Thursday, 28 May 2009

Changing Standards

Are we all moving onwards and upwards?
I’m currently writing the second part of my Peace Child trilogy. A couple of years ago now I shared the opening chapter with a high-profile critique group. It was accepted as fine. I’ve since come back to this chapter and found it raw and very much like a first draft. I’ve shared with another critique group since and I’ll be sharing it with a university staff one soon.
Two years ago this chapter seemed polished.
Today it seems raw.
Have we collectively moved on?

Artist’s Treat Extraordinaire

I’m not sure I enjoy being a tourist any more. I’m not convinced by waxwork figures and unknown actors pretending to be people from the past. And there’s something a little depressing about the lack of convincing information that most exhibitions give.
And yet.
The imagination fires up and away we go.
I’m in Limerick, the Republic of Ireland at the moment. It’s a pleasant enough place. The way two rivers meet is rather dramatic, yet the town centre is depressingly similar to any other town centre with the same chain stores we see everywhere. Even though this is a different country where they have a different currency. Still, the gentle Irish accent takes the edge off.
The ideas come. There used to be two towns – an Irish one and an English one. That is food for thought.
Then there is the Art Gallery in the park which just teems with pictures you could get ideas from. There was also a film showing a writer meeting his future self in a dream. A fascinating concept.
But here I am now, in my hotel room, very content to be writing. It’s raining outside and people are going home form work.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

A Day at Woolwich Polytechnic School

I was impressed.
I worked with a group of Y8 boys on my Build a Book in a day programme at this school. The boys made up stories about superheroes that they had created. We crafted a story together first, then they planned their own, wrote them, word processed them, edited them and finally saved them to a collective area.
They did take a little while to settle. After break, though, it was quite magical. There was a real work atmosphere. I was pleased to see as I walked around and helped the boys that their stories were well formed and not just full of gratuitous spills and thrills.
At lunch time, they had to go out as other students wanted to use the library for private study. The bell went at the end of lunch and suddenly they were all their again.
Aha! Most of them had actually stayed in the library to carry on with their work. Some of them had asked their regular English teacher to get them into an early lunch so that they could return to the library.
The afternoon continued with much hard work. It was a little chaotic as they saved to the communal drive, but it worked. We ended the day with a huge group photo.
The title of the book? The Woolwich Poly League of Extraordinary Superheroes. Not bad, eh?

Monday, 4 May 2009

A Hampshire Writer Living in Lancashire and Looking at Yorkshire

We moved hear just over six months ago. Our house is a delight. It’s modern but cosy and my study is the third bedroom and the messiest room in the house. But when I shut the door and shut the world out it feels good.
I lived in Hampshire for over twenty years. It is a pretty county and the weather is often benign. Yet since we’ve lived here, the weather has been better than in the South of England. We avoided all of that snow which crippled most of the rest of the country in early 2009.
Last week, even, I left an 18° C Manchester to go to a 11° Romsey and left a cool damp south east to return to a16° Manchester the next day. In addition, I was glad to get back to the more rugged beauty of the Lancashire moors.
From our bedroom we can see a lake, between the houses, and then beyond that into Yorkshire. Wild geese regularly fly over our house. The vibrant cities of Manchester and Liverpool are a short drive away. I work in Salford, a city in its own right and a short walk from the middle of Manchester. It too has a cultural vibrancy, though more rugged than what I’m used to.
It’s an odd thing to do when you’re in your mid fifties. But I think it has spiced up the writing and the writer’s process.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Web Presence

Web Presence
Apparently I now have twelve people following me on Twitter. I only recognise four of them, so I’ve only signed up to follow those four.
Are we shortly to go to Web 3? Is this where the Web will become more fluid, more organic, where things will happen generated by the computer, but intelligently.
Face Book seems to be going mad at the moment. I don’t just mean the virus that’s been around. But I’m being invited into tons of relevant groups. A group seems to be being formed for every event. This is quite good though, because it increases your own network.
I tend to be a passive user of Face Book and My Space, as I can’t be bothered to keep spending time on it, though I will post events and I will react to other things that people invite me into.
My favourite web place is actually this blog. It has some lovely tools to play with and I can’t resist trying something new out almost every time I go in. It always looks good too.
I used to love Author’s Den, but that now seems a little dated and I rarely look at or use it. I am getting hits there, though, so perhaps I should use it still.
One thing is certain though: writers need a web presence.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Chocolate and Stories

Chocolate and Stories

I am as always buzzing with ideas. I want to run a workshop on writing stories for Bridge House and I want to run it at Slatterly’s, our local chocolatier’s restaurant / conference centre. Their chocolate is wonderful. Their ambience is wonderful. Bridge House’s stories are wonderful. It is what is needed.

I think we might do it at £60.00 a time. £30.00 of that per person would be for two lots of coffee and biscuits (and chocolate?) and the other £30.00 would be for tuition by yours truly. Delegates would leave knowing how to write for us and have a good chance of getting published.

Would chocolate be the inspiration?

Writers need chocolate.