Thursday, 22 December 2011

Night thoughts

Merciless fingers unattached to your heart.  

This is the best image that came out of some 'hot writing' - a short burst of unedited writing.  And this photo of my pastry maker is what inspired it.

Now it's stored in my files under 'Starters' so one day I may come back to it.  Who knows where it will lead?

Friday, 18 November 2011


Your skin hums, your heart fizzes, your head sings, your fingers feel like as though there is a wire-like connection to language.  Yes, the writing has arrived, the story is flowing after a period of blankness, stuckness, whatever you like to call it as a writer.

That's where I am with a story at the moment.  Which is good as I have a self-imposed deadline for an upcoming competition.  Which one?  Ah that would be telling wouldn't it!  I'm feeling very competitive about this one so no clues.  I'll let you know when I win (or not).

Colleges here in England are suffering substantial cuts so no creative writing teaching has come my way recently.  Even invigilations have partly dried up.  So I can't use that as an excuse to put off writing.  Organising house extensions to be built however have distracted me.  That and a fight over a new faulty computer (that lasted months) have distracted me from writing and from producing this blog.

Ilkley Literature Festival has come (hooray) and gone (boo).  A writing workshop that I enjoyed was run by Tessa Hadley and prompted me to read some of her short stories – which I love!  So will look for more now -  and her novels.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Tell it how it is - with respect!

Knaresborough Railway Station plaque

It's a bit corny but  ... New Year, new writing.  New teaching too perhaps, cuts allowing.

New inspirations: MsLexia short story competition which I have once again entered. The story itself was shortlisted three years ago for the Knaresborough Festival (FEVA).  Then I took the advice on the MsLexia website to spruce it up - quite a bit.  Then I sent it to a new writing contact (more in later blogs with her permission) which produced some really helpful comments.

What kind of comments are useful for a writer?  First they should be respectful of the work that the writer has put in, and that means: be polite.  It doesn't mean that everything you say should be flattering!

Then, begin by saying what you like about the writing: the subject matter, particular words, phrases, metaphors, paragraphs that touch you in some way, and why.

Next you could suggest ways of improving the work.  For instance (and this is often true of my work) the story might need filling out with more detail about a character, a scene, or a relationship.  Perhaps there is a point where the writer should show more and tell less.  Try framing your suggestions as questions to the writer e.g. 'Do you think this paragraph might be better missed out as you have already told us this on page (number), paragraph (number)?'

At this stage you could mention any grammatical or spelling errors, known as proof reading.  Again I find it useful to couch these in terms of 'perhaps', as some grammatical points are contentious, not set in stone, or accepted by everyone!

Back to one of my older posts: Adeline has now made an appearance on the Headingley LitFest blog site as they have kindly included the whole story.

The 4th Headingley LitFest will take place in March this year, 2011.