I can do this

Hello? Hel-loooo?? Is anyone out there? Anyone??

Well, I’ll just leave this here and see if anyone notices.

So look, when I wrote my last post – over 15 months ago! – I had no idea it would be my last post for a while. In fact, that post was the first I’d written in some time so when I wrote it I felt like perhaps I was back. But I wasn’t. I was just making a guest appearance in a show we’ll call “The Silence of Len’s Blog”. (It doesn’t rate that well but it keeps getting renewed.)

So where have I been hiding? What have I been doing? Well, for the first time since I started freelancing back in May 2013, I worked consistently for over a year – moving from employer to employer and project to project without a break. Some months I was juggling multiple projects, even multiple employers.

Given how much sitting in front of a computer and writing I do in my professional life, I find it hard when I’m working to spend my free time doing exactly that: sitting in front of a computer and writing more.

But I have been writing. There’s been a truckload of poetry, mostly scribbled into my notebook, but also typed into my phone (and in some cases shared via Twitter).

I’ve also handwritten a lot of little micro-fiction pieces into my writer’s diary, using its weekly prompts. I’ve viewed these as small writing exercises to keep my mind fit creatively. Like doing daily sit-ups but for writing. But I also entered three of my favourite pieces in the Fish Publishing Flash Fiction Contest last year, and one piece even made it onto the long list.

So writing was on my mind a lot last year. And in fact, the whole time I was working I told myself that the moment I’d get some free time I’d start working again on a project I last worked on in 2013. It started life as an idea for a screenplay. Then I thought it was better suited to a novel, then maybe a novella. But recently I’ve realised it will be best written as a memoir.

The only problem is, I’m not working at the moment and while I’ve kept myself busy doing other things, it’s been three months and I have spent bugger-all time on my project.

It’s made me question whether I really do want to write this thing. I’m a big believer that if you want something you will take steps to get it. If instead you make excuses and create obstacles for yourself, you probably don’t want what it is you say you want.

So why this post now? Well, three recent events have conspired to motivate me.

Firstly, I attended an excellent introductory course on writing memoir, taught by the amazing Lee Kofman. I may write more about this in future, but for the moment suffice to say I had a huge epiphany about my idea as a result of her incredible skill as a teacher and mentor. I left the course that day feeling very positive about what I needed to do.

Secondly, I saw the film Hidden Figures, about three women who epitomized the “stop talking about it and just get out there and do it” ethos that fuelled much of the rights movements in the 1960s and 1970s. After seeing what these three women achieved, I came out of the cinema feeling anything was possible.

And lastly, my very talented 19-year-old niece was recently published in a magazine. Her article was about a deeply personal subject and while I very much admired how well-written it was, what really blew me away was how completely honest she was. How brave she had been to put herself out there in the way she had, acknowledging it was difficult but that she had to do it, to do her subject justice. And I realised if she can show such courage, I can, too.

These three very different experiences all left me thinking and feeling the same thing: Yes, I can do this. And, more importantly, I want to do this. So this post is to announce it to the world. Not that I’m back as a blogger. But that yes, I want to do this. And I can do this.

And I will.


Note: I haven’t yet sought permission from my niece to share her article but I will ask and, if granted, I’ll update this post with a link.


If I must confess

“Forgive me readers for I have sinned
It’s been three months since my last blog post…”

Yep, it’s been three months – in fact, over three months, since my last blog post. In fact, so far this year I’ve written only six posts, while same time last year I’d written 29 posts. Bit of a difference.

It’s not writer’s block. Or at least, I don’t think it is. It’s more stage fright. But then, maybe that’s a kind of writer’s block.

The thing is, I’ve had lots of ideas for posts. I’ve even written a lot of notes. But I’ve had very little motivation to actually sit down and write; and while other areas of my writing have suffered as well, the blog has taken the biggest hit.

I was at a loss to explain it until recently when it finally dawned on me: I lost my confidence. Didn’t think I had anything of interest to say. I’d get ideas and make notes and then think, ‘Oh who cares what you have to say!’ and the momentum would peter out.

The one thing I have had the confidence to continue doing this year is submit my writing for publication, as I’d done with my flash fiction story. I’ve even had a tiny bit of success with a poem I submitted to Good Morning Bedtime Story’s international mental health poetry competition earlier in the year being highly commended; that was pretty thrilling.

The post that follows this one is a piece of short memoir that was originally written for submission to an annual anthology on the theme of “encounters”. When it didn’t make it through, I decided to develop it further and submit it to another anthology; this time the theme was “loss”. I’ve added another part to it and am now working on a third part.

Unfortunately for the anthology, I got my dates wrong and have missed the deadline. But it’s not all bad news: the anthology’s loss is my blog’s gain, as I’ve decided to publish all three pieces here. And I have to confess, it does feel nice to be able to post something that I feel needs to be ‘out there’; specifically to have the confidence to press “publish” once again, without using someone else as a buffer.

Hope you enjoy reading it.