Monday, 3 November 2014

Being a writer first

It's been a few weeks since I last blogged, mostly because I've been snowed under with Off the Shelf events. It's been great fun but a lot of stress and made me reflect again on where I put my time and energies. The freelance career is always a juggling act (albeit it a fun and colourful one), but the juggling act of a freelance single mother with a sick child is even more complex. Once I've factored in the time spent arranging childcare for evening events (and in some cases paying for babysitters) and the emotional energy expended in dealing with children who say things like "can't you do a different job where you don't have to go out in the evening?", I've been wondering whether it was all worth it.

On the plus side I got to feel like my old self again. I rediscovered the reader development worker in me when I ran the Book Buddies event; I engaged with interesting discussions about being a writing mother at the Writing Motherhood event and I enjoyed hearing new writers share their work at the Fiction Slam. I also enjoyed doing some coaching as part of the Inner Critic event. Most importantly, I got to feel like a real writer when I read my novel as part of the event about doing an MA and perhaps I put myself back in the public eye as a writer to some extent and maybe this is important. The financial gain wasn't so great. I earned a few hundred pounds for an awful lot of work.

Thinking about it now, perhaps the most important thing I did as part of the festival was submit a little piece of writing for the Shedloads of Work website. I was promoting the initiative with my literature development hat on and then, at about 10pm decided, as a writing exercise, to write something about my own workspace and submit it before the midnight deadline. And now it's live and it's pleasing to have a piece of my writing, albeit it a small one, in the public arena. You can view it here along with other writing by new and established writers:

I end my piece talking about my office space and the little piece of paper that is stuck to my wall which says "I'm a writer first". It's a mantra that came out of a coaching session with life coach Andy Leigh who ran the Inner Critic masterclass and it's something I go back to. Running events is fun. Writing is something more than that and it's where I should put my energy. So, festival over, I'm back to my writing projects and am sending my young adult novel out again. And I reflect that my renewed enthusiasm for doing that is also something that has come out of being around published authors and discussing my writing journey at the MA event. I want to be known as a writer, not just as a facilitator of other people's dreams.