Blog

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…

She-Grrrowls-A3-Poster-Final--for-web.jpg

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.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

IMG_3232.jpeg

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.

IMG_3253.JPG

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.

IMG_3276.jpeg

IMG_3668.JPG

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?

IMG_3359.jpeg

IMG_3937.JPG

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.

IMG_3759.JPG

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.

IMG_2297.jpg

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.

IMG_2900

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.

Freelance Reflections #4

The past couple of weeks, work-wise, I’ve done a mixture of exam invigilation, tutoring, and content writing. It feels like I’m slowly building something with more regularity, but work has taken over a bit from a lot of focused writing time.

The exam invigilation hasn’t really been worth it financially, but I’m going to give it a go at a school more local to me over the next month or so. It takes me 35 minutes to walk there (and just as long going on public transport), so that will tick off my exercise that day.

 

IMG_2019.jpg
Artistic Director, Lisa Mead

 

The last couple of weeks have included a lot of arts events. This started with Poetry Pioneers celebrating 35 years of Apples & Snakes, which was incredible – I enjoyed seeing those poets I know and love, as well as The Upper World, fusing music and poetry. She Grrrowls was a success this month, and I also saw 4.48 Psychosis and reviewed it for The Norwich Radical.

 

IMG_2102.jpg
Photo credit: Paul Point (Chocolate Poetry Club)

I had the privilege of attending a workshop with The BreakBeat Poets. Sadly, I had to leave early to cover a creative writing workshop for work. The fantastic Jemilea sent me notes on what I missed, so next time I carve some writing time out, I can return to this!

 

The following week, I saw Florence + The Machine at the Royal Festival Hall, went to my wonderful friend Sarah K. Perry’s book launch for her debut novel ‘Let Me Be Like Water’, and have generally commenced with my birthday celebrations, with the big day being on Monday!

IMG_2193.jpg

I tried to balance work with sunshine time since we had a little heat-wave, which meant a lot of drinking beer in pubs and parks with picnic food. It also meant I got a lot of my maths revision done. Now, I just need to be careful I’m not burning the candle at both ends too much, focus more time on writing, and make sure I have enough time to do all the paid work I’m committing to do.

Freelance Reflections #3

Another couple of weeks of freelance life, and I’ve now got three students I’m tutoring, and although other paid work has not been much over these last two weeks, I’ve been busy with lots of unpaid activities, such as planning workshops and tutoring sessions (which takes a long time at this stage) and writing a funding application. I’ll still be working on both of these things next week too.

I’m also using a maths revision book to brush up on my Maths, and have found there are a couple of different ways to do subtraction, and the new way I’ve found is actually the one recommended by the government.

IMG_1884.jpg
Joel Auterson at his book launch for ‘Unremember’

I went to Joel’s book launch, which was really lovely, and there I saw lots of old familiar faces, as well as a few new ones. The next evening I went to see The Head Wrap Diaries, and I ended up reviewing it for The Norwich Radical.

I’ve dedicated some time to writing, particularly on Sundays, but have been using my long journeys to take part in NaPoWriMo still, which ends on Monday. I’ve been sharing some extracts from my new poems via Instagram. I’ve also done a little bit of illustration as an experiment to get me back into visual art a bit.

img_1951.jpg
(L-R) ‘unnatural council hands in cold looked blue’ by Sara Barker and ‘Sleeping Beauty will hum about mine ears’ by Fiona Rae

Yesterday I decided to go to a few exhibitions around Old Street, including a visit to BEERS, Victoria Miro, and Parasol Unit. I went for an incredible tapas meal at Boqueria and then to a reggaeton and salsa night, where I danced until the early hours. I’m now feeling pretty smug because I’ve had so little sleep, but I’ve been super productive doing some content writing work, plus poetry and Spanish practice and this!

I also recently got an office chair for my bedroom and I love it! I was on a horrible wooden fold-up one all this time before. I can even put it on a massage function!

IMG_1952
‘Sea Painting, Dunwich’ by Jessica Warboys

Freelance Reflections #2

IMG_1765.jpg

Another couple of weeks have passed, so I thought I’d write a bit about what I’ve been up to during this time. I’ve not been earning much the last few weeks for a number of reasons. Time has been taken up with family celebrations for both Easter and a cousin’s hen party. Secondly, the majority of my time has been taken up with planning workshops that won’t even nearly cover my costs in terms of the amount of research and planning that I’m doing. I’m also planning a book tour for She Grrrowls, which I will be attempting to get funding for so that it can go ahead.

I attended the Out-Spoken Press Prize and I really enjoyed all the incredible poetry there and avidly Tweeted about it. I was feeling pretty shy and anxious that night, but I said hello and/or well done to around five people, so I didn’t feel so bad. I’d been long-listed for the performance category, but I didn’t make the shortlist, so felt it was important for me to attend, resisting the urge to hibernate. She Grrrowls was a couple of days later and the turn out was much better than the last two (though still not enough to cover my costs) – it was a really lovely evening as always and I enjoyed it as much as a headless chicken can enjoy such a night.

So, this week I’ve been trying to work as much as possible, but I did manage to schedule a day with my friend and artist Natalie Cooper (she did the illustrations inside the She Grrrowls anthology). She introduced me to Salsa 98.1 (I like to listen to Spanish/Latin music when content writing), cooked me a Cuban-inspired dish with kidney beans, and provided me with tea. I wrote some of my spoken word show It’s Always the Quiet Ones without getting too distracted by the music, so felt really pleased with my production levels!

On Saturday I facilitated the first workshop as part of The Femme Canon monthly series with Spread the Word at The Albany. I really enjoyed it and the participants were not only insightful in their readings of the work we covered, their reading voices were delightful, and their poetry was incredibly powerful. I’m looking forward to the next one and although I have all my own materials at the ready, I have asked participants to send me a poem of their choice to make the workshops a little bit more collaborative. With that in mind, if you’re reading this, please feel free to comment with your own favourite writers who are women or non-binary.

Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 17.09.30.png

I’m really excited about my Saturdays, even though I’m working a lot of them! On 28th April I’m running a one-off workshop with The Poetry School aimed at writers wanting to develop work for the page who regularly perform their work. I’ve also got a few sessions where I’m covering someone as part of the tutoring agency I work at delivering creative writing workshops to kids. These sessions, along with the rest of The Femme Canon workshops – there’s one ticket left and at £30 for all sessions, it’s still a bargain for six hours of workshop time! The reason why I’ve been aiming to work Monday-Wednesdays with regular work is partly to be able to do one-off workshops across the rest of the week (as well as to try to give myself time to write!)

As for today, I’ve done a bit of admin, as well as person writing, NaPoWriMo writing, and a bit of writing for my show. I’m going to do a bit more admin, as well as revise my maths a bit to brush up whilst doing 11+ tuition. I’m actually enjoying the focus these exercises give my mind. Yesterday afternoon I met up with a friend called Ella Daniels (also a writer, I’m incredible excited for what she has planned!). We spoke about making time for doing the things we love, so I’m planning to get into better reading habits by slightly changing how I schedule my time.

 

Lastly, next week, Joel Auterson – fellow Kid Glove member and Roundhouse alumni – is having a book launch. I’ve already read his book Unremember from Bad Betty Press and it’s pretty special. There’s a great list of poets supporting on the night, including another Kid Glover, Antosh Wojcik, She Grrrowls poet Aisling Fahey, and another fave Laurie Ogden. Also, Poet in the City have a series of events at Wilton’s Music Hall on Women Poets Who Changed 1968, looking at some of the poets who we cover in The Femme Canon – Maya Angelou and Adrienne Rich.

front_1024x1024

 

28.04.18 – Workshop

Stage to Page: The Poetry School – Saturday 28th April

the-poetry-school-624x405

April – June: Workshop

The Femme Canon: Spread the Word – 14th April, 19th May, 16th June

spread-the-word-logo-blue