Looking back I realise that 2011 was the year I became a poet. I’d been writing poetry for years before, but 2011 was the year I began to believe. Now, if asked, it is what I say I am – a poet.
No longer does the M.E. occupy the centre of my life. Though I still feel it robbed me of much I can honestly say it has gifted as much as it stole. It still lives here, but in its place, under control, mostly behaving itself.
In the beginning I believed it made me into a non-person. I could not think of what to say when asked by new acquaintances…’what do you do?’ In fact for eighteen months, housebound, there were no new acquaintances.
Slowly I learned to share out my energy throughout the day. I found I could ‘do’ something for two hours out of twenty four. I caught up on my reading – devoured the books I had never had time to open when I was working full time. I joined an art class, and, despite being assured at school that art was definitely not my ‘thing’, learned to draw, to paint, to play without feeling guilty that I was doing something just for fun.
Then I joined a creative writing class. Not something entirely new – what teacher has not had to write fiction at some time in their career? I enrolled with the Open University using credits gained many years before to blag my way on to A215…the A215! What a revelation. What a course. Being entirely on-line it was perfect for me, restricted as I was (and still am sometimes). It awakened what I now recognise as a need to write, an ache to find words, tell stories, distil thoughts into poetry.
From there came the third level course and a Diploma…nothing too special in a world of YZ Hons in just about anything…but to me, it marked the beginning of belief that I could still do something.
I entered competitions – and won some. I had small pieces published. I had a story broadcast by the BBC. I went to my first Winchester Writers’ Conference and marvelled. I still believed I was primarily a short fiction writer despite my OU tutor insisting I was a poet – Dr Roger Moss – you were right! I was lucky enough to become friends with some good writers to work with, some amazing tutors to learn from…and then came Feb 2011.
An invitation to read as a ‘featured poet’ at Loose Muse, in the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden really did change my life. Epiphany? More than that… it was the best aimed kick up the bottom that I have ever had.
I began to blog, to tweet, to write, every day. I finished a collection of fifty poems and submitted them to a publisher- I still have my fingers crossed on that one. I was chosen as a BT Olympic Storyteller; ran my first poetry workshops; had a poem shortlisted for the Fish Prize; started a small self-publishing concern (Four Point Press); published three books for other people – one of which an anthology by Paragram, a group of friends who joined me to put on a reading event in The Chertsey Bookshop; started selling words and pictures at the local Country Market with another painter/writer friend; received my very first commission for 5 poems; resurrected the local Stanza Group (local poetry groups supported by the Poetry Society); held a book signing for ‘Random’ …
…in short, 2011 was the year I became!
So – forwards to 2012. If I list here what I want to achieve I can use it as a stick- or carrot. It is written and so it will be! My list includes poetry, poetry, poetry; blog more regularly; improving my blog site; develope Paragram…at least one more book and some performances; Olympic poems for the Storytellers…maybe collect them together in some format at the end of the year; an illustrated poetry journey through the village for the market stall; developing Four Point Press; hold more workshops (I am already in conversation with a local historical site); reading events (roll on Loose Muse), short talks to local groups, writing with friends; develop the Woking Stanza group; resumeing Tai Chi!
Then there is what I dream of achieving…publication of the collection…winning the Fish Prize…compiling another collection…selling everything in stock at the Country Market and establishing a public interest in local artists and writers…mastering wet in wet in watercolour…