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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


HEADcrash Cabaret

Last Wednesday was my first feature since being back in Norwich; HEADcrash Cabaret at The Birdcage.  After getting a glass of wine, some postcards and a ‘cocksucker’ badge from actor, poet and host, Russell J Turner, we found somewhere to sit – on the floor as it was rammed.

I suddenly remembered I forgot to spell check my last post.  There must be lots of errors.

Anyway, Chris Ogden, former president of the Creative Writing Society, was first up.  I knew what to expect as LitSoc showcased him at an event we held at the Hive at UEA.  I really liked his menstruation poem, and it reminded me of how I always forgot I was due on my period a number of times staying round a certain friend’s house, and what it means that he didn’t care and it didn’t feel awkward, which is basically what the poem was about – comfort.

Next was a girl called Greta, not sure of her surname, but I really liked her… that’s all I remember.  Robyn Comfort was next and I especially enjoyed her set, though I’ve seen her a few times, this time it was because she SANG! Well jealous, but of course, very happy for her as she was quite nervous about doing it! 

Then there was Andy Bennett, who a lot of people seemed to know, but I didn’t.  He was really good, and did something similar to Tim Clare in relation to Tom Cruise’s ‘Last Barman Poet’ performance in the film ‘Cocktail’.  It seems to have turned into some cult interest and I don’t know why but I really liked it.  I have been trying to write my version for this event that I won’t be able to make anyway, sadly.

After a break, I was next.  I really enjoyed performing and felt it went really well.  I think because I did so many new poems, although I was worried about the newness of them, it made it more enjoyable because there was a mix of poems I knew pretty much by heart, and those that just felt really fresh or something.  My housemate Kristy said how I had improved so much from last term, which was amazing to hear because it means all the open mic and feature gigs I’ve had over summer have been worth it!

Hannah Walker, who I mentioned in my set, was the last poet.  I’ve written about her before and really liked her set, naturally.  I was hoping to speak to her, but she disappeared or I was busy talking to other people or something like that.  Pay No Mind were the band at the end, I liked the songs but it felt like the singer was singing from the wrong part or something, so she was potentially good, but something was wrong that I couldn’t put my finger on and it kind of annoyed me.

I’ve also now got my heart set on an MA, so plan to take a year out to earn money so I can live back in Norwich.  Ideally I’d do it this coming year, but I won’t be able to afford it.  This probably means I won’t be able to afford to go inter-railing either but I can always do that after my MA… or any time in my life.  I don’t want a job that restricts me to not being able to do that.  I see myself doing lots of different jobs rather than one big one.  I read an article about work-life balance recently in the Sunday Times Style magazine that makes me think a merge rather than a separation is how people are more inclined to working these days.  I want to enjoy my work, and it be part of my life, not waiting for the work day to end so I can start my life each weekend or whatever.

Anyway, to save myself from rambling, I’m going to get reading and try to find someone who will come to see The Neutrinos with me and my housemate Kirstie, only asking for £2 compared to £8.50 on the door!