A prize-winning author, Rosie Jackson is widely published. Her books include The Glass Mother, The Light Box, Mothers Who Leave and What the Ground Holds.
Rosie is a Hawthornden Fellow 2017. She is a member of Arts and Health South West.
My days vary depending on where I am with any writing project. When I’m in the middle of something big – my memoir, say, or putting together a collection of poems – it’s easy to be disciplined. I can happily sit at my desk six or seven hours each day and sometimes into the night as well, writing, editing, re-writing, re-editing… But in the fallow periods in between, I’m more self-indulgent, going for long walks, to see galleries, films, friends, travelling, rather like a camel stocking up on culture for the dry patches.
I live alone, so can be as flexible as I like with my time. But my 17th century cottage and its demanding garden always find some job to tempt me away from my study, especially in the summer, and I have to be strong-willed to keep the writing going. It’s important to me not to get isolated. I belong to a couple of monthly peer groups – in Frome and Bath – for my poetry work, and am collaborating on my next project – a book of poems about the English artist Stanley Spencer and his first wife Hilda Carline – with Devon poet Graham Burchell. Exchanging poems with him by email for critique every few days helps sustain the momentum. I go to poetry readings and cafes, and also run writing groups, on memoir and poetry, which all add to a sense of creative community. Next month I go to Hawthornden Castle in Scotland for a fellowship – a whole luxurious month of nothing but writing, all meals provided. Thank you, Mrs Heinz!
Like most of us, I spend a lot of time on the Internet – there are so many excellent sites, blogs, tips, research, resources available at the click of a mouse- and I feel tempered use can really improve one’s work. I love receiving messages from people I don’t know who’ve suddenly discovered my books.
I make sure I exercise every day, even in the midst of a project. Nothing too fanatical, but for an hour at least I walk, cycle, or do yoga, and swim half a mile each week. I’m very impractical – oh, for a DIY husband! – and have to gear myself up to do jobs like checking car oil and tyres, buying replacement hoover bags, let alone decorating. I’d far rather be inside a book, whether my own or someone else’s.
What tends to get squeezed out is reading. If I’ve cleared time to be at my desk, I’m more likely to be writing than reading, and I need to find more time for that. It’s all about balance really – alone time and being with others; living enough to have something to write about; sitting and moving; being with words and in a space of silence.
I do try to carve some time out each day to do without words altogether. They are not, after all, as important as what we do, as the life we actually live.