So the launch went very well. It was a bit of a whirlwind, I hardly had chance to talk to everybody but I had a lovely time. Michael and Annie read beautifully, and I got the sense that everyone in the room enjoyed it. It seemed quite relaxed, so I was shocked when I went up to read, fairly confident, and started shaking when I saw everybody. Last time I read I was drunk. I think I will need a stiff drink next time. But I think I read well enough, and I enjoyed it, I just let myself down with nerves. Cafe Nexus is a wonderful place, and it was cosy and warm and inviting. A friend I don’t see very often came up and surprised me, and I was over the moon. He looked after me when I was in Highroyds when I was fourteen. He has stayed in touch with me ever since, and getting together is always quite emotional. My family said they were proud of me, which was so wonderful. This book has meant the world to me and I am actually quite proud of myself, though I never thought I would find myself saying that.

It’s Wednesday, it’s Spring, I’ve been for my depot and now I’m working on a small collection of poems, about twenty, which I have written over the course of the last six months or there about. They are so different to the poems in A Body… they are very minimal and very hard edged. I am thinking maybe I have a chapbook on my hands, but maybe not, the poems need work, patience and a spark that is sometimes lacking. I think that it is difficult to write on my medication. When I wrote A Body…I wasn’t on as much medication, not as strong. And my moods were still fluctuating wildly. I am amazed that the launch didn’t make me ill. I had a bit of a downer the next day but I went to Steven’s mum’s allotment and did some digging and felt better. We had a picnic and I had a little lie down on a lounger and caught the sun.

When I think about how far I have come I can’t believe it. A while ago time was standing still for me, I was in some sort of emotional paralysis. I could write, I could find the inspiration just like that, but I couldn’t have good relationships or function well or live my life in any kind of positive way. I have had to take the medication over the ability to think fast and feel. I have found myself getting choked up at things on tv and that has been wonderful, because I haven’t cried in a couple of years and I would give anything for that release. I nearly cried when I read the other night, the whole thing was just so overwhelming. I wish those tears would come, I have a feeling that if I could just cry and get over that emotional block then I would feel better, write better and get a lot out of my system.

Me and Ste were crying laughing last night. I love it when that happens, we just get hysterical, usually over nothing, and we crack up. It’s the best feeling ever when you laugh so hard with someone you love. I still have the capacity for emotions but sometimes have difficulty in expressing them. This is where my poetry should come in but the poems can be quite stark and blank, and it is entirely a reflection on the way my moods are kept so tightly under control. There’s emotion, but it is deliberated and held back. I do miss that feeling of being overwhelmed by enthusiasm to write, having that buzz and that obsessive scribbling of lines. Now I make a cup of tea, sit down, brainstorm in my notebook, and begin writing things down, very quietly and calmly.

It’s just different isn’t it? People change, writers change, styles change, obsessions change, motivations change. I hope there’s drama in my poetry, I hope it isn’t just flat. It’s like learning to sing in a different register. I have to give it practice and time.

Thankyou for reading,



Within You, Without You

We’re sat listening to Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It’ the sort of thing you should listen to when you’re little and getting into music. Luke loves Led Zeppelin and dances like Robert Plant. He especially loves songs which have an animal in the title, or have some sort of animal theme.

 Yesterday I sat in the sun with my mum talking for hours and watching the children play in her garden. I am now bright red and sore from the sun. But we did have a lovely time, we ate a picnic on the lawn and then did an aerobics class in the kitchen. I have recently realised how devastating my illness has been on my relationships. These days people have more time for me and I understand that in the past it was difficult.

 We are about to make crowns for the royal wedding. I’m sewing a dress and a cloak for them to wear. Life now is simple and good. I am a good mother to my children and they are happy and well adjusted. I don’t quite know how we came to be in this place but I imagine I fought a good fight and it’s largely down to perseverance. Only a year ago everything still felt like an uphill struggle.

 My launch is on Saturday at 7.30 in Nexus Cafe Manchester, and I am nervous. Mostly because I went and got sunburn.

 My care-coordinator came today and we talked. We agreed that I should be moved to the green team: the recovery team. I am satisfied with this as I feel so well and so in control. It’s a big step, really. But I don’t need the support anymore. Mostly we talked about Alzheimer’s. It’s not something I’ve felt comfortable about writing about before. My maternal grandfather suffers with Alzheimer’s and is in a nursing home now. My mum is doing a 10 km run for him in May. If anyone would like to sponsor her please get in touch. Alzheimer’s is heartbreaking. My grandad was always such a funny man, he could make anyone laugh. He was always telling jokes. Now we have to laugh sometimes, because if we didn’t we would just cry. I like to go and see him because I feel better for seeing him looked after (the staff are AMAZING), and reasonably happy and comfortable in his surroundings. He’s not agitated or stressed, he must feel safe even though his world is baffling. He doesn’t know us. I don’t know what he knows, occasionally there is some spark of recognition about something we say and sometimes he says quite intelligible things which seem to come out of the blue. I really love him. And I feel so sad, especially for his lovely wife and my mum, who dote on him and are being really brave.

 There’s an interview with me on Nik Perring’s blogsite: http://nikperring.blogspot.com/2011/04/melissa-lee-houghton-interview.html

I get very nervous about things like this…but it was nice to be asked questions about the book. Nik’s lovely, I read and reviewed his brilliant short story collection, Not So Perfect, on The Short Review here: http://www.theshortreview.com/reviews/NikPerringNotSoPerfect.htm.

My niece will be round soon, it’s her birthday today. Happy day. She’s three, and gorgeous. Luke can’t wait for her to get here. I am happy because the cherry blossom is out. One of my happiest memories is shaking the boughs of a cherry blossom tree with my girlfriend when I was about fifteen, and us laughing and laughing and the blossom showering around us. It is a snapshot in my head of a moment of bliss. Simple things. I like walking in the park when the cherry blossom is out and I love the smell of hyacinths there. Hyacinths remind me of a happy time in childhood.

 Let’s hope the sunburn calms down for Saturday. Silly me. It will be a good night, and I can’t wait to see everyone.

 Thanks for stopping by,


Favourite Things

I have come across How to Pour Madness into a Teacup by Abegail Morley, her first collection of poems. I first read excerpts in 2011 Forward Prize anthology. I immediately bought her book, a Cinnamon Press collection with a gorgeous cover.

Short poems are little glimpses into worlds filled with pain, mystery, ambivalence and madness. There is so much to unravel. I especially loved the book because each poem reaches beyond expectation, beyond the strange, and leaves you with a vast vision to play with. You feel as though all of the poems are toying with your comprehension with their curious phrases and imaginative worlds whose inhabitants are unusual creatures. This work is mature, the poems are sure of what they are. The book appealed to me, at my age and with my experiences. It is a real treat and one which I shall read again and again.

My favourite poem in the book, Yellow Trousers, gives so much in such a short, clipped poem about an absent-minded man. You have to invest some imagination in some of the poems, you make up your own versions about characters and situations. There is colour and texture and life; the poems are human, and there is always a tinge of sadness, but not self indulgence or misery. Poems are never in the first person, just distanced from the poet,  just that little bit off kilter. Sometimes they feel numb, but they all deliver in terms of language, which is piercing and never in excess.

 Some of my other favourite things of the moment are:

Re-reading The Master and Margarita


Doctor Sharma

virtually no drowsiness

kind and thoughtful emails


watching the kids enjoy ice cream

cobalt blue sky

no more cheap teabags

crushed satin

new shoes

to do lists

washing lines

sewing machines

Emily critchley

Simon Barraclough

Cold Comfort Farm

Tears in the Fence (need subscriptions)


April sun

new friends

old friends

watching Waterloo Road with Lil

frank conversations

waking up with the alarm not five am

homemade leek and potato soup

 40 lengths

haircuts with Jess

no more anxiety meds


holding hands

Drum solos


Thanks for dropping by! xx