Category Archives: Articles

A Year of Learning Curves

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2015/16 have been eye opening years for learning. At no point have I thought staying in my comfort zone was a good idea, in fact I don’t think I have found a comfort zone yet. The whole idea behind this leap of faith was creativity and adventure and I expected (sought and found) abundant amounts of it.

I jump from learning about the lengthy editing process to marketing books. I am glad I didn’t look down. I have researched and actioned so much in the past few weeks that it has been hard to keep track of all the avenues. The most important lessons will not be lost though, I plan to share some of my new found knowledge with you. Hopefully the next person with similar Google searches will find more answers with less time and energy used that I expended.

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Bruce Elkin © 2016

The one thing I will mention is how much fun this hard work has been! After decades working (extremely hard) for someone else in a thankless profession, I relish the idea of freedom as much as I love experiencing it. The hours used researching and networking to market my book, Fragile Houses fragile-houses-best By Nina Lewis, Published by V.Press, have been an absolute pleasure.

Of course, there is always the possibility that I am driving people mad with social media updates. With a week to go and today being my last day of freedom to drive the PR machine, I am in fifth gear.

The good news is there are pre-orders both for mailing and for signing. The fear that no one will want to buy the pamphlet is a thing of the past. The fear that no one will turn up for the Book Launch, a fear of the past. Now the worry energy can be converted into real energy as I attack the final full day pre-launch TO DO list. A day to remember.

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A week Monday will be a day I never forget too.

NANO: No Time for NaNoWriMo? Try FLASH NANO instead

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I did NaNoWriMo in 2013, the year I started writing again, the year I started blogging. I completed the Spring and Summer Camps as well as the main event. 2013-Winner-Vertical-Banner

This year I thought about dipping my toes in again, but I am working on several poetry projects and know that I don’t have time to complete 50,000 words. Tonight I decided to spend some time browsing my reader as it has been 10 months since I looked at blogs out here. I discovered a post and a challenge that might match my schedule and give me more to work with in the future.1 nb

Nancy Stohlman is posting prompts for flash fiction, which I do have time for. http://nancystohlman.com/flashnano/

Imagination Rain.eps I headed over to http://nanowrimo.org and signed back in. I headed to the Pep Talk page which has a lot of good advice and encouragement for a positive mental attitude, which believe me all NaNo-ers need! See what Gene Luen Yang has to say here

I am unlikely to reach the 50,000 word count by writing incredibly short, short stories but I will hopefully end the month with 30 new pieces and if I can I might mix it up with some poetry too.

So let’s get started!

Good luck to everyone making NaNo part of their November.

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INKSPILL Programme 2015

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INKSPILL 2015 Programme

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Having given yourself the gift of a writing weekend, I am sure you are eager to see how it pans out. Timings are given in GMT, posts will remain active beyond the weekend and can be commented on at any time.

We dream of conversations between participants on threads, do make the virtual seem real and join in actively throughout the weekend.

  • Participants without WordPress accounts can sign in as a ‘Guests’.

Throughout the weekend if you prefer, you can email directly to:

awritersfountain[at]hotmail[dot]com or join the closed Facebook Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/194707454197891/

If you want to share work that you are considering submitting you can share it on the closed Facebook page and it won’t be considered published. Let us know you have done that with a link back in the comments box, so we can find and read your work.

Please appreciate that I may not have time for individual responses over the weekend.

INKSPILL 2015

SOCIAL MEDIA – Share links throughout the weekend across social media.


INKSPILL – The Programme 2015

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SATURDAY 24th

DAY 1 inkspill pink

9:00 Coffee and a writing challenge

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10:00 WORKSHOP: Exploring Self

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11:30 Introducing Our Guest Writers Alison May, David Calcutt and Daniel Sluman.

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11:45 VIDEO & DISCUSSION

Inspirational writing video By Rae Dover

Discussion on writing on the hop and how to deal with rejection.

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inkspill pink Opening of the INKSPILL SHOP inkspill pink

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12:30 LUNCH – after lunch we start back with a short excerpt from an Amy Tan interview (2008), you may be interested in watching the full interview (1hr 23 mins) if so, maybe view it with your lunch.

13:45 INTERVIEW short video an interview by Roger Rosenblatt with Amy Tan (2008)

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14:30 GUEST WRITER Interview with David Calcutt

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15:00 WORKSHOP: CHARACTER

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16:40 GUEST WRITER Interview with David Calcutt Part 2

17:40 GUEST WRITER Interview with Alison May

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18:00 Free time to spend on your own writing from this retreat or projects you are currently working on.

19:30 Poetry Film ‘The Beach’

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Followed by another

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21:00 Night Write challenge

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And for those of you who do not wish to sleep, links will be shared from the 2013 INKSPILL retreat to keep you busy!


SUNDAY 25th

DAY 2 inkspill pink

9:30 Coffee and a short film.

10:00 Beautiful Ugly Writing Challenge

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11:30 GUEST POET Daniel Sluman Interview

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11:50 Free time to spend on your own writing from this retreat or projects you are currently working on.

12:00 Lunch – As it is Sunday, take a break.


13:30 How not to Waste Time – Article & discussion

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14:00 WORKSHOP Weather and Folklore

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16:00 REFUGEES – An exploration of poetry, writing and person.

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17:30 Explore the Archives, including Guest Posts from 2014

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20:00 Evaluation & Ending – this will include a quick and easy click poll (rather than a 2 sided sheet of A4 evaluation), please take a few moments to leave your mark. Thank you.

A BIG Thank YOU post

20:30

CC Nick Papakyriazis The INKSPILL posts will remain active – the LIVE element is over. There will be no more INKSPILL related posts until next 2016.

Thanks for coming!

*Over the following week this programme will have active links embedded and be posted to the top of the blog roll to help you navigate to specific parts of the INKSPILL programme.

If after that, you wish to find retreat posts use the keyword INKSPILL in Categories at the bottom of the page OR click 24th or 25th on the OCTOBER calendar to the right of the screen.


INKSPILL PROGRAMME 2015 inkspill pink

AT A GLANCE

SAT 24th Oct SUN 25th Oct
Writing Challenges

In Nature

Night Write

Writing Challenges

Beautiful Ugly

Refugees

Meeting Guest Writers FREE TIME TO WRITE
Workshops

Exploring Self

Character

Workshop

Weather & Folklore

Video & Discussion

On writing & rejection

Poetry Films & Shorts

ARTICLES

How Not To Waste Time

INKSPILL SHOP OPENS INKSPILL SHOP
INTERVIEWS

With Amy Tan (2008)

David Calcutt Guest Writer

Alison May Guest Writer

INTERVIEW

Daniel Sluman Guest Poet

ARTICLES Archived

INKSPILL 2013

Historical Research

Writing Historical Fiction

How to Write a Short story

The WHY Technique

Archive INKSPILL 2013 

ARTICLES Archived

GUEST WRITERS POSTS

INKSPILL 2014

WILLIAM GALLAGHER

How To Get Rejected

Making Time To Write

Writing Doctor Who

What You Get From Writing

ARTICLES

Archived Links

INKSPILL 2014

Stephen King On Writing

HEATHER WASTIE

On Her Writing Journey

Editing A Poem

Histrionic water

Spaghetti hoops

INKSPILL 2014

William Gallagher Guest

Writing Motivation

You vs Yourself

CHARLIE JORDAN

Thoughts on Writing & Editing Part 1

Thoughts On Writing & Editing Part 2

INTERVIEW: The Quiet Compere – Sarah Dixon

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INTERVIEW: The Quiet Compere – Sarah Dixon

I am delighted to share this interview with Sarah Dixon, The Quiet Compere. Ever since I caught the Birmingham leg of the tour last year I have wanted to post an interview with her on the blog – and wishes DO come true, you have known that since my first jump, right?

I asked her all about  The QC – her Arts Council funded project, now in its 2nd year with a possible 3rd year ahead.

It is an inspiring interview and I always feel we can all learn a lot from people who are already out there doing it (Art/ Creativity/ Poetry) – so here is the gold-dust!

ENJOY!

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The Quiet Compere National Tour 2015 – Stop 6

@ The Hive, Worcester

Featuring: The Quiet Compere, Mike Alma, Catherine Crosswell, Myfanwy Fox, Hayley Frances, Jasmine Gardosi, Neil Laurenson, Nina Lewis, Adrian Mealing, Carl Sealeaf, Claire Walker

TICKETS FOR THE WORCESTER TOUR (FRI 10th July) ARE NEARLY ALL SOLD OUT -£5 Book here;

https://www.ents24.com/worcester-events/the-hive/the-quiet-compere-national-tour-2015-stop-6/4324372

Or you can book directly with the venue;

https://e-services.worcestershire.gov.uk/LibraryEvents/EventDetails.aspx?id=75

Fri 10th July at 7:00pm

thehiveworcsorg© 2014 thehiveworcsorg

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QC tour

1) How did you come up with the Quiet Compere (TQC) concept?
My local night in Manchester started life as Lead Poets (in 2008) started off as a night where whoever turned up did a spot if they wanted. Slowly a regular audience developed and numbers were usually between 30 and 40. At this point I limited the number of readers to ten and adopted a 10 poets x 10 mins format (I have since been informed that there was a night called Take Ten in Newcastle about the same time – I was not aware of this at the time).
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
2) How did you approach/research grants from the Arts Council?
I thought the format and the chance to invest in poets in so many regions would appeal, but that it would also need enough planning in advance for any funding body to invest in it. I had a small track record of running events around Manchester, at local festivals and in Cheltenham and Leeds. Having no funding track record it was difficult to obtain match funding from councils and other bodies. I booked all the venues and half the poets before I pressed the SUBMIT button on the bid. This took around 35-40 hours and any work carried out before acceptance on the bid cannot be deemed payable.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
3) How long was the process, what was the toughest/ easiest part?
35 hours advance planning. Submit button. Then the wait – six weeks for a decision. The hardest bit is the waiting. Easiest bit: Deciding to put together a bid.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
4) How long have you been creating the QC tours?
This is the second year. Last years was a tour of the North, though weirdly Birmingham sneaked in (as it feels close – I never realise how south of the north Manchester is 🙂 The National tour is happening in 2015 and the Worcester event on 10th July will be the half-way point of this tour.
QC
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
5) What aspects of QC Tours do you find most rewarding?
Smooth-running events and I find if you keep venues and performers fully-informed and have the right people and venue the event should feel like it runs itself (but this is because of all the background admin work beforehand).
Bringing together poets from different groups who may not have met/or heard each other perform before. I make a concerted effort NOT to pick the same ten people who perform alongside each other at every local night in the area. I want to find the open miccers who are brilliant but haven’t had a chance to prove this in a ten minute spot, the members of groups who are the ones overlooked and a good dose of regulars on the scene. I attempt to mix performance and page (but this sometimes depends on the poetry dynamic in the area – in Cumbria performance poetry seems to be less of a thing, whereas in Manchester a high number of poets seem to straddle the line between page and performance and their is an audience for both poetry styles).

Bringing people back together. I have overheard conversations that start “I haven’t seen you for years, loved hearing your new stuff…” hoping this might rebuild some poetry bonds and new friendships and connections might be forged and old ones rekindled. This adds a bit of romance to the tour 🙂

Low advance sales are nerve-wracking, but after the Blackpool event I panic less about this. We had sold 1 until the day before, then 5. We sold out a 50 seater venue on the night. The buzz of that relief and the elation that there was a full-house.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
6) How were/ are poets selected?
The tour was in the North of England last year. I find a high number of poets in the North, especially the North West happily travel 1-2 hours to see a line-up they are excited by or to support quality nights. This meant I already knew a vast number of poets in the areas I was going to. I asked my contacts in the areas to recommend poets in the area, with a mix of age ranges, styles and themes in mind. I also searched ‘York – Poets’ online and checked out videos and links to poems by poets from the areas. Having been a part of the poetry scene for thirteen years I have built many contacts I know I can trust. Social Media plays a big part in promoting the tour and keeping everyone updated. I book poets who are not on social media, but it is more difficult to find ways to contact them, so is likely that I have been given an email address by someone I do know (in reality or virtually).
Since I have been planning the 2015 tour I have been part of a number of online communities (where I can get a feel for a poets style over several weeks or months of poems). I am thinking mainly of Jo Bell’s 52 poetry sharing and critique group (which numbered 650) and last year the tour included 30 or so poets from this group, all booked before the group existed. This year around half of the poets booked are from this group. Having access to several examples of the material of the poets makes it easier for me to balance themes, styles and other factors across each event. Also through workshops I have attended at Sheffield Poetry Business Writing Days, two Arvon weeks and Manchester Cathedral Poetry Business days among others.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
7) What are the future plans for QC?

I am presently pulling threads together in an attempt to get a bid in for next year – the final and third Quiet Compere tour – 2016 – the places she missed.

Possibly to set up a quarterly Manchester poetry writing day as I feel there is a demand for this.

For Sarah L Dixon: Getting a pamphlet published and recognition in reputable and/or popular poetry magazines.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
8) What has been challenging/ spectacular about expanding QC beyond Northern regions?
Challenging;
Less knowledge about the area and the audience and the poets/performers and local press outlets.
I have solved this in some cases by teaming up with a local co-host or performer who already knows the area and venues and can suggest some places to search for poets online from the area. 
Spectacular;

The sells-out gigs. The more unusual venues this year – The Old Cinema Laundrette in Durham, The Albion Beatnik Bookshop in Oxford. The venues provide a different backdrop and a more intimate and cosy feel to them than a pub room or a featurelss arts centre space. The venue in Ulverston a week ago had striking curtains. I enjoy anything that links the photos to a place rather than the ‘could be anywhere’ feel.

The chance to meet and bring together some people I feel I know/know each other well from virtual groups and share each others pieces and time
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
9) Why 10 poets?

Why 10 minutes? I found the leap between 2-4 minute open mic to full 15-30 minute guest spots was massive and the longer slots terrified me. At open mic nights I often wanted to hear more pieces by each poet (and found that as I was settling into someone’s style the night shifted and another poet took to the stage. My local night now has 3 guest spots and 5 support poet spots (6 mins each). I changed the format because I wanted to be able to charge a door fee and pay guests with a drink and a 6 minute spot for one guest if they want. None of the performers pay an entrance fee.

Why 10 poets? I think the attention span of a poetry audience starts to wane around two hours in (with a short break) and 10 x 10 had a ring to it.

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10) How has facilitating tours developed/supported your own life as a performing poet?
It has meant I have been offered guest spots I may not otherwise have been offered – because I am more visible. 
I have learnt a lot about Press releases, interviews and how to use Twitter.
I have learnt the value of a colour-coded spreadsheet can also be applied to poetry tours – not romantic, but true. Running the tour has meant I have had more time to write, submit, polish and run workshops and attend workshops as I can carry out the tour admin in my own time.

I have been able to do school drop off and pick ups of my son, Frank, 4. This means we often get 7 hours together each day and a high number of my poems are not about him, but from a phrase he says or a way he views the world that I might have missed had I been working and commuting and not had the opportunity to be with hi, so much 🙂

I have become strict with myself about time-keeping and not spending too much time woffling on Facebook. 

 QCM Sarah L Dixon
11) Can you tell us a little about the rest of the tour this year?
  • Worcester 10th Julynext Friday – Almost on us. Advance ticket sales going well.
  • Hull 4th Sept and Exeter 12th Sept are both at the point of sending flyer details to designer and printer.
  • Camden, Hackney and Norwich – I will be confirming the poets for these events in the next 6 weeks.
  • Cheltenham is the final gig of this year and is the night before the stunning Medicine Unboxed Conference curated by Samiir Guglani. This year’s theme is Mortality. QC HIVE
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
12) Being away from home is….?
…refreshing, different and exciting, 
    Being away from home is… lonely, strange and scary.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
13) Where do you stay on tour?
Last year I felt cheeky asking acquaintances for somewhere to stay, but after a few nights sharing the poetry buzz with a mini bottle of Sainsburys Prosecco (£3 for 20cl), the cast of Eastenders and a cheap B and B room I decided to be cheeky and ask poets if they would be willing to put me up and sharing poetry buzz is lovely, though still for half the dates on the tour this year I feel I don’t know people well enough in area to ask for a room/floor/bed.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
14) What advice would you give to poets who yearn to complete a project?
a) Plan a lot in advance of appoaching any funding body. Prove that you will run the project efficiently and have thought it through (I did at least 35 hours on each bid before submitting).
b) Approach local councils for match-funding. possibly easier after first project when you have a track record.
c) Detail is important. Keeping poets/venues/funding bodies informed at all times.
d) Thank the people who are part of your project as cohosts, venue teams, performers, poets who help promote and thank them personally not in an impersonal message. Let them know you listen and take notes so you can thank them with a few lines of poetry you enjoyed or a particular touch that made the venue unique and memorable.
e) Detail is key to building reputation and brand.
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15) What are the biggest lessons you have learnt?
a) Don’t cut corners – I am sometimes tempted not to thank poets individually. Thanking ten poets takes between an hour and half and two hours to do this they way I do it. I could cut corners and send a generic message, but it is not my style and detracts from the everyone being treated equally and valued ethos of the tour.
b) I’ve learnt a lot about the importance of press releases and interviews to the get the tour info out there.
c) I find typing up the blogs boring, but necessary.
d) You can’t thank people too much. Thank them on the night. Follow this up with email or message.
e) Remind poets to stick to time at the point you send running order out (7-10 days before).
f)  PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
16) Is the 2015 tour different to the 2014 tour? How? Why?
I suppose, because some of the dates are further afield. In tour of the North I had often met at least half of the line-up, if not more. I know a lot of poets virtually, some through 52, but not their performance style. I have found that now people have heard of The Quiet Compere and it has become a bit of brand I find people approach me to get on board (often at the point when I have already confirmed the line-up and sent flyers to print).
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
17) Who do you read – which poets do you admire/ read?
Magical realists – and this is relevant to my poetry. It is where the weird and dark sneak in and unsettle both me and the audience. Magnus Mills, Tom Holt, Jasper Fforde.

I am presently reading books on an 18th century cholera epidemic and The Black Death and epidemiology and real life murder books fascinate me. Yes, the weird and the dark again.

Poets: My favourite performers at the moment are Clare Shaw (I love her delivery style, her themes and the words she chooses) and Rose Condo (who I saw win a Manchester Poetry Slam final in 2014 by taking us with her into a story and weaving words around us rather than firing them at us – this was my first slam (as audience member) and I didn’t know what to expect).  The list changes every week. I discovered Brian Patten in the last year and love his stuff.

 QCM Sarah L Dixon
18) How did you get into writing poetry?
I wrote as a teenager to make sense of the world. Then thought I had the world figured out. After six years of working full-time and studying for an OU degree part-time in Social Science and Economics I returned to poetry via an NHS-subsidised Arts and Health Creative Writing Course for Staff run by Phlip Davenport in 2002.
 QCM Sarah L Dixon
19) What do you miss the most when your touring schedule is over?
I miss the structure and the fact that I am always in three different stages for three different events.

At present I need to thank four more poets from last week’s Ulverston gig and I put the piece of paper with notes of their lines down when distracted by a thunderstorm last week. One of my jobs this week is to find this and thank these poets.

I am in the middle of a last promotion push for Worcester in 5 days time and going to send out the running order either tonight or tomorrow.

I am trying to confirm a last couple of poets for Exeter and Hull and getting the flyers to printer hopefully in time to take them to a 52 poetry picnic on Saturday 11th July, as a lot of the Exeter crew will be there. 🙂

 QCM Sarah L Dixon
20) If you weren’t the Quiet Compere, who would you be?
If I wasn’t Quiet Compere would still be Frank’s Mum, zumba enthusiast (not necessarily good or rhythmical ;)). I told Frank my super power would be not being clumsy – had a clatter on Thursday on cobbles – classic scuffed knees and elbows.  Frank said I can’t have that power as then he would be clumsy all by himself. 
© Sarah Wilkinson 2014

© Sarah Wilkinson 2014

MANY THANKS TO YOU Sarah for taking the time for this interview, I cannot wait to see you and the other 9 QC poets on Friday and GOOD LUCK with the rest of the tour!

Reading, Writing, Submitting, Organising, Celebrating

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A week of reading articles, catching up with writing and ordering poetry books (well I was online buying Mr G’s Birthday presents). I missed a submission which fell on Valentine’s Day. Mr G celebrated his birthday on Friday and then Saturday was busy celebrating Valentine’s, so any writing that wasn’t finished by the weekend didn’t get written at all.WP_000735

Writing diaryI spent yesterday writing – for about 5 hours, I am working on some performance poetry about Ghosts – which is hard for me as I tend to avoid this subject, in fact whilst I was immersed in YouTube research I started getting chest pains, that was a tad scary. I have yet to finish my poetry for this set at the end of February, but I am glad I attempted the challenge and have written some poems which wouldn’t have existed otherwise. I was also working to a submission deadline. I like to find opportunities to support and promote Mental Health, after what I have been through, part of my goals is to use writing as healing with others at some point eventually. I wrote a couple of poems for the rethinkyourmind, they should be live on the website in a couple of days, I will let you know.

Rather excitingly I ordered 2 new poetry collections, I bought Maps & Legends in Nine Arches Press sale at the end of January, my Forward Poetry Collection arrived on Saturday, just 2 days after I ordered it – along with Mr G’s presents. I have treated myself to a short bed-read on my first day off and am now online preparing for some writing time before I go out.

© 2015 Forward Arts Foundation

© 2015 Forward Arts Foundation

It is important for writers to read and keep up to date with current trends. Treat yourself, if you can’t see it as research.

I also completed some research on events and venues. Jill Peers asked me to be part of Malvern’s Mad March Book Promotion Event- 11 days of events happening around Malvern EVENTS I have finally decided however tempting other venues and days were that I am taking part in a weekend event so I am still free to earn money in the week.

It will be the same day that I am working for Writing West Midlands, but Malvern is no further to Worcester than my hometown, so I should be able to do both. More about this closer to the event (14th March) and after. Come along if you can, enjoy yourselves, most events are FREE. WWM

Daniel Sluman has been interviewed exclusively for AWF and I am delighted that the interview will go LIVE later today.

Sonia Hendy-Isaac © 2014

Sonia Hendy-Isaac
© 2014

EXCLUSIVE DANIEL SLUMAN Interview COMING SOON!

 

A NEW YEAR Message ~ inspired by ‘black rainbow’ Rachel Kelly

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Link to the original part of this message: Approaching the New Year Truth and Rainbows

NEW YEAR MESSAGE

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Over Christmas I read Black Rainbowan amazing book by Rachel Kelly. I sent Rachel an email this week requesting permission to use part of Chapter 15 to base this post on, I was delighted when I received a reply the same day! Thanks for your kind permission Rachel and heart-warming email.

I had been thinking about my NEW YEAR blog message, when I read this chapter these pages jumped out (page 275-278). Sections of the book are shown in this

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2015 and You

In Chapter 15 of Black Rainbow, Rachel writes about a book group she started in her neighbourhood, they were all trying to help each other beat depression, the difference with this book club was they reviewed self-help books. Rachel herself worked through some of her depression by rekindling her love for poetry and sometimes prayers. It was this factor that encouraged my mum to recommend this book to me, that was my connection. Only in my own battle against illness I rediscovered writing poetry.

I spent the first 3 years of depression fighting it (something all suffers know is futile), I self- medicated; devoured self-help books, my whole library lending list was full of them, I read every single relevant title in my local library as well as stocking my own shelves at home (eat your heart out Bridgette Jones), I tried meditation, both in audio form and prayer/meditations, I tried pilates, yoga, t’ai chi, visualisation, mood boards, life coaching (I am trained myself and know how important it is to see a coach from time to time) – I was stuck – nothing worked because I was severely depressed in need of help, therapy and medication.

I agree that the list of things above can enhance healing experience, in fact my own experience of psychotherapy last year worked wonders and my sub-conscious still has the power to drag me back before I fall too far. We arm ourselves as best we can with a whole stock cupboard of counter balances, do our best to protect ourselves from the darkness, despite knowing that if and when it hits we just have to live with it, let it do its worse and rebuild afterwards. Become as resilient as nature. The plant may well look dead, but you keep watering it and you will be amazed by what happens.

So let’s start our New Year arming ourselves with tools, create the change we want to see happen. Only you have that power.

Tools for creating change

Let’s start with a prayer Rachel pinned to her noticeboard, read it, let the words sink in. If you are not religious, see it as spirit talk, being a better human being, mankind;

Lord, help me to notice all the signs of goodness

around me and give thanks for them.

Lord, we are each other’s gifts: help me to be thankful for

every life-giving encounter and to see that your gifts

are all around me if only I would look.

In gratitude I will find healing. 

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Gratitude Journals

I have posted about (and written) gratitude journals over the years, if this is something you want to do or need to do to spot the good and take notice, now is the time to start one. Do it for January, dip in daily/weekly/monthly. I used to make a note of 3-5 gratitudes a day.

I chose a small, pretty notebook, tied with a purple ribbon and kept it next to my bed, I used to reflect on a short list just before going to sleep.

The more you take notice, the more you will see.

 

Print the Prayer

Do what Rachel did, print it out, stick it on your noticeboard, notice it.

 

Meditate

Use the prayer. Read it aloud and then ponder on what it says, what is good around you, what signs of goodness do you see and hear today? Give thanks for them. Literally… ‘Thank you for ……’

Think about your own gifts, what do you give to people? Who have you encountered that you felt blessed by or antagonistic towards – not all signs are sent sugar-coated, sometimes there is a different kind of obstacle to overcome to create change.

What of God’s gifts or the universe’s gifts/ mother nature… what are you missing? Open your eyes (you know you have 3)!

Finally repeat the endlines as a mantra until you believe that healing is possible.

In gratitude I will find healing. 

 

be grateful

I persuaded the group that we should each bring along favourite poem to the next session. I brought my faithful Herbert poem ‘The Flower’, with its message of rebirth. A friend brought this poem entitled ‘Instants’, its author unknown:

It was actually written by Jorge Luis Borges, however the versions I have found are slightly different in wording to the poem seen by the group (I imagine this is a translation issue). The wording here is referenced from ‘black rainbow’ and appears as it does in the text apart from the fact the poem is one stanza, WordPress and I have some formatting issues!

Instants

If I could live my life again,
In the next I would try to make more mistakes,
I wouldn’t try to be so perfect, I would be more relaxed,
I’ll be more full – than I am now,
 I’d be sillier than I have been this time around,
 In fact, I’d take very few things seriously.
I would be less hygienic, I would take more risks, 
I would take more trips,
I would watch more sunsets,
I would climb more mountains,
I would swim more rivers,
I would go to more places that I’ve never been,
I would eat more ice creams and fewer lima beans,
I would have more real problems and fewer imaginary
ones.
I was one of those people who lived prudent and prolific lives –
each minute of his life.
Of course I had moments of joy, but,
if I could go back I would try to have only good moments,

After all, moments are what life is made of,
Don’t miss out on the now!

I was one of those people who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer,
without a hot-water bottle,
without an umberella and a parachute,

If I could live my life again I would travel light.
If I could live my life again I would walk bare foot
from the beginning of spring till
the end of autumn.
I would take more rides on merry-go-rounds, 
I would watch more sunrises and play with more children,
If I had the life to live. But now as you see, I am eighty-five,
– and I know that I am dying .

WOW! At this point I probably needn’t type anymore, right? I mean it has all been said. This poem made me feel invincible. Read it again. We all agree. Old age is after all a place (hopefully) we are inevitably heading towards, this was another reason I was so angry about being debilitated by depression in my 30s. That time when we should be jumping out of planes and climbing mountains on the other side of the world.

motivation old

We weren’t eighty-five and we weren’t dying. The time had come to watch more sunrises and play with more children, to shout with joy and swim more rivers.

We spent time at the group making our own lists inspired by ‘Instants’… ‘Let’s boost our sense of delight.’ We made logs of the past year and recorded what we had most enjoyed doing and what we hadn’t enjoyed too.

 

Write your list

Rewrite the poem from your own perspective, what would you care less about or strive to do more? Maybe you can make these part of 2015 and not wait until you are eighty-five. Make your wishes reality.

Or copy what the group did and create your own log from 2014.

Find the pursuit that allows you to be your most creative self. Go with the flow.

checklist

The chapter closes with a letter written by Sir Sydney Smith in 1820 which Rachel was sent. It parallels with her own guidelines for dealing with low spirits… apart from his advice to avoid poetry. I would say BATHE IN IT!

Thanks again Rachel for writing the book in the first place and for allowing me to reference sections here

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ADVICE CONCERNING LOW SPIRITS

A letter from Sydney Smith to Lady Georgiana Morpeth, Feb. 16, 1820:

Dear Lady Georgiana,– Nobody has suffered more from low spirits than I have done — so I feel for you. 1st. Live as well as you dare. 2nd. Go into the shower-bath with a small quantity of water at a temperature low enough to give you a slight sensation of cold, 75° or 80°. 3rd. Amusing books. 4th. Short views of human life — not further than dinner or tea. 5th. Be as busy as you can. 6th. See as much as you can of those friends who respect and like you. 7th. And of those acquaintances who amuse you. 8th. Make no secret of low spirits to your friends, but talk of them freely — they are always worse for dignified concealment. 9th. Attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you. 10th. Compare your lot with that of other people. 11th. Don’t expect too much from human life — a sorry business at the best. 12th. Avoid poetry, dramatic representations (except comedy), music, serious novels, melancholy, sentimental people, and everything likely to excite feeling or emotion, not ending in active benevolence. 13th. Do good, and endeavour to please everybody of every degree. 14th. Be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue. 15th. Make the room where you commonly sit, gay and pleasant. 16th. Struggle by little and little against idleness. 17th. Don’t be too severe upon yourself, or underrate yourself, but do yourself justice. 18th. Keep good blazing fires. 19th. Be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion. 20th. Believe me, dear Lady Georgiana,
Very truly yours,
Sydney Smith

 

Despite constant advances since the 1820s, much of this advice is still relevant and helpful, some more so.

ghandi

 

Let’s finish with a reminder that life is precious, we are heading forwards – let’s make it worthwhile. Spend some of your time with those staying young at heart.

 

 

 

 

In return for the permission to use part of Chapter 15, here are some links to Rachel’s website, go and BUY her book on Amazon or download the app.

‘I would love to get the book into the hands of those who need it and all my author proceeds go to mental health charities.’  – Rachel Kelly 1803_BlackRainbow_Dhb.indd www.black-rainbow.co.uk

Rachel Kelly is a writer and former journalist on The Times. Her memoir Black Rainbow was published by Hodder & Stoughton in April 2014 and won the Spear’s Best First Book Award in October 2014.

All author proceeds from the sale of this book go to the charities SANE and United Response.

sane_logo saneorgcoukUnited%20Response

2014 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

People Power – Reverse the Cutbacks: Library of Birmingham

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https://www.change.org/p/birmingham-city-council-reverse-the-cuts-to-the-library-of-Birmingham

Please click this link and help us to petition against library cuts, feel free to re-blog and share across social media.

Petitioning Cllr Ian Ward Birmingham City Council

Reverse the cuts to the Library of Birmingham

474
Supporters

We seek your help to defend the Library of Birmingham [ LoB ]. Birmingham City Council have proposed in their most recent budget proposals a massive cut to the LoB of at least £1.5 million for the next financial year. More damage is planned. In the succeeding year more than DOUBLE is planned at a huge £3.3 million per year cut.

The LoB is an award winning architecture designed state-of-the -art modern library. It is fit for the 21st century & the people of Birmingham.

Here in Birmingham we have invested £188 million in this library & the future of this great city.

This is a Library opened just over a year ago in a glorious fanfare of praise & loved by the million visitors who have enjoyed it’s breathtaking facilities & it’s views of Birmingham from the wonderful viewing platforms giving a panoramic take on the cityscape.

This library opened by a Nobel Laureate – Malala Yousafzai who lives in this city & whose memorable book is lodged inside will now be a shadow of its intended glory. This doesn’t have to be the case.

The effects of these proposed cuts will mean –

1. Slashing the hours of the library by 40%
2. Stoppng new books purchases
3. Restrictioning open access to the archives to scholars & researchers of all sorts
4. Reducing to nothing library outreach work & in-house exhibitions & displays.
5.sacking 100 staff posts.
6. Limiting the housebound & community library service of expert help.

Is this what we want? a death by a thousand cuts.

We paid in this city for this library. Come what may will pay for it whether it is reduced or not. This is a nonsense. We can not allow it to decline because of short termism & misguided cuts. This is not the way forward – it is backward looking & wrong. It makes no economic sense.

Support your Library ;

The LoB is an investment in out future, our children’s future & the future of this city’s prosperity.

So for the researchers, the students, the academics & all the public let’s Stand up for The LoB & say this will not happen. We can make the politicians change. We can register our concerns & our desire for protecting this service. Once it is gone it WILL be gone.

In a library you are free to wander, to study & to be strong & independent. Without this service we lose a little bit of what makes us civilised & lose the power of control. Time to take that power back.

We , the undersigned , call upon Birmingham City Council to REVERSE your proposed cuts to the Library of Birmingham & our Community Libraries. Invest in our city & out futures.

Copyright change.org

Library Library of Birmingham PFL dec

Contact us:

friendsoflibraryofbirmingham@gmail.com

Find us:

https://birminghamlibrariescampaigns.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/friendsoftheLoB

@FoLoB_

 

 

 

Plot Block – 6 TIPS to Reboot Your Writing

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photo_9658_landscape_large Planning events in your plot and knowing your characters inside out is not always enough to keep writing block at bay. You know how it is, you have been working hard, the novel has behaved, the draft is going well and then… you get stuck, your characters need to help you out.

These suggestions may get your pen moving/ fingers tapping again. I would use them as a free writing exercise, rather than committing to it being a scene in your story – but if it fits and helps you drive your plot forward these are broad enough ideas to work or at least spark a similar idea which suits your novel better.

RULE 1: DO NOT BE AFRAID

Remember fear doesn’t exist and the worst that can happen is you throw another few hundred words in the bin.

RULE 2: JUMP

Choose one  – write.

Someone knocks on the door

A text message beep

There’s a power cut

A sensor / alarm goes off

 

RULE 3 YOU CAN MAKE ANYTHING HAPPEN

But be clear on what your character wants, what’s their drive? Aim?

RULE 4 PLOT GROWS FROM CHARACTER

Think about your main character, what do they want more than anything in the world?

RULE 5 EXAMINE GOALS AND HURDLES

Why can’t the character achieve this ambition? What stands in the way?

Can the other characters help? What are their goals?

These ideas should help you develop your story.

RULE 6: KEEP WRITING, IT WILL ALWAYS GET BETTER

pencil paper freestock

 

INKSPILL 2014 Links

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Thanks to everyone who made this year’s INKSPILL a success!

AWF circle

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!

ENJOY!

awf-2014 whirl

 

WATCHmotivation dreams

Welcome + Motivational Video

Stephen King On Writing

William Gallagher Guest

Writing Motivation

You vs Yourself

 

READ books1

Editing

Meet Our Guest Writers

You Vs Yourself

NaNoWriMo Includes links to 4 articles.

Archive INKSPILL 2013 4 articles;

Historical Research

Writing Historical Fiction

How to Write a Short story

The WHY Technique

 

GUEST POSTS ticket 2014

WILLIAM GALLAGHER

How To Get Rejected

Making Time To Write

Writing Doctor Who

What You Get From Writing

 

HEATHER WASTIE

On Her Writing Journey

Editing A Poem

POEMS BY HEATHER WASTIE

Histrionic water

Spaghetti hoops

 

CHARLIE JORDAN

Thoughts on Writing & Editing Part 1

Thoughts On Writing & Editing Part 2

 

ACTIVITIES writing_swirls

Writing

Free-Writing

Speedwriting-An Article in Under 30 Minutes

Night Write

Book Discussion

Final Write Subjects and Dialogue

 

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INKSPILL SHOP

 

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