Thursday, 30 July 2009

Plodding on, Morris & Yorkshire Dales

Well, first the bad news - I didn't get anywhere in the Calderdale Short Stories competition but, as you probably know, you just have to keep plodding on writing and submitting work. At least I have more faith in my own writing now and that seems really important.

So, good news. Though not really writing news. One of my favourite pastimes is playing melodeon for a women's Morris side (team) - you can find us at I'm one of the musicians and we wear top hats as part of our kit. You may know that there is now a film about Morris dancing. There's a good clip on this site and you can find out more if you're interested: It looks to be a really good laugh and has even gone down well on its USA tour!

A few of Persephone went walking over the Ribblehead railway viaduct in the Yorkshire Dales last Sunday. The rain even kept off for a lot of the time in the afternoon even if the cloud didn't. It was hard work walking on the gravel besides the line but a great little experience. And if you've never been to the Yorkshire Dales in the UK then in my considered opinion you haven't lived! It is a big county with all kinds of scenery, villages, towns and cities. I could go on and on ... but for now you can see the photo of Ribblehead viaduct at the top of this post.

Lancaster's online writing course is now well under way and after a lot of blood and sweat (well, lots of thinking anyway) I have posted most of a short story for feedback. For the first time I'm including more than one point of view in a short story. It's so rewarding getting feedback from a good group of writers - everyone has something to contribute but everyone has something to gain too.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

poetry busking

They're right you know, there's always something new to learn! I had never come across this idea till last Saturday at the Kirkstall Festival in Leeds. You could 'buy' a poem for a £1, that is you could have a poem written for just £1. Well, I thought that as I had asked for a sonnet that £2 would be more like it (big spender!). The stall was run by Leeds Combined Arts - - an organisation I hadn't heard of before either and the poet was a young man called Ted Hockin.

You could go back in half an hour and get your poem. In fact a friend had pointed me in the direction of the stall and I was there when she collected her poem, and it was a cracker! However as I don't write that fast I thought it unreasonable to ask him, so he is going to email the poem to me.

I wonder if this is a new thing and I'm just slow to get in the swing of things, or maybe it's even been going a while. Might be a way of bringing in some cash mightn't it? Would be pennies in my case as I am not what would be called a fast writer. At least I need a lot of thinking time before I get pen to paper, or in my case finger to keyboard.

Things are hotting up on the Lancaster online course though and I'm feeling rather behind - you can't just wait for inspiration when you have deadlines. And that was one of the reasons I enrolled for it so I have no excuse there ...

At leat I have a short story plotted out before I even began it and I haven't always done it that way. Just started and then see what would happen usually.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Writing and not writing

Hugely enjoying the writing course at Lancaster University and would recommend it. It's six months long and is really good value for money, and no they are not paying me to say that!
BUT it has put paid to any other writing. Though to be honest I took on some invigilation work this last month so that has taken my time too. As well as playing my beloved melodeon for Persephone Women's Morris. And I've not been able to do as much of that either - I do suffer from low energy levels and get more viruses than normal so have to pace myself - even now I'm retired.
Never got to put a poem in to Grey Hen Press but one aim is to get a short story either submitted to them, or submit one for a competition.
On the mundane side of things I do like this hot weather, even it is humid - it can remind me of my teenager-hood in Hong Kong. That was in the colonial days of course, in the 60s. Lot of water under the bridge for me since then, as well as for China and Hong Kong. Maybe I'll put up a little more detail on that in the next post. Watch this space.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Irish Rural Wedding Breakdown


Stopped by the telegraph,

shocked at hanging about,

hoists the silver-blue skirt.

White shirt mooches about.

Black suits you. Gardai’s never here

when you need them. I always smoke Carroll’s.

By God.

Vegetable love meanwhile wrenches a sigh

at the edge

of the road.

Are you sure then Declan,

- no petrol?

This is a draft of the poem I have sent off to Ian Parks for his comments. And I am very aware that it needs something else doing with it .... not sure what yet.

Meanwhile I sent off a story to the Calderdale libraries competition so I will have to wait and see whether that gets anywhere. After a great deal of re-thinking and re-drafting over a period of weeks I ended up being pretty pleased with it - at last I am able to get into the swing of writing. Poetry seems to be making more of a mark on my writing - I've just sent off an equally short one to the MsLexia Women's Poetry competition, inspired by notices seen on a train journey, though the collected words and phrases were put to a different purpose. In any case it's a fun thing to do: collect words and phrases from any specific activity, it could be an occupational jargon for instance, and use them for poetry.

My next deadline is the Grey Hen Press poetry competition - for women over 60. And, yes, I do fit the category!

Last, but most important at the moment, I'm waiting to hear if the Lancaster University online writing course will be running - it starts in a few days and I'm really looking forward to getting my teeth into regular writing, and critiquing.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Poetry workshop

All fired up to write more as once again I have been to a poetry workshop run by poet Ian Parks, who is from Mexborough, in Yorkshire, UK. Two or three years ago I attended a workshop run by him primarily for writing students in Adult Education in the area and it was so good and such fun I was keen to try again. Poetry comes second with me to writing prose - mainly short stories - but I do enjoy trying my hand at poetry.

I particularly liked writing in response to photographs that were on the wall in the Flux Gallery, in Leeds, where the workshop was held. I now have six words with which to play around with and make a 'finished' poem.

The Inklets writing group in Leeds had organised this workshop and my aim is to send them something for their 2009 published collection. Though they gave me a web address I cannot get it work at the moment, but you can find something about them via

Poetry apart I want to try to write a finished story -and haven't yet started - by the end of March for the Calderdale Libraries competition. Watch this space!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Haikus, sonnets, limericks and teaching

This photo is a structure in my local park - I like the pseudo-Japanese style.

Conventional thinking tells us that a woman who has children is faced with more obstacles to writing. In my case it made me more conscious of how little time I had for myself so I was really going to take my writing time more seriously! Since my early teens I'd enjoyed writing stories and had done bits on and off over the years. I was 40 when I had my son, and did not have a partner to share the care. I continued teaching, mainly Literacy but eventually was offered some creative writing teaching. It did what I hoped it might: got my own creative juices flowing.

The last few weeks the students - all adults - have been tackling Haikus, some rhymes, limericks and some may have a go at sonnets!

I've only got as far as producing this limerick, which uses the classic rhyming scheme of a a b b a though, with my critic's hat on, needs more humour!

There once was a girl from Yorkshire

who to singing did always aspire.

She let out a scream.

It was less than supreme

and she didn't get a place in the choir.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Yeah! Sent a story

Wrote my story, changed and added things goodness knows how many times, consulted my neighbour who writes and in the end just left it to stew ... However I dug up another story which I changed and expanded and sent that off instead. Originally it had been a draft of about 600 words for the Liverpool mini-series on the them of Longing, but I had reduced it to about 60-70 words - yes really! - but kept the original. It was rejected anyway at Liverpool.

Creator and critic is the subject of another blog I've just come across - recommended in MsLexia - and it's certainly pertinent to what I wrote last Saturday. You'll find it at and Dr Wicked's view is my own: you need to write regularly, even set yourself so many words a day without the 'inner critic' interfering. Later you can edit and select what you want from those words. He even has a special place on the site for you to do that, which I must explore.

For now flu has intervened so rest is the order of the day ...

Saturday, 17 January 2009

It's hard, writing

Of course I've known that for a long time but when you haven't written every day it's easy to forget just what a struggle it can be. Other times I get really fired up with an idea that I just can't ignore and the writing flows. The last few days I've started to write for the MsLexia Short Story competition and there's no set theme to use as a framework though there are five starters on their website, one of which I have used. But as I write I have to keep digging deeper for the jewels ...

I've decided in the last month to use competitions as deadlines for writing, to keep me fastened to the kitchen table - that's where I write - putting pen to paper. I do word-process as well, it depends how the mood takes me. It would be nice to get a laptop when the money allows.

And this is the cat that always sits on the table whenever I read or write (or eat come to that).