As I dip my toe back into the blogosphere after so many months, I have to ask some questions. How do you juggle the job that pays the bills with the creative work? How do you get any kind of balance? Where does the time go?
Maybe you're lucky and they're one and the same. But lately I've been teetering all one way. For me, the teaching work is technically 4-5 days a week. And I'm supposed to keep Fridays clear for the writing and performing work. I've gotten used to the rhythm of the year and accept that at certain times - start of term, mock exam weeks etc. - teaching just sweeps all before it like a bore-tide. Except this year, the September rollers have just crashed on into November. How did that happen?
Teaching doesn't just pay the bills of course - it keeps me grounded and stimulates my thinking and learning. I love studying new books on the syllabus with the students - this year it's 'A Streetcar Named Desire'. I like those conversations and the shared purpose of it.
And despite the onslaught, I was lucky enough to have a few literary events this autumn that kept me engaged as a writer. Seeing my poems turned into beautiful art objects in Terri Bradshaw's wonderful exhibition in October. Hosting a National Poetry Day event with Leicester Writers' Club as part of the Everybody's Reading Festival in Leicester the same week. And best of all, an exciting Polar Poets gig as part of the Manchester Science Festival at half-term. You can read about that on my sister-blog.
However - it's high time I caught up with making some plans for the rest of the year. So if you're one of those people who's been wondering if I'd dropped off the face of the earth, the good news is I've been hacking my way through that avalanche of overdue emails. Radio silence is about to be broken!
But above all, November is probably my most fertile time for writing and immersing myself in new projects. So I need to get that balance back. As darkness falls and mist and frost push up against the windows, that outer hibernation gets some inner processes firing up. I'm restless to be in that place again. The hush of early mornings in the study before the bell beckons ...
Writing is a journey, both imaginary and physical. My first book took me to the Arctic to 'catch the colours' of the Northern Lights. Then I hunkered down to catch the wind-blown voices of polar explorers on Shackleton's 1914-17 Endurance expedition. More recently I'm obsessed by space: the race, the rockets, the final frontier.
Hear a BBC Radio Leicester interview about my space poetry at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03wfpyp
Explore my digital narrrative PHILAE'S BOOK OF HOURS, published by the European Space Agency, at:
My prose-poetry collections FIREBRIDGE TO SKYSHORE
and MAD, HOPELESS & POSSIBLE are both published by Original Plus Press at:
Contact me for signed copies or bookings at:
- Leicester, East Midlands
- As a storyteller, my work crosses boundaries of myth, science, history and spoken word. It has been presented in the British Science Museum, Ledbury Poetry Festival, National Space Centre and the European Space Agency website. In 2014 I ran a digital residency on WW1 for 14-18NOW and Writing East Midlands. I teach Creative Writing at De Montfort University and have experience of leading school events, workshop tuition and mentoring.