Dedication

I hated Record Breakers. It was incredibly dull (except for the domino challenges), and all that wholesome patience grated on me. It still does, even more so now I know it’s true.

Getting work published takes a long time. The first step is research. Which journal is most likely to like my work? Where’s open for submissions? Who’s judging competition x and have I read enough of their work to know their style and interests? Next, you submit. Follow the guidelines about word count, number of lines, preferred font. Write a good cover letter (not too long, but enough to show you’ve read the journal). Then you wait. And wait. And wait a bit more. I’ve had responses in a week. I’ve waited over six months. Some places accept simultaneous submissions, many don’t – so my work sits and waits too. It’s a frustrating process, but since many indy presses are run by tiny teams or volunteers, it’s understandable. The thrill of having something accepted is wonderful. Even a kind rejection (where they ask to see more work soon) is ok. The waiting is tough, but the best way to get round that is to throw myself into something new.

Cat is waiting to hear about his poem “Why do the mice all run away?”
Attingham park looking moody

I’m looking forward to Autumn now – although I miss the light terribly- it’s a time for squirrelling myself away and writing. Obviously Secret Severn work takes priority, and my goal is to get drafts done by Christmas. I’ll put them away for a while, then revisit and revise in the spring. I’ve got an urge to write stories again too, so I’m hoping to spend time with writing prompts and get some of these floating ideas down on paper. It’s a time of watching the garden fade and prepare itself for next year, reading all the things I’ve not got round to reading, and maybe watching a bit of Record Breakers*.

Thanks for doing such a great job last week, after my slightly awkward plea for interaction with my social media pages. If you’ve chance to do the same again that’s ace – plus I really love talking to you !

Click to read my published poetry or published flash fiction. You can read old drafts and work in progress by following the links on the menu.

*I’m probably not going to watch Record Breakers.

Endings and beginnings

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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.

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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

Poetry workshop

Well, today’s the day. Online Poetry workshop with Bare Fiction magazine.

I’m scared. I have given a poem to people to read. Not friends who will be kind (mostly), or my mom who would be delighted if I wrote a variation on three blind mice, but real people who have nothing to lose if they pull my poem to pieces.

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Getting organised.

And that’s the key. It’s the poem not me that is being criticised. Whilst what I write comes from my heart and head, it is not the sole distillation of who I am. And I can’t believe it’s take me this long but I’ve finally got it. Criticism is the only way I will continue to get better. It’s as though I’m setting a little boat out to sea.

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Those who know me in real life will know that I have little confidence and the most fragile cup of self-esteem, despite outward appearances. Confidence is not given, it is learned and learned and learned by being strict with myself and asking myself to step back and look at the reality. Did that person really say that? Is it possible that I’m letting my own insecurities colour how I interpret the actions of others ? And might that interpretation be wrong ? It’s easy to slip into the habit of blaming everyone else for not being sensitive/insightful/wearing the right colour shoes, but I’ve finally reached a point of taking responsibility for my own feelings. My instinct is to cut off from the after the first indication of negativity. If I do that I’ll never grow. This is my favourite thing in my world, and there is nothing that makes me feel more “right” than writing. Except perhaps that hazy festival feeling, but that’s a bit tricky to achieve on a chilly Monday afternoon.

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I’m a bit unsure how it will all work, and I’m hoping that the feedback I’ve written up for the other poets is useful. I’m getting quite brave in my old age. If nothing else I feel privileged to be part of this, and have enjoyed the opportunity to read some amazing new work. Time to rest up for a few hours so that my brain is functioning well for this evening. I’ll do another post later in the week to let you know how it went.

Find out more about Bare Fiction here

Winter is icumin in

Winter is properly here. No snow in the Dale as yet but it’s forecast and I’m excited. Odd really, but it feels different to be trapped by snow rather than trapped by being poorly. Perhaps it is because it makes me think of being small; playing out till I got too cold, then pikelets by the gas fire,whilst being warned of mysterious things called chilblains . Whether I will still feel like this when I am cold and slip-sliding around is a different story but,for the moment, I shall remain excited.

Winter is also wonderful for writing. There is nothing else to be done, no gardening, no lazy barbecues with friends, no trips to the seaside, no temptation to try to write outside and end up distracted by pretty much everything. I have had two solid days alone and it has been wonderful, allowing me to focus on finishing my third assignment and to begin my next module. This module is all about the history of the short story, and whilst interesting , it is somewhat condensed. Nineteenth century fiction is given a grand total of two pages. Poor old Chekhov.

I find I am comfortable with this kind of study. A lot of it is familiar territory and because of this I am able to use the course materials to understand my own writing and how to improve it. I feel quite calm, whereas whilst studying the previous section on Flash Fiction I felt like an excitable puppy. My confidence is growing, and I am finding I seek to criticise my work in order to improve it, rather than to convince myself I’m worthy of even trying. This is a massive step forward.

I haven’t entered a great many competitions lately. For one thing it is very expensive, and for another I am focused on trying to get the most from this course. As well as the technical knowledge, I get high quality criticism from my tutors, who are all published writers,so hopefully by the end of this course I should be in a better place to win, or at least get shortlisted. Or long-listed. Or the ‘we really like it but it won’t sell’ listed. You get the gist.

I am waiting for feedback on my most recent assignment . I submitted three pieces of Flash Fiction, and I adored writing them. This is an area I am new to, as both reader and writer but, despite initial misgivings, I find that I love to work in this way. It’s a tight, disciplined way of writing that forces the writer and reader to focus on the details and undercurrents to gain understanding. The most memorable pieces of flash I have read stay with me in the manner of a good poem. I am happy to have found it. One of the reasons I love this format is because the end product is easier to navigate. Proof reading two thousand plus words when I have brain fog is incredibly hard and a source of constant frustration. I generally manage about two hundred words before I realise they are starting to swim and merge and that I can barely remember what a comma looks like, never mind how to use it. A short, sharp piece of flash is possible to proof in two sittings, which means I feel a little more in control of the process and that I am working with the story as a whole.

It’s a fabulous feeling to finally be doing what I’ve always wanted to do.

Thanks for reading. As ever I love to have your support. Having people to write for, however few, is helping my confidence and skills grow day by day. If you have read this, would you help me out by liking my Facebook post, or liking/commenting on here ? I am trying to see how many people my blog actually reaches.

Finally, a picture of a snowman.

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Sowing seeds…….

IMG_20140510_225526……is what I have been doing, instead of writing a blog. Or much else really. That little burst of sunny weather spurred me to start getting ready. From mid February, I prepare a couple of trays each day, so that when sowing time arrives, I’ve just the easy part to do. This has taken attention from my blog, mainly because sunshine and the delightful promises in those little packets of seed give me so much joy. All this seed sowing has given me time to ruminate though, and I’ve been able to unravel a couple of stories that have been rumbling around my mind for a while.

I’m preparing my last few competition entries for this year. I’m particularly  struggling with  a good concept, that seems to turn in to tripe as it hits the page. I’ve a couple of months left, so I’m hoping I can make it shine. The main problem is the competition I’m hoping to enter it for is a serious, literary one, which is eclipsing the writing itself. I’m not really having fun with it. I may have a writing party to see what we all come up with.

In May, I start  my new course, delving into the mysterious world of script writing. I’m really looking forward to learning something new, but I’m prepared to spend the first three quarters of the course hating it. I’m a terrible, impatient pupil. I think this is why distance learning suits me so well. The less distractions or irritations the better.

I suspect my blog may become slightly more grumpy. Perhaps I’ll invest in some more seeds.

 

New competition entries

After seeking feedback from tutors, and patient friends, the time has come to ask the official guardians of good poetry to decide whether they like my stuff.

Deciding which poem to enter for which publication takes a while, especially because I only have a handful that I am truly happy to have written.  Each publication has it’s own theme and style, so researching, reading and ideally subscribing make a difference to potential success. Keeping track of what has gone where is taking some organisation too; I began the year with a nice chart. It is now a scribbled and slightly befuddled looking document. I might try to train the cat to be my P.A.

Details of newest submissions can be can be found on the Competition Entries page.