Tag Archives: A Writers Fountain

INKSPILL – How to Get Rejected – Guest Writer William Gallagher


AWF circle

How to Get Rejected

Write badly. Thatll do it. But of all the reasons you will get rejected and you will, you know you will writing badly is the best of them. Its the most embarrassing, perhaps, and it may well shut more doors than anything else ever will, but its also the best for one key reason.

You can do something about it.

You can write better.

Now, it would be good if that were as easy as it sounds but your writing is under your control, or at least it is more than anything else. Focus on your writing and dont be thrown by things you cannot know. That sounds a bit Hallmark Card-like and we are all cut and bloodied by rejection but do this: control what you can control and bollocks to everything you cant.

Let me give you a fast example. I spent a couple of years as features editor on a computer magazine and I needed writers. I really needed them, I had money to pay them, I would search for them. And at the same time, I mustve got around 200 completely unsolicited submissions. Writers writing to me out of the blue pitching me articles. They should have been a godsend to me but they werent.

Of the 200, I commissioned 1. He was fine, Id have used him again if Id ever needed to go back to the same topic. Thats not the key fact here. The key is that of the 200, I read 7.

And not only would I do the same today, so would you.

Of the other 193, a surprising number were about fashion. I was on a computer magazine. Many were handwritten and, again, hello, computer magazine. Plus you can tell me youve got years of experience but if youre not typing your articles, no, you havent.

Equally, you can tell me that you studied my magazine but if you spell the title wrong or if you send me a 300-word article when we only ever ran 5,000-word pieces, I dont need to read your piece to know you cant do the job.

Writing is not a competition. Also, writing is not for you: it is for the reader. My job was not to read every piece and pat heads, it was to fill blank pages each month. Realise that, keep that in mind, and youll avoid rejections.

And when you are rejected, take it. You can grind your teeth all you like at home, just dont ever show it. Let it go because its already gone. Nobody ever convinced an editor that they have made a wrong choice by arguing about it. If that sounds unfair, compare it to this: nobody ever successfully used wailing to convince a lover not to dump them.

This ridiculous writing life we have chosen might be art, I hope it is, but it is also a job and it is also real. Youre not playing. And the sometimes great, sometimes deeply depressing fact is that most people are. So small things like being a pro when youre rejected really help you stand out.


©2014 Lee Allen Photography

©2014 Lee Allen Photography


William Gallagher’s Books on Amazon

See William Gallaghers scribbles books, Doctor Who radio dramas and the rest on Amazon


INKSPILL 2014 – Morning Activity – Pens at the ready!



awf-2014  It has been well documented that writing on waking, first thing in the morning, whilst your brain is still somewhere between sleep and the new day can produce great results and uncover words which would otherwise never have been written.


I want you to make a commitment RIGHT NOW that tomorrow morning you will start the day with your notebook and pen (it is best to go ‘old school’ and avoid more techno versions), you needn’t even get out of bed! Write for 5 minutes or 10 if you can manage – a stream of consciousness that may not even make sense (don’t worry) keep the pen moving (this is why it’s best to ditch the gadgets)! Let your mind and hand be open.



pencil paper freestock 1) Think of a dream, it can be one you have dreamt or something made up. Make a note.

2) Add a description of your dream/character into this statement;

You had that dream again. The one where ___________________________________ stares you down from your window. Except the windows open this time—and you’re awake! What happens next?

Example: You had that dream again. The one where the beast with the drooping hands and wicked fangs stares you down from your window. Except the windows open this time—and you’re awake! What happens next?

3) Free write for a while, then decide if you want to polish, edit redraft or stick with the original flow of thoughts.


Aim for about 500 words.

Finally share LINKS here to where you have posted – or copy & paste  your writing into a reply on this post.



INKSPILL – Meet Our Guest Writers


This year I am delighted to announce that I asked three writers to come on board for INKSPILL 2014 – all three agreed. The 1st lesson to learn is

ASK – you will never know until you do!

awf-2014 William Gallagher, Charlie Jordan and Heather Wastie have generously given their time to write articles for this  year’s writing retreat. All of them have exceptionally busy schedules and I am grateful that they added INKSPILL to their list of projects this Autumn.

Once again a BIG THANK YOU to all three of you – it has been fun!


I first met William Gallagher just over a year ago, at the Book to the Future Festival 2013, Birmingham University. He was giving a talk about his book ‘The Blank Screen’, all about productivity, some great writer tips including a great idea about email… (you will have to buy the book)!

I knew Charlie Jordan by name, as she was Birmingham’s Poet Laureate. I saw her a few times last year at the Birmingham Literature Festival and finally met her properly after William’s talk at the University. Charlie and I both performed poetry at Phenomenal Women an event organised by Jan Watts for Book to the Future Festival 2013.

I met Heather Wastie at the very start of  Poetry journey back in September 2013, we met at a book launch for Be[yond] by Sarah James. Heather Wastie performs poetry regularly as well as hosting the great Open Mic Night ‘Mouth & Music’ which I first went to last December. Heather and I performed at Phenomenal Women last week as part of the Book to the Future Festival 2014.


Let me introduce you!



William Gallagher is a writer, dramatist and lecturer. He writes Doctor Who audio dramas, stage plays and has an extensive British journalism experience. He’s also the author of the British Film Institute book BFI TV Classics: The Beiderbecke Affair, B7 Media’s Blake’s 7: The Ultimate Guide and co-author of Radio Times Cover Story. His work has appeared regularly in Radio Times magazine and BBC News Online plus The Independent, the Los Angeles Times and on BBC local and national radio.

William’s hit book The Blank Screen: Creative Productivity for Writers and Normal People Too has become a UK-wide workshop in literary festivals, companies, universities and colleges. It’s also now a busy news site at williamgallagher.com with half a million words in its first few months. 

He’s won awards for his stage drama and his photography has been published in international jewellery books. William is also a performer on the spoken-word cabaret circuit in Birmingham and teaches writing in schools. He’s taught in prisons and also in universities where he’s lectured to both students and professors. He once had afternoon tea on a Russian nuclear submarine and regrets calling the place a dive.

©2014 Lee Allen Photography

©2014 Lee Allen Photography

“Love this book, it is clever and witty and genuinely grapples with making an extra hour (or two) in the day. Inspiring and liberating. A real Can-Do manual. No creative should be without it.”

Blank screen William G
– Barbara Machin, creator of Waking the Dead
Paperback and Kindle now on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1dO1nue




charlie jordan

Charlie Jordan wore glasses by the age of 3, learned to read before she could speak and hasn’t stopped doing either since. Although she discovered contact lenses at 14, and boys not long afterwards, which distracted her from words for a bit….. 20 years as a radio presenter is in a way a career in spoken word!

She stumbled upon poetry and writing by accident in 2006 when replying to an email about a short writing course. Gobsmacked to become Birmingham Poet Laureate in 2007, while still a complete beginner in poetry, she has since spent time as Poet in Residence at WBA football club, written and performed a solo show ‘Buddhism & Ben and Jerrys’, gigged at The Big Chill festival, Manchester & Worcester Literary Festivals, and with Decadent Divas, rocked the Ledbury Poetry Festival in 2013 and was v. impressed with the backstage cake!


Published in anthologies Split Screen & Bugged.





Heather Wastie wordsmith, humourist, musician & actor Heather Wastie headshot

Heather is an eclectic polymath whose work does not fit easily into boxes! She is a poet, songwriter, oral historian and performer, and runs monthly spoken word and music night, Mouth and Music in Kidderminster with poet Sarah Tamar. She has been short-listed for both Birmingham and Worcestershire Poet Laureates, and in 2013 was Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet, turning people’s memories into poems, monologues and songs with accordion. She is co-founder, with Emma Purshouse, of Brewers’ Troupe, a performance poetry company specialising in performances in pubs.

Heather was born in the Black Country and has compiled and edited 2 books of Black Country reminiscences which grew out of projects in Tipton and West Bromwich. She has published 3 illustrated poetry collections: Until I Saw Your Foot and The Page-Turner’s Dilemma (Lapal Publications), focusing on the humorous side of her work, and Poems of the Head in Dynamic Relation to F M Alexander (self-published), centred on the Alexander Technique. She uses technology to create innovative pieces combining music, spoken word and found sound. As a facilitator, she works with people of all ages, including people with disabilities.


Website Wasties Space

Blog Weaving Yarns


© Peter Williams 2014

© Peter Williams 2014

Summary of recent & current work

• Weaving Yarns performances – songs & poems about people who worked in the carpet industry in Kidderminster

• Performances of original poems & songs

• Spake Prapper – a Black Country Talk Show with Dave Reeves & Billy Spakemon

• Comedy character performances – Black Country Pat, tragic opera singer Montserrat Carbonara

• How do wars start? Performance poetry show with Worcs Poet Laureate, Fergus McGonigal commissioned by Kidderminster Arts Festival 2014

• Idle Women & Judies – solo performance poetry piece about women who took over the working canal boats during WW2, commissioned by Canal & River Trust 2014

• National Trust – Croome Court – actor in site-specific performances; also involved in setting up new poetry group

• Alzheimer’s Society – performances & workshops at dementia cafes

• Workshops and performances in care homes

• Bostin Chats – workshops with young people with disabilities for Creative Health CIC, using performing arts as a tool for consultation

• Sound designer – recent commissions: Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton Counter Culture; Madeley Town Council – Nine Men of Madeley


Forthcoming performances

Sunday October 26th

Singing songs from 40s/50s with keyboard for launch of The Hen Race by Alan Durham



Tuesday November 4th

Guest Poet/Musician at “The Works Canteen” with Dave Reeves

Black Country Living Museum, Dudley


Thursday November 6th

Performing poetry at Fergus McGonigal’s book launch



Saturday November 8th

Idle Women & Judies by Heather Wastie

National Waterways Museum, Gloucester


Tuesday November 11th

Mouth and Music, Kidderminster


Friday 21st November

Quiet Compere – Medical Themed Poetry



Saturday November 22nd

Special Guest with Harmonie Concert Band



Friday November 28th

Worcester Victorian Christmas Fair

Clik Clik Collective street entertainment


Starting late November

Christmas site-specific show at Croome Court, Worcs


Tuesday December 9th

Mouth and Music



Thursday December 11th 7.30pm

Featured poet/musician at WorcsLitFest Speakeasy




Products for sale

The Page-Turner’s Dilemma More poetry & tales from behind the music stand £7.50

TPTD cover

Poems of the Head – with photos, after an intensive Alexander Technique course £5.50

Poems of the Head cover

Alzheimer’s Army CD – 3 songs about dementia £3.50 (£1 goes to Alzheimer’s Society)

Alzheimer's Army CDs

Bananas from the Heart CD – poems & a few songs £5

Bananas from the Heart CD sleeve

INKSPILL: Introductions


AWF World map

Let us know if you are taking part in INKSPILL this year.


WHO are you?

WHERE  in the world are you?

What are you currently WRITING?

Intro SWA ©2014 Sarah Wilko Anderson

Grab yourself breakfast, caffeine, notebooks, pens and have a mingle. The first activity will appear in about half an hour!


Have fun!


Poetry for Tea – Hit The Ode – Thursday 17th April


Hit the Ode

The guest list this week was phenomenal – the event is run by Bodhan Piasecki, who works as the west Midlands Programme Co-ordinator for Apples & Snakes and is a lively. energetic and entertaining host. The formula is 6 open mic spots (usually pre-booked) and then 3 headliners – guest poets, a local, national and international act.

This month; hit 1

Hit the Ode is a spoken word poetry night which brings the most exciting poets from the region, the country, and the world to the heart of Birmingham. Each edition features three guest acts: one from the North West, one from elsewhere in the UK, and one international guest. 

We have poems. Poems which crunch when you bite into them; poems you’ve been meaning to call for ages; poems buzzing like wires strung between pylons.

Good poems. Come and get them.


Winner of the US Slam Poetry Championship and the Canadian Spoken Word Olympics, Koyczan is truly an extraordinary talent that has blown the dust off of the designation “poet”. Engaging and authentic in attitude, Koyczan emerges in a new wave of 21st century poetry that dares to belong to the people and speak directly to them in their own voice.

Jasmine Ann Cooray is a poet and spoken word artist and workshop facilitator from London, of British and Sri Lankan heritage. She is known for vivid imagery, attention to detail and storytelling through personal experience. Jasmine has just returned from her stint as International Writer in Residence at The National University of Singapore.

One of Brum’s best loved authors, poet and best-selling author of One Million Lovely Letters Jodi Ann Bickley returns to Hit the Ode for her very first full set. It’s high time: since her victory at the 2009 Roundhouse slam, Jodi has performed all over the UK, including festivals such as Bestival and Glastonbury. She was a speaker at TEDxBrum in 2013.


Many people wanted the open mic slots for the honour of performing in front of Shane. I asked back in March but was already too late. I was put on the reserve list. I hadn’t given this a thought all day. I got there in time to mingle and chat to poets I haven’t seen in a while and some that were at PFL as well, then took my seat (which was a bit of luck) I think there were 80 people there it was standing room only!


A Surprise Performance!

do415com open mic Bohdan came up and told me there had been a no-show and that he was giving the slot to me. I accepted eagerly and then went into shock! The event was about to start and I hadn’t prepared anything, fortunately in my hurry to leave for the train I had grabbed some extra poems, sorted my PFL poems out on the train, then resorted them at the library – when I arrived I had forgotten what it was I was going to perform!

I frantically looked through and chose 3 suitable poems.

All the open mics were brilliant and I think I was the only one with words on the stage – it made me feel better when all 3 headline acts (including Shane) used screens, books and prompt notes to read some of their sets from. They like me didn’t just stand there and read – it is a glance down for feeder lines performance.

I still like to take a new set to every show – 20+% of the audience has usually been to other events – there are some poems – much as I love them – that I have heard every month so far this year more or less, although this is the done thing professionally – of course it is – who wants to learn 100 poems! I go to so many events that on occasion I have already seen the main act elsewhere, they usually throw in 1 or 2 different poems but the rest of their 20 minutes is the same show. I like to mix it up and because of this still only know a couple by heart!

Despite having the paper (which if you remember I REALLY needed) inkspill open mind last time I was lucky enough to perform at Hit the Ode (back in Feb) I lost my focus and the already rehearsed and perfected poems slipped out of my head and I died on stage, had to jump off, empty my bag (literally tipped it upside down) and then jump back on the mic and perform from the page!

This time I performed well and lots of people spoke to me about my poems. One of which I wrote when I was 17. (It was published – I didn’t tell many people that!)


Main Acts

JODI ANN BICKLEY – was brilliant! I hadn’t realised it was her 1st long performance – it was fabulous, funny, heart wrenchingly truthful and we all wanted at least another 20 minutes, she informed us that we wouldn’t want to see her turn, which usually happens around the 4th poem, one to watch out for, she was great!

JASMINE COORAY – Owned the stage, composed and full of life’s experiences she wrote about her life, memories, people and brought them all to life on the stage in front of us. A stunning set and someone I could also have spent the whole night listening to. She was selling some hand-made pamphlets (between publications) and I regret that I didn’t have enough spare cash after the afternoon in Birmingham to buy one.

SHANE KOYCZAN – A M A Z I N G! And lacks ego – the crowd went wild and his 1st words were ‘I didn’t save anyone!’ A true heroes welcome, a true hero, but a humble man. He made me feel like we were right there alongside him, all equal – despite the standing ovation at the end and ENCORE, 2 things I have NEVER witnessed at a poetry night – including Hit the Ode! WOW! EVERYONE! Even the people lucky enough to have chairs! It was a powerful, energetic performance, full of raw emotion, life stories and some jokes about numbers that we will never forget! If there were any men preparing best man speeches in the room then Shane set would be a dream! It is beyond words really! Incredible. Loved it! Go on, go…. You Tube!


Post Gig

After the gig I was able to talk to people again and I went to meet Shane who performed an amazingly, open, emotive, energetic set, how he remembers all his words I don’t know. He signed my every-writer-should-have-one-handbag-notebook, which is currently fairly empty as I have just finished the one I used when this poetry mission started, last October. I have a lovely message now to inspire me every time I open the book.  beach

After an adrenalin packed day I headed home by train and car and resisted the temptation to stay up all night and dance around in happy circles! (Although my performance photos are not something I enjoy looking at or sharing at the moment, I think ZUMBA might be the best post-gig adrenaline plan!)



Shane Koyczan  (language content)

Jasmine Cooray

Jodi Ann Bickley

Spoken Word at The Ort – A Fabulous Evening of Entertainment (18/4)


This was such an amazing night! I am so happy for Debbie Aldous. 1 birm ort

I have been going to Spoken Word at The Ort since the tail end of last year, it was always on a Thursday and the first 3 months of 2014 the dates clashed with one or two other events in the city, numbers dropped.

This month was the first FRIDAY (now a regular slot) and it was PACKED! Only half the audience had chairs. I haven’t seen it that busy for a long time. It was great! There were probably an equal amount of audience to performers, which is fantastic.

As I walked in I was actually recognised by somebody who had seen me perform in Worcester, it was good chatting to them. There were lots of familiar faces and some from other events who I have never seen go to The Ort.

There has always been a mix of acts; musicians, comedians, poets, storytellers.

This evening we were treated to 3 bands – who Debbie, has quite rightly invited back to do a whole evening sometime soon. There were Burlesque/ Band singing, Swingerella (a friend of mine, Andrea Shorrick) has a persona and performs her love torn poetry through Swingerella and a case of props, she has branched out into comedy and performs regularly at a Burlesque night herself. She told me on Thursday that she has created other characters, the Steve Coogan of the Poetry/Comedy world! A female version of course, there were some great spoken word/ poets and a couple who had never performed live before!

The atmosphere as always was electrifying and yet relaxed, I love performing at the Ort. I tried to perform using my new mobile phone tech. it let me down half way through the set and I reverted to page copy. I had some positive feedback and really enjoyed the set.

All photography copyright Bernard Davis


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Monday – As Good a Start as Any


type I made sure I was up and awake early today to get on with a focussed Writing schedule. The sun was shining and the sky was blue, I ate breakfast outside with my latest writing magazine. Then I came back in to warm up my feet (last time I will wear flip flops this year!) and to get down to work.

I decided the best plan of action was admin and emails first. I am hoping to raise new work opportunities in both writing and teaching this week and have an application and paperwork to file by Wednesday, I have an early morning interview at the Hilton. My first appointment on Wednesday is at 7:30 A.M! There is every chance I will be crawling back under bed covers by lunch time!

I have now managed that part of the schedule, Ian Billings wasn’t joking on Saturday when he said he spends more time on Admin and Marketing than on writing. Mine has taken the best part of 2 hours and I am currently only working towards submissions. (There is no Marketing time needed, apart from a little for INKSPILL.)

I am having lunch and need another polar cup of coffee. Then this afternoon I am working on my next poetry submissions.

I do wish we could employ the services of both interns and taskmasters for free. I need someone to delegate the slush too (not the best job advert!) and someone to keep me on board with the rest of the workload.

Maybe I should advertise such services to other writers!



How about you? How do you manage to clear your desk? Motivate yourself and still have time to drink Coffee?



Promises to Myself


Today I am collecting garden furniture and sorting out the lounge (unpacking etc.)

I am going to spend sometime visiting blogs.

I am going to catch up with the online writing course as I missed yesterday’s deadline.

I am going to write for the Slice of Life Challenge.

I am going to look at my research notes and build up the August Writing Schedule to keep myself on track.

There is a submission I have to complete by September that I am going to focus on.


I realise because of moving and having friends visiting I really haven’t managed much writing in the past few weeks. I have had my unintentional break and now I need to climb back on the writer’s chair. Chores can be blocked around the writing and so can unpacking and setting the house straight. I can only imagine how good it will feel by the time I am done!

I recognise I struggle with self-motivation, not working has that affect!

Today I promise to say goodbye to the procrastinating pixie and get on with my life.

I will use my time wisely and push on through the feeling of tiredness I seem to permanently exist within.

I will make these promises so that before I sleep tonight I will have written – I will slip into sleep knowing that I have had a day of achievements and tomorrow I will endeavour to do the same! nike

Make some promises to yourself today to fit the things in that really matter!

SOLC Slice of Life – The first Piece of July Pie!



I am delighted to have made it back online and there is so much going on these slices could be bigger than humble pie! I will try and limit myself to news from the past week!

Well the big news of course – which if you follow my blog you will know I moved house! Mr G and I are now happily living with bits of furniture in the wrong room and boxes and boxes of stuff. I am busy sorting the kitchen first – despite it being a good size the storage is a mini size and with the combination of all our things it is a bit of a nightmare. Plus the removal man couldn’t fit the washing machine so we need someone pin-up-woman-cleaning-up-cold-blue-winter-snow-28623149around to do that. And the laundry has piled up, I planned to do final washes at the apartment – I was worried about water everywhere though – and with good reason the floor needed quite a mopping when the machine was moved!

If it’s not fixed by the weekend then we will need launderette trips.

files-archiveI have just under three weeks left at work. I need to sign up for some agencies and the like ready for some earning potential – particularly as I am still paying for the apartment, I did manage to arrange estate agent evaluations this week though! Finally – been wanting to have it on the market since May but there was so much stuff in it I could never have got it to a presentable standard. I need to do a deep clean and some DIY in the kitchen but they can at least come and tell me what I can hope to get for it.

My neighbours are selling too – 3 of us in the same part of the building – I am hoping the ‘no chain’ factor helps push mine and I have a feeling it may be going on for less than the others. (As there are basic and deluxe kitchens and I believe my side has the basic fittings.)

That’s my next mission sell my flat before Christmas! timer

The past fortnight has been a mission – offline – no TV – just work – sleep – and packing! Apart from my friends BBQ housewarming which was a lovely evening and the first time I have been out in months!

The weekend together at the new house was lovely though – the sun finally shining – summer FINALLY here! Lots of relaxing in the garden after weeks/months of high stress house move feelings! It took us a while to get here but here we are and it was worth waiting for – like all good things.


And in my writing life I have started Camp NaNoWriMo (my 2nd trip to the virtual writers retreat this year, I did 54000 words in April), my summer camp target is just 35000 I am dancing around the 8000 mark – but work will finish before camp does allowing me some catch up time!

Off to grab breakfast in the box city kitchen and read some of your slices before unpacking the house some more!

The Lost Week


As you know I am moving house this week and most spare hours in between work will be spent packing! cardboard-box I am hoping to be ready in time.
This means that I won’t be online as much as normal. AND Mr G has given me even more bad news. We have arranged for the television company to come and swap everything over to the new place, they have told us the Broadband may take up to 2 weeks. I hope it will be sooner and that is something that they have to say to cover themselves. There is always public access PC’s at the library and my trusty phone.
pencil paper freestock I will miss out on the writing challenges this week and next weekend. The upside is I will have time to prep and start my NaNo writes.

Wednesday sees the last week of my writing class, which is always a little sad. The group was fab and hopefully we will keep in touch!

I am also preparing for NaNoWriMo and 2 submissions for the end of the month. 2013-Participant-Facebook-Cover

3115326-a-variety-of-donuts-in-a-takeaway-box It is also my eldest nephew’s birthday and my mum’s birthday this week! So the majority of my writing will take place next weekend.

Other than that I am going to get valuations on my flat and hopefully get it on the market.