Who amongst us doesn't crave that elusive five minutes peace - A moment to collect our thoughts, to breathe, relax, recharge our batteries enough to continue on with our day?
Well, I took this premise to the extreme. Some might think that, I guess, when they hear that I walked away from a teaching career and spent time focusing on what was primarily a hobby. Granted, I was in a privileged position to be able to do this, but nevertheless, that's what I have been doing for the past five years. Instead of pushing a hobby into snatched moments around the day job, I sat down with my notebooks, or stared at a blank computer screen and asked myself the searching question: "Can I actually do this?"
There's nothing I have found to compare the writing process to. Most frequently, I write a sentence down, unsure of where it is going and what it will lead to. On a good day, the words then flow out. At other times, I sit with a single phrase circling around in my mind, whilst I look out my window, or watch my surroundings, and hope that some magical connection will occur to spur me on to further paragraphs. Once I have the shape of something recorded, I have slowly learnt that editing that is a much more challenging task to complete. So, in response to the question that I set myself - no, much of the time, I feel that I cannot do this. Yet, somehow, I have kept going.
This weekend I celebrated the launch of my sixth book - Just Take Five. A wonderful, relaxed afternoon, sharing poetry with friends and family, eating cake and raising a glass of fizz, as well as signing copies of my book. Feeling humbled that people turned up to support me in this, I find it hard to express just quite how much this meant to me.
It was a chance for me to feel that I could call myself an author and, through the kindness of others, feel validated in that simple thought. Despite imposter syndrome whispering in my ear to the contrary, I allowed myself to accept the achievements I have made. Six books, when one page seemed daunting at the start. Yes, I should be proud.
Once again, poetry has taken the central role. Although I have written in other ways, poetry remains at my core. During the afternoon, we talked about how much the words of a poem can affect people. In fact, when sharing some poems around the table, there were several moments when a damp eye appeared. I wonder if it is the rhythm and lyrical quality of poetry, the imagery that the words conjure up, the connections that are made to a shared emotion - all akin to certain songs or pieces of music that can have the same result. Whatever it might be, we felt something together in the sharing of poetry, something that I wish we could capture and just hold onto. That is a thought that I have attempted to express within this poem from the section of the book called 'Slipping Through My Fingers.'
The tag line for the book is 'Poetry for any mood."
My daughter came up with it, after being my first editor and possibly, wisest critic. I owe a lot to her. This book would not have seen the light of day, without her. She has supported me throughout the process of writing it, giving up on it, returning to it and now, in celebrating it - a fact that is recorded in its dedication. Although this poem here may allude to the times when my children were small, the nostalgia of childhood activities and how those times have indeed slipped through my fingers, there's much to appreciate in where we are now. A partnership, where each can give the other valued advice.
There are many more poems from the collection that I could post here - fifty of them, in fact! But then, there would be no point in them being within the book. If you've enjoyed reading this one and hearing about the whole book launch experience, then I would love for you to read the book and to hear what you think. They might be just what you need to escape your own hectic routine and to Just Take Five.