Looking Back at Cuttings and Proteas: a log entry about growth and development

Two years and 217 posts ago the BeadedQuill blog was born. On 15th June 2013, after decades of hiding my fiction writing in notebooks, I decided to share it with the wider world. To my 123 signed-up blog followers, I say a thank you. To my 659 Twitter followers and 24 Facebook followers, I also say thank you. I hope you derive some pleasure from my ramblings. To my other readers and supporters, I send appreciation across the cyber-sphere. To those of you who have purchased my work, long life and good health to you! Some of the profits will go into my National Insurance contribution.

Since last year, I have published two books, Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys and In the Ocean: a year of poetry. These books incorporate 129 poems written between April 2013 and April 2014. In the last 6 weeks I have posted a further 9 “fresh” poems. Since starting this blog in 2012, the grand total therefore stands at three available titles and 158 poems written by me out there in the world (and possibly a few rogue ones in letters and on scraps of paper). I mention all this as it has been said, “What can be measured can be assessed”. Productivity for April 2013 – 2014 stood at a poem every 2.8 days.

I’ll spare you the productivity tally for blog postings, but will say that being accountable to a public readership compels me to produce copy. This in itself has been a valuable working method that helped with producing articles and the two long-form projects on which I am currently working. (Spoiler: a potential novel and a non-fiction book about travel.)

I continue to work on brand BeadedQuill. This coming year I would really like to focus on matters such as ‘income stream’ and ‘product development’, ‘marketing’ and ‘audience/market development’. To be honest, these topics tire and frighten me a little. At present, I just want to write and practise (plus a bit of Bachata thrown in for diversion).  The business plan, currently a collection of scribbled notes and mind-maps, needs to be formalised.

In the year ahead, I must once again look into the following: journal submissions, the possibility of securing a literary agent, more readings and public appearances. I need to travel! (Buenos Aires for a tango holiday, ideally.) A change of landscape and diversion will recharge me, I believe. I’ve considered investigating doctoral research in creative practice.

This time last year I was in excellent health, after recovering fully from a nasty turn in 2012. This year, I wish I could say the same. Unfortunately, I experienced a little “flare” (the doctor’s poetic take on the matter) about four weeks ago. A glut of corticosteroids is bringing me ‘round, with a journey into highways of insomnia, mild hallucination (and hearing things), emotional intensity and a pervading drug-induced buzz. On occasions like this, the every two steps forward on the health journey seem undermined by the five steps back. Nonetheless, I pick myself up and go back to start.

“Zen mind, beginner’s mind is apparently a desired state for the eternal student. Encounter moments and activity as though for the first time. In this way you will let it teach you.” I wrote this as the opening of my very first post. This is still such a challenging approach. When your efforts seem to show progress, this provides direction and solace. I don’t want to keep going back to start – with The Writing or with health, or with any other number of circumstances of my life. It is nice to feel as though I’m building something.

To counter beginner’s despair, I say to myself, “There must be something redemptive here.” In addition to the number crunching at the opening, I am pleased to acknowledge that another year later –indeed, three years and seven months after my first conscious day of applying pen to paper – I am still engaged in the labour of Being A Writer.

Since my first post, I have also figured out how to insert a link to my Twitter account.