Friday, 18 November 2016

Writing is a Foreign Country

Long time, no write. 

I've gotten back into my writing; joined a course to work on my novel, have sent out all my unpublished poems to magazines for consideration. Having a bit of spare time to myself now the kids are all in nursery or school has made a big difference. On the days I don't have my Finnish course I try to spend the morning writing or editing. 

I've written two novels, both before I came to Finland. One I've edited and am half-heartedly trying to find an agent for. I'm not in love with it and think it's flawed, but can't figure out how to sort it. I'm also rewriting a novel I finished six years ago. It has languished unloved on my hard drive ever since. I went back and read it over before I started my course and fell in love with some of the characters again. I'm enjoying expanding and editing it. I also have half an idea for a third, but it hasn't coalesced properly yet, so I'm not working on it much. 

I have two poetry collections I'm trying to finish up. One is almost complete except finishing four poems that appear as part of a series. Once I've finished them I'll be ready to send it out, but since they're going really slowly, I'm tempted to take the series out and add something else just to get it out there. The second collection are poems based around my life in Finland and is still very much in progress. 

After years of being in the midst of literature in Scotland through the publisher I worked with, I'm not involved in the poetry scene in Finland at all. Partly because I don't speak the language so can't participate or understand most of the poetry events and partly because I don't have time. Totally my fault, the children have sucked so much motivation, time and energy from me that if something isn't easy or obvious I give up on it quite quickly. 

I've recently found out there's an English language creative writing group at the University, but I can't make the time. I've tried twice to start a writing group of mostly expats, but they've faded away when people left or got too busy to attend. And with both no one was a poet, so I didn't feel I was getting useful feedback. So I have no feed back for my work.

I'm tempted to pay one of my poet friends in the UK to read and critique my work. I'm reading other poets, but I feel like I'm working in a vacuum and have no idea if the writing I'm doing is any good. I've only had a few pieces published in the past year so don't know if I'm getting rejections because the work isn't good enough or if it just isn't a match to the editor. 

I've sent a letter to the organisers of the poetry festival Runokuu here in Helsinki, offering my services as a volunteer or a reader or workshopper, anything, but I never received a response. I'm guessing it's because my letter was in English. Though I've just had another look at their website and they now have an English version which I don't think they had before. A bit more encouraging. I've sent a letter to a poetry magazine here, asking if they consider poems in English. Same response, probably for the same reason. I guess I need to try harder, try again, but it's frustrating. 

I'm tempted to delete the previous posts and turn this into a poetry blog, but I'd have no idea what to write about, I'm not in the poetry scene, not in the UK or here in Finland, so it would be very online based, not a lot of meeting other poetry or going to readings, maybe not a bad thing. 

So I work on.