My last post about PoetryAsHealing was a let ‘me tell you what it’s all about’ kind of post. As we’re nearing the end of the the year, I’m happy to tell with you that my PoetryAsHealing sessions have been a huge success. Working with MIND feels like a natural fit as so many poems in my Songs of my Soul collection address our private struggles with the big issues in life such as love, loss, major change and relationships.
Leading a group of carers through a labyrinthine selection of poetry from a range of traditional and contemporary poets, was an honour and a delight. Together we discussed an eclectic mix of themes covering diverse aspects of human emotions. Our conversations were stimulating and life-affirming. Two members of the group wrote imaginative and moving pieces of poetry during the sessions.
PoetryAsHealing is a subtle form of healing, and the best thing about it is it’s not just for poetry lovers; it’s for everyone who thinks, breathes and feels.
If you would like to sample a PoetryAsHealing workshop, please fill in the form below.
Writing a book is a lonely business. The stereotypes are true, I mean, I’ve been sitting in my office since 8am, unshaven – I use that word figuratively – and I probably won’t see another person until my son comes home from school. I watch people walking up and down the street with dogs, buggies and earphones, which doesn’t really count as social interaction.
On one level, it’s blissful, I write, dream and research to my heart’s content. I play what my husband, calls ‘whale music’ to help me focus. So far, so idyllic. But attending The Author School was a rude awakening – I need to get myself and my work out into the daylight – IRL and online.
To be a successful writer, which I define as someone who writes what they love and sells decent amounts of it,requires consistent and concerted marketing and PR input. I used to work in corporate comms and PR before I became a writer. Being tangled in my love affair with words, I had unceremoniously kicked my steady former love to the curb. Shame on me! All of the tools are at my disposal but I’ve left them to rust. But, like an autumn breeze, change is in the air. It’s time to polish my press release writing, tinker with my Twitter and sex-up my blog. (Not like that!)
Attending the Author School reminded me to look up from behind the screen, pause my book writing and start flexing my marketing muscles. I had fallen into the trap of building an irrational resistance to self-PR and book promotion, for fear of being too ‘in-yer-face.’ The truth is, being in-yer-face/BOLD/CapitalLetters, is what gets people’s attention. It has always been this way.
So join me in giving your book a boost. Whether you’re still writing it or it’s already published, turn some of your writing attention to writing about your book, in detail. Plot development, characters, themes, why you’re writing it etc., that is as important as the end product and will help you to sell copies when you’re finished writing it. It’s time to work our socials, and stop hiding out at home or in Costa. My PR self is telling my writer self to GET OUT THERE! My pledge:
– do more social media – keep it real – do more Facebook live – blog regularly – blog/gram/tweet on the go (so it doesn’t feel it’s a job) – write about writing and poetry, my core themes & ENJOY it.
If it gets too much, I will call in an expert. I’d love to hear how you get on, and if you don’t already, please connect/follow/like me…
She felt like an imposter… ‘Who do I think I am, calling myself a writer?’ Where’s the deal, the positive acclaim, cosy interviews on TV sofas headphones on, waiting in radio studios for the ‘on air’ button to glow red? This is my life! she whispered to herself through frustrated tears.
Her life story was similar to many others: the longing, the personal and financial struggles and finally – the success! It’s so funny, she grinned – flirting with everyone in the studio – achieving your big writing break when you’re in your fifth decade…flutter, twinkle, wink. Everyone in the studio laughed along with her, but thought to themselves, ‘It won’t take me that long to get to the top of my game!’
Her gloomy thoughts reflected the sky-full of rain, after a string of sunny days. This mood will pass, she thought, closing her eyes in mini-meditation. I will poke my head through this web of despair, but today is a wallow sort of day. Eyeing her white bookshelves groaning with self-help books, she acknowledged the wisdom of surrender to the drunken master of insecurity. She smiled at this, reminding herself these funks were transitory and usually followed by periods of frenzied activity, globs of creativity and furious connecting with fellow travellers on the creative road.
The room was quiet, as her eyes moved from the bookshelves to the window, and rested on a smudge of yellow emerging from the grey clouds. The soft yellow grew brighter, shining directly onto the rage and beauty of her core.
A. I was born and brought up in the Midlands, with my mother, a teacher. She was also an eternal student and loved to read – she studied English literature for her first degree and there was lots of Chaucer, Shakespeare, William Blake and or course Shakespeare lying around. She whetted my younger poetic appetite by encouraging me to read Christina Rossetti who I loved. We identified strongly with our Caribbean heritage and loved John Agard,Maya Angelou,Benjamin Zephaniah – all of whom we saw! Before I went to University, I worked at my local radio station Radio WM and also for the Caribbean Times as a junior reporter – the writing bug started early!
Q. Tell us about about how you came to write Songs of My Soul
A. It’s a culmination of a few year’s work – I had so written so much material it seemed a pity to leave it all in folders on my computer or dotted around on various blog posts. I really wanted to put it all together as a collection and due to personal circumstances, I had the time to do this, and most importantly the will. Shaping the book was a really cathartic and creative experience; the book is themed into three sections – Discovery, Holy Fire and Resurrection- which I think enables readers to dip in and out of according to their mood.
Q. What is Songs of My Soul about?
A. It’s a personal reflection on life with universal themes – parenting, love, passion, grief, loss. These are themes that everyone can relate to – there is a ‘song’ in the book for everyone. The reaction has been so positive – it’s brilliant to create a body of work that potentially everyone can relate to.
Q. You painted the cover of Songs of My Soul – can we expect any more paintings from you?
A. I’m a writer first and foremost and although I loved the painting experience, words are my first love. I did have a vey clear picture of what I wanted the cover to look like, a representation of a spiritual, calming place and universal landscape we can all relate to. I love the colours of dawn, when the world is just waking up so I tried to capture this on the canvas.
Q. So, the book is published now, what’s next for you?
A. I would like to make a donation to the National Autistic Society with proceeds from the book sales, it’s a charity that’s very important to me. I have a figure in mind and once I get there I will let people know as this will have been a real joint effort. There has been such positive interest in the book, that I will continue being a poet. Observing life and people and capturing it – I have also written a few short stories and will be developing these. I will continue to develop my craft, I’m a bit like my mother in that way – there is always something new to learn, another experience to write about. I’m very excited about sharing my words – I believe it’s what I was put on this planet to do.