Uncategorized

The IW Story Festival and my anxiety

On Friday, I had the pleasure of giving a workshop on writing poetry about dragons at the Isle of Wight Story Festival.

However, as I have quite severe social anxiety and get easy overloaded by sensory stimuli – some of the more negative things about being autistic, I was dreading being at the festival and talking to people while I waited for my turn (I went a few hours early, as my partner’s brother was giving a talk on butterflies, which I’m really glad I attended as it was utterly brilliant, but also meant that I had two hours spare until my own workshop).

I ended up hiding in the green room, with other authors and illustrators in there with me, and though they were lovely to meet and listen to, I was so unsettled and not sure what to do that I didn’t feel comfortable enough to say much or eat my lunch until they all left. I also had to wear my ear defenders as the kids attending the festival were shouting excitedly and running around – not a bad thing, as it meant they were enjoying themselves, which is what the festival was all about, but the sound was a little too much for me to handle.

Still, I had a decent amount of kids attend my workshop and they all wrote some brilliant poetry. I wasn’t sure if they were enjoying it much, as it was a quieter workshop than some of the earlier ones, and was very much based on their own creativity, but when we finished, most of them came up to me and said they did. The parents did too, which was nice, and I was even asked to have my photo taken. I also did a giveaway of some of my books, so I was able to sign those, along with some of the bookmarks I had on hand.

Part of the workshop was making a group poem, where I asked the kids to write a single line of poetry, which I then wrote down and, while they were busy coming up with their own individual poems, I used those lines to craft a complete poem. We also voted on a title for it, too. So below is a photo of the completed group poem, made entirely of parts from the lines they gave me. (Apologies for my handwriting, it’s always terrible.)20200223_111600

I’m not sure if I’ll take part in the festival again, as being there has completely drained me (I expect for the next week, as it usually takes a while to recover from events like this), and it weighed so heavily on my mind during the few weeks before it that I couldn’t focus on any other work. But listening to the poems the kids wrote was a really wonderful moment, so I do feel greatly privileged to have had that opportunity.

Poetry

Role Play

Shuffling papers shakes up memories

into cinematic strips

that play on auto after every introduction.

Arranged this way,

how do we know they’re real anymore?

Morphed over time, nipped and tucked,

folded, welded, enshrined and entombed,

buried fast or brought forwards by warm words

from different perspectives.

We are made of stories.

We are stories.

Every Once Upon A Time

threaded into our minds through and through.

Poetry

Exhibition

The gallery is vibrant.

I know this because I’ve been told.

They said the subjects of the paintings

are brimming with colour,

rainbows practically spilling out of the frames and onto the smooth panelled floor.

I see only the colour around the subject.

Blocked from seeping in,

as though simply touching those sketchy outlines

will leech away the pigment

until nothing is left.

They told me I see the world this way because I’m depressed,

that the chemistry of my brain has gone awry

and muddies everything I lay eyes on.

I don’t think they’re wrong,

but I also think that maybe

I’ve just developed the superpower

to see another dimension.

Poetry

We’ve got mail

Would you like some tea

with that milk? You’d say slyly

regarding my pale cuppa,

resting your head idly against the bookcase

searching for the storms.

My mouth would twitch,

flicking between smile and frown.

The window always opened and closed

at that point, seemingly of

its own accord

and a stack of papers would flurry in

to land by our outstretched legs.

What do we have today, then?

You’d muse, lifting a sheet

to your face. Ah, of course;

Ghost Writers. Let’s help them

find their stories, shall we?

And with that, we’d begin.

 

Poetry

Water vapour, as I see it

The mist drifts in

across the moor.

A natural occurrence,

yet to those there to witness,

its creeping hands form

a heavy stone, which

though small, gives

a sudden punch

to the chest.

Tales long thought to be forgotten

come unbidden

to the mind,

whispers

of eyes and teeth

and a cold breath upon the neck.

But they are only whispers.

Told to steal the knotted wrap

from your warm,

foetal body.

Uncategorized

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

A box full of kindling

You start by cross-dressing,

trying out every hat

and pant-suit

you can lay your snatching hands on.

Taking a nip

here and there

without even knowing,

pollinating the dry wood

with a peppering of ideas

and choosing to tempt

Pandora with the wild taste

of the unwritten.

An input always needs an output;

you present the light-child

who carries it.