Wednesday, 16 January 2019

An Impossible Task

The middle of January and it's been all go, submitting, writing, being accepted, being rejected, being published. I hope this continues to bode well for the rest of the year. Angela Carr's online course has pushed me on to eight new poems. I haven't been able to commit as much time to the Facebook posts as I'd like, but there's a good buzz there among the participants and I'm enjoying the prompts. 

I've had two poems from my previous online writing courses published in The Selkie's anthology. Based in Edinburgh, The Selkie is an online magazine mostly run by women which is refreshing. They also have a mentoring project New Voices which is worth looking into if you're a beginning writer. I've found working with a mentor very helpful and encouraging. 

I've submitted to 5 magazines and a have a list building up for more to go out, partially from Angela Carr's list of places to submit. I've already had one quick acceptance which helps with the new year, new start feeling. 

I haven't really come up with any resolutions, but to keep the momentum I've got going with writing and submitting. I'd like to get back to my fiction as well, but right now it doesn't feel like a good fit for my focus. Writing a poem a day makes it difficult to switch between fiction and poetry. 

Maybe that's a good focus for my theme for my writing prompt today 'an impossible task'. Can I be all things as a writer, a poet, a novelist, submitting tons of work and writing a poem a day, rewriting two novels? And lets not forget a mother, a partner, a social secretary and a chauffeur. There's also the thought that I should go back to work. I've been taking care of the kids for a long time now, but to be honest I like my life as it is right now and I'm scared to try and venture out into the working world again. 

On the writing side, it feels important to focus on the poetry, getting my collections finished and published, keep up my magazines submissions. On the personal side, I don't know what I'm doing with my life. Hopefully that will become clear later this year.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Not in the Mood for Resolutions

I believe my in-laws have thrown out almost all the copies of my poetry book, link on the side. We had taken them down from our loft in Scotland and packed them up in boxes, but there was a delay in getting someone to bring them to Finland, so my other half's siblings helped seal up the boxes properly for collection. I guess the boxes were too heavy as when they arrived here, the books had been taken out. I assumed they would be stashed for us to sort later. 

My other half just returned from a trip to Scotland where he could find less than ten copies of my collection and none of another book that had some of my work that I had produced myself through my old publishing company. My sister-in-law said they had cleared out a lot at my father-in-law's house where the boxes had been stored, so I guess they decided to recycle them.

I'm gutted. Why would you do that? Throw out copies of someone's work. I understand the boxes were heavy and they wanted to clear my father-in-law's house out while he was in hospital. I had suggested they might want to take a few extra boxes to spread things out as we had packed them, but hadn't tried to move them afterwards. But just to decide that my books weren't worth saving is offensive. I don't even know how to bring it up with them. The distance makes it difficult but also the fact that they don't appreciate books of any sort really and don't understand the work, time and money that went into those books. 

So I have less than a dozen copies of my book. I had hoped to have a cheap sale of the books once they arrived, so spread them around before the hopeful publication of my next book. But they're pulp.

I was going to think about resolutions for the new year in this post, but I have lost any impetus for that now.

I'm still moving along with Angela Carr's January Write Off. You can still join in, but clicking on the link where she has posted her list of prompts and I think she's still accepting people on the Facebook page, you just jump in on whatever day it is. 

I've sent out my first submission and also received my first rejection from another magazine. 2019 is rolling apace, I guess.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Writing Stats for 2018

Just as the new year gets started, here are my writing, submissions and publication stats for 2018 and for 2017 to compare. 


68 new poems

finished 5 previously started poems
94 submissions to magazines, 8 to book publishers
65 magazine rejections, 9 book rejections
10 acceptances
15 poems appeared in 7 publications, 5 online
6 acceptances awaiting publication
48 blog posts


19 new poems

finished 9 poems
65 magazines submissions, 12 to book publishers
45 magazine rejections, 10 book rejections
7 acceptances
1 book competition long-list
17 poems appeared in 8 publications, 4 online
21 blog posts

It's the first number I'm proudest of, 68 new poems written this year, most in the last quarter of the year due to Wendy Pratt's online writing course. I've done my best to continue without the course and I'm happy with how well I've been able to keep up, I've written 13 poems since the course finished. 

Having so many new poems to send out for consideration has helped up my submission numbers. I'm still only getting around a 10% acceptance rate, but more submissions equals more acceptances, even if only at one out of ten gets accepted. Considering I have 43 submissions awaiting adjudication I'm hoping that my acceptance numbers will be up next year as well. 

The publication numbers are never reflective of the current year because many print publications accept work but then take months or even up to a year to publish. Online magazines are often quicker, though I have a few from earlier in 2018 still waiting to appear. The six acceptances awaiting publication already show next year's numbers will be better. 

The Poetry Bloggers Revival Tour challenge has helped me increase my blog writing. I'd like to keep that up in the new year, so I have joined the Poetry Blogging Network for 2019 which is a follow-on of the PBRT. I've had a lot more views on my blog as well, down to joining the challenge, but without adding up monthly totals which are difficult to figure out, I can't say for certain what the numbers are. 

I've also finished one poetry collection and am almost done with the second. I am writing so many new poems that I keep wanting to shoehorn them in, so need to have a serious read-through in the next few months and finish it off. I've also done a lot of work on my novels, including rewriting the beginning of my old novel. I have this idea to sort out some issues in the new one I need to work on, so I hope to get back to that in the new year. I'll come back to my resolutions for 2019 later.

It's funny how much I enjoy seeing the numbers add up even though I'm not very mathematically minded. It reminds me how much effort I'm putting in and that there are some rewards to that effort.

For anyone looking for a prompt based poetry challenge Angela Carr has started one for January, link here.  It's free and there's a Facebook group to post your work if you wish. I'm going to give it a go.  

So welcome to 2019. I hope it has a lot of good things in store for all of us.  

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Happy Holidays from Thistle Wren.

Not much to report as we've been busy with Christmas stuff.

I have two poems appear in Three Drops from a Cauldron's Midwinter Issue. Please check it out. They are a lovely online magazine focusing on pagan and mythical writings. They have a quick response time which is always appreciated as well

I'm also enjoying writing a poem based on this prompt from Trish Hopkinson's guest blogger of looking up words in a dictionary and using the words before and after to make a poem. 

Have a lovely holiday season. 

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Ups and Downs

After feeling so positive and energised at last week's post, my mood and writing have taken a nose-dive this week. I haven't done any new writing or any daily prompts. I know it's a blip and I'll come out the other side, so I'm trying not to beat myself up over it. I've had a very productive year, so I'm not complaining at all. I can't wait to look over the numbers for the year in January. 

On a happier note, I did get an acceptance for 5 poems for an online magazine that I've been trying to get into for a while. I'll post a link when it's up. 

I also think I may have figured out a way to get around my problems with my novel, though I don't have any energy to actually do the rewriting. I've sketched out the idea in one of my notebooks, but I will have to go back to the beginning of the novel to make the changes. Hopefully in the new year I can start that and take the revised chapters to my writing group

The kids are off school at the end of the week, so I'll be taking some down-time anyway. I hope to do a bit of writing, but won't be able to commit much time. But now that they're older and can entertain themselves a bit more, I should be able to carve some writing space out. 

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

A Poem A Day and Blogging

If you had told me six months ago that I could write a decent draft of a poem a day, I would have said maybe as a fluke, but never regularly. I've always written very slowly, shaping and tinkering, but my recent online writing courses have taught me to trust my instinct and to just dive in to my writing.  Keeping writing practice as a daily activity helps to make it possible, like keeping the writing muscles limber. I've turned about 10 out of the 17 non-course prompts I've done into poems, some still pretty rough drafts, but some already submitted to magazines.

I'm finding my prompts from various places: newspaper articles and books I'm reading, places I'm at, websites that have daily prompts. I like to have someone else pick my prompts as otherwise I try to find ones that fit my preconceived ideas about what I should write about. I prefer when surprises appear in my writing

Reoccuring themes have been showing up, often to do with Scotland. I'm debating whether I want to add the poems I've written to my Scottish collection as they are part of the themes there, but while they're still being considered by publishers I'll just leave them. 

The poet Luisa A Igloria has been an inspiration in my daily writing. She has written and posted daily poems for over 8 years. She shares them on the Via Negativa blog which she shares with Dave Bonta who also writes daily. And while I'm sure she finds that not everyone is good or worthy of publication, she has managed to produce four full length collection and 3 chapbooks and has won lots of awards in that time so it can be worth-while to write daily. I now have enough for at least one more collection after my Scottish and Finnish ones, but there's no obvious thematic flow so I'm not trying to put anything together right now.

Dave Bonta also does a weekly round-up of the Poet Bloggers Revival which I joined up. I'm not included in his round-up, but it's nice to read briefly what other bloggers are writing about and sometimes follow back to the original blog for more. It's interesting how he can often find themes stretching across the world to various poets. 

I'm quite chuffed that I've managed to keep up my weekly blogging this year. I might have missed one or two when on holiday, but otherwise, even when I was feeling quite low, I managed to write something. It gave me a goal to achieve, something to feel like I was still writing even when I couldn't produce a poem or a line of fiction. 

Less than two weeks before the kids finish for Christmas, so hopefully I can keep things going in that time and then ease down for the break. Take care.

Monday, 3 December 2018

What I'm Reading Now and Ticking Along

I'm still trying to do the daily prompt and one way I'm getting ideas is Karl Ove Knausgård's book Autumn, a collection of vignettes written to his unborn daughter about every day items. He writes about apples or jellyfish, badgers, plastic bags and labia among other things. It's a quiet, meditative book, nothing shocking or earth-shatteringly beautiful but it has a lovely reflective feel to it and sometimes the language is hauntingly beautiful and melancholic. I carry it about and read it in short bursts in waiting rooms. There's three more in the series that I might get, following the names of the seasons, but it really makes me want to read his My Struggle series which is also autobiographical.

Anyway, I'm occasionally taking the subject of one of his sections and using that as a prompt for my own writing. Sometimes I get a poem, other times I just spend the time writing with no final output. I like the fact that I'm keeping up with writing practices, not every day, but often enough that I don't feel like I'm wasting my writing time. The poems are still coming, not daily like with the course, but one or two a week which I'm happy with. 

Otherwise, it's just back to the normal writing, editing, submitting, attending my writing group. I'm only working on poetry though we had a craft week on Friday discussing dialogue. We did a short writing exercise and it reminded me why I'm not working on my novel right now. I just can't get a feel for it at the moment, the characters just feel so tangled up, I can't get a hold on them or their motivations. So I'm happy to continue on with my poetry until I see a way out. It's still percolating in the back of my head, but I'm not really giving it any paper time.  

Enjoy your week.