The story so far … If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry!

The story so far

Have you written anything during the last month? I haven’t. My brain has been exclusively involved in seeking, assimilating and processing the information flooding in over the media. My story so far has stayed outwardly calm, though inwardly anxious. So far so good. But this has got to stop!

Our 300 word challenge to you

Please join us in this challenge. Write a piece of comedy. Our usual guide is around 300 words but that matters not, under the circumstances. Just have some fun.

Instead of our normal meeting on Monday 27th April, we can share our writing through our site over the next week or so. Are you up for it? Email your piece to me and we’ll post it. Don’t forget a non-de-plume as agreed at our last meeting.

Don’t mention the …

I constantly whinge that I don’t have time but now, it seems that I do. Anguishing through the wee small hours I decide to put pen to paper. Or rather, in the interests of not wishing to wake my partner, index finger to iPhone. But what to write about? The subject that is on everybody’s lips, must surely have become “It That Must Not Be Named.”

She’s aff her heid… how it happened

Earlier, I had sought advice from a writer pal. A big mistake last thing before sleep because she advised “comedy”. What? My normally reliable, sage friend must be a maniac. At this time of crisis and turmoil, comedy must surely be impossible. This, my fuddled brain had not been expecting.

…or is she?

And so to a sleepless night. Where, in all this, can I find humour? More challenging still, how do I find the will and the wit to write it?

After several hours of tossing and turning, I think of a hilarious video doing the circuit on social media. And so I have my prompt for the story so far. What’s more, I think it will do my mental health a power of good to try it. So, she’s right.

And now to sleep…

Thank you to my pal for a sleepless night but also for dragging me from my literary torpor.

Join us. We look forward to hearing from you!

Enjoy and take care!

Jenny

February 2020 Meeting Report

Posh new Mac
Jenny’s (aspirational) workspace – she loves her wee Mac and it’s not me!

Our monthly get together 24 February

Here we are on the last Monday of the month, 7pm in Colinsburgh Library, for our regular get together. It has taken a while but that date and time slot is now so easy to remember that it is embedded in my internal calendar. No longer do I need to ask, “What date is our next meeting?” More like, “We’re halfway through the month – time to think about getting that piece of writing ready.” Crunch time; I always work better to a deadline. Does that work for you?

We are growing

Well, hopefully not in kilograms but another new member. This evening we were delighted to welcome a lady who moved to the area last Autumn. As often happens, she and her family have been visiting the East Neuk for many years and upon retiring, she decided to relocate here permanently. Luckily she has found her way to our local group and happily she has brought her writing interest and skills with her. A warm welcome!

Catching up

After apologies from members who could not make it this evening, we had a catch up on news, helped along with hot cuppas and biscuits. We do like our home comforts and a relaxed ambience!

Tonight’s agenda

  1. Developing the website
  2. Preparing a theme bank
  3. Writing a blog
  4. Sharing our work

Our website

Our website has been up and running for over a year now and we are looking to develop it further. It is visited by people from near and far, which is the great thing about the internet. Our writing group does not have physical boundaries and we can reach out to like-minded people who can’t always attend but still want to share our interest in the written word.

Next steps

Mac outlined the points laid out in last month’s blog and a discussion ensued.

Main points:

  1. All shared writing should be published under a nom-de-plume. Rationale is that protecting ID assists genre change, practise and the invitation of feedback and critique (accepting some of it might not always be ego massaging). Also, people well established in a field can avoid exposure before they want it (if ever).
  2. Provide an image to link with the NDP.
  3. Agree a way so a visitor to our site will readily find a chosen writer’s work
  4. Writers can invite critiques.
  5. We agree *not* to reveal anyone else’s ID.

Yes but…

Agreement was reached in principle but an important point was raised.

This was, that it might be advisable for critiques to be given directly to the author concerned, privately, rather than publicly, online. Apart from fledgeling egos being irreparably damaged, once criticisms are made in print, they cannot be taken back. Point taken!

Preparing a theme bank

We started brainstorming themes that the group might consider for future meetings. Whilst we did compile an initial list, we would like to open this up to to other members, to add to, before confirming. The aim is to have a bank, so that themes can be confirmed well in advance, in readiness for future meetings.

Blog training

This is ongoing but we hope gradually to be able to have more members who feel confident to add blogs to the website and also to start having different interest categories.

Sharing our work

There was an “anything goes” theme for tonight.

Firstly we had “The Farewell” – a poignant piece telling the story behind a photo. It was set in Germany in the late 1930’s and showed a father kissing his young child goodbye before dropping him off at kindergarten. On this day he would not be picking him up in the afternoon, as he was on his way to the front.

New Member Reads

Next we encouraged our new member to read an extract from her novel, a very daunting prospect, on your first visit. We were delighted that she felt able to share her work. It is a central part of our group’s ethos to provide support and encouragement for anyone starting out. In fact she has a a full first draft and is looking for a fairly rigorous edit. We were happy to be part of that journey.

Next we heard a poem called “Heartfelt”. This is a work in progress, which often happens when you air a poem. At the end of the day, you can listen to suggestions and you whether or not to take them on board. Whose poem is it after all?

Reading Rhythm 

To finish off we heard a performance poem called “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” What a fabulous way to end our evening. It was fun, quirky and the kind of presentation that stays in your memory. I hope we can hear it again sometime soon and perhaps open it up to a wider audience.

Thanks for sharing, everyone!

Next meeting… will be remote thanks to COVID-19

 

24 February Meeting

24th February 7 pm or a little earlier

Writersneuk.com be creative

Here we are again. Jenny is only just back in business (with a new laptop to boot) and I hope she keeps well.

As for me, after a hectic weekend with grandkids (Mr Bounci-Castle) … I realised The Writers’ Neuk was on tonight … oh dear.

Please consider this a panic attack. I won’t make excuses, but have plenty of ’em just in case; most involve writing and looking after energetic grandchildren.

Business of the day

The writing topic for today is: ANYTHING – that means you can share anything in your store-cupboard.

Meeting plan:

  1. Enjoy a few minutes buzz as we catch up
  2. Plan to introduce our writers’ words:
    1. All shared writing should be published under a nom-de-plume. Rationale is that protecting ID assists genre change, practise and the invitation of feedback and critique (accepting some of it might not always be ego massaging). Also, people well established in a field can avoid exposure before they want it (if ever).
    2. Provide an image to link with the NDP.
    3. Agree a way so a visitor to our site will readily find a chosen writer’s work
    4. Writers can invite critiques.
    5. We agree *not* to reveal anyone else’s ID.
  3. Create a monthly schedule for routine posts
  4. Develop a blog post rota for people willing to provide them. THis could also include editing practise for those interested.

On top of all this, we’ve had a notification about a local workshop. Does anyone know Victoria Mackenzie? https://victoriamackenzie.net/

… and now it’s 2020

Did you ever? Another year gone and here we are leaping forward into 2020.

In the way of hectic times our best laid plans for blog posts, news and content fell by the wayside. We hasten to deny over-indulgence and wild-society is in any way responsible for omissions.

Get down to it

Our next meeting is on Monday 27th January from 7 pm (technically) in Colinsburgh Library reading room. More information here. We look forward to welcoming you and hearing your craic and, if you care, some writing.

Preparation – on a Burns theme

We know at least one person isn’t a Burns fan. Because of this we thought we’d invite up to 300 words on one of the following topics:

  • a mouse
  • a louse
  • an exciseman

As usual there will be tea/coffee, biscuits and who knows?

Bring something

Please remember that some of our members are ‘deef’ (have hearing impairment) and would be grateful to have copies of contributions to read. This helps them follow the reading. Please bring three copies to share.

If you have a printing problem, please drop a copy to either Jenny or Mac and they will print them before the meeting. Any issues, use the contact form.

Blogger off

Let’s create a blogging group to coordinate and encourage the production of relevant content on our website. We’ll happily run a training session to help out. The steps we envisage:

  1. Agree who is going to do it
  2. Agree on what we want to achieve: blether? content? poems? ideas?
  3. Decide on what training is wanted
  4. Agree our programme
  5. Develop our site

It’s been a while since our festive bash. Looking forward to seeing you on Monday.

Mac and Jenny

Next meeting and dates to mid 2020

Next Meeting Monday 9 December, 7pm. We are celebrating our first year and will have food and refreshments.

People attending are welcome to bring edible and beverage contributions. 

Writer's Neuk first half 2020 poster

 

Get them in your diary!

Why not write and share with us?

Write something and bring it along

Anyone can bring some text to share up to a maximum of 300 words. Please bring three copies to share. 

 December’s topic

Celebrating the holiday in today’s busy world

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.

September Meeting

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We were a small number but we covered a lot of ground!

Our Writing

Each of us had brought along a short piece of writing. One definitely has the beginnings of a crime novel, involving metal detectorists and the discovery of a hand. Another piece had a strong geographical element where the writer was viewing a low flying aircraft, marvelling at their approach through a scenic Scottish glen. Next, there was another murder. Or was it? Some might say an act of revenge. We definitely entertained each other.

 

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

A common topic that comes up is how we write and when we write. What are our writing habits? Some of us write in the morning, others prefer later in the day. Night owls are happiest through the wee small hours. Whilst some people can write anywhere, anytime, for instance on their phone, more often we prefer a settled space in a quiet room or space. Others can write outside, for instance on a beach or a park bench. Some of  us plan to write and may even have a set time. Others can be stimulated at random times by thoughts or experiences and come back to write ideas up, at a later date. Some individuals prefer to use a keyboard, whilst others like pen and paper. others still use a good old fashioned pencil. Do you prefer silence or background music? if so, what kind? Can you get back to writing after an interruption or do you lose the flow? Do any of these things really matter? We decided not. As long as we write, that’s the main thing.  

You’ll never guess what…

I’ll never guess, what?

We’re one year old next meeting.

Thinking of anniversaries, we’d love 50 words on the theme of an anniversary surprise – take it anywhere you like.

Strut your stuff

http://charlisays.com/10-funniest-writer-quotes/

As usual we invite you to bring up to 300 words of prose or poetry or script-writing … whatever you choose. If you can’t, we’re glad to see you anyway.

Focus?

A common topic that comes up is how and when we write. What are our writing habits? Some of us write in the morning, others at different times.

We all like a familiar space to write, whether it be a room or a quiet corner of the house. Some of us plan to write, whilst others are stimulated by thoughts and experiences.

The session focus will be the ideas people have for writing effectively, their discipline and techniques for keeping the nose on the grindstone.

We are planning a session on WordPress. An introduction and a chance to get involved in running our own site.

Festivities

Please have some thoughts about what we should do for the festive season. Fancy a pub get together, accessible to the 95 coastal bus. All ideas welcome. We’ll decide at the meeting.

August Meeting Report

Let’s Get Started

We did a great thing! We supported each other! It all began with a question about editing and how some of us struggle with getting past this stage in our writing. We gave each other lots of advice, including:

  • get the gist down and go from there
  • just get it all down in one go                                                                   
  • get a feel for it – Is it working?
  • go back and edit/polish at the end
  • simplify things
  • read and self-edit as you go

We all had our own ideas but the one which resonated the most was:

“Don’t eat the elephant all at one time!” In other words, one step at a time but do what suits you best.

Dialogue

Dialogue was also on the agenda. One of our members is writing non-fiction, based on a self-help/advice theme and wanted to know if using dialogue to illustrate some points would be effective. We talked about posing some questions at the beginning of a chapter and then using dialogue and scenarios to try to answer them.

Our Writing

Continuing the theme of dialogue, we had each prepared a piece of writing to bring to the meeting. These included:

  • a self-help piece, as mentioned above
  • a conversation which brought peace and harmony to the writer
  • one which had a mystical theme
  • a comical version based on nosiness and gossip
  • a memory which include some assertive tones, used when faced with health and safety gone mad!

We tried reading the first piece as a play and found that the use of dialogue gave it a real authenticity. With another we found that, as it was all dialogue between only two people, there was no need to attribute the words to each speaker, as it was perfectly clear who was speaking. Some of us had previously not used dialogue much at all but focusing on this evening’s task, discovered it can really bring a piece of writing to life, whilst effectively moving the story along. It’s effective use showed how to tell the story through he use of dialogue, using less description. More strings to our collective bows!

How do You Write?

Another topic that came up was how we write and when we write. Do we need to have a set time or place? Do we need silence? Can we cope with interruptions? Again, our answers proved that everybody’s different and we should write when we can and how we can. As always, each member took away fresh ideas and perhaps confidence, from the discussion. Something which, as a group, we always try to achieve through our meetings.

Looking ahead

The conversation carried on for a wee while after our meeting. We started to think about how we might use a monthly Saturday morning space that is available, 10-12 noon, on the first Saturday of each month. Poetry, screen writing, play writing, proposals, developing skills… 

All this and we’re nearly one year old.

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

June Meeting 2019

Welcome to a new member

Great to have another new person interested in our group. She writes poetry and would like help to edit her work, with a view to publishing. Luckily we have the very person for the job and so have put them in touch with each other. Looking forward to finding out how that has gone, at the July meeting.

Agenda

We quickly agreed an agenda for the evening, conscious that, as a group, we try to fit the content, to the needs of those who attend.

Blog on editor’s visit 

Jenny read out a report on Gale Winskill’s visit in May. Gale is a professional editor and helped us understand more about her role in the writing process. (See Menu for the blog)

What our writers are working on

Each person gave a quick update on what they are currently doing and shared what they want to achieve through the group. They want a meaningful return from the meeting and especially want to go away feeling encouraged.

Contracts

We went on to discuss different ways of publishing and what safeguards you should think about when entering into contracts, especially with someone you have not met, perhaps online. Word of mouth can be the best method of finding someone with the experience you need and who you can trust. That is one of the advantages of coming to a group such as ours.   

Copyright

A question was raised about copyright and whilst, like editing, this can be a complex area, there are ways of getting help e.g. The Copyright Agency. The main legislation dealing with copyright in the UK is the “Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.”  

Copyright Symbol

Another useful piece of information we shared is to use the copyright symbol at the end of your work. If you Google this there are instructions and videos online to help, depending on which computer system you use.

e.g. © Jenny Hoggan

Our Writing

This is  the part of the evening which can be daunting at first but I now positively look forward to. This is when we share a piece of work that may be from the suggested homework topic but equally can be anything you have been working on, that you wish to share. There were some “firsts” tonight and some “old hands” but hopefully everyone went home with some supportive advice and loads of encouragement!

Writing Retreat

To finish off the evening Mac shared his recent experience at Moniack Mhor, a creative writing centre in the Highlands.