to my younger self I gift..

To my younger self I gift

a sense of knowing I have a right to exist,

imperfect and scared as I am

it’s alright to be me.


To my younger self I gift

a trust that life gives as well as takes,

that the blows and hurts won’t destroy me,

but will make me who I am.


To my younger self I gift

a self-belief that’s humble as it’s confident,

that the words I eventually write

will soothe me and touch others.


To my younger self I gift

a pen that scribes my truth.


NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 7: write a poem of gifts and joy.

And still I’m blocked…

inktuition and still I'm blocked


All the work I’ve done on myself:

the therapy, the healing,

the certificates I’ve gained,

the triumph of Masters degrees.

And still I’m blocked.


All the promises I’ve made,

to stay true to my talent,

seem to land on fertile turf,

yet remain fallow, dry, non-manifest.

And still I’m blocked.


All the years I’ve passed,

with fresh intentions each Jan

that fade to grey, nudging into Feb.

In March it’s as if they never began.

And still I’m blocked.


All the distractions I excitedly seek.

New garden: tick. Weekly weeding: tock.

Jobs to take my mind off the task,

decade after decade. That’s the shock.

And still I’m blocked.


All the futures I’ll never achieve:

what will be my hand-me-down glory?

A creative life chronically unlived?

Or trusting what’s for me won’t go past me?


Knowing all of this… and more.

And still I’m blocked.


(pic courtesy of

the garden of self-doubt


The only metaphor that works, right now,

is a plant in a corner of the garden

that’s always known its inner-most colour,

kept secret, to adapt and fit in.


This plant isn’t stretching to reach the sun.

It’s been content with its lot on the lawn,

accepting that others will burst and bloom

while it keeps to itself, forlorn.


Imagine this plant could transplant its space

to a patch that was easily lit,

giving a chance to grow like the rest.

But it flinches, retreats as though hit.


Why would a plant not take a chance to grow?

‘Cos it’s forgotten it really can?

Or has its true nature been buried beneath

those decades of soul-sucking soil?



What if the gardener was calling time

on the plants that had real worthwhile?

What if there was a ruthless deadline,

on the blooms with a chance of life?


What would our shady plant have to say

about the finite ­– the limit of time?

Would it continue to rot in the safety of shade,

or risk the scrutiny of sun?


Given a push, it will feel the sense

to die, to shift, or move out.

What’s no longer left is the chance to risk

the outcome of years of self-doubt.


So, time to make a shift towards

a sun that could no longer steal.

Trust the gardener of this gorgeous space

where the thorns could ultimately heal?

when people compliment my writing…


I shrug and say it’s normal:

what’s so special about what I write?

I also kind of feel a fraud

‘cos it comes so naturally to me.

I just sit at the laptop and type,

without having to re-read back.

I know that what’s come out

is final, total, complete.

So, when people add me to writerly feeds

I wonder what they see in my words.

It’s as natural to me as breathing and dressing.

So where’s the speciality in that?

A poem for my self-doubt

Doubt is the opposite of faith

and often has double the strength.

It wheedles, it whines, it stretches my nerve

from width to depth to length.

Doubt is the enemy of hope

and stamps on my self-belief.

It taxes my time, my gut, my soul.

It’s nothing but an insidious thief.

Doubt is the victor at night

as an unfulfilled day draws dark.

But it’s no match for a shiny new morning,

full of light and love and spark.

I Am Enough: a poem to fight feeling ‘less than’

When somebody makes me feel less than,

Says I’m too much can’t, not enough can,

There’s a fear that jellies my thighs,

And my heartbeats double their size.


My essence of soul gets lost

As my fingertips turn to frost.

And I scrabble to save my self-esteem

As it’s chased by monsters in my dreams.


My sense of self loses all its shape,

My presence shrivels like a sad old grape.

As I creep away, full of blame and gall,

The shivers of shame make my skin cells crawl.


I feel nothing of worth, my confidence kicked,

My value rusted, my optimism pricked.

I retreat to a cave, all dark and dank,

Knowing I’ve only got myself to thank.


But at my core there’s a flicker of flame.

Really, this time, is it same again?

Will I let them all tread

On my bowed, mournful head?

Or will I rise from the wreck of this feel-sorry stuff

And say to the world: “I am enough!”

Do successful authors have doubts about their talents too?

I guess I imagine that once you’ve got a few successful novels under your belt, and your work is adored by readers and feted by critics, that you’d feel confident about your talents. However, there is all the pressure that goes with that – and can the fourth and fifth novels be just as good as the first and second?

This seems to be the case with Zadie Smith, who is extremely modest about her abilities. In a brief article in the Evening Standard, Accolades fail to ease Smith’s nerves, she is quoted as saying: “You have to struggle with each page. It’s very hard to listen to yourself for that long and feel that — even if you have had a career of some kind — someone wants to hear or read it.”

Her last book to be published was On Beauty in 2005. Her new novel NW is due out in September and is billed as a “dazzling portrait of modern London”.

I can only empathise with the very real pressure she must be under – from herself as well as external factors like publishers and reviewers – and I’m sure her new novel will be as brilliantly original and unputdownable as her others.

Seven life lessons from the Olympics

It’s the last day of London 2012. For two weeks I’ve been running (dashing to the nearest TV screen to see the latest race), jumping (for joy and with frustration as I will Team GB to win) and screaming (at the TV, because surely that helps our athletes to win!)

Being in London has swept me along with the excitement of it all. There’s a buzz in the air, a purpose in our day, and pride in our hearts. I think I’ll feel bereft once it’s all over – and I’ll be holding my breath until the Paralympics start in a couple of weeks’ time.

The Olympics are truly inspiring a generation. (pic:

As I reflect on two phenomenal weeks of athleticism, determination and sheer brilliance, here are seven life lessons the Olympics have taught me: Continue reading

Why can’t I come out of my writing shell?

How can I crack open my shell to reveal the pearls within? (pic credit:

Ask any writer – a real writer – why he or she writes, and they’ll reply that they’re born to do it. It’s their destiny, and it’s a dream that they’re not prepared to let go.

I’m one of them, but I’ll only admit to that in writerly circles. While I make a living from writing – from journalism, commercial writing and copywriting – I’m kind of shy about the fact that I harbour ambitions to be an author. Of a novel. Preferably in print, displayed prominently in the front window of Continue reading