This week I returned to Tequis after spending time in Puerto Vallarta, Zihuatanejo and Mexico City and for part of that time one of my favourite people was my sidekick, my partner in crime and chief mischief-maker Chelley. I have known Chell since 2006, from the beginning of Scream Blue Murmur, back when we were known as The Belfast Poets Touring Group, (slightly clunky name, looking back on it). In fact she was one of the first BPTG crew that I met when she came squealing up to me at a poetry slam demanding that I must come on the tour to Australia ‘cos I couldn’t possibly leave her as the only female amongst that hoard of male poets! And quite right too!
Of course we haven’t always been as close as we are now. We’ve had six years of touring with Scream, across oceans and deserts, up huge rocks and across seemingly uncrossable lakes. In the beginning I think all of Scream drove each other slightly crazy. We were all cooped up, trying to produce a show and we were in each others pockets 24/7. Oftentimes two or three of us ended up sleeping a mattress on the floor after the gig, depending on the gig organisers’ skills. There have been tears and cross words and more often than not harsh outbursts said in the midst of a drunken stupor (that’s mostly me and I can admit that now cos I’m wile grown up).
But I value this friendship. We have now supported each other through personal and professional crises and too many Saturday afternoon shoe shopping and cocktail drinking sessions to count. I can rely on Chell to give me an honest opinion on the latest poem I’ve written or the bloke I’m dating. I can turn up at her house on a Sunday morning, still wearing clothes from the night before, face mascara tracked and know that there will be a hug, bacon bagel and huge mug of tea waiting for me. (Although this is a little hard given the fact I live in Mexico now!) We can be creatively supportive of each other. If one of us gets the thumbs up from a critic or audience member it’s a win for both. I can talk about my future plans, despite how ridiculous they sound and will be given the kick up the backside I need.
Thank god for friendships like these. Chell is only one of the strong, confident, fabulous ladies I’m blessed to call my friends.
We were meant to spend the week deep in rehearsals for The Plus One’s new show. https://www.facebook.com/ThePlus1s
We were meant to be hard at work, sharing poems, working on double voicers and being utterly creative. What we actually did was eat too much, drink too much, swim, sunbathe and laugh, laugh, laugh. Actually this is probably a fairly accurate description of how The Plus Ones show will go.
So even though we didn’t do any rehearsing or writing while we were together, we inspired each other to get involved in the April writing challenges. We are both taking part in NaPoWriMo, which is a challenge of writing a poem every day for the month of April. There are prompts on the NaPoWriMo site (http://www.napowrimo.net) which you can choose to follow or you can pretty much go your own way.
We are also doing the A-Z Blogger Challenge which is a challenge to write a topic a day (except Sundays) starting with a letter of the alphabet. I am thinking of these challenges in terms of just writing something, not having the pressure to produce a perfect final draft. I want to challenge myself to become more disciplined in my writing. At the minute I don’t have a proper writing schedule and that is something that I’d like to be more dedicated about. The pressure of posting two things everyday, even two short, snappy scriblings will hopefully help this. I hope you’ll join in the challenge too. I like to think of it as a collective, creative conversation and it’s always better if it’s more than me talking. So get involved. Read the poems, write one of your own or share an opinion with a poet or a blogger. Do something!
You can read postings from participants on the NaPoWriMo site and you can follow the hashtag on Twitter. Keep up with Chelley’s blog here: http://chelleythepoet.wordpress.com
Reading info this week:
Finish The Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson
Start and finish The Bonesetters Daughter by Amy Tan
Start and finish Turntables of the Night by Terry Pratchett
Start The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler