January always feels like an odd month to me. It seems to take ages to get going, and then before you know it, it’s almost over. Cue a frantic rush to get up to date on all the things I should have been doing at the start of the month. Oops.

That aside, January is always a month of beginnings. It’s a month of testing myself, to see how closely I can stick to my newly made resolutions. So far, it’s been a bit of a mix.

  • I haven’t got particularly far with my 100 rejections – although I did send some poems out the other day, so maybe there’ll be some on their way shortly.
  • I’ve read 4 books, so I guess I’m kind on track to my 50 by the end of the year.
  • So far, I’m keeping up with my weekly blog posts, so that’s a big tick on the resolutions list.
  • As for the novella, I’m now officially over half way through the first draft of this, so this one is looking fairly promising.

Sometimes when you travel, it's easy to forget how beautiful it is at home.

But how has it gone apart from that?

Mostly, I’ve been trying to get back into some sort of routine. Before Christmas, I had about 3 weeks of being in this fantastic routine that was probably one of the most productive of my life: get up before 7am, write all morning, sometimes go for a walk / run, do admin in the afternoon, relax / read / make Christmas decorations in the evenings. Then Christmas happened and that sort of went by the wayside. Now, I’m getting into a kind of routine, which isn’t really the one I want. It seems to be: get up late, mooch around trying to write, fail, read a book to pass the time, finally manage to write something that’s halfway decent by about dinner time, do some frantic admin, clamber into bed at around 1am.

Luckily, I’ve spent the past week with Stephen, working on the rewrites of our musical – and there’s nothing like another person to make you get your act together and get working, so it’s been a productive week. Keeping my fingers crossed that that productivity follows me into February.

In other news:

I had a great weekend in London with the lovely Elizabeth Mann, at the T S Eliot readings (and spending far too much time & money in the city’s various bookshops). It was such an inspiring occasion – and a huge congratulations to Jacob Polley on his win!

January’s Word Mess open mic night was one of the busiest we’ve had, with a fantastic variety of readers. (The next one will be on Tuesday 28th February.)

I started 2 new blog series: a monthly writing prompt, starting with a prompt about beginnings; and Face to Face, series of short conversations I’ll be having every month, talking to interesting people about the things that interest them. So far, so good! 🙂

I’ve started my schools workshops again. One of my personal favourites was looking at riddles & kennings with my Yr 4s at St Patrick’s Primary in Workington. Their special topic is currently the arctic, so we wrote some arctic-themed riddles. Any guesses…?

I am a ship-sinker.
I am a crack-maker.
I am a wave-breaker.
What am I?


I am a birth-giver.
I am a snow-hunter.
I am a seal-eater.
I am a den-sleeper.
What am I?


I am a cookie-eater.
I am a toy-maker.
I am a milk-drinker.
I am a sleigh-driver.
I am a chimney-climber.
I am an elf-checker.
I am a beard-grower.
What am I?

Looking forward to going back there this month to work more on description & close observation.


  • All We Shall Know, by Donal Ryan
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  • Anthology of the Sea (Emma Press)
  • Reasons to Stay Alive, by Matt Haig

Currently reading: The Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton, and Human Acts, by Han Kang