The end of this month seems even busier than the beginning, which is crazy because I intentionally withdrew from performing poetry to concentrate on a writing project and take stock. With all the writing & editing there hasn’t been much time to take stock! I did have to take on a lot of day work (as my half term is unpaid) I managed one FULL day of writing mid-week which was a godsend! I spent most of this week preparing articles and posts for Inkspill, researching and communicating with our guest writers; William Gallagher, Charlie Jordan and Heather Wastie. If you missed it you missed a treat – follow this link to some of the programme, join in – it’s never too late! I was also working towards finishing a big writing project I have been involved on since the end of August. I spent hours writing on Wednesday, which was great – hard work feels so good when you love what you’re doing! I also received some news on Wednesday – I had been given an award from Arts all Over the Place for stepping in last minute to compere they opening event at the festival. I was able to go and pick up my award en route to the Restless Bones night at The Ort, due to work I didn’t get there in time to join in all the fun, very touched by Rachel Green and Arts All Over the Place. Pictured with Big Bren – Birmingham’s host for Sunday Xpress. I hope to work with Rachel again in the future. Although I was working on Thursday the booking was amended last minute and I was able to leave early and to the Library of Birmingham for Poetry for Lunch with Jan Watts. I always love this short, fast paced game of poetry tag and we were watched by a bunch of school kids waiting to go to the Rep Theatre, it made me doubly grateful for the early release! In the evening Elaine Christie had organised another launch event for Restless Bones Poetry Anthology. We were to perform poetry and watch the film Born Free. The Ort has lots of things going on some nights (it is community based) Thursday evening there was an art class in the gallery *(the space we had booked) and events and reservations in the café downstairs so we were up in the Gods in a level I never even knew existed as far from the bar and toilets as possible, still nothing a tray and some good balance couldn’t solve! Although there were a small select few of us another batch of books were sold, that’s over £330.00 for the all proceeds are being donated to charity. It was also one of those magical nights when the world seems right and everything is running to cosmic order. Those nights when you become aware of behind the scenes and feel incredibly touched by existence. Tessa Lowe had the idea that everyone else should pick poems to read which weren’t theirs – one of mine was by Emily Dickinson and it got read earlier, so I had to think on my feet – it was great to hear us all read words by somebody else, it was incredibly moving. As is the book, you really should buy yourself a copy! Come along to the next event 25th November where Restless Bones poets are reading at Poetry Bites, Kitchen Garden Café, Birmingham (Kings Heath). BUY YOUR COPY THERE £9.99 It was a great evening with a wonderful atmosphere. I was also trying to squeeze in a trip to Hanbury Hall (National Trust Property) to visit an exhibition that Stanza members are writing poetry about, I am glad I didn’t attempt this too as Thursday left me exhausted. I went after work on Friday – which was a pain with regards to the light and lack of time I spent with my notebook but was a lovely rest-bite from work traffic on a Friday night! There was so much going on in Birmingham this weekend. I missed it all as I had my project and Inkspill to attend to and had already accepted two weekend events I didn’t feel I could say anything other than YES to! The Poet Laureates took over the Library on Saturday with performances, workshops and a general spread of Poetry! Britain’s Got Talent came to town and one of my poetry friends, Andrea Smith (a.k.a Swingerella) had a very successful audition – I expect we will see her on the TV soon! Ruth Stacey was involved in a writing walk – this was in Ledbury and not the city – but had I been available was something else I would have liked to do! It looked fab. I also missed SOCKTEMBER which was an event I had planned to take part in performing poetry and enjoying a bonfire. I spent the time I would have been there chained to my desk writing and editing and I have no regrets there at all! I have made a note for this next year and hope to help the event and give the cause the time it deserves. I did manage to escape my desk briefly on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday we celebrated a big and important birthday, my Great Aunty Sheila and we all saw my brother Dave and his wife, Jenny fresh back off their wonderful honeymoon. On Sunday teatime I attempted 1940-50s fancy dress – with the help of Google and a few items in my wardrobe I generally don’t wear anymore and certainly not together, styled my hair and shot off to Worcester for Alan Durham’s Book Launch of The Hen Race. http://henracepress.com/2014/10/28/keep-calm-and-carry-on/ Read all about it straight from Alan on his blog. It was a great launch, Heather Wastie played the keyboard and sang a selection of the songs mentioned in the book. She was brilliant! Polly Robinson and Heather read extracts as well as Alan and the wonderful cover art was on display. We were spoilt with drinks and canapés and it didn’t even matter that my worst fear was realised, people hadn’t realised I was in fancy dress! It was lovely to pop in and see everyone too and the room was packed. A great turn out for the launch. The empty seat was mine. Every spare minute of the last few weeks has been spent on my writing project, so much so that despite reminders in my writing schedule it was only 7 day before that I had started to instigate work on the writing weekend. I felt was a great success, lots of hard work went into making it happen, especially with other commitments and opportunities that have arisen this year! Thanks again to everyone who took part! It was a full and action packed week!
Thanks to everyone who made this year’s INKSPILL a success!
Please remember to share – I will be connecting social media and Guest posts later on today. Here are links to some of the 30+ wonderful posts created over 2 days! See you next year!
NaNoWriMo Includes links to 4 articles.
Archive INKSPILL 2013 4 articles;
Writing Historical Fiction
How to Write a Short story
The WHY Technique
POEMS BY HEATHER WASTIE
Final Write Subjects and Dialogue
After a wonderful and exhausting INKSPILL weekend I am taking a 2-3 day break from the blog.
My main reasons are that I need to be OFFLINE writing, I have many end of month submissions to edit and am also completing a job application.
I do want to tell you all about the wonderful events in October but will do a catch up after all my deadlines have whooshed by with my manuscripts attached hopefully!
This week I have a workshop, 3 Halloween Poetry Performances, 1 non-Halloween poetry Event and then I am planning a restful/ writing-ful weekend before going back to work and welcoming NOVEMBER! Where did this year go!?
I should have some time on Wednesday to pile the posts in from this past week before finding fancy dress costume – 1 of 3…. I didn’t dress up last year, I think I am making up for it this holiday!
If you didn’t dip into INKSPILL – there are enough posts there to keep you going until I blog again.
Our Guest Writers kindly gave up their time this year to write material for INKSPILL for FREE. They all did more than I expected and I am very grateful. I have my own plan for how to thank William, Charlie and Heather and I will.
Another way I can say thank you is by opening a gift shop to sell their wares.
*©2014 Lee Allen Photography
Charlie’s Tea Shop (CAKES)
You can listen to Charlie on Smooth Radio or HERE and watch her perform her poetry all over the Midlands.
Heather, would need an eclectic shop, a fusion of musical instruments, CDs and poetry.
Other products are shown on the Bio Post here
And if you have no money – say a virtual thanks by choosing a button – blogging about INKSPILL and link back to AWF! Spread the word… let’s watch it grow!
It would be great to have some feedback on how it was for you and to share ideas for next year.
Let us know what you think!
That’s all Folks!
Our final writing activity is another freewrite, writing without stopping, without censoring, without editing.
Choose a prompt and decide how long to write – ten minutes is a good length of time to begin with. It is the FINAL one – so I have left two, choose or use both.
Remember to share links with us or post your freewrites as comments on this thread.
What have you stolen?
Write about a phobia.
Write about a neighbour.
Write about something you lost.
Write about your feet.
William told us about dialogue yesterday – so here is a challenge about dialogue. Choose a line – start with it – use it in the middle or at the end, write a script, or prose or even a poem. Whatever you choose.
“No! I’m tired of doing what you say.”
“It looks like you’re in trouble there. Can I help?”
“You were meant to be watching him!”
“Well, this is where I live.”
“Do you ever think we should just stop doing this?”
INKSPILL 2013 Historical Research Parts 1 & 2
Categories menu Inkspill 2013
I am still undecided on whether I am attempting NaNoWriMo 2014 or not yet, if I do it will be to work on short stories, several of them.
In 2013, when I started writing again, I discovered NaNo in early Spring and was gutted I had to wait until Autumn. I took part in both the Camp NaNoWriMo Spring and Summer – produced 50K on a non-fiction book which is writing in progress and currently somewhere beyond 90K words, I worked on a series of short stories for the summer camp, by the real event in November I was primed and ready and created half a novel that I haven’t touched it since.
What I did do successfully, was blog. Just in case you know nothing of this month of madness have a look HERE
Here are links to archive posts for any of you considering locking yourself in for November and writing until your head hurts!
Search yourselves, scroll down to bottom of webpage – look in Categories – choose NaNoWriMo and have a splash about!
Thoughts on Writing and Editing (Part 2)
Balance? No idea – just squish bits of writing in whenever you can, and accept that life sometimes gets so busy with work and family responsibilities, that you may not always have space…….that’s ok too – sometimes the only hour you get free needs to be spent walking in the park and clearing your head.
Don’t get too Ivory Tower about your writing, we all have images of sitting in a particular location, with elegant stationery or a Macbook and endless hours to focus on our craft – but the reality may be scribbling on a train in rush hour, or when waiting to collect the kids on the school run – hoping they’re running a few minutes late today, so you can finish a piece. 😉 Sometimes it’s just a few brief notes or thoughts for working on another time, and that’s ok.
I love the books by Natalie Goldberg on writing, and she writes about Zen practise too – so as someone who’s dabbled with Buddhism for 30 yrs, I can re-read her books and still savour new nuances.
Others rave about Stephen King’s book on writing, or Julia Cameron – read widely and see what works for you, but don’t allow too much reading about writing equate to never actually doing any writing! It’s a fine balance…. I read Buddhist books, Pema Chodron & Thich Nhat Hanh are among my favourites, food books, authors like Elizabeth Gilbert – who have such a clear voice I can hear them speaking from the page, and of course – poetry……from early favourites like Maya Angelou – who wrote and spoke as a 6 foot woman, like me – and I didn’t know any other tall women then, so I felt like she understood!
Benjamin Zephaniah, as a Brummy and hugely charismatic poet and writer who is equally at home writing for children or engaging in more serious political poetry, sometimes combining both in his young adult novels, Sharon Olds – whose work Jo Bell introduced me to – which reminds me – you should look up Jo Bell.
Now! She’s a powerhouse of poetic life force, fiercely talented and a warm, friendly mischievous woman whose love of poetry and boating meets perfectly in her currently being our canal Laureate. She instigated 52 – a brilliant initiative online for weekly poetry prompts and sharing of new work – hopefully in a book for next year so we can all catch up on it. Lemn Sissay too – outstanding energy on the page and off the page and sometimes inscribed into walls – Google him now & look….. So many other names, too many to mention – but poets like Jaqui Rowe, Angela France, Helen Ivory are worth your time and generally dip into collections of poetry like a ‘pick & mix’ to stumble on new favourites. Performance poets to recommend include Hollie McNish, Bohdan Piasecki, Kate Tempest, Matt Windle, Spoz, Maggie Doyle – several of whom are friends, but of course I’m not biased – they’re outstanding poets too.
Connect with other writers when you can, it’s such an isolating process – so writing groups, open mics, writing courses and literary festivals – go and find your tribe as it were! I’ve found the West Midlands to be full of some hugely talented writers, who are also encouraging and supportive people who welcome new poets and want to build up their confidence.
One thing that makes me sad is when a writer spends time and energy criticising another writer’s work. This may be amusing with the big name million selling, prize winning stars parry in the broad sheets to get the headlines for their new bestseller…..but for the rest of us in the real world – be kinder! Don’t waste your finite words, and energy in negativity and try to divide the already small community of writers and artists and claim some work is superior to others. Of course we’re not all going to love every word or genre written, but why denigrate someone’s hard work and sneer – instead why not tell us whose work you love?
Share what sets you alight with inspiration and we too may indulge in the excitement of discovering new favourite writers.
Update things. This is as much for me as you……I’ve been presenting the Drivetime show at Smooth radio in the West Midlands since March, but haven’t updated my website this year….ooooops! My friend Dave does all the technical stuff for it, but I’ve not sent him any new copy for months – so, note to self – update it……… Nina’s much better at this
Editing – try actually chopping a piece up. Literally with scissors and physically swap words or lines around in a poem…..sometimes it frees things up in a way you’d never discover on a computer screen. And you get to play with blue tack or sellotape – always fun!
This is just a few rambling thoughts scribbled extremely quickly, so to wrap up I should say something really profound and meaningful and well thought out – like I was planning this destination all along…..erm…..oooopssssss…..oh wait, yes – that’s it….. Feel free to ignore/discard/forget every word of this or anything else……… different things will work for us all at different times. There is no one definitive answer, but by reading widely and dipping into and out of things, you’ll be likely to discover something you do like, that fits right now.
So Good luck, go write and enjoy.
Oh and one more thing, try writing with your friends – I did it with Divas, and we’ve had the best fun and once our diaries are all link up, we’ll be doing it again and having the best writing and performing fun ever, and tea, cake & mischievous giggles!
Thoughts on Writing & Editing (Part1)
Rambling thoughts of a 6 ft poet……
Eat cake, drink tea and then look back on something you’ve written – it definitely helps the editing process! And if you can, leave it untouched for as long as possible – an hour, a day, a week…..the longer the better, as distance will give you a clearer perspective. Sometimes you stumble on something scribbled long ago and forgotten, and can spot the potential lines crying out for a new poem, or the fact that the whole piece of paper belongs in the recycling bin.
Be prepared to write badly. We all do, sometimes. It’s ok, and with hindsight you’ll love some of your work more than others. Some will seem as awkward as teenage diaries, or embarrassing old school photos. 😉 Just keep going, start something new and keep the faith….. my boyfriend is a scientist and uses statistics to say that the chances are the next piece will be better….or something like that, but with several graphs and copious numbers and scientific theories…..
Morning pages are a good idea if you’re stuck in a writing rut – see Julia Cameron and just sit down with bed-head hair, pen & paper and a cup of tea and scribble whatever is in your head to clear it out onto the page. Then you can mine it for the odd random good thought to work with, or start something afresh later that day with a clear head and a few pages of notes already scribbled – proof you are a writer! Although these pages are never to be read by another, no matter how much they love you. If i’m doing them, I make my handwriting so illegible that even I struggle to re-read them. Or maybe that’s just because it’s too early and my hand was still asleep at the pen…..
Don’t write the same poem. Again. Don’t write the same poem! Of course we’ll all have certain subjects we return to, or familiar themes, but try new things too….which is where a writing exercise or a workshop can highlight a new area for you and will be refreshing. Write about cheese, or your grandmother’s hands, about the first day at school, the urges you have when you order coffee from the cute barista, write in the voice of an excited 5 yr old at school playtime etc. You will still come through quite clearly in any of these subjects by the way, even if you can’t spot it! I did a residency at WBA (West Bromwich Albion) football club and wrote a piece as a small boy and performed it, to be told – ‘Oh that was just like you!’ so we’ll still leave a trace of our own DNA behind. Sometimes writing surprises you. I was introduced at a gig, by the uber talented and lovely Polarbear poet, as being a romantic poet who wrote about love. I was horrified. I thought, hang on – just because I’m the only woman on the bill, doesn’t mean I’m a soppy loved up girl. Then I realised I was, despite my tom boy image. Damn – poetry can do this – it outs you!
- Say yes to things. Obviously not if it’s unsafe – so don’t agree with you wildest friend to step into a lion’s cage while wearing platform wedges and drinking tequila…..but in the writing sense, say yes. Offer to help at an event, or read at one, or mentor someone, or go on a writing course, or co-write something with someone. Be honest if you’ve not much experience, but go for it and you’ll learn all sorts of things in the process and meet new people and something positive will usually come from it.
- This is how I began writing, applying for a short writing course – even though the last thing I’d written down was 20 yrs earlier. I discovered I was the only newcomer on a course squished full of extraordinarily talented & experienced people, mostly published and who all seemed to know each other already and were all very knowledgeable about things I’d never heard of. Yikes. But it was fine, they were a lovely bunch, some of whom are now friends. And I was a novelty, so perhaps that was refreshing for them too. Never feel you have to pretend to be anything you’re not – just be yourself – in life and in writing.
- P.S sometimes you’ll say yes to so many things that there are barely enough hours in the day…… I’ve had one of those months lately and my computer breaking and deciding not to work again, just out of guarantee…..grrrrrrrr….hasn’t helped, so this is being scribbled extraordinarily hastily while doing a radio show….and preparing for the Poets Laureate Takeover day in the LOB (Library of Birmingham) tomorrow – Sat 25th October.*
Thanks for your input Charlie, especially in light of your busy schedule and technical failing of all technology! Great advice!
* I advertised this on social media and didn’t get a chance with Inkspill and 94th Birthday celebrations to get to the library or advertise it on the blog! Missed a treat I’m sure. It was part of the Voices season.
Birmingham Poets Laureate Take Over
A morning of pop up poetry readings, performances and workshops led by former Poets Laureate
Drop into the Library of Birmingham for poetry performances, poetry surgeries, workshops and plenty of interactions from some of the city’s former Poets Laureate and Young Laureates. Join the band of wandering poets to celebrate and showcase the best of Birmingham over the years.
A morning of pop up poetry readings, performances and workshops led by former Poets Laureate including Jan Watts, Charlie Jordan, Roy McFarlane, Giovanni Esposito (aka Spoz), Adrian Johnson, Simon Pitt, Chris Morgan, and Julie Boden.
More from Charlie Jordan soon – look out for Part 2