Behind the scenes

Life’s been trundling on behind a headline roll so bad that it’s a shock, sometimes, to look social media and see people discussing silly, small things. Our internet broke down this morning, briefly, and it was a relief to escape the stream of world news for a while. (Yes, I could just turn my computer off and so forth, but what can I say – I’m an addict.)

Still, when the outside world is shut out and I can look at just what’s going on in my personal sphere, things are pretty good.

First up – I’ve had four poems accepted by a pretty-damn-good poetry publication. I chased them, with some trepidation, after I hadn’t heard anything beyond their expected response time. I knew from Duotrope they’d been responding to submissions sent some weeks after mine, so I figured I’d just check that they’d actually received my submission. I got a reply a day later saying they hadn’t, but they’d take the poems, please – plus another, if I had one.

I can’t be the only person to find that every other piece of writing they’ve done suddenly seems unfinished or just plain bad when you’re explicitly asked to send some in? I agonised and swore, and sent one poem, only to be asked to please send a few more so that they had some options. Oh, no! I’m a fraud and now they’ll know I only ever wrote two decent poems! But I sent five more in and they took two – including, as is traditional, the poem I’d included as an after-thought.


So that was a very, very good start to the month and the year. I will shout the name of the publication to the rafters once the issue is out. Except now I’m low on poems to send out.


In the meantime, the moving prep continues. After a various freakouts over Christmas and New Year, it didn’t take very many hours of being back in London to stop freaking and get enthusiastic again.

Actually being in a position to get on with organising makes a huge difference. But also coming back to London meant crossing the city in all its rainy, smelly, crowded glory. And going from a warm house with no leaks to our damp, cold, structurally unsound flat was a shock to the system, plus there’s the joy of upstairs neighbours (not least the current inhabitant’s habit of stamping their foot to their own guitar playing quite late at night. And, you know, tuba playing), plus going back to work and realising that much as I love my workmates, doing the job with no end in sight would send me crackers.

The best way I can sum this up at the moment is to say that, as scary as all of this is, I feel, for the first time in ever, as though I’m on the right path rather than treading water while I figure out which direction I should be going.

Every so often I think about the new job and panic that I’m a massive fraud and after two weeks there they’ll figure that out and I’ll be sent on my way – I’m pretty sure this is normal, though. And the move itself is causing a certain amount of stress. This article sums up the situation quite nicely.

So how are we surviving the upheaval? Well, I don’t doubt that, at some stage, I’ll have a meltdown, but we’re doing ok. We’ve handed our notice into the landlord. I’ve started sorting through my crap. It is somewhat disconcerting to look at the pile of stuff I’m getting rid of and realise it is about the same amount of items I first moved to London with. These days, that same amount barely makes a dent in my belongings, which is… well, I’ll never be one of life’s minimalists, let’s put it that way.

Coping mechanisms:

  1. CM and I are regularly admitting to each other when we get overwhelmed and thoughts are getting scrambled. Communication! Yay! It means we’ve got an idea of just how fragile we’re each feeling. When things get slightly snappy, I’m making the effort not to escalate the conversation into an actual argument (I am so guilty of this normally). It would be a stupid thing to do given that the issue is that we’re both nervous about the future.
  2. I’m using the tiniest notebook in the world to write my To Do lists. There’s loads to get on with, and it can only be done bit by bit. We’ve actually got this fecking HUGE whiteboard where the lists normally go – but I’m finding that using tiny sheets of paper makes the whole thing less overwhelming. Like a race training programme, when you focus on the week you’re on and do not look ahead to 10 weeks time when you’re swimming 4k instead of 500metres (or, you know, similar), using a tiny notebook means I only see the bite-size chunks instead of the hugeness of it all. Denial is great.
  3. An actual diary. I haven’t kept an actual diary in years – I stopped because it was becoming an exercise in wallowing that was really unhealthy. But for this year, while things are in flux, I’ll be keeping a diary so that I can vent. Wallowing is not allowed (there’s a time limit on how long I’m allowed to write), but it’s a space where I can complain and worry and get it out of my system.
  4. It pains me to admit this, but I’m trying meditation of sorts. I am, genetically, a worrier, and I can easily waste a night lying in bed making up worst-case scenarios and planning for confrontations that will never happen. So, when that happens, I’m trying to force myself to slow down and focus on my breathing and let everything else pass through my head and out again, as the many writings on the subject say. If I find myself not focusing on my breathing, I go back to it. It probably helps.

Any further suggestions for big change survival are welcome. How do you cope?

2 thoughts on “Behind the scenes

  1. Your post strikes such a chord with me. I too have big news to go with the turn of the year, not a move but a new job. I am going through so many of the emotions that you are – think self doubt, waking up and worrying – it’s all completely natural isn’t it. My other half is being brilliantly supportive, I am writing down his pearls of wisdom so I can look back at them if I need to. The best message he’s given me is no one wants you to fail, and no one’s out to get you. I am going to dig out my mindfulness podcasts, specifically the movement one which gets you breathing and stretching and does a great job at cleaning out my brain. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Congratulations on the new job! – that’s brilliant news! That’s a really good bit of wisdom from your other half, I’m going to bear that in mind. Thankfully I’m too busy organising the move to properly worry yet, but in the last few days, when we’ve moved and there’s nothing but the new job to focus on, I think it’ll be very important. What mindfulness podcast do you use? I’ve been looking for a good guide. Good luck to you, too.


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