Feeling like a tortoise

As well as my Secret Severn research, I’ve been polishing my competition submissions. I’ve had to pare back my entries this year, partly because of cost, and partly because I’ve tried to adopt a more intelligent approach.

When I first started entering and submitting, I was so nervous I just pinged poems to every publication that came up. I had some success, but this year I’ve tried a more measured approach. I suppose I’m seeking quality over quantity. I’ve also got over that first rush of excitement about having work published, and moved back to being focused on creating work that I feel proud of, and that I need to write.

I’ve been struggling to write anything new, partly because I’ve been busy, and partly because my brain is having one of its tired phases. I recognise the signs now and know that it’s just the M.E. rather than anything else. Now I’ve got my submissions off, I’m taking a week or so away from it all, before refocusing on Secret Severn for the rest of September and into October. It’s time to read my favourite chilled out writers, maybe dip in and out of some new poetry I’ve got on my bedside table, and spend a bit of time in fields listening to new music.

As ever, getting people to engage with what I write means a lot – if you’ve read this far thank you!

I’d love it if you’d like the post on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/KathrynAnnaWrites/
and if you’ve a moment to comment on any of my social media posts, it increases visibility.

Thank you!


How does it feel to have something published ?

Utterly marvellous, of course. But also odd. I’ve been reluctant to write this post, after all no one likes a show off. There’s also the matter that some of you might read the work which makes me feel a little edgy. Its a peculiar feeling, I want to be heard but I want to hide. Opening up is reserved for the closest of the close and they have a strict set of rules that even I don’t understand. Telling people I’d had a piece of poetry published was largely pleasant, with delightfully enthusiastic responses from those who know how much this means, mixed with a few bemused “well dones” or tales of their own publishing experience. That’s okay, I get that it’s not a big deal to everyone. In many ways it still feels like a delicious, secret surprise.

A big part of my joy is based on the fact that Mslexia is a well respected magazine. It’s been in production since 1999 and is a valuable home for new and established writers. It was recommended by Gerry Ryan, my first O.C.A. tutor and fellow poets as a resource to understand what is happening in the literary world, and somewhere to find innovative, quality work. Having a poem published in Mslexia by the end of this year was the first goal as part of my Dynamo mentoring scheme and I’m kind of chuffed that the plan has worked. The poem is part of the regular Showcase sections of the magazine, where writers from all over the world are invited to submit work on a particular theme.

I still haven’t actively shown anyone the poem. Not even my Beta readers have seen it. It’s birth was odd and angry and one of the most immediate pieces I’ve produced. I was in a huff when I sent it off, with an attitude that it wouldn’t get anywhere. This doesn’t mean it wasn’t crafted, just that the crafting was a rather angsty affair. It was written near the start of the year,in my usual post winter gloom. Looking back, my initial scribblings in response to the theme “cooking” veered into a homely, warm and ultimately false representation of food in my life. I do this a lot, write the shiny magazine version of life, before realising what I actually think and feel. Food is not a subject I’m comfortable with, but I couldn’t let the idea go. What emerged is a block poem, that uses space instead of line breaks or punctuation and describes the place even the most innocuous food occupies in life events. I like the piece, but I am a little afraid of it.

This is what Mslexia judge Rosie Garland had to say about it

A bowl of cherries’ ….grabbed hold of me and dragged me in. The lack of punctuation accentuates the headlong rush and circular internal dialogue……..I loved its economical use of repetition. Lines strain against their edges, and the use of irregular blank spaces breaks up the connections between words and heightens a sense of claustrophobia. It left me breathless (Rosie Garland in Mslexia issue 79)

Knowing that I’m writing in a way that someone who doesn’t know me can feel what I’m trying to express is a sign that I’m doing something right. The work I love most, whether music, art, or words, is that which resonates with me and illuminates and validates my emotions. I like the idea of a circular experience, for reader and writer. Having a piece of work publicly acknowledged as worthy of wider consumption completes the circle.

You can read a bowl of cherries here

More about Mslexia can be found here


I’m so excited, I’ve had a poem published in the autumn issue of Mslexia magazine. Since I’m currently in the middle of a field (again) at End of the Road festival, I can’t give lots of detail but suffice to say I’m thrilled.

I’ll do a longer post when I get back, but I couldn’t wait to tell you all.

Thanks as ever for your support, both on person and online. This is a small step forward and hopefully first of many. Most of all it proves I’m doing something right, rather than a fanciful.

Like,share and shout from the rooftops.

Endings and beginnings


Ah, I feel light and breezy unlike the weather at the moment. Why so cheery Kathryn ? How kind of you to ask. The reason for this uncharacteristic jollity is that I’ve sent my final OCA assignment. I couldn’t be more relieved. I mentioned in earlier blogs that I felt I was increasingly working to fulfil learning outcomes and holding back on what I produced so that I’d meet the criteria for showing I can redraft my work. I  felt about as creative as a dishcloth. I’ve loved having feedback and learning new techniques and I’ve enjoyed working to deadlines. I’ve hated knowing that whatever I produce has to tick a set of boxes to meet guidelines and funding requirements. This is the nature of education and it is utterly unavoidable but my desire for a good mark was superseding the desire to produce good work. I will still enter my work for assessment  because I dislike to leave things unfinished but mentally I’ve moved on.


Now the real work begins. I shall spend June putting together a collection of poems to submit to a mentoring and publishing program as well as creating a super complicated submissions calendar. It’s a bit like creating a revision chart, full of good intentions which may or may not be fulfilled. I feel excited and a little giddy which is something I haven’t felt for a while. I’ve already submitted to Bridport and to Mslexia’s themed writing and whilst I may not win a thing, I may win a tiny-weeny prize or I may win the biggest prize of all. One thing I am certain of is that the process of revising my work, researching publications and prizes to see where it will fit and learning to cope with the inevitable rejections will make me a better writer. I’m half-way through 2018 and don’t really feel I’ve got a hang of the year yet but I’m confident the last half will be productive and exciting.


Read, like, share and please subscribe so that you keep receiving my updates. I love to hear from you too, it gets kind of lonely here sometimes. Charley gets a little bored of my ramblings. img_2449




I have enjoyed  writing this week.

‘But Kathryn, don’t you enjoy it every week ? ‘

No. Just because someone likes cooking doesn’t mean they like the daily slog of rushing in from work and thinking of something to cook. Or that someone who adores their dog relishes every single 5 am walk in the rain. Loving something doesn’t mean it feels any less like work.The key ( for me anyway), is finding, and keeping the balance.

To help with this, I’ve been using a new source of writing prompts.These are posted on Instagram, every morning by Mslexia. The lack of any competitive element means that my writing is freer, and much more enjoyable. Mslexia is a fabulous magazine. My favourite thing about it is how inclusive it is, I don’t feel I have to part of a clever literary club, or that I have to be on the cutting edge of some incomprehensible scene. I can just read, write, and enjoy. Which is  exactly what I have been doing this week. I love meandering through my head,and a  writing prompt gives me a way to do this. The images from Mslexia are varied, and allow me to explore the creative side of writing in a new way. The questions related to the image are also useful. Initially, I thought this might make my response a little prescriptive, then I realised I just need to think a little more (or less), and look behind the obvious answers. The feeling when an idea starts to grow, and get its wings is the most tremendous thing. Crafting and refining can sometimes clip those wings too soon and finding balance is the challenge.

I haven’t spent a great deal of time just playing lately, between my fledgling work for the hotel, competitions and getting my degree assessment work ready, its all been rather grown up. I tend to find safety in order and stability, and I seem to have defaulted to that place over the last few weeks. Of course, this means I lose an important element of writing, which is that it allows me to escape safety, and to work with another part of my mind. I’m back to getting up early (I have a large tomcat who is more than happy to assist me in this), and spending half an hour just writing. Not editing, correcting, or overthinking. Just writing. And it is indeed fun.

I’d love it if you’d have a look at my “sketches”, just click the Writing Prompts tab on the menu. There is a selection of responses, early ones for creativewritingink, and my newest one from Mslexia.  Comments and reactions are very welcome.



New story for #creativewriting ink, more submissions and more competitions.

The last week has seen two more poetry submissions . The first is three poems on the theme of perception of women in the media sent to  Under the Radar, whch is the magazine of publishing house Nine Arches Press. The theme is one that features heavily in my poetry, so I chose the pieces I was most confident about and ones which suited the modern style of work seen in the magazine.I’ve also sent two pieces of ‘concrete poetry’ to Mslexia magazine. I love the marriage of shape and meaning in this kind of poem, and plan to write more like it.

I’m also starting to work on two pieces for the Bridport Prize. I’ve must admit I’ve got my head in a bit of a pickle. Reading past winners inevitably leads to comparison, which leads to mild despair. The voice which can feel so strong seems to fade a little. I find I’m trying so hard to be what I perceive I ought to be, that my brain seizes up completely.Whilst I’m confident with my voice for poetry, I find writing short stories a great deal more confusing. I always seem to revert to a conventional, pedestrian style. For some publications and competitions telling a story is not enough, I have to be innovative, and a little oblique. I also need to remind myself that I’ve only just started to learn how to develop my skills, so hopefully the polished style and authentic voice I crave will begin to emerge.

Developing a voice sounds like an affected concept, but it is this that makes writing really stand out, and makes people seek a particular author. For me there are many reasons, perhaps the writer is someone I identify with, someone I admire, or just someone who makes me laugh.  I’m reading a book by Jonas Jonasson at the moment, and one of the main things that strikes me is how much he seems to be enjoying his writing. There is a playful element which I love, and it is this that is going to make me want to read more by him.

I’m going to to carry on working on my entries, but am trying to realign my mind with the joy of writing, rather than try to write in a particular style. I have spent far too much time doing that for a certain optical company !

Having said all this, I am enjoying responding to the images from #creative writing ink, and find them a useful way of making sure I produce something new each week. My latest short story based on their prompt can be found by clicking this link . #creativewritingink