On Writing

There is no denying that learning to be a good writer is hard work, that the idea of ‘writing’ or ‘getting started’ for a writer is sometimes difficult, that getting published is even harder, once published, the hardest work of all commences.  A little like the throes of parenting.  There are no rules and yet so many to break. The birth of the novel, the poetry anthology, your very own creation is what all of us writers secretly wish or work towards. I most certainly did.  And when it happened, the surreal responsibility of my little creation, was just that, surreal, euphoric in moments that caught me unaware.  What happens next?

A lot of self discipline, plugging, networking, self doubt, even though I had the book in my hand, a realisation that I have to move forward, keep writing, keep reading, and most importantly making the time. The publication of ‘Snow Calling’ was almost synonymous with the birth of my daughter.  I remember thinking or panicking about the lack of time I would have to write in the future, if I didn’t get it together and edit all the material I had for this book, then it would never happen. In fact, the imminent birth of my first child threw me into a world which I convinced myself would be a world where I no longer had the luxury of time as I knew it. Subconsciously, she was my deadline.  I always need a deadline.  And I was right.  At first, I wrote and edited frantically in the early hours before she would wake up and learnt that self discipline sometimes outweighs creation.  In the first six months of her existence, I was nurturing my second creation.  I can’t deny that after the publication of ‘Snow Calling’, a blissful ignorance on the reality of being published; skewed my vision on what it means to be a published writer.  It’s hard work. I think as a first time writer, you channel everything into producing your product but without realising that another world beckons.  Selling books is not easy, convincing people to part with their money on poetry, especially poetry, is an art altogether in a category all of its own.  In many ways, it’s a full time job.  Little did I know this.  I don’t mean to sound pessimistic or stupid, should I’ve know this beforehand?  But it’s certainly an important part of the learning process of becoming a writer.  Fundamentally, it shouldn’t deter you from writing, but my advice is to be aware that being published throws you into another world of uncertainty. Will the following book be published? Have I sold enough, proved enough as a writer, is my writing improving?

I feel that once published, you can’t go back, you can’t just sit there in your moment of print, you have to move as quickly as you can.  For me there is more at stake.  There is no point printing, if you don’t go on to print more.  There is more pressure.  And moving quickly with a three year old and a sibling on its way in January is like running in a three legged spoon and egg race.  Not impossible, just learning to do things in a different way.  So as I work on getting ‘Snow Calling’ some ‘air’ time, both second creations are brewing.


My ‘Teddington library’ reading yesterday was a small success on many levels.  It was my first library reading and to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. I had a small but intimate audience, which included a mother with her two daughters, not yet in secondary school, who sat attentively and listened to the poems.  It was encouraging to know that one of the girls, was attending creative writing classes at school and I felt a little proud and honoured when her mum bought ‘Snow Calling’ for her, as a way to inspire a potential talent.  Praises were given, small nods, cards taken, in fact, the sales in that one afternoon, four books, was probably the highest it has ever been at any of the readings that I have given so far. Now, I am not that good at maths but I calculated that it was almost 50% of the audience.  It made think why that was. 

Poetry or new poetry is notoriously hard to sell. I’ve started to think about how the very nature of poetry, it’s personal, potentially intimate make-up might require a smaller space for it to be shared, maybe. Just one of many thought; we certainly, as an audience were able to discuss afterwards, my experience as an author and getting published, and that brought us closer somehow.  I felt that the audience had actually bought not just the book but an ‘experience of the afternoon’, an experience that was free to hear, an opportunity to talk to the author without feeling intimidated, and then receive their signed, discounted copy of the book.  In this harsh economic climate, I thought the format worked really well.  Opportunities were opened for further contact and the book was made ‘real’ and ‘alive’ for them and me.  So thank you everyone for a lovely afternoon.

More thoughts on ‘why poetry is hard to sell’ in an article in: http://www.frictionmagazine.com in the New Year.

Teddington Library Reading 11/12/10

The International Prize for the Worst Blogger………….

Goes to me! Thank you, kindly accepted, what do I win? a big kick up the bum.

Right, so, my pre new years resolution is to BLOG every week.  A weekly BLOG. Even I can do that, surely.  Even if people aren’t interested in knowing that I finally managed to publish ‘Snow Calling’ in April ’10 and that there was a launch on  the 8th July at the Phoenix Artists Club or how the book is doing or find out about readings; they might be interested in my lack of discipline, slackness and general procrastination.

Does this happen to all writers?  Comments welcome.

It’s been a while…..

Waiting for spring to kick in, feeling lethargic and overwhelmed.  I am moving on the 26th March and a bit in denial.  Looking forward to the Easter break, though most of it will involve unpacking, haven’t written anything for a little while and really need to get something out.  Already started on the second collection, even though the first one isn’t out as yet……the jacket has been finalised and it’s about to go to print, it’s like an overdue baby.  Talking of which, little Maja, who is not so little anymore has turned into the most funniest, cheekiest little person ever ( I guess all parents say that about their own children) but she really has.  She keeps asking me “what I am doing?” all the time. O.K I know that is not funny or that cheeky, it’s just those are the words I associate with her at the moment, them and “Go away” another term she has skillfully picked up – But from whom…?

In the process of checking second proofs.  Sometimes looking at them intensely can make you question everything you have written. I guess once it’s out there, I’ll stop doubting.

Went to a poetry workshop today with Mimi Khalvati, very inspiring but missed my little girl.  Even free time can be guilt time sometimes.  It’s all about balance……….

Hello World Indeed

Did you know that ‘Hello World’ was one of the first messages sent by a computer program? useless fact or a tentative link with my blogging experience? probably neither, anyone who knows me well will be surprised to hear that….I have entered the 21st century, I am trying, I really am, let the blogging journey commence……………..

I’ve had great comments about the website and the poems people have read so far, which seals all that uncertainty shut.  The book is scheduled to be out in July and so we’re all busy proof reading.  It is a little surreal, this idea of being published, it’s like a stamp of certification after all these years of writing, a very subjective stamp mind you.  I’ll tell you the story one day soon, maybe when the book is actually in my hands, how it got to be in my hands.

As for now, I am riding the wave,  enjoying the moment, in case the wave swallows me whole.