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Querying, rewriting and ADHD

Hi everyone, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything other than my fundraising poems, which, though I’d appreciate you all having a read of them and sharing, aren’t the sole purpose of this blog. I like sharing my writing journey and the struggles I have, in the hope that others currently struggling with writing (or anything, really) don’t feel so alone.

And wow, have I been struggling.

Last year, I did quite a few edits of older projects, drafted a new book — something I try to do every year — and starting querying literary agents for the…seventh time, I think?

Meaning that come New Year, I was quite worn out. Add to that a broken laptop, and work became rather hard, to put it mildly. (I’m currently still using my partner’s laptop, which I’ve grown used to and he’s more than happy to let me use for as long as I want, so I got over that hurdle pretty quickly). My focus, however, has been particularly bad.

I wanted to rewrite a project that, from feedback I got from agents, was about 15,000 words too short for the genre. As I never know how to relax and get bored between projects, I actually tried to start the rewrite just before Christmas, but then my laptop failed and it got put on hold until I could grab the files from the hard drive. (I’m usually good at backing up my stuff, but as I’d only started the rewrite about three days beforehand, I hadn’t gotten round to it. Naturally, the one time I delayed, ‘disaster’ struck.) When I did manage to get back to it again, despite engaging with the story and characters, it took hours to go over four double spaced pages. I tried repeatedly to go faster, to try and be more productive with my time, but it simply wasn’t working. By the time I reached the half-way point in the book, working on it felt comparable to digging a trench with a teaspoon, and I’m incredibly impatient with certain things.

Now, here I’m going to jump in with the ADHD part, as it’s likely relevant. I’ve been on the waiting list for assessment since mid 2019. I knew it’d be a long wait, just like for my ASD one, and when the pandemic happened, I resigned myself to an extra long wait. Several times I considered getting it done privately, but it does cost a lot, and as I get imposter syndrome, one week I’d be convinced I needed a diagnosis, the next I’d be unsure — I’ve heard this is common regarding ADHD in adults, particularly as it can present quite differently depending not just on age, but gender too. That aside, I was then super surprised when I got a phone call last month saying in-person assessments where I live were no longer supported due to costs, so the people in charge had decided to go with online assessments and mine wouldn’t be too far off. After another phone call and some screening questionnaires to make absolutely sure I’m eligible, I was finally given an assessment date. It’s early next month, and I am nervous as hell. But I already sent them extra notes, so hopefully it’ll go smoothly, whether the conclusion is ADHD or something else.

Anyway, back to writing talk. I’ve always struggled with focusing on and maintaining projects, but I’m stubborn and refuse to quit. So I ended up giving myself a tight deadline and marathoning the work until it was done. It worked, but as always when I do that, I ended up exhausted as it’s really not good for me. That’s the main reason I haven’t posted much lately. All my energy has gone to rewriting, recovering, or writing poetry. (I am happy with the way the rewrite tuned out though!)

As for querying, this round is going better than past attempts in that I’ve actually had a couple of full and partial manuscript requests, but not as many as I’d hoped. Which is disheartening and has led to many hours of ‘what if I never get an agent?’ thoughts. Of course, there are many options, one of which I’ve already pursued for my previous books — finding indie publishers. But the rejections piling up still hurt.

On a side note, though, my publisher recently informed me that two of my contracted poetry books are moving to the editing stage, so that’s something to look forward to (and also be anxious about. You may be thinking I’m anxious about a lot of things, and you’d be right. That’s just my brain.)

So, to bring this ramble to a close: if, like me, you’re a creative struggling with current projects, I see you and I understand. My family keep saying productivity shouldn’t be linked to self-worth, and while I get the idea of that sentiment, I haven’t yet found a way to make it stick. Even writing this post, which I could have left until I felt better and had more energy, is part of that. I didn’t feel like I’d done enough today, so words had to be written. But maybe someday, I’ll have a healthier approach to self-worth.

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I’m going to be doing some fundraising! #52weeksofnaturepoetry

Hearing about the effects of climate change and deforestation has long played on my mind — I’m at my most comfortable when I’m outside in nature, away from cars and sirens, bright lights, crowds, and the myriad of other things that often overload me — and the idea that everything I care for so deeply will be gone one day if we don’t stop wounding our planet is utterly terrifying.

Like many people, I wanted to do something to protect the wildlife around me. It means too much to me to simply give in and let things happen. But as I struggle when I’m around other people, and my mental health (I’m talking about you, anxiety) is not up to allowing me to physically volunteer somewhere or write long, detailed letters to organisations and MPs to encourage them to do better, I wasn’t sure what I could do.

Fundraising was in the back of my mind, but as I tried it some years ago and didn’t really get the response I wanted (and some even insinuated that I was wasting my time — talk about a hope squasher), I was scared that if I tried again, the same thing would happen. However, having recently listened to interviews with Diary of a Young Naturalist author, Dara McAnulty, along with other authors writing about their own love of nature and using it as a way to encourage and educate others, I thought perhaps I could do the same with my own writing.

Though narrative non-fiction is difficult for me, I adore writing poetry and often use it to explore what I’m feeling. So, at first, I simply considered writing a poetry collection and having all the proceeds go to my charity of choice (RSPB – they’re UK based like me and do some great work), but then I thought of a better idea. Or rather, I improved upon that one — what if, for a whole year (or 52 weeks), I wrote a poem about some of my favourite wildlife, and with each one, encouraged readers to donate to the RSPB and/or share and reblog? And, at the end of the 52 weeks, I could still publish all the poems together in a collection and have all the proceeds go to the RSPB, just like I originally planned.

The sharing and reblogging part is particularly important, as I know lots of people wish they could donate to things but can’t, and that way they can still help bring awareness to the wonders of the UK’s wildlife and thus encourage more care and protection for it.

So, after contacting the RSPB’s fundraising department and getting the go-ahead, I’ll be starting my #52weeksofnaturepoetry next month, and as the name suggests, it will run until this time next year. (You may already have noticed the new menu option at the top of this blog, all poems under the hashtag will appear there for easier reading.)

I’m still rather worried that this will turn out like my last fundraising attempt, but if I manage to encourage just one person’s love for nature, then I’ll be happy.

(Oh, and for anyone wondering, I’ll also be writing my usual, unrelated posts alongside this project.)

Also, if you’re curious about the RSPB, their website is here.

And if you want to take a gander at the Just Giving page I’ve recently set up in order to do this, it’s here.

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1000 Posts!

So WordPress has just informed me that I’ve managed to publish a thousand posts since I started this little blog in February 2017. Admittedly, I have tried to post every day, so that shouldn’t really come as a surprise, but it was still a strong reminder of how much writing I actually do.

It also made me realise that writing every day, as popular writing guides suggest writers do, doesn’t mean slogging through to build up word counts for big projects. It actually means write something every day. So it could be the draft of a new poem, which apparently is what most of this blog consists of (originally, it was supposed to be inspirational writing advice, but then I realised I couldn’t really give much advice while I was still learning myself – though I did manage a few good posts on it), or the outline of a book. Maybe even my thoughts for the day or a two minute free write. All of it keeps my brain creative, so though it doesn’t feel like I’ve done much writing, it all helps in the long run.

At the moment, I’ve got a lot of WIPs that need editing, so I’m going to drop my posts here down to once a week so I can focus on those works and any other new projects I end up with. It’ll also take away the unnecessary pressure I’ve put myself under to keep these posts regular, and hopefully reinstate that ‘less is more’ idea. But even if I don’t post everyday, I’ll still be writing in one form or another to keep that creativity I treasure going strong.

So, until later!

P.S. You may have noticed the cover of my book, The Origin Stone, has changed in the banner I use. My publisher decided it was time for a redesign, and I loved their idea, so we went with it. I believe The Origin Stone is also free on Kindle at the moment, so if you’ve been interested for a while, now’s the time to pick up a copy!

Poetry, Uncategorized

It’s release day for my poetry collection, A Book For Pandora!

Greetings, everyone!

A Book for Pandora has been a while in the making, so I’m delighted to finally be able to share it with you.

Those of you who have been following me since the beginning may recognise many of the poems in this collection, as most of them originated as drafts on this very blog. Of course, they have since been tweaked and fine tuned over the years until I was happy with them – which, being of the perfectionist type, was quite hard for me to do – and have now been neatly ordered and presented in one solid tome.

So, without further ado, here it is in paperback and on Kindle.

A Book for Pandora

Poetry

Colours of life

Long have tapestries been woven to tell tales.

Thread expertly chosen to depict every detail,

dyes richly combined

to bring forth the imagery.

Clear, neat, refined.

 

Silvertongues have learnt to weave tapestries with words.

Audiences spend hours listening

in suspense, enthralled by the daring twists at play.

 

Poets do the same, but set down their words

so the tapestries may be admired time and time again.

 

When Silvertongues and poets gather,

such is the intensity

that the air fills with the colour of life.

Each a muse to the other,

they walk hand in hand,

bonded at last to oversee the ripples

they couldn’t help but create.

Poetry

Refined

The first line.

That’s all it can take. A statement.

Sometimes bold, sometimes not.

It is exactly what it needs to be.

It can grasp you, choke hold,

demanding to know who you are and why you’re reading it.

It can take your hand and guide you through.

It can push you, head-first, into another universe.

It can offer you a roll of the dice,

or a look into the mirror,

a table at the feast.

Leave you cold. Leave you warm. Leave you flustered.

Make you think you want to quit, then watch as you can’t bring yourself to.

Stamp itself into your mind.  A tattoo you forget about

until you look over your shoulder.

Permanent.

An experience that will never vanish.