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Rose Norman, London Independent Story Prize 2024 1st Competition Poetry Finalist, 'Braeriach'

London Independent Story Prize 2024 1st Competition Poetry Finalist, 'Braeriach' by Rose Norman

- Can you please tell us about you and your daily life?


I have a career in environmental protection. This principally involves working with land managers to ensure that they are compliant with environmental regulations and to improve water quality. In my free time, I’m particularly drawn to wild places. I love the inspiration, challenge and escapism that the mountains and nature provide. I tend to hill walk, mountain bike or ski when the conditions are favourable, and write as often as possible around that. 


- When and how did you get into writing?

I created serial instalments of stories in my head during my childhood and teenage years. I never imagined writing as a potential occupation though. Instead, I pursued an education and career in science, with writing taking a serious back seat for many years. Sometimes I felt an inexplicable absence in my life though. This was before discovering that I needed some kind of creative fulfilment. I’m now prioritising my writing, which includes, but is not confined to, exploring poetry. I try to read as much as possible, including discovering new authors and poets, and am also trying to educate myself on improving my craft. 


I began submitting my work over the last few months and this will be my first published poem.


- How often do you write? Do you have a writing routine? And what inspires you to write?


I try to find multiple opportunities to write during the week. This has involved compressing my working week into four big days, so that I have a long weekend. I also try to seize other moments, like drafting notes on my phone over lunch breaks, and bits here and there, before and after work. 


A writing routine shouldn’t just be about writing, you also need to look after yourself and keep recharged. For me, spending time in nature, exercise, reading, and meeting with friends whose motivation and passion match my own is a huge inspiration. 


- How does it feel to have your work recognised?


Surprise and delight. It’s lovely to find out that your work has been enjoyed and thought worthy of recognition.


- What's the best and most challenging thing about writing a Story/Poetry?


Finding time and inspiration to write can be challenging when you’re working full-time and juggling various other commitments. The sense of satisfaction that comes when you complete a piece is wonderful though. 



-  How did you develop the idea for your LISP-selected poem? Is there a story behind your poem? And, how long have you been working on it?


This poem was inspired by a solo hill walk into the Cairngorm mountains. I love hiking with others, but sometimes, when alone, you may find the quiet can also speak to you. There’s something special about moving through inspiring landscapes. For me, I have a sense of peace while feeling at home in nature, and the intrigue of spectating as an outsider. Braeriach is a spectacular mountain on the edge of the main Cairngorm plateau. It has a breathtakingly raw beauty, but you can never forget how hostile this place can be. I’ve tried to capture this conflicting nature in my poem.


Although I only spent a day on the initial draft of this poem, it took much editing over subsequent months as I wanted every line to work in conveying the feel of the mountain and its character. I enjoy editing and am not precious about original drafts. There’s a kind of magic in honing your work to flow as seamlessly as possible between writer and reader.


- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a Poem/Story?


A poem can be anything you want it to be, so you can have fun experimenting with different forms and styles. Find out what you enjoy. Write about something which makes you feel something, but don’t tie yourself in knots thinking your poems must be overly clever or profound.


First drafts are often just an indication of where you’re likely to go. You may well feel underwhelmed on viewing your creation. Don’t lose heart! After some redrafting and editing, no-one needs to know how bad the rough draft was.


Sharing your work with others is initially nerve-wracking, but essential for your own development. I could only click “send” after a big gin the first few times, but it was absolutely worth it. 


- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about competitions? 


Competitions can inspire you to create a new piece of work, or dust off an older piece for some final edits. There’s excitement in submitting and knowing there’s a possibility that you may hear back. Alternatively, not knowing how something has fared in a competition for months before finding out it has been rejected can be disappointing. Please remember that just because something isn’t accepted by a specific competition(s), doesn’t mean it won’t be rightly appreciated and accepted elsewhere. 


- Lastly, do you recommend the writers submit to LISP?





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