Tuesday 30 April 2019

An evening with John Greening

Northants Writers Ink had an open evening yesterday, so I went along to hear poet John Greening talk about and read some of his work. Writing poetry is a new thing for me, so this was a welcome opportunity to get close to someone who knows how to do it. Read about him here.

It was a lovely, relaxed evening. John is one of the most un-poety poets I've ever come across. I bought one of his books, To the War Poets, on the back of which a reviewer writes that he is 'a serious (but never excessively solemn) poet, who cares about both 'facts' and ideas and makes his poetry out of the interpenetration of the two'. I couldn't have put it better.

Speaking to him after his presentation, he said that very often when he sits down to write, the end product isn't what he thought it was going to be. You might think you've got an idea for a few verses on, say, windmills, but then you find you've written an ode to your grandmother! 

He talked about form and structure, too, with particular emphasis on the sonnet. This is something I need to explore, I think, if I'm ever going to produce anything worthwhile. Mind you, he did also say that the pleasure comes from the writing, from finding that perfect word, whether or not it's ever going to be read. I shall take comfort from that.

In the meantime, I am involved in a project for which I have said I will write a poem called 'Bag For Life.' I have to start somewhere!

'Let her have time, and silence,
enough paper to make mistakes and go on.'
from 'The Poet' by Jane Hirshfield

Saturday 27 April 2019

Ten-minute drama

It was a real privilege to be in the audience last night for Carword, a presentation by Core Playwrights Ensemble.

The (mostly) amateur dramatists have been meeting for the last few months to write 10-minute one-act plays, which were performed last night in Corby's theatre by four professional actors, each playing multiple roles. I've never seen drama done like this before, but it worked really well, a bit like live-action flash fiction.

Afterwards there was a Q&A session with the writers, actors and directors, during which I wrote copious notes all over my programme (which intrigued the woman sitting next to me, who kept leaning in to see what I was up to). Here are some of the key points:
  • There doesn't have to be a twist in the tale. Recognition of how a scene is going to pan out can be just as satisfying. What matters is forming an emotional connection between the characters, and between the characters and the audience.
  • It's good for actors and writers to develop a piece together, but there comes a point when the former have to kick the latter out of the room!
  • A back story can help, but isn't always necessary. One of the actors said if there was no back story it allows the character to evolve purely from the script.
  • Ten minutes isn't long in which to develop an entire story. The word 'discipline' cropped up several times. 
There are actually nine people in the group, but only five plays were chosen for performance. However, the other four stayed involved in the process, working with those selected and supporting them with encouragement and constructive feedback. I love the generosity of that.

I came home inspired. Congratulations to everyone involved. 

Tuesday 23 April 2019

I'll just do this post, and then...

I'm not usually a procrastinator, but there is a writing job on my to-do list that I've been putting off. I don't know why - it's not going to be difficult - but I just can't seem to get started on it; and of course the longer I leave it, the harder it is to begin.

American self-help author Napoleon Hill put it thus: 'Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.' Well, yes, I know that, but sometimes I have cupboards to tidy, pencils to sharpen, garden paths to sweep, etc, etc, etc.

I was doing some of my finest timewasting this morning when up on Facebook popped the image above. So, soon as I've finished this post I'm going to get that job done. Honesty. No, really, I am.

Thursday 18 April 2019

Could you cope with triplets?

Just a quick post to share the news that my friend and fellow 3P Publishing author Gill Arthey is celebrating the publication of her book A Masters in Motherhood

When a scan at fourteen weeks clearly reveals that a set of natural triplets is on the way, Gill and her husband Eddie realise their lives are about to be changed forever. This lovely book follows the humorous and sometimes chaotic things that happen when  the triplets - all boys! - learn how three heads are better than one when it comes to mischief.

The book is available from the publisher here.

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Linking up

Isn't it strange how one thing leads to another?

A few years ago I wrote a short story called 'Scoring An Own Goal in Tennis'. I sat on it for a while because I didn't know what to do with it; it clearly wasn't a womag tale. In the end, I entered it into the H E Bates Short Story Competition and it won one of the prizes. I subsequently published it as a little e-project for the Kindle.

Since then, I've attended the HEBSSC awards evening as a guest and it's always an interesting event. The second year I went I sat next to a lovely lady called Rachael, whose partner is a writer. She runs Open Stage Performing Arts in Northampton, where she does wonderful things, and I've been privileged to have been a judge at the group's awards day three times.

A couple of those times, one of my co-judges has been Radio Northampton presenter Jules Osmany and we've kept bumping into each other here and there. Well, last night she invited me on to the radio show she co-hosts, for a chat about public speaking. If you're interested, you can catch my bit on BBC Sounds here; I was on at 1hr 16min for about a quarter of an hour.

Coincidentally, my blogworld friend Sally Jenkins has just posted about this topic, because her book Public Speaking for Absolute Beginners is now available in paperback and Kindle formats. There's more about this on her blog here.

I wonder what the next link in the chain will be.

Thursday 4 April 2019

Mixed bag

What with the weather undecided and our politics in turmoil, is it any wonder that I can't settle at the moment? It's been a funny old couple of days.

Good news: one of my clients has won a national award! 

Brightkidz has been listed in the highly acclaimed 2019 NatWest SE100 Index, a national scheme that celebrates the growth, impact and resilience of successful UK social ventures. Brightkidz is a company that I've watched grow over the last 15 years. I've been involved with it from the beginning and have done various writing jobs for the team there, as well as a fair bit of cheer-leading. I'm a huge fan of what they're trying to achieve. It's a social enterprise that promotes safe, active, sustainable everyday travel for children. It provides information and quality resources for schools, local authorities, businesses and parents to support walk-to-school, cycling and road safety initiatives. Please pop over to its website here to learn more. 

Bad news: our independent bookshop is closing

Defeated by low footfall and general apathy, Bookcave Limited in Wellingborough is closing its doors for the last time tomorrow. This is very sad. I went over today to collect the few copies of my books they still had in stock and had a word with one of the owners. Part of the problem has been that people had been coming into the shop (and others in the same development) to browse while waiting for someone before going to the next-door deli for lunch. Who are these strange people who can afford coffee and an an overpriced sandwich, but can't find a couple of quid for a second-hand book? 

Could-go-either-way news: feedback on my current WIP

'It's beautifully written, but...' Oh.

How's your week going?