A little thought about time.

I never seem to have enough time; I always want to cram more into my day. But my dog, Watson, a rather difficult West Highland Terrier has his personal schedule.

Humans value time about as much as we value money, but rarely stop to think that both of these things only exist because we agree they do. The natural world does not run on my strict schedule, but according to the natural rhythms and cues of the planet. There is no rushing an animal, well Watson, to do anything they aren’t ready to do. Watson will go on a walk when he wants to, come back to me only when he’s finished sniffing the last message and sleeps when he’s tired.

So, if we value time so much why do we waste it, feel guilty about it and expect everything to be done in a shorter time than actually possible?

We think we should get everything the moment we need it. I’m reading Looking for Alaska, and this quote just jumped out at me.

 

“What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.”

― John Green, Looking for Alaska

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Writers embrace your jealousy!

So you’re melting in the heat, thinking about your to-do list, and a friend turns up and tells you she’s just signed a three book deal.

How do you feel?  Pleased, yes of course, next a massive wave of jealousy followed by a brief wave of self-doubt. My advice, chocolate! It’s not just good for a dementors attack.

This scenerio not an uncommon phenomenon in my life. In the writing community, I have often been the bridesmaid, but never the bride. I am fond of an American Comedy called The Middle; my favourite character is Sue Heck. She tries and fails, but that doesn’t stop her putting all her effort into every project. If you are a person who gives your best, you understand why jealousy is fleeting. I’ve never regretted putting all my effort into a project, and if it doesn’t turn out the way you wanted, you know you gave it a shot. Strangely, I have often found that unexpected opportunities are the reward.

And when confronted with someone else’s success at nine in the morning, when you know you’re doing your best on your projects you discover that jealousy is a GOOD thing. I remember being told jealousy becomes problematic when we act out in jealousy, or we wallow in it. I admitted my feelings, ate some chocolate, had a cup of tea and then pulled out my latest to do list with a critical eye. By 12:30 all negative feelings had gone and like Baldrick ‘I had a plan.’ In fact, I had lots of plans. One of which is to blog more regularly *waves hello*.

Imagine if J.K. Rowling had said to herself, “J.R.R. Tolkien already wrote a whole bunch of wizard-y books, years ago, and he’s a much better writer than me. He already has masses of adoring fans. I have none. Jill Murphy set her school for witches in a boarding school; I’ll better not do the same. 12 publishers have rejected my manuscript for Harry Potter. I’ll just quit now.”

We need to take the fear and negativity out of the word JEALOUSY and focus on the power it has to motivate, inspire and act as a call to action.  There is no faster or clearer tool for showing you exactly what you want. When you feel jealous of someone that is a clear indication that something missing in your life that has yet to be fulfilled.

Take a moment to look at your achievements; you tend to forget your moments of awesomeness when feeling jealous. Already I’m feeling less like a failure.

Next look at any limitations you have, lack of cash, time or energy. Is there any way round these problems?

What is it that I think I’m missing? Write it done and then work on an action plan. Now I’m feeling motivated. So be like a dog, live in the moment!

The people you feel envious of are people who are getting things done and working hard. I dislike the attitude that they have been given something you haven’t. If my mate turned up and told me that someone had given her an enormous wad of cash for doing nothing – I can understand the logic. But all writers know the work that goes into writing the novel. Instead of associating their success with things they’ve been given that you haven’t, associate it with a level of work, drive and talent.  Next, throw yourself into your action plan.

 

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Portsmouth Plugged In

Portsmouth Festivities’ 2016, the theme was Electricity, and for ten days the city celebrated Arts, Culture and Heritage. This year was a special event because my idea was in the programme, Portsmouth Plugged In, a collaboratIMG_3473ion between writers and filmmakers.

It was the first time I have ran a creative project of such size, eleven writers used film footage as a writing prompt and then produced monologues which were performed and filmed. You may want to check some of them out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aptl2TWtMi8

I thought it would be useful to write list of some of the things I have taken away from working on a project of this size.

  • Procrastination does not work. After assimilating the relevant information, decisions need to be made. Wrong decisions can be salvaged, if discovered early; but right decisions cannot be postponed.
  • When things go wrong, know who you can turn to for help.
  • The success of a project is largely dependent on the skills and strengths of the people involved. Therefore, a project needs to have a dedicated, talented set of individuals working towards a common goal. I was extremely lucky to have a fabulous team around me. http://www.portsmouthpluggedin.uk/our-team/
  • Some people are difficult, but most are fabulous, don’t sit in difficult peoples shadows.
  • Celebrate – things may not have turned out the way I imagined when I put the concept together, but I was extremely proud of the finished project.
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Tessa Ditner Literature’s Marmite

Guest speaker Tessa Ditner, Contributing Editor for Skin Two Magazine, gave a workshop on writing erotic fiction at The Writers at Lovedean on Friday. I’ve never written erotic fiction, in fact, I haven’t even written much in the romance genre, so I was a tad apprehensive.

Tessa handed out some examples of badly written sex scenes.  The range of euphemisms from mangos to red hot lava left the group giggling or cringing. It was a fabulous ice breaker. Once I bravely overcame the giggles, we got down to the real work of the morning. I’m not sure why I was surprised to find that badly written sex scenes are the same as badly written fiction. Common problems include losing the characters voice. If the characters start to use words during a sex scene that they – well, wouldn’t, it jars. Bad dialogue, too many clichés are other common problems.

Next we had an interesting discussion about bad sex compared to badly written sex scenes. I have to say I was unaware of the difference. We looked at some erotic fiction already on the market, a few examples of Skin Two and the latex scene.

This all led up to the moment I was nervous about…writing a sex scene. But, with the help and encouragement from Tessa, I went for it. Alas, I wasn’t brave enough to read mine at the session, but it was extremely empowering to have a go. And I have to say, reading my rushed attempted before blogging, I was not displeased with the result.

Will I rush off and start writing erotic fiction? No.

But I don’t think I will be as apprehensive about having a go in future.

I hope Tessa come to the group again.

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Literature’s Marmite: Why we all need to master writing erotic scenes.

I’m excited to annouce that Tessa Ditner will be teaching a writing workshop on;

4th March

10 am

The Writers at Lovedean

Lovedean Village Hall
6A Lovedean Lane
Lovedean
WATERLOOVILLE
Hampshire
PO8 9ST

£4.50

http://www.thewriterslovedean.co.uk/

Tessa Ditner spent many years working at Skin Two Magazine, selecting erotic stories and photography, while complementing her knowledge of the literature with Erotic Bookclub readings and discussions.

In this workshop she will introduce you to iconic erotic scenes vs. Bad Sex Award worthy writing. Then we will do erotic writing exercises including: using the everyday vs the outlandish for world building, erotica as a tool for revealing characterisation, and introducing a wild card into your plot.

Your writing from this workshop might slot into a larger body of your writing in any genre, could inspire a non-fiction erotica project, be turned into a short story in its own right, or why not be a belated Valentine gift to a loved one.

Further reading:
No prior knowledge of erotic literature is required, just bring a pen and paper! In case you would like to read some of the books that will be mentioned in the workshop, here are few fun ones:
House of Holes by Nicholas Baker
My Secret Garden by Nancy Friday
Venus in Furs by Sacher-Masoch

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Valentine’s Day Massacre

Valentine’s Day Massacre

Sunday 14th February

The Wave Maiden

36 Osborne Road

Southsea

6pm

£6 pounds entry.

 

It is fast approaching my first spoken word event of the year. I admit I’m nervous. Which some might find surprising, afterall I am a professional storyteller and between Easter and October, I’m usually booked. Except that is mainly children events.

It was only when Will Sutton sent out an email that I realised I will be standing up, performing before or after, some pretty awesome writers. Maggie Sawkins, you know from Zones of Avoidance, you may have read about it in The Guardian? Diana Bretherick, who’s just, finished her second book. Zella Compton children’s author and script writer.

So no pressure.

And I will be standing up with my silly fun piece that I wrote for my hubby in the hopes of making him laugh. He’s currently training hard for a bodybuilding show and occasionally needs a no carb day, which we all understand to be a depressingly difficult thing to do. Especially since my man loves himself a thick slice of bread…

Nerves, and second thoughts don’t you just love them?

But it’s all for a good cause, Portsmouth Bookfest.

http://www.portsmouthbookfest.co.uk/2014-programme/

I do hope that you can come along.

 

 

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NaNoWriMo: You have permission to feel like a winner!

NaNoWriMo

The goal is to hit 50,000 words in one month, which means at least 1,666 words per day for thirty days. Be warned, 50,000 words doesn’t necessary mean that you have a full novel, even short YA novels tend to be 60,000 plus. But you should have the start of something which could become a draft of a novel.

This is the first year that I didn’t finish the word count in the 30 day limit, I pressed on and reached just over the 50,000 word target and completed the first draft of my novel on the 4th of December. The wonderful thing about NaNo is that it gives you the push, a target, and support of a group. But what if writing 50,000 feels like an unachievable goal? Well, I could point out that NaNoWriMo is about the quality of words, not the quality of words.  Or I can make another suggestion. Give yourself an achievable target. It doesn’t have to be 50K if that feels too much, in fact, why should it be about putting the words on the page? Why not read that book on writing? Or edit those stories? Or finish that anthology.

 

At the Writers at Lovedean, we set our own NaNoWriMo targets, after all November is a good target setting month. It’s the last opportunity before the New Years resolutions come round again to meet those goals that you’ve put on the back burner during the year.

Celebrating NaNoWriMo

Celebrating NaNoWriMo

I was really proud of the members of the writing group, everyone who signed up to our own NaNoWriMo project managed to get move forward on their goals.

So here is the honour roll!

Margaret Jennings: 50,000 words in the 30 days!

Me: 50800 words in 34 days.

Lynne Stone: completed five short stories.

Barbara McMeekin: 10,000 words in 30 days.

Linda Hadfield: editing goal completed.

Jackie Green: editing goal completed.

Jules Garvey-Welch: completed and self-published her anthology, Beyond the Bell Tower.

http://www.lulu.com/shop/jules-garvey-welch/beyond-the-bell-tower/paperback/product-22468844.html

 

JGW anthology

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Zella Compton’s Scriptwriting Workshop

It’s been an exhausting week. So today, I was glad that I invited Zella Compton to run a scriptwriting course at The Writers at Lovedean. How marvellous to be able to sit back and enjoy the workshop?

Zella is a children’s book author, newspaper columnist and has just sold a play Girl in the Hood, to an educational publishers. Her play Five Beaches has just finished its run in Southwick after nearly a year-long tour, which I think is quite an achievement.  So, I was delighted she agreed to come along to the group to give us some writing tips.

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Zella in a couple of literary festivals, and not only is she a talented writer, but she’s good fun to be around.  Today was no exception, Zella had made a list of deaths listed on gravestones. She then numbered them.  We picked a number and found a death to write about. Mine was ‘lashed to the mast of ship.’ It was an excellent starting point for a monologue pieces. Other exercises helped us to hone our opening lines. We even manage to write and perform a few short pieces.

 

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It was hard work, and definitely forced most of us to write outside our comfort zones.  But best of all, good fun was had by all.

Zella’s book,  Ten Rule about Skimming can be found here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ten-Rules-Skimming-Zella-Compton/dp/1906132267/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1448644455&sr=1-1&keywords=zella+compton

http://www.zellacompton.co.uk/journal/

Girl from the Hood

http://www.resources4drama.co.uk/index.php?page=shop.product_details&category_id=9&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=204&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=7&vmcchk=1&Itemid=7

 

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‘Thinking through drawing and writing’ with Tiffany Robinson

I had such a delightful morning on Thursday. I attended a ‘Thinking through drawing and writing’ course at the Oxmarket Centre of Arts with Tiffany Robinson. It was wonderful to meet the artist and hear about her residency at Kingley Vale.  Tiffany guided me through some of the exercises she used during her residency to create her work.  She even made some recordings of the sounds she heard in the forest, which was a very unique starting point for creating a piece of artwork and then on to a poem.

She encouraged me to just make marks on the paper and connect to how I was feeling physically in my body. I was hoping to do the exercises again this weekend while walking the dog in the forest – but it has been such a rainy day!

http://oxmarket.com/

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Zella Compton: Scriptwriting Workshop at The Writers at Lovedean

Script Writing Course

Zella Compton, author, scriptwriter and newspaper columnist will be providing a Script Writing Workshop at The Writers at Lovedean.   Zella was also Havant’s Literary Festival’s Writer in residence. Recently, she’s had several plays  published including Girl in the Hood. Why not check out Zella’s website to see all the exciting things she’s been up to?

http://www.zellacompton.co.uk/index.html

Girl in the Hood can be found at Resources 4 Drama http://www.resources4drama.co.uk

 Scriptwriting Workshop

Date:  27th November 2015

10 am until 12:30

Lovedean Village Hall (Between Tesco Express and The Bird ‘th Hand Pub on Lovedean Lane)

160, Lovedean Lane

Waterlooville

PO8 9SF

Sessions cost £4.50

I first met Zella during a workshop in 2012 and her performance really stood out from the crowd. Since then I’ve been privileged enough to perform alongside her at a few festivals such as The Day of the Dead, and The Alver Arts Festival: Gosport Ever After. I’m a great fan of her work, my kids loved The Ten Rules about Skimming, an exciting, action-packed adventure that mixes science fiction, horror, mystery and intrigue.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Rules-Skimming-Zella-Compton/product-reviews/1906132267

 

 

I actually can’t wait for this workshop! I’m so exciting.

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