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. 

 

 

 

Hello Again … Back to the Future

Some days it’s just tissues … Some days it’s the ‘flu …

Here we are, well into 2019 and you’d think nothing is happening, wouldn’t you.

It may not surprise you to learn my New Year started with the lurgy. Still, my head is clearing. Be still all those who ask has it ever been clear?.

As for you “man-flu” giggle-and-pointers. I remember a famous epitaph (Spike Milligan?) “I told you I wasn’t well.”

Whatever, we’re back. Forgetting the man-flu, Jenny has been poorly too and is recovering.

Looking ahead for 2019

We will start meetings again on February 7th. At that time we’ll begin to plan our diary looking ahead whilst aiming avoid other writing group commitments people have, as far as practical..

Thinking of our programme, as a wee reminder … our areas of interest are here. This will help us flesh out a programme for the year.

Our Writing Agenda

We previously discussed interest strands, these are still live. Do you want to develop skills in:

Blogging and Social Networking?

Do you want to:

  • Develop your blog writing technique?
  • Help maintain this site?
  • Write blogs for Colinsburgh Galloway Library? Right now, the library is developing a new site and there are likely to be exciting contribution opportunities.
  • Set up and run a Facebook Group and, possibly, a Twitter presence?

Writer’s Events?

Are you interested in:

  • Building our programme of events and (possibly) workshops?
  • Involving authors and other experts in visiting to improve our knowledge and skills? Meet and greet. Support event delivery.

This is where we make our get togethers serve us as writers in ways that will foster and develop our talents.

Growing your skills?

  • What areas do you want to explore?
  • How will we support each other in developing aspects of our writing skills and approach?
  • What are our priorities?

We look forward to seeing you soon.

Merryn Glover at Writers’ Neuk

For our inaugural Writers’ Neuk meeting in Colinsburgh Library we invited Merryn Glover, author of A House Called Askival, to speak to us about her book and about being a writer.

Barsottibackground

A House Called Askival is based upon her own experiences growing up in South Asia and upon the period following the Second World War, when India was partitioned. Born in Kathmandu, to missionary parents, Merryn was brought up in Nepal, India and Pakistan, before training as a teacher at an Australian university.

first novel

A House Called Askival is Merryn’s first published novel but she also writes short stories and poetry, which have been published in magazines and newspapers. Over a number of years, the BBC has commissioned her plays which have been broadcast on Radio Scotland and Radio 4. Her poem, Driving Lesson, is in the Autumn issue of Northwards Now.

reading

Merryn read an excerpt from the first chapter of her book, which was greatly enjoyed by all.

learning shared

Explaining how much she enjoys writing, Merry shared some of the difficulties of being a writer, namely ways of getting published. She enjoys writing every day and is greatly encouraged to do so, by family and friends. Askival was published by the now defunct Freight Books and she is currently in discussion with another publisher, with a view to having her second novel published.

questions answered

There then followed a general discussion and questions on the writing process and getting work published. Merryn advised us, as budding writers, to:

  • never stop writing
  • consider the audience who will read our work
  • write to communicate with your readers

A lively discussion followed as the focus moved towards getting writing out there.

publishing, and all that

Self-publishing can be a way forward for many writers. It has its drawbacks but it is one way of becoming known to readers and publishers.

We also discussed how publishers focus on a number of aspects of a writer’s work including:

  • social media activity
  • self promotion

Activities like these are becoming ever more important since many newspapers publish fewer literary reviews.

marketing experience leads to improvement

Merryn suggests that attending book festivals was a way of getting her novel highlighted and cited her own attendance at the Ullapool Festival as being a positive step in becoming more well known.

She approached several publishers with Askival and now appreciates that the number of times it was refused led to improvement in it, as she kept going and adapting and changing, according to their advice.

research, rest, write, research again

We discussed how research for a novel can prevent an author actually getting down to writing a story. Merryn suggested taking a break from the research and coming back fresh, for the next stage. Her advice was that there needs to be enough of a framework to help readers understand time, place and events but mostly they want to engage with the story.

Merryn now lives in the Scottish Highlands, where she is a high school librarian, relishing the challenge of encouraging teenagers to keep reading.

thanks Merryn

We very much appreciated Merryn coming along to speak to us and offering advice an inspiration.

Our Writing Interests, at the start

Here’s a wee list of what people noted on our ‘Contact us, Write with us‘ forms. Talk about a broad parish.

  • Getting a group going, setting up a writing group
  • A bit of everything
  • Fiction
  • Novel
  • Short stories
  • Stories with bit of a twist
  • Dark stories
  • Newspaper articles
  • Dissertations
  • Thesis
  • Poetry
  • Folklore
  • Historical fiction
  • Writing in Scots
  • Non-fiction
  • Nature writing
  • Short fiction
  • Research
  • Writing for children