Tuesday, 13 August 2019


When I reach the letter Z on my blog postings, I usually take it as a cue to pause and take stock of where I’m up to. This is the end of five complete turns through the alphabet, 130 posts in total.

For my Blogspot blog, it means the time has come to pause, maybe even to stop posting here altogether.

If you have been following this blog, then I thank you for your presence. May I invite you to rejoin me now at www.beacreativewriter.wordpress.comwww.beacreativewriter.wordpress.com which is where all future posts will be made.

Thank you. I’ll see you on the other side!

Monday, 12 August 2019

Xtra-curricular activities

“Think again, Dear”
Three years ago when I first came to Swanwick Summer School I kept a low profile. Last year I berated myself for not taking an active part in some of the evening events. I commented that my Swanwick School Report would surely read, “Could do better”.

“His and Hers”
And so this year I determined to be bold and become more involved.

Yesterday I helped with reception and checking in duties. This morning I sold raffle tickets. 

And tonight? Tonight I read at the Poetry Open Mic event. Go me!

(With thanks to Les Boynton for helping perform my poem “His and Hers”, and to Jen Wilson for the photographs.)

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Yes I can! (But no I won’t.)

I’ve returned to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. This is my third time here in this creative cauldron, this year alongside 292 other writers.

It is wonderful to be back, to connect with special friends made during the previous years, and to have the opportunity to meet new friends.

300 attendees is a lot of people.

And with so much scheduled to happen throughout the week I’m not just spoilt for choice, I’m actually overwhelmed by possibilities. Specialist courses, short courses, workshops, evening speakers, morning mediations, afternoon wind-downs, open mic - poetry and prose, quizzes, discos, tea dances. The programme is bursting with options.

There is so much I want to do.

But I recognise that to fill every waking moment would be a mistake. The very creativity that is fed and nurtured by being in this special environment could be injured by over indulgence.

And so, as difficult as it is to say ‘no’, I will take a few steps back and try to pace myself. 

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Where next?

I do love train travel. 

My next journey will take me north to Scotland. Along the way there is some stunning scenery. The first train to Edinburgh follows the east coast up past Alnmouth and Holy Island. The second train takes me up to Stirling and Perth before crossing the Cairngorms on its way to Inverness.

Yes, I will have reading and writing materials with me but I suspect not much may get read or written while I’m distracted by the views.

I’m going to visit Helen and Mike Walters at Solus Or, their lovely writing retreat. Once there I intend to do a lot of writing. (Although I fear I may again be distracted by the beautiful view from the house across the Cromarty Firth towards Ben Wyvis!)

Best not think of it as distraction – perhaps I’ll call it ‘inspirational pondering’ instead.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Volunteers’ Week

Never volunteer for anything, they say! (‘They’ obviously doesn’t refer to the folks behind Volunteers’ Week which runs from 1-7 June.)

I have ignored all such negative advice and help at my local community-run library in Jesmond.

As well as putting in a few hours each month stamping books at the front desk, or behind the scenes tidying shelves, I also write a regular blog post  for them.

I’m always interested in any news or events or facts connected with libraries or books. Anything that will pique interest enough to make readers say, “I like that, I’m going to visit the library”.

If you come across any such news, or have any favourite library or book-related blogs I can follow for inspiration, please let me know.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Useful, interesting or amusing

Writers’ Forum magazine invites readers to submit short items each month for its News Front pages. With a limit of 200 words the articles have to be concise. The overriding requirement is that the news should be ‘useful, interesting or amusing to writers’.

I try to submit something regularly and am pleased to report that two of my submissions have been published in the June edition, currently on sale. 

One is about the Independent Libraries Association - as a volunteer at an independent library this organisation is of particular interest.

However, it is the second article that I enjoyed writing the most. It concerns the bicentenary of American poet Walt Whitman (‘Oh Captain! My Captain!’) and his curious relationship to the English town of Bolton. In the 19th century a group calling themselves the Whitmanites of Bolton declared themselves his disciples. If you visit the town be sure to take a stroll along the ‘Whitman Walk’ and go to the museum to see his stuffed canary. 

I’m delighted to say that my submissions this month have won me a year’s free subscription to the magazine.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Take a letter, Ms Charles

All images by Readly
Back in the day when shorthand was an essential office skill, business men (and women) would ask their secretary to ‘take a letter’. 

Now I’m self-employed, no-one tells me what to write or to whom!
But I still do write letters. Inspired by my writing colleague S Bee, I write to magazines. It’s fun, it’s good writing exercise, and it’s always a thrill to be in print no matter how trivial it may seem. 

It can be lucrative too, with gifts and cash sometimes available. Most letters and images are also eligible for registration with ALCS.

I’ve learned that it’s not as simple as it may first appear. Each magazine has a preferred style so research is essential. Some want a brief 30 word sound-bite, others a more considered discussion point. 

Having the Readly app is a great asset for both research and markets as it provides access to many different magazines.

It’s a fun hobby. 

But beware, it can become addictive!