Why I’m still writing poetry

In which mental health is not something to be ashamed of

It should go without saying, right? Mental health IS health. You don’t blame someone for being unable to walk with a broken leg, or unable to go to work with a slipped disc. And yet there’s still this awful stigma attached to admitting you’re not coping because there’s something wrong in your mind.

Well, tough. I’m not coping. Some days I cope better than others. Today is not a good day.

And when my head is full of rubbish, sometimes I write poetry. It’s not a cure. Nowhere close. But like other people might write in a journal to unburden themselves, I write poetry to express the feelings I can’t get out any other way. I figure they’re better out on paper than festering in my head, anyway.

And sometimes, I like what comes out enough to polish it up a bit and call it an actual poem. So, since I don’t have the spoons for much else today, here’s a snippet from a bad day a few weeks ago, post editing.

are we all princesses now (a poem)

 

(The feelings and words are mine, but I got a lot of inspiration, and the confidence to try and do something with it, from Amanda Lovelace, so if you like it, you should read her books).

So apparently Blogtober is a thing

notesIn which I start as I mean to go on – by rambling

I mean, I’m all for prompts and challenges and anything that makes it easier for me to blog more regularly (read: at all). But I’ve probably posted once in the last five months. Yes, I know I could go and actually check that statistic, but I don’t actually want proof of how unreliable I am, thanks. Either way, thinking I’m going to somehow magically be capable of posting every single day for a month is – well, I’d call it hubris, except I think that only applies when you actually believe you’re going to do it.

But hey, we can only try, right! I’ll count myself successful if I manage every other day, and reasonably successful if I manage twice a week. Realistic expectations are the way to go, here.

But what to actually blog about?

Ah, I thought we might hit this little snag.

You may be right to point out I struggle with topics for blogging on a standard month, let alone thirty-one straight posts. I think my problem stems from the fact this isn’t supposed to be a reading blog. I could talk about books until I was blue in the face. But then I feel like I’m pretending to be something I’m not. I’m a writer. It’s there in the title: J Rose Wordsmith. Yes, I read as well, and I challenge you to find a writer who doesn’t. I don’t mind posting about my reading some of the time. But I’m going to try and maintain a reasonable mix.

blogtober prompts

Apparently I’m not the only one with the issue! Reading-based prompts for the month were a lot easier to find than writing-based ones. Well, that makes at least half of my life easier, so I’ve picked a set of those to start me off. Step forward Anniek of Anniek’s Library and Hâf of The Library Looter. Thank you, folks! Also, they’re both lovely, and read and blog a lot more than I do, so you should probably think about following them while you’re here.

And as for the writing posts? Well, I’ve already got a few fun things planned, including a couple of interviews with some fellow bookstagrammers who have their first books coming out soon, so watch this space for those, and cross your fingers for me that I can find enough other ideas to fill my busiest blogging month EVER.

Wish me all the Blogtober luck!

Are you taking part as well? Good luck if so, and please share you tips for coming up with enough content for the whole month! Or, if you’re a reader, what sort of writing posts would you want to see on here?

Hello June

Brightly coloured notebooks with pinecones and coloured pens in the background, with a caption reading #amcurrently - read, write, etcHello and welcome to summer! If you’re in the northern hemisphere like me, at least. Though I’m looking out of my window right now at miserable grey skies and I haven’t yet retired the fluffy socks and big jumpers, so I guess even here that’s questionable.

Do you have big plans for June? Or small ones? I’m great at making plans – yearly, monthly, weekly – and not so great at sticking to them. But June is the month when the looming halfway point of the year reminds me I need to pull my finger out with all those big goals I set back in the optimistic mists of January. I’m doing alright with the reading – in terms of numbers, anyway, and my goal to read more adult fiction has been a lot easier to meet than I expected. I think when I set it, I forgot how many queer romance novellas I get through in a year!

#currentlyreading

Right now I’m halfway through an audiobook of Echo After Echo, which is like nothing else I usually read. I’m not even sure if it’s YA or NA or adult. It’s part mystery and thriller, part coming-of-age story, part romance… And it’s pretty damn good, actually. After adoring The Brilliant Death (also way back in the mists of January) I immediately went looking for Amy Rose Capetta’s back catalogue, and what do you know but Audible had this one with a decent narrator just sitting there waiting for me. It took a while longer to get to it – I had commitments to audiobook sequels and so forth and had to be in the right mood – but I’m going to be finishing it off this month.

And… I’m reading King of Scars! Finally, you all cheer, and TBH so do I. I had every intention of reading it straight away, since Grishaverse is always a win and Nikolai is Nikolai, but a combination of overflowing bookshelves and nerves about the hype got to me and it’s taken me this long to steel myself to pick it up again. Early thoughts – intrigued by goings on, loving Nikolai’s scheming and sass, loving Zoya’s scheming and sass, and not sure how I feel about Nina minus the Dregs. Watch this space.

IMAG4559~2My TBR for the rest of June has got a tiny bit out of hand. With June being Pride Month I wanted to make an effort to fit in LGBTQ+ books and authors, and then there were a few readathons I felt like joining, and then one of my fave authors announced a readalong for a book of hers that I happen to have sitting and waiting…

And before you know it there’s fourteen books on my virtual June shelf and I’ve gone and piled on all the pressure. Again.

#currentlywriting

Ah yes. It may have been a while since I posted about the writing, but I’m pretty sure the last time would have been when I had not long started my first draft of the still-not-exactly-named Sleeping Beauty retelling. It’s currently called Curse and Ghost until a proper title comes along. And that would still be what I’m currently writing. I’m about a quarter of the way through the first draft. Mental health, work commitments, family commitments, sheer bloody laziness and pathological procrastination… They’ve all had a part to play.

Curse & Ghost quoteBut, leaving aside the general shittiness of first drafts, I’m pleased with what I’ve got so far. Snowflake outlining and a hefty pinch of flexibility have kept me on track. In previous drafts by this point I’d have written at least 12K unnecessary build up words working myself into the story, and would be realising exactly how unnecessary they were and how much cutting I’d have to do. This time, though, I’m actually approaching the first quarter turning point at roughly the wordcount I wanted to be. So three cheers for trying new outlining methods and remembering that writing is always about learning what works best for you.

This month I’m aiming for a relatively modest 5K added to the draft. If I do more, brilliant. If not, well, I can build on it next month. I am definitely more tortoise than hare, but I can still hope for the same end result…

#amcurrently …

… Doing a few other things that actually have nothing to do with books. I know, what even is this? But I’m determined that this will be the year I don’t neglect the rest of my life, and I want to be a bit more real both here and on my social media about it all.

I’ve so far failed to join a gym (again) but I’m still planning on getting to that. Don’t expect any pre- and post- workout selfies or poses on the running machines, though. I’m joining for the swimming pool and the pilates classes. Don’t I sound grown up? Realities of life with a disability – swimming and aqua aerobics are weight-bearing so my stupid knees don’t end up worse than they started, and yes I was the youngest person in the aqua aerobics class by a good 25 years last time I went. Pilates is doctor’s orders to try and strengthen the core muscles that are currently failing to hold my back in proper fashion. Fun times.

Working towards living plastic-free and zero-waste living has slowed right down, after we knocked out the easy wins last year and are now wading through the sludge of things that are a lot harder and/or more expensive to replace or do without.

three star-shaped cookies next to a stack of books

Children persistently come home from school or birthday parties or Grandma’s with plastic packets of sweets, plastic-wrapped boxes of cakes and biscuits, cheap plastic toys that won’t last two weeks before they too end up in the bin. But I’ve converted all of them (and the husband) into scouring charity shops for secondhand books, toys and clothes so we’re cutting down on our impact and packaging there, and my list of recipes to work through to replace manufactured and mass-packaged food is going pretty well. Homemade yoghurt and granola have been on the menu for a while, homemade soups, biscuits and cakes are just tastier anyway, and May’s big and largely successful experiment was homemade Nutella, after I realised the commercial stuff is packed full of habitat-destroying palm oil.

Related was my plan to have a fruit and veg garden overflowing with delicious plastic-free bounty, but that’s… well, not really happened. Still time to get some summer produce in, but it’s not going to be the amount I was hoping for. At least I can partially blame the awful weather this spring. And there’s always next year, right?

The Big Question

Am I going to have a productive June? Will I slay my TBR, find my groove with Curse and Ghost and spend many happy and productive hours growing salad and swimming laps? Or is my mid-year wrap-up post doomed to become a morass of self-pity and missed opportunities?

Encouragement below please! And share your own mid-year goals and thoughts – do you go big and ambitious or try to stick to something you know you’ll meet? Or are you a seat-of-the-pants take things day by day sort of person (if so, I envy you!)