I’m a writer and poet living on the north bank of the River Humber in the UK. Much of my ‘inspiration’ comes from myth and legend and I lean towards magical realism and the gothic dark. I believe the aim of creative writing is to align with the original BBC aim to inform, educate, and entertain, while the highest achievement of poetry is to create resonance in the reader.
In the past year, I’ve had work accepted by The Adriatic, Seaborne Magazine, Tide Rises, Amethyst Review, The Word Bin, Visual Verse, DawnTreader, Saravasti, Spelt Magazine Advent Calendar, Green Ink Poetry, ASP Literary Journal, Dream Catcher, The Ekphrastic Review, and the High Wolds Poetry Festival. I was published in the Stafford Green Arts Festival Anthology with a poem which also came third in their There Is No Planet B Poetry Competition. I regularly contribute to the Women of Words and Away with Words open mic events; videos of these poems can be seen on my YouTube Channel. A performance of Thetis, a poetic narrative retelling the Trojan War through the eyes of the mother of Achilles, was cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19 and this Rotunda Nights event in Scarborough is currently being rescheduled for 2021.
After leaving Lincoln, I started Ammonitie (pronounced Ammon-night-tee; never have a blog title you need to explain) The subpage TEL it as it is tracked my new role in technology enhanced learning at the University of Hull and was followed by a new professional blog called the Digital Academic.
Where there’s a job there’s a blog!
Leaving higher education in 2019 set me back to zero. I had a clutch of degrees and professional awards, alongside a huge loss of identity. Unhealthy as it was, I’d measured myself through sector status and, although it might sound a touch dramatic it was true, without my career I needed to rethink and restart my life.
I’d always wanted time for more creative writing, so tried to approach seven empty days a week as a gift. When the going got tough, which it often did at the beginning, I’d read this quote above my desk.
If you quit now…you’ll end up right back where you first began. And where you first began you were desperate to be right where you are now. Keep going.
Here’s an early attempt at what ‘keeping going’ looked like.
Delving further back…
Despite having analogue roots, my career always involved digital words. Initially a sub-editor in the scientific civil service in London, I gave up work to start a family which was what women did. During my early years of motherhood, the word processor arrived, followed by home computers. Trying to return to work once the youngest was at school, I found the editorial world had moved on without me.
I began voluntary work and became the first literacy tutor in Hull to use computers to teach English and Maths. I then became an ICT (Information and Computing Technology) tutor for a range of adult, community and social care projects. It was the time of the European Social Fund – a decade during which you could almost guarantee that grant applications for community work which involved ICT would be successful. I specialised in word processing alongside computing courses for beginners, workplace returners and people with disabilities using assistive technologies. I also taught and moderated RSA word processing, CLAIT and NICAS exams. It was the beginning of the massive digital shift in culture but, like so much social change, we more or less accepted and got on with it, without asking too many questions.
For a year, I worked as a sub-editor for a national charity and was introduced to internet chat forums. I became immediately hooked on how digital communication could cross traditional boundaries of time and distance. This experience led to a role as widening participation project officer in higher education, managing virtual links with partner schools and colleges. I sidestepped into education development and stayed there until 2019.
My original interest in accessible digital access for everyone was upped dramatically when I experienced vision impairment. Overnight, I discovered the internet was not the accessible democratic place it claimed to be. True accessibility required web and internet developers to change their practice and this was not happening. I became a volunteer and then Trustee, for a local sight loss charity. During evenings and weekends, I supported individuals with a range of sight conditions to use computers and do their shopping online. It was a constant challenge, one which involved taking on giant supermarkets and organisations with inaccessible websites, in particular those which denied access to screen readers. Inclusion, alongside the social and cultural implications of adopting digital practice, became my work, interest and passion.
Then it all stopped. I lost my job, gave up my PhD, and was learning to live without an income when Covid-19 happened.
One of the biggest ironies of my life was how I’d spent decades shouting out the advantages, requirements and challenges of online education, but to a minority rather than majority of interest. Then, literally months after my role was restructured out of existence, the whole sector shifted online with Covid and I wasn’t part of it.
Life goes on and sometimes loss of direction and ambition has to be accepted. My life today revolves around my allotment, beekeeping, and writing. I’ve picked up the guitar again, after finding a copy of my original Matteo Carcassi manual on eBay. This seems to be the only copy of the edition on the whole wide world of the internet, so maybe it was meant to be!
It’s taken time but I’m adapting to a different pace of life and a different way of living.
You can follow me on Twitter @suewatling or if you think you may be interested in my blog posts, please fill in the form below for regular updates.