Monday, 29 December 2008

For my next trick...

I don't plan New Year's resolutions...they just kind of creep up on me. Plus they're not usually very resolution-like...they're just kind of ideas for the New Year. I never promise to give up this or take up that...I know myself too well and there is no way I will stick to 'giving up chocolate' or 'going jogging' past mid-January. In all honesty I probably wouldn't even get that far. I don't want to give up chocolate. I don't want to go jogging – I'm a walker, not a runner (hares and tortoises and all that...).

Last some point on Hogmanay after a couple of glasses of something...I had my idea for 2008 - I decided I would put out a book of my poems. At that point I wasn't sure how it would happen but I knew I would do it somehow. I thought about it for a few months, sent some things out, got some things back, decided to go it alone... and by June 2008 I had my book, back from the printers, sitting in my house smiling back at me. It happened and it led to lots of good things – people liked it, people bought it, no-one has slagged it off hugely (to my face anyway), people have given copies of it to other people they like as Xmas presents...and wow that feels good that kind of thing - I like being a present! I won't lie to you - there have been moments of self-doubt (and weeks of it too...) but overall it has been a good experience, the book business, so I don't think it was a bad idea for 2008. I did the book my way (all recycled comment about the ideas...), I chose the poems I believed in, I used artwork on the cover by my very good friend Steph Masterson and every time I look at that beautiful image it makes me glad she agreed to let me use it. For someone who has such a weak visual sense...I managed to get myself a really beautiful little book. I had help of course (my Mark, Steph, Steph's husband Scott). But wasn't help one of my six valued things? I believe it was!

Other things happened in 2008 besides the book thing of course. At home we finally got solar panels for our house and changed our whole heating system to make it greener too. Plus we all got a puppy (now about 9 months old). On the people front, Mark and I carried on trying to be good parents (that's as hard as ever!). Also we heard a lot of great music at the Folk Club and elsewhere. We had some ballroom dancing lessons. We tried to keep in touch with old friends as well as making new ones whenever possible.

But back to poetry. There have been some great gigs this year (for want of a better word...readings sound so sleepy). I enjoyed the Forest in Edinburgh and the Brechin Arts Festival but the Mothers' Day at Out of the Woods in Dundee was out of this world (big stage, big crowd, big reaction!). I have written some poems I've been pleased with this year too...'History at 40', 'A dream is a song of hope', 'Moon lines'. I could have written more if I'd been doing less blogging perhaps but then I've been reading some of the posts and comments this week and, you know, there's some good writing and thinking in there...from all of us. So keep calling by and chewing the fat with me...I don't think we're wasting our time doing all this. I think if we do this well it is all part of the job...and it is a job! I work harder at this than lots of people do at their places of paid employment, I know that much. I have had jobs, you know...I have seen the skiving involved! This year we've type-talked about lots of books, lots of music, lots of poets and poems but also about art, history, politics, people, films, love, sex, comedy, religion, holidays, drugs, misery, happiness, life, death and everything! Some days it makes my brain hurt! Some days I hate it and wish I could just get on and live without wondering about everything all the time! But I don't think that's ever going to happen. Do you?

I noted down a few quotes from this year's blog as I was reading through. I know it's weird to quote yourself but some of these just jumped out at me as I read through posts to remind myself what has been going on this year. Plus weird is pretty run of the mill in this house, I'm afraid. See if you remember any of these...

'Real life is such a drag' (13 January)

'Today happiness is a wooden spoon, a big lump of cheese and a woman singing her heart out' (5 March)

'Nervous breakdowns have so many advantages, I just can't tell you' (28 March)

'To me a lot of the stuff that gets talked about poetry is just fluff that spoils the sound on a record player' (5 July)

'I wonder if Emily Dickinson ever played mini-golf (unlikely)' (9th August)

So...rambling back to the subject...the big idea for 2009...what will it be? I have a few things rolling around in my head but maybe I won't know which one is going to push for the finishing line till some point on Hogmanay. Maybe it will take a bit longer than that. I'll let you know next week...or maybe a bit later in the year when it's clearer to me. It might be about writing but it might just as likely be about travelling or other people or the way I spend my time. In the meanwhile - any of you got any big plans for 09? Anyone going to sail round the world in an eggcup or anything?



Ken Armstrong said...

Astonishing that you only dreamed commenced your book campaign less that a year ago (of course it *was* all written - or mostly-so anyway).

Still it proves what a mover-and-shaker you are (yes, I am thinking of the ballroom-dancing lessons as I type that).

Congrats on the book, you know I think it's wonderful. I hope the 2009 idea brings you even more creative consummation. :)

Rachel Fox said...

By 'eck our Ken...that was a quick response!
As for speed of publishing...that is one of the benefits of doing it yourself (with help). There are cons to self-publishing ('yes, but when will you get a REAl publisher?' accompanied by patronising, nay pitiful, face) but there are many pros too.

Yes, I had written many of the poems pre 2008 but not all. The one on the back cover (which is one of my favourites!) I came up with whilst dogwalking quite near the end of the putting it all together process.

Dave King said...

That's a pretty good year in my book. (Whoops! Pun not intended!)You must be very pleased and proud. Congrats. I just hope that things will get even better for you in 2009.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Dave. Yes I am pleased...and proud of most of what I've done in 08.
I hope 09 is a good year for you and yours too.

Colin Will said...

I've got my 'Hog-Blog' written, and I'll post it on Wednesday. I decided to look forward rather than back.

Rachel Fox said...

Catchy term, Colin. This is more a pre-Hog blog...I have a visitor coming tomorrow and I will be off-duty pc-wise for a bit. Might make a comment or two but not much more...

Dick said...

Quite a year, Rachel. A second volume for 2009?

hope said...

Like you, I don't make resolutions ...why start the new year with a list of things I should improve about me? I know what that list is EVERY day of the year. :)

I'm glad you've accomplished one goal, your book, and I'm sure you have much more in store for us, your fair readers.

Here's wishing you and yours the very best in a new year filled with laughter, happiness and adventure.

Susan Sonnen said...

For me it's a toss up between sailing around the world in a egg cup or becoming the poet laureate. As I'm not sure that I spelled that last option correctly, I should probably sail in an egg cup with a dictionary. :)

Happy New Year!

Rachel Fox said...

Dick...I am thinking about a next volume some time but I think 09 will be more about writing than publishing.

Hope - I just counted blog entries this year...I posted something on 118 days out of the 366! And some of those posts were long rambles...That's a lot of words! And as for adventure...yes, I think some of that is in order for 2009. I've stayed home too long.

Hi Susan! But who will you take with you in the eggcup..?


Crafty Green Poet said...

Self publication definitely the way to go, as you say you get more control over the process and it is so much speedier.

Sounds like you had a good year all round, hope 2009 is just as good!

I agree with what you say about blogging beign part of the job, its an invaluable part of being a writer these days i think, really can create and keep an audience.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes the only thing that's missing with self-publishing is the 'official stamp of approval' that comes with publishing from elsewhere... and without that some people will always look down on a writer and their work. But those people...eejits of the highest order. I just can't even waste time thinking about them! I've just been reading Neil Gaiman's 'Stardust'...I am quite literally away with the fairies today.

The Solitary Walker said...

I thought I'd stop walking and take up mini-golf like Emily Dickinson. Do you think a blog called 'The Solitary Mini-Golfer' would have the same cachet?

Rachel Fox said...

Well, it has a certain ring to it SW. The only thing is...can a person play golf (mini or otherwise) alone? They tend to travel in pairs or more, golfers.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Just to say Rachel that your book has been much enjoyed by Dominic and by me. We both feel we can almost hear you reading it aloud. Have a happy new year regardless of resolutions. I have resolved to say no a little more often and only do the things I really want to do - and to sit by the fire with a book and a mug of hot chocolate a bit more often. That shouldn't be too difficult to stick to.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Weaver. I just read your post on the trip to the shops and enjoyed it very much.

Glad you have liked the book. You are not the first ones to say that about my voice! I have always been something of a talker...

That fire and book and hot drink combo sounds good!

Liz said...

Rachel, well done on such a successful year...the book, the blog (love those quotes ; )) and all the rich things in between... I'm not a resolution-maker either but I do love plans and projects and have a heap of those to tend to for teacups nor even saucery-adventures though...but maybe a wee book in the pipeline and hoping for a good wee bit of travel, and the doing-up of our ramshack caves to make a sort of hideaway retreat...touching wood here not to jinx gods please heed! ; )

Rachel Fox said...

Liz - when you say 'caves'? Are they real caves?

Good luck with your book plan. Look forward to a book swap if you fancy it.


Dominic Rivron said...

Round the world in an egg-cup? You reminded me of something I'd completely forgotten about: Sea Egg. This was an improbably small sailing boat in which John Riding attempted to sail round the world sometime in the 60s and/or 70s.

Poetikat said...

I seriously fancy putting a book together this year. I don't have a clue what I'm up against - maybe you can steer me in the right direction? I also think of getting my dad's epistles together and doing something with them. I'm even thinking I might have a stab at lyrics. Who knows.

I do know you are a great inspiration to me and I always take something useful from your posts. Not to mention, find myself thinking, laughing or coalescing with your thoughts in some way.

Some days, your blog is like a an intense university seminar - I have to postpone it until my brainpower is better fueled with coffee or chocolate or something enervating. So, it's not that I'm not reading - I just don't always know what to respond, but have no fear - I am here.

That's enough from me.

I look forward to the valuable messages you are sure to impart in the coming year.

Happy New Year to you and every one else in your "real" life.



Rachel Fox said...

Yes, Dominic, people do the most amazing, crazy things! I have been a bit of a coward in recent years...hoping for some new bravery and energy in the new year.

Thanks for that lovely comment, Kat. You make me feel a lot less like a waste of space (virtual and otherwise). Thanks so much. And, of course, if I can be any help to you...that would be fun too.


Liz said...

Rachel hi, yeah, they are real caves - see here for some flickr shots
the area we live in is a cave-house area and the actual house we are in is a cave-house too! : )
¡Viva the Flinstones! ; )

And yes most definitely a book swap would be great - thanks! (It may be some time yet though - must get skates on...)

Rachel Fox said...

Great photos Liz. I've only been to the Canaries once (fairly eventful 30th birthday package trip to Puerto Rico, GC in 1997) but it looks much nicer up there in the hills!
Have you ever written posts about the caves, how you found them, made the decision to move etc. I would be interested in the story.

Sorlil said...

What a great year it's been for you, may 2009 be just as fun, fulfilling and creative!

Rachel Fox said...

Although I think 2009 may be the year of the Marion!
Lots of love for all of it.

annie said...

Anyone going to sail round the world in an eggcup or anything?

No, but if that's an offer, I'll join you!

Rachel Fox said...

At this rate I'm going to need a very big eggcup!

Liz said...

Rachel, hi,
Thanks for asking about how and why I'm here in the Canaries etc...I've never really written about it...but you've inspired me to maybe do so...thanks ; )

And yes, the Canaries below its midriff (South of Airport) is just a big tourist jungle ...north of it is so different - they call this island the mini-continent because of how different each area is...maybe you'll make a trip back sometime?

Rachel Fox said...

We did hire a crap car and drive round the island. I remember a beautiful pool (natural?) on the coast somewhere up north and then a wild drive on precarious roads around the north west corner ...then beautiful sunsets on the way back to touristville.
Look forward to your Canaries story.