Taking the no. 11 bus & other circuitous ramblings

I don’t know about you but I’m finding the number of bad things going on in the world at the moment pretty hard to swallow. Just when I think it can’t get any worse, something else crawls out from under a stone.

Here in the UK, there are things going on in the political arena that have me regularly thinking, surely my jaw couldn’t drop any lower? And then something new comes out, and down it goes again.

There are some good things to come out of the awfulness, of course. Today, I read about the Wall of Moms, the mothers who are coming together to form protective human shields for BLM protesters against heavy handed US federal agents. That’s pretty good, in my book. Go moms, as they say across the pond.

I’m finding the best way to get through all this turmoil is to keep busy. And making lists. Lists help a lot. I am a list person. I even wrote a poem about why I need lists. I may share it with you one day.

In the meantime here’s what I’ve been up to lately, beside the lists:

As I mentioned in my last post, in June, I started my YouTube channel with my first online poetry reading. I’m please to say it’s gone down quite well. I’ll be adding to it with another reading or two soon and hope to improve with each video. This channel is another of those good things to come out of the bad. Way back in January, I made a resolution to get comfortable with performing my poetry to a live audience. My first performance, to a small and welcoming crowd was at the beginning of March. I came away from that night, buzzing and really looking forward to the next one. Then lockdown happened. My performance career was put on hold. Luckily though, the poets that run the same poetry night that I’d performed at, took the event online, with videos instead of face to face. So, I am now a YouTube performance poet. To say I’ve surprised myself is something of an understatement.

I’m still working on my first novel. I want to get it as good as I can before publication, so I recently sent it off for a professional beta read assessment. Having spent a few weeks working through the suggested edits, I believe the result is a much stronger novel. I’m getting ever closer to the finished product.

When I first started writing this book, I had little knowledge of how the whole process worked. I naively thought it would take six months at the most to get it ready for publication. It’s actually taken a couple of years, and is still not quite ready. I’m told by many, more established, authors that this is quite normal for a first novel. They assure me that subsequent books are quicker and easier. I’m sure that’s probably so. I’m still learning as I go along and I’ve learnt enough so far to realise that I’ve taken a really circuitous route. There’s a bus in my home town called the number 11. It runs around the outer circle of Birmingham – 27 miles in all. I feel as if I’ve taken my book for a ride on the number 11 instead of taking one of the buses that cut straight through the city centre, getting me to my destination in half the time. It’s a shame, but learning from your mistakes is what life’s all about, isn’t it? I’ll be sure to use my new-found knowledge for future books.

Aside from the novel, I’ve been going through a bit of a creative streak lately, partly spurred on by being a runner up in Friday Flash Fiction Summer competition. Result? A 500 word historical(ish) flash fiction story; a longer short story that may well end up as a novella, and two more potential shorts mulling over in my head. My problem now, is time. Much as I’d like to spend all day and every day bashing out words, I have a life outside of writing that tempts me away.

One of the fun things about my other life is the caravan my partner and I have in the Shropshire countryside. We weren’t allowed to use it during lockdown but I’m happy to say that’s no longer the case. Needless to say, we’ve been making the most of it and getting outdoors as often as the weather allows. In fact, I’m writing this post sitting outside the caravan now, after a 5 mile walk in the gorgeous Wyre Forest.

I love getting out in the country but I love the city too. With lockdown easing, Mr W and I are taking tentative steps to normality. For us, that doesn’t yet mean going to pubs and restaurants. I look forward to the time when we can get back to actually sitting down and eating in one of Birmingham’s many excellent restaurants and cafes but, at the moment, it feels too early for us. Although we are trying to support our local businesses by doing essential shopping locally and ordering takeaway food from our favourite independents.

Occasionally we’ve been cycling into the centre of Birmingham, just to experience it on two wheels. Here I am having a mid-trip stop outside the fab Birmingham library. Mine’s the cheater weeter’s electric bike in orange. Great if you have dodgy knees and a problem with hills.

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