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Dymock: Daffodils and poets by Sheila Johnson

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 Welcome to part 2 of my Gloucestershire writers and poets. At this time of year Dymock is a pretty little village in the west of Gloucestershire just 4 miles south of Ledbury. In the springtime it is alive with fields of Daffodils. At the start of the 19th century, there was still a railway line that linked Dymock with London. The locals would pick the daffodils - even the young children missed school to do this - and the bunches would be sent post haste by rail to London for immediate sale. The daffodils still grace the fields in and near Dymock but now they aren't allowed to be picked, although you can wander through fields of them and enjoy the sight as we did. This easy access to London also brought a group of poets to the area for a very short while. Collectively these poets have become known as the Georgian or the Dymock poets.  Lascelles Abercrombie was the first to arrive from Liverpool with his wife and family. A couple of years later his friend Wilfrid Gibson and his wif

'What kind of writer are you?' by Deborah Jenkins

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                                                      Do you ever ask yourself this question? I do, at times. What kind of writer am I? I want to be easy-going, humble, generous, welcoming constructive criticism, delighting in the success of others. In reality, most of the time I manage to be some of these. I am not so good at others. Occasionally, I go to bed with an intense dislike for myself because I failed to be that writer. There are people in ACW, and in the writing community at large, who seem to me to embody many if not all of the great qualities above. I call them 'open hearted writers'. They are just so good at talking about writing naturally, encouraging others, receiving advice gladly, championing fellow writers, giving of their time. Of course the public face never tells the whole story. Who hasn't rolled their eyes when receiving negative feedback or felt a twinge of jealousy observing another's success? We are human after all. But what I find intriguing

Behind the Lines, by Ben Jeapes

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Image by Tri Le from Pixabay I was approached by a lady who wanted help writing a memoir of a particular holiday from her childhood. She remembered it all quite clearly: the caravan park, the countryside, the mixed group of children she had befriended and shared adventures with. It had marked a turning point in her life. But it wasn’t the writing itself that she wanted help with. As she had started writing, she had realised there was one major item that she didn’t remember, and that was the kids themselves. She remembered the basic fact of their existence, but she had related to them with all the insight of a typical 11-year-old; which is to say, not very much. She had no idea about their inner characters; what made them tick; how they came to be on the same caravan site at the same time. And so, based on what she did remember, my task was to draw up character profiles for a selection of children aged 9-11, of different classes and backgrounds, all alive in 19

Tears of a clown

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Den Trushtin on Unsplash Humour can be very personal. What makes one person cry with laughter can leave another person bemused or baffled. Hidden camera shows that made many of us chuckle in the eighties and nineties are a prime example, unless we were the recipient of course.  When pranks go wrong they can have devastating consequences, which is the theme of a novel that I've recently finished, and I loved. It’s called The Prank , and it's the astonishing debut by L.V Matthews. A fantastic thriller with a tremendous heart.  Liv is a good friend from the vss365 writing community on Twitter. I’ve known her since July 2019, when she was the prompt host for July – now the host only gets two weeks! She gave us wonderful words like fury, unfurl and equanimity – which though at first baffled by, I used to write one of my favourite very short stories (vss).  Prompted by Georgie’s brilliant post last month on small beginnings, I was intrigued as to how you go from a vss to a full le

Did You Know I Met Moses?

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I saw a joke on the ACW Facebook where three people were advertising their books, the first two stated proudly they’d thoroughly immersed themselves in their subject, experiencing everything first-hand before writing their books while the third person, who’d written a murder mystery, looked rather bemused. It made me chuckle but it got me thinking. Is writing more authentic if we, as writers, experience what we’re writing about? Should we stick to only what we know or can we simply learn everything from Google? I mean, it’s so easy now to research anything these days! Do writers even have a choice? Once writers get a name for themselves they can often be commissioned to write on subjects they know little about which they accept because they need to put bread on the table. I remember a good few years ago listening to a very talented author speaking about their books; meaty, cleverly written, very grown-up, knowledgeable books. This author was passionate about their subject. However, the

Little Women on the Socials

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  The other day, up to my eyes in a pile of freelance work and rapidly running out of adjectives, I gazed out of the window at the shouting yellow of the forsythia bush, rampant against the intense blue spring sky. My mind wandered, often a good thing. How, I wondered, would Mrs March, matriarch of her family in “Little Women”, handle social media? How would she cope with her rich neighbours, Mrs Gardiner and Mrs Moffat and their constant posts? However tired she is from a day working at the rooms and helping out the poor Hummels, Mrs March always finds time to write in her journal before she says her prayers and retires for the night. Let us peer over her shoulder and read a few entries, before she takes her nightly rest. 24th December 1861 Another hard day getting all the boxes ready to go. I did not come home for dinner and was tired and hungry when I returned at six. The girls were a little out of sorts, I thought, but we read dear Father’s letter and I remained cheerful as he wo

Gazing into Gethsamene – pondering on post-pandemic writing

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Pixabay image in public domain I’ve never been to Eyam, the Derbyshire village whose inhabitants took the astonishing decision to quarantine themselves when the Black Death hit the village between the years 1665-66. The villagers’ astonishing act of self-sacrifice doomed them but saved the plague from spreading further throughout England. By autumn 1666, the worst of the plague was over, but it had exacted a terrible cost. Whole families in Eyam had been wiped out. One woman, Elizabeth Hancock, had to bury her husband and six children all by herself, as people were too scared of the plague to come and help her. Her family’s graves stand in a separate egg-shaped enclosure known as the Riley Graves, kept now by the National Trust and Historic England. I Googled the images, and they are haunting. I can scarcely imagine the terrible grief and sorrow of poor Elizabeth Hancock. I felt the same anguish and desolation when I saw a famine cemetery in County Clare, on the spectacular west co