#atinylife Work

It’s the launch of Pushing out the Boat Magazine today, and I’m reading my poem, Farmer, from their current issue. I try not to be a writer writing about writing, but after I really had trundled behind a load of manure wondering what it was all about, this happened:


Trundle a house-sized load of turnip-fragranced earth along the B6365.

Pile up shite in steaming heaps edged with frost.

Bring the cows in. Bring the cows out.

Leave fifteen sheep in a field full of cabbages.

Combine-harvest a field in the dead of night.

Bring the cows in. Bring the cows out.

Perhaps all work is, from outside, baffling.

Words put down in one order, shifted to another field,

the excess loaded onto a trailer,

carried with care along the B7476

as a line of cars trundles behind me, mystified.

#atinylife the other stuff

In between the published works –

the novel that did OK

a story in that collection put together by MA students,

a poem here, a poem there

the joy of a short-listing

the folder of ‘no longer on submission’ scribblings

there is the ‘other’ stuff.

I couldn’t fit it all into the bookshelf:

hours spent tinkering with broken friends, instead of broken sentences;

days spent with Netflix, instead of cutting, instead of copy-pasting;

weeks spent holding the cat, instead of the pen

piggy-bank empty and smashed. All spent.

the other stuff

Tears leaking from the hot water tank

shredded text messages used for mouse nests

reams of progress stacked, dormant

still in their polythene. Sterile blank pages.

Where is all the work I could have done

if other people had been

kind? accepting? loyal?

had trusted my life had to be lived this way?





#atinylife Lockdown Pages²

Lockdown Pages (2)Lockdown Day 30.

‘Cat is very keen on being on my notebook…

Apparently it’s International Stationery Day today, perhaps I should buy something?’

Lockdown Day 34

‘Dr Reid said I shouldn’t take more than 10 sumitriptan a month … cue headache that put me to bed by lunchtime and lifted at 11pm ish.

OMG my rose is going to bud.’

Lockdown Day 38

‘kids and I went on the long bike run. I managed to fall off my bike just out of the path of an oncoming lorry…sore and a fright but no harm done and was v brave for kids. The lorry would possibly have stopped, he nearly pulled in to check I was OK, bless him.’

Lockdown Day 42

‘Sank a bottle of Prosecco last night. Crikey. Certainly need to NOT do that every day.’

Lockdown Day 43

‘Cat is all over my notebook.’


#atinylife second novel

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).second novel

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!

#atinylife desk

tinylife deskSitting in front of the computer trying to write the great British novel, or an entire spoken word set, or at least redraft that story I thought was good but ‘needs more work.’ I am so fortunate to be at home while the children are at school. I am so lucky to have the tools I need. I even tidied my work space this morning, shoved printed poems into the recycling. I wrote a To Do list.

I got nothing.

At 11ish, I give up and go for a cycle. I am so distracted by the amazing weather that I forget to put my helmet on. It’s like a pastoral symphony out there: butterflies and everything.

If you write, you’ll know how this story ends. I got home with two ideas for poems and wrote one in the garden’s sun.

#atinylife blogger

I’m attending a conference in my capacity as a blogger next week, so I’m giving myself 280 words for the first time in this extended post on blogging.

I found it easier to write about reasons why other people blog! Like:

To make money

Some people apparently make a good deal of profit from monetising (ug, what a word) their blogs. To be honest, I have not even looked into how one might achieve this.

To write on a particular theme

I blog about lots of different things, because the blog is called tinylife, and life is lots of different things.

To bitch about other people/be deliberately polemic

I get in enough trouble already! Which is not to say that I don’t put my opinions in my blog, but there are ways of doing so respectfully. And if you find out what they are, please let me know…


Here are some reason why blog.

I wanted to commit to writing something every week


I think it’s important to prove, as a writer, that you can turn up every week and be consistent.

I wanted to put writing out for free

The places I submit to are often pay to view, and lots of pieces are yet to place anywhere. But in order to showcase my work, I wanted to put writing online in the public domain.

I wanted to build a community

And yay, I did! I’ve got some lovely readers who comment often (yes, you Jena, Joanne, Ann), and many more people who read and enjoy my posts. My favourite bit? When a conversation about a post leads all the way to another, guest post – like here and here.



#atinylife s-No-w

The first few flakes were expected. She dusted them off and kept writing. Later, as drifts of rejection letters built up, she was told to be patient. There were no short cuts. No-one owed her anything. Of course, she had always known there would be snow, it was a given, it was part of the deal.

tinylife s No w

Later, her voice muffled by the expanding polar landscape, she struggled on, through piles of ‘no thank yous,’ and ‘please do submit agains.’ It became harder and harder to lift her feet above their pull and drag, like she was treading cold sand.

In the end, her voice petered out, and her words got lost in the wind. No one realised she could have changed something for one person. Someone else, looking out at the sleety dawn, today, and wondering whether she should try.

#atinylife Yuletide

Christmas anxiety. A wash of feelings, pulling and pushing in opposite directions. I’m a sociable person, I love my friends. Now it’s December yuletideand I’m all ‘hopefully we can catch up before Christmas?’

I invite, or accept invitations, with joy, and then approach the days themselves with dread. Will I spend hours on my return, mulling over a throwaway comment I made, seeking malevolence in words that were not meant to hurt? Deliberately sabotaging my own friendships, and my own fragile resilience?

So last year, I stopped saying ‘let’s meet up before Christmas’ and started saying ‘have a lovely Christmas! See you next year.’

To anyone reading this who feels anxious around Christmas, I just want to say: you don’t have to see anyone, if you don’t feel like it. Look after yourself, OK? And I’ll see you next year.


#atinylife BookFest

Yesterday, I made my first appearance at a Book Festival. I’ve not managed to visit many, even as a punter, but every time I have made it along to one, I’ve felt like I was among ‘my people.’

Our event, Books, Blogs and a Blether, comprised of myself, Joanne, who runs Portobello Book Blog, and fellow writer Natalie Fergie chatting blogs and writing. how-many-wrongsMy favourite moment?When we asked everyone to share what they were reading with the person next to them, and the room exploded into a cacophony of book enthusiasm.

The idea of writing being a lonely profession isn’t new. But events like yesterday don’t just help me feel less alone. They make me feel supported by my network, new friends and readers. I even got some great feedback on the first Chapter of lucky draft 13 of Novel number 2.


#atinylife Podcast

‘I don’t think I can do the interview tomorrow. I’m really not feeling up to it.’

I could have sworn that I only said this to Moira once. But apparently I told her so many times that I wasn’t able to do the interview that she’d spoken to her mentor about it. He had messaged her, asking if I’d been in touch yet, to say I just couldn’t, wasn’t in a place to, hadn’t got the necessary oomph for…Podcast

Of course I had. Right up until the day.

I knew Moira would be a brilliant interviewer. I knew we would talk about things that I’m not ashamed of, but don’t talk about often. I knew it would be cleansing, but a particular sort of tiring.

I am so happy with the result. Can’t wait for the next episode, Moira!