Since the lovely people at Indigo Dreams sent me the link to my debut collection online, I’ve checked it several times to make sure I didn’t dream the whole thing. It’s been six months since I found out that I was the joint winner of the Indigo-First Collection competition and it’s still sinking in.
The whole process of putting the book together has been wonderful – I think a lot of that is due to how supportive Ronnie and Dawn at Indigo Dreams have been. Throughout the process of putting the collection together, they’ve been so kind, and understanding of my uncertainties and honestly, I can’t imagine a better cover than the one they created.
Without a doubt, one of the trickiest things about putting together the collection was writing the acknowledgements. It may be six months since I won the competition that gave me this amazing opportunity to make my childhood dream come true, but the whole thing started long before that. It’s about ten years since I decided that I wanted to pursue creative writing, and my early forays were quite tentative. I only really started to gather momentum once I enrolled on the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester. There, I found myself working with incredibly talented fellow students and a supportive, knowledgeable and enthusiastic teaching staff that made me believe in my writing.
My first big milestone was getting a poem published and in 2015 The Rialto accepted one of my poems, and it was the first piece of my work I’d seen in print. Since then, I’ve had many poems published and learned so much more about the incredible world of literary magazines in print and online. I owe so much to all the editors who work hard to get so much wonderful work out into the world and I never seem to lose the thrill of an acceptance. The editors of these magazines work so hard for so little reward, and I appreciate all they do, not only in helping me get my own poems out into the world but also in introducing me to so many wonderful writers. If I ran the world, editors of literary magazines would be sent a weekly supply of wine and chocolate for their good services to the creative arts.
Writing doesn’t happen in isolation. All the time I’ve been working towards completing my collection, life has been going on too. It’s not always been easy. There have been setbacks, frustrations, utter heartbreak at some points and through it all, my friends have been amazing. They come on crazy little field trips with me when I want to research poems, workshop my poems, put me up and feed me healthy dinners and less healthy amounts of wine. In short, they’ve been with me for good times and bad, for writing and everything else, every step of the way. One of my biggest frustrations about being single is that people equate that with being alone, and I am not at all. I am surrounded by the most amazing people who give me so much love and support. They all believed in me long before I ever did, and honestly, they are the loves of my life.
The next big challenge was trying to sum up my poems. On my website I try to explain the inspiration and ideas behind some of my work. There’s a lot of fury in my work but some tenderness and hope, too. I think the poems sum up my experience of writing and life over the last ten years – life can be brutally hard, but with a little magic and a lot of love, it’s still beautiful.
And for anyone that needs to hear it: whatever your dream, keep going. It may not be easy but I promise it’s worth it. Following your heart brings more than just the achievement you aimed for, it brings truly wonderful people into your life. That’s where the magic comes from.