Tag Archives: writing life

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

 

INKSPILL – Motivation: Keep Going – A Little Back Story & a Video

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This motivational video is SPORTY, as most are. Why? Athletes know the part BELIEF plays in their success. In fact (as followers from 2013) will know, it was whilst watching the athletes competing in the Summer Olympics of 2012 that I first conceived my 16 year writing plan.

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My sporting achievements (alongside County Netball and 3rd in the Egg and Spoon Race)! ^^^^^

Who wants a 5 year plan? Now I have a vague one year plan (nothing on paper, although that is a great idea for manifesting goals) and from that comes the 4 year plan.

There was never a 5 year plan, just the 16 years of trying. Gold medallist after gold medallist spoke of their ‘journey’ to achieving GOLD and for many of them the success was the result of trying Games after Games. For some of the older (still younger than me) athletes it was their 4th Games (4×4 = 16) they made it – then retired to coaching or presenting or promoting sports.

This is where we have the advantage – a writer (and many do) go on writing until they die or find they can no longer create new work. We can go on long after our bodies have aged, with all sorts of tech that can produce our manuscripts without the need for typing, as long as our minds are still active we can continue giving the world something new to read.

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In just one year of writing poetry and nearly 2 years of writing I am well on my way to my first Olympic games and as you can read in this blog, lots has happened in that short space of time.

I should point out that I have done my training, I was a ‘young writer’ (before that term was used and in a very different world than today, no internet, no groups for 16-25 year old talented writers, no young writer groups like the one I work with at The Hive) it was a very insular writing experience. First published at the age of 15, my work appeared in various publications and anthologies of poetry, it was only just before leaving for university (an Olympic Games later) that I even admitted (confessed) publically to writing, let alone telling people I was published.

During my time at university, studying drama, I took to the stage at various venues around the East Midlands performing poetry.

After graduating I worked as an actress, performance poet and wrote for theatre. Within a year I found myself studying Creative Writing and was tutored by famous/ re-known local and national writers & journalists, including the much loved Sue Townsend. I embarked on a career as a Freelance Writer – alongside facilitating Poetry Workshops in schools, promoting local writing / performance events and leading Drama Workshops for the corporate world.

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It is AMAZING what young ambitious 21 year olds can achieve!

A large part of me wishes I had stuck with it but it didn’t pay well and I had other ambitions, like owning a home and travelling the world, both of which needed money. Ironically, I believe if I had stuck at it I would still have achieved those dreams. So, if you are under 25 and already doing something creative with your life, stick with it! If it is your path, you will know.

I trained as a teacher and later a life coach.

At the beginning of this career change I was still in tune with a shadow of my dream and set up a website and online community in 2000 called A Writers Fountain – domains and the internet at the time was relatively new to users, despite this we became the number one ranking community network/website within weeks and stayed in poll position for 2 years that our URL existed. My website for those involved in 52 was similar in concept and network, but writing was divided into genres and sub-sections. AWF helped many across the world realise their dream …. had relationships, marriages and publication success too.

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Young 20- somethings are pretty good at realising their dreams too!

Sadly, MSN sites were abolished and although I bought a domain name, the set up of the website wasn’t as good as the original and we lost several hundred members when we moved URL. The experience was not the same for the user. Imagine a premiere league sports team playing in your local club venue – how different that would feel, it was the same.

Back in the early 2000s web design was expensive and there was little option. In the end it was costing too much money and it didn’t feel the same, my own offline life was increasingly complicated and I abandoned the site and writing, although that process happened a little slower. I made no submissions after 2003 and had stopped writing altogether. (None of these ‘writing’ decisions happened on a conscious level.)

I was a full-time teacher for 12 years alongside some short-term lecturing and mentoring work. I did buy the house (then sold it and bought again with Mr G) and did some travelling. Followed by more travelling (on a bigger budget) seeing the world 5 weeks at a time!

Until illness in 2012 re-awoke me and made me accept who I am. A creative soul was fed once more and here we are in AWF mark 2# a blog. I had never blogged before 2013 and I LOVE it! Last year I had more time to explore the world of blogs and blogging, since then my own writing life has kept me busy offline – and I still teach to pay the mortgage, having learnt back in the 90s that you need a plan to support your creativity as it is a poverty placed career choice (as is the Arts in any context) unless and until you are Hollywood block buster level or JK Rowling!

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I went part-time and now I work supply and spend the other half of my week writing and getting creative. I now work as an Assistant Writer and Mentor for Writing West Midlands and am a  Performance Poet and Freelance Writer, my world has done a 360 turn!

You are never too old and people in their 30s aren’t old anyway!

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Moving onto the promised video… here it is!

As the title says KEEP GOING!

Whatever you are doing – do it better, do it well.

So ignore the sportiness of this video and pay attention to the words!

Enjoy