So, remember I went to Belfast last Friday to meet the editors at a publishing house? Well, yesterday I got the call, and it was a “Yes”! The aim will be for a collection of my stories to be published in October, so the next few months are going to be very exciting 🙂 .
Today I applied to joined The Society Of Authors. The brilliant thing about this organisation is that it supports authors in a variety of ways (including offering help with reviewing contracts).
I feel at the start of something very auspicious. A whole new road lies ahead, and I’m itching to get my adventure boots on and to start walking.
Well, here we are already 17 days into January! Whilst my 365 Days Of Adventure project is now complete, that doesn’t mean that the adventures have stopped : far from it 🙂 . My year-long project has started an avalanche of new projects, and some of the adventures I started back in 2014 are growing into veritable “expeditions”!
New Projects And New-Old Projects Thanks to my webinar and TV show adventures, I’ve now developed the technological confidence (yes – actual confidence!) to launch my very first on-line programme. It’s a natural next step for me and for any of you who want to get the hang of doing new stuff (and doing the stuff that you really want to do) without holding yourself back. You can get the full low-down on the Learning To Leap programme here.
Thanks to my SurveyMonkey adventure (Oh, how I wish I’d undertaken this adventure a long time ago!), I’m also launching a live retreat version of my Learning To Leap programme . The retreat is called The Leap and you can jump into all the detail here.
My survey results showed that the programme that most people were interested in was my Telling Stories For A Change training. So, I listened and ,after a few years of rest and recuperation, that course is back on the menu!
The Big Expedition If you’ve been following my adventures for a while, you may know that I wrote a short faerie story last summer. I sent that story off to a handful of literary agents and one publisher. The publisher was interested and asked for another story, which I submitted in December. They like that too, and yesterday I embarked on the next stage of my writing adventure : a visit to the publishing house!
I really enjoyed meeting the two editors and it was FABULOUS to be able to tell them how I came to write the stories (yes- I even owned up to my fairy-hunting adventure). The meeting was more about getting to know me and about ascertaining whether I had it in me to go the full book-signing, speaking, reading, interviewing hog… and whether I could enthuse about my own work . We also talked about the genre of my book .. which is a little sticky …. because its natural genre (cross-over) is notoriously hard to sell to bookshops because they don’t know where to put the books.
I get to hear whether the publisher wants to go ahead with publishing a collection of short stories early next week 🙂 . Here’s the “live” report >>
If you’re new to my blog, and you want to catch up with my 365 Days Of Adventure project, just click on the Blog Categories button in the right hand column (or under this post if you are reading this on your phone). When you click on the button it will give you a topic menu, so you can pick and choose as the fancy takes you 🙂 .
So, that’s me! I’m checking out for a week 🙂 . The decks are (more or less) clear, and after this evening’s coaching clients, I’m ready to retreat from the real world and take up full time residence in my imagination.
I had forgotten how busy I am at the moment : 2 webinars coming up in the next 10 days, the launch of my collaborative poetry project on the 1st of December, and work (yes, actual work!) on top of all that! I’ve done what I can to create the necessary “silence” for writing (I don’t like distraction : I do like sustained, and uninterrupted, quiet focus).
I’m clearing my office space, I’m shopping for as much food as I can after I’ve posted this blog post (so I don’t even need to leave the house) … and then, I am going in!
I’ll be keeping a video diary, but I won’t be posting daily on my blog. I expect to be back on the 30th November / 1st December. You can keep up with my videos on my YouTube channel
My feet are already in the water : it’s beautifully warm 🙂 .
My head got dangerously near exploding point today. The big conversation of the moment is all about the new VAT regulations for supply of digital products in EU members states. As I’m thinking about launching some digital products, this will affect me, and I really needed to spend some time understanding the implications and deciding what steps to take to support my business.
It was such an odd experience. As I got more and more into the detail, I felt one side of my body being pulled right down. The other side of my body was trying to pull the “VAT side” back up! I felt all out of balance – and I felt all sorts of anxieties and feelings come up too as I waded through all the regulations.
That’s when the insight came. Right now, some stuff is going on behind the scenes that is quite challenging for me. The VAT stuff just adds to the pile of stuff. But that pile, and those feelings, cause something very brilliant to happen in me.
The pile of stuff I’m talking about is unspeakable stuff. If I were to attach words to that stuff, the words would be so sharp that they’d cut the life out of me on the way out. And when stuff becomes unspeakable for me, something very special happens : a new story gets born.
This was the same for the genesis of The Faerie Thorn : unspeakable stuff got spoken in a way that soothed rather than cut (okay, there was some pretty painful cutting in there – if you remember the bone-ghost scene – but the telling of the tale soothed.)
Today, as I felt one side of me try to pull the other side of me back into line, something inside me moved. It was a new story. I recognised its tickle immediately. And a word came straight to mind : merrow.
A merrow is the Irish word for a mermaid. You can find out about merrows here . I spent my lunchbreak researching merrows and was particularly captivated by the contrast between mermaids and mermen (mermen are not “lookers” at all!) I think my story hook has caught something 😛 .
For today’s adventure, I tried my hand at postcard fiction : attempting to write a complete story that fits onto the back of a postcard. Sometimes short forms of fiction are also referred to as micro fiction or flash fiction. The rules for short forms of fiction vary, but I’m keeping it simple today and writing a short love story that fits onto a postcard-sized image 🙂 .
It’s a true story, and one of the characters is in the image on the postcard 🙂 .
Here’s the thing : I’ve only got 85 days of adventuring left. Time’s flying and there’s still stuff I want to get done, stuff I want to complete. I’ve realised that I like completing things, and I’m beginning to realise exactly how much I’ve actually completed this year!
Whilst I’ve really enjoyed the smaller one-off adventures, the adventures that have taught me the most have been those that have become larger projects : my composing adventure (The Call, a choral piece for 3 voices), my writing adventure (The Faerie Thorn) and my poetic adventure (my haiku collection).
So now I’m shifting my focus a little, Why? Because I want to finish these projects. Because I want to share the outcomes of my adventurous undertakings. Because I want to break new personal ground. This means that over the next couple of weeks, whilst I will respond to the daily adventure impulse if the call is strong enough, I’m going to pay attention to the deeper impulse, the core impulse, the primitive, insistent impulse that has been emerging throughout my 365 Days Of Adventure project.
Actually, as I write these words, I’m not sure if I know exactly what I mean by “core impulse”, but I can feel a deeper, wordless call. I recognise it. It’s been calling more insistently for the last couple of weeks, and it’s getting stronger by the day. I am listening. I am calling back. I am beginning to hear the resonant echo.
For today’s adventure, I took another step towards completing my writing adventure : I spoke with my friend Damian Hamill (the guy in the picture) who is originally from Northern Ireland (the setting for The Faerie Thorn) and who does voice-over work. I’ve sent him the manuscript and he’s going to turn my manuscript into an audiobook. Damian also talked me through all the options I have in terms of making my audiobook available for purchase and I’ve researched those options (and made a decision!).
I like the idea of collaborating, and I’m looking forward to hearing Damian’s interpretation of the characters in my story.
Today, I returned to Portglenone Forest with my dog. The floor was damp with mulching leaves; the fallen acorns had been ravaged by local predators; and the beech nuts had been squelched open by heavy-footed walkers. I had the sense that Time had picked up its pace, like a runner in a race that had caught sight of the finishing line : the Winter threshold is almost visible,
There’s a part of me that’s quite sad that my haiku adventures are coming to an end. I planned to write 30 for my self-publishing adventure, and today is haiku 29. The process of writing haikus has brought me closer to the outside world and brought me closer to my inner world. I feel more present, more aware and more connected. I’m noticing much more and I’m appreciating much more. And I’ve slowed right down.
The writing process has helped me to explore, and realise, my creative potential, and it’s encouraged a sense of growing confidence in some capabilities that I’d forgotten I possessed! Haikus have woken me up. That’s the best way of putting, I think. Haikus rouse you from the sleep of remembering and bring you into the aliveness of presence. I didn’t realise that 17 syllables could have such power!
I’ve chosen to write a haiku about the acorn today – its associations with potential and growth seem fitting for this part of my haiku journey. You can read my poem here, and I read it out loud on today’s video blog too.
Yesterday I took my dog for a walk in Breen Wood, near Ballycastle. It’s one of the few surviving ancient woodlands in Northern Ireland ; oak trees have been on this site for more than 200o years.
Many local forests (such as Portglenone) were plundered in the seventeenth century but not this one. People think that it wasn’t touched because of its association with fairies (its name means fairy palace in Irish) : if the forest was harmed, whoever cut the wood would have expected bad luck (or worse!)
The feel of Breen Wood is very special – and completely different to the feel of Portglenone Forest. It feels as old as it looks. It is dense, lush and holds a “far-away” quality to it.. almost like you just stepped behind a curtain. I also think it has its own micro climate. Autumn is not as advanced in this place – but it’s definitely creeping in.
As you’d expect, there are a lot of oak trees. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen so many oak trees in my life! But what I didn’t expect was the proliferation of holly – it was everywhere. Not many of the holly trees were in berry, but I did find one.
Reading a bit about the holly tree, I discovered that only female trees bear fruit, and the green berries will turn red as we move closer towards Winter. I also discovered, when researching the lore of the oak tree, that the holly and the oak are locked in an eternal symbolic battle cycle. The “Oak King” symbolises the waxing year, and the “Holly King” symbolises the waning year. As the holly berries begin to turn red, heralding the arrival of the darkest months of the year, the oak sheds its acorns and prepares to sleep before the Battle Of Mid-Winter. The Oak King always wins the battle for lengthening days – and he always loses the Battle Of Mid-Summer, sacrificing himself so that life can be renewed.
Today’s haiku is about the holly tree, and you can read it here. I also read it out loud in today’s video blog.
Yesterday’s seed collection and planting adventure inspired me to write a haiku about the horse chestnut tree. As I stood underneath the tree, I noticed how its leaves look like large hands and how the casings of the conkers looked like medieval battle flails . Flails are spiky metal balls on chains, used to wield heavy blows and cleave into armour.
Because a knight could swing a flail, it could deliver a much more powerful blow than it’s cousin, the mace (and it could also reach over, and around, armour and shields).
I have tried to include the idea of the tree having hands, and being loaded with weapons, in today’s haiku. Having read that the conkers are ready for planting when the casings are just splitting open – I squeezed that information in too!
You can read today’s haiku called “Horse Chestnut” here. I also read it out loud on today’s video blog.
When I was out walking my dog in the woods last weekend, I noticed how the whole forest seemed to be turning from green to grey-brown. The colours of Summer looked like they were being washed away, from the sky downwards.
However, as I placed my attention on the ground, keen to see how all the mushrooms were getting on, my eyes were greeted by the vibrant green of moist, healthy ferns. It looked like the ferns were spreading themselves out in preparation for the imminent Autumn cooling ~ as if they were making some kind of promise to the forest floor to keep it warm.
Since my walk, I’ve discovered that many varieties of fern are evergreen. They seem to be the unsung heroes of many gardens, woodland areas, hillsides and parks. They are very undemanding, very colourful (even when everything else is fading), and they thrive in shady and damp areas.
I’ve tried to capture the essence of the fern in today’s haiku, which you can read here. I also read it out loud on today’s video-blog.