Oh it must be Spring. I’m busy!
I like to be busy, but not as much as the average … person? Person in the UK? Person of my generation? ‘Busy’ doesn’t take long to develop into ‘stressed,’ and ‘stressed’ has developed into psychosis – only twice, and a long time ago now, but… I don’t have the option to push myself like other people.
What has been particularly wonderful about this year, as opposed to other Springs, when I was busy with the kids, or busy with work, or busy writing things no one was interested in, is that this year I’m busy with paid, creative work. Sometimes. Other paid work has to fit around the writing, not the other way round.
Meanwhile, the children have to fit around creativity AND paid work, and are no doubt feeling very hard done by!
There is no news about my second novel.
Here is the news about my second novel.
I was very fortunate to meet a lovely agent who read the whole thing, and she really liked it. This was beyond exciting! She had loads of great feedback too, including ‘what’ it is (a comedy) and what the main themes are (parenting insecurity, female rivalry, the pressure felt by, and put on, children).
I re-wrote the draft with all her comments and observations. This is draft 15, but it’s very similar to drafts 7 and 8, (except draft 7 was in the present tense, of course).
Then I did that thing I always do when I’m nearing the end of a redraft. I slow right down because I’m afraid to finish. But I did finish. It’s 10k words longer and it’s back on submission. Wish me luck!
You know I try not to think about male privilege all the time…
Right, now everyone else has clicked off this post – it’s just – OK, I admit that I have never learned to play an instrument. I play oboe, but that doesn’t translate into a folk session environment. I’m lucky to have several people in my life who play the guitar for me – and I’m grateful for each and every one of them.
But without them, I can’t sing at a session. The men usually have huge voices, and can sing away. Folk join in, or listen, or sometimes they don’t, but it doesn’t matter – because they can be heard.
It doesn’t often happen that I’m at a session without anyone to play for me. But when it does, I’m left feeling less-than. Because my voice, literally can’t be heard.
Grateful for another thing that might not be considered classic gratitude material this week.
My notso successful writing career.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s going OK. I have crunched this year’s submission statistics, and not only are they a huge improvement on last year’s, they are above the average (which I believe is 1/7 acceptances: I had 1/4.2 this year!).
But despite this, I’m not working with multiple deadlines or receiving lots of requests for work. So when I wake up, like I did on Sunday, with a wee cold, I can stay in bed, drink Lucozade, and the edits and submissions can wait another day.
While I’m (not) on the subject, it’s OK to take sick leave when you are ill. My feelings on how this is perceived in UK workplaces would require more than 140 words for me to rant about!
‘So hang on, you say you have social anxiety, but you perform, sing and do spoken word, and go to events to make contacts?’
Well now. Here’s how I put my game face on.
- Have an aim. If I have to, once I’ve tried to achieve, or achieved it, I can leave.
- Get close to the beginning of the line up if possible. Once I’ve done my ‘bit’, I can relax.
- I don’t drink alcohol if it’s a work thing.
- I don’t eat garlic for three days before the event.
- I leave myself extra time to sort out my hair (I could conquer the world if I thought my hair looked good).
- I recognise and accept the presence of ‘anxiety sweat.’ It smells different from exercise sweat.
- I check my teeth in the mirror.
- I (never) have tissues.
- I floss.
I had a normal-sized life, albeit with a tendency to uncomfortable swellings, until recently. In the months after my memoir was published, though, it became tiny.
There’s only five-foot-one of me, so I’ve never taken up much space. Tiny is my natural state, and as I was past middle age with no notable features, I was perfectly placed to reduce this life to near-invisibility. In producing a book, I had written it large – or in 12-point Times New Roman at least – and ventured way beyond my comfort zone. It was exhilarating and I loved it, but playing it tiny felt much more me.
But life won’t be played like that, and comfort zones won’t contain it. The tiny life whispers increasingly, incessantly, that it too, deserves to be written. So here I am, at the keyboard, ready to begin again.
Things I have written poems about,
an incomplete list:
My stretch marks
My grey hair
The incompatibility between birdwatching/cycling, and being a parent/creative
My nephew’s shoelaces
A bird I didn’t see
The village I live in
Batman’s Hot Pants
Art by Kirsty Whiten
Mental health recovery
Walking on a beach with Jesus
Washing up with Jesus
Being a jumped up little madam
Eavesdropping in a coffee shop and judging the people around me
An official council planning meeting
Michael Rosen (in the style of Michael Rosen)
Radio 4 (in the style of Hollie McNish)
Parenting (in the style of Helen Fielding)
Reading (in the style of Vicki Feaver)
Metaphor, via the vehicle of paper aeroplanes
What’s on your list?