Introducing Confluence magazine

Photo of Confluence 1 + 3
Photo of Confluence 1 + 3
Confluence 1 + 3

Confluence is a new writing magazine from Wordsmithery. Confluence aims to introduce writers from the East Kent area to writers from everywhere else and promote artistic exchange. We are open now for submissions of short plays, short stories and poems.

We will be publishing a print copy four times a year (August, December, February and May). See the Submissions page for what we’re looking for and how to submit!

You can order Issues 1 and 3 and subscribe at the Wordsmithery website if you want to get a feel for the type of writing we’re looking for.

Writers we have featured so far include: Issue 1 (all available online)  Janine Booth, sean burn, Matt Chamberlain, Nancy Charley, David Cramer Smith,  Zack Davies, Rachel Davis,  Sarah Hehir, Dan Horrigan, SM Jenkin, Daphne Margolys, Tara Moyle, Katarina Rankovic (illustrations), Angel Uriel Perales, Cameron Williamson.

Issue 2 (all available online) Linked to our ‘An assemblance of judicious heretics; re:imagining Shakespeare’ project – featuring poetry and prose from 33 writers and interpretations of their words by 32 artists.

Issue 3 (some video extracts available online) Stories and poems from Matt Chamberlain, Nancy Charley, Maggie Drury (woodcut illustrations), Barry Fentiman Hall, Sam Hall (a play), Mark Holihan, Shaun Philip Hutchings, Philip Kane, Bill Lewis, Daphne Margolys, Maria C. McCarthy, Katarina Rankovic, David Cramer Smith, Spreken, Jonathan Terranova, and Barrie West.

The magazine is printed using a Risograph machine locally at Intra on recycled paper, using vegetable inks, which gives it a retro feel. “…it’s so satisfying to hold and read! Typeface is fab, paper is perfect magazine weight. Old school printing was an inspired choice…”

See more at the Confluence website.

Community group’s third annual festival keeps it live and local

Rochester Literature Festival

The Rochester Literature Festival is back for a third year bringing readers, writers and like minds together.

Featuring a sense of people and places, this year’s Rochester Literature Festival ‘Live’n’Local’ will mix writings inspired by the urban and rural places of Kent, along with its cultural heritage.

On Saturday, the festival will be based at The Guildhall Museum in Rochester High Street for a selection of talks with an historic theme, while the popular Cafe Crawl will take place in various cafes.

On Sunday, a lovely and eclectic selection of authors will delight you with their stories in the gallery space at the wonderful Sun Pier House in Chatham.

Bookmark’d will be back in a slightly different format, and an artist will be on hand to capture the event as well as inspire you to do the same.

The ever-brilliant Sam Hall of 17% brings her new play, My Mind is Free, produced by Rah Rah Theatre, to the festival on Sunday evening at the Nucleus Arts Centre in Chatham, continuing the wonderful ‘Night at the Theatre’ events enjoyed in the previous two festivals.

As part of the BBC Get Creative Campaign, the RLF is also running 4 themed workshops.

The workshops on Saturday at the Guildhall Museum feature The History Magpie, Rachael Hale, who – inspired by the museum’s wonderful collection of artifacts – will guide you in finding hidden treasures whose stories are waiting to be told. Festival partner Sam Hall, with fellow playwright and BBC Prize winner Sarah Hehir, will teach you how to use news stories to inspire your own writing, leading the creative writing workshop Safe and Sound which is linked to the Sunday evening play, My Mind is Free, exploring the issues around human trafficking in the UK (over 14s).

On Sunday at Sun Pier House, Nature Girl, Carol Donaldson will be taking participants out to explore the local environment before committing their discoveries to paper, while Melanie Benn will help you in Unlocking your Memories with discussion and thoughtful writing exercises, encouraging you to think about writing from personal experiences.

Festival Director Jaye Nolan says: “We’re excited to be part of the BBC’s Get Creative Campaign this year, and pleased to be able to offer such a wide variety of workshops for both aspiring and experienced writers in the community. Whether you’re into history, the environment, memoir or playwriting, we’ve got something for you.”

Both the Guildhall Museum and Sun Pier House Gallery Cafe remain open to the public as usual with free entry. There is a small fee for the workshops (children free) and play to cover costs. The RLF is a voluntary, non profit organisation and donations will be gratefully accepted to help secure future festivals.

The programme of events is as follows:

Saturday 10 October Guildhall Museum

Workshops

10am – The History Magpie led by Rachael Hale

Inspired by the museum’s wonderful collection of artifacts, Rachael will guide you in finding hidden treasures whose stories are waiting to be told.

1pm – Safe and Sound led by Sam Hall and Sarah Hehir

Learn how to use news stories to inspire your own writing! Sam and Sarah will lead a creative writing workshop linked with the Sunday evening play, exploring the issues around human trafficking in the UK. (Over 14s)

Speakers

12 noon-1pm Toni Mount

Prolific medieval specialist Toni will be unravelling the mysteries of ancient medicine – when butchers knew more about anatomy than university trained physicians!

2-3pm Truda Thurai

Referencing short stories inspired by Rochester Cathedral and her own methods of research, Truda will share some of her secrets to writing historical fiction.

4-5pm Sir Robert Worcester

The inspiration for our history themed day, the Magna Carta is widely regarded as a potent symbol of the freedom of the individual. 2015 is the 800th anniversary of its sealing at Runnymede and we’re delighted that Sir Robert, Chairman of the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Commemoration Committee, is joining us to discuss its legacy.

Cafe Crawl, featuring Pop Up Performers: 11am-12noon, 1-2pm, 3-4pm at Cafe@172, Bruno’s Bakes and The Quills.

Sunday 11 October Sun Pier House

Workshops

10am-12noon Nature Girl led by Carol Donaldson

Be prepared for any weather as Carol leads you out of the building to connect with – and take inspiration from – your surroundings, before heading back to commit your discoveries to paper.

1-3pm Unlocking Your Memories led by Melanie Benn

Whether you’re retired or just setting out of life’s journey, don’t be shy – come along and unpick the story you want to tell, as Melanie leads you through learning to write from your own experience.

Speakers

11.30 Jane Lythell

Formerly in situ at the BFI and BAFTA and a TV producer for many years, film fan Jane has made a stunning switch to writing thrillers. Consider yourself dared to join in!

12.45 Bill Lewis

The internationally renowned award winning poet, author and visual artist talks about his life, influences, travels, reading and writing. He will also read a selection of new and old writing.

2pm Maggie Harris

A welcome return to Medway for Maggie, sharing her evocative, fascinating stories and poems about life at home and abroad.

3.15 Cultural Contributors Discussion Panel led by Roy Smith (Seasonally Effected) and featuring Lisa Vigour (Inspirational Nights) and Barry and Sam Fentiman-Hall (Roundabout Nights) in a discussion about the vibrant cultural open mic scene prevalent in Medway, and the opportunities it gives to aspiring performers.

4.30pm Michael Nath

Follow a magical pursuit for the essence of literary character in the company of a latter day Falstaff, as Michael discusses his latest book, British Story.

Throughout the day at Sun Pier we also have a lovely artist, Julie Bradshaw, with us to inspire you to respond to the festival visually and in writing – stand still too long and you’ll be captured forever!

And – for your ears only – Bookmark’d is an opportunity to get up close and personal with local publishers and authors, to hear snippets of, and discuss, their work. Features Urbane Publications, Wordsmithery, David Griffin, Medway Mermaids and Paul Breen.

Sunday 11/10 Nucleus Arts Centre: A Night at the Theatre

7pm My Mind is Free. The new play is inspired by the stories of people who have fallen into modern day slavery and is an all too poignant reminder of how people traffickers can take advantage of the current refugee situation. The play is funded by the Arts Council and the Kent Commissioners Fund.

 

You can keep up to date with the festival on Twitter @RochLitFest, find them on Facebook or call 07904 643770.  The full programme can be found on the RLF website at www.rochesterlitfest.com, where tickets can be booked for the play and workshops. Brochures can also be picked up from the Visitor Information Centre in Rochester, the venues and various libraries.

Get Creative – Get Writing

Supporting GetCreative pink (4)

The Rochester Litfest (RLF) is to host 4 themed writing workshops during their 2015 festival, Live’n’Local, as part of Get Creative – a year-long celebration of British arts, culture and creativity.

Get Creative aims to boost creativity in the UK, as well as celebrating the millions of people already doing something artistic and creative everyday. The campaign was launched 19 February 2015, by BBC Arts in partnership with cultural movement What Next? and leading arts and cultural organisations across the country, including Culture at King’s, Voluntary Arts, 64 Million Artists, Fun Palaces, Cultural Learning Alliance and Arts Council England

The RLF is joining hundreds of organisations nationwide in becoming a Get Creative Champion.

This year’s festival will run across the weekend 10/11 October and features a sense of people and place, mixing workshops and talks inspired by landscape and cultural heritage.

A history themed day takes place at the Guildhall Museum on Saturday, October 11, with 2 workshops and three speakers, including Keynote Speaker, Sir Robert Worcester, Chairman of the Magna Carta 800th Commemoration Committee, while at Sun Pier House on Sunday the 11th, speakers include local legend Bill Lewis, a panel discussion featuring some of Medway’s cultural contributors, and 2 more workshops.

The workshops on Saturday at the Guildhall Museum feature The History Magpie, Rachael Hale, who – inspired by the museum’s wonderful collection of artifacts – will guide you in finding hidden treasures whose stories are waiting to be told. Festival partner Sam Hall will teach you how to use news stories to inspire your own writing, leading the creative writing workshop Safe and Sound which is linked to the Sunday evening play, My Mind is Free, exploring the issues around human trafficking in the UK (over 14s).

On Sunday at Sun Pier House, Nature Girl, Carol Donaldson will be taking participants out to explore the local environment before committing their discoveries to paper, while Melanie Benn will help you in Unlocking your Memories with discussion and thoughtful writing exercises, encouraging you think about writing from personal experiences.

Festival Director Jaye Nolan says: “We’re excited to be part of the BBC’s Get Creative Campaign this year, and pleased to be able to offer such a wide variety of workshops for both aspiring and experienced writers in the community. Whether you’re into history, the environment, memoir or playwriting, we’ve got something for you.”

You can keep up to date with the festival on Twitter @RochLitFest or find them on Facebook.  The full programme can be found on the RLF website at www.rochesterlitfest.com or call 07904 643770.

Get Creative will also have its digital home on BBC Arts online and through the use of #bbcgetcreative on social media sites.

Cybermen and Clay: objects and emotions by Jane Ayres

three
Three: photo by Jane Ayres

 

We invest objects with emotional significance.  Although they are simply things, they can represent something that connects us to a person or a time in the past.  I have used objects as the starting point for creative writing exercises, and they can be useful for brainstorming ideas.

I try not to accumulate too much clutter (!) and only keep the few items that are precious, always mindful of the day when I’m no longer here and whoever is left behind will have the unenviable job of sorting out my stuff!  But on a windowsill, I keep a few “ornaments”.

My cyberman model/toy – with moving parts!  I’m a Dr Who fan and my favourite (and scariest) monsters were always the cyber men.  When I was a child, I would hide behind the sofa when they came on TV.  Something about the clanging metal, the unforgiving nature of a machine, the hollow empty space for eyes sockets – no emotion or humanity –  gave me the creeps.  The stuff of nightmares.  However my more recent developing interest in cyber technology, sci fi, robotics, and neuroscience gives me a different viewpoint. How many of us who grew up in the 70s wanted the special abilities of the Six Million Dollar Man or the Bionic Woman? (Without the pain and injuries, of course!).  Machines and technology have limitless power to transform lives for good.  I sometimes wonder, when experiencing heartache and loss, how it would be to feel absent of emotion.  A concept that is hard to imagine.

The Golem – My brother brought this back from a trip to Prague.  According to good old Wiki, “in Jewish folklore, a golem is an animated anthropomorphic being, created entirely from inanimate matter.”  The most famous golem narrative involves Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the late 16th century rabbi of Prague, who reportedly created a golem out of clay from the banks of the Vltava river, and brought it to life through rituals and Hebrew incantations to defend and protect the Prague ghetto from anti-Semitic attacks and pogroms. There are a whole host of legends and literature around the golem.  My first ever encounter with the concept was a 1966 British/American film entitled It!, starring Roddy McDowall, who was at that time one of my favourite actors. I was about seven years old when I saw it.

This model is a symbol of my fascination with creation.  I’m also intrigued the golem was associated with fighting oppression, which in turn connects to my loathing of bullying in any form. (See my post http://janeayres.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/which-fictional-character-would-you.html)

My clay horse.  And, strangely, in writing this I see there is a link between my clay horse, Ernie, and my golem – that they were both born from clay, an amazing substance which resonates with spiritual significance. I made Ernie at school in art class when I was a child.  I enjoyed shaping the clay and using my hands to create the shape.  I couldn’t do the legs however – they kept snapping off – so decided to make a horse lying down to obviate that problem! His tail also fell off, so he became a cob.  Ernie reflects my love of horses since childhood, and because I couldn’t have a real horse, I kept creating them – in my stories, my drawings and in plasticine and clay. When I left home at sixteen, Ernie was still living on my mum’s windowsill, where he stayed for many years.  After she passed away, I brought him home with me and he took up residence on my windowsill.  Ernie evokes a range of childhood memories and happy thoughts of mum.

I love the way that, unknowingly, all three of these objects are linked by common threads and themes; connections which I had never noticed before.

Creation.  New life.  Changed reality.  Words we could also use to describe what we produce when we write.  Wonderfully strange.

Related posts:

https://creatabot.co.uk/2013/09/28/we-are-stories-by-jane-ayres/

https://creatabot.co.uk/2012/11/05/the-art-of-wish-fulfilment-by-jane-ayres/

http://www.janeayres.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/my-bookshelf-and-precious-memories.html

To find out more about Jane’s creative story, visit her blog www.janeayres.blogspot.co.uk

Her recent e-book, Joyrider, is available from Amazon

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Joyrider-ebook/dp/B00F7V247Y

Every picture tells a story and every story paints a picture – by Jane Ayres

Beware of the Horse 4 (1)
Klaus Hartleben

We are drawn to images (excuse the pun!). People respond more readily to images than words.  They have a more immediate impact on the emotions.  They transcend language and literacy.

As writers, we are using words to create the images we want to evoke, the internal cinematic experience.

A bookshop (or Amazon page) provides a rich gallery of myriad images from which we can make a selection.  If we are attracted to the book cover, we pick up (or click on) the book.  Then we read some words – the book blurb – before making a decision on whether to sample more words.

The importance of the cover image cannot be overestimated.  Somehow, it has to capture the flavour, the essence, of the story within a relatively small space frame.  I wonder if designers realise the major factor they play in the initial success of a new book.

I love working with a designer and am thrilled with the images Medway-based Klaus Hartleben has produced for my book covers.  The internet has also brought me into contact with some wonderful artists and illustrators I would never otherwise have met, and in 2013 I hope to commission some original illustrations as part of the design, which is really exciting.

The Book Designer invites entries for its monthly e-book cover design awards and I would urge any indie authors and designers to submit work for feedback.  You get to see a range of diverse designs which is inspiring and stimulating.

http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2012/12/e-book-cover-design-awards-november-2012/

Interesting how much I favour clean lines, bold powerful images, and neat uncluttered designs, yet in real life I’m messy and untidy.  Or maybe that’s why I appreciate clarity in art!  The psychology of what attracts us and the reasoning behind it is endlessly fascinating.

To find out more about Jane’s publishing experiences, go to her blog www.janeayres.blogspot.co.uk

Her recent e-book, Beware of the Horse, is available from Amazon.

Writing, therapy and positive outcomes by Jane Ayres

photo by Jane Ayres
photo by Jane Ayres

When I was younger, writing poetry which described and explored my state of mind during major depression may have saved me from a nervous breakdown.  Artists and writers can, and do,  use their art as a form of self-therapy. Reflective writing with a purpose, intentional or otherwise.

Writing is how I express myself.  I can struggle with words when I speak.  Writing everything down first provides the chance to ensure clarity.  I’ve been doing it all my life.  Fiction, non-fiction, copy-writing, blogging, emails, to do lists……So why am denying myself this proven therapeutic tool now? When I am still coming to terms with losing both my parents to pancreatic cancer in the space of 6 months. Burying the grief, the profound, deep sadness. The anger.  Why do I feel uncomfortable writing about it?

I don’t have children of my own.  Years ago, my maternal instincts found an outlet through caring for a special, adored young cat and when I lost him, I channelled my grief and helplessness into volunteering and fundraising for the Cats Protection League.  Eventually I was able to write about it. Over the past year, I’ve raised funds and tried to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer.  When I lose loved ones, I have a desperate need to find a positive outcome from all the tragedy.  It’s a useful way of focussing creative energy.

There is currently a high profile media campaign running which promotes the importance of cancer research.  What it doesn’t say is that not all cancers are equal.  To quote from the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund:

“Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all cancers – just 3% of those diagnosed survive for five years. It is also the only cancer that has seen no improvement in this figure over the last 40 years.

Overall, half of all those diagnosed with a cancer now survive for five years or more. For many cancers, five year survival rates have increased hugely since the 1970s. For breast cancer – where large amounts have been spent on research – five year survival rates have increased from 50% to 80%.

Yet despite its high death rate and lack of improvement in chances of survival, pancreatic cancer attracts little research funding in comparison with many other cancers.”

Although I’m not yet ready to write about my feelings,   I’m glad that I can use what I write as a tool to raise awareness of issues that concern me which relate to my bereavement.  So if this results in even one reader making a donation to, or getting involved with, these charities, then the words have done their job.

Links:  http://pancreaticcanceraction.org/    http://www.pcrf.org.uk/

On therapeutic writing:  http://www.lapidus.org.uk/about.php

Jane’s recent e-book, Coming Home, is available from Amazon, with all author royalties going to the charity Cats Protection.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00AGZV9WM

www.janeayres.blogspot.co.uk

Play, dream, write by Jane Ayres

IMG00249-20121028-1209
photo by Jane Ayres

On the bus to Tunbridge Wells today I became aware of a dad with his toddler sitting at the front of the upper deck, both father and son playing at being bus drivers, with their pretend steering wheels and pretend brakes, laughing and shrieking.  It made me smile and reminded me of my own childhood and the way that we create our own stories and roles through play.

We can become anyone. We can do anything.  Our imagination enables us to explore new worlds.

One of my favourite toys when I was a child comprised of a host of plastic farm animals. My model farm provided me with hours of fun. I made up stories and adventures for the world I had created, and my imagination enabled me to become the tiny plastic figure with pigtails and jodhpurs with the cute Shetland pony. I made choices about what happened to my characters and landscapes, controlling their destinies in a way that isn’t possible in reality.  Like being a storyteller.  And I thought of what playing had in common with writing and my reasons for writing, for creating stories.  I sometimes wonder where this need comes from, why engaging our imaginations is so important.

I used to daydream a great deal as a child. It was all practice for writing my stories. I’m still practising.

This is my last post of 2012 for Creatabot – here’s to a creative 2013!

To find out more about Jane’s publishing experiences, go to her blog www.janeayres.blogspot.co.uk

Her trilogy of Matty Horse and Pony Adventures books for pre-teens and teens (and nostalgic older readers) are available for kindle on Amazon.co.uk. All profits from these stories are going to Redwings Horse Sanctuary. 

For the journey by Jane Ayres

design Klaus Harteben
design Klaus Hartleben

So many great stories are about literal or spiritual journeys, in which the protagonist is changed by the process, whether she has experienced incredible dramatic adventures or pursued more reflective contemplation.  Journeys seem to be a recurrent theme in my writing.  More than 20 years ago, the first novel I had published, Wild Horse Island, was about a horse taken from his familiar environment, his subsequent quest to make his way home, against the odds, and the people whose lives he changes in the process.  Always in my Heart, which comes out next year, revisits this idea, but in a different setting and on a deeper level. I was dealing with a major bereavement at the time and, inevitably, this affected how I told the story.

After a life-changing few years, the theme of journeys is very much on my mind at present, and my recent book, Coming Home, explores familiar territory for me, although this time it’s about two Norwegian Forest cats who are accidentally separated from, and seek to be reunited with, their grieving owner, encountering a host of creatures on the way.

As a human being, we each undertake our own personal journeys, whether or not we decide to analyse the process.  Where do I want to end up on mine?  I don’t know the answer yet, although we all arrive at the same place ultimately.  What matters more, the journey or the destination?  For now, I find the act of motion, whether that is walking, running, or being transported in a machine, triggers off my imagination in a way that rarely happens if I am staring at my computer screen.

Travelling by train or car provides great creative space, if I am a driver or passenger, and ideas fire off unprompted as I eat up the miles. I recently re-read Rumblestrip by Woodrow Phoenix, a monochrome graphic book all about what happens when we get behind a steering wheel.  The layout cleverly simulates a car journey and as you read, you feel like you are on a virtual car journey. I sometimes dream that I’m driving a car, and, strangely, when I drive at night, I sometimes wonder if I am dreaming.  Woodrow Phoenix describes it perfectly:

“There is a dreamlike quality built into the experience of driving.  A car windshield is a big window.  And also a screen….locations unwind on the other side of this rectangular glass almost as they do on a movie screen….you sit cocooned in your cabin….everything outside your windows is contained, the rest of the world an arm’s length away…..you glide through location after location as if they were erected just for you to drive past.  Every journey is a narrative with you at the centre.”

As writers, each time we imagine, create and produce a story, we are embarking on a journey of discovery, which our readers continue and reinterpret, each word illuminating the path and teaching us, deliberately or unconsciously, about the human condition.

To find out more about Jane’s creative journey, check out www.janeayres.blogspot.co.uk

Her recent e-book, Coming Home, about cats, people and journeys, is available from Amazon, with all author royalties going to the charity Cats Protection. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00AGZV9WM

 

Rewriting, Editing and Patchwork Quilts by Jane Ayres

Quilt cushion cover made by Mrs Brenda White. Photo by her niece Jane Ayres

Writing is hard.  Creating something from nothing, from the recesses of your imagination, can sometimes feel a bit like pulling teeth.  Your own.  But when you’ve overcome that painful first stage of the process and you have pages of words in some kind of structure, you can sit back and reflect.  Then start editing.

I love editing.  It’s fun.  It’s all about refining and sculpting the words until you have the perfect combination.

Rewriting, on the other hand, is different.  And for me this often comes after work has been submitted to a third party, such as an agent or publisher.  This is when you get feedback that indicates that some substantial work is required to improve the piece and make it acceptable for publication.  I always groan when this happens.  Rewriting can be like unpicking knitting.   And a bit like doing a cut and paste in your head.   A mental jigsaw puzzle.

It is especially tough when you might have to sacrifice that special sentence that you felt so pleased about because it no longer works, or rewrite – or even delete – the character you were so fond of.   Or restructure the first section of the book.   The thing is, each change has a knock-on effect for everything else in the story.  You might solve one problem, but create another.

But then, writing is all about problem solving, especially in fiction. You invent the characters and then set them into an imaginary landscape with a host of issues and situations that will change them and their lives.  But you do it with love.

I often think of writing a novel as a bit like creating a patchwork quilt.  You have the pattern and you have selected the fabric of your story, and now you have to patiently connect everything together, piece by piece, blocking and layering the colours and textures of your characters and their journeys, until you have created a beautiful, unique work of art.

To find out more about Jane’s publishing experiences, go to her blog www.janeayres.blogspot.co.uk

Her trilogy of Matty Horse and Pony Adventures books for pre-teens and teens (and nostalgic older readers) are available as ebooks on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. All profits from these stories are going to Redwings Horse Sanctuary. 

Matty and the Racehorse Rescue is FREE TO DOWNLOAD from 23rd-27th November!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Matty-Problem-Ponies-Adventures-ebook/dp/B0094KJEVI/

The Art of Wish Fulfilment by Jane Ayres

ceramic horse by Jane Ayres
ceramic horse by Jane Ayres
ceramic horse by Jane Ayres

When I was a child, I longed to have my own horse.  This was destined never to happen, because apart from living in an urban area, my parents couldn’t afford it.  So I created my own private horse world.

I drew horses in pencil and ink, mostly copied from photographs.  I collected pictures of horses from magazines and stuck them into a series of scrap books, often thinking up stories to go with the pictures.  In my art class at school, we were given a lump of clay to create a ceramic piece.  Obviously, mine became a horse of sorts.  I struggled with the legs, so the solution was to have the horse lying down.  His tail kept falling off, so he became a cob with a stubby tail.  He was glazed and taken home proudly to my mum.  He occupied my windowsill for years and I still have him, 40 years later.  Maybe he wasn’t exactly a work of art but he had been born from my imagination, moulded into shape and was mine.

Drawing horses, collecting pictures of them and making them from clay was not enough.  It was natural that as I developed my passion for creative writing, I would write stories about them.  I created the horses, characters and the experiences I desired through my fiction.  The ultimate wish fulfilment.

I would love to know how many other writers or artists create the fantasy world they would love to inhabit through their art.

To find out more about Jane’s publishing experiences, go to her blog www.janeayres.blogspot.co.uk

Her trilogy of Matty Horse and Pony Adventures books for pre-teens and teen (and nostalgic older readers) are available for Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. All profits from these stories are going to Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

Matty and the Problem Ponies is FREE TO DOWNLOAD from 7th-11th November!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Matty-Problem-Ponies-Adventures-ebook/dp/B0094KJEVI/

Mare and Foal by Jane Ayres – still having trouble with the feet!

Are You a Bad Enough Dude to Write a Novel in One Month? – by James Bovington.

Don't open with this. Except sometimes. But just don't. Maybe.
Don't open with this. Except sometimes. But just don't. Maybe.
(Creative Commons)

We’re fast approaching November, which is important for a number of reasons; It’s almost December, which means Christmas and New Year’s Eve are coming up, bonfire night is always good fun and it’s National Novel Writing Month.

Admittedly, if you’re not a writer the last one probably isn’t that important to you, but for those of us enamoured with words it’s a pretty huge deal.

A quick jaunt to NaNoWriMo.org lets you know what’s going on: you are encouraged, by what is essentially a charity, to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. Any genre, any plot, almost anything you want (although I think erotic fiction is out, I’m not sure) in thirty days and nights.

This is a tall order, as anyone will tell you; some people, usually the less writerly-types, will baulk completely when they spot ’50,000 words’, but it’s a fantastic creative exercise in that you essentially have the freedom to do whatever you want and a very tight deadline in which to do it. You must cast off all frivolous thought in order to produce better frivolous thought. Interesting.

I haven’t done one yet. I signed up (for free) just after last year’s ended, so I’m looking forward to this year’s immensely.

Here are my worries, though:

Do I start planning the story in my head now, a month before writing begins, or do I wait until November 1st and fully commit to dreaming up, planning and writing a novel in exactly one month?

How can I split my time effectively to make sure I maximise the amount of words I write per day? Should I splurge 10,000 in one coffee-fuelled all-night binge? Or should I do a more manageable couple of thousand every other day or so?

It’s a lot to think about.

I urge you to take a look at it anyway, even if you don’t consider yourself to be writer. You never know what may come flying out of your head when you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), and everyone has a story to tell, whether they think they do or not. Don’t be put off by the projected word-count; it’s not set in stone after all and as most writers will tell you, if you hit on something you really like, a scene, a character or a whole story, you’ll eventually glance at the clock and notice it’s four in the morning and that you’ve written sixteen pages. You’ll also be dimly aware that you’re starving and that you have to be up for work in four hours.

It’s a labour of love.

I look forward to reading yours.

By James Bovington

 

P.S.

Now I must ask something of you:

I have awful trouble naming characters. I try to avoid using the names of people I know, on the off-chance they think I based the whole character on them (which is only sometimes true), so I’d very much appreciate it if the lovely readers of Creatabot (or the lovely contributors, anyone really) could leave me some suggestions down in the comments below. I’ll probably even credit you as ‘The Namer’ or ‘The Name Giver’ or some such needlessly grandiose title.

Thanks very much.

Page Fright – by Jane Ayres

Empty space. Empty place.

A blank page on a blank screen.

Fear of the unknown.  Is that what is so daunting about writing those first few words?  Why is that blank space so intimidating?

Page fright.  A writer’s nightmare.  The evil twin of procrastination.  You’ve done battle with the big P and now you are poised to dazzle with your wordcraft skills, your pearls of insight.  But wait – you hold back.  Will you censor your thoughts and strangle your darlings before they get the chance to draw breath?  What are we afraid of?  Being judged, criticised? Not being good enough?

Creation is a mysterious process.

As a younger writer, I would spend ages staring at that white page (we used pen and paper or typewriters in the 70s!), digging deep for inspiration, wanting the words to be perfect immediately.   I would get everything straight in my head before committing it to paper.

I’ve often read advice for writers that suggests writing anything to fill that space, to overcome the self-censoring instinct.  Later, you can edit what you have written and mould it into something that satisfies you.  This works for me.  The advent of technology has changed the way I compose and I can write my novels in whatever order I wish.  If I am in the mood to work on that action sequence in Chapter 9, I will.  If I feel more reflective, I will write the complex emotional exchange between the main characters in Chapter 3.  Oh, the joys of the cut and paste tool on a word processor!

The way in which we work, the medium used, does affect what we produce.  I love the freedom and flexibility that my laptop offers me.  If I want to change the middle section of my story, I can do so without having to type the whole lot out again from the beginning.  Bliss!  I approach the writing like constructing a patchwork quilt.

But when I use pen and paper, my thought processes are different.  I work inside my head more, and will cover the white space with scribbling, diagrams, lines and arrows, visually setting out the connections.  I probably dream the story more in advance.  And I love using white space to create poetry, which for me is both visual and musical.

When I teach writing workshops, I generally get participants to use paper and pen, which for many students is a bit of a novelty, especially the IT generation, because it offers possibilities that may not have been previously considered.  The results are always exciting. Especially when students have no more than five minutes to complete the first workshop exercise.  Pressure, whether real or imagined, can be a useful motivator.

So, after we have slain the fiery dragons of Procrastination and Page Fright, what other obstacles await us as we continue our journeys on the path of creation?

Submit your work to ME4′s ‘Short and Nasties’

ME4 writers are looking for submissions for an upcoming horror project. Submissions should feature the Medway towns and be in one of four categories: slasher, creature feature, supernatural or psychological. They are looking for short stories, scripts or poems no longer than 1000 words.

Selected pieces will be recorded as a podcast and may be used at a live event.
Please submit in Word format to ME4writers@gmail.com by 31 August.