Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Pretending to be a Poet at the Hat Fair

Part of writing seems to be throwing yourself in front of people. There is the stereotype of the solitary writer but actually I want people to hear my words.
I’ve embraced all types; my strongest facets are short stories and flash
but it’s good to stretch in other directions.
You see, I got the opportunity from the Winchester Poetry Festival to be a Hat Fair poet this weekend; my friend Madelaine asked and I said "Yes". The natural show off in me embraces the stage, I majored in drama 100 years ago and some of that is still in my blood.
I found my most robust stuff to read, I practised with Loose Muse Sue. It helped that she was terrified too.
I did it, I didn’t die. The audience were kind and I was adrenalinified.
Yes, yesterday I pretended
to be a poet, and maybe that makes me one.
PS I suppose this post is a prose poem.

 Massive thanks to 1000 Monkeys for this Film 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Flash: Ghosts Don't Go Woo

There was a knock at the door. I ran downstairs and the smell of cakes enveloped me; my stepmother was baking again. When she first died it upset me that she carried on inhabiting the kitchen but after a while I found her culinary presence a comfort. I wasn’t sure my new not-quite boyfriend would feel the same way; I didn’t want him to think I was a sinister spinster living in a haunted house. I was ready to invite him to dinner but not yet ready to give him an explanation, so I just stuck to what I was used to and lied. I took credit for the cooking and hoped my stepmother would inadvertently woo him for me. I didn’t count on her reading my thoughts. It was the first time she’d ever burnt anything.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Liking Minds at the Winchester Writers' Festival

Photo by Alex Carter
A perk of doing my MA at the University of Winchester is that I had the opportunity to be a student host at this year’s Winchester Writers' Festival. My duties were to look after two session leaders and in return I got to see the keynote and sit in on my speakers’ sessions, not to mention lunch, with tangerine and coffee pudding. Well, I did mention it, I had to; it was so good!
Beforehand I was terrified. Stupidly so. I thought I ought to prepare an elevator pitch to market myself effectively, even though my novel is less than half written. I forgot that people are human beings. I also forgot that these days I am barely ever intimidated.
The start of the day was wonderful, Sebastian Faulks was everything you want from a keynote. He was very warm, had fascinating anecdotes and said exciting things, like allowing your characters to contradict themselves. Check out @JennySavill1 's #sebastianfaulks tweets for a great summary of his gems.
Jenny Savill from Andrew Nurnberg was my first speaker. She was, of course, lovely and encouraging, talking about there being a potential market for my clumsily explained story (I still haven’t nailed my elevator chatter). My second speaker was Paul Bryers, who had been one of my lecturers so I knew he wouldn’t be scary and it was brilliant to catch up with him. He was in high spirits, having just finished writing a novel the day before!
I don’t want to give away my speaker’s intellectual property because that would be unethical and if you get the chance to hear either of them talk, please do!
So just tiny tasters:
Jenny’s session was ‘Think you’re Ready to Submit to an Agent’. She gave lots of excellent tips on what to do before sending your manuscript off. I’ve made a checklist from what she said. A jewel for me was about starting action as late as possible. Very resonant!
Then lunch. And. That. Pudding.
Paul’s session was ‘Making a Drama Out of a Crisis’, looking at ways in to factually-based historical fiction. It was great to hear his film maker and novelist perspectives and I love that he says the story must come first; truth is flexible.
Both speakers answered all sorts of questions from attendees, honestly and expertly.
In between, I bumped into MA friends at various stages of their dissertations, some more frantic than me and others I’m incredibly jealous of (already editing!). I also saw other friends, some that I hadn’t seen for years, some that are becoming new writing buddies. And met new people. I love new people; they’re so unexplored. All of them with that shared passion; that drive to write.
Thanks to Judith Heneghan for this fantastic opportunity. Next year I’ve promised myself a fully paid-up ticket and I’ll be touting my completed novel. Dear readers, book yourselves on and I’ll see you there!

Also posted on Litmus 2015