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End of year thoughts, links & thank yous

This is my wrap-up post for 2017 – I’ve enjoyed other people’s posts but have been increasingly wondering whether I’ve anything  else to add or anything different to say. But that of course is one of the downsides of blogging/social media and the like – the angst of wondering if is one actually saying anything of any value to anyone, or just adding to the morass of mediocrity that was once quaintly called the ‘information superhighway’.

So while the marketer in me is demanding a ‘top ten’ this or ‘best of’ that, I’d just like to highlight a few things that have caught my attention lately, plus a bit of news and some general thank yous & thoughts.

Some interesting year-end posts & debates

My favourite ‘New Year Resolutions’ post has been this from Nathaniel Tower – 10 writing resolutions actually worth keeping – I love Nathaniel’s straight talking and he’s right on the money here as ever. His ‘Juggling Writer’ is one of my favourite blogs, and his How to Write a Blog Post that Will Generate Millions of Pageviews and Thousands of Shares gave me the best laugh-out-loud moment of the year.

Allison K Williams comes up with this thoughtful piece on the Brevity blog, urging writers to congratulate themselves on the last year’s achievements, and setting realistic goals for 2018.

It was fascinating to read this recent thread on Twitter, begun by poet Phillip B Williams who asks whether social media encourages too much ‘bigging up’ of our poet friends rather than engaging in meaningful critique of the work, a question which unsurprisingly gets a very lively response.

Twitter thread started by poet Phillip B Williams

I do like the way that people are using Twitter more often for these kinds of extended debates – proof that plenty of us are actually still willing to engage rather than throw flames.

On a thoroughly positive note, writer Annette Gendler each year creates an ‘Artists’ and Writers’ Notebook’ (let’s not get started on where I’ve placed the apostrophes here!) I’ve already printed off a copy and will be using some quiet moments over the weekend to fill it in. I like the way it focuses your thinking by asking you to list your various projects, wishes, how you’re going to prioritise and tackle them, that sort of thing – but in ways that encourage specific, rather than general answers. If like me you feel you always have things on the go but can’t follow through on everything, it’s helpful for understanding what you can do, what needs more research … and that it’s OK to shelve things and come back to them. You can download the 15-page workbook for free if you sign up Annette’s monthly newsletter.

Some thank yous

I was very touched to have been listed once more in Matthew Stewart’s end of year poetry blog round-upon Rogue Strands, together with a good range of blogs both familiar to me and not so much. I commend the list to you. I do think ‘poetry blogging’ now covers a wide spectrum, from the academic  and review-led to the practice/writing technique-focused and then the more diaristic or personal like mine. I always find it fascinating how different poets approach blogging.

A recent heart-stopping moment for me was to read Rishi Dastidar’s review of a poem of mine published in The Rialto in the autumn. I’ve never had anyone publicly critique a poem in such detail, and for it to be on the Rialto blog and see it promoted across Twitter was very exciting for someone like me on the lower echelons of the poet-o-sphere. Whenever I find myself envious of ‘big name’ poets I should remember this feeling. Because as long as one is flying well below the radar of the ‘serious’ poetry world, one can bask in friendly reviews (cf Phillip Williams’s point earlier). If you hit the big time the knives are well and truly out – and the reviews get tougher to handle, not to mention the general sense of ‘you can say what you like now she’s public property’. Look at how they went for Sarah Howe when she won the T S Eliot Prize. Being down here amongst the unknowns is definitely a safe place to be!

I was going to start listing all the people who’ve helped and supported me and my writing this year, but it’s a killer of a task because there are so many I want to name and I’d be terrified of missing anyone off the list. I love you all and just hope you know who you are. I’m also as grateful as always to you (yes YOU) for reading, commenting and sharing my blog posts. Happy New Year – here’s to us all, and to a fulfilling, creative and happy 2018.

*I’m away next week, but I’ll be giving away that copy of ‘Coast to Coast to Coast’ the week after…

14 Comments on “End of year thoughts, links & thank yous

  • Deborah Sloan
    December 29, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Happy new year when it comes, Robin. I’ve enjoyed your posts this year – thanks for so generously giving us your thoughts, triumphs and struggles – and for all the fascinating links and info. x

    Reply
    • Robin Houghton
      December 30, 2017 at 11:21 am

      Thank you Deborah, and a Happy New Year to you too!

      Reply
  • John Foggin
    December 29, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    Just don’t ever think you’ll run out of steam and ideas. Just don’t. Just saying xxxx Happy New Year

    Reply
    • Robin Houghton
      December 30, 2017 at 11:21 am

      I’ll try not to John! And you’re one of my inspirations after all 🙂 Happy New Year!

      Reply
  • ann perrin
    December 29, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    My like button seems to have given up the ghost so just to say I always love your posts. Happy New Year. Ann

    Reply
    • Robin Houghton
      December 30, 2017 at 11:22 am

      Taken as liked – thanks Ann! and a Happy New Year to you too 🙂

      Reply
  • Marina Sofia
    December 29, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    I always enjoy your thoughtful, encouraging and almost far too modest posts! Wishing you a very good 2018 and thank you for all the joy you’ve brought me in 2017.

    Reply
    • Robin Houghton
      December 30, 2017 at 11:23 am

      Thank you Marina, that’s lovely to hear. Best wishes to you for the New Year! Rx

      Reply
  • Jill Fricker
    December 29, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Happy New Year, Robin,. You are a thoughtful and entertaining blogger, and a generous and serious provider of critiques at Hastings Poetry Stanza . . . Thank you for all you share with us. Xx

    Reply
    • Robin Houghton
      December 30, 2017 at 11:24 am

      Oh thanks so much Jill! Hastings Stanza has been brilliant to/for me, so very happy if I can give something back. All the best to you and look forward to our meetings in 2018! Rx

      Reply
  • Pam Thompson
    December 29, 2017 at 11:41 pm

    Thank you for your honest and informative posts Robin. A very happy 2018! x

    Reply
    • Robin Houghton
      December 30, 2017 at 11:24 am

      Thank you Pam, and a Happy New Year to you too!

      Reply
  • Nathaniel Tower
    December 31, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Thanks for the shout outs! Glad you enjoyed my posts, and I look forward to seeing what you put out in 2018.

    Reply
  • Peter Kenny
    January 12, 2018 at 8:44 am

    A typically excellent blog post Robin. Just clicked through to the review by Rishi. Love the 1 Poultry poem, and his write up of it.

    Reply
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