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Might never happen…

September 11, 2013


Wednesday 11th of September 2013

It’s been a great couple of months for The Black Light Engine Room. We closed the Middlesbrough Literary Festival, which was really good fun. The whole event, apart from a few hiccups, like friends falling ill and one ‘star’ turning out to be a demanding little prat. I’ve sticking to my plan of putting three magazines out a year. This has been good for my discipline, which is shit, if no good for the bank balance. We’ve also had a couple of low turnouts at the night, which is nothing new – things are often up and down over the summer. I was told by the Working Tax people that I didn’t qualify for credits, basically because I was only getting paid for a few hours a month and that wasn’t enough. I really wasn’t expecting that. I’m on a Return To Work benefit till April, which is £40 per week. I asked at the job centre about hours and money I could earn, and it really wasn’t worth me signing on. I talked with Mary Lou about it and she said, Don’t sign on then. I now need to find some part-time work, which is ok in principle, other than I have no idea what I want to do. Or if I can do it. I’m moving in with Mary Lou soon, which I’m really excited about. I’ve been beavering away at various projects over the summer, spending a lot of time working in the reference library, and this has all been great  – I love digging up information and linking it up with what I’m doing. My creative work still comes in fits and bursts, so I work as much as I can on whatever grabs my attention. But I feel like I’ve hit a wall with the business, and this is entirely down to the way my head is. I see people networking, getting grants and pushing themselves forward as poets, and I realise that’s not what I want to do. Not for me, anyway. I’ve actually been sending stuff off for a change, because I recognise its important. Two ladies I’m friends with are great inspirations in this respect. Angela Readman, who despite turning her back on live performing, is constantly writing – and making stuff like jams, jellies and chutneys from her home-grown produce – sending stuff out, winning prizes and making me smile with her updates. And Pippa Little, whose words of wisdom when were chatting one night, got me sending stuff out. She also turns up to as many of our live events as is possible. (Mary Lou is a constant source of inspiration for me, I’ll just add that now/ a Propa Muse). Raising the profile of my poetry is important for The Black Light Engine Room, and vice versa. But its a struggle. I’m no longer prone to the massive mood swings I used to have, but I am plagued with a general feeling of What’s the point? a lot of the time. All the stuff I have to do to make the Press a success is quite daunting. I don’t want it to remain a small, regional thing, which it is in real danger of being. The first instalment of the Dark Matter series came out last month, and I had such a massive feeling of pride seeing it in a little box in the Printers. I filled up if I’m honest, because holding it in my hand I knew all the months of pissing about with the format, getting the font, the spacing right. That this was an amazing thing I’d produced. Mandy Maxwell is a brilliant poet, and I felt so chuffed to actually be able to give her her free copies. To see how everyone reacted when they saw it. The magazine was never cooed over so much! I had to borrow the money to get it printed, which was ok because I got to give it back on the night. It sold well, and for a change I knew where all the copies had gone. But I had to sell all the copies just to make the money back, and have something left over to pay the bills etc. There’s no copies left over to send out for review. The same goes for the magazine. i can’t give up on it – the night is a lot of fun to host, and we get a good mix of poets and audience, most of who aren’t afraid to put their hands in their pockets when it comes to buying things. The gallery where we have it is really good too, but there’s been so much hassle with the people in the cafe moving in and out again, that we’ve been buying the licence ourselves and getting someone in to run a bar. But that’s more expenses coming out of the kitty. i don’t want to go back to only 2 magazines a year, but unless I can bring some money in, I fear that’s what I’ll have to do. While I was on the Sick I was spared all this hassle, but now I have to deal with it. I don’t regret coming off, despite being £50 a week poorer, because it really galvanised me into action. That and Mary Lou helping me along. Feeling overwhelmed and I don’t like it.


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One Comment
  1. Get a day job! It’s what we have to do as artists sometimes until we find a way to generate more income. You are more than capable.

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