A Quality Product
Diary of a Writer – January Prompt may seem a little counter productive. Why post a picture of home-made marmalade as it is undoubtedly a labour intensive product and might distract you?
Well. because it’s a good product. There are excellent marmalades on the market. During my short writing retreat in Assynt, I visited the wonderful The Culkein Store where I laid in huge quantities of goody bag and take-to items. Scented candles, jellies, and Three Fruits Marmalade all made it into the car. We’d previously sampled their chutneys courtesy of visiting family and were really excited to make our own choices.
So, I have a large jar of their marmalade against the possibility the home-made runs out, but I’ll still be off to the supermarket to harass the fruit and veg manager over when the Seville oranges are arriving.
It’s also the case that creativity in one sphere aids creativity in others. When the WIP is going well, it’s equally likely I’ll fancy trying a new recipe. Who knows, that baby jacket I have on the pins might even make it off them. Well, let’s not get carried away by fantasy. If I can send off the story my editor was keen to see amended, then it would be a flying start to 2018.
How about you? What activity raises your own creativity?
Creel Christmas Tree, Ullapool
The Creel Christmas Tree in Ullapool was a surprise find at the behest of a family member who’d read about it on-line. The waiter in The Ceilidh Place was keen to tell us how the lights will be switched on as the ferry reverses away from the pier with its lights blazing. He was so excited by the whole project and disappointed for us that we’d be gone from the area before the event.
So if any of you, dear readers, are in Ullapool over the festive period and can post a pic, please let us know where to find it.
I’ve chosen the Ullapool Creel Christmas Tree as this month’s prompt for a number of reasons. Firstly, I was returning from a writing retreat/holiday in Assynt which is one of my favourite destinations. It may well remind me as December madness descends that there is a book in need of TLC.
A Retreating Writer
Secondly, it’s such a wonderful creation: a nod to the area’s fishing history and an artistic rendition of the Christmas tree – which is my all-time favourite decoration.
Finally, no tree was cut down to provide this great talking and gathering point. Yes, we do have a fresh one. Oh Dear!
Courting the Countess
So, this was in 2012.
Good luck to everyone trying NaNoWriMo this year. I enjoyed it enormously and Bella’s Betrothal which resulted from my attempt is, in my opinion, a lovely book.
I’ll be quietly beavering away…
Colour Mine Autumn
Writing retreat, of which more anon, seems already a long time ago.
House of the Resurrection, Mirfield
…the memory of a stolen kiss in a dark alleyway, teased him.
A modest selection
Notebooks, notebooks, notebooks…
A staple of any writer’s toolkit and the one we love most, is our notebook. The picture shows but a modest selection from my immodest collection (no, numbers will not be revealed, but suffice it to say the completed ones can be considered as a useful addition to the attic insulation).
The big, plain A4 was in my goody bag at the recent, and excellent, Scotswrite conference of the Society of Authors in Scotland. I love these for jobs like editing and critiquing. I also still find it easy and therapeutic to write long-hand when the pc isn’t available or there’s a wee glitch to be sorted. Something about seeing the words appear and then the crossings-out makes it all very real. The two wee ones are from another goody bag – Romantic Novelists’ Association – and as meet-up swag. Thank you ladies, Annie Burrows and Christine London. The next size up were brought to the launch of Bella’s Betrothal by fellow Capital Writer, Jane Riddell – the elegant black and silver, and bought by me in the V&A – who doesn’t like shoes?
The medium sized ones comprise one for note-taking and, the dark one, for recording everything I send out and how the work fares. Some of the pages have lovely red £ signs indicating a sale or licence fee (I have plays, folks).
So, how many do you have? Did you start out sewing together pages to make a book, aged 6? Doesn’t the simple sight of a notebook prompt you to get started?
SCOTTISH ASSOCIATION of WRITERS (SAW) is an umbrella organisation for writing groups, clubs, workshops throughout Scotland and has many such affiliated.
Edinburgh Writers’ Club, celebrating its 70th Anniversary this year, is a founding member club. So, I’m a member of both.
SAW has recently published the Schedule for its 2018 conference, again to held in the centrally situated, Westerwood Hotel, and you can view or download it here.
SIMON BRETT is the keynote speaker and the weekend features adjudications by experienced professionals like Shirley Blair, fiction editor of People’s Friend.
Hope to see you there, ANNE
This year, Edinburgh Writers’ Club celebrates its 70th Anniversary.
I am not a founder member.
I am a longstanding member having been in the club through at least 8 changes of venue, having been its President, having known and mourned many of its characters and having been honoured with Life Membership.
So, what does this month’s picture prompt me to write? This little tribute to a wonderful group for a start.
EWC gave me the confidence to write and to take that writing seriously. It provided me with a safe haven for trying out different genres and it was through the club’s yearly competitions that I discovered my small talent for dialogue and playwriting. Thereafter, I enjoyed a lot of fun in rehearsal rooms and a lot of anxiety sitting at the back of a darkened theatre waiting to hear what the audience thought. When the frustrations of funding for staging became overwhelming, it was through EWC that I exploited suggestions and connections to find another berth in historical romance.
Along the way, I’ve written almost every other type of text – except perhaps haiku, I don’t believe I’ve ever tried syllable counted poems – and seen a lot of work published or performed. Thank you EWC. I look forward to our opening party and the challenges of the upcoming year.
So, is there a hobby club or professional organisation to which you owe a debt of gratitude? Tell us about it or direct us to your own blog to let us see it.
Food growing in the table for the table
I recently took a tour of Edinburgh’s High Street secret gardens. It was led by Jean Bareham of Green Yonder Tours and was full of little gems like the table above. Several of the gardens are community gardens and this was one such. The pots down the centre are growing herbs for the kitchens of those involved.
So, historical writers, writers of The Little Table of Culinary Delights, non-fiction garden writers…What does it prompt for you?
Royal Highland Show – in the Crafts Tent
Three years ago an enterprising local lady set up the Scottish Women’s Institute, Bruntsfield Branch, here in Edinburgh. I was invited to join by a fellow writer and have been to several interesting meetings, gone on outings and made a paper maché cup.
At the Royal Highland Show this year, I visited the crafts tent where I was told by an SWI lady steward that a Bruntsfield member made one of the baskets in the above picture. So here is that picture. Although I’m unable to tell you which basket is the relevant one, I’m very proud to know one of our number is skilled enough and confident enough to display her lovely work. The baskets were all lovely so it’s immaterial which one is hers.
Why is this a writing prompt? Firstly because baskets are universal and ageless. From Moses’ basket among the rushes to contemporary waste bins, they’ve seen a lot of action. Secondly, as a writer, it’s so good to get out and experience the creative passion of others. I find it stimulating.
Given the number of books written with quilting as a theme or background, others do too.
Last month after a gap of several weeks, I put up two posts. One a tiny apology, but heartfelt, for being away for so long. I called it Missing in Action.
Missing in Action must have been a woeful message to receive in wartime. All that uncertainty heaped on the general difficulty of life in strange times by those words. Hope not quite extinguished, however, more a tongue of flame when perhaps you weren’t looking for it. Perhaps the person named is still alive and ‘in action’ elsewhere.
What caused me to shut down? Two very dear friends were terminally ill – but it was my brother who died. Many of you will have lost family members and are able to empathise. I don’t need to say anything more.The everyday carries on and is marked, in my case, by enormous kindness and assistance from all sorts of people – both personal and professional.
Writing has been on a back burner, but I have completed a short story for a project I’ll be telling you about soon. Shh! I have some stuff out to an editor and got useful suggestions back. I submitted a story to a magazine whose short story writing course I took 18 months ago. Blushes with embarrassment – what took so long?
Tongue of Flame – what has been your tongue of flame? What has brought a destroying effect into your life? Was it also cleansing?