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What’s inspired me recently, and a writing/submissions update

I’m not spending a great deal of time at the computer at the moment – can only blame the marvellous good weather! I’m in admiration of those taking part in NaPoWriMo this month, such as Jayne Stanton. I do sometimes do the ‘start a poem a day’ thing, although I tend to do it alone and during months when there’s nothing going on to distract me!

Having said that, I’ve been writing and submitting. Some new work is emerging that feels fresh, and I’m enjoying the process. I think I’d been hitting my head against so many old poems for too long, and making a conscious decision to set them aside feels liberating. So, I’ve got six poems forthcoming in the summer across four publications, plus there are currently 14 more out to magazines and a couple of comps, and 4 pamphlet submissions. If nothing comes of the latter then I think I have enough new material & project ideas coming through to abandon this particular ‘pamphlet.’ I’m using quote marks because it’s possibly not one pamphlet, but the seeds of several. Or just the start of a collection. We shall see.

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting inspiration from a number of sources. I’m not a huge reader of novels, even though I used to belong to a book group and would do so again. But I can’t resist a good recommendation from a trusted source, and two I followed up recently were The Warden by Anthony Trollope and The Grass is Singing  by Doris Lessing. Poet friend Antony had suggested The Warden as an introduction to Trollope, and I wondered why I’d never read any before. Surprisingly modern themes, sly humour, and copious use of the much-in-vogue present tense. Loved it. And Doris Lessing – a real revelation. I raced through this book, a story and characters that really puts you through the wringer. So agonising it would feel trite to call it ‘tragic’. At times I thought I was reading Steinbeck. Where the heck have I been?

Then there are the websites that regularly get my mind jumping up and down. In a recent Brain Pickings, Maria Popova introduced me to Anne Lamott’s Hallelujah Anyway – “on reclaiming mercy and forgiveness as the root of self-respect in a vengeful world”. It’s the kind of fascinating read that I stumble on first thing and then can’t get out of bed till I’ve finished it.

And then there’s Dan Blank, a big thinker whose weekly email newsletter is probably the only one I actual read right through and have done so for ten years or more. His new book Be the Gateway is currently on my Kindle reader and giving me plenty to think about as regards writing ‘goals’ and refocusing on connecting with readers rather than ticking off ‘achievements’. A lesson I need to learn, but will I?

Other sources of ideas this month came from the Antiques Roadshow on TV, some NHS information booklets and the Wikipedia entry for Eddie Van Halen. Betcha can’t wait!

spring montage
Let’s go out and enjoy Spring!


Published inBlogInspirationRoundupsSubmissionsWriting


  1. Robin, I’m with you on how refreshing new writing is. NaPoWriMo prompts have got me out of the rut and writing stuff (I hesitate to call most of em poems, as yet) I’d never have written otherwise. And it beats the hell out of bothering those oldies that seem to have permanent residence status in my In Progress folder. Hope some successes come of your submissions 🙂

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Thank you Jayne. Good to hear you’re finding NaPoWriMo worthwhile!

  2. elly elly

    Thanks for the energizing post, Robin. I have been trying to get back into reading more books, including novels. To kinda motivate myself, I am keeping a 2017 diary of books I read (as a page at my web site). Last month’s was the novel She Came To Stay by Simone de Beauvoir. I was a bit surprised at how engrossing I found it. Oh and thanks so much for the reminder about Doris Lessing. I’ve read a few of her books, but want to read more!

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Hi Elly – ah yes that’s a good idea, I need to make a note of what I’ve read because I’m forever forgetting the names of book and authors, usually right when I’m trying to recommend them to someone. “Oh I read a great book about this woman getting dragged down by life on a South African farm, it was by … um… and called…. um…um…..WHAT THE HECK WAS IT???!@£!?” Ugh! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  3. Jill Fricker Jill Fricker

    Inspiring blog as ever! (Perversely, it got me working on one written a while back that needed some sorting . . . and was factually incorrect! And yes, in the context of the poem, it did matter, so cheers, husband, for your scientific input!)

    Thanks, also, Robin for the email with info about submissions – you are always so generous in sharing your knowledge and
    experience, and it’s much appreciated.

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Ha ha! thanks Jill, and thanks for reading & bigging up this blog 🙂

  4. Hello Robin,

    Spending time away from the computer sounds like a good idea to me. There is so much to enjoy in the garden at the moment. Good luck with the submissions I look forward to reading another of your poetry pamphlets.

    Doris Lessing is marvellous isn’t she. I’m trying to do more reading this year and to that end have joined a group on Facebook in which members are reading 100 books this year. I’m way behind everyone else but it is encouraging me to make time for reading.


    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Hi Caroline, ooh a hundred books a year sounds quite a goal – I think like you I’d probably very quickly get behind. But I do like the idea of goals. And yes, the garden is a big pull at the moment!
      And *spoiler alert* new pamphlet on its way – more in the next blog post…

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