February 2nd, 2017
First, thanks to Mary for last week’s blog. I’ve been on holiday; so it was great not to have to think up something to post while I was away. I’ve always wanted to go to Costa Rica and despite the trip down to Gatwick (no flights direct from Manchester) and 11 hours in the air it was terrific. Blue skies, lush greenery and animals galore. At the top of my wish list of beasties to see was the sloth! I wasn’t bothered about the monkeys, the crocodiles, the kinkajou… or even the rather attractive tarantula that popped up near the path one day. All I wanted was a real, live sloth. And, dear reader, I got plenty of them, hanging high in the trees. They might be slow but they’re not daft; so they stay high enough not to get caught which makes taking good photos difficult unless you’ve got a very high spec camera! Read the rest of this entry »
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March 25th, 2016
In the past, I’ve been rather scathing about Manchester Metropolitan University and their Poetry and Short Story Competitions where prize money is £10,000. As I’ve said before, giving away such enormous prizes, when students are being asked to pay £9000 a year in tuition fees, just doesn’t sit right with me. You can make a real splash and provide plenty of kudos for the winners on a much smaller budget!
But I do like one of their latest efforts – Poetry Together. This is a collaboration between MMU, Manchester Children’s Book Festival and the British Red Cross. They say:
“Poetry Together is a brand new cross-generational competition that invites children and young people to pair up with a parent, grandparent, carer, older sibling or friend, to share their ideas and create brand new poetry. The aim of the competition is to bring people together creatively, while also raising awareness of the great work that the British Red Cross do to help tackle loneliness so that they can help the most vulnerable people. Reconnecting generations and getting people talking; it’s poetry in action!” Read the rest of this entry »
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July 24th, 2015
First, thanks to Simon for last week’s blog. I really like the idea of ‘Demented Optimism’ – as a writer I don’t think you ever get anywhere unless you believe in yourself and your creations. Such optimism may be demented, but it’s essential!
I read an article recently in the Sunday Times Magazine. It was about a man called Denis Pethebridge – and his 30 years of literary failure! In a leather-bound scrap book he had amassed 338 rejection letters. Starting in 1937 he had sent out articles, stories and novels to just about every newspaper, magazine, agent and publisher in the UK…and had rejections from them all. But did that stop him? No. By 1967 he was planning to start a new volume of rejection letters because the first was overflowing. Apparently he eventually self-published a novel in 1996 at the age of 77 and went on to live until he was 94. In his case optimism, however unfounded, was no detriment to his health. You’ve got to have staying power if you really want to be a writer, and not let rejection get you down. Read the rest of this entry »
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June 18th, 2015
I’m never quite sure what to call this stuff we sometimes write. Comic verse? Humorous verse? Both adjectives sound presumptuous. (You can hear the readers/audience shout, We’ll be the judge of that!) There’s always the more humble sounding light verse – concocted for a family celebration perhaps, with guests well inebriated and correspondingly appreciative. But what will they think the morning after?
Maybe it’s the word verse that’s at fault – it has that quaint, old-fashioned ring and also brings to mind the modern, cringeworthy greeting card. But then humorous poetry has slightly chilling overtones too. I often imagine it in the deadpan voice of Peter Cook’s wonderful E.L. Wisty character, “Good evenin’, I write humorous poetry, you know.”
There are many permutations of these words that we could choose to label our work. And they all seem somehow apologetic. Or a bit of a put-down. Read the rest of this entry »
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January 30th, 2015
First, thanks to Colin for last Friday’s blog. You often hear people who are ‘sniffy’ about genre fiction saying it’s plot driven, whereas literary fiction (usually their preferred reading/writing matter) is character driven. It’s OK for a book or story to be character driven but if those characters don’t provide some forward movement or development (a plot?!) then the reader loses interest pretty fast. Read the rest of this entry »
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