From new girl to “writer”

A creative breakthrough at my local writing group; promotion from “new girl” status to “meeting chair” albeit for one session only (for now, but I can dream!)

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Is this validation that my writing and knowledge has reached a point worthy of sharing with other writers? If so, couldn’t be more thrilled!

Last year, I joined a writing group; Stockport Writers, based at the very beautiful Stockport Hatworks Museum. We meet once a month to write with various prompts to help stir the creative juices. 

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One of the charms of this writing group is it’s ever-changing attendee list. Some group members have been attending since the group first formed, others have joined over the past year; some new members are just beginning their writing journey.

Each writer has their own unique skill set, genre, preferred writing style. From the impact of short stories, to the challenge of a novel, everyone has their own path. Whether editor or poet, college student or student of life, who writes purely for the pleasure in doing so, all are welcome. It’s a magical mix.

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Each month, a writer leads the group through the session; from free-writing warm up, to a reading of last month’s homework (or any other piece) through to the use of prompts, followed by more readings, and finally the closing prompt or exercise to close.

When I was asked to step up to the role at next month’s meeting, I was honoured to do so. It’s an absolute privilege.

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Now all I need to do is come up with a plan of what topics we can cover. Errrrmmmmm…

Any ideas from fellow writers? 

I’ve just got back from meeting my publisher…

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I like to say that.

I will take every opportunity to say that.

I do not apologise for being ecstatic that I can say that!

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During a very civilised conversation over a cup of tea at the fabulous Cloudberry Cafe, Marple, my publisher and I

(oops! I did it again) discussed the upcoming marketing strategy for my new book. 

 

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I am so excited I may spontaneously combust – stand well back!

Talking for 2 hours about all things bookish, is an absolute pleasure. 

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Watch this space over the coming weeks for details.

My face is literally aching from smiling so much.  

I will be ordering my own book from Amazon because I can.

I will be ordering my book from Waterstones because I can. 

Ouch! My cheeks hurt.

I have illustrations!

Picture a lady who is old enough to know better, bouncing around like Tigger on his happiest and bounciest day. 

Picture the biggest smile on a child’s face.

Picture someone who can’t sit still and is yabbering on at speed and at a pitch only dogs can hear.

That’s me, right now, as I look at the illustrations created for my new children’s book. 

It’s every Christmas morning rolled into one. 

My baby now has a face, a colourful, beautiful face and I could kiss it – but that would be too weird.

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Remote Space

Napowrimo Challenge: Day 25

The Prompt:

Write a poem that explores a small, defined space – it could be your childhood bedroom, or the box where you keep old photos. It could be the inside of a coin purse or the recesses of an umbrella stand. Any space will do – so long as it is small, definite, and meaningful to you.

My Response:

 

Remote Space

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Warm sunbeams stream through the windows

bathing my room in golden light.                                             

Propped by plumped, puffy pillows.

Nested, I settle down to write.

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A peaceful retreat tucked away,

so sacred, secure and serene.

Escape from everyday melee,

to conjure, create and dream.

Soft Slumber

Napowrimo Day 16

The Prompt: 

Write a nocturne. In music, a nocturne is a composition meant to be played at night, usually for piano, and with a tender and melancholy sort of sound. Your nocturne should aim to translate this sensibility into poetic form!

My Response:

Soft Slumber

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Night lead me by the hand

as we climb a twinkling staircase of stars.

Darkness cover me. Tuck me in.

Place a goodnight kiss on my forehead.

Shadows close my heavy eyes.

Guide me into sleep.

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Dreams waltz with me

across an endless sky of velvet black.

Stillness soothe my mind.

Sing me a lullaby of moonlit melody.

Softness sway my soul.

Rock me gently with your sympathetic lilt.

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Peacefulness rise and fall

with every breath, as I slip deeper

into restful slumber.

 

The Best of Times

Written with an aching heart, here is my response to Napowrimo’s challenge for Day 10.

The Prompt: Write a poem that is a portrait of someone important to you. It doesn’t need to focus so much on what a person looks (or looked) like, as what they are or were.

My response:

The Best Of Times

We talked for hours by the fireside

of Keats and poetic greats.

We waxed lyrical of literary works,

swapped recommendations, compared texts.

You lent me dusty old books,

from your bowing bookshelves.

They smelt of aged paper, slightly musty and damp.

Some had prices pencilled on the inside cover

or dedications marking occasions.

They were charity shop treasures you’d unearthed.

We shared sadness as we wondered how works of art and genius

could be so casually tossed aside to charity bags.

We laughed until tears rolled, when the actor who played leading role

in a beloved film escaped us.

“It was errrr… now then… blast it… I know this…

he was also in… no, no, no…

the one with the actress, who was married to…” and it went on.

These conversations were more frequent

as your memory faded,

but we laughed all the same until we recalled the names.

We agreed on Wuthering Heights and Olivier

being best cast in the role

but disagreed on your love of Laurel and Hardy,

It amazed me how you belly laughed

as you watched their slapstick humour.

You bought me a box set of Doris Day

though your pension funds were running out.

No-one else in the world knew or understood

my passion for her voice

Our talks were exclusive.

We’d be enrapt until it went dark outside and I had to leave.

They were the greatest times.

Who would have thought whilst generations apart,

we could have been best friends and soul mates?

Now all I have is a box of your books,

which were handed to me when you died.

I cried because they had been hastily thrown together

without any conscious choice.

Just a random after thought, of “She may like some.”

There are some old poetry collections.

Opening them, I found notes made on strips of paper,

which bookmarked the pages

and an old lottery ticket.

Some poems were starred and I knew before looking,

I’d find stars next to The Highwayman and The Oxen.

I hope you have found new friends to discuss with,

Until we meet again.

But Why?

To the mums who are quizzed more than Google!

Day 8 of the Napowrimo challenge.

The prompt: Write a poem that relies on repetition. It can be repetition of a phrase, or just a word.

My response:

But Why?

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“But why?” is the cry,

Deep sigh, who am I?

“But why?” so I try,

To explain, aching brain.

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“But why?” patience tried,

Brain fried, should I lie?

“But why?” “Because it is.”

Red mist, nerves twist.

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“But why?” in my ear,

Near to tears, anger rears.

“But why?” “That’s enough!”

Quick re-buff, tone too rough.

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“But why?” “Go to bed!”

No more said.

Hanging head.

Feel the guilt.

To the hilt.

Tears spilt.

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Kiss his head.

Stories read.

Be-lov-ed.

 

 

 

Ten Ways of Looking at the Ocean

With stinging eyes and a tired mind, I attempt Day 6 of Napowrimo. Sandwiched between  work and nursing my five year old through chicken pox, I defiantly put pen to paper, adamant I will complete this challenge.

Today’s prompt; write a poem that looks at the same thing from various points of view. The most famous poem of this type is probably Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”.

My response:

Ten Ways of Looking at the Ocean

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I

Woeful secrets held

in Davy Jones’ locker,

present themselves to wretched plunderers.

 

II

Beneath the surface

a deadened eye

scans its domain.

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III

Nature’s wrath visits those

Who challenge the swell

and crash of her might

IV

The eerie calm on a windless sea

Stirs superstitious tendencies

unnerving the restless voyager

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V

Spilled on golden sands

remnants of shipwrecked lives

bleach

 

 

VI

Moon and earth waltz

providing predictable tides

which wash clean

bloodstained hands

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VII

Driven discoverers dreaming of new lands

chase an ever-retreating horizon                       

VIII

Soft sighs soothe.

Rolling waves rock. Hush.

Sleep comes easily in salted air.

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IX

Seen from the stars

your unique azure

illuminates life support

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My soul is drawn to sapphire depths.

My eyes rest on clear azure.

I’m humbled to consider your  vastness emanates from the purest drop.

Mistress Devon

There was no other choice. Prompted to write about a subject dear to my heart, one which I have personal experience of, could only have one reply. I write of my deep passion for a place that brings me joy year after year and has never disappointed.

Day 5 of Napowrimo.

The prompt: In honor of Mary Oliver’s work, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that is based in the natural world: it could be about a particular plant, animal, or a particular landscape. But it should be about a slice of the natural world that you have personally experienced and optimally, one that you have experienced often. Try to incorporate specific details while also stating why you find the chosen place or plant/animal meaningful.

My response:

Devon Mistress

I recall you clearly

though a year has passed between us.

I know every inch intimately;  

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rough bark around your majestic oak,

wind rustling restless leaves,

midday sun filtering through your canopy

against a backdrop of vast sapphire blue.  

 

Warm salty breeze sweeping

across my face like sweet caresses,

its whispers cooling my skin

in the heat of the afternoon.

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For one precious week each year

I leave the smothering grey dust

and drive through the night,

snaking south until buildings fall away.

Dawn’s blush lights Somerset skies.

Tractors stand in half ploughed fields.

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Deer float on morning mists,

leaping across open land,

tasting freedom before man awakes.

With a hopeful and impatient heart

I enter Devon’s country roads,

knowing my soul’s satisfaction

is almost within my reach.

Turning into the hedgerow’d lane

climbing hills, plunging deep into valleys,

rising one last time before

reaching my heavenly destination.

Exquisite joy. Exhalation.

Keys removed from ignition.

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Baggage left on soft grass.

Troubles and cares dismissed.

Weight lifted from crowded mind.

Turmoil leaves. Peace enters,

with each inhalation

of fresh, clear air.

Tired eyes rest upon your beauty

in complete admiration.

300 miles and one year later,

I am finally home.

Summer Daze

Day 4 of Napowrimo was much more difficult with the following prompt, teasing me for much of the day. I’m not sure how successful it is, but a poem was asked for and a poem provided. You can be the judge, as always.

Prompt: Today I’d like you to take some inspiration from Elgar and write a poem with a secret – in other words, a poem with a word or idea or line that it isn’t expressing directly. The poem should function as a sort of riddle, but not necessarily a riddle of the “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” variety. You could choose a word, for example, “yellow,” and make everything in the poem something yellow, but never actually allude to their color.

My response:

Summer Daze

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The cider press sits patiently

Awaiting fresh faced lovers

To fill the apple store

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So enchanted are they

Held in each other’s eyes

They linger longer

In heavy laden orchard

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Hang back amongst hedgerows

Where envious crickets chirrup

In time with beating hearts

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Dreaming by the mill pond

As frogs on lily pads rest

Before plunging deep

Into algae’d depths

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Amble slowly through pastures

The cattle lift their heads

To nod approval

Before returning

To their gentle graze