#atinylife book week 2019

Next week is Book Week Scotland!

It’s a great chance to get out and about in the writing/reading community. Get inspired, make connections, give yourself an enthusiasm boost as the nights start to draw in.

This year, on Tuesday (21/11/19) I’m at one of my closest libraries: the John Gray Centre in Haddington. Fitting, as our topic is ‘Local Blethers‘! Myself, Rebecca McKinney, and Charlie Laidlaw will be talking inspiration, setting and how our localities feed into our writing. We’ll be blethering from 6pm-7:30pm and the event is free.

On Thursday I’m taking up my new position as co-host of Listen, Softly: EdinburghBook Week 2019. This isn’t just a one-off Book Week visit, I’m joining Claire and Dom to help with programming, sound, and the usual ‘any-other-duties-as-required!’ I’m excited and honoured to be involved in this popular addition to Edinburgh’s spoken word scene.

#atinylife privilege

As a woman with mental health issues, and the parent of an enby kid, I’m often aware of other people’s male-cis-het-ableist privilege.

Today, however, I have the most privilege I’ve ever felt in my life.

  • I am in an air bnb (financially secure enough for this, and multiple trips to Tesco for cashews and vegan chocolate)
  • for two nights (not in a nine-five with four weeks of holiday a year)
  • my children being looked after by their dad (co-parenting: surely the ultimate privilege?)
  • writing (able to pursue this un-lucrative work for many years now)
  • listening to music and podcasts (having decided I can afford Spotify: currently on free trial)
  • and reading (only one was free from the library).

This is heaven.privilege

This. An accident of birth, and race,  cisgendered heterosexual marriage, and secure family that led me to this point.

#atinylife Autumn Song

Autumn SongAutumn: I wake before the sun rises.

Warm myself on a cup of tea,

the feeling of my hands across the keyboard,

the central heating’s clicks and taps.

The sun’s light pierces clouds ruffled

on the horizon,

reminding me it’s still here

even at this turn of the year.

Rising into the sky, all blue and white

and blue and white

and falling leaves. Rain comes on

from nowhere, and I shut the window tight,

watch the leaves, pushed off

by the wind to fall with the raindrops,

to end up slicked, shining on the concrete.

By teatime, the sun is gone again.

Pink clouds wrestle with the oranges,

the yellows, the browns of the trees.

Red berries are picked out

in the evening light. Drops rest on the branches,

 

the rooks fly over like factory workers, heading for home.

 

#atinylife yeah whatevs

My oldest drew me this picture and challenged me to write a blog to go with it. Here goes!

When I think about becoming what society calls beautiful, I think: yeah, whatevs.

When I think about becoming what society calls financially successful, I think: yeah, whatevs.

When I think about not ever buying anything that is remotely close to the latest fashion, I think: yeah, whatevs.

When I think about having a fancy holiday in the sun every summeryeah whatevs, I think: yeah, whatevs.

When I think about other people’s religion, ritual or practices, I think: yeah, whatevs.

When I think about how other people choose to parent, I think: yeah, whatevs.

When I think about other people’s taste in music, I think: yeah, whatevs.

When I think about what pre-teens say about almost everything, I think: it’s usually ‘yeah, whatevs.’

 

#tinylife write like a grrrl

For the last six weeks, I’ve been escaping from the teatime/bedtime routine and driving myself into Edinburgh.

I’ve been learning how to build a character, a setting, dialogue, and how to put these elements together into a short story, all under the magnificent captaincy of Dr Claire Askew.

WLAG

But by far the best part has been meeting the rest of the group. My WLAG colleagues. Writing with them, sharing with them. We have already started championing each other’s work and projects – a meet up is planned at my next spoken word gig! I can’t wait to see what each of them go on to do next. I’m looking forward to saying ‘yes, we did Write Like a Grrrl together.’ 

Writers work alone. But we need that community, too. That encouragement. The busy silence of a roomful of writers, writing.

#atinylife create

There is no future in looking sideways.

Do not pay attention when people look sideways to your path: do not start to compare yourself to others. How can you compare a palm leaf and a pine needle? And yet, both carry life, are beautiful, bring green, bring oxygen, bring peace to the forest, the desert.

We are here to do our work. Not to wonder whether we should do our work, or leave it to other people that we think are better, braver, luckier, richer.

create.jpeg

No one else can make what we can make, not in the way that we could make it. A twig can’t be a leaf, a branch can’t be the tree’s trunk.

Your stories have value. Your creative works have substance.

You are not a good judge of the quality of your own work.

Go. Create.

#atinylife gonefishin’

gone fishin'As I scuttle off for the summer months, I just wanted to say some ‘thank yous.’

Thanks for sticking with me.

Thanks for telling me you read tinylife every week.

Thanks for the likes and comments: here, on Facebook, on Twitter.

Thanks for letting me whine, ramble, rant, figure things out as I go along, say very little, say far too much, say things in a roundabout way, say things in a direct way, say things with brutal honesty, and talk on a range of disparate subjects.

Thanks for putting up with my God-awful drawing skills.

Particular thanks to Cheryl for not being cross when I forgot (again!) to post her guest posts.

Thanks to Cheryl for her guest posts.

Thank you for supporting my writing, my poetry, my novels, and my creative life.

tinylife will be back in September.

#atinylife busy again

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.

Busy Bee

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!

 

 

#atinylife Boogie

I spent some years of my adulthood listening to Radio 4.

This did not last long.

We bounced around for a while, but I’ve settled on Boogie in the Morning, on Forth One. This is why:

  • Arlene is not marketed as a travel news bimbo. She’s givenBoogie an equal amount of airtime,
  • Boogie is polite to her and doesn’t treat her as ‘less than’ because she is a woman,
  • the quiz happens before we have to leave for school,
  • I used to listen in the basement of the City Chambers in Edinburgh. Now I listen in my kitchen in the East Lothian Countryside,
  • they actually go on a booze cruise with their biggest fans every year,
  • there is a cute kid telling a joke every day,
  • the banter is pure quality, and
  • if it’s a snow day, they let us know!

 

#atinylife What a Carry On!

My favourite bit of parenting is when the kids are getting along. I am delighted to report that, at the time of writing, and for the last week or so, they have been best pals!

Of course this means no one ever goes to sleep…

‘Carry on time’ is the perfect compromise between ‘your parents need some child-free time in the evenings’ and ‘but we’re not tiiiiiiiired.’ Sometimes it ends in tears (or punches), but it’s only when they’re really quiet I have to go and see what they’re up to.

Carry On Time

It is a pleasure, getting to know these little people, watching them getting to know each other. It is even more pleasurable doing this from the sofa, watching Netflix with the cat. It’s not just the convenience, though, honest! Without my input, their relationship has the chance to grow.