The Final 100 Days of Writing

My writing year hasn’t gone to plan.

At the back end of 2021, I put in for an Arts Council England, Developing Your Creative Practice grant. I didn’t get one but I made a promise to myself to follow the project plan I had to submit with this application for the first 6 months of 2022.

Things just didn’t go to plan from the very beginning of the year, with family illness and myself getting ill etc. I was knocked off course and never got back on during the year.

Until now. London Writer’s Salon ran a 100 Days of Writing Workshop last night. Then there was 100 days left of 2022. Where has the time gone?

I attended along with over 300 other people, working through the workbook to get recommitted to my Mixmoir. And it worked.

I’ve set myself some goals and targets for the final 100 days of writing for 2022. I figure, I can turn it out for others when I have to or need to, the recent BALTIC commission being a prime example. Well now I want to use this commitment to others and their demands to my own advantage and complete something that is important to me instead.

My goal is to complete the Mixmoir in the final 100 days of 2022. I figure it’s about 3 essays and about 15 poems I need to get it into a completed state by the end of 2022. And I might even place in the word ‘shitty’ first draft of the whole thing there too in order to ease the pressure off for perfection.

My guiding words for this process are fun and play and experimentation. I want to enjoy the process and I figure these values with help me a lot with this task.

I’ve been wanting to write this Mixmoir now for about 5 years and I think I’ve just been taking it and myself far too seriously. So I’m inviting in the fun and joy and excitement about the project again.

And I’ve got the last 100 days of 2022 to crack on with it. And these final days of the year are not empty. I’ve got plenty of outside commitments, family responsibilities and travel plans to keep me busy. But this might be the kick up the arse I need to just finish the damn thing.

This Mixmoir is an important step in establishing myself as an expert in the field of Black Nature. I want to use this text as the basis of the Earth Sea Live CIC business. As a speaker and facilitator and expedition leader. But it’s doing nothing to further the cause if it’s not finished or published yet.

So here I am biting the bullet, getting my head down and ploughing on through.

No hold up! I said fun and play and experimentation in order to enjoy the process.

So my shoulders are back, my head is facing the light and I’m skipping off into writing pleasureland for the final 100 days of 2022.

Let’s see what I create.

A Week of Rain is Forecast

Starting off Sunday next week, I plan to walk the West Highland Way, a well signposted trail from just north of Glasgow, Milngavie to the Highlands of Scotland, Fort William.

I tried to walk this trail about 8 years ago but failed at the mid point due to sickness. So this time, I plan to complete it by any means necessary. If that means someone else carries my bag with camping gear from one stop to the next then so be it. I’m not too proud to accept help.

But I’ve just checked the weather for next week. And apart from a sun shine sign on Sunday, the rest of the week is 50-60% rain each day. Every day until the following weekend.

Now I could let this put a dampener on the whole walk, pun intended. Or I could just carry on as I have been carrying on, full of excitement with a genuine positive mindset to complete the miles but to enjoy the process.

I’m going into this week of walking, shortest day 10 miles – longest day 21 miles, coming off the back of some good learning experiences which I want to bring to bear in this next challenge.

The first is my 100 days of practice to complete my commission for the BALTIC Hinterlands exhibition due to go live 22 October. I didn’t allow myself to get too far into my head, stress and worry about what I was creating. Instead, I really enjoyed the process of showing up each day and seeing what came out of it. I totally enjoyed the process and had fun.

The second is my recent completion of the Great North Run. I went into this event off the back of very little training and with the simple mission of completing the 13.1 miles by any means necessary. But I didn’t look upon it as something I had to get through, grin and bear it. No. I went into this endurance event with a healthy positive mental attitude. I wanted to enjoy the day. Get around with a smile on my face, really soaking up the atmosphere of the day.

These two learning experiences I will bring to my West Highland Way challenge. So it says it’s going to be rain for the whole week. I’m going to get wet. I’ll expect to get wet. No surprises then. So the flip side is when I see the sun, or glimpse a patch of blue sky, I’m going to feel gratitude and it’s going to put a spring in my step.

I’m prepared for the rain but if I get sunshine I’ll take it with a smile. I’m not going to cancel this trip I’ve been planning for months because of a spot of wetness. I’m going to get wet as I plan to get into the lochs along the way. I’m planning to take each mile as it comes and enjoy the journey. Rain or shine. I’m doing it.

Yes I’ll get wet. Yes I’ll be cold. Yes I might not dry out all week. But I’ll be out in the Scottish landscape soaking it all up.

Would I like more sunshine? Of course I would. Would I like to be stuck inside, head buried into a computer screen working for the man? Hell no. Give me a week of walking in the rain from the Lowlands to the Highlands of Scotland and I will gladly take it with a smile on my face.

When I took up a door to door sales jobwhile at University in London for extra cash, rain was sold to us sale reps. as “liquid sunshine”. I’m going to remember that as I trek through the miles.

Tune in and see how I get on next week.

In The Thick Of It

BALTIC commission process journal

“The most effective way to do it is to do it.”

Toni Cade Bambara

I set myself the task of touching the Hinterlands commission every day for the next 100 days from the beginning of July. And on the whole, I have succeeded so far in this task. Day 23 of July and I’ll be honest, this commission is filling my waking and sleeping hours, as I agonise over how to bring my ideas and concepts to fruition. How to communicate what I think, or feel or see to others. How to make that connection of understanding, empathy and solidarity when exploring the Black woman’s body with/in nature.

This is not an easy task. And I think I’ve made the task more difficult for myself by trying to incorporate multiple and diverse art form into the brief. It’s that same old story, that fear of never getting another chance like this so I have to say everything I’ve ever wanted to say on the subject all at once to make sure I get my message across. That I use this opportunity to it’s limits as this might be my only shot, my only slot, my only opportunity to speak and shine.

Of course this is not based on fantasy. This is based on fact. Did you know that just 2,000 artworks in the UK’s permanent art collections are by Black artists – most of which aren’t on display?

And even though over the last couple of years, there has been more visibility and opportunities for Black and People of Colour artists to be part of the British art scene/establishment, for example with Sonia Boyce winning the top prize, the Golden Lion as she became the first Black female artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale. This is still a rarity and not the norm.

“It seems almost ridiculous that it takes into the 21st century for a Black British female artist to be invited to do Venice,”

Sonia Boyce

We are still operating in a highly racist, discriminatory system. FACT. I can continue to keep chipping away at this. And I will. But …

For here and now, I think it comes down to confidence and belief in what I’m doing. To silence the outside noise. Ignore the internal critic and just do it. Do the things I want to do and move on.

At the end of these 100 days, I’ll have a collection of items, products, creations that I will then pull together into a whole. Into saying something about something.

We will have to wait and see. But I’m enjoying the process.

So already I feel as it I’m winning.

December Reading

I was hoping to finish for a Christmas break sooner in December than I actually did. I wanted to ease into the holidays, getting snug and cosy and reading to my heart’s content. Of course even the best laid plans go awry. But I still managed to clock up some reads, as I got ready for 2021. What is going to be my focus the new year? I think there’s some clues within my December reading list.

Here are the books I read this month:

  1. Black Bodies, White Gaze – George Yancy
  2. Keep Going – Austin Kleon
  3. Creatrix – she who makes – Lucy H. Pearce
  4. Slow: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Hectic World – Jo Peters
  5. The Year of Less – Cait Flanders
  6. The Outsiders – S. E. Hinton

Update – NaNoWriMo 2020

The first two weeks of November have come and gone. Fast.

The first week was all about conversations with people around the globe. And all of them seemed urgent and necessary. So I gave them my all. So that going into the second week, I had to think about my boundaries and start to control the conversations. Work more to my schedule and energy levels and needs rather than others.

The second week of November was no less demanding, as I had to plan a number of differences workshops that were/ are coming up. So this week has definitely been a lot of work going on behind the scenes to keep the shop front neat, sort of thing.

So my energy levels and attention spans have been up and down already this month and this has affected the time and attention and care I could offer up to my memoir.

Two weeks in then to the NaNoWriMo challenge and nearly 20000 words down. And considering all that I’ve just shared about November so far, I’m pretty pleased with the word count. Ideally, it would be good to be at 25000 as it is the half-way mark, but it is what it is. And it’s 20000 more words than I would have created if I’d not taken up this challenge. Win win I say.

I might not clock up as many words in the second half of the month as I move into editing mode. But we’ll see. The aim is to complete the current essay around grief as well as complete another essay about slavery, DNA and my body. So plenty tochall be getting on with and hopefully I’ve got a better handle on my diary as we enter the second half of the month.

NaNoWriMo 2020

2020. I’m biting the bullet. October was billed as a creative retreat at home earmarked for me to get back into my mixed genre memoir writing. It didn’t go to plan and I found myself connecting more with the outside world and other people than I cared to really do. So this month of November, I’m taking back my time and space to focus on my creative endeavours.

I’ll continue reading a poetry book a day and writing a poem from the inspiration. But I’m steeping up my writing by taking part in the month long challenge of writing a novel, NaNoWriMo.org
it’s been a few years since I’ve taken on this challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days but I feel I just need this accountability and energy this challenge brings to get my out of my no writing rut.

And I have already felt it’s benefits as I am 5000 word done. It’s amazing what can be done once you get your arse in the seat, turn up and write. Keep tuning in to see how I get on.

October Readings

October turned out to be a great month of reading after I set myself the Sealy challenge; of reading one book of poetry a day for a month.
Here’a the books I got through:

  1. Other Poetry, no.23 – anthology of poetry
  2. Writing for my life – Nancy Levin
  3. The World Don’t End – Charles Simic
  4. Our Dead Behind Us – Audre Lorde
  5. Butcher’s Dog 12 – anthology of poetry
  6. Butcher’s Dog 13 – anthology of poetry
  7. What to look for in Autumn – Ladybird Book
  8. Facts about the moon – Dori Anne Laux
  9. Undersong – Audre Lorde
  10. Postcolonial Love Poem – Natalie Diaz
  11. What the Water Gave Me – Pascal Petit
  12. It Ends With Her – Brianna Labuskes
  13. I am an Island – Tasmin Galidas
  14. The Crossroads of Should and Must – Elle Lune
  15. Danger on Peaks – Gary Synder
  16. The Goddess Oracle – Amy Sophia and Mara Rashinsky
  17. Blue Front – Martha Collins
  18. The Autumn House – Alison May
  19. The Winter House – Alison May

Day 6 – Curlew, Sphagnum Moss, Peat

a spongy carpet;

clusters of green stars

holding water

storing carbon

amongst cotton grass

big rosemary and cranberry.

Curlew, Steng Moss Bog

peatland upland graasland.

blue stockinged long long legs

wading curved bill down.

I miss the air

against my skin

flicking hair impressions.

before they breed

the male bubbles a call

high pitched across the greyish mist.

threatened they skim

mudflats and dig for shrimp.

this closeness to nature

of cream of buff

of feather is like love

being ripped out

from the roots and fashioned

to fit the narrow folds of life,

yet still being golden and wild.

Day 1 – NAPoWriMo – In these troubling times, our way of being comes into sharp focus

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April brings with it the challenge of National Poetry Writing Month. One poem per day for the next 30 days. What better way to kick start my next 100 days of blogging if you take up this challenge. So follow along as for the next 30 days , I’ll be sharing a poem I create, sometimes in response to the prompts posted over here, sometimes from other inspirations. But I’ll be hopefully following the theme of Nature for this body of work.

Day 1 – In these troubling times, our way of being comes into sharp focus

Taking out the rubbish

I’m met by a bully of a bird

on our backyard wall.

 

He doesn’t take his leave.

Indolent, he waiters along the bricks

beady eyeing me.

 

Mum used to say things

must be rough at sea

for seagulls to be so far inland.

 

Today, I don’t think this is the case.

I think people are no longer at sea

forcing these scavengers

 

reliant on the discarded chip

or bit of fish to become urban

into backyards where citizens

 

take their recommended

or is it permitted

daily shot of sun while in lockdown.

 

This seagull surveys the scene.

One foot, two foot, two foot, one.

Head jerking alert, yellow sickle beak,

 

hooking the air with it’s call.

Grey wings once settled now stretched

wide with an inkling to take flight

 

but it decides to stay, close.

Two foot, one foot, one foot two.

A shared landscape it’s always been.

 

Perhaps, now, more obvious

how we all have to adapt

to a new way of being

 

which might have us all eating grass yet.