Category Archives: Writing Classes

INKSPILL: Guest Writer Charlie Jordan – Thoughts on Writing & Editing Part1

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ticket 2014Charlie Jordan –

Guest Writer charlie jordan

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…..

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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!

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  • 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.*

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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

Saturday 25 October 2014, 10.30am – 1pm throughout the Library of Birmingham

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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.

Former Young Poets Laureate Matt Windle, Damani Dennisur and Lauren Williams will also be on hand to inspire youngsters to take up poetry.

Pictured Charlie Jordan and Jan Watts poets

More from Charlie Jordan soon – look out for Part 2

 

Writing 101, Day Eleven: Size Matters

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Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve. Which town, city, or country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?

But first, consider this passage:

The man rode hard through the woods. The black horse’s effort lay in lather. The sun beat down from high overhead. Dark birds circled, drifted, and then returned. The land baked, and dust hung suspended.

Is this not the most boring paragraph you’ve read in a long time — perhaps ever? We’ve got portent, a racing rider, and a forbidding landscape. Together, these should offer excitement and intrigue, but the words lay on the page, limp and dead. Why? Sentence length. Each sentence contains exactly seven words. The repetitive, seven-word cadence lulls you to sleep instead of piquing your interest.

So write with a combination of short, medium, and long sentences. Create a sound that pleases the reader’s ear. Don’t just write words. Write music.

– Gary Provost, 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing

Mixing up the lengths of your sentences creates variety for the reader and makes for much more interesting reading.

Today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.

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I am lucky, I spent my childhood in one place, in one home, my mum made sure of that having had a childhood which involved relocating and changing schools often, she knew how important stability is and made sure we at least had that.

My family home was on a 1970’s estate, some lovely properties. My parents were the second people to buy the house, it was situated in a cul-de-sac, which was one of the main reasons for buying it for the children of the family they were yet to have to play out in.

It was a four-bedroom, semi-detached with a big garden at the back and a small lawn at the front. When my parents bought it there were three bedrooms and they had it extended. I lived with my parents, older brother and younger brother.

It is in a small town in the Midlands, surrounded by countryside and equidistant to two cities, a short car journey away.

Having lived all over, I have come back to my home county for family but also the location. The grass is always greener on the other side, when actually the greenest grass is that of home.

I find it funny after ten years of living away from home – all over the country that I ended up back in home county.

Writing 101, Day Ten: Happy Homecooking!

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Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

Free free to focus on any aspect of the meal, from the food you ate to the people who were there to the event it marked.

Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.

– Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

The biggest thing that separates you from every other blogger in the world is your voice. Finding (and being confident in) our voices is one of the biggest challenges in writing, and it’s easy to lose our voices when we’re worried about being liked by everyone, or when we compare ourselves to others.

While it’s true that embracing your voice will mean that not everyone loves you, the people who do will love you a lot. Exhibit A: The Bloggess. Is she the only person who writes about parenting, mental health, and cats? Far from it. Is her style for everyone? Nope. Does she have a huge cadre of loyal readers who are drawn to her unique voice? Definitely.

Write today’s post as if you’re relaying the story to your best friend over a cup of coffee (or glass of wine — your call). Don’t worry if it feels like you ramble a bit, or a four-letter-word sneaks in, or it feels different from what you usually publish. Take a deep breath, tell the story in your own words, and send it out the virtual door.

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I loved sausages as a kid, I still do, but my favourite meal was one that my mum made fairly often. I was lucky, my mum could cook really well. I just presumed all mum’s food tasted the same, a myth that was dispelled by going to friend’s for dinner.

She used to cook pork chops with apple and a crumbly topping, I have no idea of the recipe but this was the only time in our family that we were served pork that fell off the bone. I used to love the smell. Dinner and definitely pudding was always ‘wait and see’ in our house, but this one was a dinner I could smell before I saw it. I remember getting really about this meal each and every time we had it.

I need to ask mum for the recipe.

Such a Busy End of the Month! NOW … It’s MAY!

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Such a busy end of month and now we already in MAY! How did that happen? I have lots of posts to catch up on when I get a chance between now and the end of the weekend. Here’s is a taster to tease you;

  1. The one about Wenlock poetry festival, shows, events and sharing a love of words (not to mention meeting heroes).
  2. The one where I go to Saints, Sinners and Fools.
  3. The one where I round up the month and review everything.
  4. The one where I am in awe of Grayson Perry.
  5. The one where the Worcester Stanza group perform at the Library of Birmingham.

…. that is more than a taster really, your starter has been served!

Do be sure to check back later, I am writing a few pieces, I mean really last minute for events over this next week. If I felt busy this week – I have to remember it has just been a warm up for next week!

 

Any ideas, tips and knowledge to share on best foods for energy – apart from slow release carbs like pasta and the humble – has – everything -in – it- you – could- possibly – need banana, your tips will gratefully received.

© Sarah Wilkinson 2014

© Sarah Wilkinson 2014

 

An Exceptionally Busy Week!

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I have just looked at my calendar and freaked out a bit!

The next few weeks are extremely busy with going back to work after the Easter break and performing!

I have also got to try and fit some writing in, particularly deadline pieces and poems for NaPoWriMo and 52, as well as the 10,000 words target I have been working towards in rough draft short stories and flashes for Camp NaNoWriMo – which sadly this year, I have barely been in the cabin, on the website or present online or in any reality writing meets at all.

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Tonight I am performing at Word Up, tomorrow we have a BIG family meal to celebrate my Uncle’s Wedding which took place in London a fortnight ago.

 

 

 

  • Sunday I am hoping to make it to the Much Wenlock Poetry Festival.

 

  •  Monday there is a TV script workshop I have been invited to attend – although physically getting a ticket is proving to be a mission!

 

Tuesday I am back to work. Then I am performing at the following events;

 

  • Saints and Sinners is Wednesday, run by Pigeon Park Press.

 

  • Thursday I have Poetry For Lunch – the stanza group are taking over.

 

  • Friday I have a Stanza meeting.

 

  • Sunday I have my FIRST EVER Poetry Slam!

 

  • Monday (fortunately a Bank Holiday) I have Najma Hush’s *PhotoGiraffe final exhibition event, Abstract Elements

 

  • Wednesday Confab Cabaret

 

  • Thursday SpeakEasy

 

  • Friday Poetry & Pollination – Ledbury Poetry Festival & WLF at the Hive  do415com open mic

 

  • Saturday – Writing West Midlands Assistant Writer Role

 

Then I am performing Tuesday, possibly Thursday and definitely Friday of the following week!

WHOAHOO! That’s some schedule with work as well!

Power naps start TODAY! ws_Empty_Battery_852x480

 

An Excellent Day at The Hive

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Yesterday was National Library Day imagesG6NJNK82 and many of our libraries had special events or guests in attendance. By chance I happened to be spending the day in a library hive too for the first meeting of the Creative Writers’ Group I am now working as an Assistant Writer with.Write-On-2013-300x287

I have learnt that next month taking public transport will actually be quicker – I had to park far away from the city centre as all the central car parks were all flooded.

meet room It was a great day, the group is fantastic and it also forces me to get a little writing done.

Can’t wait until next month now! 🙂

Exciting NEW Prospects!

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Even a rejection email cannot dampen my spirits this evening! I have just spoken to IanMacLeod an award winning Novelist who happens to be the Lead Writer for the group I am about to start work with in the City this weekend. Write-On-2013-300x287The-Hive__Supported_CMYK-300x253In the role of Assistant Writer.

Chatting to him made this new venture suddenly very real! I am now looking forward to Saturday even more than I was before, a few butterflies, but it will be creative and fun!

 

My New Opportunity! Writing Work

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I am so excited I can barely write this post! I HAVE A WRITING JOB! frugal cafe creative commons champers

Back in my past (the 1st time I attempted life as a writer in my early 20’s, a few years before I ran out of money to buy bread) I worked as a writer.

  • I wrote for performance (having graduated from a Performing Arts Degree),
  • I worked as (a mostly unpaid) performance poet
  • I already had a decades worth of YOUNG WRITER publishing credentials from the age of 15, in print form (as the internet and e-publishing were still things of the future…) Well the internet existed (I’m not that old!) but people wouldn’t catch on and start using it personally in the way we do nowadays for some time.
  • I spent my spare time training the writer in me and attended a fabulous creative writing course in Leicester, in a place I now believe is Creative Writing college.

This is where I met real writers who all told me I had what it takes and to keep going! (1998)

(This is the point I should had started sofa hopping or squatting (soon to be made illegal at the time) as gone were the days artists could sign on in between jobs) the money I achieved through royalties and the odd gig wouldn’t cover rent and before long I took a serious last look at my dream and started moving towards being financially independent!

This is the point I ran out of food money. The irony was writing press releases and doing some free PR for other performers (who were big at the time and now are MUCH bigger!) was my last freelance gig before I jacked it in and drowned my sorrows in applying for a 2nd degree in an area that would PAY the other end of university with a job.

In the meantime I spent some of my free time volunteering in schools and working as a Workshop Poet in schools with Key Stage 2. It was here that I decided training in Nursery Education was costly and would take time, I could be a teacher, earn more and have fun like this (workshops) everyday! (DELUDED!)

The rest is history and although I have done lots besides teaching (including running a fabulous community website that was no. 1 in the rankings for most of the time it existed, a site this blog is named after) the rest has mainly being steps away from where I truly want to be.

My true self, the writer, the poet.

I stepped back into myself in January 2013 and started making a go at realising my dreams before it is too late and all my hair turns grey!

(Not that that is too late, if you are reading this with a head full of grey hair, GO FOR IT!) It is never too late apparently.

So with heart on my sleeve and dreams in a backpack I set off along the yellow brick road determined to make this work – inspired by London Olympics I hatched a vague 16 year plan – and jumped!

Many successful (and it has to be said also stupid) people have taken RISKS – you have to be in it to win it and all that… my career hung on 60- 80 hour weeks, 50 weeks a year. I couldn’t write around that, there was barely time to sleep as it was. I actually pushed too hard for too long and my struggle became illness in 2012. It was from this dark place that I had time to listen to myself and start taking leaps of faith (on the medication I really wasn’t thinking about negative consequences) I was jumping because I had no choice – there was no longer a bridge there. The sign said NO OTHER WAY —->

Work went part-time towards the end of 2012. Although I didn’t realise it at the time this allowed me a step towards doing what I now do, my income already slashed by 50% and here I am still, and I can afford bread! By the end of the summer 2013 I decided to drop off the career ladder (I had become stuck anyway as I am scared of heights! I would be great on top of a ladder but you will never get me up there to prove it to you!) I jumped off. I know writing pays peanuts and poetry not even nuts, kernels if you’re lucky! So I needed a financial plan and this is where flexibility in my career (which was a factor for qualifying for teaching to begin with!) came into play. I signed with 2 agencies. 1 of which not only gives me plenty of work, but also (within 7days of signing up) found me a regular cover job, 1 day a week and just before Christmas I signed for another school too, so I now have 2 days a week confirmed and the rest of the week I am either the writer or the teacher depending on my last minute bookings. It is great because I have 100% flexibility 3 days a week and generally manage to be involved in all sorts of things in the writing world that I simply used to miss because I was at work.

The extra salary loss means I can’t just go around buying blf irregular 3 pairs of shoes at a time anymore, but my wardrobe and shoe racks were bulging anyway. And actually I don’t miss shopping (well okay, I do, just a little bit) now I write and perform again after 15 years away and that makes me happier than any heel or skirt ever did!

WHAT’S THE BIG NEWS????

In 2013 I spent the year training, workshops, classes, network events, I met lots of people and hoped to build up contacts, I did and better than that I made friends (awwwwww)! book launch 19

By September I had been published again and decided that Poetry IS my thing. It has claimed me. I can write across genres but poetry is where my writing heart is. I haven’t looked back since. (As you know from all my posts about Open Mic night’s which started back in October with Julie Boden.) listen-ere-desert-townhouse-for-oct-2013-copy1In September I also spoke to Jonathan Davidson, Chief Executive, Writing West Midlands WWM about the possibility of paid work as a writer. Having already taken classes they ran and gone to a few events I wondered if I could be involved somehow. To be honest I was thinking in a few years once I have up to date writing credentials. Jonathan’s response was, why wait? What about now? How about working with some of our young writers?

I knew my teaching career wasn’t a complete waste of time 😉

In November it was confirmed that I could work as an Assistant Writer (with the View of becoming a Lead Writer in the future) on what used to be called Writing Squads but are now called  Write-On-2013-300x287By the end of the year I wasn’t sure this opportunity had been confirmed as I had to go through an official application, systems had changed and I worried that this opportunity was about to fall out of my grasp.

Today I had a meeting custard factory in the City and I am DELIGHTED to confirm I have the job of Assistant Writer, for the 12– 16 group which is new for 2014 and is led by Ian MacLeod.  I start in February! The-Hive__Supported_CMYK-300x253

WRITING JOB (2013) REALITY (2014)

INKSPILL – Editing and Writing

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SUNDAY 27th October – DAY 3

 

AWF Edit Time to work on your own writing projects.

 

 

Edit Spend any writing time on your own projects – let us know how you get on.

A Day as a Poet

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I had a disturbed night of sleep and was very lucky that Mr G happened to call me at 8.30a.m … The call woke me up… I was due to leave for a poetry workshop in the City (another Literature Festival event!)

I grabbed clothes, washed quickly, armed with my big notebook and a cereal bar, hit the road.

It had been a long day the day before with work, poetry film and poetry event in the evening. I am still recovering.

Tomorrow I have a free morning until 11, then I’m working again and have my first private tutoring job in the evening!

I prayed all the way that I would make it and have parking etc. It took just over 30 minutes and I drove straight into a parking space and made it with 5 minutes to spare.

It was a great workshop which I will blog about when I can get back on the broken laptop.

I have just got in from SpeakEasy a new title for an ongoing spoken word event in a different City. It was a fantastic night. Again I will blog all about it when back on pc.

And today I have met several more poets and writers and organised a 3rd open mic slot at a Halloween Word event for the end of the month!

I have loved my day as the poet and am reluctant to wear my 2nd skin tomorrow.