Saturday, 28 October 2017

Letter writing

It’s often said to be a lost art. Which is understandable. As a means of communication there are now many alternatives which didn’t exist when Cicero was writing to his daughter, or Daudet from his windmill. For immediate conversation we are more likely to telephone or video call. We use email, text and messaging apps.
A letter on the other hand is entrusted to a third party for delivery. One of the most inefficient methods is ‘pupil post’. A cousin of mine managed to convince her parents that her school didn’t produce reports at the end of term, meaning they never found out about her school day misdemeanours or dismal exam results!
I had an article published sometime ago by The People’s Friend focusing on the First World War postcards in my late father’s collection - a few words of news and love from home to a loved one.
My husband and I sent a postcard to ourselves from each place we visited as a pictorial journal of where we had been and what we had seen. Those two very full albums are a great joy, each card triggering happy memories of our life together.
I’m glad that magazines and newspapers still publish letters from readers - particularly when they pay the writer or send out a gift! It’s a good exercise in the general skills of writing - choosing a topic, using prose which fits the magazine’s style, starting with a good hook, engaging the reader, a pithy ending. And writing to a specific word count.
Brief is not always easy. The French philosopher Pascal said, “I have made this (letter) longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.” It does indeed demand effort to concentrate one’s thoughts into a few words.
My creative writing muse is currently silent, probably the result of a difficult month. And so over the next few days I intend to write letters to various sources to exercise my writing muscle and force myself into the practice of writing regularly. And, hopefully, writing well.


Saturday, 30 September 2017

Keep it going

"The big ship sails through the alley, alley oh... On the last day of September"

30th September - how did that happen? It feels like only yesterday I arrived home from my travels. But I've checked the calendar and there's no escaping the fact, September is at an end.

And as always happens on this date I catch an ear-worm of this rhyme which takes me back to my childhood.  It involved a group of us holding hands and weaving through an arch made by two other children. One of the classic 'thread the needle' games.

I came back from my travels 'Journey's End' determined to renew my writing. I'm pleased to say that I have! I made 12 submissions in total, of which one piece of flash fiction has been published on Paragraph Planet and four news items were published in Writers' Forum magazine, which awarded me a year's free subscription. Success!

I have yet to hear about the other 7 submissions and competition entries, but I shan't keep my fingers crossed - it stops me typing. Like the childhood game, I have to keep on moving - write, submit, write, submit. And wait (and hope) for more successful publications.

All together now: "The big ship sails..."

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Journey's End

Day 23 - our heroine returns


I'm home! It's a little over three weeks since my adventure began. I've had a wonderful time visiting different places and meeting so many wonderful people. I've travelled 1,500 miles. But I am ready now to return to normality. 

Which begs the question: what is normal? Over the next few weeks I am going to discover the answer to that conundrum as I work out a new rhythm to my life, hopefully with a greater focus on my writing.

I was chuffed to see that Mslexia had picked up my suggestions for two new words, submitted whilst I was in Hay and published today in their Littlems newsletter. There's no money for the publication, just the glory (ha!) of having my name connected to such an august magazine, but I'm very happy to see Beatrice Charles in print again. I shall take it as a promise of things to come.

"MSLEXICON

...when only a new word will do

partache (n.) the sorrow experienced when an actor fails to portray a character in the manner you had imagined when reading the novel

direlogue (n.) badly written conversation

Thanks to Beatrice Charles for the first two contributions"

Inspired by firelight

Day 22 - our heroine sits by a campfire

You know how this particular trope goes. As the day is ending, a weary band of travellers stop. Too tired to travel any further they pitch camp. Soon a campfire is burning, the flickering flames holding back the darkness. Warm and well fed, the travellers relax. The glow of the fire and their shared repast work to promote a feeling of intimacy and unity amongst those who before had been only acquaintances.

Soon secrets are declared. Tales are told about where they have travelled and the sights they have witnessed. Plans and hopes for the future are shared, vulnerabilities laid bare, precious confidences entrusted to their new friends. 

Sometimes there will be music played round the campfire: a banjo, a fiddle. Voices combine in song: songs of adventure; songs of sorrow. The camp falls silent. The travellers sleep. Tomorrow they will journey onwards to their separate destinations.

A campfire is a useful device. It can be inserted into the text as a breather after a particularly fast-paced scene. Conversations around the campfire can show character development and disclosure. It can allow two previously hostile parties to reconcile.

Tonight I sat with friends and family in my niece’s garden, warming ourselves from the flames of a fire bowl. I told them of my journey and they in turn told me of their travels. Tomorrow we go our separate ways.


And as for me, I too shall return home tomorrow. And I shall write.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Hope

Day 21 - our heroine experiences hope 

Babies are the ultimate display of confidence. A declaration that whatever we may face, life must and will go on.

Here is my family’s latest expression of hope for the future. She is pictured here with her great-grandmothers. They face each other across three generations - born nine decades apart but united by love.


The baby was christened yesterday and has been showered with gifts. And so much love. Delicate pottery, a song composed especially for her, wooden toys, a book trough. The gifts are many and varied and generous. And above all there are books, so many books, a wish for her to grow knowing the beauty of the written word.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Ghostly gathering

Day 20 - our heroine gathers with her kith and kin

It has been a long slow drive today to get from Fishguard in the west to Suffolk in the east. It took me 9 hours to travel across country. That time does include several stops along the way, so it wasn't solid driving, but throw in a few holdups on motorways, heavy rain and some dodgy satnav directions and you will understand why I am shattered tonight.

It was worth it though to be able to attend the family gathering for my great-niece's christening. Staying at Fishguard until Saturday morning meant that I missed the ceremony itself, but it was still good to join everyone for the after-party. And I got to meet and cuddle my great-niece for the first time. 

The Tudor barn where we met was impressive. I saw a strange something in there which I'm sure I can weave into a ghost story. It looked like a bubble floating horizontally across the shields and swords. It was nowhere near the kitchen and none of the children were playing with soap wands. I have no explanation. But I'm sure I can invent one.


Friday, 28 July 2017

Farewell to Wales

Day 19 - our heroine bids farewell 

It's my last day in Fishguard. I have had such a good time both in the wonderful people I have met and the new friends I have made, but also the courses I have taken and what I have gained from them. I feel inspired to write. I have so many ideas buzzing inside my head. All I need to do is get them down, get them sent and get them sold.

My first Writers’ Holiday here in Fishguard will sadly be my last. The couple who organise the event have decided after 31 years that the time has come for them to end the July meetings. For those who have been regular attendees, tonight has been an emotional farewell and a few tears have been shed. 

The week ended in a performance this evening by the Cwmbach Male Voice Choir accompanied by a harpist and soprano. It was a fitting end to a wonderful holiday here in the Land of My Fathers, the land of song.


Tomorrow I journey on.