Freelance Reflections #15

It’s been over a year since I wrote a freelance reflection, and my 3 year anniversary of being self-employed passed by just recently. Although the current pandemic impacted my work, and meant I had to sadly cancel planned and potential tour dates for my book ‘Circles’, published by Burning Eye Books at the end of 2019, I am now back to my usual work.

I spend mainly my mornings content writing, and my afternoons tutoring. There’s not as much time for creativity as I would like, but I love being freelance and I’ve now moved out of my parental home for the third (and hopefully final) time, living with a friend in South East London. I’d moved to SW around the age of 4/5, so prior to that I had lived around Herne Hill and Norwood, so I feel very at home now, more than I did before.

Part of why I love being freelance is being able to create balance in my life, in a way that isn’t always possible being employed (though it should be, and I think this pandemic has shown how flexible the workplace can truly be). I wake up between 7:30-8am, and after listening to a guided meditation in bed, I’ve started doing my Spanish apps for 15 minutes whilst having breakfast. I digest my food whilst writing my journal, then do some exercise. This has been at home (dancing, hula hooping, skipping, lifting dumbbells, and Nike Training) or outside (jogging, skateboarding, rollerblading), but I’m thinking of joining a gym. After 2-3 hours of content writing, I have lunch and then I have some time for other activities like submitting poems, and studying Spanish. I come home from tutoring between 6:30-7:30pm, depending on the day.

After making my feedback notes, I have dinner and try to spend the evening doing less work-focussed activities. I’ll mess around on my phone, probably a bit too much, watch some sort of programme, and then ideally have some time to do some varied activity, which could include listening to a podcast or music, drawing or colouring in, playing games, chatting, or writing. I also love baths, which I like to have before watching a programme, so this free hour sometimes (often) goes out the window, and then ideally I would read for an hour. I do tend to self-sabotage in the evenings, rebelling against my own structure of the day, and some evenings I’ll go out and do none of these things I plan, but I know when I do follow the structure roughly, it can be really fulfilling.

During the last few months, I’ve been doing some Instagram shows, including with She Grrrowls, my own channel and a couple of other online shows, including Spork, which can be listened to on Spotify, and The Word Bin, where I just talk about why I would bin the word “needy”. I was also commissioned to write a poem about small acts of rebellion during the current pandemic and lockdown, as part of the Royal Museums Greenwich’s Museum From Home series.

I had the urge to look back at my last 5 year plan from 2017 and made a new one. I find it interesting how overly-ambitious I have been, and I’m not sure if I’ve done the same with this new one, but it’s funny to think I had put ‘think about children’ in 2021, and now in 2020, I’ve changed this to ‘freeze eggs’, which I really hope I can do through the donor scheme as I have donated eggs three times now, so this would be my last chance. I’ve included career goals alongside personal goals like this, and imagining I may be able to save for a deposit on a place by the age of 36, and think about children around that time too. I have no idea what situation I’ll be in then, and though it’s a nice idea that I may have a partner to do these things with, in 2017 I had also hoped to move in with my then-partner, and I’m much happier now living with a friend, so there’s no saying that any of these things will make me happy, which really is the most important goal of all.

2020 – Circles Tour

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05.02.20 – Tongue Punch

Tongue Punch, Tom Thumb Theatre, 2A Eastern Esplanade, CT9 2LB Cliftonville, Kent

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31.01.20 – 3Cs Open Mic

3Cs Open Mic – Burns Special at Corstorphine Community Centre, 191 St John’s Road, EH12 7SL Edinburgh

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15.01.20 – Find The Right Words

Find The Right Words, Leicester

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10.12.19 – Last Poet Standing

The Last Poet Standing at The Last Pub Standing, Norwich

07.11.19 – Burning Eye Presents

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The Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton St, London WC2H 9BX

Tickets: https://www.facebook.com/events/405137440204063/

01.11.19 – ‘Circles’ Book Launch

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Freelance Reflections #14

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Wow! It’s been over half a year since my last update! Time has gone unbelievably quickly. What have I been doing? Creatively, it’s been a time for things in the pipeline, so it seems like I haven’t done much, but it’s all been behind the scenes for the most part. I’m planning the next She Grrrowls tour and hoping to produce an audiobook of the anthology. She Grrrowls was featured in Time Out (see image above) and Eventbrite, which meant a couple of busy periods where I had to refuse people entry, which was really tricky to deal with, but much better than the opposite problem in South East London. The show was also a part of Attic Arts Club, which also presented a problem audience-wise, but the event had a great vibe anyway, it just sadly meant I lost a lot of money. The risks we take for art. I’ll also be going with my new co-host Ibizo Lami to Edinburgh Fringe, and it’ll be the third time She Grrrowls has been there and at 7-8pm at The Banshee Labyrinth’s Banqueting Hall from 3rd-16th August.

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A Lovely Word in Liverpool

Aside from She Grrrowls, I got to do my first proper headline feature outside of London… at A Lovely Word in Liverpool. I mean, I have performed at different festivals, and abroad in Spain, but this was the first time I was specifically asked to feature. You can listen to the podcast from the event here. I’ve also been writing an essay on spoken word and Feminism for an anthology due to be published in 2020. I’m going to be putting my own work out later this year, with the final event of the year due to be my book launch – watch this space! I haven’t had time to dedicate to my show idea, but I have been putting together a pamphlet for future submissions, which I finished but have been writing so much more that would go well in it that I will likely expand it and then reduce it again.

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A big thing that happened in my personal life: I turned 30. This meant that I went with my family on another expensive holiday as my mum also turned 50 (last year my cousin got married in Mexico). My mum has always wanted to go to Cuba, and it was great to read about it before going, and then whilst there I read some Cuban poetry in Spanish with English translation, a memoir called ‘Before Night Falls’ by Reinaldo Arenas, and ‘Generation Zero’, an anthology of short stories. On my actual birthday, I did a skydive for Mind, and at first it was terrifying and then it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I would love to do it again and again. As soon as I came down, I wanted to go back up.

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As well as mine and many of my friends’ 30th birthdays, so far this year has also seen the launch of two of my friends’ debut books. I supported Sophie Fenella at her launch for ‘The Rich Nothing’ published by Invisible Hand Press earlier in May, and just recently Tyrone Lewis published ‘Blackish’ with Burning Eye Books. I also wrote my first professional (i.e. paid) book review for DIVA, which should be out this month. The book is by Lucy Powrie, who is so young it makes me sick with jealousy haha, in the nicest possible way… I do run workshops for free at The Albany called ‘Don’t Get Bitter, Get Better’, for a reason.

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Sophie Fenella

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Other than getting on with my usual work, and having busy periods taking on additional work, I’ve also been continuing and starting up new hobbies. These include boxing, learning Spanish, and salsa dancing.

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I got my sixth tattoo this year too. Inspired by a person, a time, many people, many times. Forget-me-not. The past is behind me, but always alive in my memories, whether in pain or joy or in between. As poets, we mine our pasts, but also we must move forward. I also got a new undercut (which I am rubbish at maintaining), and I’m now so old that I forgot I actually had it twice before, and also think I’ve been asked for ID at least twice, not had it and ‘I’m 30’ has actually been good enough.

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17.05.19 – The Rich Nothing by Sophie Fenella: Book Launch

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