- Weeknotes: Break down to break through, rollercoaster week Mon, 13 Sep 2021
The memory of it is already hazy, tbh, but I think it’s been a rollercoaster of a week.
Highlights include writing, sketching, lots of reading, lots of comedy. And, hopefully, a place of my own.
6 – 12 Sep
I had three great writing sessions, but otherwise I was a bit all over the place this week. But I think it’s working out.
Reflecting on the Writers’ Imaginarium
We got some great questions and prompts shortly after the Sarah Hymas’ Writers’ Imaginarium at a literary festival. I’ve been responding, slowly. Musing to myself.
Stuff I want
- More week-long writing courses that include mentoring (like the Arvon course I did)
- Giving and getting feedback on a regular basis
- I think I’ll start planning what to share in my Sunday writing sessions
- And look towards participating in at least one other open mic or feedback session elsewhere
- More paid residencies, especially nature writing specifically – seek! find! apply!
Stuff I’m looking forward to
- Weekly poetry courses with the WEA
- Protecting writing time for playful experiments, generating new work, and editing
Joining The Literacy Consultancy ‘Being A Writer’ programme was a great idea.
Intending to do more sketchnoting in future, yay!
Writing stuff that’s surprisingly funny
So, I always enjoy Anthony Anaxagorou’s writing workshops. This one was different from what I’d usually participate in and so the writing I did surprised me too. Awesome!
Health & wellbeing
Break down to break through is how I’d describe some of the moments of this week!
Practising not being so conflicted when I make decisions. Because, I can always change my mind and make a different decision! Srsly.
Looking forward to this: Optimizing Executive Functions in Children and Adults with ADHD, free webinar, 28 Sep.
Trees & other nature stuff
I read Lexicon by Max Barry. Yay!
Not finished any fiction in a while, aside from gay romances and fanfic, so this is pretty fantabulous.
I loved this story! I used to read Max Barry a lot in my 20s, so it’s quite nice to go back to him and read his newer stuff. I used to play Nation States too. Maybe I’ll go back. Although I tried to go back to Neopets decades after I was really into it, and that was disappointing, so… Who knows!
Started reading Fledgling by Octavia Butler, I’m enjoying it and/but it’s so disturbing.
I’ve been enjoying Out of Bounds: British Black & Asian Poets, edited by Jackie Kay, Gemma Robinson & James Procter a lot. This book is going on my ‘might buy this in paperback’ list.
I dabbled with a few other collections too, including:
- Dancing in Odessa – Ilya Kaminsky
- After the Formalities – Anthony Anaxagorou
- Trouble Came to the Turnip – Caroline Bird
- Penguin Modern Poets 4: Other Ways to Leave the Room – Kathleen Jamie, Don Paterson, Nick Laird (just read some of the Kathleen Jamie poems, I want to read more)
I like watching stand-up clips whilst writing weeknotes and at night, so I watch a lot of them!
- Weeknotes: Flitting between trees, searching for home Fri, 10 Sep 2021
Wow, not been this ‘late’ with my weeknotes in months! I’m moving. And it’s tiring. I’ll make this quick.
Started going to viewings. Looked at four places in three days and it was so exhausting that I spent pretty much the whole weekend watching TV and reading. Still fatigued. But a tiny walk refreshed me a tiny bit.
30 Aug – 5 Sep
A flock of tiny sparrows chattering away. A dog that barked like it would never stop. Mallow spreading in the verge, purple bells closing. Damselfly. Unidentified flitting avians darting into/amongst/between trees. The sudden urge to write returning as a pleasant surprise, an unexpected gift from a Sunday evening outdoors.
Maybe I did some??? Wait, I definitely did do some.
One thing I love is that I start every month with planning writing intentions with the London Writers’ Salon. (Check out this events listing towards the end of each month for the free goal setting workshops for writers.)
I’ve been oscillating amongst 4 types of writing behaviour:
- Daily Doer: Writing consistently every day.
- Scheduler: Looking a week or two ahead and booking writing time.
- Crammer: Holing up in a room for a day (or more) to bang out a lot of writing in a short time period.
- Spontaneous Hustler: Grabbing any writing opportunity as it appears throughout the day or week.
Wed-Fri I was the spontaneous hustler. Sat & Sun I was the crammer, then the scheduler.
Looking ahead being the daily doer again.
I have more spontaneous ideas for writing when I’m not dailying / cramming / scheduling. So that’s interesting. Like, the impulse to write is there, and seeks expression regardless of what’s going on with time for me.
Definitely saw some!!!
I saw bats, which was exciting. Only my second time ever seeing them. Twisting smudges in the sky. Low overhead.
- Marathoning Star Trek DS9 & House MD
- Probably some YouTube comedy, because there’s always YouTube comedy to watch!
- Reading gay romance, that’s fun
- Weeknotes: Delighting in dance, photography, maps and song explorations Mon, 30 Aug 2021
Mapping connections amongst my explorations.
Exploring different arts & media to create & collate inspiration from so many sources.
Music takes greater prominence with songwriting & a new music section.
Writing & creating art explorations
I’ve been exploring lots of different media this week:
✨ Emotion Through Motion – wellness with drawing, music, dancing, yin yoga
✨ 7-week art & movement practice called life sensing – Metamorphosis
✨ The Great Festival Flash Off literary festival – writing, and learning about, flash (very short stories)
✨ 5 Rhythms – dance/movement practice
✨ Mapping Our World with the London Drawing Group – photography & drawing of local outdoors
✨ Writing: Rip up the Page with Penny Pepper and The Literary Consultancy
✨ free taster courses with the WEA, specifically:
- Twentieth Century British and Irish Poetry
- Music Appreciation: Avant-garde Music
- Music Appreciation: Music, History and Culture
- Music Appreciation and Interpretation: J. S Bach – ‘Preludes and Fugues’
- Visual arts
- Painting Fairies – watercolours
- Art History: The Renaissance to Now
- Myth in the Ancient World
For me these feel very connected to my writing practice.
I applied for a writing development programme this week. It was a pretty involved application; I’m glad I got it done! And doing it did help me get clearer about my intentions, craft and practice. Yay!
- I’m desperately seeking more cello in my life, eg music appreciation classes or concerts online
- Continue with art and movement practices, especially with The Dinner Party, life sensing, London Drawing Group & 5 Rhythms
Stuff I’m considering for Q4
- Start cello lessons (eventually I want to learn Bach’s cello pieces)
- Take singing lessons
I wrote a song! I noodled around with it a few times, singing it to myself and listening back. It was fun, and it helped me process some feels. Here’s what I got.
Always looking for someone to blame Always looking for someone to blame I don't wanna play your game Always looking for someone to blame Always looking for someone to blame I don't wanna play your game I don't wanna play your game x4 This shame is not my shame. x4 I'm not gonna keep this shame. x4 Let it go! x8 Always looking for someone to blame, Always looking for someone to blame, I don't wanna play your game. I don't wanna play your game. x3 I'm not gonna play your game! x3
Mapping Our World with the London Drawing Group
Photos I selected for quick line drawings
Line drawings based on my photos, each done in 90 seconds
My 8 line drawings together & the painting that compilation inspired
I find it fascinating that the same themes show up across so many different media. Sense of place. Margins and edges. Nature. Wellbeing, compassion & care.
Trees, woodland & activism
I went for a couple of local walks, but barely did any tree nerding this week. I’d like to do more of that, but not sure I want to reduce the amount of dancing and drawing to fit it in, so I’m not sure. Glad I got some walks in that were a bit further from my weekly haunts.
Sydenham Hill Wood
I went to Sydenham Hill Wood
Went to the Horniman Gardens for a bit too. Did some work remotely there, which felt pretty awesome, and joined the Environment Champions Club, a free virtual club to learn & implement climate solutions.
goodbye letters in goldDog Days Done by Salena Godden
I organised a reading hour with poets from a recent writing course. It was fun and I started reading books from the Poetry Library.
- Kingdomland – Rachael Allen (some)
- Penguin Modern Poets 3: Your Family, Your Body: Malika Booker, Sharon Olds, Warsan Shire (the Malika Booker section)
I loved so many of Malika Booker’s poems, some of the ones that particularly stood out to me:
- Pepper Sauce
- Warning — ‘And if you do, don’t sleep.’, such a beautiful, powerful line
- Sweet Liquor
- After Liming in the Local Rum Shop on Diamond Street
- The House on Jubilee Street
- Our Last Supper
- How Our Bodies Did This Unfamiliar Thing
- Lot’s Wife Speaks
- My Humble Beseech
…Although that’s a list of most of what I read! She’s such a storyteller. I was moved to tears multiple times. I feel like I learned a lot about putting together a sequence of poetry from reading these.
Some of the video calls and webinars I was in this week played some beautiful music:
- Deep Space Nine recently, so I’m continuing with that, and
- The Next Generation at the weekend with a good friend.
Massively nerding out
- Weeknotes: Appreciation, affirmation and support Mon, 23 Aug 2021
Appreciation, Affirmation & Support
I’m thinking about how there are so many individuals and organisations that support me. Here are some of them.
Organisations: Coaching, teaching, etc.
- Conscious Growth Club – a year-long online coaching, community, and social support program by Steve Pavlina
- The School of Life – a global organisation devoted to teaching folks how to lead a more fulfilled life
- Writing classes & groups & workshops
Interests & hobbies
= Stuff I enjoy that I’m not monetizing.
I find it helpful to keep reminding myself of the interests and hobbies I have because I often forget! Also, stuff changes. Anyway, this is some of what I’ve been enjoying lately:
Returning to the Imaginarium with Sarah Hymas
On Saturday, 14 Aug, I was at The Writers’ Imaginarium workshop with Sarah Hymas at the Winchester Poetry Festival. I loved it, it really helped me build on some thinking from the Climate Fresk workshop I did with Sophia Cheng, of With Many Roots, on Thursday, 12 Aug.
Sarah sent a follow-up email this week, so I thought I would use my weeknotes to reflect and ponder whilst watching a documentary, because Fast Brain is in the driving seat right now.
Trees, nature places & wild(-ish) spaces
It has rained overnight – not a lot,John Kinsella – Third Ecologue of the Vegetable Garden – love the dialogue between garden and gardener there
but enough to touch below the surface layer,
tempt or taunt or soothe the subsoil.
Star Trek & queerness 💜
- Weeknotes: Playing with poetry, experimenting and enjoying different forms Mon, 16 Aug 2021
Practising joy & relaxation, liberation, restoration
I didn’t do much writing on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday morning, and I was miserable. There were a few causes for the misery, but one of them was not writing.
Wednesday afternoon I wrote some of the things I wanted to write, did a deep rest meditation and went for a short walk. My mood picked up massively.
I’m writing this down to remind myself of the importance of writing for my wellbeing, and not to let anything get between me and my writing.
This is not negotiable.
Joy is the paradiseLoved listening to, and reading, this poem: Joy Is the Justice We Give Ourselves by J. Drew Lanham
we can claim,
The Job of Paradise by Roger Robinson: This has a very modern ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling vibe in the last stanza, but that kind of rallies me to fully embrace life.
Creating a better world with climate solutions, imagination & the will to change
Angry, worried or despairing about climate change? You can do something about that
I participated in a useful, encouraging & motivating workshop to learn about climate science on Thursday. It exceeded all my (high!) expectations. Learned so much.
Register here to participate in one yourself: Get to grips with the climate science: Climate Fresk – Community Edition
100% recommend this experience to individuals & groups who want to learn more and do more. Happy to chat with folks about this too.
I posted about this on LinkedIn, if you’re on that platform, you can share it.
I’m part of a cli-fi writing group (think science fiction, but oriented towards climate change solutions) and this will inform my writing from now on, and my life.
Every weekday in Writers’ Hour, we have words of wisdom: Quotations about writing. Here are those from this week that particularly resonated for me.
11 August: We must forgive ourselves.
The first thing a writer has to do is forgive themselves for all the feelings that held them back. Only then can we get on with joyous writing, which is often a healing process.Maurice Ruffin
12 August: We are called to let the future into our imagination.
Out of this darkness a new world can arise, not to be constructed by our minds so much as to emerge from our dreams. Even though we cannot see clearly how it’s going to turn out, we are still called to let the future into our imagination. We will never be able to build what we have not first cherished in our hearts.Joanna Macy
Relatedly, I read the manifesto Roger Robinson wrote to himself: Success is on you, and it inspired me too.
Experimenting with different forms of art
I did a bunch of playing around with stuff this week, it was great. Slow start to the week, but Wednesday afternoon onwards, I was on it.
I’ve been playing with my writing this week. Experimenting.
And I submitted to an anthology too, so that was good.
Tangled Nature Drawing by Ink & Hatch
Loved this because the focus was on simplifying the shapes, rather than trying to draw the reference photos exactly. It was so relaxed. And I loved what I came up with, yay!
LAUGH and DRAW: Rosie Jones, Sophie Duker, Chloe Petts & Helen Bauer by London Drawing Group
Omg, this was So Much Fun. We drew in a really silly way whilst a bunch of comedians cracked jokes. It was hilarious.
We had to draw with our eyes closed and draw the music from a video playing (The Aristocats cartoon, maybe?), with eyes open but looking at the object we were drawing not the paper (sausage roll), draw the feeling behind a quote (“Next to music, beer was best.” Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter) and draw Helen Bauer but starting with darkest tones first.
The Art of Erasure: Drawing and Destruction by London Drawing Group
Destroying is creating. Weird erasing art experiments.
This was fun because it was completely disconnected from outcomes or output. It’s pure process.
Hermaphroditus by Aaron El Sabrout
What we need from writing exceedsTake It by Will Harris
what’s possible within it. But I
recognise writing by the need, at
naptimes, to communicate without
moving any part of the body. If
it feels possible, it is. Look at you
Craft Capsule: Doors vs. Corridors by Will Harris
I gravitated to this short essay by Will Harris because I saw a mention of Emily Dickinson and she’s one of my BFFs.
Alongside quotes from Emily’s work, Will references ‘How to Wash a Heart’ by Bhanu Kapil. Which is wild because I heard about that book for the first time in Writers’ Hour that same morning. Synchronicity!
Where does poetry stop and music begin?
Well, sometimes the music doesn’t stop and the poetry starts.
- Weeknotes: Practising relaxing & how I want to improve my writing Mon, 9 Aug 2021
Wed, 11 Aug: If you’re new to writing, if you’ve not done any in a while, if you write all the time —
If you feel unsure in woods, comfortable in wild places, or somewhere inbetween —
You’re so welcome to explore nature writing online wherever you are. Join us on Wed, 11 Aug, 7pm BST!
I’ve been writing about writing, trees and stuff every week for I don’t know how many months. As well as sharing what I’ve been watching, mostly comedy.
This week I’ve added a section about relaxing too. And I’m expanding what I’ve been watching to ‘media’ more broadly.
Looking forward to all the ways I explore relaxing & reading in future. ✨
Receiving pleasure and joy
After a week, or more, of intensive focus, I need a few hours — or, half a day — to remember how to relax and unwind. But when I do remember, I do it exceptionally well.
Drawing and painting
A week ago, I spent Sunday watching Hindi (and Danish) films. This time, I’ve been reading, drawing and painting. Pretty delightful.
I had a lovely online hangout with a friend who’s holidaying somewhere sunny and hot right now, so I got to experience that vicariously. And I saw a friend in person whom I’ve not seen in nearly two years too. So, that was lovely.
Reading nature writing
I loved chillaxing with the essay ‘Shifting Baselines’ by Callum Roberts in Granta #153: Second Nature. So much of it resonated with me. There were lines where I was bouncing about excitedly. Because some things have been fuzzily colliding in my brain and then suddenly they’re clearly expressed on a page, beautifully. Enjoyed it so much that I wrote my own essay in response to it. Just for fun on a Sunday morning, because why not?
as the boot of human progress presses ever harder upon the earth‘Shifting Baselines’ by Callum Roberts, love the Orwellian metaphor of this
Exploring & enjoying Granta online
- Granta 150: There Must Be Ways to Organise the World with Language – Winter 2020
- Granta 133: What Have We Done – Autumn 2015, with online edition
- Granta 131: The Map Is Not the Territory – Spring 2015
- Granta 102: The New Nature Writing – Summer 2008
- Subject+Object, an essay by Seamus Heaney
- Online: African Renaissance, an essay by Nelson Mandela
I was at an intensive writing course with Arvon this week, and it was brilliant. Some tweets about it below.
I love my process and I can play more!
Here are some of the pivots I’ve made and what I’m exploring now. So much richness to sit with and get deeper into.
- Playing with different forms in my writing
- Reading more: I made a list of collections and poets to read. I started reading poems after Writers’ Hours, and writing about some of them in my weeknotes, so I’m excited about that new habit.
- Experimenting with how I generate poetry
- More writing from, and into, 1) artwork, 2) music, 3) my own poems, 4) other people’s poems in collaboration
- Exploring visual arts and music: Did a lot of drawing & some painting, signed up for drawing classes & an art history course, and got advice about learning cello online. Loving this, so generative and fun.
During the week I said, ‘I write slowly’. Later in the week I thought, I’ve been writing fast this week, faster than ever before. So, I reject that previous assertion. I throw off that identify, born anew I say:
I used to think I need to take a long time for drafting and redrafting. Yes, I will put stuff aside and let it marinate, let it sit & soak up the flavours, let it develop. Sure, yes, that’s still true. And, also, whilst it’s doing that, I will keep writing, and fast!
Areas for development
- Intentionality of my spacing and punctuation (continuing to play with forms)
- Exploring more the themes and sub-themes of my writing
- Considering getting a mentor
Writers’ Hours – yay!
I continued to participate in Writers’ Hour every day, even though:
My brain has been feverish with workshopping. The intensity of growing. Muscles snap, bones stretch. Thinking in poems. I already did that but now I can't stop.
Crafting your collection at Arvon, with Nii Ayikwei Parkes & Rachael Allen
Drawing & painting
I got myself some new art materials to explore with different media, and it’s so fun!
Wow, I don’t think I did anything tree-related this week, whoa!
Sylvia Legris: The Garden Body: A Florilegium
…and a few other poems I enjoyed this week
- ‘Tonight, in Oakland’ by Danez Smith. You can listen to it, after hearing Danez talk about it a little first.
- ‘The Farm’ by Joyce Sutphen — audio & text — via audio poem of the day
- ‘The End Game of Bloom’ by Deborah Landau
- ‘I Thought a Tree Dying’ by Sandra Doller — audio & text
W. B. Yeats: He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
Yomi Ṣode, Roger Robinson & Caleb Femi on poetry and music
Power Lines: Music: Yomi Ṣode, Roger Robinson and Caleb Femi on Radio 4 talking about poetry and music. Joined by Chi-chi Nwanoku founder of Chineke! Orchestra.
Run-diomhair Cheanannais (The Secret of Kells) – Irish – saw this by chance on the BBC’s website. It’s about books, drawing and magic, loved it.
- Weeknotes: Accomplishments and remembering how to relax Mon, 2 Aug 2021
It’s okay to overwork for a limited time, I think. Dangerous, as a recovering workaholic, but okay when it’s crunch time for good reason.
The problem is after two weeks of solidly working, I’d forgotten how to relax… It took me half of Saturday to remember. (And then I spent most of Sunday watching films, which was great.)
I think it works much better if I work solidly for one week, rather than two.
Just over a week ago I was thinking, it would be good to give myself my own mini solitary writing retreat. I know how to do this, I just need to remind myself.
Thinking about my achievements (past) does increase my self-esteem, so that rings true for me.
I read something a while back that talked about the importance of self-compassion over self-esteem. Might look into that some more.
Nature writing workshop, online & free, Wed, 11 Aug
Still time to join me for a free online nature writing workshop I’m co-leading. It’s Wed, 11 August, 7pm – 8.30pm UK time and part of my This Is Our Place residency, created by the London Wildlife Trust and Spread the Word, both incredibly supportive and important organisations. Maybe I’ll see you at workshops by the other writers-in-residence too!
I had two writing deadlines on Saturday, 31 July. That’s why I’ve been doing so much over the last two weeks. I met them both, so now just waiting to see what comes of it.
I was applying for a writing mentorship programme and submitting to a journal, both poetry-oriented. Working on the application and submission got me to think about my writing in a way that I hadn’t before, and I got a lot out of soliciting feedback whilst I was editing too. Now connected to a couple of feedback communities that I wasn’t plugged into before, so, great!
And now I’m about to start an intensive week on developing my poetry collection – I’ve got a lot of nervous excitement in my body! Let’s go!
I went to a great panel: Engaging the Public in Basic Science. It was at this conference: Communicating the Future: Engaging the Public in Basic Science. I hope they’ll put the video recording up somewhere because it was really great.
To overturn a table, you need to understand its weight.Beronda Montgomery
Sometimes the table is a mat.Edna Tan
Movement gives me hope… Not being static brings me hope.Beronda Montgomery
We can’t not hope. It’s either hope or give up. And I’m not giving up.Edna Tan
Carrying on the legacies of our communities and taking action now.Kyle Whyte
Watched this week
- Dance With Me (English) – it was okay, I wondered what would happen next in the story
- Bhangra Paa Le (Hindi) – I loved this. It’s a dance film, which is one of my favorite genres, sub-genre: dance battle
- Shaandaar (Hindi) – loved this too, beautiful effects and the story opened with animation too
- To verdener (Danish) – this was about Jehovah’s Witnesses, it was good, but quite hard to watch
Conclusion: Watch more Hindi-language films.
Started going to the Visual Conversations online film season (last Monday of the month, June – September, 9pm-10pm). It’s good! These are the films we watched:
- Weeknotes: Plant nerds unite, whilst writers write Mon, 26 Jul 2021
42 hours and 45 minutes of writing so far in July. Way to go LiLi! Plant nerdery achieved to new heights this week. And I reconnected with my love of sketching plants whilst hanging out with fellow enthusiasts, exploring botanical colonialism and queer ecology. What a week, basically. And now Black Botanists’ Week 2021 is starting!
Also, I had this reflection: Romantic/sexual relationships are just one dish in the buffet of life. I don’t expect them to make me happy. I don’t expect them full stop. Maybe they’ll be present, maybe not. And I can be happy without them. There are plenty of other dishes available.
Went to How to Find Love by The School of Life, and it was brilliant. A takeaway, to accept and embrace my imperfections. Explicitly befriend my inner loser, with the assurance that we all have one and that’s what makes us human. I found this so affirming.
Also, fully vaxxed now, and feel so thankful for that. Not actually changing my behaviour – still staying home for the most part, except for walking alone/with household and occasionally meeting folks outside & distanced.
Coming up: Wed, 11 August, 7pm – 8.30pm UK time
Join me for a free online nature writing workshop I’m co-leading. It’s part of my This Is Our Place residency, created by the London Wildlife Trust and Spread the Word, both incredibly supportive and important organisations. Maybe I’ll see you at workshops by the other writers-in-residence too?
How I’m getting on with my writing
So, I have an application for a writing development award and a submission to a journal that I’m working on, and I’ve been writing away furiously. Wait, not furiously, joyously, energetically, enthusiastically!
Some numbers I calculated from the daily & weekly tracking I’ve done this month:
- 1-4 July (4 days): 8 hours 15 minutes
- 5-11 July: 7 hours 15 minutes
- 12-18 July: 12 hours
- 19-25 July: 15 hours 15m
These figures don’t include utility writing, such as social media posts and newsletter drafts, but they do sometimes include journalling and weeknotes. Feeling pretty proud of myself.
I did most of my writing over the week on a single day – 8 hours 30 minutes on Sunday vs 6 hours over the rest of the week combined!
Also, I did a last minute submission to a journal because I learned about it on the day submissions were closing, and I had stuff ready that fit the theme perfectly. So, that’s exciting.
Okay, time to continue with the
Celebrate wildlife in words together at nature writing workshops, free & online
UK time, i.e. British Summer Timezone = UTC+1
- Sunday 1 August 9am – 10.30am with Jackee Holder
- Friday 6 August 2pm – 3.30pm with Elspeth Wilson
- Wednesday 11 August 7pm – 8.30pm with Laura Barker and LiLi K. Bright (BSL interpreted)
- Tuesday 24 August 7pm – 8.30pm with Anita Sethi
Trees & amateur botany
Botanical drawing with the Queer Botany Society
I love drawing and I so rarely do it. I only started drawing plants last year, when I took a few classes. I want to sign up for another class, I think. This session with the Queer Botany Society was everything, full of plant facts and drawing guidance. It was so good to hang out with folks and see everyone’s creations. And there’ll be monthly session, which I’m so excited about. Meeting some folks in person for safely drawing outside next. Can’t wait!
Botany 2021 conference
I was thoroughly outnerded throughout the week, as I expected. So enjoyed talks by Dr Beronda Montgomery and Dr David Asai. Both engaging and powerful speakers, I learned a lot. I love when folks know a lot *and* know how to teach. SO GOOD!
We already know that Dr Montgomery is one of my favourite scientists, and she exceeded my high expectations sharing the biochemistry behind her lessons from plants. I love how she weaves hard science and social justice together; it’s utterly seamless, I love it. And I got to ask her loads of questions afterwards in a discussion with her, which was incredible.
I hadn’t come across Dr Asai yet, he spoke on belonging in botany, full of stories and stats.
Highlights from botanical twitter
What’s next: Black Botanists’ Week starting 26 July
Enjoyed watching online
So gratifying and reassuring that writing has been an obsession for as long as I can remember. I love that I can explore all my enthusiasms, whether firm or fleeting, in words.
- Weeknotes: Lots of writing, reading and routines – yay! Sun, 18 Jul 2021
Exploring further the weekly routines that give shape to my week and help lift me out of down cycles.
Started a weekly walk after therapy and trying out walking in the mornings around 10am, after an hour of writing (8 am) and an hour of working on external projects or admin (9 am).
I’ve been listening to music more too, which helps my mood a lot.
I joined a Queer Botany Society and met some folks. Was so great. I love nerding out about plants. And I’ve been wanting to connect with more botany enthusiasts for a while. Hooray!
Signed up for a botany quiz – might even have a team for it too…
Restarted learning about permaculture with a free introductory course by Permaculture Education I got access to in September 2020, as well as with a webinar this week: The Ancient Roots of Regenerative Agriculture by Commune.
Looking to learn more about Vegan Permaculture specifically too.
I wrote for around 12 hours this week on my own stuff, which I’m really pleased about.
Mostly that was writing, rewriting and editing bird poetry; sifting through writing from workshops I’ve participated in; and writing a short story in a cli-fi workshop (sci-fi, but climate-oriented, and more towards hope than despair).
Reflecting on my process & what I need for my practice
I’m such an ambivert when it comes to writing.
I need alone time. Space. Silence. Solitude! If I don’t get it, I can’t write.
I need people, input, ideas, inspiration: Writing workshops, literary festivals, books, podcasts, panel discussions.
I spent quite a lot of time this week looking for and signing up to writing workshops that look interesting.
Routine supports and enables me
Sometimes I do, or would, struggle to just write, but Writers’ Hour has enabled so many of my writing hours! As of Wednesday this week, at 3pm, I’d already enjoyed 4.5 hours writing my own stuff. And that’s in addition to utility writing, and other external work, I’ve been doing – social media posts, a book review, workshop design, invoicing, emails, planning… Monday-Wednesdays are my busiest days for external stuff. So, this is so good!
Clarity on my priorities smashes decision fatigue
I applied for a contract last week. The following day I realised that I don’t actually want it. I’m enjoying writing so much and I don’t want to do anything that’ll take too much of my time and energy away from that.
I applied for a writing development course pretty soon after, and I’ve got my fingers crossed. I’ve been looking for, and signing up to an array of writing events too. I’m writing so much poetry and microfiction; it’s great, I feel really lucky.
My focus right now is working on:
- application for a poets’ development programme
- submissions for a poetry journal
Which means that work on Tree Tales (my series of dino trees non-fiction for kids) is on hold until August.
Focus is one of the motivations I had for going freelance (alongside autonomy and joy), so it feels good to have this clarity.
Inspiration and influences
My inspirations include Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver, Octavia Butler, adrienne maree brown, Beronda Montgomery, Anthony Anaxagorou and trees.
Most of the humans are American, that’s interesting. I want to expand my exposure to writers from elsewhere.
As for trees, members of the Betulaceae (birch family) & Fagaceae (beech family) especially inspire me. Those families are closely related, and include birch, hazel, alder, beech and oak. Trees with a particular affinity to water inspire me too, alongside hazel, birch & alder I already mentioned, as well as willow and aspen. These trees appear a lot in the tree poetry collection I’m writing.
Reading for pleasure
I’ve been trying to read in the evenings before I go to sleep, but I’m too tired when the time comes. And then it hit me that I could make a habit of reading in the mornings instead. That’s going much better!
Some flash fiction & poetry I read and enjoyed:
- The Partitioning of Dreams by Susmita Bhattacharya (includes audio, as well as text)
- Before Evelyn McHale Jumped by Laura Stanley, in Magma #80: Avatars
Love the rhymes, rhythm & repetition of this. Read it multiple times.
- After the Formalities by Anthony Anaxagorou, from After the Formalities
Heard Anthony read this, which was incredible. Got to my core.
- A Line of Simple Enquiry by Anthony Anaxagorou, from After the Formalities (video, 2.5 minutes)
It dawned on me the way a sneezem(OTHER) by Matthew Haigh, in Magma #80: Avatars
catches an elevator through the body
Some books I’m reading and enjoying:
Made me laugh
🥰 Made me smile
- Weeknotes: Shape of this week for this writer – wavy Mon, 12 Jul 2021
Ups and downs this week, deeply filled with purpose and despair, variously. Writing and trees are threads that sustain me through it, much of the time. But sometimes, all there is to do is curl up with ice cream and tv, or take a nap. Extremely thankful for the weekly routines that give shape to my week and help lift me out of the down cycles.
Blessed & beyond appreciation, full of awe.
I’m fuelled by a deep sense of purpose, a lot of sunlight and a little caffeine. I can feel my blood beating. It’s a little disturbing.
I’m lying down for deep rest meditation for the first time in ages, and I burst into tears with gratitude because I appreciate writer/writing organisations so much.
In particular, I’m feeling so full of appreciation for Spread the Word and WritersMosaic. I’ve always been a writer, for as long as I can remember, but these orgs have made it possible for me to just write, if I want. And that’s priceless.
I can’t believe this is my life.
Sunday, 11th ➝ Monday, 12th
I was really down on Sunday. Actually, Fri afternoon until Monday morning were pretty much write-offs. But with a new Monday comes a restart to all the routines that hold me together.
- Writers’ Hour – I missed 8am, but I made it to 1pm – yay!
- Creative Corner – a weekly hangout with a couple of writer friends, chatting & creating
- Virtual face-to-face with colleagues on one of my external projects
Trees, nature, ecology
Reflecting on the priorities of my own writing. I did a goal-setting workshop with the London Writers’ Salon this week, and then a former colleague asked me to tell her about my writing, so that helped me articulate some of this stuff too.
I’m mostly doing nature writing. So I’m working on a collection of poems & short stories. Primarily about trees & birds, although I’m occasionally veering off in other directions that interest me!
I wrote a children’s book about Ginkgo biloba trees & dinosaurs for my 4 year old nephew. That was super fun, so I’m working on the second book in the series now, which is Wollemi pines & dinos. And planning another on dawn redwoods & dinos after that. Yay!
I love planning. It’s articulating desires, dreams, intentions, goals on paper. It’s not about the plan — that will definitely change when it meets reality — it’s about talking with myself and clarifying what I want.
Media: Laughs & comedy