Dancing canaries and empty notebooks
I hope you are having a lovely spring.
What did you want to be when you grew up? I always knew that I wanted to be a writer, though the types of writing I wanted to do changed a lot.
I learned when I was very small that there was no money in writing stories. To be fair, that’s absolutely true. Well, you can make some money, just not enough to buy more than a couple of cups of coffee a week. And writers need a lot more coffee than that!
So, not wanting to have no money, I decided I wanted to be a journalist. I didn’t really know what that was outside of Clark Kent’s very glamourous career, but someone bought me a notepad for my birthday that said “Reporter’s notebook” on the front and that was that decision made. If I’d realised at the time that Peter Parker was also a type of journalist, I’d probably have pursued that career for a lot longer.
Journalism took a back seat when I was told that all journalists do is spend their lives asking the families of murder victims overly personal questions, which of course isn’t true. The careers advice at my school has a lot to answer for…
I then decided I was going to be a playwright, having no idea what that really meant either, but I liked drama class and Shakespeare so figured I’d work it out. I didn’t put it together that if there was no money in writing story books, there was no money in writing stage stories either. While doing my A Levels, including English of course, I worked in a pet shop, which was probably one of my favourite ever jobs. It was a lovely little independent business, with lots of little animals, and I loved taking care of all of them, particularly the canary who permanently lived there and would dance around his birdhouse when I spoke to him.
While at university, I spent a day at a creative writing workshop for the English Literature department and promptly decided, after writing my first ever poem, that I was going to be a poet. Now, if there’s less money than writing stories in anything, it’s definitely poetry. It was around this time I started writing reviews, of everything. I reviewed books and films and at one point did a heavily sarcastic commentary of the X Factor.
I then started copywriting, creating charity leaflets and website content, when website content writers were still few and far between and getting the content onto websites took four or five people and six or seven hours…
That’s how I ended up in my current full-time job and all of my writing jobs are still hovering around in the background. I pitch journalistic articles regularly, and now and again they even get picked up! I write stories and poems, and sell them often enough. And I write a lot of reviews, mainly for North West End UK. I’ve even had a few plays performed. This July, there’ll be another short play on stage in Liverpool, together with three other great pieces by some grand writers, so keep an eye on Pique Niche Productions for news on that.
I’d love to hear what you wanted to be when you grew up and about any jobs you picked up along the way.
During April I participated in GloPoWriMo again, but unfortunately caught Norovirus towards the end and missed it, so am catching up with it now. You can read the poems so far and continuing during the catch up on my website, and once I’ve completed that, I’ll be doing something fun with books so watch this space.
Over on Sea Invisible, my newsletter about living with invisible disability, I’ve been looking at building resilience and looking after yourself on bad health days.
From the Body
I’ve recently read a full version of this forthcoming anthology exploring our bodies and the relationship we have with the food we give them. Creative non-fiction/non-fiction writings, curated and edited by Dr Charley Barnes, after seeing the draft of this collection, I’m more excited than ever to be involved. Poignant and honest, this snapshot in our relationships with our bodies is an excellent selection of writing and I can’t wait to see the final version.
It’s a Wonderful Life
I was so proud to perform in Formby Little Theatre’s It’s a Wonderful Life.
We had a wonderful cast, and the unique interpretation of the story got some great feedback from our audiences. It was so much fun to be back on stage, and I hope that next time the break between shows won’t last so long.
What I’m reading
The Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson
Things that have caught my eye
Ruby Wax on life after loneliness: ‘I always felt isolated. Mindfulness helped me drop my armour’ An honest look at the things we do to fit in with the crowd and how we can find our way back to ourselves.
Reading a Novel Set Entirely in Slack Interesting review of a novel set entirely in Slack. My recently drafted novella in flash contains emails and messenger conversations. When writing it they felt so natural I had to include them and I’m seeing them used more and more often in books, for example, I recently read Sophie Cousens’ Just Haven’t Met You Yet, and there are numerous text conversations included throughout.
Bibliophone: Paul McGee’s not for profit audiobooks An interview about an ethical audio book platform which helps charities as well as writers.
The Maldives is being swallowed by the sea. Can it adapt? A frighteningly honest look at climate change and the effects it is having right now.
Why Passing Friendships Should Be Celebrated This really hit home for me for a number of reasons. It’s a good way to look at friendships and how they add to our lives.
Trailblazing through time Poets and Publishers Histories of women in writing, with portraits.
The Best Examples of Palindromes in the English Language A history of palindromes and some fun examples of the longest and most obscure ones.
The poor, tough life of the families living in the 'real' Yorkshire wilderness and how it inspired a classic tragedy The history of the people of the house which may have inspired Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.
Rainbow Crow A Native American myth about the crow’s black feathers. I love this so much. It’s a beautiful story and a lovely retelling.
Creating your own work based on personal experience - with Lucy Danser I recently reviewed Lucy’s play, If this is normal, so I expect this workshop on creating theatre from your personal experience to be a great session full of useful advice and tips on making your own theatre. The workshop is being supported by Samwell, whose very own Helen Jeffrey will be performing Upstairs at Jimmy’s, Liverpool in a couple of weeks on 25 May.
There are loads of spider and mice brooches around at the moment and I really can’t decide which ones are cuter! I think it might be the spiders, but that may just be my inner Peter Parker…