Posts Tagged ‘new year’s resolutions’

In 2012, I…

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

2012 journal... nearly done!

You may remember my admission here, in January, that 2011 had not been a very good year. I wrote here — and in my paper journal — that I wanted to reclaim my life from work-related stress and insomnia. I also wrote in my paper journal that I wanted to extricate myself from the politics and cliques of the poetry community (locally and online), and just write. It took a while — nearly all year, with the latter — but I feel like I can now say I managed to do those things. 2012 was a good year, all told. Here’s some of the stuff that happened.

In 2012, I…

* worked as a reader for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for the fourth year running.

* won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award, and am about to begin — quite belatedly, which was my choice — my programme of creative mentoring.

* spent two great weekends in York early in the year, and remembered how much I loved it. Going back soon!

* moved from a 0.7PTE contract at work to a 0.5PTE contract, as part of my “reclaim my life!” challenge. Less teaching hours, less office politics, more free time, less stress (also less money, obv, but that’s OK).

* moved into the third year of studying for my PhD in Creative Writing. Switched to a brand new thesis topic for the third time. Probably drove my supervisor crazy.

* delivered a lecture, “Making Poems, Writing Histories, Excavating Myths”, to the Melrose Literary Society.

* went vegan, and I love it.

* scored an amazing haul of SEVENTEEN antique typewriters on Freegle! (Still haven’t got round to starting restoration/reclamation work on most of them…)

* organised an all-female poetry slam to celebrate International Women’s Day 2012. It went really well!

* celebrated my 26th birthday with not one but TWO birthday parties: one a nom-tastic vegan dinner at Zeffirelli’s with my family, the other a fabulous few rounds of cocktails at The Dome with friends. Yay!

* attended the Scottish Women’s Aid Feminist Day School at the University of Edinburgh, and was inspired.

* was shortlisted for an Eric Gregory Award for a second time (first time was 2010. I forgot to enter in 2011).

* competed in Literary Death Match (Edinburgh, ep 4) AND FREAKING WELL WON!

* spent a week in beautiful Barcelona, and totally fell in love with the place.

* spent a weekend training to become a Scottish Women’s Aid Community Champion. Possibly the most empowering weekend of my life so far!

* performed in “Dear Glasgow,” directed by David Grieg, at the Traverse Theatre.

* read poems in a magical launderette in Durham!

* spent a long weekend in gorgeous Whitby — surely the most literary seaside resort there is? — with Lovely Boyfriend.

* was introduced to The West Wing, fell in love, and watched all seven series in the space of a few weeks.

* spent ten days in Greece while One Night Stanzas was on hiatus. Visited Athens, and spent a week in a one-room cold-water whitewashed cottage on the tiny island of Hydra. Here’s the view from our room! We went swimming at daybreak, befriended donkeys, made lots of delicious vegan food, and spent tons of time writing, writing, writing. It was great.

* taught Creative Writing at the Scottish Universities International Summer School for the third consecutive year. My wonderful students were Dan, Linda, Sarah, Joanna, Daniel and Jill. You guys were fab!

* had a poem shortlisted in the Mslexia Women’s Poetry Contest.

* went to see George Watsky on the London leg of his Nothing Like The First Time tour. Also spent a fabby weekend hanging out in London!

* organised and hosted One Night Stanzas presents Watskyx2 — definitely my biggest and scariest moment as a poetry promoter! But it went SO WELL, yay!

* went to a ton of great stuff at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, including Louise Welsh, Andrew Keen, Alice Oswald’s Memorial event (OMG!), Daniel Franklin launching Megachange, Billy Letford & Sean Borodale and Marina Warner (who I also saw at the International Festival, ’cause I’m a fangirl).

* read poems at Blackwells: Writers at the Fringe.

* attended a discussion that included the amazing Jean Kilbourne, personal superheroine of mine, and met her afterwards! Swoon!

* was employed as a creative facilitator with a local women’s community support group (details redacted!), and I am loving working with these amazing women as they read poems, share stories and unlock their creativity!

* joined the Shore Poets committee and became their blogging/tweeting/Facebooking person, among other things!

* survived root canal surgery!

* got tattooed (again).

* went to beautiful Paris for the weekend with Lovely Boyfriend to celebrate our two-year anniversary!

* helped run Scottish Women’s Aid’s I GET IT campaign, spreading positive messages about healthy relationships to young people aged between 16 and 25.

* wrote articles and reviews for The Skinny, xoJane (two, in fact), the Edinburgh Review (again, two! One’s online here) and The Scottish Review of Books.

* had three poems included in Where Rockets Burn Through: Contemporary Science Fiction Poetry from the UK

* spent an amazing day at the Maryhill Integration Network in Glasgow, meeting incredible, inspiring women, and being treated to a crash-course in filmmaking, a fashion show, a dance recital and a ton of delicious food!

Favourite photos from this year:

Vegan Noms (1)
Just one of the many millions of photos I took of delicious vegan breakfast/brunch food. I obtained this book upon becoming vegan and it changed my world!

Lovely Boyfriend
Lovely Boyfriend being lovely.

Hooping in the Meadows
I will remember summer 2012 as the summer of hooping in the park with my sister!

Rainbows over Tollcross
I love living in Tollcross — and my top floor, bay-window view! — so, so much.

My SUISS class of 2012
My fantabulous SUISS Class of 2012!

Watsky x2 performers
All the lovely performers from One Night Stanzas presents Watskyx2! Such talent!

Lit 101 students' work
Just when I’m feeling down and crap, along come my amazing students to make me feel inspired again.

Parisian adventures
♡ ♡ ♡

Insane family portrait...
A loopy family portrait.

Poetree
Visiting the jaw-droppingly gorgeous GiftED sculptures.

Glitterowl
& Christmas comes to ONS Towers!

It’s been a great year. I feel I am a million miles away from the place I was in this time last year — phew! I am also extremely excited about 2013 and all that it holds for me. I plan to finish my PhD, put together my first full-length poetry collection (at last!), get more tattoos (yeah!), and start work on a ton of exciting new projects. Wish me luck!

If you want to see what I got up to in 2008, 2009, 2010 or 2011, just click on each year!

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You can also visit Read This Press for poetry and typewriter paraphernalia! Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Excitement, inspiration and EXCESSIVE CAPSLOCK USE. Hello 2012.

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Hello 2012

Happy New Year, ONS readers!  Are there any of you left, I wonder?  2011 was a quiet year for One Night Stanzas; a bit of a muddled year.  2012 will be a better one.

As the long-time readers among you will know, ONS started life as a kind of informal how-to Q&A blog for young, inexperienced writers. At the time, I was running Read This Magazine and receiving endless emails from folk asking about all aspects of writing and publishing poetry. I got so tired of being an unpaid email-answering advice service that I stuck it all online instead. For those of you who’ve arrived since then, you can check out the best of ONS: Year One here.

It’s weird looking back at that Year One post and seeing how productive and organised I used to be. A post a day, every day? That seems like insanity, looking back. At around that time I finished my English Literature undergrad degree and went straight into a Creative Writing MSc — I was also working as a private tutor of English, Creative Writing and Drama and living in a tiny attic bedsit (I miss that flat — can I just say, roofgarden! — so much, even now!). I was still running a magazine, and started a small press soon after. I made jewellery and ran a vintage shop. And still had time to go to the pub. Where did that life go?

Fast-forward to 2011 and One Night Stanzas is a barely-updated wasteland. I pop up every so often to talk about the books I’m reading — usually only the ones that have made me feel strongly about something — and to post the odd Procrastination Station. My vintage shop has been “on hiatus” for months, Read This is no more now the editors have all graduated and scattered to the four winds. I gave up on the jewellery thing because I couldn’t handle breaking up typewriters, however broken beyond repair, any more. I have irate poets emailing me constantly, asking to be considered for the Featured Poet posts that haven’t existed for ages, and then sending me snotty call-back emails when I don’t reply. I still don’t reply. I’m reading for a PhD in Creative Writing but I’m barely putting pen to paper. I’m burned out doing a challenging, tiring, rewarding job that I used to love but have come to resent. My friends have all moved away — to different cities, countries, continents — and most of them don’t return my sporadic Facebook messages or texts any more. By the end of the year, I’ve been diagnosed with stress and insomnia: my body is in survival mode, shutting down bits of itself to try and keep the rest going. 2011 has felt like walking along a mineshaft: it’s got increasingly dark and narrow as I’ve gone along; I lost the coal seam but just kept wandering.

Thankfully, I haven’t wandered far enough that I can’t find a way to climb back out again. I feel like I’ve woken up, and looking in the mirror I’m pretty shocked to find that I’ve turned into one of those people who lives to work, who has become their job and can’t find the energy to even think about anything else. A person who gets up at 6am, goes to work, gets home by 6pm and collapses in front of the TV, then goes to sleep… and I never even noticed it happening.

So no more. I don’t care what everyone else thinks of New Year’s Resolutions: I make them. Usually in a kind of sneaky, abstract way. This year I am only making one:

IN 2012, I AM GOING TO RECLAIM MY LIFE.

One Night Stanzas is coming back, with a vengeance. It’s not going to be a writing advice blog again, nor is it going to continue to be the Serious Poetry and Writing blog I tried to turn it into more recently. It’s just going to be MY blog, and I’m going to fill it with whatever I fancy. So I’m guessing you should brace yourself for owls, tea, typewriters, tattoos, cute animals, cool Youtube videos… and some poetry. If you want serious ruminations on the latest petty poetry squabbles (e.g. OMG your anthology sucks and you’re clearly STOOPID!), or if you want your collection to be reviewed by someone who definitely won’t use excessive CAPSLOCK and the word “awesome,” then you should probably go elsewhere. But if you fancy sticking around and watching while I try to re-inject some positive, fun, POETIC energy into my life, while I remember what it means to get properly excited and inspired again, then fantastic. You rock. Watch this space.

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One Night Stanzas loves mail. Say hello via claire@onenightstanzas.com. NB: I am physically unable to reply to non-urgent stuff unless I have a free afternoon and a cup of tea in my hand. Please be patient!

(Photo credit)

End-of-year resolutions for poets.

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Think I’m a little early for resolutions? Think again. Those New Year’s Resolutions you make every year… how many of them do you actually do? I am guessing not that many really come to fruition, and here’s my theory: you need a deadline. If you’re against the clock, you’re more likely to be focussed and determined to succeed — in theory! See if I’m right — revisit your 2009 New Year’s Resolutions and see how many a) you still want to achieve (I find my ‘wants’ at one end of a year can morph into something very different by the time I get to the other), and b) you think you can get through by 31st December. If you don’t have any resolutions, try doing at least one of these…

1. Send your work to That Magazine you’ve been eyeing up. Everyone has one or two magazines that they’d really like to place their poetry in, but aren’t sure whether they’re up to it. I have a friend whose motto is: ye willnae ken until ye gan, or in other words, how do you know whether you’ll make it or not until you submit the darned poem and find out? The worst thing they can say is ‘no thanks.’ You have twenty days… so submit already.

2. Read your poetry at an event. OK, so plenty of my readers are old hands at the whole public reading thing, but I still get heaps of emails from people saying “I want to read my poetry to an audience, but I’m terrified!” Now is the time to get up there and just do it. I know of heaps of Christmas-themed poetry events happening in my local area, so it’s likely you can find one or two, too. Get thee to an open mic!

3. Enter a contest. I know there are plenty of people reading this blog who’ve never done this, either! The contest circuit is quieter at this time of the year than at other times, but there are still plenty open for entries… there’s a good list right here… just remember to read the rules/T&Cs carefully before you hit ’send’.

4. Sign up to Twitter if you haven’t already. Here’s why!

5. Buy a poetry collection from a small publisher — and buy it direct from the publisher! Don’t go giving Amazon all your money! Going to the small press’ own website will mean that the vast majority of your pennies go straight to them… and their fabulous poetry book gets sent straight to you!

6. Commit an act of poetic terrorism, Christmassy or otherwise.

7. Give up a crappy habit (for a while). Yep, this one comes up on just about everyone’s New Year’s Resolution list… which is why people often fail. Habits are incredibly difficult to crack — whether your habit is smoking, procrastinating or even just talking too much. So try this… give up your bad habit just until 31st December. That seems a whole lot more manageable than ‘for good,’ right? Then take it from there.

8. Write a poem. Believe it or not, there are even some people who stop by ONS who’ve never written a poem in their lives. People! Do it now! It doesn’t have to be the world’s greatest literary masterpiece… it can just be about your cat. But give it a try. You never know what might happen…

Let me know your end of year resolutions!

(Photo by smallbloc)

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