It really is. So much has happened in the past few months, I hardly know where to start. I don’t have to tell you everything but in terms of writing, there’s been lots going on, hence the distinct lack of blog-ness from my good self of late.
I have been writing, performing, reading fuckloads of stuff, especially poetry. I’ve had lots of highs, very few lows and it’s all been a bit of a whirlwind, really. My last blog was waaaay back in May. I was missing my university classes and beginning to attend spoken word events and thinking about my dissertation. Four and a bit months on, all that seems like eons ago.
I went to the Glasgow Women’s Library All Women Poetry Slam in June, after attending a performance poetry workshop run by the inspiring and super talented Carly Brown. After lots of encouragement, pen in shaky hand, I travelled to my first poetry slam at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall in Edinburgh. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it. It’s a very welcoming, creative space. I FUCKING WON THE SLAM. I still can’t believe it. I went purely for the learning and experience. I’m still gobsmacked. They asked me to come and record a podcast of my work. You can listen to it here
This alone would have been enough to keep me skipping through cloud cuckoo land for a good filey, but there’s more. I used the podcast MP3 to apply for a local gig supporting the legendary rock n roll dude of poetry Mr Neil Hilborn, a poet who I have read, viewed, quoted, written about, swooned over and based quite a chunk of my academic year citing. My famous last words were “I don’t have a hope in hades of getting this but…”
I have never been more scared in my entire life.
This gift was delivered slap bang in the middle of writing my dissertation. I applied for an extension. It was very wise to do so. I needed lots of time to plan and rehearse my set. Initially, I was freaking out that I wouldn’t have enough material to fill half an hour. Wrong! I had to start whittling my set down after a couple of timed run throughs, but I finalised my set and was happy with it. Nobody was going to be there for my bit anyway, just my family and a couple of friends.
Also WRONG! I’d assumed that it was like a music gig, where hardly anyone turns up for the support band. Everyone was there to see Neil and it was a kick in the arse off being sold out. My opening line of ‘For the two people that aren’t my mates, I’m Jo Gilbert’ was ruined… I said a little prayer to my Higher Power and did it..armed with my mantra from one of my poems ‘face the fear and do it anyway’. Don’t ask me what I said in between my poems. I remember being amazed at all the ad-libs coming from my yapper and wondering who had taken over.
People (that weren’t my friends) came and thanked me for my set. They said they loved my stuff. One girl was crying and asked for a hug. Of course I gave her one. I felt overwhelmed and extremely humbled. I was also massively looking forward to seeing Neil Hilborn. Yass, I could chill out and watch the real deal. Neil was outstanding. He gave me a menshie in his set. I had no idea he was watching.
I could die a happy woman.
I had no time to get all melty and go full fangirl, for my dissertation deadline was beckoning. I had to shelve my celebrations and get my head into the books. I worked really hard. I had taken a week off all my jobs to get lots done. I definitely needed the extension. I also felt like I needed a holiday. I did. I’d had a week away in Portugal booked for ages. I chilled out and did not write a thing. It was effing marvellous.
On returning, I hit the ground running, doing an interview with Samey Books for National Poetry Day and also reciting some of my favourite poems and work with local writers in town. I made a writing plan with all the submissions I wanted to make, notes of deadlines and events. I’ve submitted to a few places, with a little success but mostly refusals. I performed a comedy set at a local comedy night, NMN Comedy after being invited to do a 10 minute slot. That was different, but hunners of fun to do. Really chilled out but great evening, and it is free. I strongly suggest you check it out.
I’m also performing in Dundee at the Dundee Literary Festival with all my classmates. I’ve a 6 minute set and still trying to decide which poems to read. I’ve two possible sets timed out. I might just decide on the day at our rehearsal. Tickets for that are free, so use the linky treat above to book if you’d like to hear work from my very talented classmates. It will be worth the jaunt to Dundee, trust me.
I’ve also had a spoken word piece accepted for the APA Scratch Nights at The Lemon Tree on Tuesday 24th October. It’s a new poem based on the ‘Trick or Treat’ theme. I’ll be performing it for the first time on the night. I’m looking forward to that and the next Speakin Weird in November.
That’s not it, there is more! I’ve been working with a troupe of fabulous older women who asked me to facilitate their writing group once a month. It is going so well, I’m thinking about starting up another one that’s open to anyone, and perhaps a spoken word night of my own. More than one person has suggested that I write my own show for next year’s Fringe. I’m not entirely against the idea. Watch this space.
On top of all that, I am still writing, still scribbling down ideas, working two jobs, reading loads and absolutely LOVING it all. I’ve not a scooby what the next year holds but I am open and willing to work towards whatever that is. The cherry on the best cake ever was getting an A for my dissertation and my essay. Looks like I’m getting a merit or distinction for my MLitt. All the hard work paid off. What an amazing journey. Trying to remember to breathe, and most of all KEEP WRITING…no matter what.