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Keeping up hope

Trying to find a literary agent can be a long process for many authors, and I’m no exception. I’ve been querying agents with different manuscripts for about four years now, and though I’ve eventually found homes for those books with a small publisher, it still gets me down that none of them fit with the lists of the agents I queried.

Rejection after rejection can make authors numb to it after a while, and the hope that each query or submission sent out is a potential offer of representation dwindles until it starts becoming something done out of habit rather than real intent.

I start out querying a project with all the enthusiasm in the world, but six months later when the answer has still been no, self-doubt creeps in. My usual method to combat this oppressive feeling is to simply get on with the next book, but this year something else happened that re-ignited my hope.

A writer I know, who’s also been querying for a long time, finally found representation with an agent. (And they’re raving about how good her book is on Twitter, which is awesome to see.)

I was so happy for her that it was almost as if it’d happened to me, and the reason why I think I felt that way is because I knew how hard she’d worked to get there, and all the rejections she’d faced. It was like someone had plastered a sign on the wall in front of me, saying ‘See, it is possible!’.

So now when I feel that imposter syndrome trying to take over, all I need to do is think of that, and I know I’ll pull through.

Poetry

Glide

I want to latch my mind

onto the back of a butterfly and let it take me

off, gliding past bushes and hedges,

swerving by faces and paws,

whiskers, beaks and speeding cars

up, up

to flutter around treetops,

when I can step off and walk along the longest branches

to gaze out

at everything.

See all the possible choices

spread out like drunken scrawls on a map,

overlapping and diverting,

all hinging

on one point, one inciting incident that leads into many.

There is no point in looking back at what might have been,

those pathways have already crumbled.

I can only look forward

and hope the winds from the multitude of wing beats

don’t sweep

my self away.

Poetry

Mirror Pool

The tea in my cup is a mirror pool,

a pensive place of comfort

to gather my thoughts at the end of the day.

 

Why is it so hard to show passion?

To have dreams that are bursting from your body

invisible to everyone but you

and those select few

you trust and take into your heart,

who have no expectations

because they simply enjoy you

being you.

 

Why is it necessary

to fight the urge to fall into those few,

even though they’d catch you without hesitation,

and you’d easily do the same for them?

To see the look that says they will

hold you

if you need it, at any time,

and still not dive?

 

Why is love so difficult to express

in front of others,

to hold hands, touch nose to nose,

have that same solid certainty in our eyes?

None of the passers by care;

half

haven’t even noticed.

But there’s still this poisonous awkwardness

lingering in my bones.

 

I gather my thoughts at the end of the day,

reflecting in a pensive place of comfort:

the mirror pool in my teacup.

Poetry

The Rubbish Sack

When you open the rubbish sack, what do you expect to see? The empty packets of last night’s tasteless dinner? A card from someone you once knew so well it was like having a twin? That unopened box of over-fragrant toiletries your cousin of a cousin of a cousin gifted you three Christmases ago?

Why are you looking in there anyway? In that black hole of discarded things? You’re searching for a key? Oh, what kind of key? …You don’t know? Then what good will it do even if you find one?

Don’t you try to drown me out with that bag of sprouting spuds.

Hey. Hey! HEY!

Poetry

High tea

And you can see them now

Crocheted hats and grey hair still styled

In the same way as the aging

Black and white photographs

Packed into lace covered albums

Only retrieved on special occasions

Chatting away to each other

During the short bus ride

To and from the local supermarket

Neighbours, nephews, sisters, aunts

All discussed in the round during

This bumpy, fume driven high tea

Complete with silvered sugar cubes

 

Poetry

Opening credits

Pretending it’s okay

not to be cast

as the main character,

to always be left behind

while others race to the moon

and bathe in its shimmering

light.

 

That’s you all over.

 

I’ve watched you

calmly accepting

year after year

day after day

hour after hour

that you’re second best.

 

I can’t hold back any longer.

 

I reach for the mirror,

grasping it firmly,

and force you to look

into it.

 

You do.

 

Your eyes meet mine.

You realise that you don’t want

to

race

to the moon, anyway.

 

You strap rockets to your feet

and fly

instead,

capturing its light

in your hands

to sculpt

the moon’s tears

one by one,

each different to the last.

 

People pick them up where they land,

marveling at their uniqueness.

 

Finally, you’re proud

of who you are.

 

Finally, I’m proud

of who I am.

 

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Why I write

I’ve been thinking a lot about why I write, and not just writing poetry and fiction, but writing in general. And the more I think about it, the more answers seem to boil up.

I think the first one is that it was probably an escape for me when I was bullied at primary school. I couldn’t do anything myself, but I could make up characters who could. I wasn’t very good at talking to other kids, ¬†either, and if I was sitting by myself writing, then they were less likely to come up to me, so I’d feel more comfortable.

I’ve also always been able to come up with stories – I daydream all the time, and always have done – and writing them down allows me to have a creative output for them, which is important as I’ve discovered that if I don’t have some way to express my creativity, then I get depressed. And writing is what I’m most at ease doing over other creative pursuits (I love dancing and art, but writing is something I can always do even if I’m feeling ill – even writing just one or two lines while in bed with a virus fills me with a sense of achievement).

Inspiring people (and myself) is another reason why I put pen to paper. I can’t count how many times I’ve read a book and loved it so much that I felt fired up to write something great of my own. Without that initial wonder, I’m sure I wouldn’t be as enthusiastic about writing as I am now, and it certainly wouldn’t have been my dream as a child.

Linking to this is a basic desire for my work to be read by as many people as possible, so that they can see the worlds that I see. I want them to meet my characters and become so familiar with them that opening a book is like meeting up with old friends, with stories they want to return to again and again.

Finally, not only is writing a part of my daily routine (and I’m a very routine person), but I really don’t know what I’d do without it. The urge to write has buried itself so securely in my core that if I were to suddenly stop, I’d feel empty and unfulfilled. So I guess you could say that writing is therapeutic for me.

Anyway, this was just something I thought I’d chat about, because I always love reading details about other writers and thought this would be a good insight into what drives my work.

Poetry

Open your eyes

Fire climbs up my flesh,

seeping through my pores –

my veins are charged

with impulse.

The ledge of the world is before me.

I step up and finally

see the vastness beyond.

Coiled, my knees spring

to launch

my body down.

I ride the air’s waterfall;

I don’t fear the fall.

Someone will catch me.

They always do.

And if that fails, my shoulders

will ignite with ember-flower wings

to carry me back

where I belong.