February 26th, 2010
First, thanks to Esther for last week’s blog. I’ve got a sneaky feeling that she won’t be able to resist signing up for something new to study before too long! Once you get the bug, it’s addictive.
Marrakech was everything I’d expected – fantastic Islamic architecture, atmospheric winding alleys, the beautiful Majorelle gardens and snake charmers in Djemaa el-Fna. I didn’t mind them charming snakes but I did object to them slinging them round my husband’s neck and then insisting that I take a picture…for a fee, of course! What I really wanted was a photo of the craggy local man with his flute and cobra, not one of my other half sporting an embarrassed grin and a thin, docile yellow snake instead of a scarf!
I’m not sure I’d ever make it as a travel writer, but our student of the year, Cindy-Lou Dale certainly has. I’ve just read her book ‘Secrets of a Professional Travel Writer’ and it really does what it says in the title. There are plenty of useful tips and some invaluable information. But what comes over most strongly is that you’ve got to have loads of self-confidence. If you don’t ask, you don’t get and when someone does turn you down, you mustn’t take it personally.
Finally, this week, don’t forget to check out the winner of February’s 21st Birthday Celebration Competition. Congratulations to Su Hughes for her tender, evocative poem ‘Grandma Ruby’. There were some terrific entries – it just goes to show what a polished poem you can produce in only 21 words! And while you’re at it, don’t forget that you’ve still time to enter this month’s headline-writing competition.
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February 19th, 2010
Two months into 2010 and I’ve done it – something I thought I’d never do. Well, there’s still ten months of the year to go and ample time for me to change my mind, but so far 2010 is the first year since leaving school that I’ve not found myself engrossed in a course of some form or other.
After finishing O’ levels, A’ levels, college etc, I joined a bank on an accelerated training programme. This involved numerous years of tedious and uninspiring banking exams. Though, I have to say, when I first started doing my own books, I wish I’d listened in Accountancy class a little more.
An accident a few years later meant I could no longer carry on working at the bank. That was when I discovered ‘The Writers Bureau’ and returned to a passion from my school days – writing. After I had completed the comprehensive course with great gusto, I enrolled on the journalism course. A further course followed and then I expanded my horizons to take in proof-reading.
Even though I was writing regularly by this time, had a young child to look after and a disability, my brain seemed hell-bent on cramming something into the little creative pocket left. For some strange reason, I decided not to do it by halves this time, but to take on a six-year degree course with the Open University. There were tears, tantrums and times when I wanted to give up, but I finished the course at the end of last year and will graduate with honours in April.
So this year, I’m determined my studying days are over. It’s time to devote myself solely to writing and to finish all those projects floating around in my mind.
Though, someone recently suggested a Masters…
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February 12th, 2010
It’s been an odd week to say the least! I was going to a meeting in London on Monday and caught the 11.00am train from Manchester – not an unreasonable time for a 2.00pm meeting. Unfortunately, the overhead electric wires went down and we sat at Leighton Buzzard for hours, then moved slowly on to Tring and sat there for what seemed like days and finally arrived in London at 4.30. My meeting had already finished and there was nothing for it but to get straight back on the train to Manchester (yes, you’ve guessed it – also delayed). I’m usually pretty appreciative of Virgin Trains – but they’ll have to come up with some pretty good compensation to make up for this one.
We’ve now moved on to our second 21st Birthday competition – which gives you the chance to win our Complete Copywriter Course. All you need to do is come up with a headline for our Comprehensive Creative Writing Course. If the winning entry is good enough we’ll use the headline in our advertising. So, not only do you win a great course but you might also get to see your work in newspapers and magazines around the world – certainly something to boost your career if you have ambitions to earn your living as a copywriter.
Next week I’m handing over to one of our tutors, Esther Newton, as I won’t be here. I’m off to Marrakesh for a long weekend of luxury and sightseeing. But knowing my track record, I just hope there won’t be any hitches or delays!
And before I go, I’d like to suggest that you check out Words with JAM – an extremely professional writers’ newsletter. It’s beautifully presented, and has lots of interesting and well-written articles. It’s free and I just hope that the team will be able to maintain such high quality without charging.
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February 5th, 2010
I hope you got some inspiration from Simon’s post last week. His suggestion to join a writers’ group, if there is one in your area, is definitely a good one. Or, like Penny Legg – a previous guest blogger – you could set up your own group of Writing Buddies to provide support in times of need and to share your successes with.
If you’re already a student you can read what she has to say about this in the latest issue of our student magazine, Chapter and Verse. Even if you don’t want a Writing Buddy it’s still a good read!
Or, if you don’t want a flesh and blood buddy, you could always try The Word Cloud. This is a free social networking site “where writers can read each other’s work, offer comments and get feedback. It’s also a place where you can discuss books, scripts and writing with like-minded souls, enter regular competitions, and much more.”
One of our tutors, Janie Jackson, who also runs Flair For Words, and has been giving useful advice to writers for years, says that you should never neglect your social life. Writers need new people to spark ideas. So, don’t feel guilty next time you find yourself wandering off to the pub, instead of sitting down in front of your computer. Just make sure you avoid your local – remember, you need new people to talk to!
And finally, has anyone read Cormac McCarthy’s novel, The Road, or seen the film yet? It could be on my agenda this weekend – and I hold up my hand and say it’s got less to do with literary merit than with Viggo Mortenson’s presence in it. Whether he’s Aragorn Strider in Lord of the Rings or Tom Stall in A History of Violence, he’s always worth watching, in my opinion. Then again, I could be biased.
But, whatever you do this weekend – have a good one.
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