|Ziggy / Daffs|
Today is a Leap Day and so it feels appropriate to leap forward but also to look back, to catch up, to update. March arrives tomorrow and daffodils are everywhere, on banks and in vases, on Six Nations pub bars in ice buckets, in hats and buttonholes, all ready for St David's Day. They bob their daft sunshine heads and make me smile.
Tuesday will also bring our appointment to cross t's and dot i's for our next house and I feel like I am unfurling, blooming... full of news and newness, full of poems and stories, after a time of hiding beneath the soil.
Our garden, in this house we love but have to leave early (for the landlord wants it back to live in or sell we are not sure)… is neglected now, but the sky is brightening and the gentrified neighbourhood cats still visit, paw at windows, hope for feeding. We are deciding on the ethics of stealing our favourite (Ziggy)– and we are hoping for other funny Bowie-named feline visitors on our new street...
Inside boxes have been gathering and I've half-heartedly spring-cleaned my wardrobe in order to move just that little bit less to the new place. In the kitchen – the other night, or rather 4am in the morning – a forgotten bottle of elderflower cordial, foraged and made last year by our fair hands, exploded. Now all our recipes books are sticky with these syrupy tongue licks, though the broken, shattered glass has been collected; binned.
We've been feeling a lot like that about-to-explode cordial bottle, the letter in January telling us to go, although we've been model tenants, model pay-on-time renters. And so the rigmarole again of looking for new places online, paying out for reference checks and deposits... in January, the month that is known to be the flushest of the art / freelance work year.
In January both of my writing workshops (with my peers, not for teaching) were also cancelled and I felt gloomy with the lack of life and creativity, the demands of tax returns and taxing things. But two writing workshops did happen in February and some new pieces of my writing have also found new homes... I have poems forthcoming this spring(ish) with Ink Sweat & Tears and The Lampeter Review, a story in Issue 4 of The Lonely Crowd, and my debut poetry collection will also be out through Parthian in spring 2017, probably with some poems about moving that might move you ;)
We also have a wonderful collection of books out and forthcoming with Parthian this year, a new website and catalogue about to launch, and an excellent new team. I still feel lucky and blessed to have such a varied interesting job and the plusses outweighing the bugbears – proofing complicated books, the headaches of organising large lecture tours, the worst of the slush pile, the neglected and ever-growing admin and digital clutter vs. an email from a reader who loved a book, a good press review, a happy author, a prize nomination, giving a talk or workshop that helps give confidence to a nervous but good writer to submit their work, or a successful grant application. From small to large, these all contribute to a happier Soozerama, and a better literary life.
And so I look forward to the rest of 2016 feeling positive and hopeful. Excited about all the books I have to work on, to read... and all my own pieces I've to write, to edit, or to let out from the new-house-new-office drawer.
I hope to see you at workshops, launches, events, bookshops, libraries, exhibitions, garden parties and picnics. Be good to each other, be good to yourselves.