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Freelance reflections #13

Well, it’s a new year and the perfect time for reflection – though having always worked in education, I always see September as a good time as well. In fact, I think it’s important to reflect on how things are going, which is obviously why I started this blog series! I finally started the bullet journal that a friend got me a while back, and I’m going to see how well it works in combination with my current system of using my iCalendar. I used to use an Excel spreadsheet, but I think I need to better utilise this in combination with my calendar system for specific tasks such as submitting work. For example, I have put ‘submissions’ into my calendar to repeat for an hour a week, but I would be better to work through these in my spreadsheet. What I’ve been doing instead is just having the tabs open, which is less effective, cluttered and stress-inducing.

Despite being happy with the work I’m doing, as I’m thinking of moving out of my parents’ place, I am becoming concerned that my income needs to be higher. I’ve applied for a few poetry jobs – one editor role and a producer role. I’m even thinking about applying for more part-time EFL work, and have gone for one that is three days a week… the issue is that it is 20 hours, and this often refers to contact hours rather than total hours, so lesson planning could mean that more of my time is eaten up. I think I’m still questioning what I’m doing too much rather than just getting on with things and enjoying it.

When thinking of the year ahead, I’ve used the bullet journal to plan poetry-related activities as the other work I do is pretty consistent. There’s a couple of key submission deadlines at the end of February, so I really want to focus on getting these two projects I’m (supposed to be) working on completed by then. This means that the show stuff might have to wait until the beginning of March, but I’m sure that time will come around quicker than expected! When I wrote out all my goals on the yearly timeline, it made it easier to see. I need deadlines in order to actually make things happen creatively, otherwise I tend to let the paid work takeover.

I have found myself being annoyed when people ask about work, especially when there is an assumption that you are only working when you ‘go out’ to work. In fact, most of the work I do is at home, and most of the time I ‘go out’ to work is spent travelling rather than teaching (with the exception of maybe one day when I have three students). Planning lessons is work. Marking is work. Content writing is work. Checking emails is work. Writing poems is work. Updating bloody financial records is work (this is what I spent all day yesterday doing, finished with a bit of content writing and admin). When I am at home, I spend a majority of the time working, so even if I’ve been at home all day, it is pretty damn safe to assume that YES I have been working.

Being freelance means I work every day, and I choose to do that because it means I can be more flexible at times. Sometimes I have to fit things around work, and sometimes work can fit around other things I want to do. I would love to have more rules for myself about what work I do on a Sunday (ideally these would be reserved for reading, writing and relaxation), but at the moment they are just another day I can fill with things I want to get done. By implementing a slightly better system, I hope this year that I can work more towards spending time in a way that is closer to my ideal, because certain tasks end up piling up because they’re not “important”, then they just seem like such a mountain to climb. These things that pile up tend to be the financial record keeping, my scrapbooking, and copying quotations from books I’ve read (instead, I prefer to read more books and add more to this pile).

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I’m really happy with how the year is going so far. In fact, I’m going to break down what I’ve been up to each day briefly.

1st: I’d been at a small gathering with three others for NYE and it was perfect. I woke up without a bad hangover. When I have a really bad hangover, it tends to be the only time I do actually have a day of relaxation, because I’m physically forced into it. However, this day, I met my friend for brunch and then we went for a walk through Clapham Common. I spent the afternoon writing until past 11pm.

2nd: I hadn’t finished the writing I’d wanted to do, so I also write this day after starting the morning off with Zumba. I also did some admin, such as telling the tax credits office about my actual earnings since completing my self-assessment. I went through some emails before seeing my first student of the year, then spent the evening marking work that I’d collected from another student. I added a prompt for the ’12 Days of Form’ writing group I’m in, for the next day, and finished at 10:30pm.

3rd: I had my final session with one student in the morning. I’d stayed up late the night before watching a film, so I was a bit tired. I came home to do some planning and marking, and had to do a quick update on my ACE evaluation before doing some more writing. After working through a few more emails, I then met friends for dinner and a final festive celebration with a panto.

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4th: I did Zumba again, after writing the poem of the day. I then spent just six hours updating my records. It took me a lot less time than I expected, so that was great. I did some content writing and some admin for She Grrrowls. Still allowing myself some time to wind down from the holidays, I watched another film before reading in bed (this last activity is one I want to get into better habits with).

5th: Today I have been to the gym (I last went on NYE – go me!), written the poem of the day, and I’m about to have lunch, get ready, and go to Words Aloud in Sutton. It’s a great time to go to an open mic when you’ve not got plans. It’s quite local to me and my mum’s even offered to give me a lift! Then I’m meeting a friend from college for the 30th birthday of our old friend. It’s fancy dress and I’m using the ‘growing up’ theme for an excuse to wear all my old dance gear, tap shoes and all!

Tomorrow I’ll get working on those piles!

Happy New Year!

Freelance Reflections #12

It’s been about a month since I’ve written here. At the moment, I feel as if a big mountain has piled up and I’m still working my way over it. I’m slowly getting on top of things that I tend to avoid doing, whether it’s admin stuff or less important things that I do out of my own interest. The admin stuff involved sorting through papers (I missed one pile under my bedside cabinet and another near my computer is creeping up once more), and I’m still a few months behind on my fiance records. I did do my self-assessment though as I had all my records from October 2017-April 2018! I just need to pay them and inform the tax credits people.

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Like bits of paper, emails can also pile up, so I got on top of those and the numbers in my inbox are creeping up once more. Today I’ve had a fellow freelancer round mine and I’ve sewn some things I hadn’t got round to sewing and updated my scrap books. I know I’ll be working Saturday due to doing this, and having spent much of yesterday studying and completing my Spanish assessment, but if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have had a day like this and I think it is just what I needed. Another thing I will probably leave for over the Christmas holidays (when I don’t have students) is taking quotations from books. I actually used to be really good at posting these online, as well as a few snippets of my own stuff. Why wait for New Year’s Resolutions to get back on these habits?

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I’ve had a cold for a couple of weeks. As a freelancer, obviously you don’t get sick days. Or rather, you don’t get paid sick leave. It never got too bad that I felt I couldn’t do any work, but the day of the Bristol tour date I wasn’t feeling up to travelling home the next day and then doing lessons the same evening, so I cancelled them. When it came down to it, I ended up doing some content writing at home to make up for the loss of income. I still socialised when I was ill, and never really rested properly, which was probably why it dragged on for so long. At times, I began to feel feverish and worried I was getting worse, but three weeks on, I’m back to my usual self.

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The best bag for work – fits in water bottle and umbrella on each side, doesn’t squish my folders, and has some other little pockets for ease of access (plus a charging section).

Another thing that I did, whilst probably feeling at my worst, was go all the way to the other end of the Northern line (my nearest tube station, still buses away). This was to get my photograph taken for an agency for being a supporting artiste. It meant hours out of my day for a very short thing that may come to nothing, but it could also provide some fun days out for some alright money. Another thing I’m doing for extra cash is tutoring a mature university student. Other than that, it’s more or less the same stuff I’m doing.

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In terms of poetry, I actually recently judged a poetry slam at a university, which was a great experience. It was lovely to hear how varied these young voices were and providing feedback for them was really enjoyable because of how talented they all were. We got some flowers and chocolates as judges and felt very special on that day. Otherwise, spending more time on my own writing is one for the New Year’s Resolutions, especially with the Christmas break coming up as I’ll be trying to to get a bit of income whilst also read more into the texts that my GCSE student is studying so I can do my best to help her.

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Found this dress in a vintage shop in Kingston & couldn’t resist!

The She Grrrowls Autumn 2018 Book Tour is now over, with the last event ending in Hackney and ending on a real high. Tonight is the final She Grrrowls event of the year, and we’ll be back in February at The Poetry Cafe, which I am so happy about! It has been a struggle for years, changing venues a lot, but I hope it continues to thrive in this wonderful space. Now I just need to complete the evaluation for ACE and plan the next steps for the ideas I have for She Grrrowls.

23.11.18 – Battle of the Bards

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Judging the Battle of the Bards: Intercollegiate Poetry Slam, The Meadows, Bush House (8th Floor)

Friday 23rd November, 18:30-21:30

Join the Facebook event.

Freelance Reflections #11

It’s been a month since I’ve written, and another busy one at that! My room is a mess with big stacks of papers, I’m behind on my record keeping for finances, and I haven’t had proper dedication writing time towards the three main projects I want to focus on in what feels like an age, so this weekend I plan to do a lot of that boring admin stuff, as well as a bit of personal writing today (including this blog!) I’ve worked five days already this week, yet it’s still difficult to reassure myself that doing this today is worthwhile, and I’m going to take some time to de-stress by going to a swimming class after writing this.

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I have deadlines looming over me for content writing, and last night I did a last minute job working with a university student from Malta to help with their English. I have an almost full time table of students, which includes a couple of days where I’m out 2.30-9.30pm, including the travel time. It means I’m able to get into more of a routine, but planning and marking takes so much time at the moment that it’s quite difficult to fit in the content writing and meet the deadlines. On top of that I’m doing events and tour management and yesterday I did a big chunk of this once I’d finished my lesson planning.

There are now only two tour dates left for the She Grrrowls Autumn 2018 Book Tour! In October, we went to Norwich and Cambridge and both dates were lovely. The next two are in Bristol and London. I’ve also been trying to run some informal workshops, but because the tickets are free, I’m getting a lot of dropouts on the day. The workshops are called ‘Don’t Get Bitter, Get Better’ and I managed to meet up with a poet who is local to me called Rachel Sambrooks, and it was honestly so refreshing to actually talk about our work. We both found it incredibly valuable… now to find the time to go back to those poems to make those edits!

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Last month’s regular She Grrrowls event went really well again, and I’m so happy to be at The Poetry Cafe. It ended up being a rather northern evening, featuring Sophie Sparham, Fran Isherwood, and Sarah Crutwell. It was particularly enjoyable to see Sarah Crutwell as I had never seen her before and I could really relate to her poetry, plus she gave me this cool POWER pin! I can’t believe that it’s just over a week until the next date and soon enough it will be over! Amongst all the work, I’ve also found time to have fun socialising, plus go to Spanish lessons and salsa classes!

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Freelance Reflections #10

As of last Wednesday, it has officially been a year since I registered as self-employed. I’m in a much better position than I was a year ago when I started. The main battle is with my mind, to stop questioning myself and live how I want to live. I have regular work to keep me going Monday to Wednesday, which spills a little over into Thursday. This means I have  between 3-4 days to focus on other things.

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The challenge is to stick to this routine and give myself permission to do the necessary creative work, and remember that this is a legitimate use of my time, as well as the work that I’m being funded to do for the She Grrrowls book tour. Yet, there are also times where other things come up, the routine gets disrupted… usually with work, but also with other things like seeing friends and family.

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Most recently, I went to Leicester for the She Grrrowls book tour with Joelle Taylor and Esther Poyer. It was a great night and from there I went to see my grandparents in Yorkshire, and my cousin in Nottingham. Last week, I did a week of TEFL work and it was intense. I taught 9am-1pm, had a nice lunch break before leaving to tutor 2.30pm-8.30pm, then did my planning for more tutoring sessions after a quick dinner, leaving just enough time to squeeze in a bit of Spanish and Netflix before doing the same again. It was also National Poetry Day that week, meaning I had an excuse to show a video of Joelle Taylor to the most advance group, tell them about Rallying Cry, and make them do some of their own poetry.

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Things eased up towards the end of the week, but as anyone who’s freelance knows… there’s always more work to do be done, so I filled my time with all the other necessary tasks. I ended the week by hosting She Grrrowls at The Poetry Cafe. It was so busy, I was regretfully having to turn people away or there wouldn’t be room for people who had booked tickets in advance… something I’ll have to think about in future in case of no-shows. A much better problem to have than being in a cold room in New Cross with just a handful of people.

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I took a train to Norwich with a friend, where we celebrated with a group of our uni friends as it has been 10 years since we started at UEA together. I came home to find that poet and artist Scott Tyrrell has completed his map of poets. I managed to wrangle my way onto the East Anglia section, which I’m not sure I am entirely deserving of, but I am proud to be there. Although back in London, Norwich was where I really grew as a writer, studying it in a couple of modules at university, but also being part of the local scene of live lit events thanks to people like Amy Wragg and Russell J Turner. I got to support acts like Francesca Beard and Kate Tempest, and gradually made connections with poets from Aisle 16 like Ross Sutherland and Luke Wright, that saw me getting into working with young people, getting my first pamphlet published by Nasty Little Press, and performing at Latitude. For these reasons, my poetry career has a deep connection with the East of England.

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I don’t get that many gigs to do my poetry, but really this is connected to my ideas of what it means to be a “success”. Really this is a a destination that I will never arrive at, because it doesn’t exist. As a creative, you will always keep striving for more, but really the goal should be continue to make work and do what you enjoy whilst having some kind of stability to enable the work. There are so many ways of doing this, and just because your way is different to someone else’s doesn’t make it any less valid. I want to focus more on creative goals and taking small steps towards bigger things, like the fact I’m going to have two videos from Muddy Feet Poetry in the autumn!

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Freelance Reflections #9

It’s nearly a year on from becoming self-employed, and I’m finally getting a routine together. I have six students across Monday to Wednesday, which takes up about six hours on each day because most of this is travelling. It’s a constant battle in my mind between money and travel. I live at home, so I am able to save, but the sacrifice is time.

It begs the question: what is my time worth?

I figure I’ll stay put for now, and embrace the time travelling by reading, doing any admin I can on-the-go, and sometimes just daydreaming out of windows, listening to music. I’ll be turning 30 next May, so maybe I’ll freak out then and feel the urge to uproot. But at least by then I’ll have saved some more.

My mornings are spent planning lessons and marking. This takes up a lot of time as well, but it’s okay. If I stick at it, the work will get easier with time. The type of subjects the students are studying often means I have to go over each paper to make sure that I not only know the answers, but know how to teach the students how to get those answers.

The students themselves are lovely and a pleasure to work with. The other day, I was doing a creative warm-up game with Rory’s Story Cubes, and we made a story that was so funny that we both got the giggles. It was about dice that wouldn’t stop rolling. It relied on an implicit communication as we each continued the story, the dice still rolling in the story, and whilst it was seemingly unprofessional to laugh quite to the extent I did (barely being able to speak), we bonded in that moment, and it is those moments that will make it hard when the tuition stops.

The last couple of weeks, I have been focusing on trying to get into the routines that I want to continue. Sometimes I question whether I’m doing enough paid work. I have this mentality that I should be trying to make as much as I would need to survive if I didn’t live with my parents. But, how am I going to progress with my writing career if I don’t give it the time it deserves? When talking to fellow creative Daisy Dockrill a few months back, she said to do exactly this, for the reason that I would be able to give myself that time to write more.

As well as planning and marking in the mornings, I do content writing, and I said I wouldn’t do this past Wednesday, but this slipped into Thursday the last couple of weeks. Today I’m going to aim to do at least four hours of writing, but I also have a book tour to organise and there’s still (always) a lot to do for that! I’ve been trying to do bits and pieces to do with it, but as always, it never feels like there’s enough time. I’ve been socialising a fair bit too, but this week has been all work really. I’m looking forward to a couple of social things over the weekend, including Common Ground – a free festival I found out about. Hopefully the weather will be nice!

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Last week also saw the first instalment of She Grrrowls at The Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden. It was really lovely, with the most audience we’ve had in a long time. I didn’t make quite enough to cover costs now I have to pay for the venue as well as the acts, not to mention paid advertising. The features were Annie Hayter, who is a Barbican Young Poet; Anvi, who is on an ACE-funded stay from India; and Good Canary, who is a musician!

I’ve been exercising every day until today. I was really itching to, but I just got a new tattoo, so I can’t wear a tight sports bra over it. I’ve been doing a bit of Spanish, including some reading, but could push myself more with this to get up to scratch. I’ll be starting intermediate conversation classes soon, which is scary! Next week I’ll be in Leicester for the second date in the She Grrrowls Autumn 2018 Book Tour, and the first outside of London!

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Freelance Reflections #8

 

Nearly a week has gone by since the I’ve been back from this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Having done a week less than last year, I missed not having that extra week. On the other hand, I didn’t get ill this time. Although I didn’t get as much money through the door this time, I had a bit of money from all the crazy months of work I did before, which meant I could have some drinks now and again, and even went out for an Eid meal with Shagufta, plus went back to the same place again on my last day, and had some tapas with Rowena and Amani for a really extravagant last day.

Although I spent most of my time rushing from show to show, trying the write reviews in between, and doing some content writing in the mornings to get some actual income, I did have a chance to go to Portobello Beach one rainy morning. I think we could have got more money in at a different time of day, but with an 11.20pm show that ends gone midnight, people are wanting to spend on booze rather than books. What I loved about this year was not doing it completely on my own. With regular features, flyering and hanging out with Afshan, Shagufta, Celeste, Rowena and Amani, we formed friendships and it felt so good to have a team of poets to promote and perform with each night. Audiences were really lovely each night. The worst was when we had two poets we knew in the audience and nobody else. Other than that, they were small to medium and really positive and supportive. It was also great to meet Helen Black and Liam McCormick who did incredible shows before and after She Grrrowls, all as part of PBH’s Free Fringe.

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When I was on my 10 hour coach journey back, as well as reading my new copy of Liam McCormick’s ‘Beast’ and eating lots of snacks, I discovered the above illustration by Scott Tyrrell. I had basically heavily suggested I wanted to be drawn (I said he could put me in Norwich instead of London, just fine), but to actually be part of this project is a dream come true. I was so happy to see it – he’s creating a whole poetry map with pictures and names of poets, and this will be made into posters and then perhaps even tea towels.

Since being back, I’ve been doing a little content writing, but mostly been planning lessons for next week and doing lots for the She Grrrowls book tour and future events. In fact, yesterday saw the very first book date in Sutton Central Library in partnership with Words Aloud host Rachel Sambrooks, featuring Aisling Fahey, Selina Nwulu and Rachel Long. Everyone was really pleased with the turn-out, and audience feedback was really positive, so I think things can only get better and I’m excited to continue with the tour!

Freelance Reflections #7

I’m currently at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where I’m running She Grrrowls – 23:20-00:20 each night at The Banshee Labyrinth’s Banqueting Hall. The first week has flown by and I’ve seen so many incredible show. Lots can be seen in my reviews for The Norwich Radical.  Other shows that have been highlights include Antosh Wojcik’s How To Keep Time, Kit Finnie’s Mabel and Mickey, Alissa Anne Jeun Yi’s Love Songs, Jess Green’s A Self-Help Guide to Being in Love with Jeremy Corbyn, and Katrina Quinn’s Individual Medley. There’s also been other nights like mine that I’ve enjoyed such as Listen Softly, and That’s What She Said.

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Loud Poets

I’ve had the honour of performing at some shows in addition to She Grrrowls, and they’ve all been lovely. I was part of the Loud Poets’ game show. I had so much fun, and although I felt super awkward trying to read a poem imagining I was in strange locations like the moon, it was an amazing event, and I especially enjoyed the painting round. I got to do a 10 minute spot as part of Sez Thomasin’s show This is Awkward, which was filled with incredible poems. Fay Roberts’ Other Voices had the most heart-warming crowd I’ve had so far, and I’m lucky enough to be going back there a few times this month. I’ve read my diaries from 2002 and 2006 to audiences as part of Helen Black’s Dear Diary – this was the most hilarious and fun experience, and Helen puts on a great show, with diaries I could very much relate to! I’ve also wrangled my way into The Full Irish early morning show with some more lighthearted material. Finally, I’ve been featured at Well it’s Woody, which I recommend purely for Woody’s own beautiful voice and music.

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Sadly, Jess Green could only feature at the first event as she was hit wit laryngitis for the rest of her run. Afshan D’souza-Lodhi was so incredible to have as a regular feature in this first week, and we had a great time flyering. Being a late show, it is so lovely to be able to flyer with other women and then do the show like She Grrrowls. The last few nights I’ve been working with Shagufta K. Iqbal and Celeste Ramos, which has been great so far! Audiences in general have been small, and mostly lovely… last night was a bit weird, but we had a drink afterwards instead of rushing to bed, which was much needed on the first proper Friday night of fringe!

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Of course, calling out at strangers about feminist poetry as mixed responses, with some being really positive, other responses being ‘I’m good’… like, you’ve got enough feminism in your life? The worst have been drunk men bringing up washing up… and once when we weren’t even flyering and Celeste and I got told by two men that we should fuck. This was around midday as well. Tonight we reach the half way point, and it’s Saturday night! Let’s hope for big warm crowds of loveliness!

We need bigger audiences, and bigger bucket donations! We have lots of books that need to go! I can’t carry them all back with me… also I’m having to do content writing in the mornings to try to scrape together some income this month. So please spread the word about the show!

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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Freelance Reflections #5

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. I’ve actually had a bit of time where I’ve not been working that much. I tend to make a big thing of birthdays, and my friends aren’t in one big group, so I did lots of different things for that – a night out north of the river, dinner and Francesca Beard‘s incredible show ‘How to Survive a Post-Truth Apocalypse’ at Battersea Arts Centre, Ballie Ballerson (which I found overrated), and Draughts board game cafe (which I love). I even added an extra picnic on the end the following weekend. On my actual birthday on 14th May, I went out with a fellow freelancer, and we had a DIY breakfast at Jack’s, and explored some galleries.

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Another highlight was going to Liverpool for the first time with the same friend. It was a lot to take in as we spent a lot of time at the International Slavery Museum, before going to a talk about Shy Radicals (Hamja Ahsan) and Shrinking Violets (Joe Moran), then exploring the Tate Modern and the Yoko Ono & John Lennon exhibition, and other galleries. I felt like there was obviously so much more to be seen as one can fit into a couple of days.

In terms of work, I’ve continued with content writing, tutoring, and exam invigilation that is now closer to home. Being freelance means always being on the hunt for more work, I find. I recently had an induction for remote minute-taking, and I’m due to have some training soon to become an assessor for an A-level English Language exam.  I’m also in the process of setting up some workshops in a school, which will be about shyness/quietness/introversion. I’m currently still in the middle of my workshops at Spread the Word, ‘The Femme Canon‘, and I’m loving it. There are still a couple of places available for just £10 this coming Saturday.

I’m constantly questioning what I’m doing, with part of me nervous about the future, and conscious I’m not doing EFL teaching as much as I’d like at the moment. I worry that if I want a job in the future that it will look bad, but then I figure the world is my oyster in that respect and I could go abroad again to teach. The one thing that is making me consider moving out of my parents’ house again is the amount of travelling in London I’m doing on an almost daily basis. I know as well that I would be happier being more independent, but it’s all a matter of perspective and I could probably last another year here. It’s best to take things a day at a time, I guess.

Currently, I’m getting up at 6,30am, and I’m travelling over an hour (walking) to and from my exam invigilation job in the morning. Thankfully I have some time in between, where I’ll either do some marking, planning, or content writing. I’ll leave at between 2.30pm and 4.30pm to tutor in the evening. The idea then is to still have some time to go to poetry gigs and things. For instance, tomorrow I’m going to a workshop put on by Apples & Snakes after my student.

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I had a week off for my cousin’s wedding in Mexico, where I was a bridesmaid and also read a poem written especially for the couple. This week away from work meant not getting paid two Fridays in a for content writing. Technically, I paid for the bulk of the week in Mexico with my compensation from donating my eggs. I’d not had much time to do any of the content work the week before either, so only got £15 from that before I went away.

The wedding was perfect, but so surreal at the same time – being on the beach in Mexico! I wished I had been able to explore more, but sadly I’m no longer with my fellow explorer, who I travelled through South East Asia and lived in Vietnam with. Instead, I was with my parents, who weren’t as keen on getting away from the resort as me. I was thankful to eat some incredible chimichangas in Playa del Carmen, and went to Tulum and Coba to learn about the Mayan ruins, climbing near (but not quite) the top of the 137 feet pyramid of Nohoch Mul. I made the mistake of looking down too soon, but the view was pretty incredible. I also read some Mexican authors whilst relaxing on the beach and by the pool. Carmen Boullosa‘s ‘Before’ was beautifully poetic as a novella, and I enjoyed Chloe Aridjis‘ ‘Book of Clouds’, since it was set a lot in Berlin, where I had my last trip away abroad. I’m in the middle of Carmen Maria Machado‘s ‘Her Body and Other Parties’ and this collection of short stories is incredible.

The last She Grrrowls featured Laurie Ogden, Danielle Allen and Leon Craig. The audience numbers weren’t as high as I would have liked, but the three of them were so lovely and embraced the whole evening and we were in the upstairs room, so we could ramble on as long as we wanted in the Q&A!

On reflection, I need to have more gratitude for what I’m doing at the moment, and stress less about stuff. I’m such a type A. It has it’s pros and cons. I’m slowly making more time for creativity too, and with proper goals and deadlines for these kinds of projects, I’ll be able to shape things into a life with a good balance between making money, and everything else I want to do.