Saturday, 29 October 2011

Poets' Corner, Degas and 'Anonymous'

Morning folks, there is a definite Autumnal nip in the air here in England. I have a stinking cold which I’ve battled all week, but hey, I’ll live. The week has been filled with lots of creative ideas and many have come to fruition.

I started the week by visiting Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey – which thrilled me to think of the great and the good side by side – some interesting neighbours; Charles Dickens lying next to Thomas Hardy (minus the heart, of course). This trip/event was included on my 40th April Fool list so I was pleased to tick that as completed. Whilst in London, I attended the Degas exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art – a wonderful display of the ballerina work – though the additional movement material wasn’t truly necessary – Degas pictures were enough for one exhibition.

Regards the April Fool list - I also struck off the 'eating a fresh oyster' task - I purchased a dozen from a local supermarket and made a dish of white wine sauce and parmesan cheese - they were gorgeous! 
Wednesday saw me spending the morning editing a short story that I wrote a year or two ago called ‘Every move you make...’ which mentions Poets’ Corner and which I now plan to send to the Ashby Short story competition closing date 30th November. Having seen Poets’ Corner, I now realised that you couldn’t take pictures and so had to change my short story as the original plot had included a photograph but now, da darr, contains a sketch book.

Wednesday evening, I attended Mad Hatters’ Writers’ Group, where I read the two poems I’d written last Saturday morning, ballet slipper and Mr Fox. Both were received well, and I explained that since writing them I’ve had ideas about a poem for a knitted bootie and a stiletto heel – so a mini collection seems to be appearing. As I got ready for bed that evening, the title ‘Poetry from the shoe rack’ came to mind.

Thursday morning, saw me woke with ‘knitted bootie’ complete in my head, I simply wrote it down. After breakfast, I spent an hour working on a poem for ‘stiletto heel’ - low and behold that was completed too. I shall continue my little line of shoe poetry as I walk the dog and who knows in a month or so may have something to call a new project.

Thursday evening, I attended
Grace Dieu Writing Circle
at Coalville, we are busy arranging a short story evening for 10th November in celebration of National Short Story week (w/c 31st Oct). Four local writing groups are attending; Grace Dieu, Ashby writers, Runaway Writers from Burton and Charnwood writers from Loughborough. I shall be reading a short story called ‘Caught in the act’ which I spoke about in last week’s blog.

I read my two poems to the group and received excellent feedback - the group also suggested I create a small collection based about footwear.  Several members expressed surprise that I'd created a poem as I usually focus on prose; short stories or my novel ‘Her’. This started quite a discussion regards us all stepping outside of our comfort zones to see what we could or could not, produce. 

Friday, saw me attend the first showing of the film ‘Anonymous’, I know, busy week hey? The film hinges on the myth that Shakespeare didn’t write the plays/poems but that others did. I wasn’t convinced myself and still truly believe that William Shakespeare did exist and wrote them. I was pleased to see they didn’t use the Christopher Marlowe argument but one I’d never heard of, and without giving the plot away here, it gave centre stage to Ben Jonson – which given his local links pleased me. I’d recommend it for a night out, if only to get the brain ticking regards the central debate.

In between all that I have managed to do some work on ‘Her’, I have set myself a new deadline of 31st December, given that the proof readers found some errors. I will begin to reread it, searching with a fine tooth comb for any full stop out of place. I promise this book will be finished, it has too, I’ve spent too much time and energy for it not to venture out into the big wide world. 

I return back to school on Monday, which is probably when my cold will disappear. I have a music theory exam on Wednesday evening. Thursday evening, I shall be at The Fizz 10 seeing The Irish Poets in the Tithe Barn of Polesworth from 7:30pm onwards – I know everyone would be welcome to join us. See Mal Dewhirst’s blog ‘Pollyworda’ for further details (left hand panel of this blog).

My plans for today are a hike with the pup, a reading session to finish the 'Twilight' book and a music theory session - all before I settle at my desk to edit 'Her'.

So, all in all a productive and creative week, which could become a little more creative this afternoon as I have dug out my pastels to see if I can produce a picture of a ballet slipper to compliment my poem – I’ll let you know how it goes.

And finally, a big hello to all the overseas visitors to this blog - every week I am delighted to see the worldwide interest. Check out the 'Visitors from afar' section for a full list. Remember you can also follow me on Twitter by searching for Odwyer_author, I am planning to re-start my daily Tweets. Enjoy!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Susan Price, Arty types and a poem or two

Morning folks, it's quite amazing how quickly the weeks are passing. I’ve had an excellent week, creativity wise – note, I didn’t infer writing week!

I started the week feeling quite fed up and feeling under the weather with a nasty cold – which caused me to sink and stay on the sofa on Monday night – I didn’t even move for dinner. I went without, just wanting a duvet and a hot lemon drink.

Tuesday, I had to drag my sorry ass to University tutorial in Coventry to discuss the lovies of art. The group wasn’t as forth coming as I’d hoped but hopefully over the coming weeks they’ll voice their opinions more. Me? Well, I did my best to convey what I felt and was quite taken with a couple of the paintings used as examples; Tilla Durieux and David’s The death of Socrates. It’ll be interesting to see how my knowledge fairs in the up coming assignment due 4th November which is dedicated to Cezanne.

Following my tutorial, I was starving having not had enough time for dinner at home, so I took myself off to McDonald’s. I sat in the darkened car park and ravished my chicken meal. The moonlight blessed the scene and out of the darkness trotted a fox. I sat in awe as he surveyed the car park – which I had to say was busy with people – but no one else saw him. I watched as he snook his way passed my car, heading towards the bins in broad lamp light of the car park without another person even flinching at his nerve. The captured image came back to me the next morning whilst walking the pup – and from it came a poem, Mr. Fox.

Wednesday, saw me take a group of 20 year 7 pupils to Nuneaton Library to visit author Susan Price. Susan was very generous with her time and explanation regards writing her children’s books. I sat listening intently, knowing full well that the group at my feet would be shocked knowing my secret life outside of school. Susan was very clear in her message to other writers ‘take a chance - sending it off, many never do’ – which seemed quite ironic given my current situation. Susan went on to scare the children with a reading of her story about Mr. Fox – which seemed quite a coincidence given Tuesday night’s nocturnal treat.

Wednesday evening, saw me once again feeling poorly wrapped on the sofa with a duvet, apart from a half hour slot in which I walked the pup. I am grateful that I did, because a poetry moment occurred again. From no where came the first two lines about a ballet slipper – to which I have consciously added two more each pup walk. Mr. Fox and ballet slipper were both scribbled and pondered over during the week and this morning, prior to writing this blog update, I have written both poems as final drafts. I shall be taking both to my two writing groups, Wednesday and Thursday, of next week. So, as you can see a very creative week for me – I don’t think that has ever happened to me before where poetry is concerned. Though, the swiftness of each creation matched the process that occurred whilst drafting ‘Jutt’ in early March.

I also watched a couple of programmes about the painter John Myatt, ‘Fame in a frame’ and ‘Mastering the art’ and watched how he produced some beautiful paintings – again another hobby of mine. It seems so strange that the happiest part of my life is the creative side, but that I’m also having great success with the ‘mortgage paying’ role. I can honestly say that I’ve certainly lived a dual existence balancing the creative form with the secure career. Which means, I’ll ever know whether I’d have been published by now had I put all my energy into the creative flow? Some fifteen years have been spent juggling - wow, that’s a whole load of energy!

I’m officially on school holiday for a week and so, the week ahead is planned – in detail. My main task is to heighten the polish on ‘Her’ – two proofreaders have highlighted that another run through is necessary. On Tuesday, I intend to visit Poet’s corner in Westminster Abbey along with the Degas exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art. Some tasks are pretty basic car MOT, vet visits and steam cleaning carpets but my general focus is writing.

Wow, I didn’t think I had much to write about this week and look what has flowed. Enjoy!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Ian Rankin, 'Caught in the act' and Madame Muse take a walk in the park

Morning folk - hoping everyone is happy and healthy. Apologies for a late blog but normal transmission can now resume. I have collected my manuscript section which a friend had been proof reading for me - she has been an angel and found several typo and punctuation errors which I've over looked on numerous occasions. So, my job for tomorrow afternoon is to correct and edit. But, it does suggest that I should go through the rest of the manuscript with a fine tooth comb, again.

Wednesday night, saw me attend an evening, or rather a date as I kept telling the folks at work, with Ian Rankin. What a great guy, so down to earth - the kind I'd happily go for a pint and a curry with given half the chance. I have to say, I've attended a few evening like this, and there are times you come away thinking 'boy, what an ego' because the author has talked non-stop about their flash house, flash car, flash lifestyle -
 not Ian Rankin. It was a pleasure to attend, I could have listened to him chat for much, much longer.

Thursday night saw the annual Grace Dieu Short Story competition where each member brings along a 1000 word piece of fiction. All entries are anonymous and are read aloud to the group, then the selection process begins. The aim is to find the three top stories, by means of a voting process, which will be read aloud at the annual night in November, when a neighbouring writers group visits to showcase their best short stories. I was eager to join in, so spent two hours this week editing a 1500 word story 'Caught in the act' down to the word limit of 1000. I managed it, just. On the evening there were seven entries which were read aloud by a committee member, and then, as we had spare time we decided to read them to ourselves, prior to voting. I didn't realise just how difficult it would be not letting on which story I had written. I noticed other members skip though certain ones but lingered over others, which gave the game away. Anyway the end result was.... 'Caught in the act' was voted as one of the best three - so, I shall be reading it aloud on Thursday, 10th November. The funny thing about this story is that it evolved from an exercise conducted by the Mad Hatter's writers' group a year or so ago - it goes to show work can have an extended life if you edit and recycle.

Today, I was suppose to take the pup for his weekly walk to Pooley Heritage Park but due to an over sight regards change for the ticket barrier I had to change my plan. Instead, I took the pup to the Abbey Green park which I used to visit as a child, and I walked the circumference for the first time ever. Wow, how the memories came flooding back. Times of fishing for tiddlers with a yellow net and jam jar, cut knees and bumped heads on the long forgotten slide and see-saw and even the red sand pathways which are now buried beneath a inch of weeds and soil. Amongst all this, a short story came to mind, which brought a lump to my throat and which I now need to write. Which goes to show, that 'Madame Muse' is never far away.

And finally, I have received an invite to attend Birmingham Art Museum next Saturday to participate in an Open University event encouraging the study of art. Apparently, there will be a guided tour, advice and support on how to appreciate paintings and a dedicated study session enabling us to practise the skills. Fingers crossed, Madame Muse will also attend and I'll get a short story come to mind as an added bonus.

All in all not a bad week, considering the juggling of work and writing, thankfully I made it to Saturday, like I always do.  Enjoy x

Friday, 7 October 2011

Adventures, Twilight and an empty weekend ahead

Evening folks - I had a spare moment so thought I'd write my blog nice and early. I've had a quiet week on the writing front, but jam packed with fun on the school adventure trip. We visited Condover Hall in Shropshire and had the time of our lives doing archery, fencing, abseiling and climbing - as a result, I now covered in bruises!!!! Go figure. Anyway, I had a fab time during our three day stay and made sure that I attempted every task - which has given me much food for thought regards a short story.

I arrived home to a passionate pup who had obviously missed me like crazy - why oh why, do people not act more like dogs when it comes to a joyous welcome? Bless him, he hadn't had a decent walk nor a cuddle munch in three days - sadly tonight, I repaid his loyalty with a new haircut - much to his disgust.

I have a busy, busy week ahead. Tuesday night has me attending a course tutorial in Coventry for my English degree. Wednesday night, I shall be in Birmingham listening to Ian Rankin give a talk as part of the Birmingham Literary Festival. Thursday night - I shall be at the Grace Dieu Writers' Circle and Friday, I'll be in Burton-on-Trent at Gary Carr's Spoken Worlds event and Saturday.... well, I'll be sparked out, dead to the world, I think.

In between all these lovely events I promise to add a little more to the new project - I'm still fixated by forenames and status - Tabbitha  remains favourite for my rich bitch, though the others keep changing. It's a good job no one can read my thoughts as I stroll the corridors at work or do the pupil register, if I pinch another name from school I'm sure they might charge royalties if it's ever published.

But, before my busy week I have a fabulously empty weekend ahead of me. The plan stan is to work all day tomorrow on the new project and deliver two copies of the old project to two fabulous ladies who have offered to read (a job I should have done last week but didn't due to lack of addresses). Anyway, tomorrow should be bliss. I'll take the pup for his weekly trek before heading back home to work my little socks off. Sunday, should be dedicated to school work but with a spot of yoga and piano, along with the week's ironing - I'm sure it'll all pass in the blink of an eye.

Confession time - I have started to read Meyer's Twilight series. I know, I know, I'm some years behind everyone else, but I am enjoying myself immenselyy. I know it is written for teenage girlies, with their school day crushes but I wanted to read it for myself to see if I could pin point what it has that ticked all the boxes, and I have to say I quite like it. I have purposely avoided the films, as year 8s had told me the books 'are much better, Miss' and I quite agree. So, just like Rowling's Harry Potter, I'll be snuggling up for the next few nights to finish this first book and recommending them to the youngsters to encourage them to read.  

So, I'll love you and leave you on this Friday evening, with hubby shouting at Wayne Rooney for his temper, and say goodnight, enjoy!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Change of plans, disappointment and a half year birthday

1st October – officially my half birthday, so today I shall celebrate being 40 ½ years young. Which means I need to get a wiggle on regards my April Fool List – though believe me when I tell you just how long I’ve spent trying to whistle and still can’t do it!

This week has been a toughy. I’ve had lots going on with the day job which is good but time consuming, and a couple of disappointments regarding my writing world.

Firstly, today, I’d planned to post out my manuscript to numerous agents - but have received two very generous offers to read the first three chapters to ensure that they are truly perfect. Now, I would be daft not to take up the offer – so ‘Her’ will not be leaving via Royal Mail – well, not this week anyway.

Secondly, and in some ways more disappointing than not hitting my 1st October deadline, I wasn’t able to attend the Pooley Heritage Park yesterday. I had requested a leave of absence enabling me attend and read my poem ‘Jutt’ as part of the celebratory unveiling of the sculpture ‘Burnt Orange’. I know that my poem was read at the ceremony by Mal Dewhirst, who I am sure did me proud - while I remained at school, with one eye on the clock watching the hands move nearer to eleven o’clock. I intend to visit the site this weekend to view the sculpture and the first five poems of the Poetry trail phase two.

One thing that I have leant is that school isn’t interested in my writing and work so should anything *good* occur, I now know not to include them in the publicity. But hey ho, it’s how the cookie crumbles.

I have an exciting few days ahead, as I’m going on a three day adventure holiday with the year 7 pupils to Condover Hall in Shropshire. I’m expecting to be covered in mud, swing from high heights and climb large object all in the name of fun and team bonding. I shall be taking a small exercise book with me to note down my diary while I’m away and finger crossed, next week I’ll return without broken bits to fill you in on the action.

Thursday night, I shall be attending my husband’s medal ceremony in Royal Leamington Spa in recognition of twenty years in the fire brigade. He’s not best please about attending, being a modest bloke, but we’ve forced him into it as his loyalty should be recognized by the high and mighty.

So, with a bright look towards today – my plans have changed. I’m going to print of the three chapters so that my very kind friends can have a read and a red pen scribble. I plan to walk the pup at Pooley Heritage site so I can view the new installations. I shall indulge myself in planning an outline regards ‘To Honour….’ And fingers crossed, if the promised weather is as great as they predict, we’ll be having some family fun in the garden.

So, I’m going to love and leave you for now, have a fantastic week – enjoy!

Additional follow on: I've just returned from walking the pup in Pooley Heritage Park. I walked up the mound to view the sculpture - an impressive size and colour. Not so sure that other people will realise it is a leaves piled skywards to represent the layers of foliage later carbonised to create coal. But, for me the nicest part of my walk was finding and reading the five poety installations - I now really can't wait to see how mine is designed and where it'll be placed.