Showing posts from October, 2019

Starting from the end by Susan Sanderson

This is the second time I have had to publish a post on a day nominated for leaving the EU! How will that end?
Instead of dwelling on politics or Hallowe’en I have decided to share a story I wrote for homework at the local Asociation of Christian Writers (ACW) group I attend. I had been revising a few stories with a view to entering the ACW children’s story competition, when I tackled the topic, “The last minute”. I had an idea which involved wordplay. It was not fully formed, but I knew that I was aiming towards a punch-line. I wrote it for a young readership. Belonging to a writing group encourages me to write things I'd never have thought of otherwise.
Humour is one genre where it is sometimes necessary to start with the end and write towards it. I did that once before with a WordPress writing prompt.
Do you ever start with the ending and construct the plot towards it?
The Clerk to the Shoemakers’ Guild
This is a story which mixes facts and fiction. Have you been warned not to bel…

"I'm Not Good Enough!"

No doubt you've uttered this phrase at least once in 2019, and it's probably true.

There are always days, weeks and months when our output is not just below standard, it's dire. Our word counts are poor, we can't think of plots or how to extricate a character from a mess we've put them in. The problems build up to the point where we wish we'd followed our parents' advice and got a proper job.

Welcome to life as a writer.

For those of us who've been doing this for a few years (or decades) we may need a reminder that there are days when we eat cold porridge as penance for lack of work, weep at the words we wrote yesterday realising how bad they are.

If you're relatively new to it all, you need to know that these times happen.

It sucks. Bigly.

Just remember these times do pass and often when you least expect them to. You can be sitting all morning failing to write a coherent, sensible sentence, have a cup of tea, look out and see two car drivers arguin…

A Season For Everything

Do you find the seasons affect your writing? I can’t say they do with me. One good thing about the evenings drawing in earlier is the lure of a cosy room, my desk, hot drinks on the go, and an evening’s writing is even more appealing than it normally is!

I don’t write much about the seasons. Flash fiction with its word count limits means I have little room for description. If I want to show it’s cold, I’ll get my character to put on their big coat, having established they usually wear shorts or something daft like that. 

Sorry to all shorts fans out there but I’ve never liked them. I’d also consign flip-flops to history’s dustbin. If I ever come up with a character I really can’t stand, I could make them wear shorts and flip-flops in freezing weather and make them suffer! I guess that could be fun… 

Is there any writer who doesn’t get some enjoyment out of putting their characters through the mill, especially when those characters have it coming? I refuse to believe that is just me.


Prayer Before Penning by Trevor Thorn

Life Forces by the author
Several years ago, I was at a local ACW meeting during which we broke into small groups to discuss what helped and what hindered our writing. As various ideas were discussed, one of the group asked whether it was our practice to pray before we started to write. Until then, I had a somewhat unformed couple of sentences that I sometimes used and at other times, simply forgot to use. This challenge, however made me think somewhat more clearly of what I wanted to offer to God in my writing. It was a helpful challenge - and what emerged was this.

My prayer for creativity.

Gracious Spirit,
inspire in me
holy creativity
that I may do (write/paint/craft/organise)
bold things for you
and to Christ's glory.

I offer this to any authors, not so much as a rounded prayer but as a starting thought for framing your own simple prayer that catches up what you personally feel called to offer God in your writing. If you already have a short prayer, it might be helpful to others to se…

Feeling the pain

This week I am feeling the pain of seeing someone I love, suffer.
Suffering is hard to deal with, especially when its ongoing.
The how to keep holding onto hope, or allowing hope to hold onto me.
The sheer weariness of keeping going when every step brings pain;
Dealing with the fall outs and repercussions ...
But there's a particular degree of sorrow that comes when someone we love is suffering
The grief of knowing they are hurting, ill or heartbroken.
The helplessness of longing to take it all away but not knowing how..
We feel that grief when our partners, parents, children or friends are going through awful things.
This week I've felt it for my Hearing Dog, Goldie.
Out of the blue he had to have emergency surgery on an abscess in his neck.  One day all was as normal - playing, loving, cuddling, working to alert me to sounds and enjoying life to the full;  the next he was stretched out on an operating table and left with a big open wound under his chin with virtually his whole…

‘The most famous story in the world’ by Nicki Copeland

On my way to the ACW Writers’ Day last Saturday (which was reeeaallly good, by the way), I saw an advert in a tube station for a West End show, describing it as ‘the most famous love story of all time’. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it was referring to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and the show is called & Juliet.
Now, I haven’t seen the show, and I don’t really know anything about it, but it did make me stop and question: is a Shakespeare play really ‘the most famous love story of all time’?
Shakespeare’s works are, quite rightly, well known and loved. The Bard knew just how to blend all the right ingredients: a splash of romance, a hint of intrigue, a spoonful of mystery, a bowlful of conflict, a bunch of births and deaths, a good dollop of comedy, a handful of tragedy… His works have stood the test of time and are performed in many languages all over the world. Apparently, there was even a Bollywood version of Twelfth Night as part of the World Shakespeare festival a few years a…

On writing a Rule of Life by Eileen Padmore

This is a piece of writing like no other that needs much inner scrutiny.  Fifteen years of regular retreats with the Whitby based Order of the Holy Paraclete (OHP) have prompted me to make tertiary postulant vows – drawn by the Benedictine seamless daily rhythm of prayer, work, rest and reading.  Now I need to develop a personal Rule.

Benedict, a young middle class Italian, went to study in Rome at the end of the fifth century only to find the Empire in total disarray.  Christianity was by then the official religion but the church was also in turmoil.  Sound familiar?

Discovering there was no help in the capital, Benedict returned to the model of the desert fathers and set up home in a cave.  As many have learned, an authentic search for God attracts others. Before long, he needed to write a Rule for the strange assortment of lay people gathered around him.

Considered by some as a religious name for time management and others as a practical way to get a 'handle on life' – to o…

‘Award-winning’ by Edmund and Clare Weiner

Use of the epithet award-winning, as the graph* shows, has grown exponentially. It was virtually unknown when the authors of this blog were born. During the 1980s and 1990s its use skyrocketed (to use another odious expression). 

What has happened? What is it about our recent cultural history that has propelled this parvenu compound into such a prominent position? A writer, artist, or performer is rarely featured in the media unless they are award-winning. If you listen to Radio 3 you’ll hear the word many times every day. If you look somebody up on Wikipedia, you’re quite likely to be told the dreary fact that they are ‘an award-winning writer’, etc., instead of the interesting details of where they come from or what their family background was. 

 We think there are at least two reasons to be wary of this word and what it stands for. 
 The Great and the Good  First of all, what does award-winning really tell us about a book, play, or a film? That a panel of ‘experts’, who may be high-c…

Dealing with Highs and Lows by Rebecca Seaton

Dealing with Highs and Lows by Rebecca Seaton
On top of the World...or under a cloud?
A couple of weeks ago, I had a very interesting weekend...

On the Friday, I attended the SCBWI Agents' Party. I was excited, not just at the possibility of meeting agents, but also at catching up with an old friend who was going to be there. Honestly, I was also nervous, but had decided to pitch to agents and had researched possibilities, including one I particularly wanted to meet, as she seemed a really good fit for what I write. To my delight, both the agents I met were lovely...and interested in my writing! This included the one I had really wanted to meet. I practically floated home, my mind buzzing at the possibilities and keen to get on with writing.

Then, on Saturday morning, I checked my Facebook. I was horrified to discover that an ex-pupil of mine had gone missing. Suddenly, my mind was full of very different possibilities. There was also little I could practically do besides sharing i…

Unfinished Sentences by Emily Owen

Last week, I finally admitted defeat. I have been putting off the (to me) dreaded moment of getting a new mobile phone: having eventually just about got to grips with how my old (very old) one worked, I didn’t relish the prospect of starting again.
But pleas from my family, along with good natured - I’m sure it’s good natured - mocking about my ancient contraption, made me think that one day I would need to take the plunge.
Then my phone took it upon itself to periodically stop loading emails, and to just switch itself off with increasing frequency.
Even I realised that these were not hitherto-unknown-to-me special features.

I tentatively logged onto a website to have a look at other phones. Up popped a ‘how may I help you today?’ chat box. I replied, and so began a bizarre exchange.

The fact that the chat comprised of technical stuff that went over my head was not bizarre; that was entirely to be expected.

The fact that I quizzed the person I was chatting with on colour details was …

Back to the future...5 - David

Samuel said to Saul, “But now your kingdom  shall not continue; the Lord has sought out David, a man after His own heart… ...but the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul,  and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented and  troubled him.
                              1 Sam16:13-14AMP (Classic)

 A well-known story. David, a shepherd boy is anointed by Samuel as King and stands up for God against Goliath. Without the above Bible verse I’d question if God gives anyone an evil spirit.Saul was comforted by David’s harp playing. Is this a key to mental anguish? Over years in difficult times listening to worship music opens up my heart and brings that ‘peace that passes understanding’. Then the answers come, and I find rest for my soul.In retrospect we may even ‘count it all joy’ as our trust grows in the Lord's love for us.  
David wrote many psalms/songs, often asking God for advice and declaring ‘I will be confident that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living’ adding, …