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  • Mandy Whyman

Spring is in the Air

Updated: Apr 24


It's been a long time since I wrote. To be honest, the long lockdown Winter seemed to suck all inspiration away - and I suspect I'm not alone. But hey! Spring is in the air and the world feels full of new beginnings.

So here we are, a full year since Covid-19 burst into our lives and changed the way we all think. In the UK the pandemic has prompted people to think about new ways of working and new ways of living. A whole swathe of professional commuters have decided that they don't want that particular joy any more and have embraced working from home. The same commuters have also had a radical rethink of what they want their lives to look like and property sales in Cornwall have reached record highs, with homes with gardens and garden offices being most keenly fought over.


Here, in my little corner of Essex, I have achieved an ambition of having my own office (in the garden). More than a year after beginning, and with the able assistance of a friend, my long-suffering husband has converted part of the garage for me. My own little space. I has been very cold at times, but it is lovely to have an area that is exclusively mine.


Looking back, what has felt like a dearth of creativity over the past months has actually yielded some significant results. In February, out of the blue, I received a query through LinkedIn ( a small miracle in itself as I never look at the account) about my poetry collection, Fieldsong. Subtitled love poems to life in rural Essex, a local Essex radio station wanted to interview me for their Valentine's Day broadcast. Imagine that! Needless to say, it was a wonderful opportunity. If you can put up with the flat tones of my South African accent, the full podcast is here: The Arts Programme – 56 – Love and Art - Phoenix FM (Fast forward to about 30 minutes in to hear the interview). Rob, from the Arts Programme on Phoenix FM was wonderful to work with and the interview forced me consider again why I write and who I am writing for.


Not too sound too cheesy, but words and stories float about in my head and bother me until I write them down. Through the years I have had many comments about how my writing is `too personal', but I am at a loss as to how else to interpret all the words and images that keep me up at night. As to audience: I want to write what I would want to read and this has become increasingly clear to me. It won't ever be everyone's cup of tea and I doubt very much that there is a best seller in my near future, but it will feel true to me. With this in mind and screwing my courage to the sticking place (apologies to Shakespeare) I took the impetus of the interview and completely rewrote my novella Like Water. Last month I gritted my teeth and sent it to my middle daughter (the most brutal one) and a close friend to read. The middle daughter made approving noises and the close friend liked it. So I leapt - and sent my manuscript to a publisher who is willing to read unsolicited material. I now have to wait and see - like hopeful writers all over the world.


But Spring is in the air, so I hope to not just sit and wait - but do. After humming and hah-ing about cost, I have signed up to a writing course and I am finding it quite useful, even though it is a challenge to keep up with the assignments. Importantly, the course makes me write - and forces me out of my comfort zone and into thinking about paying possibilities.

After writing this blog, I will send off two proposals to two different magazines. My expectation is that, if I'm lucky, I'll get a mail back telling me thanks, but no thanks. But that hardly matters. Spring is in the air and every leap of faith feels like a small step towards where I want to be: Writing for a living in a converted garage in a garden in Essex.


May the year ahead bring all of you closer to your dreams.







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