Poetry mnemonics – singing up your iambics

I am just getting round to the idea that rhythm in prose is a thing and that poetry might hold some clues as to how best to apply it. The trouble is, iambic means nothing to me no matter how many times I look it up; trochaic – same thing, and don’t get me started on anapestic which I still think of as a kind of wallpaper. Whoever invented these monikers surely wanted to keep the whole business in-house like a kind of holy catechism that novitiates have to prove they have learned before being allowed to voice any opinion. … Continue reading Poetry mnemonics – singing up your iambics

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When it’s better not to be shortlisted

Recently, I failed to make the short list in a competition* I had entered. It’s not the first time by a long chalk, nor is rejection by publishers or requests for revisions to something I thought was fine in its first iteration (often it turned out better in the end which reflects well on the editorial critique), so when I say I’m actually quite relieved, it isn’t a defensive swipe at the ones that made it. Maybe you’ve found yourself in this position too: you enter in good faith, you’re shortlisted, you cheer. Then you read the stories you’re shortlisted … Continue reading When it’s better not to be shortlisted

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Readwave and Scribd: places for writers & readers

Readwave is a well-presented site for writers-looking-for-readers and readers looking for something bite-sized to read. Anyone can post a piece of flash (800 words – longer pieces have to be broken up) and your stats are clocked up next to each entry. While I’m not sure that a ‘read’ always means what it says, you do at least know someone looked and that your treasured bit of prose isn’t all on its lonesome any more. Upload is a simple copy/paste process with boxes for title and short description, and a place to put tags. There is a limited range of … Continue reading Readwave and Scribd: places for writers & readers

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Writing well and coathangers

You’ll recognise all those descriptions of how easy it is to write – ‘stare at the page until your eyes bleed’, that kind of thing – and they work for writers because we have been there. But what about the people who can’t? How do you describe the process in a way that puts them in your space? And what about really understanding it ourselves so that we can be more efficient about our own writing process? Bleeding eyes is not a good marker for success. Yesterday, struggling first to get ‘out of the room’ as it were, because someone … Continue reading Writing well and coathangers

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‘Dance to the Wild Ice’

‘When Izzy’s eyelids got burned off, she had to watch all the time without blinking – apart from the frog-lick that slides across side-to-side, but you can see through that so there’s no escape and she’s been watching since Jinty started making the dance. ‘ In Lancaster university’s 2013 anthology of MA creative writing. Contributors are part time and distance students. ‘Dance to the Wild Ice’ is set in the same world as ‘All the Birthdays‘ and it’s on P5. Go on, unsettle yourself! Continue reading ‘Dance to the Wild Ice’

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Car boot giveaway – genuine articles, no tat, honest madam!

I’m having a clear-out. Like my wardrobe, my short stories’ cupboard is stuffed with last season’s pieces which don’t match or have odd bits dangling off the hems. I’ll be starting my MA in October and it seems likely that the process begun with the Open University courses in 2009 and 2010 will re-frame my writing, how I think of it, and how I want it to appear. Not that I’m cringing about the stories that are already out in the wild (and still getting hits, thank you very much, opportunist passers-by!). I’m beyond embarrassment, having worked in the NHS for over 40 years … Continue reading Car boot giveaway – genuine articles, no tat, honest madam!

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‘….As You Wave Me Goodbye’

I don’t like being miserable. For a start, it peels at least 20 points off my IQ, and at my age, that’s too significant to ignore. Second, it makes creative thinking well nigh impossible. It closes up the essential gaps between those bubbling, spontaneous irregularities that sit in my unconscious, and the conveyor belt of conscious delivery. Third, it makes my face look like a smacked arse, and frankly, I prefer it less baggy and more crinkled, when the crinkles are herded into place by an irrepressible urge to giggle. But today I am royally stuffed. My father died last week. One of my cats died this morning. His brother is on the blink (same … Continue reading ‘….As You Wave Me Goodbye’

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Winterbourne abuse scandal

Writing is writing, right? Someone in ‘Good Will Hunting’ said that, if you can do it, you should, on behalf of all those who can’t. Well this link to my other blog, my other life, is my writerly way of speaking for those who can’t. Others have done the same. Journalists have made erudite comment. The BBC gave us the material. But we all knew it was happening, somewhere in our souls, our collective psyche. We knew that we could not always trust humans to act with humanity, or decency, or even just plain neglectfully. We knew that some would see an opportunity for … Continue reading Winterbourne abuse scandal

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The #Scrapslush campaign

I already knew this, I can’t say I didn’t, so why then do I feel  disquiet at the notion of the ‘slush pile’? It’s not the fact of being in a queue or of waiting for an evaluation of suitability, those are regular experiences in my world. It isn’t even the element of subjectivity, the lack of control, or the length of time invested in the wait because these too are familiar in matters such as applications for research funding. In both circumstances, there are rules to be followed; this many words or characters, this kind of remit, and that … Continue reading The #Scrapslush campaign

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