Thanks for visiting…..Please check out some of my recently published work….
Very little writing was produced this month. The Christmas festivities and ‘man flu’ self pity took precedence over enthusiasm. However, I felt embarrassed listening to a radio programme featuring Judith Kerr, the author of the Mog series of stories. She was celebrating her 95th birthday and the 50th. anniversary of The Tiger Who Came to Tea. Referring to her work she said, ‘Writing produces a lot of rubbish. You have to work through the rubbish. You cannot wait until you feel better.’
Sometimes I go to great lengths to obtain a photograph to illustrate an article. Copyright can make that difficult and costly. When given permission to use an image, I ensure that the provider is properly acknowledged, and courtesy extended. Therefore, it is disappointing when a publisher reduces it to the size of a postage stamp and gives it little prominence, especially when the owner of the illustration requests a copy of the article when published. Ah, editors..mm.
With the arrival of winter; the coughs and colds it invariably brings, output has been erratic. I did manage to finish an article about the steam railway that ran through our village. The title is, THE CRAB & WINKLE LINE, and will be published by Estuary Life in December.
When researching facts for an article it can be tempting to take for granted the accuracy of information gleaned from various sources, such as the internet. However, it is important to verify the reliability from a number of publications. Some years ago, I noticed from an online biography that the centenary of the death of Dr. Joseph Bell was approaching. He was the doctor under whom Arthur Conan Doyle served in Edinburgh University, and because of Bell’s powers of perception, became the inspiration for Doyle’s creation of Sherlock Holmes. I knew this would make an interesting article, and spent months gathering information on the doctor’s background – including buying a biography of the great man – only to discover that the anniversary of his death was a year earlier than my original research had revealed. A frustrating time-wasted effort – and a lesson learned.
The lure of the summer garden seat has surrendered to the colder days and darker evenings, leading me back to my desk. My output this month included a short story entitled FALSE PROPHET OF DOOM, which is to be published in Scribble.
Developing convincing characters is essential to any story and probably more important than the tale. They should not only move the plot along in accordance with their traits and personality, but also make an impression on the reader even after the story fades from memory. This is evident when considering the number of viewers who complain that soap stars ‘act out of character’ usually outweighs those who moan about unsatisfactory story lines. It is better to allow the characters to drive the direction of the story, than trying to find personality types to fit into an already formed storyline.
Working through exercises set on the O.U. Creative Writing module has generated many ideas and part-finished pieces of work to be expanded, edited, or pondered on for future use. The past two months has been a study of poetry and prose – an aspect of my writing normally receiving scant attention. It has however enabled me to finish and submit a few pieces. One, a humorous poem, GARDENING SHOES has been retained for December publication in Defenestration.
When writing fiction we are often reminded of the importance of revealing the feelings and emotions of our characters above their thoughts. Equally, how we project our own feelings into the craft is summed up well by Hemmingway….
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
The past five months have been a period of reassessment.
My craft or sullen art exercised in the still night, as Dylan Thomas styled it, has returned gradually, even if it has yet to reach full enthusiasm.
However, I have submitted a few pieces for publication; my last items in print being a short story entitled GRAVE ERROR which was published in Scribble, and A BITTER PILL TO SWALLOW which appeared in the final Spring edition of Carillon Magazine. It was sad to witness the demise of another print publication after so many successful years.
The growth in online magazines has opened up a vast worldwide market for articles, poetry, and stories. They have replaced the many general interest magazines that once filled the newsagents shelves. Fortunately there remains a large number of printed specialists’ magazines, and it is likely to remain that way for some time. So whatever our craft or sullen art may be, there will probably still be a print magazine to satisfy our particular interest for now.
Having written for many years I have accumulated a substantial WIP file. Articles that were never finished, needed editing or further research. Stories that suffered rejection. Or, as in the majority of cases, simply been usurped by another more interesting idea.
So this month I employed the poor-month freezer approach. Rather than adding to the existing store, I have used what was already there. After a year or two of it is surprising how a fresh approach can by applied to revitalise something neglected for so long.
I have brushed up old articles and stories giving them a new lease of life. However, the process stimulated even more ideas and plots to add to my WIP file. Will I ever empty the file? I doubt it.
Now that Ann’s funeral has passed, the tension and stress leading up to that day has begun to slowly subside. Family and friends have started re-engaging with their lives, and an unnatural peace has descended on my home. Writing can act as a distraction from troubles and be cathartic when trying to find normality.
I tidied up a previously written story NOBODY SCREAMS IN THE CITY which was accepted and published by Everyday Fiction at the end of the month.
There are many writing courses offered by academic institutions and online sites. For those looking at writing for the first time they may prove to be an expensive investment. Fortunately there is a surfeit of free help and introduction to the craft to be found on the internet with a little searching. One such example is Ellen Brock whose experience as a publishing editor has led her to loading a number of very useful videos on You Tube. They cover a range of valuable tips to budding writers. Well worth a look.
December 2017 ~ January 2018
After nursing my wife for twelve years through multiple sclerosis, and a number of serious debilitating illnesses, she finally succumbed to the ravages of breast cancer on the 7th.January.
The devastating end to 52 years of marriage has left the pen empty of words.
To attempt to revive my writing, I have revisited an OU Creative Writing workshop module. Having the discipline of working through a set programme will not only demand my full concentration, but hopefully awaken a waning interest in any indulgent activity. Even if the process doesn’t produce satisfying results, the practice will demand my attention until my spirit awakens again.
I did have an acceptance during January of a previously submitted humorous short story ~ BITTER PILL TO SWALLOW to be published by Carillon Magazine in the final print edition.
……………see archived entries for 2017