Three weeks and an election later. Sorry. I forget, sometimes, that this blog is how my family keep track of me when I’m being the worst daughter in the world and failing to call them. (You can tell when that happens because I swear more in the entries.)
When I finally did speak to my mum she berated me, mildly, for not doing some sort of update here on the past couple of weeks, which did include a weekend trip to London and catching up with old friends and this fantastically chilled dog called Buzz that lives with one of them and the game-changing workshop with AL Kennedy that means I’ll never be quite so inept at talking in front of an audience again, and the always-emotional London marathon (nothing better than giving jelly babies to people staggering through their 5th hour of running and watching them perk up). And there was another weekend that involved walks and a slightly crap picnic.
And the election has happened. As I write this people are protesting and I’m watching news about policies that had previously been knocked back by the Lib Dem influence being pushed through (buh-bye, Human Rights Act), and how Gove is going to be running the justice department. So I’m trying to focus on this and this type of response instead of the general despair that is sitting just below my ribs like lead. I can’t even get angry because I have to believe that people who voted really did vote for what they thought would be best and would work, even if I disagree as to what those methods are; even if I think many people didn’t actually look into the policies and instead allowed themselves to be swayed by spin. We all want life to be better right? So, bring on five years of trying to make sure that applies to everyone, not just the richest people in the country.
Politics aside, this has been an odd couple of weeks – my confidence has been up and down like a crap inner tube with a slow leak. Sloooowly shrinking, pump it back up, repeat. I wrote a couple of poems. I rewrote the story that I used at the workshop (believe me, there is nothing like reading stuff out to people to pick out the glaring flaws in your work).
Couple of crucial things that all tie together, though. I had a conversation with someone at the evening Word Factory salon about beta readers. She asked me if I had anyone who read my work before I sent it out. Well, poems, yes, but not really stories, no. It hadn’t occurred to me to look for anyone to do that with, and then I abruptly felt shy about asking anyone. Person in question is a multi-award winning wonder, btw and makes great use of the feedback she gets, so I was mulling on that conversation for a while, wondering who I might ask.
Then I forgot about it.
THEN I got an email I wasn’t expecting. The sort of email that is all of these things:
- A much-needed vote of confidence in my writing
- A push to get going on a WIP that had faltered
- Another tiny tick off the list of Things That Mean You’re Doing OK and Doors Will Open
I’m glad I didn’t keep count of how many times I redrafted my response. I was feeling great for two days. And then the rejection came.
It was unrelated to the previous email and totally expected given the journal in question (an acceptance would have sent me into shock). A standard rejection of the type I’ve had many times before and will again and am good at just shrugging off. But for some reason it really hit me and I suddenly doubted my WIP and the stories I have out or are lined up to go out, and the ones that I’m working on. So I snapped and put a shout out on facebook asking for readers – I’ll critique yours if you critique mine. A few people got in touch, and it took me another 48 hours or so to get the guts together to send them things. I have no idea why I find it more nerve-wracking to send work to people than to journals. Mystery.
But I want to improve, and I can read and read and get mini-feedback from CM (who has to live with me so wisely often just nods and says ‘yes’ when I make him read stuff), but I need people to be brutally honest with me about the rubbish I spout. And I’m still looking for people to do that, btw. Poems or stories – if you think you’d be interested in swapping for feedback, please get in touch.