work read. Writing is a solitary occupation, throw in the complications of M.E. and it becomes even more so. A bit of interaction is great, and it’s so good to see when someone has enjoyed what I’ve written. Thank you!
……this writing lark. The more I do the more I want to do and the more my brain pesters me with ideas and random sparks of sentences. I’m obsessive by nature, and easily become fixated on things. Sometimes my brain actually hurts (you’re allowed to think of the Gumbies) and that is when I have to stop, and that is when it gets really frustrating. I suppose it’s like a runner pulling a muscle.
What has caused this fizz of enthusiasm ? I think it’s partly time. I’ve been hibernating, not gardening, not going out and not seeing many people at all. I’ve had the luxury of waking up with nothing to do but write. Admittedly, a good chunk of that writing is about sofas and storage lockers, but it’s still writing. And it still makes me happy.
I’m having a good creative spell too though. The Short Short Fiction course from Poetry School has produced a tangible improvement in my flash fiction, which has had the happy effect of inspiring me to sort and collate my poetry from the year. I’ve realised a key failing for my Primers application was that there was no real theme. It’s not that I have to create a collection of poems based on my love for toasters or the like, but there does have to be a thread of commonality. Obviously I didn’t have a clue about this at the time, I just put together six poems I didn’t hate. This is where the hard work I talked about in my last post comes in. Research, reading, and really understanding what I’m submitting is crucial. The time I spent today has illuminated my themes, however subtle, and moved me towards creating a considered collection, rather than a random assortment.
Submissions are happening. I have to wait until January at the earliest to get feedback. It’s a pest, but it’s how it is. I read a tweet from a fellow poet today that he has had 90 rejections and 17 acceptances this year. That’s a sobering percentage. The reality is that my focus and joy has to come from creating pieces that I love. If others love them too, then that is a bonus.
Thanks as ever for reading, please do comment, and if you can take a second to like and share on one of the social media platforms, it really helps support me.
I’m doing a couple of courses with The Poetry School this autumn (to keep me going while I save for the next part of my degree) and I thought I’d invite you to join in with reading my work and feeding back.
I’ve always been irritated by having so little actual work on here (no point in a writing blog without writing after all), but anything I think is decent has to be “unpublished” to make it eligible for submission and competitions. My work with the Poetry School is very much first draft stuff, but writing is a lonely old business, and I’d love a bit of feedback.
Please share this much as you can, especially if you’ve come here from Facebook/Twitter. The more you share, the more people read,so I’ll get lots of interaction and feedback (slightly terrified,but hey).