Writerly Rejections And Cheesy Cheer Ups

Building a career as a writer is always going to involve rejection and I’m no stranger to it. About mid-way through 2020 I decided I was going to start submitting properly to literary journals and websites which is a guarantee that I’d quickly find myself very well acquainted with ‘thanks, but no thanks’ emails. I’d sent off work before 2020 (as you can see by my pre-2020 publications), but this was the point I started keeping track of where, and what I was writing in a spreadsheet. 

I was lucky. The first poem on my spreadsheet (Credit Card Gal) was published by The Fieldstone Review, the Daily Drunk then accepted ‘When Medusa Goes Shopping’, and my short story ‘For The Love of Jellyfish’ ranked as a finalist in the London Independent Story Prize. In total, I sent out 14 submissions to journals, prizes, and competitions, and got back three publications. 

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Ten Years Learning How To Be A Poet – Part One: Submitting And Publishing

2022 marks ten years since I first read my own poetry in front of a live audience. I was lucky enough to be invited to respond to the displays at the Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery in Shropshire. My poem ‘The Boats’ was perhaps one of the shortest pieces on the launch night, and I was also horribly late due to a misread signpost, but it was a fantastic experience and one that pushed me towards open mics. I will not sure share the bio that I wrote for the Shrewsbury Museum, as quite honestly, I reread it and cringed. I was far more confident as an eighteen-year-old than I am at twenty-eight, which raises the question of what else may have changed about me and my poetry since then. What have I managed to learn over ten years of writing, performing, and publishing? More importantly, would it make a good series for my blog? Somewhat wonderfully, I have poetry on display in a museum again this year, this time in Nantwich, Cheshire. It seems like a very good point to pause, and take stock.

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SHOP

Carol J Forrester lives in Cheshire with her husband and their fish. She wanted a dog, she got koi instead. After growing up in the glorious greenery of North Shropshire, and spending her childhood exploring the countryside around her parents’ farm, she moved to Bath for university, then to Crewe to live and work. ‘It’s All In the Blood’ is her first full poetry collection, and covers topics such as family, ancestry, feminism, mythology, mental health, and how a rural background can shape you as a person.

“These deftly written poems cover all aspects of life in a farming family from the hardships of lambing and the contradictions of relationships, to a world of Bic razors, children’s games and old teapots. The poems are vivid and confidently crafted, including effective use of myths and legends which counter the muddy boots of everyday survival. A most promising debut collection.”

Helen Kay The Poultry Lover’s Guide to Poetry’ (Indigo Dreams), ‘This Lexia & Other Languages’ (V. Press)

A bold, brutally honest and dazzling debut collection that insists on being read. Forrester tempts the reader with arresting and hypnotic poetry that leaves an urge to research and ponder each subject she touches upon: Poseidon, Persephone, the literary flowers of Offred and Mrs Dalloway, farming ancestry, death, female identity. The whole rainbow of emotion is explored. The title alone of ‘Zeus Is Spear Fishing Over Stranraer’ is a whole poem in itself. Beautifully written and a voice to watch out for.

Deborath Edgeley ‘Testing the Delicates’ (Amazon), Wilkommen Zum Rattenfanger Theatre’ (Amazon)

New Year, New Decade, So What’s The Plan? #WeekendCoffeeShare

A few years ago I decided that I wasn’t going to bother making New Year’s resolutions anymore. The fact was that whatever I ‘resolved’ to do, I always ended up feeling like I’d failed by year end. So instead I set myself a number of goals that I wanted to achieve at some point in the year, and then periodically I would sit down and review my progress towards those goals.

CoverThis year I had a few things that I really wanted to achieve, number one on that list was publishing my poetry collection ‘It’s All In The Blood’. The collection launched in November and is now available to purchase through Amazon, so I’m counting that as goal achieved.

It’s even had it’s first review:

Quietly powerful, heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time

I’m quite chuffed with that as far as reviews go.

My other main goal for the year was to complete my AAT exams, and on the 19th December I found out I’d achieved 87% on my Personal Tax exam which means that I’ve passed all my level four assessments! Now I’m just waiting for my work experience submission to be reviewed as part of my application for full membership to the AAT.

So what now?

The next step on from AAT will be CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) but I’ve decided to hold off for a few months and focus on my writing and my drawing. The last couple of years I’ve been trying to juggle study, writing, and a social life with varying success. For a couple of months I want to work on finishing the draft of my novel, improving my sketching skills, and writing some new poems. At the start of December I decided to have a go at a few of the DoodleWash December Prompts and I’ve been pretty happy with how most of them have turned out. I’ll admit that I didn’t draw ever day but I’ve been drawing a lot more than I was so that’s the main thing.

 

A new year also means a new monthly speculative prompt. Some of you might have noticed that there wasn’t one for December. The official reason was ‘a Christmas break’ the unofficial reason is ‘oops, I forgot.’ However, the January prompt is now up and ready for you all to take part.

Self-Publishing: Planning A Launch, Holding The Proof

Back in June I talked about my plans to self-publish my poetry collection, in a post I called To Self-Publish Or Not To Self-Publish? That Is The Sleep Depriving Question. In all honesty, it really was a tough decision to make, and I questioned myself every time I told someone I was self-publishing because I almost always got the same response.

‘Oh, why have you decided to go down that route?’

At that point in the conversation I could point them towards the blog post where I list all the reasons I decided to go down that route.

Of course it wasn’t all smooth sailing from writing that post to finalising the manuscript. There were moments where I wondered if I was making a huge mistake and if I had made the right decision to following this path. However, today I finally felt that it was all worth it. Today I got to hold the proof copy of my poetry collection in my hands.

 

There are still a few tweaks to be made before I’m happy to hit that publish button. The font for the page numbering needs adjusting and I want to give all the poems one last run through for typos, but overall I’m really happy with how this book has turned out.

I have to say a massive thank you to Caroline Layzell for designing the cover, and to Helen Kay for helping to edit the collection and Deborah Edgeley for helping to blurb it.

Now I’m moving on to planning the launch night (November 30th) and finding poetry events to read a few of the poems at. The book itself should be available to buy from the 30th November onward.

It’s real, I’m holding it, and I’m very happy that I did decide to go down the route of self-publishing. I’m not losing sleep anymore.