Writing Retreat (by )

Writing treats at a writing space retreat

Yesterday I went to my first ever writers retreat, a one day affair run by Writing Space Stroud. It was held at the Stroud Valley Artspace which is a little tucked away set of studios and performance space. I arrive about 10 minutes early in the fear of not being able to locate it but it turned out to be the place I had performed poetry for the Stroud Site Festival.

The lady who was running it was setting out books in a smallish room set out with tables including the lovely refreshments in the photos. There were home baked cookies and cakes as well including a dairy and gluten free one which made me very happy.

After being made welcome I made a bee line for a purple table and set up my laptop. Others began arriving and we had a brief bout of introductions and hot drink pouring before we settled down to write. Before hand we had been sent forms to fill in, what we were looking to get out of the retreat and goal setting etc... as I am doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) my goals were simply to boost my word count and maybe to start planning the third novel of The Godex Trilogy. Now I broke the 50, 000 word barrier a while ago but am looking to do 90, 000 words before the end of November so I set myself a minimum of 5000 words and maybe a good stab at getting 10, 000 which is what I think is actually my physical limit for day.

I managed 8627 words at the retreat, got to chat to other local writers and had constant tea and coffee. There was impromptu stretching during the lunch hour which was very relaxing. I got to look at lots of different books on writing styles and methods. There was no reading out of work or anything like that we all just got on with our projects without the distractions of children and the internet. I even put my phone in the special phone box so that I wouldn't be tempted. I was so energised by the friendly atmosphere that when I got home Alaric cooked me dinner, put a film on for the kids and banned them from talking to me so that I could finish off the 10, 000 before I eat.

A really good thing is that there is a section on the forms to help keep the momentum up after the retreat which I shall be attempting 🙂

The retreat cost £20 which was basically cost price. I thought it was great and am hoping to do another one or send Al on one for his novel - people were writing a complete mix from poetry to PhD proposals. I personally am now on over 70, 000 words for my novel and am excited at the prospect of being this close to a target I thought pretty much impossible at the beginning of the month with all the other things I had booked to do!

The Little Book of Festive Poetry (by )

The Little Book of Festive Poetry

So I am taking along copies of The Little Book of Festive Poetry to the Cranham Craft Fayre tomorrow! I will sign them if asked and profit goes to buy the school new books for their library. Its on from 10 - 4 and I will also have copies of Running to Stand Still an audio play by Barnaby Eaton-Jones to raise money for ME research and awareness.

There will also be my poetry cards and some prints of my art work.

The Deal (by )

So the deal has been struck! I become a famous author and Alaric shall become an actor so that he can become Dr Who and I will write a series just for him. It needs to wait until I am a famous writer so that we can pay the bills whilst he's training - he thinks it would make a nice change from programming.

His cubs and Jean already think that he is an incarnation of Dr Who anyway. The hat, scarf and coat of many pockets would have to feature.

The deal is struck so I'd best get on with this writing marlarky but as I've not managed to get more than short stories and poems published yet there is a long way to go - he may indeed be a silver haired Dr.

Finding My Voice (by )

Angel candle

Via Centre Arts I met a lovely lady called Jenna Monroe who is a fantastic singer. I had wanted to do a workshop she was running but it was canceled so I have been on the look out for anything else she does. I can't afford singing lessons at the moment but one off workshops are just about doable especially as I still had the money left from the first attempt.

The actual workshop was Vocal and Physical Improvisation with Jenna doing the vocal part and a man called Adam Fotheringham doing the physical part. I found the physical bit a tad taxing and had to sit out for large chunks which was a shame as I didn't get to 'let go' of inhibitions and things in the same way as alot of the others could. I dare not jump with my pelvis still though I managed a lot and took part in all the 'acting' type exercises.

It was a lot more New Agey than I was expecting but that was good in some ways as it helped relax me into stuff which of course is the point of it. I have come away with some wonderful ideas for poems and stories and pictures to render. For me the best bit was an exercise were we all started off singing one thing and then other bits were added and we just sort of had to decide what we wanted to sing. I struggled with this right up until she told us to close our eyes, suddenly singing was easy, suddenly the sounds were there as ribbons around me and I could see where my ribbon, my voice needed to be woven into the pattern (metaphor obviously). It was the same a singing to the girls, there was nothing other than the sound and the hum and the harmonics of the voices mingling and mixing.

When we had finished this exercise I felt really serene and happy to take part in the rest of the activities. I had been very nervous about going to it to be honest. Later on there was another vocal exercise where we lay on the floor and then took it in turns to wander around the room singing. There was some real tribal, old, folky stuff coming out and then I got up and sang the first thing that came into my head and as I was confronted by a dark room with people laying down I just automatically started singing the Lullaby I made up for Jeany and that me and Al sing to the girls still.

I felt I learnt a lot and it was a fun afternoon, the activities when on a bit too long for my staying in one postition pain threshold but it was worth it 🙂

As I was singing the sun was setting and the sky was lavender and pink tinged, the light coming into the room had been amazing all day with trees autumn leaves fluttering down, first in sunlight, then in winter cloud glow and then through a condensation haze that settled on the windows like snow flurries. I eat cake and drank tea and at the end before the lights were switched on I took a photo of the candle that had been the only light as the sun set - I just thought it looked excellent and yes my head was very Bill and Ted when I emerged.

Being nervous and sky these sorts of workshops are invaluable to me. I am finding myself increasingly on stage and though two years ago if I went to read I was the best stage presence (not the same as the best poet!). I am now going to event where I am the worst performer (not the same as worst poet! Not that I really feel poetry can be gaged like that) and I have always wanted to sing on stage. I miss singing in Choirs and Musical Theatre Society etc...

I really enjoyed it plus I discovered there is a cute dinky little hall hidden away in Painswick.

Metal Kings, Golf and Jesse J – a dream by me :/ (by )

Dream last night: An eerie pub started up in Bristol and I went there for lunch with the baby - it was in a huge old castle type thing with a field but was like actually on an island in the river. It was lovely and we ordered food and chatted to a historian about it, the place had an affinity for words and there were word games on the walls. But these sunk backwards and a hidden passage way appeared only rarely - this happened and zombie goths and cyber and stream punk and skaters etc.. started to pour out.

They were preparing for a war with the Metal Gods who slept in the labrynth within. The Bristolians got involved too and began to storm the castle - I was sort of caught in the middle of this with the Metal King laughing and saying I would have to join in the battle - I realised I could not kill so asked if I could heal or attend the dying. He said no but then one of the female goth zombies smuggled me and the baby out but only after I sustained a hit from the now angry Metal King (from his rather large broad sword as all the fighting was with swords).

I was running along wounded and found Alaric in a traffic jam, but people started shooting at us as it turned out he had upset a local golf fanatic. We ended up on a foot path at the edge of a golf course with all this dense silver twiggy/heather like growth around it, the growth was as tall as any tree here in the UK. We ducked off the path and hid in a little hollow sitting on the heather stuff and I dug lead shot out of Al's shoulder before it could poison him. A passer by gave us some TCP.

And then we rejoined the path as we could hear helicopters and thought that hiding would show us up as suspicous on the heat detectors.

The strangest bit though was that the whole thing was occurring to a sound track of Jesse J mostly her Hot Under The Collar :/

With a few alterations I reckon I could get a novel out of this - the zombies and Deamon Metal Kings were all people I actually know as well. Dream analysts I would love to know what you make of this!

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