2021 has been a long & disappointing slog. I hoped against hope that it would be better as most of the insanity of 2020 was put behind us. As much as more of us have access to the vaccine, we’re still dealing with skyrocketing infection rates and new variants. The political landscape is still just as scary as it was last year, and I don’t see it calming down any time soon.
I started writing my yearly retrospectives last year. You can view my 2020 Retrospective here. More than anything, it’s a way for me to look back on the year that was and remind myself what I have achieved. I have been lucky that I have seen my family and friends a lot more and been to more places. I took some short trips to the north of Scotland with my boyfriend, which were lovely. Despite this, 2021 was pretty rocky for me, more so than 2020 on a personal level. I didn’t cope well with the stress of my last semester at university and getting used to the changes to my life when all my assignments had been handed in. It was a struggle to stay afloat some days, but I managed to get through it.
As per last year, I’ll split it into a few headers according to category.
Poetry and Words and Music
I didn’t go to many spoken word gigs outside of Words and Music. There have been a handful happening, but I was so stressed with my degree that I completely tuned out of the scene. Hopefully, that’ll change next year but it’ll depend on how I’m feeling and what’s on. I’ll try and keep my ear to the ground better in 2022.
We’ve kept soldiering away on Zoom and were hoping to find a venue in January 2022. But with new restrictions in place, that’ll need to be put on hold. Our attendance has been modest as people have been able to get out more and are getting tired of Zoom. But we’ve got no intention of stopping any time soon. We’ve had some great chat and some great poetry. I gave playing guitar a try, though I was very unsuccessful due to lacking a plectrum and being woefully rusty. But I did get a chance to jam with long time regular Andy Fleming, which was fun. I hope that I can incorporate more music into my sets in the new year, too.
You’re all more than welcome to pop in, test some of your poems, stories and songs out in a supportive place from the comfort of your own home. I’ve tried reading out some new material, which has informed my editing process. You can join our Facebook group for updates here.
Our Zoom Details:
Meeting ID: 824 8307 6196
Starter Quest Podcast
After a few years, my boyfriend, Alessandro Crolla and I started our podcast. In Starter Quest, Alessandro has given me a curriculum of classic video games, and I give my impressions and textual analysis on each one. So far, we’ve covered Super Mario Bros 3 and The Secret of Monkey Island. I had a great time playing and talking about them, and he’s been super galvanized by the project. I’m looking forward to where this will go and where it’ll take us.
It’s available to listen to on most platforms, including
You can reach us on our Twitter (@StarterQuest) or our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always looking for viewers’ stories and thoughts on the games we cover, so get in touch with us if you want us to read it out on the show.
Not quite as many of my works published as last year, but I’ve still had some success. It’s always a pleasure to know that people are enjoying my poems and stories enough to publish them.
I have had a few of my love poems published. My sensual poem, Ease Deeper was published in 8D Press's Lucent anthology, a collection of poems inspired by the poet Nan Shepherd. You can still buy a hardback copy online, but it's a limited run so once they're sold out they're gone.
My first sapphic poem, Sugar Sweet was published in Sapphic Writer's Zine's Farewell To Fingertips issue. This is the second poem of mine I have had published, the first one being Getting Out is the Hardest Part last year.
My poems Lucy Speaks and Waiting at a London Train Station was published in the Spring issue of Eildon Tree. (p6). Waiting at a London Train Station also appears at the start of my chapbook Keep On Spinning, which is still available to buy from my website or from Dreich Books' shop.
My short story, Pigs In Blankets was published by Everyday Fiction at the end of this year. It is my first prose piece to have been published in a few years. You can find more of my prose portfolio on my website if you're interested.
Thank you so much to the editors who have been kind enough to include me in their magazines and anthologies. It truly means a lot that you have enjoyed reading my work.
100 Rejections Challenge
I’m up at over 40 rejections in total, so it looks like the challenge will take longer than I thought. That’s over a period of over a year! Which is fine, there are factors in that which are outwith my control, like response times etc.
But there’s a few factors that are well within my control. I’ve avoided simultaneous submissions where I can as a further incentive to build my portfolio up. I’m also going to be a bit more measured in my approach to submissions and give some more prestigious paying markets a shot. It’ll help boost my rejection rate and if I get published, I’ll get paid. And I have been procrastinating these ones out of nervousness, despite the fact that I know the worst that’ll happen is they’ll say no.
So, I’ll reach the 100 rejections mark when I reach it, essentially.
I suffered through drafting my creative writing dissertation (codename Brightman), which is a blog post for another time, as well as two essays. One was on cyberpunk; the other was on the concept of ‘labour of love’ (which I talked about in one of my Diary of a Young Writer blog posts). I wrote a blog post about my dissertation proposal.
Where most of my friends graduated in June, my extensions meant that I didn’t graduate until December. It turned out quite well in the end, as my graduation ceremony and celebrations went ahead. I wore my Nana’s jewellery and styled my hair with wild curls. I felt pretty gorgeous and proud of all I had accomplished.
As part of a university assignment, I had a go at making my own zine. It’s a one-off piece discussing Pillow Talk (1959), queer theory and the party line that I named ‘Telephone Girl’. It’s a bit of a mish mash but I had fun making the art for it and taking a nonacademic (and very strange) approach to an essay. I write an informative page writing about the party line as a core member of the cast. I learned how to use Photoshop and created some fun collages I’ll share on Instagram. I’ll probably talk more about my process in another blog post (which I’ll link here once it’s up), but you can view a PDF here.
It’s not my best work, but it’s my first attempt at a zine. I’m proud of it for what it is and I might do some more in the future. But we'll see what the future holds.
Blogging and Diary of a Young Writer
I write a monthly blog post for Outlet Publishing’s Diary of a Young Writer. They were mostly reflective, with two advice pieces on essay writing and essay reading. I looked back on some memories from my time in university, such as #earlymodernmadlibs, a fun experiment I did with some of my classmates as part of our studies in 3rd year and one of my final essays on the concept of Labour of Love. I reflected on the long-term writing projects that were integral to my writing over the past decade and why I decided to let them go. You can read it here. The last blog post I had published there was about toxic positivity in the pandemic, a topic I feel strongly about. In 2020, I tended to overshare about my ‘failures’ in the blog as a statement against this, but I do intend to continue in being open with my audience when things don’t quite work out.
In the summer, I started creating my own graphics and thumbnails for each blog post and although they're not perfect, I'm proud of them for what they are.
I also wrote a piece about my dissertation proposal process, which should be published in Diary of a Young Writer this month. Keep an eye on mine and theirs social media if you’re interested in reading it!
Going forward in 2022, I’ll be working on some longer-term projects like my short story and poetry collections. I’ve made steady progress with these since I finished my assignments, and it’s exciting to see them forming. Gayle and I will keep Words and Music going, however whether we’re on Zoom or back in the wild is out with our control. It’s been something that’s kept me in the world during these trying times for sure. I was hoping to reach the 100-submission mark by the end of this year, but that’s ended up not happening. I should be able to reach that by the end of 2022 even at a slower pace. However, many rejections I receive is also out with my control, so we’ll see what happens. Alessandro and I are going to try and keep the Starter Quest podcast going, regardless of how many followers we have. As long as we’re having fun with it, it’ll be a project I’ll be excited to work on.
In 2022, I should be more stable for me and I can make good progress on my larger projects. Thank you so much for being part of my audience and I hope to see you in 2023!