July Meeting 2019

Welcome back

Photo by Mabel Amber http://www.pexels.com

Good to see everyone and a nice turnout. Always interesting to have people back after their travels and meet up with new members. Leads to great banter!

Where to begin?

We always start with a catch up and ask for suggestions of what members would like to discuss.

piggy bank
by Skitterphoto at ww.pexels.com

We agreed that, now we are up and running, we could do with a treasurer. Not too onerous a task but important nevertheless.

Please send applications to Writers’ Neuk, unless your name is George Osborne. To be honest, George, we feel that with nine jobs already in your portfolio, one more might tip the balance and we would not like to be responsible for that, what with the additional responsibility and travelling too.

WordPress

photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Several members expressed a wish for help in using WordPress and how to write a blog.

It was suggested that we could get together for a workshop and take it from there.

Discussion

We shared a lot about our writing habits, how we overcome them and what we fear most when we write.

In the main, we agreed that dialogue, in fictional and non-fictional pieces, could be difficult to include, as we often tend to emphasize description and character.

However, dialogue can be an effective way of bringing out character traits and moving a story along. We considered this as we brought our work, for this month, to the table and as a result agreed that we would try and bring along a piece of written dialogue, to share at our next meeting.

Our Writing

There had been two suggestions for themes after last month’s meeting. These were:

Write about an emotion – Kindness, or

A beautiful sunset with an interesting person.

An Act of Kindness

First up was a reading about how bullying can be turned around by an act of kindness. A thoughtful piece, weaving a moral outcome throughout. Group members suggested considering who the audience was and the addition of some dialogue, to bring the story to life.

Sunset

One of our members has been travelling in Ireland and sent us an incredibly evocative piece he had written whilst there. It took him back to family summers, on the west coast, recalling all those special memories of childhood: the sun, the sea, the sand, the food and of course parents and siblings. In his absence, another member read it for us and really did it justice. The combination of the written word and the spoken word transported us to that place and time and no doubt made us reflect on past sunsets, in our own distant childhoods. As this was a first draft, it was suggested looking at the structure and polishing up.

Turning a Corner

Kindness was the prompt for the next piece and a theme of restorative justice in the community. It told the story of a young boy who had been reported to the Children’s Panel for mugging an old lady. He found himself at a Residential Care Home for the Elderly helping in the garden and seeking redemption. The group suggested that the Head Gardener’s reaction could be non-judgemental and that there could be some clarification, near the end, when the boy reflects on his situation.

The Lookout Point

Next we heard a beautifully succinct piece, written from the perspective of a character who is well known to its author, as she has been creating her over a period of time. The character is in a position of trust in the community, living and working in the neighbourhood but she is also rather nosey. From her vantage point, she is able to observe and form opinions about how they really lead their lives. Very thought provoking!

Sun Downer

Lastly, we listened to a haunting piece about a meeting between a young walker out late in the mountains of Arran, who comes across an elderly woman watching the sunset. He feels he should offer her help, not realising that she is the Cailleach who is named for the place (Ceum na Caillich or the Witches’ Step). She has watched such sunsets for millennia and surprises the young man by stepping over the ravine to the Castles Ridge (Caisteal Abhail). A great balance of description, dialogue and intrigue.

Inspiration and Support

Photo by Pixabay http://www.pexels.com

As always, everyone was supportive of each other’s work, which always inspires us to write more.

Thanks to Joy and Jenny for this

Next Month

If you feel inspired, try and bring along a piece of dialogue, on any topic, of approximately 200 – 300 words. If you can’t manage that, no matter, just come along, we’d love to see you.

Remember, we meet on the last Monday of each month, which this month is August 26th at 7pm. See you there!

Contact us

Next meeting & dates to end 2019

Next Meeting Monday 26 August, 7:30 pm at Colinsburgh Library

 

Get them in your diary!

Why not write and share with us?

WRITTEN PIECE

Anyone can bring some text to share up to a maximum of 200 words. Please bring three copies to share. 

JULY TOPIC

A beautiful sunset with an interesting person…

Let your imagination flow. Go with it.

Blog with us. Something to share? Get in touch.

Get involved in producing blogs for our site. There are other opportunities in Colinsburgh Library and, elsewhere in our community.

Dyslexia

We are moving forward with our dyslexia-friendly approach. It’s a browser thing. General info here. Apple tips here.

Writers on ‘Jealousy’ April 2019

Mrs Louboutin

Each day, you’d drift in, hair perfectly straightened, clothes neatly pressed: a pristine white t-shirt or top, a pastel cardigan casually draped over your shoulders, lightly coloured expensively cut trousers, a waft of expensive perfume in your wake.

You’d spend lunch time complaining bitterly that glue or paint had ruined your much admired clothing, about how much it had cost. You’d look straight at me, expecting me to magic up a clothes allowance from an already meagre budget. I wish I had been able to. Just to shut you up. Instead, I joined the others in making sympathetic noises whilst we patted down Primark skirts and trousers, wondering why you wore such clothes to work. I knew why. It was all about status.

Your shoes were your pride and joy. They gave the biggest hint of all about just how much you spent. I lost count of the number of times you wore red soles. We knew they were red, because you insisted on taking them off or adjusting them every break time. I was tempted with the black paint! Just a little nudge would have done. It’s one of my biggest regrets!

You actually believed that you were better than us all, that you were the duchess of the work place. You made sure your conversations were steeped in what I’ll call, ‘economics’, about how much you had saved, your husband’s salary, that kind of thing. Others could only listen, as they frantically wished for payday to come around. I simply wondered why you worked at all.

Then you worked out, through various conversations, but without any hint for me, well not much of one, that my ‘economics’ were greater that yours. And that unleashed the bitch from inside you. The cruel comments, the long calculating looks from my head to my toes began in earnest. I was excluded. No wine nights, no drinks or coffees after work for me. Did I care? No. Because by then only you and I knew just how much of a cold calculating bitch you were, that your red soles should have been green.

© Joy Deacon

To have and to hold. To bloody hold?

Brian turned away from the couple and focused his eyes on the sandstone wall, trying to cloud her beauty from his mind.

It wasn’t all Scott’s fault. The times he had told himself that. And they were pals, after all. Had been since they met, really. The day he charged into a lecture room, his blond hair unkempt as though he had just woken up, all smiles, apologies and correct answers.

They had shared a pint, a laugh, a joint and eventually a flat; a life, almost – until she turned up.

For that, he blamed himself. Brian had met her at a party, the prettiest girl there. Instead of staying and dancing to some average hip-hop, he suggested they went for a drink. In the taxi he texted Scott: PINT? He had since convinced himself that he hadn’t subconsciously meant to show-off, but deep down he felt it, that need to prove a point to this mate who somehow always stole the spotlight.

A few days and a couple of unanswered texts later, she was at his door, not for him, but for his pal. An awkward raised eyebrow from her, a good old pat on the back by way of apology from Scott, and off they went.

Now, here he was less than a year later, watching his loss unfurl. He glanced back to his mate, his hair groomed, ski-tan barely fading, a grey suit hugging his frame like a model. Brian wore exactly the same threads – as best man it had been his idea – but somehow his just felt lank, ill-fitting and uneasy.

Best man? Oh the irony of that statement!

Best man while the not so best one got to have, and to hold, and whatever ever else he damn well pleased with this goddess of a girl. His girl. 

© Andy Frazier

The Watcher

The cold crept through his body, like the jealousy crept through his brain. Insidious, eroding his defences in waves. How had he come to this particular place: this street, this state of mind? He did not wish to be here, either physically or spiritually. Their relationship had seemed solid. Three years and it had not crossed his mind to doubt her. He had thought this might be it, whatever it was.

But then she had moved job. Taken up a position in a new office, in the heart of the city.

Her hours had changed, become unpredictable. Travel took up more time and was unreliable. More worrying was the change in her appearance, even her demeanour. The distance between them had grown imperceptibly, like tectonic plates drifting under their feet. He had tried to reach out across the gap but felt no hands reaching back. Suspicion had grown like a vine around a tree trunk.

Mistrust of even the smallest detail had brought him to this point, when he had decided to follow her. Now, staring up at a lit window, above a row of shabby shops, what was he hoping for? Whatever it was, he was about to find out, as she appeared in the unknown doorway.

© Jenny Hoggan

Carve Up

It’s always the same. Every time. It makes me so, so, so… angry. I watch carefully: the blade, the chopping, the squeals, the sniggering … God, I hate it! I hate them! My teeth grind so hard they squeak.

It’s happening again, now. This time the knife’s in my hand … ha! ha! ooh…

I enjoy the cutting. Hmm, look at ’em, eyes bulging with fear, and they can’t do anything, haha! … but watch. Oh my, I’m drooling, excited. Let ’em glance all they want. The power is MINE!

OOoh! The edge slices into the squishy stuff in the middle. I so enjoy his groan and the sticky pull of the blade; the way his face screws up. I saw back and forwards. Another groan, such fun.

With a final crunch Willie’s eyes stick out like organ stops. My triumph is complete.

What’s that? He get’s to choose? It’s not fair, Mum, he always gets the biggest bit. I cry. The Creme Egg is split… and I’m going to lose out … AGAIN!

© Mac Logan

Next Meeting, 13th May, 2019

giphy-downsized-2

Why not write and share with us?

LOGLINE

On the basis of our follow-up discussion we decided to do a further example for the next meeting but this time on a standardised storyline. The advantage of this is that everyone knows the story and we can compare outcomes.

A fairy tale tells a story, in its simplest form, so we chose Cinderella. Let’s see what we come up with!

WRITTEN PIECE

Anyone who wants to, can bring some text to share up to a maximum of 300 words. The topic can be anything you like. Last time we had exceptional readings on a variety of topics. The contributions were engaging and of surprising depth.

Gale Winskill

Find out more about Gale at http://winskilleditorial.co.uk/. We have a blog from her here.

April 8 Meeting Report

A blog about our last meeting approaches readiness. But then again, you know what deadlines are like…

Blog with us. Got something to share? Get in touch.

Directions? Why not come along … and enjoy a pleasant evening, with interesting people who are into writing?

Come blog with us … Let’s blog let’s blog away.

Get involved in producing blogs for our site. There are other opportunities in Colinsburgh Library and, elsewhere in our community.

Dyslexia-friendly

We are moving forward with our dyslexia-friendly approach. It’s a browser thing. General info here. Apple tips here.

Mac

 

Neologisms: Author’s prerogative or editor’s bugbear?

neologism[nee-ol-uh-jiz-uh m]noun
1. a new word, meaning, usage, or phrase.
2. the introduction or use of new words or new senses of existing words. Dictionary.com

Gale Winskill
Gale Winskill, Editor

I asked my editor and friend (apart from when we’re having a dust-up about my writing) for an editor-sort-of-blog for us. Mac.Gale joins us on 13 May.

Creative invention, author-style

Fiction is clearly the realm of creative invention, so when authors dream up and posit neologisms in their narratives isn’t that just what they do? Without them, the world would definitely be a poorer place. Consider a few which now form part of our daily lexicon: Dr Seuss’s ‘Grinch’, Joseph’s Heller’s ‘Catch 22’, or Sheridan’s ‘malapropism’. All are now used without conscious thought for their origins, and embody laudable contributions to the continuing evolution of the English language.

Enhance and expand

But it’s not just authors who enhance our ever-widening vocabulary. The young are nothing if not inventive utilizers of words. Think, ‘lit’, ‘sick’ … The words may have been re-appropriated, yet modern coinage doesn’t dispense with past meanings; it merely expands, enriches, provides a fresh, innovative spin – vocabulary is revitalized and reinvented through usage.

What’s a ‘muggle’ got to do with this?

In the same way, new words and meanings only exist and come into common parlance via fiction if they resonate with the reader. Without JK Rowling’s phenomenal worldwide success, ‘muggle’ would probably not have endured, and yet it is now defined by the OED as: in her novels, ‘a person who possesses no magical powers’; and by extension, in the real world, ‘a person who lacks a particular skill or skills, or who is regarded as inferior in some way’. But without that initial common understanding among like-minded readers, with the same narrative frame of reference, that particular seed might not have germinated.
So, when working on an author’s text, what is the editor’s role in this regard? Is there a point at which editors should perhaps dissuade authors from certain linguistic creations? Are some inventions just too ridiculous to consider? Or does anything go?

Editor’s role

A fiction editor’s most important function is to stand in for the ultimate reader. If there is a word, albeit extant or unique, that grates or feels out of place in the context of the novel, surely the editor is obligated to highlight and substantiate this concern to the writer.

An editor can only advise, guide and identify how other readers might perceive the author’s diction. It is then up to the author to either defend that usage, or agree that perhaps their editor might just have a point.
After all, on the face of it, A.A. Milne’s ‘Heffalump’ may not suit as the moniker of an East End gangster. Then again, as Pooh knows, ‘Heffalumps hardly ever get caught’, this protagonist is particularly evasive, and the novel a black comedy. But in an otherwise hard-hitting thriller, if a reserved and measured character ‘cackle-laughs’ and ‘angry-chews’ his way repeatedly through the narrative, an editor might suggest that perhaps such hyphenated inventions detract from the characterization, feel out of context and jar on the textual fluidity.

Something old … something new

Authors create; editors make them think. But authors always make the final decision. The result might be a ‘serendipitous’ (Horace Walpole) addition to the English language or the possible loss of a ‘quark’ (James Joyce). As authorial privilege or editorial irritant, successful neologisms form a fundamental aspect of the lexicographers’ ‘whodunnit’ (Donald Gordon), ‘bedazzling’ (Shakespeare) and exasperating us in equal measure with their ‘hard-boiled’ (Mark Twain) persistence.

© Gale Winskill, Winskill Editorial

Next Meeting, 8th April, 2019

Join us at


A blog about last Monday’s meeting is coming, written by a Writers’ Neuk member.

All members are welcome to blog with us.

New blogs are in the pipeline.

Watch out for more.

Directions? Why not come along …

… and enjoy a pleasant evening, with interesting people who are into writing?

Come blog with us … Let’s blog let’s blog away.

Get involved in producing blogs for our site. There are other opportunities in Colinsburgh Library and, elsewhere in our community.

Dyslexia-friendly

We are moving forward with our dyslexia-friendly approach. Guidelines will follow.

Mac

Short Story Competition

We talked about the Margery Allingham competition at our last meeting. The promise given, to share details, is now kept.

https://thecwa.co.uk/debuts/short-story-competition

Should we run our own writing competitions? What do you think?