So, yesterday. Let’s talk about that for a minute.

I wrote a blog yesterday for the Other Place which was, it has to be said, a bit of a surprise. It comes on the back of picking up yet another failed writing project at the start of the weekend and trying (unsatisfactorily) to make something of it. Yet again came the familiar and damning grasp of terror around both brain and heart. You’re not good enough.Β Stop trying to fool yourself that you are.

Except fuck you Impostor Syndrome, seriously, just go get in the sea and stay there.Β These ideas are more than good enough, I’m just not mentally capable of the editing task right now. It is like wading through my past, laid out in print, being forced to relive the circumstances behind when these pieces were written, time and again. I am incapable of going back there and doing the work. It hurts too much.


Therefore, it might be an idea to take something totally new and fresh, from scratch, and just see how we can make something worthwhile emerge, using all the skills I’ve learnt in the last eighteen months.Β No massive plan, just taking an idea I’ve loved for decades, and putting my unique spin on it. Therefore, yesterday, Provocatrix was born. It’s pretty much at the ‘I’m writing this for you stage’ too, and there’s already an ending.

Key to the success of this narrative is that the key plot hinge has been knocking around for over a year, but my brain had ring-fenced it for another project that would have been totally and utterly wish fulfilment. That’s the key, I think: writing needs to be fun, something you enjoy, the ideas not a chore or a concept you think other people might find interesting.Β If you don’t have fun in the creation, boy does it show.


This isn’t a total about face for me but it is a shift in course. Accepting the shortcomings is normally not as easy (or satisfying) as this has initially turned out to be. Cautious optimism is most definitely the key to progress now but I have the three key protagonists sorted. Who they are and what they do is now their task to show me. I’m looking forward to seeing where we all go, how they react to the narrative’s challenges.

I’m genuinely excited for a long form project, and that’s not happened for some time.


This morning’s earworm (and blog title) are largely self-explanatory:

Why is this your earworm, Sarah?

The e-mail came late, because (presumably) the people running the contest have day jobs making this very much an evening task. It was the first time in nearly two years I got some tension/drama too, because to find out whether I’d been long-listed or not meant a click through to a website. Actually, of everything I’ve failed at thus far, this felt the most professional. This then led me to be looking at Twitter when somebody else joyfully announced they’d been long-listed for another contest, which clearly I’ve not won either.

I mentioned to Julia the last time I saw her that this weekend had the potential to be rough, because March 1st clearly is when lots of people wake up properly after Christmas and the wheels of competitive industry start properly grinding for the year. It meant that yesterday I added FOUR new potential means of failure to my Submissions Deadlines calendar. It became apparent a few months ago I need a visual list of dates, or else I just forget what matters. Now I have it, June’s already packed.

Instead of taking March completely off (it transpires a few days of not thinking too hard was all I really needed) I’ve scheduled 4 poems and a short story, plus a proposal for becoming a Poet in Residence. On top of that there’s a second proposal to send off tomorrow on top of the fiction project which, amazingly, seems to be moving under its own steam fairly well. That’s being earmarked as complete before one of my new June cut-off points.

What this month will be remembered for is learning the next skill level of ‘Multi-Function Organisation’ because the second Twitter account really has become a godsend.Β There’s also, very crucially, an emergent mental ability to be able to switch between two very distinct worlds. It’s a bit of a shock when they suddenly overlap, but the fact they do is a salutatory reminder of how small a world this really is. If you know creatives, there’s a good chance that overlaps exist in circles of association even you weren’t aware of.

That means, that like it or not, knowing when to keep quiet is a life skill I really need to keep practising. It also meant an apology was sent last night via email that many would consider unnecessary, but I still believe was essential. A lot has happened in the last 24 hours that I’m still attempting to process. How that affects things going forward is still unclear, but there’s an awful lot to think about. Good public conduct is essential as a professional. Knowing who’s reading is also fairly important to the responses you then present.

Nobody said any of this was going to be easy.

Cruel to be Kind

Once upon a time, my life would have been put on hold on Wednesdays. Those days have (thankfully) passed, existence considerably better for the change. There was also a time where an obsessive need to attain goals would completely consume my brain: with reflection, it is more about understanding when to work, and that not doing so is probably more important. Body decided at about 10.15pm last night, today is a physical rest day: being able to snag an extra PT lesson tomorrow morning is perfect synergy required to get my head down this morning and work the grey matter instead.

List is written, washing is on, time to make the difference.

Learning from my kids is something that happens so many times during a day: it is not just your task to teach as an adult. There is an obligation to listen, learn and then suggest alternatives. Occasionally the intractable needs to be introduced but as has become apparent with my two, intelligence can make for a fine weapon against such restrictions. Then, it is up to you to clear middle ground. Not them, you, because the more that control is flaunted, the less likely it is that any outcome will be non-confrontational.

I’ve got very good at avoiding confrontation across the last few years, a skill not taught in my youth. Now, this and my limited parenting abilities are having unexpectedly amusing and satisfying uses. Control’s a funny thing, when all is said and done. Thinking that someone or something else is frightening or scary, when a lot of the fear never issues from the object of your concern. The amount of control you can wield is immense and really is capable of changing the World.

You just have to believe enough in the possibility.


My paths are not once as clear as they were. Other things are appearing as important. As changes occur, and possibilities present, it is up to me to ensure that the journey forward isn’t just a single-minded steam towards one reward, if there other more important side-achievements to be had. All that gaming has finally found a use.

Who knew?


Number of days since Chocolate = 0

If I eat chocolate pistachio cake with a Bestie in London on a Saturday, there is inevitably a way built in to negate those calories. In this case, it was doing all the stairs at Covent Garden tube station: 195 of them, equivalent to a 15 story building (as was periodically and gleefully announced via tannoy on the way up.) Yes, I had to stop (twice) because however fit I might get, there is always a problem with stairs when I’ve not had a warm up, and next time I’ll just go a lot slower. Because yes, I will do that in one hit next time.

It’s almost exactly as I imagined it would be, if truth be known. I picked up a contest flyer where (gasp!) there is no online entry component: I will have to USE THE POST for submissions \o/ More importantly there is a notice board, and the next time I come down to town there needs to be something made to advertise there. It MIGHT be worth doing a secondary recce to work out what space to use, or what is likely to make the most impression.

I take this as a challenge to my artistic creativity.

The Next Chapter Bar

Having had a much-needed conversation with a grown up yesterday about writing, I’ve come to realise there is no anger really about rejection. Where emotion springs from is how such rejections are communicated; so generic as to be insulting, yet with vague specifics that can allow individuals to tear themselves to shreds and never enter another contest again. Should it be the job of an individual to deal with criticism better, or an organisation to present criticism in a more helpful fashion?

I’ll write about this on the IoW tomorrow, but for now there is a sense that progression with your ‘voice’ isn’t just about flow or output, but a potential editor grasping how speech is such a hugely subjective thing. To sound like me is a particular process. To be coached on how to write is acceptable, but to a point, because there is undoubtedly a difference to my speech and the perception of it that comes from a brain that simply does not operate the same as other people’s.

This is a discussion that will run and run.

Timebomb Zone

Day 4:Β Wow, that’s a two hours I never want to repeat again. I’m utterly with Duncan Jones: kids are hard work. I know, they didn’t ask to be born and you were the one who make the choice [and therefore accept the responsibility], but BOY some days is it tough. Anxiety-producing, pain inflicting, nerve shreddingly tough. If the sun was out and the country hadn’t just imploded, it would be easier. Today therefore is penance, and I’m surprisingly okay with that.

The Next Chapter Bar

There’s a significant fork in the road up ahead. Watching my husband cycle last night, his level of fitness is a reminder that if things matter enough, you will find a way.Β I don’t eat badly, exercise more than has ever been the case before and slowly, so very slowly, improvement is coming. It is on days like today when I’m mentally wiped that those gains matter so much more. Pushing beyond comfort zones might not be the answer for some, but for me there are days when if I don’t, the consequences can be catastrophic.

I should have started this particular journey with more vigour about 20 years ago.

The Next Chapter Bar

Decided to enter a book contest with the manuscript that keeps getting rejected. It’s really good, deeply personal and largely autobiographical, and I know full well why nobody I’ve sent it to thus far has shown the slightest bit of interest. So, if it gets rejected AGAIN it doesn’t get rewritten a third time. It stays this way, and we look for specialist publishers to send it to, and if that fails I fucking publish it myself, because sometimes it isn’t about compromise. Sometimes, what matters most is the idea, as you wrote it, not how someone else wants you to tell the story.

Occasionally you don’t write in the hope someone else validates you. You need to validate yourself.

Forget Myself

DAY 1: Let’s start the clock again. I had an Orange Club yesterday but, in my defence, there was a VERY good reason.

I wish the Blood people did a daytime session at the local church. Doing it during the day’s been a lot less difficult to cope with. Maybe it is because you’re fuelling over a longer period and not shifting straight into eight hours of kip. Perhaps this is just easier as body gets fitter. I will have to do some push ups tomorrow and schedule a bike ride after New Year’s Day nosh at my parents. It’ll be four days since anything was lifted, and that will never do.

As 2019 begins, I’d like to remind you why we’re here:

The epiphanies just keep on coming, and they’re all being written down, so that blog posts may spring forth from them. Remarkable progress has been made in the last 48 hours and although it is not exactly where I wanted to be, we are damn close. Give it a good push tomorrow, and there’s clear air for writing, and starting my cookery aspirations. I haven’t told you about that yet…Β Why else do you think the Instagram account was reactivated?

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Happy New Year. <3


I’ve waited since the beginning of November to spring this news. It was registered on a Tuesday, having just picked my daughter up after school, sent out (presumably) as the last e-mail of the day from The Poetry Society.

I know, you have no idea who they are.

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909, and still maintain space at Covent Garden in London. You pay to be a member, as is the case with most of these organisations, which grants you access to a quarterly newsletter, and a bunch of other stuff. It is, in essence, like becoming a member of Equity as an actor: sure, you don’t NEED to hand over the cash, can still write with complete legitimacy without it. I entered the National Poetry Competition last year as a non member, before the acceptance that advantages of membership outweigh not having one.

It is, I suppose, acceptance that if you crave even the smallest measure of legitimacy there are rules and paths to that conclusion which don’t exist if you work alone. It is the difference between sending your manuscript to a publisher cold without any idea of how you make it more attractive, and doing your research. In the quarterly newsletter is a competition: you’re given a subject matter, and rough guidance on what the specified judge is looking for from the entries. Then, it is up to you to deliver the goods.


If you go and look on my WiP page, you’ll find a link to the winning entry. I’ve signed a contract, which gives TPS rights to the verse, so they get to reproduce it and I will quite happily point at it for the foreseeable future, because by the action of winning there’s the chance to snag two further prizes. I am immensely proud and happy about this: they are genuine, true emotions that have never been experienced in this form before. Sure, stuff’s been produced before that I’m proud of but to be acknowledged like this? That’s always the most glorious of bonuses.

This is officially the happiest I have ever been.