I’m coming up for air…

…now that the Nottingham Festival of Words is over for this year. It was a great project to be involved in, and I think I only became mildly deranged as the week went on. Others may disagree, and it’s probably best not to ask my family. I believe even more strongly now that it’s a very good time to be a writer or reader in Nottingham. If you are interested in being part of our “community of words” do keep an eye on the forthcoming City of Literature bid events and progress. And look out for next year’s Festival of course! My take on why I got involved was published on the Creative Nottingham blog and you can read it here if you’d like to.

So what’s next?

Well, amongst other things, the time since the Festival finished has consisted of:

- one (ONLY ONE!) afternoon nap

- a very enjoyable trip to Glasgow to check out the University and city with my daughter

- burning the midnight oil to get my accounts done

- attending a writing workshop with Judith Allnatt, writer in residence for the Festival

- helping to edit the Festival video (not ready yet but looking great)

- doing the last of my six part Bolder and Wiser series on BBC Radio Nottingham (whole series will be on my website soon)

AND – drum roll -

- embarking on the most necessary and irksome task of all – dealing with a huge backlog of filing, admin and all that stuff. This is still in progress as I write. I work next to my filing cabinet. Closed, all looks well. But only if it is given a good sort out at least once a year. It is eighteen months since I last did that, so it has been threatening to burst open and kill me with the weight of paper and/or kill me with the heart stopping moments when I can’t find something, the something usually being of utmost importance in that moment. But now, order is slowly being restored. I use the term loosely. Those of you who know me, will know I’m not exactly an empty desk kind of person. But it’s cathartic to have a good declutter now and then.

What has been particularly striking this time though is the emotional reaction I have had to doing it. It’s like going through the whole change curve in one afternoon. Of course, by doing this, I have unearthed what I’ve spent my working life on over the past couple of years. Loads of notes and drafts for the books. A whole range of articles and reviews. A big selection of workshops, talks and events. I was struck, as most of us are when we do this exercise, by just how much I have worked on in the past few years. It made me feel pleased and sad all at once. They represent meaningful, enjoyable projects, but some have been tucked away in the cabinet rather than being out and about. I unearthed a pattern of  delivering things once, and then just putting them away. I know this represents an unhelpful assumption that no one else will be interested. But the feedback I get from readers and clients tells me that people are interested. I’m not doing anyone any favours by keeping it all in the draw. 


That aside, a further reflection was that I have had some fantastic moments over the past few months and years when things have felt really zinging. I loved events such as the book launch at the Malt Cross and the talk on how to age well at Lowdham Book Festival. I have thoroughly enjoyed the radio series. I find coaching continuously rewarding and humbling in equal measure. I enjoy connecting with readers tremendously too. The Festival gave me many opportunities to meet new people, get to know new people and learn more about writing, reading and performance as well.

And what I feel I need to do now is to take my time between now and Christmas to connect with clients, readers and other people to find out what they would like to see or be part of. So I have created a short questionnaire (below) to ask you what you think as well as making a calm intention to talk to people too – so if you’d like to have a chat, do give me a call, and in addition, if you’d like to meet up for a relaxed drink, I am intending to head for the newly reopened Malt Cross  on Friday 28 November from about 4pm into the early evening. There could be tea and cake or something stronger. Depends how your week has gone (and after all the hooing and haaing, November is the month I pass the 5-0 milestone so I feel inclined to do a few things simply for the joy of them in the next few weeks). Bolder? Wiser? We’ll see…. !