Freelance Reflections #6

So, I’ve not got around to writing for… nearly two months! I guess that means things have been going well. Although work is still unstable, this is an extremely busy period for some of the work I do. I’ve actually not been doing as much content writing as I would have liked because I just haven’t had the time. As for my own creative writing… aside from a few articles from The Norwich Radical, a couple of writing workshops, and copious amounts of notes in my phone, I’ve not been able to give myself any proper writing time.

New goal for September: balance work. Okay, this has been my goal from the beginning, but sometimes it takes you getting near breaking point to realise that you need to reassess things. I’m going to push towards working 3 days a week by simply informing the relevant people that my availability is only Monday-Wednesday, only making an exception to this rule for urgent work, or ad-hoc stuff. Without letting this take over the way it has done the last couple of months.

The additional work I’ve been doing has consisted of making nearly 200 English Language A-Level exam papers, and teaching EFL for two consecutive weeks at two different schools. This is on top of tutoring, so content writing very much took a backseat in this time and was near impossible. On top of that, I found out I was successful in my application for Arts Council Funding! I’d applied in the past, and had two rejected recently for regular She Grrrowls events, so I was very pleased. The news came at a strange time, as I was dealing with the possible loss of 4 years of data as my Mac desktop stopped starting up… a few days of uncertainty and around £900 later, my data was restored and I could resume action on the tour plans, as well as organising a 3 week run at Edinburgh Fringe festival. This meant it was even harder to celebrate the success… which is definitely something I don’t really do anyway. If something goes well, emotionally, I act like it is expected and just move onto the next, never pausing to take-in any kind of accomplishment beyond telling my parents, friends and sharing on social media…

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I’ve been working around other events and socialising around all this work, so it means where possible I’ve been getting up between 6.30-7.30am. I also almost forgot that I had spent some of the time prior to exam marking doing exam invigilation at a couple of schools. That was such a challenge for me, because it was very boring. I am used to being constantly active and mentally stimulated and so it was mentally and physically exhausting simply because of the long periods of standing and doing nothing more than looking at the students doing their exams. However, it got me into better habits in terms of waking up early, and I got some exercise in by walking to a local school about half an hour’s walk away.

 

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I thought by tutoring between 4-7pm, it would be perfect for me to then go to poetry events. However, I realised I’d become lazy and when I didn’t see my Spanish exchange partner, I went home to eat with my parents, or just didn’t want to stay out. I booked to see some shows, and tried to go to as many as possible with friends. I’ve realised that I really much prefer going to things with others. I know that I can go alone, but I feel anxious doing so, and sometimes it’s worth it, but sometimes it’s not. It’s hard to gauge. I went to Penned in the Margins’ summer party and saw friendly faces such as Raymond Antrobus and Nick Murray. I bought a book as a Christmas present (planning early is good). The next night I went with a friend and her new boyf to a memorial night for Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison and it was beautiful and healing.

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Despite being overwhelmed with work, I took a moment to have lunch in the sun in Deptford, before dropping in at the Apples & Snakes office for table space, cherries, and biscuits for National Writing Day. I used some notes from a poet called Jemilea Baako, who was kind enough to send me details of what I missed after I had to leave the BreakBeats Poets Workshop. It felt good to have some time to cool down and write.

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One night I went to an event by Octavia, a collective for women of colour, founded by poet Rachel Long. As well as powerful poetry and delicious cocktails, the event turned into a party and I enjoyed it so much I ended up taking the night bus home. I also went to R.A.P. Party at Southbank, organised by Inua Ellams, which had a similar vibe in terms of its impactful words mixed in with rap tracks. Despite two award-winning poets not being there in physical form, it was another incredible evening of absolute fire.

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She Grrrowls has been ticking along, with up and down audiences at regular events. I’m writing this just before the first show at PBH Free Fringe in Edinburgh, trying to keep the nerves at bay with such as late slot: 23:20-00:20 (Banshee Labyrinth). When I return I have less than a week before the first date in the She Grrrowls Autumn 2018 Book Tour! I had an early start today seeing Antosh Wojick’s show How to Keep Time, and have just seen Rosy Carrick’s Passionate Machine. I have a feeling they will both be firm favourites throughout the festival. I can’t believe it’s just the first day. I’m wondering how I’ll cope with these late night shows. I’m seeing one more show before doing a couple of hours of flyering, having put lots of posters up and stocked up on all my food and toiletries. Perhaps staying up to see ‘Beast’ after She Grrrowls at the same venue will make me less tired in comparison the rest of the run?

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Having mentioned Antosh’s fringe show, I think it’s also worth a mention of my fellow ex-Roundhouse Kid Glove poet, Sarah Perry. Whilst celebrating my Gran’s 76th birthday in Rye, swimming together in the sea, eating the most delicious Tuscan food, and drinking lots of wine with my family, I read Sarah’s debut novel ‘Let Me Be Like Water’. Being by the coast, grieving in my own way, the book found me at the perfect moment. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re reading by the British coast.

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