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

… 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

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. 

 

 

 

March Meeting 2019

Feels like we’re getting the hang of this! At our first meeting everything seemed strange and new. A bit stressful if I’m honest.

Getting organised, opening the building, getting the heating right, where to sit, what to speak about, meeting new people, making them welcome. It was early days for a new group.

Winter weather, Christmas holidays and the dark days of January all took their toll. Burn’s Night gave those with a poetic leaning, a glimmer of inspiration. Our first meeting of 2019 brought new faces, different experiences and new ideas for discussion and exploration.

Meeting

March was our second of 2019. I feel we are beginning to tune into peoples’ needs and move ideas forward.

I’m relatively new to all of this and I was fascinated to discover that there are all kinds of things out there to help budding writers:

  • software
  • apps
  • helpful blogs
  • websites

Sure, there are many aspiring new writers, scarily many, but help is there and accessible.

I thought I was doing well ordering my shopping online but words like Scrivener and AutoCrit have now entered my vocabulary, alongside Creative Writing Ink and WordPress. All have been stored away for further investigation.

The other thing that became immediately apparent is that people are happy to share, to listen and be supportive. I for one had used storyboards to teach young children but it had not crossed my mind that I could use them to develop my own writing.

For instance, at the February meeting Andy Frazier showed us an example of how he uses a story board for script writing. Check out Andy’s blog, which gives a basic introduction.

In the beginning

At the beginning of our early group meetings we quickly gave a brief history of what we were interested in and, perhaps, current projects. This helped us get to know each other and our aspirations.

Finding old masterpieces

One group member brought along a folder containing her old writing notes. I’m not even sure if she’d had time to look through them. But it’s surprising how looking back can refresh your ideas.

By the end of the evening she had shared a piece of work that mattered to her. We were glad she found the confidence to do that because it was a wee hidden gem, which we found, mattered to us too. It was a powerful piece, well considered, thought provoking and relevant.

Another member, who had not shared her work at this group before, shared a poem she had penned a while back. She is interested in imagery and it became strongly apparent that she has the ability to convey her ideas through this medium. Thank you both!

Getting published

Not the Life Imagined by [Pettigrew, Anne]One of our returning members explained that a friend of hers, from another writing group, has recently had her first novel published. Whilst this is not necessarily the immediate aim for everyone, in the first instance, it did make our ears prick up.

I for one was subsequently well impressed to find it, with ease, on the Internet. What’s more, with very favourable reviews! Anne Pettigrew, Not the life Imagined.

Using a song

The same member had been interested in taking Andy Frazier’s idea from our last meeting, of using song lyrics for the basis of a short story. Her chosen song was Every Breath You Take by The Police.

Now, like me, you may think of the lyrics as coming from the mouth of a broken-hearted lover. Many couples choose it to play at their wedding. Sting had just separated from his first wife to start a relationship with the person who would subsequently become his second wife, when he wrote it.

However, what if you put a different slant on the words? As our member pointed out, they can have a totally different meaning; the words of a stalker, controlling and menacing. Try listening to them again. She used this to great effect in her resulting short story.

If you come along …

Why not drop in and find out what our group is like. You don’t have to do or bring anything, but you can if you like. You can read a short extract from some on-going writing … anything really … and, of course, you can always try our preparation suggestions, below.

At our March meeting we heard:

  • two brief short stories
  • a poem
  • a chunk of non-fiction
  • an extract of Scottish Historic fantasy-fiction
  • a personal reflection

People responded in helpful and interested ways.

As one of the short story writers, when preparing, I was stumped for a new idea and, for the first time, Googled “creative writing prompts“.

I can recommend it because there are lots, and I found something that ‘clicked’ with me straight away. Job done!

Mac tells me he wrote a blog on writers-block a while back.

Next meeting

From the first, we have been keen to steer the group in the direction members need and want. To that end we had a discussion and agreed on two things for next time.

  • Choose any book and create a logline for it

Image result for logline

A logline is a sentence which summarises a TV programme, film or book that states the central conflict of the story. It often provides both a  synopsis of the plot and an emotional “hook” to stimulate interest. And …

  • write up to 200 words on the theme “jealousy” – whatever it means to you – fiction, non-fiction, a poem, a song … you choose.

Why not come along and share your ideas? Hope to see you soon!

© Jenny Hoggan

February Meeting 2019

Here we are again. Some of us have the lurgy, others are recovering, one or two are in rude health and don’t even know what a lurgy is. Many may have been supping medicinal whisky (this being Scotland and all) … even if they didn’t have the lurgy.

Some of us couldn’t make it, others did. All in all we are growing and finding our feet.

Writer Andy Frazier joined us last night. He shares a few thoughts about the experience below. Thanks for this, Andy.

Back into the swing

Andy Frazier

Although I have written numerous books on a wide range of subjects over the last ten years, I must confess, apart from a monthly magazine column, it has been just over two years since I last sat down to write in a professional capacity. During that time my focus has been on our other business, something which involves much more stress.

Time poor

Reaching my wits end last week, I suddenly realised that I was becoming a slave to time, rather than its keeper, and months were passing by with a rushing sound usually reserved for cyclists.

Itch to scratch

So, on Wednesday morning when I sat at my desk, instead of the usual admin, I opened Scrivener, my writing ‘app’ of choice, and started scribbling. In amongst those files are a few pages of ideas, research, crazy facts and half written projects.

An hour’s distraction from the day to day problems around me was all I was seeking. Next thing I knew, it was getting dark outside.

Coincidentally

On Thursday morning, by pure coincidence, I saw a poster on social media for Writers’ Neuk, who were due to meet that evening. I have to admit to having never physically been to a writers group before, although I do belong to a few online. Had it been any other day, I am not sure I would I have noticed it but, on this day, I decided to attend.

Inky fingers

What I found was not only a friendly bunch of like-minded people, but each one with a passion for the written word and a desire to share and receive ideas from others.

Not knowing what to expect, I had taken with me my scribbles from the day before, which had been little more than an exercise I had set myself, to get the ‘juices’ flowing again.

After an hour of general discussions about our individual on-going projects the group asked me to share mine with them. © Andy Frazier

Come back soon and read Andy’s easy introduction to the Storyboard. Ed.

Want to blog with us? Get in touch via our contact form. Our community library and Writers’ Neuk need you.