I missed last week’s blog post – mainly because I was engrossed in editing, so engrossed that Tuesday came and went without me really noticing what day it was. I’ve worked from home since 1980, so you’d think I’d have figured out some way of keeping track of days by now, wouldn’t you?
For the first four years I ran a post office, which, yes, was still working from home because we lived on the premises. I had to keep track of the days otherwise i could have ended up opening on a Sunday! When I gave up the PO (after having baby number 2) we leased out the premises and continued living here, and I went on to phase two of working from home – making and selling (first) rag dolls and clowns and (second) fisherman’s smocks.
But by the mid to late 1980s Artisan, the a cappella trio I was singing in just for fun, was in demand at folk clubs and festivals, so we gave up the day jobs and turned pro. I certainly had to keep track of the diary then, or we’d have missed gigs! We had some very good advice from the late Al Sealy (of the duo Cosmotheka). He said: “No one should ever decide to go pro just because they want to. You wait until you have so many gigs in the diary that it becomes impossible to fulfil them while still working your day job, and at that point you decide whether to give up the music or the day job.” We reached that point in 1988, and still took another year to actually kick the day jobs into touch and become full-time singists. Artisan toured the UK and then Belgium and Germany and from 1994 onwards, Canada, the USA and (once) Australia. By the time we decided to retire from the road in 2005 we’d done 31 North American Tours in an eleven year period. That’s a LOT of flights, but also a LOT of fun. For the last seven years of Artisan touring I also ran a booking agency, fixing up gigs for other (mostly folk) performers – and that’s still going. I work from the same desk I write from.
I’ve always written, but for many years didn’t have the confidence (or the experience) to send my work out, but in 1989, via a contact I made through singing, my first short story – The Jewel of Locaria – was published in a DAW anthology Warrior Princesses, edited by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough and Martin H Greenberg. It’s available (used) on Amazon and new for silly money, but I recently discovered it’s been released as an audiobook: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Warrior-Princesses/dp/B08KWRMCXL/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Warrior+princesses+Scarborough&qid=1623930022&sr=8-1
One thing led to another. I attended my first Milford and (eventually) got my first three book deal with DAW in 2013. From 2006 onwards I’d been working exclusively from home. After all the travelling of the previous 20 years it was bliss.
People ask if I miss singing. What I don’t miss is the travelling. As for the singing, I still feel as if I’m on a long hiatus between tours. We never say never again. We ‘retired’ in November 2005, but we were back on the road again (with a new album) for a reunion tour in 2010 (UK and Canada), and then again in 2015 (UK). In 2019 we were asked to do a local fundraiser for Motor Neurone Disease, and we loved it enough to agree to do another one in 2020 – which, of course, got cancelled because of the pandemic. If all goes well with C-19, we’ll be doing it this year on 6th November in Denby Dale (which has the added advantage of being only 5 minutes down the road from home). All the singing and none of the travelling! Yay!
Lockdown hasn’t really made much difference to us. Instead of going to the supermarket, we get regular grocery deliveries (thank you Tesco and Ocado). We visit with our kids (one in the USA,. on in the south of England) via Skype. Otherwise not much has changed. My office is the front room of our house and I often hit it before I’ve even hit the kitchen to make my first cup of coffee of the day. I love my office. It’s organic. In other words… messy. I have an archaeological filing system. The lower down the strata it is, the longer I’ve had it. It’s crammed full of books and papers, the everyday office trinclamentia and pens. Loads of fountain pens and inks. What can I say, I’m a penaholic!
None of which tells me what day it is, which is why I missed my regular blog post slot last Tuesday.
My mum, who lives in a connected granny-house, is 96 and has recently developed short term memory problems which leads to a bit of confusion. (Hey, you’re allowed to do that if you make it to 96!) She has one of those digital clocks that not only tells her the time, but tells her the day and whether it’s morning, afternoon, evening or night. Perhaps I should treat myself.
So, about the editing I was engrossed in… more next time…