Monday, 28 May 2012

Fame at last! (well sort of...)

As our writing group is about to be featured in the next edition of Yorkshire Life, K, D and I have just spent the best part of the afternoon striking our best poses for a professional photographer. I've always hated having my photo taken, but when it's in a good cause... It's a shame that our fourth member, N, couldn't join us, but sadly the photographer couldn't do this evening, which is when we'd normally be meeting. It's not exactly fame, but it might attract some new members. There are just four of us at the moment and, happy as we are, we'd love to recruit new members as we find each person adds an exciting and different dimension to the group. So, if there are any budding writers out there in the Cleckheaton and surrounding area, please get in touch!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Stop thief!

'Procrastination is the thief of time', as the well-known adage goes. But what about social media? It sneaks in and robs creative writers of their precious time, energy and creative spark, leaving them empty, exhausted and bereft. Well okay, there are more time and energy stealers out there, but social media is a big one - yes it can be useful, but it can also end up as yet another obstacle to navigate when trying to find the time in which to write. Like me, I'm sure there must be many busy working parents who have very little free time / energy left to complete that unfinished novel. And the little, precious time you do have gets eaten up by either household chores (yawn!) and trying to catch up with friends and family (yay!). And then, when you finally get sat down wherever you usually write, with your head switched into 'creative mode', determined to finish the first draft of your novel, you realise that your entire evening has been stolen by, you've guessed it, the two or three hours you've inadvertently spent browsing the internet including that cursed social media - again! So, I ask all of you creative types to join me - close your internet browser and don't open it again until at least tomorrow evening - then you (and I) will have absolutely no excuse whatsoever for not getting that first draft finished - will we? ;)

Friday, 25 May 2012

Motivating masterclass!

Earlier this evening I attended an energetic and enjoyable masterclass at the WYP led by Leandra Ashton, focused on harnessing ‘the creativity within’ via some unusual and interesting methods. The class was far more physical than I expected, with plenty of props for inspirational purposes. Rather than scribbling furiously for an hour or so, we spent the best part of the class making full use of the space, incorporating music, movement, clothing and even a washing line to transport us somewhere different and evoke a range of feelings and associations. It was fascinating to see how no two class members saw the same story / associations in the same things. Leandra also explained how her obsession with washing lines had inspired her to create the story and characters for her play, Napoli. And she gave us a fascinating insight into the creative processes she uses when collaborating with the actors in her Flying Cloud Theatre Company. I left the class feeling positive and energised, with the intention of trying out one or more of these techniques the next time my muse has left me high and dry.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

And finally...

After 18 months of living in a frustrating state of limbo, our 'house situation' (or should that be 'house saga'?) may soon be half-resolved. One of our houses finally has a buyer (a real one this time, not just a pretend one!) And, once that's done (it all takes FAR longer than it should with more red tape than ever (stupid politicians - no wonder no one wants to move house these days!)) (note to self- I really must stop over-using brackets!) then it will let us start to move forward with our lives. We can't get too ahead of ourselves though as the contracts aren't even exchanged yet. And once we have sold it, everything has to go into storage. And then we have to empty our other house and put everything into storage. And get it smartened up and rented out. And then find somewhere to live! Don't worry we won't be living in a caravan for months, we have family that will put us up (or should that be put up with us?) Who knows, by this Christmas we could actually be living in a proper family home instead of a matchbox!

Slow but steady progress

I'd also like to share (with whoever is remotely interested!) that I've completed over 51 chapters and am (finally) nearing the end of my first draft. I was hoping to have it done by Easter, but... so, my new deadline (for the first draft - not the book itself - that would be madness!) is 31st May. The plan is then to park it and come back to it three months later in September, then edit it to within an inch of its life - oh yes, and then get an agent and become a huuugely successful published author (well, a girl can dream can't she?) Wish me luck!

Featureless silver screen, mist is water in its ghost state...

Last night my friend K and I half-froze on top of a windswept hill near Oxenhope, but it was worth it. We were there for the second leg of a three-part event to mark the end of the Stanza Stones project, a collaboration between imove, Ilkley Literature Festival, poet Simon Armitage and Pennine Prospects. The project, both ambitious and fascinating, has involved many talented and creative people - some of them already famous (Yorkshire poet Simon Armitage), but many of them yet to be discovered - aspiring writers, film makers and dancers. The project centred around six stones (plus an elusive seventh stone in a mystery location) which can now be found in various remote locations along the Pennine Watershed, from Marsden to Ilkley. Into each stone is carved a poem written by Simon Armitage. The overarching theme of the poems is water; each poem represents water in a different form i.e. mist, rain, snow, dew, beck and puddle. The evening itself was very well organised (and free!) - we were shuttled from Oxenhope up the winding road to Nab Hill and dropped off a short walk away from the Mist Stone. The way was quite muddy and the wind unseasonally chilly, making us glad we'd donned all our walking gear. (I felt a motherly concern for the excellent dancers who braved the cold in their thin T-shirts and hoodies to entertain us both during and between the readings!) We arrived at the 'site' to the sound of some interesting world music coming from a soundsystem powered by a couple of bicycles, being ridden by enthusiastic volunteers. Attendees were invited, nay encouraged, to pedal them, and although we weren't keen at the outset, by the end of the evening, once the cold had set into our bones, they seemed quite an inviting prospect! After a bit of a wait (that'll teach us for being early and getting the first bus up the hill!) we were treated to a reading of all six poems by Simon Armitage. Hearing the poems read by their originator really brought them to life, and, as I'm sure many will agree, Simon has 'one of those voices' which entirely engages the listener, drawing them into his world of verse. We were also treated to a series of readings from a number of young writers and poets who had been involved in the project. They had all drawn their inspiration from visiting the moors and attending masterclasses with Simon. Our only real disappointment (apart from the cold!) was that we didn't actually get to see the Mist Stone itself. We had (mistakenly) thought this was part of the evening and if we'd known more about performance timings and exactly where it was (a mere stone's throw (sorry!) away from where we were), then we'd have scampered up to the top to find it. That said, it didn't spoil the evening and it can always be seen another day, perhaps when the weather is less cruel. According to the stone carver Pip Hall, who engraved Simon's poems into each of the stones, the stone chosen for carving at Nab Hill had a hairline crack down the middle which caused it to split in two as they were raising it, giving her a pair of stones to work with instead. So the Mist Stone is in fact two stones - perhaps it should be renamed the 'Mist Stones'? Once the performances had ended, K and I walked (very briskly) back to the waiting coaches and were ferried to the Village Community Centre for much-needed hot chocolates and bourbons! As we regained the feeling in our hands and feet we were treated to a series of films made by young film students from the Leeds College of Art. Some were scary, some were touching and some were downright baffling, but all were entertaining. K and I also bought ourselves signed copies of Simon's poems, although we didn't get to meet the man himself (sigh!). All in all, it was an original and entertaining event and it was well worth braving the cold to be there.