I finally get a quiet day to sit down and work and I'm aching and tired and just want to go back to bed. But there's only one week left of school and no summer camps booked this year, so I need to make use of this me-time while I have it. I'll soon need to balance it with entertaining four kids, mostly on my own.
I've broken the 400 poem mark this week. I've written over 400 poems, that just blows me away. This is counting the proper, grown-up poems that I think are worthy to share and try and get published. Over half of them are published in my books or in journals. Over 150 of them have been written in the last two years. Just imagine how much I could have written if I could have figured out the secret of writing daily earlier. I used to write every day pre-kids and even a bit after they were born, but I was slower at sculpting my poems and have spent a lot of the last decades writing novels that went nowhere.
I feel like I've found my stride in what most people would consider middle age, though I don't feel middle-aged. Or at least what I thought middle-aged meant before I got here. I just feel like me, maybe more tired and achey though.
But then I looked at a list of competitions calls yesterday and realised once again that I don't fit into so many boxes in publishing. Most of the competitions I couldn't even consider because of my age, I'm over 30 or 37 or whatever random cut-off they choose. I get it, publishers and grant bodies want to support young, struggling, up-and-coming writers. I also read recently that more poetry is being read by under 35s these days than any other age group, so they want to appeal to that audience. But what about us older, struggling writers, there must be a group of us searching for support and an audience ready to read us.
I also am the wrong nationality or live in the wrong place or have the wrong career or write the wrong genre. Does anyone have a call for poems from a 48-year-old white cis-women US poet living in Finland?
I worked at Chapman Publishing in Edinburgh for many years and while there we published a book of poems by Magi Gibson called Wild Women of a Certain Age. It was a brilliant, fierce and powerful book and I loved being involved with it. I was in my early 20s while my editor and Magi and some of the other women we worked with were a couple of decades older and I couldn't understand why this idea of fighting against the constraints of this 'certain age' was so important to them. I get it now. I need to find my own tribe of wild women soon.
Joining Twitter has opened my eyes to the new network of writers out there, I've discovered Maggie Smith recently through her empowering tweets. Her book Good Bones is my next book I plan to buy, her poem of the same name is a heart-shattering force, especially if you have young children. She's definitely a Wild Women I'd invite.
Good news for my old bones, two of my poems have been included in this online anthology from the course I did with poet Wendy Pratt. I really enjoyed all of her courses and it was nice to have this as the cherry on the cake at the end of this one from April.
Wendy is running another course in June. I'm still debating whether to do it due to time and money constraints. But Jen Hadfield, another amazing poet and friend, is running a free 5 day online course with Arvon which even though it falls while I'm on holiday I am definitely doing as I've never had the pleasure of working with Jen and am really looking forward to it. I'm not sure if the Arvon course will have the sharing element that Wendy's course does, but I'm sure her prompts and ideas will be worth trying.
So I'll keep writing daily and churning out my work in the hope that I will soon find my niche, my tribe, my audience.