Working and Relaxing

This week has been a bit of a mixed bag. I had a gig to cover for Northern Soul on Friday, which I never managed to get to due to illness and though every person I was supposed to interview was absolutely lovely, I have ended up feeling really rubbish about it. I’m hoping to reschedule the interviews soon, but I was gutted to have missed out on the incredible Contains Strong Language festival in Hull, and to have missed out on meeting some of my poetry idols and influences. However, I’m going to try not to beat myself up too much, these things happen.

Being self employed is absolutely brilliant, but it’s also very very stressful. I’m trying to move into freelance writing, and a find work as a jobbing poet, with some success, but while I am building my reputation as a poet/writer/workshop facilitator and taking on some less creative work there is always pressure to find paid work and to do enough of that work to pay the mortgage and my tuition fees etc. I end up working and working and trying to fit study time in too and sometimes it gets a bit too much, I get worn down. So to make sure I look after myself I’ve been factoring in more pleasant activities amongst the work work. I didn’t do anything after I came home on Friday except watch back to back films and feel sorry for myself. On Saturday it was much the same, then on Sunday I baked bread. There is something absolutely wonderful about the slow, homely process of making bread. I listened to the radio and pottered along and felt my head clearing. I’ve always loved cooking and baking, but this was my first attempt at bread making and it worked brilliantly. It’s been on my list of things to try since I began making moves towards living a zero waste, or at least a drastically reduced waste, life. The bread freezes really well so I don’t see why I can’t make it a regular thing to have fresh bread every week. Much nicer than shop bought and no non recyclable packaging to deal with. I did think about investing in a bread making machine, but to be honest, I found the hand made process therapeutic, very meditative.

On Monday morning it was bright and beautiful so I walked my dog on the beach. I took my big SLR and started taking photos. I’ve not used my big camera for ages and it felt brilliant to be instantly creative, really looking closely at structures, shapes and textures. Where the bread making process is a slow one with a sense of pride and purpose, the photography experience is one of instant pleasure, and anticipation, you never really know what the pictures will look like until they are on your computer. I’m tweaking them this week and I might have a couple printed and mounted. I felt so much better after a few down time days that I was ready to get back to abstracting and freelancing, and other bits and pieces of paid work.

A couple of my old workshop attendees contacted me this week too to see if I will be running workshops again. Now I’m a jobbing writer it seems like an obvious thing to start again so I began looking around for appropriate venues. I like a workshop space to be inspirational, and I think I have found the right place at the right price. I shall be going along today to have a look. Hopefully I’ll be running the writers workshop again, which is basically a facilitated group to get writers writing and help them develop their projects and I will probably re-run the beginners fiction writing course, possibly also a beginners poetry writing course. I have an idea for a short course based on different structured forms of poetry too. I think people re frightened of form and it puts them off using it. I’ve always found that writing within a structure, as long as it is the right structure for the content, can distill a poem and really bring something different out. I’d like to run an online course too, but all these things take time and planning so they’re on the back burner for now and we’ll see how we get on. This week I’ve also started costing out a possible Scarborough based poetry project which I feel is really exciting. I have a meeting with Scarborough council next week to discuss it which feels very positive.

This afternoon I’m popping into the Valley Press offices to have a look at some cover designs for the new book. It’s going to print very soon so this will likely be the last tweaking session before I hold the real thing in my hands. Exciting!

I’ve spent the morning writing about my dog, Toby, for a magazine article. It has been absolutely lovely. I don’t get to just sit down and do something creative and pleasurable very often, I want to be able to do more of this. I do love my beautiful boy, despite the fact that he really is a handful. And now I am about to do some more abstracting before I get to some uni work and then into Scarborough to do all the other bits and pieces. After that I am spending the late afternoon/early evening with the guinea pigs who are coming inside for the winter. I cannot wait to have their squidgy little bodies back in the conservatory where I can watch their antics.


See you later, alligator.

**all photos featured are my own work, please ask if you want to use them

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