Back after a while and just testing

Hello folks, it’s been a long while since I last posted here and I’m scrambling around to find my bearings! So, this is just a wee test scribble to start me off again.

I’m keeping the site really simple. In comparison to other websites it looks like something from the Ark, but I like it that way. It doesn’t need to be anything flashy as it’s really just the equivalent of one of my many notebooks – blank pages filled with, or waiting to be filled with, words.

My intention is to use this place as a base for my general musings, a platform for my personal poetry writing service, and for links to any writing I publish in other places.

I also intend to use this little corner of the internet to map and record my writing journey from hereon in.

If you’re a follower of old and I’ve popped up in your notifications, hello again! I do hope you’ll continue to keep me in your ‘follow’ list – and do drop me a wee message or comment to say hi, I’d love to hear from you.

If you’re a follower new – welcome! I do hope you’ll enjoy reading my posts, or listening to my spoken words.

Now, how is it I publish posts again…? Once I’ve sussed it out, I’ll look forward to getting back to writing here again very soon.

Jane

Christmas

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Christmas:

Being at home with the people we love

Wrapping up bundles of socks and gloves

Hanging up stockings, no matter our age,

Stuffing the turkey with onion and sage

Watching The Grinch and a Wonderful Life

Glad the day’s past without too much strife…

Christmas:

Rushing around from here to there

Umpteen to-do lists and nothing to wear

Last minute buying of not-needed stuff

Just in case we’ve not bought enough

Frantically filling our fridges with food

Meant to be merry no matter our mood

Christmas:

For some it’s a good time, for many it’s not

And in amongst all of the stuff that’s been bought

Sadness is wrapped up in paper smiles

And ribbons of loneliness bind present piles

For some it’s a good time, for many it’s not

As Christmas reminds them of who they’ve not got

Christmas:

Be different and stop all the tearing around

Forget all the ‘must haves’ you haven’t yet found

The presents and turkey and crackers and fizz

Don’t need to be perfect, that’s not how life is.

If you feel jolly and merry, that’s good

But if you don’t, well, don’t feel that you should.

Christmas:

You don’t have to follow tradition you know

You really don’t have to go with the Christmas flow

Ignore all the hype and just do things your way

Be how you feel on Christmas Day

If it’s hard or sad, I’m so sorry, my friend

And if it’s a good one, enjoy till its end.

© Jane Milne 2016

Thank you Stephen King

I’ve been struggling to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, in recent weeks. I didn’t understand why until I read the last paragraph of Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’. 

It’s straightforward. 

I’d forgotten that it’s OK for me just to write, not to have any expectations, just to write, not to know where a particular piece of writing might take me, just to write, not to think too much about it really, just to write.

I’d somehow lost sight recently of the fact that when I just write, with no big agenda, it makes me happy. Thank you Stephen King:

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. Some of this book – perhaps too much – has been about how I learned to do it. Much of it has been about how you can do it better. The rest of it – and perhaps the best of it – is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.”

 

That list of awful things

So, tonight’s the night that I’m joining the 2000 women who were my biggest inspiration for writing ‘One Woman’s Verses vs Cancer’. That list of awful things that many of them have been through goes some way to explaining why it’ll be a privilege to cycle 100km alongside them in the Women V Cancer Ride the Night event.

That List of Awful Things

I’ve never had a tumour in my ovary or breast

I’ve never had anomalies show up in my smear test

I’ve never had to contemplate which treatment path to take

I’ve never had to lose my hair for fighting cancer’s sake

I’ve never had to have a reconstruction of my breast

I’ve never had to think about which wig might suit me best

I’ve never had a therapy which poisons me to heal

I’ve never had to know how painful cancer really feels

I’ve never had my cervix be invaded by bad cells

I’ve never had to bandage painful lymphoedema swells

I’ve never had to give up my fertility to live

I’ve never had to feel like I’ve got no more fight to give

I’ve never had to cope with being terminally ill

I’ve never had to swallow such a bitter tasting pill

I’ve never had to feel the fear of knowing what’s to come

I’ve never had to tell my kids they’re going to lose their mum

I’m extremely lucky that I’ve not been caught as yet

In cancer’s indiscriminate and ever-spreading net

I’m extremely grateful that I’ve not had to embrace

The consequence of cancer that too many people face

I’m extremely humbled and I feel so very sad

That people have to cope with all those things I’ve never had

I’m hoping that my little book of poetry and rhymes

Will help to raise some funds towards a future and a time

Where cancer’s gone forever with the misery it brings

And none of us will have to face that list of awful things

© Jane Milne 2014

There’s still plenty of time to support Women V Cancer, either by making a donation to my Just Giving page or by purchasing a copy of the book. Thank you so very much to everyone who has done one or the other, or both, this far.

Spreading the word

I stood up in front of an audience of consultants, registrars, junior doctors, medical students and oncology nurses last week and recited two of my poems. I’d been invited along to speak at an Education Day of the Gynae Cancer Managed Clinical Network, which brings together healthcare professionals into a multi-disciplinary team. The Network’s responsible for assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients with gynaecological cancers and it aims to ensure that every patient receives the specialist treatment they need.

My knees were knocking to begin with (I was the opening and closing speaker of the first session) but, as it turned out, I had nothing to be nervous about. Both of the poems – and the way I presented them – were generously applauded, both in the lecture theatre and during the less formal discussions over coffee that followed.

It was great to receive many positive comments about the book, and also many suggestions and ideas for how it might best be utilised in wards, waiting rooms, and other public places. The general consensus seemed to be that there is a place for it as a ‘raising the right kind of awareness’ tool. It was also encouraging to hear some of the medical staff suggesting that I should visit the likes of schools and women’s groups to recite the ‘awareness’ poems.

I can’t tell you how much I would love to get out there more with the book and the rhymes, but it’s just not always easy to find out who I should contact, then set aside enough time to compose and send the emails or make the phone calls, then think about fitting things in around my day job! Also, sometimes when I do contact people to offer to come along, they treat me with a rather unnerving suspicion; the sort that we all tend to display nowadays when someone ‘new’ contacts us. (I blame the tele-sales folk!) It’s so much easier if I’ve been lucky enough to be invited, or if someone recommends me, or if someone who’s read the book puts in a good word for me or makes the introduction. I’m so very grateful to everyone who’s done that so far.

I’m beginning to understand why even the most novice of writers, with the littlest of books, benefit from having an agent!

Ahh, I can but dream…. in the meantime, it’s back to trying to spread the word and fit it all in myself and, if I’m being honest, benefiting by learning a lot from the experience…even if sometimes I am met with more ‘Not Today Thanks‘ responses than I’d like…!

 

Keep Looking Up

‘Look Up’ by Gary Turk is going viral at the moment. I love it. I’m pleased though that my little poem was published in One Woman’s Verses vs Cancer before the video was released. Otherwise I just  might have had an accusation of plagiarism to address…

Keep Looking Up

It’s hard to keep ahead if you keep looking to the ground

All you’ll see is tarmac while your wheels are spinning round

Lift your head and raise your eyes above your handlebars

See how bright the sun is or the beauty in the stars.

Even in your darkest days while cycling through the rain

Looking up might see you through your treatment or your pain

Share the ride with people who will let you lead the way

And then you’ll find a clearer path to help you through each day.

 Keep Looking Up © Jane Milne

Girl photo

Illustratio© Gemma Milne

 

 

 

Happy but not satisfied

I’m delighted that my first little book is being bought. It’s not going to be hitting the best sellers list any time soon, but it is being bought.

When I was writing it I didn’t have a clue how many copies of the finished article I’d sell, but I had a figure of 400 in the back of my head as an ‘acceptable‘ number. Actually, ‘satisfying’ is probably a more suitable description than ‘acceptable’. Yes, ‘satisfying’. I was going to be satisfied if I sold 400 copies of my first little book. Any number over and above that would be a bonus.

Some might say that 400 was a low figure to aim for. But, this was my first try at publishing a book and I had absolutely no idea how well received it would be, let alone how to go about punting it. I knew I’d be doing the leg work mostly on my own (no big publishing company behind me just yet…) so if I managed to sell 400 I’d be happy. I’d be raising a fair few pennies for Women V Cancer, I’d be raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian, breast and cervical cancer and I’d be reaching my personal target.

Well, I’ve now passed that target and the sales are still coming in. I’ve sold more copies than my ‘acceptable’ target. So I should be satisfied.

But I’m not. I’m happy. But I’m not satisfied.

I’m watching the funds raised for Women V Cancer rising, I’m receiving lovely feedback, and I’m getting better at acknowledging and accepting that the book is having quite an impact on some of its readers.

But I’m aiming for more: more funds raised, more awareness raised and more people ‘getting’ something from the book.

I don’t have a new target. I don’t know when I’ll feel satisfied. I’ll just have to keep on working away at selling more copies until I am.

For now though, I’m happy to settle for just being happy.