It’s been a while since I did an update blog. A lot happened in March.
First there was my birthday. Another lockdown birthday, but it was vey nice. We got a takeaway from a restaurant and pretended we were posh folk dining in a private booth. I’ve missed dining out. One perk of being childless is being able to go and eat out, and up until this year we’ve not been able to afford it as I have been crazily building my writing career and earning very little. I earn a wage now. I would not describe it as a good wage, but it is a wage and it would allow me to sit at a table, drink over priced wine and not have to wash up. I can’t wait!
Then there was the launch of my new collection, When I Think of My Body as a Horse. A strange affair in which I was in my office on zoom and the audience were on You Tube and I felt like I was talking to myself. However, it was brilliantly orchestrated by the Poetry Business and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The other readers were absolutely wonderful. You can watch the launch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGF7KAFaf64&t=27s
and you can buy a copy of the book, signed from my own shop, by following this link: https://wendyprattpoetry.com/shop/
The book is doing really well and has had some wonderful reviews. There’s a pattern to launching a book. First there’s a honeymoon phase where lots of people are buying it and talking abut it, then it goes quiet and you start to feel a bit embarrassed plugging it because perhaps, like a sponge, the book has absorbed all the sales it will get and now it is the time for it to slink away into the dark while other books have their time in the light. Every now and again I think, “oh, that’s it, that’s the honey-moon-book-launch-period over, as it disappears and I don’t hear about who’s reading it and there aren’t any reviews to read etc, and then a review like this one pops up in the Yorkshire Times and it’s so considered and careful and beautiful that it makes me feel like a proper poet again, and I feel that my Horse still has legs yet and a bit further to go.
Then there was the launch of issue one of my magazine, Spelt. Unbelievably, we had more than 100 people attend the launch and it was fantastic! We had some lovely feedback about the warm atmosphere and the range of regional accents which was just exactly what i wanted. I would love to show you a link to view the launch on our youtube channel, but I am technically inept and need my co-ed and general tech miracle worker Steve to get it set up properly and unfortunately Steve’s computer is down right now. I can show you this, though, which is one of our contributor’s poems made into a little film. Thanks Carole Bromley and thanks Steve for creating it.
I’m so proud of the magazine and so pleased with the response it’s had. We’re ploughing forward with it and have launched a competition, which will be judged by the amazing poet Maggie Harris. We’re also open for submissions for issue two, and you can buy your very own copy of Spelt one and read about submissions and the competition here: https://speltmagazine.com/shop/
I am loving running Spelt. It is one of the best things I’ve ever done and I think me and Steve are a good team. I’m very ambitious, I want Spelt to do well. I treat it as a business that I am growing and I hope that soon contributors will be paid and the magazine will be in more indie bookshops.
And then, half way through the month I had a weird heart episode. I’ve had palpitations before, but this was weird, and still is quite weird. It was like bad palpitations but my heart was all over the place, skipping beats, squishing in my chest and I kept feeling quite faint and dizzy and breathless and getting really bad headaches and tingling hands and a bit of pain in my arm. When I took my blood pressure it was though the roof. It was all a bit worrying really. I should really have gone to the hospital but refused to go because I couldn’t bear the thought of making such a fuss and also I felt like I couldn’t take time away from work which, in hindsight is absolutely crazy. It went on like that, off and on, for two and a half weeks, almost continuously, with me in and out of the GP having blood tests and getting referrals. Chris’s apple watch flagged it up as abnormal heart rhythms and at one point atrial fibrillation. I’m waiting to see a cardiologist, but you might have noticed there’s a pandemic on which is slowing everything down. My GP put me on blood pressure pills which have brought my blood pressure right down and I am not getting the headaches or any of the other symptoms anymore, and my heart, which was like a frog in a box, is now beating normally, on the whole, with just a few smaller episodes much more like the palpitations i’d been experiencing previously. The GP told me to cut back my workload and my stress levels. And caffeine and alcohol. It’s pushed me to seeking ways of slowing down, which I’ve talked about before as being something I needed to work on, but like lots of people it felt like it wasn’t that important. I’ve developed lots of crutches to deal with stress and exhaustion from my chronic over work, alcohol and caffeine among them, so this heart thing pushed me to address them and look at how I can make a long term plan for reducing work, alcohol, caffeine, stress. I signed up to a health app that is designed to help you reevaluate your habits and choices and think around them. Amazingly, it’s working!!! I have reduced my alcohol and my caffeine intake, am more in control of my choices and feel like I am actually living very healthily. But I’m still massively overworking. I expect that in the future there will be less prompt a day courses, and more courses like the Analyse This! Course which had a smaller group of attendees and meant I could work more closely with the group. I cannot continue to work 60+ hours a week. Something’s got to give, and I don’t want it to be me, really.
So there we are. A frantic, fantastic month. next up: what I read in March 2021.