In lots of ways life goes on just as it did before publication; there’s still laundry to be done, children to be collected from school and the day job at the Open University with its many and varied demands.
So has anything changed? Well I can answer that in one word – confidence.
There is nothing quite like having someone else believe in the strength of your writing enough to publish it, to make you realise you might actually have joined the ranks of ‘proper’ writers. Then there’s the readers who send me enthusiastic notes and comments about Convoy. This is a recent one
‘In Convoy, I appreciated this glimpse of foreign-to-me bravery, foreign because this happened before my time, and is a part of the history of that war I knew little to nothing about. It's a lovely gift to have created a platform for those voices. My father spoke in a similar way about his war experiences in the Pacific arena. By that I mean with few words, but a sense that a lot that doesn't need to be said, while still conveying loss and the wonder of self-survival. Such haunting words and images,
"I am more than tired, keep seeing things,
friends who died on previous convoys
reaching out to shake my hand."
Poetry books don’t generally get many reviews so I have been grateful to the people who have ventured onto Amazon or Good Reads to post their opinions.
The other change is that people now ask me to do things… as a writer. This has included running a village writing group, originally under the auspices of our community library. They are a delight and are so enthusiastic about writing and learning and have made me realise how much I know about the craft. Of course we are all still learning…. then there’s taking part in readings… the Sensing spaces, Wandering words event at the Royal Academy, which provided an adrenaline rush.. it was like doing my fist parachute jump all over again… but with fellow poets alongside.
Having been through the process of putting together a first collection I’m spending 2014 as a mentor to poet Becky Cherriman under a scheme set up by my publisher Cinnamon Press. She has recently had poems published on the Mslexia blog as part of Michelle McGrane’s Against Rape project on Peony Moon.