My writing life: week 2

Writing poetry with a cup of tea. Katie Hale, Cumbrian poet / writer etc
Poetry & a cuppa

Confession: at the time of writing, the week is not yet over. I wrote and scheduled this post on Friday. Why? I’m currently in Marrakesh.

Bearing that in mind, it’s been a much shorter-than-usual week for writing, truncated even further by the fact that I’ve spent two days at the New Writing Cumbria office, rather than the usual one. I’ve also been delving into the joys of my tax return.

But even despite all that, I’ve been loving the writing time.

I wrote a poem about a whale, which I think is already very close to the final draft stage. I also discovered a very old draft of a very old poem (well, 3 years old), which I had completely forgotten about, and was able to rework into a completed piece. To make matters even better, it became a gogyoshi-ku. Thanks, BAR poets and Jacob Sam-La Rose, for introducing me to that particular poet form. Oh, in case you were wondering, a gogyoshi-ku consist of a gogyoshi (5-line poem that otherwise has no formal structure) followed by a haiku.

I also did something faintly amazing, and organised my computer filing system for my poetry. Whereas before I had one folder called ‘Poetry’, full of everything from finished pieces to brief jottings that should probably never be revisited, I now have a beautifully streamlined system of folders that gives me a geeky little tingle every time I think about it.

For the organisation geeks among you, my ‘Poetry’ folder is now organised like this:

  • Finished Poems
    • Published poems
    • Waiting for news [submitted to magazines]
    • Other poems
  • Poems to work on
  • Misc. documents
    • [archived drafts and jottings, filed by year]

And, inspired by the wonderful Kim Moore, I’ve now also created an Excel poetry submission spreadsheet, with a list of poems down the side, a list of magazines & journals to submit to across the top, and colour-coded boxes according to whether the poems have been accepted or rejected, or are waiting a response.

Now it’s just a case of making those systems work!


The week in books:

  • [still reading] Sebastian Faulks, Birdsong

(Though in fairness, it is a long book. And with the train ride to the airport and the long-ish flight to Marrakesh, I may have finished it and be onto something else by the time this post goes live.)

The week in pictures:

Photos of Marrakesh to follow next week!

 

 

 

Here we are again: teetering on the brink of the old year, about to dive headlong into the new one. 

We’ve spent the past 365 days scaling the ladder, and let’s be honest, by the end, we were probably all in need of a bit of a rest. But now here we are, wobbling at the end of the diving board, sort of wishing we could just inch away from it and come back the way we came, but also excited by what’s to come. The adrenaline’s pumping with anticipation of the unknown, with the possibilities of the future. 

Take a deep breath. Get ready. Jump. 

Normally, I see New Year as something of a let-down, especially after all the glitz and excitement of Christmas. Really, it’s just a passing from one day to the next, where nothing actually changes apart from the fact that we all feel a little more hungover the next morning – a bit like birthdays. 

This year is different. This year, for once, I am actually enacting a momentous change in my life. 2016 will have a very different flavour to 2015. 

Why. I’ve quit my job. 

Ok, I’ve quit one of my jobs. 

For the first time in my life, my time being ‘a writer’ outweighs my time spent on other employment. (Being a student doesn’t count.) And, to allow myself to spend even more time on my writing, I’ve also waved a fond farewell to my travel blog, Second-Hand Hedgehog. I may return to this in the future, but for now I’m planning to concentrate all my creative energies on my poetry and theatre. 

It’s more than a little bit daunting. Remember that diving board analogy? It’s not a coincidence that I don’t really like heights…

But it’s also incredibly exciting. It’s a new beginning, a new chapter, or (to get suitably poetical about it) a new stanza in my life. 

Like with all new beginnings, I’ve made myself a couple of resolutions. 

  1. I’m going to blog about it, every week. Since I’ve given up the travel blog, it’s only fair to give myself some kind of blogging outlet. And if I can be literary at the same time, well, so much the better. 
  2. I’m going to write a limerick a day. About a year ago, I started making up limericks when I was bored: in queues, in the car, in the shower. They’re very much not serious affairs, and are really just a bit of fun – though I suppose they do also practise essential skills like rhyming. I don’t actually expect to stick to this resolution and come out of the year with 366 limericks, but if I aim for one a day, I should at least manage a couple of hundred before next January. 
  3. I’m going to read more. Last year, I didn’t read anything like as much as I would have liked, so this year I’m aiming to remedy that. And as an extra incentive, I’m going to share my reading library on my weekly blog post. 

So there you have it: a new plan for a new year. 

Happy 2016!

x

[I originally posted this list on my travel blog, Second-Hand Hedgehog, back when I was travel blogging, back in July 2015. I’m still aiming to complete this list, so I thought I’d shift it over here to my website.]
32 things to do before I'm 30 - list of travel and life goals, ideas and ambitions

This started out as a list of 30 things to do before I’m 30 – but since I’m the sort of person who always seems to take on a bit too much and ends up with a ridiculous workload, I’ve ended up with a list of 32.

Most people create these lists when they reach a particular milestone (25th and 29th birthdays are understandably the most common), and while I’m still reeling from the slight shock of turning 25, I’m not near a special birthday, or at a particular turning point in my life. At least, not as far as I’m aware.

But I think that now was the perfect time for me to make this list. As I started to write it, I quickly struggled to think of items to add. Why? I’m floating. Beyond a couple of big ideas, I wasn’t sure exactly where I wanted my life to take me. At the moment I’m working week by week, busy Monday to Friday, and then either collapsing at the weekend, or working right back through to Monday again.

I need to force myself to break that up – that’s why I started this blog, after all. I need short-term goals.

A number of these (the travel ones in particular) are on my Bucket List as well – but not all. Some are features of my lifestyle that I would like to change. Some are simply too small to go on my Bucket List, but are things I would like to achieve all the same. Some are specific to me, but many are goals that anyone could aspire to.

I hope my 32 things inspire you to create a list of your own.

32 Things To Do Before I’m 30:

  1. Publish a poetry pamphlet
  2. Write and publish a novel
  3. Travel to Antarctica
  4. Travel to at least 5 new countries
  5. Visit Lizzie in Barcelona
  6. Visit Jessi in Portland, Oregon
  7. Drive around Iceland’s Route 1
  8. Island hopping in the Pacific
  9. Take a solo trip that lasts at least a month
  10. Spend at least a week at the Edinburgh Fringe
  11. Visit Ireland
  12. Road trip the coast of California
  13. Drive a convertible (roof down)
  14. Take a road trip in a camper van
  15. Go on a writing retreat by the sea
  16. Go to a music festival
  17. Order room service
  18. Hold a conversation in Spanish
  19. Climb a mountain
  20. Undertake (and complete) a multi-day walk
  21. Be able to run a mile without collapsing / seizing up / giving up and walking
  22. Do 30 sit-ups in a row
  23. Take a photography course
  24. Bake at least one cake
  25. Knit or crochet something (anything will do)
  26. Make an item of clothing, which is acceptable to wear in public and doesn’t fall apart
  27. Own (and have reason to wear) a full length ball gown
  28. Give cards / chocolates / flowers to a stranger / strangers on Valentines Day
  29. Buy a piece of original artwork
  30. Finish reading The Well of Loneliness
  31. Achieve 1000 twitter followers (you can help with this one here)
  32. Glamping

Yesterday, I posted the trailer to my upcoming musical, Yesterday.

Created in collaboration with friend and composer Stephen Hyde, Yesterday is an intimate new musical telling the story of Alex: a charming, vulnerable and adulterous man. The story is told from the perspective of the three women in his life: the mother who smothers him with love, his deceived wife searching for hope in their marriage, and the the teenage girl in whom he finds solace.

Here is one of the songs from the musical, recorded by Vulture Sessions. Performed by Georgia Figgis, Jemimah Taylor and Joanna Connolly.

More about the musical here.

 

It’s always exciting as a project races towards its conclusion, seeing all the various strands coming together, slotting into place one after another, often surprising quickly. It’s like solving a rubix cube: one moment it’s a jumble of colours, then suddenly it’s organised and complete. (Or rather, it’s like watching someone else solve a rubix cube – I’ve never been very good at them…)

That’s how it’s been with Yesterday, the musical I’ve written with friend and composer Stephen Hyde. It feels like only yesterday (sorry!) that it was a vague idea we were discussing on afternoon walks in the countryside – and suddenly, it’s complete, cast and in rehearsal.

And to prove it, there’s a trailer:

Yesterday premieres in Oxford, at the Burton Taylor Studio, 16th – 20th June 2015. Tickets available here.

New Writing Cumbria online magazine: The Carrot

At the moment, I have a number of jobs, but one thing that I love about all of them is helping to create interesting artworks. Whether I’m helping teenagers explore the possibility that they can write poetry, or helping facilitate theatre tours and exhibitions at Prism Arts, or working on my own writing, it’s always exciting to see the seed of an idea come to fruition.

Through my job as New Writing Cumbria, I’ve been working with a group of young writers and editors to produce an online magazine of new Cumbrian writing. And I’m delighted to say that Issue #1 has now been published.

For the first issue, we chose the theme ‘Cumbria-land’. We invited anybody from or living in Cumbria to submit work on the theme – but there was also a bit of a twist. While we did want some of the more traditional types of writing (poetry / fiction / script etc.), we also wanted to explore some of the extra options that creating an online magazine provided.

So we actively encouraged people to submit something a little bit different: film / audio / visual art / crosswords / recipes / jokes…

Admittedly, we didn’t receive any crosswords, recipes or jokes (next time, please?) but we did receive a number of visual and audio pieces, as well as some video. We also used visual art from some of the 2014 Young C-Artists.

The idea was to create something that was fun and vibrant: something that didn’t look like a traditional magazine. And I have to say, I think we succeeded.

We had some excellent submissions, from a large number of writers / artists, and working with the young editors was fantastic. It was great to see them getting so passionate in their discussions over which pieces should be included, and it’s moments like that which remind me just why I love doing the jobs I do.

So don’t be shy: head on over to The Carrot and have a read / watch / listen!