From the Ancient Mariner to Poetic Wonders and Everything in Between...
Mention poetry and it generally strikes fear in most people. They think about learning it in school and the torture of having to read a passage from Shakespeare to the class. But not me. I was the one who put her hand up, eager to read it out, eager to study it and eager to write it.
The kids all hated me, but my teachers loved me.
For me, it wasn't about the subject of a piece. It was more about the structure, the rhyming and the way an author had described something.
One of the first poems I studied was The Rime of The Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who wrote it in 1797/98. While others in my class sidled down in their chairs to get away from it, I was totally fascinated. It struck me as beautifully rhythmic and it was about the way Coleridge managed to tell a story in such a 'sing-song' way...
"It is an ancient mariner and he stoppeth one of three,
By thy long grey beard and glittering eye, now wherefore stoppest thou me"...
Those are the first two lines. The poem is split into seven parts (I think) and has 140 verses or so. I can see all your jaws on the floor right now, but for me, reading it was like watching a really good film that is three hours long. If it's really good, you are so involved in it, that you don't notice the time. Reading this poem had the same affect. It was a gripping story that absolutely had my attention.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Later on, I started writing lyrics and studied various artists' songs. There was one particular line in a song that caught my attention. The song was Miss You Nights by Cliff Richard and the line was...
"Midnight diamonds, stud my heaven".
Those five words conjured up a visual in my mind without saying exactly what it was. For instance, he could have said, 'It's night time, the stars are out.' and then go on to describe the stars as 'shining' or 'bright' or 'twinkling'. But Dave Townsend, who wrote the song, found a way to describe that scene in five words without stating the obvious and it taught me a lot.
When I came to write a lyric about unrequited love, I wanted to say, 'I can't get you out of my mind'. But that is in most every love song there is and after a lot of note writing, I came up with... 'I dance my whole life through, with just the thought of you'. So I managed to say what I wanted to say and make it rhyme, without stating the obvious.
Poetry was in my blood from a very young age. I don't know where it came from because no one in my family are writers, but they did listen to a lot of music. I was brought up with the melodic tunes of the 60s and 70s and they always had my attention.
By the time I was six, I knew all of Tom Jones' songs off by heart. My mother was a big fan and his songs like Delilah, What's New Pussycat, Green, Green Grass Of Home, and It's Not Unusual were etched into my being growing up. So was the music of the time, such as, the Stylistics, Hot Chocolate, Diana Ross, Four Tops. Also people like Slade, Wizard, Suzie Quatro, David Essex, David Cassidy, The Osmonds and of course, The Jackson 5. It all had a big impact on me.
I started writing poetry and lyrics when I was about 15. By the time I was 19, I had three of my lyrics put to music by a group who performed them at a gig. That was an amazing experience.
In 1995, I was reading a magazine that was in the process of putting together a book called The Best Book Of Live And Love for charity and I decided to enter one of my poems.
I was absolutely dumbfounded when I received a letter telling me my poem was going to be included in the book. And when I saw my poem in print, it was then that I thought of publishing my poetry. But the thought went through my head and straight out again. I was pregnant at the time with my first child and had other things on my mind. I took up writing again after I had both my daughters and my head was back on the planet.
Fast forward to 2015. By then, I achieved some lovely accolades. In 2001 I won an Outstanding award for a song I had written called 'Everything Seems Different In The Dark' and a Merit award for a song called A Beautiful Lady - Titanic.
The Titanic song was recorded onto a piece of original film of Titanic, aired on the radio and played at a Titanic exhibition. I wrote the song in memory of my Great Grandfather, Harry Corn, who died on the Titanic when it sank on 15th April 1912. This song is the one I am most proud of.
My Great Grandfather, Harry Corn
The postcard Harry Sent to his wife from Southampton (written in Hebrew script).
In 2006 I was commissioned to write new, original lyrics for The Wizard Of Oz for a school production. This was an incredible project and extremely difficult, because I had the original songs from the film going around in my head and I had to find a way to write something different. It took me about three months to write a dozen lyrics, but I did it and I was very proud of the result.
From there, I have written lyrics for unsigned solo artists, musical theatre projects and other things along the way. And all the while, I was writing poetry when I could.
Having approached publishers and being rejected, or just never getting replies at all, I thought that maybe I could produce a book myself. So I went through all my poetry and picked out the ones I thought were worthy of being published. But I didn't have many that I thought were good enough. A lot of my poetry was teenage angst and things that, really, no one would want to read, so I dismissed the whole idea.
Then, in 2015, I was introduced to someone who wanted an editor for her novel. While I was working for her, I discovered that she wrote poetry. I asked to see her work and was blown away by how good it was. She had never done anything with her poetry and, like me, it was something she did for her own enjoyment. That was the moment the idea for the anthology struck me: What if I could produce a book that includes my poetry and the poetry of other writers?
I put the word out and the most amazing thing happened: The positivity I was pouring into it was coming back to me tenfold. I discovered amazing, talented writers who were happy to let me include their poetry.
I picked five people with totally different styles. I decided to limit the number of poems to 15 poems each. I felt that was a good number that would fill the book nicely.
I also decided to include a full length story that was written in rhyme called The Bear On Lonely Lake. It was written by one of the authors and I had the pleasure of producing, editing and recording it as an audio story a while ago.
My aim was to complete the book within six months, but each time I went to work on it, something happened and compiling it was really difficult. There were 90 poems and I had to work out what order to put them in, what text size to use and I had to design a cover. There was so much more to it than I ever imagined.
Around this time, I started my own business, so the book was put on the back burner for long periods of time. But when things slowed down a bit, I looked at the book again.
Then, in 2016, I fell over a step in my back garden and broke my ankle. Long story short, I had an operation to have plate and pins inserted and then dealt with six weeks physio. It was a year before I was walking properly and Poetic Wonders went to the back of my mind.
Once I was recovered I took the book up again. But in late May of 2018, I slipped over in my front driveway (okay, you can stop laughing now) and broke my left elbow in multiple places. Another long story short, I had another operation to have plate and pins inserted, dealt with six weeks physio and it was seven months before my arm felt anything like normal.
Once I was recovered, I decided that I needed to spend more time on the book. All the authors were relying on me. They waited a very long time already, and though they were all very patient and understanding, I felt embarrassed, so I took it up again with a vengeance and managed to keep going from there.
Once I got the book looking reasonable, uploading the manuscript to Amazon's template wasn't as easy as I thought it was going to be. Unlike straight prose in a novel, the poetry was all different styles, lengths and formats, so I had to keep repositioning the poems so that they looked correct on the pages. Even though I could see previews, it was still difficult to tell what the finished result was going to look like, so I eventually ordered a proof copy.
The proof copy helped greatly. I could see that all the poems on the right hand pages were too far over to the left and disappeared into the spine of the book, so I would have to realign all the margins again. It was painfully frustrating and every time I thought I had it, I would do a read through and find something else that needed altering.
I commissioned my daughter to do some illustrations for the book. Positioning them in the book was a challenge as well.
I took each step as positively as I could, reminding myself all the time that all the read throughs, all the correcting and the stress would be worth it. I was terrified of publishing it and then finding a mistake I hadn't spotted. I read it through meticulously countless times. I got it proof read by other people as well, and it got to the point where I just had to send it in.
Now, it is done and published. The response I have had to it has been phenomenal. I am so thrilled and delighted with the way it has turned out and it is one of my greatest joys and achievements. (Poetic Wonders is available on Amazon.co.uk (also available worldwide).
I am now promoting the book as best I can, another challenge that I am embracing with gusto.
The power of creativity never ceases to amaze me. I am in awe of the incredible standard the authors have brought to the project, but you don't have to be an accomplished writer, author, or poet to write. For me, it's all about the 'feeling' that writing brings. Everything else that comes with it is an incredible bonus. It is something I love doing so much and is something I am deeply passionate about.
So, believe in yourself. Think of all the reasons why you should be doing what you love and why you could succeed. Be grateful for every triumph. Take that gratitude, take action and be positive. Talk about what you love to do with enthusiasm and passion. It doesn't matter if people are being negative towards you, because it is not about what they think, it is about what YOU think. Doing what YOU love is what makes you unique. No matter how obscure it is, even if your passion is reinventing the wheel, take that leap of faith and go for it.
If you come to an obstacle, think nothing of it. Obstacles are meant to be got around, not over. They are opportunities, there to show you that perseverance, determination and knowing without any doubt that you can do it, is worth all the hard work.
So, no matter what happens, take chances. They may be scary, but you have to try. Be aware of opportunities that tap you on the shoulder, grab them, and hold onto them as tightly as you can. Follow your heart, follow your dream and whatever happens... never, ever give up.
Rosalind Winton. I live in South West Hertfordshire, which is just outside London, England and as well as being the official editor for Stage 32, I run my own literary editing business, onevoiceliteraryagency.com. and facebook.com/OneVoiceLiteraryAgency Since I started the business, I have edited everything from full length novels, novellas, children's YA and picture books, non-fiction, articles, blogs, business reports, websites and more. I also edit screenplays and scripts for members of Stage 32. I have successfully edited, produced and voice recorded a short audio story called the Bear On Lonely Lake by Daniel Buckner. Poetic Wonders is available on Amazon.co.uk (also available worldwide). I am currently working on the Kindle version and that should be online soon.
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