New Year, New Start

And so 2017 has reached its end. At times I have found it a difficult year, but there have been many positives too

IMG_2180On the writing front, I had a handful of pieces published – enough to remind me what a thrill it is to be acknowledged in print and online – enough to spur me on to want to achieve more in 2018.

  • 1 short story in Ireland’s Own
  • 2 poems in Yours
  • 3 shout-outs in Mslexia and Writing Magazine
  • 4 news items in Writers’ Forum (winning a free subscription)
  • 5 pieces of Flash on Paragraph Planet
  • 11 letters in various magazines, including the iconic The Lady

Open MicI’ve done things too. I’ve been places. I’ve met people.

  • I read at my first Open Mic night
  • I met up with three (previously online only) writing buddies
  • I had a three week tour of the UK which I used as a personal writing retreat, blogging daily about my journey, including three nights at the beautiful Gladstone Library and another three in glorious Hay on Wye, and a visit to Dylan Thomas’ boathouse
  • I went to the Writers’ Holiday in Fishguard and made new writing friends there

IMG_2223On reflection it hasn’t been such a bad year. I hope to achieve even more in 2018. I shan’t set any specific goals or targets, but this time next year maybe I will be able to report yet more positive writing news.

Thank you to all those who have supported me with words of encouragement along the way. Happy New Year to you all. I hope that 2018 will bring you every happiness and joy.

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Melancholy baby

It’s how I’m feeling at the moment. Last Christmas was poignant but I coped. Stoical. Yet this year I’m really struggling. I’ve spent all morning trying to decorate the Christmas tree. Every little thing seems too much. Lights not working, batteries to change, all result in tears.
At what point does grief become self indulgent? I don’t know the answer. I spent time yesterday looking at Christmas cards for ‘my husband’, knowing I wouldn’t be buying one.

I want to write. I ought to write. Writing is a good therapy. Let the thoughts and emotions spill out onto paper – get it down, get it out. And this is as good a place as any to start. 
Does writing things down help you?

Letter writing

It’s often said to be a lost art. Which is understandable. As a means of communication there are now many alternatives which didn’t exist when Cicero was writing to his daughter, or Daudet from his windmill. For immediate conversation we are more likely to telephone or video call. We use email, text and messaging apps.

A letter on the other hand is entrusted to a third party for delivery. One of the most inefficient methods is ‘pupil post’. A cousin of mine managed to convince her parents that her school didn’t produce reports at the end of term, meaning they never found out about her school day misdemeanours or dismal exam results!

I had an article published sometime ago by The People’s Friend focusing on the First World War postcards in my late father’s collection – a few words of news and love from home to a loved one.

My husband and I sent a postcard to ourselves from each place we visited as a pictorial journal of where we had been and what we had seen. Those two very full albums are a great joy, each card triggering happy memories of our life together.

I’m glad that magazines and newspapers still publish letters from readers – particularly when they pay the writer or send out a gift! It’s a good exercise in the general skills of writing – choosing a topic, using prose which fits the magazine’s style, starting with a good hook, engaging the reader, a pithy ending. And writing to a specific word count.

Brief is not always easy. The French philosopher Pascal said, “I have made this (letter) longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.” It does indeed demand effort to concentrate one’s thoughts into a few words.

My creative writing muse is currently silent, probably the result of a difficult month. And so over the next few days I intend to write letters to various sources to exercise my writing muscle and force myself into the practice of writing regularly. And, hopefully, writing well.

Keep it going

“The big ship sails through the alley, alley oh… On the last day of September”

IMG_240630th September – how did that happen? It feels like only yesterday I arrived home from my travels. But I’ve checked the calendar and there’s no escaping the fact, September is at an end.

IMG_2412And as always happens on this date I catch an ear-worm of this rhyme which takes me back to my childhood.  It involved a group of us holding hands and weaving through an arch made by two other children. One of the classic ‘thread the needle’ games.

I came back from my travels ‘Journey’s End’ determined to renew my writing. I’m pleased to say that I have! I made 12 submissions in total, of which one piece of flash fiction has been published on Paragraph Planet and four news items were published in Writers’ Forum magazine, which awarded me a year’s free subscription. Success!

IMG_2349I have yet to hear about the other 7 submissions and competition entries, but I shan’t keep my fingers crossed – it stops me typing. Like the childhood game, I have to keep on moving – write, submit, write, submit. And wait (and hope) for more successful publications.

All together now: “The big ship sails…”

Journey’s End

Day 23 – our heroine returns

I’m home! It’s a little over three weeks since my adventure began. I’ve had a wonderful time visiting different places and meeting so many wonderful people. I’ve travelled 1,500 miles. But I am ready now to return to normality.

Which begs the question: what is normal? Over the next few weeks I am going to discover the answer to that conundrum as I work out a new rhythm to my life, hopefully with a greater focus on my writing.

I was chuffed to see that Mslexia had picked up my suggestions for two new words, submitted whilst I was in Hay and published today in their Littlems newsletter. There’s no money for the publication, just the glory (ha!) of having my name connected to such an august magazine, but I’m very happy to see Beatrice Charles in print again. I shall take it as a promise of things to come.

MSLEXICON

…when only a new word will do

partache (n.) the sorrow experienced when an actor fails to portray a character in the manner you had imagined when reading the novel

direlogue (n.) badly written conversation

Thanks to Beatrice Charles for the first two contributions

Inspired by firelight

IMG_2270Day 22 – our heroine sits by a campfire

You know how this particular trope goes. As the day is ending, a weary band of travellers stop. Too tired to travel any further they pitch camp. Soon a campfire is burning, the flickering flames holding back the darkness. Warm and well fed, the travellers relax. The glow of the fire and their shared repast work to promote a feeling of intimacy and unity amongst those who before had been only acquaintances.

IMG_2271Soon secrets are declared. Tales are told about where they have travelled and the sights they have witnessed. Plans and hopes for the future are shared, vulnerabilities laid bare, precious confidences entrusted to their new friends.

Sometimes there will be music played round the campfire: a banjo, a fiddle. Voices combine in song: songs of adventure; songs of sorrow. The camp falls silent. The travellers sleep. Tomorrow they will journey onwards to their separate destinations.

IMG_2272A campfire is a useful device. It can be inserted into the text as a breather after a particularly fast-paced scene. Conversations around the campfire can show character development and disclosure. It can allow two previously hostile parties to reconcile.

Tonight I sat with friends and family in my niece’s garden, warming ourselves around the flames of a fire bowl. I told them of my journey and they in turn told me of their travels. Tomorrow we go our separate ways.

And as for me, I too shall return home tomorrow. And I shall write.

Hope

Day 21 – our heroine experiences hope

Babies are the ultimate display of confidence. A declaration that whatever we may face, life must and will go on.

IMG_2260Here is my family’s latest expression of hope for the future. She is pictured here with her great-grandmothers. They face each other across three generations – born nine decades apart but united by love.

IMG_2269The baby was christened yesterday and has been showered with gifts. And so much love. Delicate pottery, a song composed especially for her, wooden toys, a book trough. The gifts are many and varied and generous. And above all there are books, so many books, a wish for her to grow knowing the beauty of the written word.