Thursday, 29 October 2015

Writing Your Legacy

I can't believe it's over a year since I wrote the first draft of a memoir 'My Skin, My Life.' Whilst writing the 30,000 word draft was therapeutic and revealing, I decided not to go ahead with actually self-publishing it in a book format.  So I shelved the whole idea.

Nothing is wasted when it comes to our writing so I had faith that when the time was right, I would be able to draw upon the memoir's material as a resource for future writing.

Recently, I was inspired when sharing my family tree with my eight year old granddaughter.  I was pleasantly surprised by her excitement and enthusiasm at what can only be described as a complex family history. This revelation prompted me to take action now, rather than later.  

Eagerly searching for a different framework for my life writing, I came across Writing Your Legacy - The Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting Your Life Story.  Through a series of 35 guided themes, as well as supplementary exercises, the book provides the opportunity to explore milestones, relationships, career paths, and major choices.  In Part One, the basics of life story writing are examined.  Part Two is all about the legacy themes. Part Three discusses titling your book, how to enhance your story with images or video, and deciding on a final format.

So, it's official, I'm writing my legacy using a different framework.  This has provided me with the creative freedom to write. I hope to break new ground in the process.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The Art of Creative Thinking - Book Review

In the introduction to The Art of Creative Thinking by Rod Judkins, he discusses how "at school, creativity was suppressed and crushed..." At art college he found the opposite.  "There was no emphasis on getting it 'right'.  All around me were people experimenting for the sheer hell of it, doing things that made  no sense - or rather doing things because they made no sense. "

The book is intended to be an overview of many useful creative-thinking techniques, and an examination of the thought processes and methods creative people use and which can be used to help everyone.

I found the many short yet insightful chapters were a great boost particularly when your creativity is running low or you feel the need for inspiration.  There are too many to mention - here are extracts from a few that stood out for me:

be positive about negatives

If others respond strongly to something you've done, that's positive - even if the reaction is negative.  What should concern you more than anything is no reaction whatsoever.

be mature enough to be childish

The future belongs to those who can reconnect with play.  It is the child in you that is creative, not the adult.  Whatever you're doing, do it as if for the first time.  To children, there is no last time.  Every time is the first time.

The book includes over 80 of these types of creative-thinking techniques, something for everyone regardless of whether or not you think you are creative.  The quotes at the end of each chapter add a quirky touch.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Ideas into Books - a Short Story

On 22nd June, I was invited to give a talk at Northants Writers' Ink, by Mike Richards, the group's Chair. Northants Writers' Ink is a creative writing group based in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, which meets every three weeks from 7-10pm.  I became a member in February this year.

For my talk Ideas into Books, I chose the format of the short story, which meant getting to the point immediately.  I talked about the three books I edited and published and how I approached writing the Grants for the Arts funding application for the first anthology Brown Eyes. I then went on to talk about the journey of those books: the launches, the poetry readings/performances and how the monthly Shangwe Poetry Nights at the Poetry Cafe, Covent Garden, London evolved.

Back-story was drip-fed at appropriate times and covered my community development work and volunteer work experiences in the 1990s that contributed towards enabling me to get to grips with a tough Arts Council bid. The 60 minute talk soon became an interactive one, which was what I was hoping for and was well received by the six group members.  I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my writing journey and thought the short story format worked particularly well.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Still a Tree

I am back!   Over the past months, I have been beautifully 'distracted' by participating in a few wonderful online courses.  I am thoroughly immersed into the poetry zone of writing and enjoying every minute. There has been a mix of joy and surprise as the writing of a poem takes me on a fascinating journey with my mind and my pen!

First up was How Writers Write Poetry 2015, an International Writing Programme from the University of Iowa which offered an interactive progression through the principles and practice of writing poetry.  This free online course presented a curated collection of short, intimate talks on craft by two dozen acclaimed poets. Craft topics included persona, note booking, the line, the turn, form, and the lyric. The talks were designed for beginning poets just starting to put words on a page as well as for advanced poets looking for new entry points,  engagement with process, or teaching tips.

This is also where I came across the pantoum poem. The pantoum poem is a poem of any length composed of four-line stanzas.  In each stanza, the second and fourth lines of each stanza serve as the first and third lines of the next stanza.  The last line of a pantoum is generally the same as the first line.  Believe it or not, there is a sense of freedom writing in this form as it removes certain elements of choice for you as a poet.

Here is a link to my first pantoum poem, now published on Jackee Holder's wonderful tree blog:

Still a Tree

Currently, I am participating in House and Universe: the Poetry of Home and Domestic Objects, an online course run by the Poetry School.  The course involves studying contemporary poems set in kitchens, bathrooms, sitting rooms, bedrooms, gardens, contemplating what is this idea of home? I will be exploring the drama in domesticity, the importance of objects and possessions, the pull of memory and nostalgia, and the ideas of privacy and space.  The aim is to create a 'house of poems' of my own.

Happy Writing!