So I was invited on a BAME and marginalised voices writing retreat. It was for those who are under-represented in the writing and publishing world. I guess ideally this would never have come about because no one would be on the edges and left out. The reality though is that I am less likely to get published as a woman, as a woman of colour, as a neuro-divergent, and as someone living in Wales. Hence the fact I’m thinking of opening my own small publishing house. But I’d still love that elusive agent and mainstream publishing contract.
Anyway, enough moaning…
I was invited to the Parthian retreat because I am in one of their anthologies (details will be released soon) for marginalised voices. So, I get the paper work and drive up to Rhosygilwen, a lovely Victorian Mansion that is open for conferences and retreats and weddings and the like. I open the door and everyone is there.
I don’t mean they have just arrived, I mean they are in the middle of a discussion with the Books Council and the Welsh Reader and … Hell, I was a day late.
It’s happened before. The words jump on the page and I don’t realise. I then pop what I think is true into my diary and then turn up. But this has to be the latest I have ever rocked up to. 24 hours late exactly.
Was I calm and collected?
Nope – full on meltdown. Tears, withdrawing, berating myself. The works.
A friend talked me into staying. Thank you Carly, you are the best. And I enjoyed myself. Everyone was lovely about not mentioning the meltdown and I used self-depreciating humour to make it easier on those who had seen.
The thing is. If I had got into my car and vamoosed I would never have met the lovely people at Parthian or my fellow writers. And that would have been too wrong to put into words. So, a shout out to everyone who I met and the fact they never mentioned my meltdown. Thank you all.
It wasn’t my first writing retreat but it was the first I had felt comfortable at. Normally I am the brown face amongst the white. This time, us ethnics, outnumbered those white folks. It was a little strange. But it was great to hear what others had written. How they saw themselves as marginalized. I hadn’t writing about my browness… but about my neuro-divergence. My super-power (I love that it is being called that now). But technically I could have written about race. It just doesn’t effect me as much as the learning difficulties (hate the connotations of this phrase).
One thing I missed badly whilst away was R. My fella and all round support worker. It was strange to not have him prompting me to talk to people or telling me I was doing okay. I missed him and really couldn’t have managed many more days. I was getting the voices telling me that I wasn’t as good as the others. But then I have come to realise that I am more comfortable with failure than success. I have a problem with people looking at me – strangely the subject of the essay Parthian is publishing. How do I get over it?
Realising it is there is the first step and then not self sabotaging. I’ve done that in the past. It is a bad habit and one I find myself doing a lot. Not Lately though. R won’t let me. When I start doing it he pulls me up with an – are you sure?
So yes, the retreat was an eye-opener. I have realised I need to be a little more careful with myself. Look after me as much as those around me. Oh and I got given a bag of cooking apples so tomorrow I’ll start making fillings for pies and the like. Love an apple pie or crumble. So yummy.