Saturday, 23 January 2010

Recipe for success

RECIPE for making a space and time for your writing
One small quiet room
One (no more) well-behaved exam candidate
One experienced invigilator
A4 lined paper
Silently operated pen

First ensure your candidate is fully familiar with the exam instructions e.g. length of time, colour of pen, how to cross out. Then keep an eye on the time and your candidate to make sure they haven't fainted with shock at the questions or are attempting to write in pencil rather than black pen. In other words you're in charge. At the same time start writing your initial ideas, progressing on to writing your story. Once the ideas are thoroughly mixed produce a perfectly baked final draft. Later, serve warm to a reputable publisher who will devour these greedily. And there you have it - your best seller, displayed at the front of every bookshop in the land.

NB: There is no approved time scale for this recipe. Not all cooks will complete this dish. This can be due to laziness, distraction, cleaning the house, playing Solitaire, going out for lunch, knitting that cardigan you should have finished last Christmas and sundry other displacement activities.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

An unexpected journey

Have some fun, and analyse your writing at the same time by going on to the Wordle site. From the text you copy and paste into the space provided Wordle will make an interesting pattern that you can then edit yourself. The bigger the font of each word the more you have used it in the original text. And you can even display your artwork on the site gallery. Have a look at what I did today with a piece of non-fiction about an unexpected journey I took when I was younger - just click on the link below:

Wordle: Going the wrong way"> title="Wordle: Going the wrong way"> src=""
alt="Wordle: Going the wrong way"
style="padding:4px;border:1px solid #ddd">

If you decide to have a go perhaps you can put up the link in a comment on this blog ...

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Good news and bad

The next course I should have been teaching will not run. Where are all the budding writers? Stuck inside because of the snow? Writing alone in their garrets?

Being so snow bound means I've more time to write this blog and here's something that might interest you, as a writer or tutor. Have a look at for lots of writing ideas that start with shoes. As a tutor you can send away for their pack but there are stimuli on the website too. I can't wait to try them out, though unfortunately I will have to wait until my next teaching assignment comes up!

Meanwhile the next competition closing date looms for me, the MsLexia short story competition closes on 25th January and must be sent by snail mail. Note to self: fingers to the keyboard, ideas to come pouring out of the brain (or should that be the mind? ...)

Monday, 4 January 2010

New teaching, new writing

Abject apologies for the gap in the blog! I have a myriad of reasons - finally finished my Lancaster online course early in November along with a final (?) version of the longest short story I have ever produced at nearly 5000 words. It won't go on this blog though as I'll be submitting it to competitions - one at a time - and perhaps to a publisher. The course has shifted me up a gear: next goal is to actually submit some writing to a publisher.

I have submitted some writing to a competition: Leaf books were running one where you had to write something in 140 characters or less. My youthful son tells me that is the outside limit for Twitter. I managed to put four entries in.

And this week sees the start of the next Creative Writing class at an Adult Education centre where I've previously worked. That is, if there are enough students. So to keep me fresh and my teaching I'm thinking of how and where to start. Not my first visit by any means but I have been refreshing my reading of Susan Lee Kerr's blogspot and would recommend it to you if you teach creative writing.

The course is 10 weeks long so the first class is always a balance between persuading them to do some writing, enabling students to feel at ease, finding out what they would like to do on the course and creating energy enough to encourage them to come back the next week! As well as the inevitable filling in of enrolment forms but I try to avoid doing that in class. Instead they can do it in their break (oo aren't I a slave driver!) or after the class. Sometimes though they have to rush off to collect children from school so cannot do that.

I look forward to a new bunch of people but on the other hand, if it doesn't run I can always do more of my own writing, squeezebox playing, house selling, housework to keep the house looking presentable for selling, seeing friends, go swimming ...

... and making resolutions such as "I will write this blog every Saturday". Well, time will tell.