Not quite the Last Word by Natalie Nera Our second season is nearly done and dusted, and I can’t help but reflect on the challenges we have faced in the past year and a half. “Hang on a minute!” I hear you say. “You have a job, you live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world – what challenges are you talking about?” This makes light work of what has been a challenging time for all of us – those in caring professions, children and teenagers, mums and dads, older people, (though I prefer “people of significant life experience”… Ha!) It isn’t natural to sit at home, starved for the chance to touch or see each other. Fear is an everyday companion, and so is the reality of our own mortality and helplessness. Nearly everyone has lost someone. I am not just a writer, or a creative, or editor. I am also a mum of two young school kids and a teacher, and I have seen what this pandemic has done to our young people, how it affects them – and have discovered how hard it is to teach your own children while working full time! After one particularly painful afternoon of wrestling with maths, my older son blurted: “You’re not my teacher, you’re my mum!” How right he was! The impossible confusion of mixing work and domestic life could not have been summed up better than by my eight-year-old. I have struggled more and more to answer submissions on time, which brings me to my next point: if you are currently waiting for a response, I will get back to you within the next month. Please accept my heartfelt apology for the delay! And yet, there is so much to celebrate! In the midst of this mad year, despite a global pandemic, we have grown and we have achieved so much. Crick, Rue and I have enjoyed our own creative successes, as well as transforming our small press into a community interest company, which perfectly fits our mission: connecting creative communities everywhere, building bridges between people through their creative output, and offering a platform to those niche and unheard voices if and when we discover them. Our experience keeps growing, our friendships remain intact, and our determination to forge ahead is as fierce as ever. After the astounding success of our debut publication, The Language of Salt: Poems on Love and Loss, we are thrilled to announce we will be creating another anthology this year. Keep your eyes peeled for the callout once our reading window closes! If you haven’t yet got your hands on The Language of Salt, it’s now available from our online shop, and we hope to have a second print run before long as well as an official publication for Europe. So, what’s the moral of the story? It’s not important if you fall. The important thing is to get up – and it looks as though we might be getting pretty good at it. About the Author Natalie Nera is Prose Editor and Co-founder of Fragmented Voices.