Poetry – Writing is a leap of faith

Writing is a leap of faith

How awful the gap between the ‘authentic me’, the person you see when you look in my eyes, and the ‘me’ defined, confined by my peers, my achievements measured against my years.

How awful that gap, like the door left ajar to creak, inviting in a chilling breeze that dries eyes, cracks lips, so that tears of indignity are pointless and the humiliation of explanation hurts to speak.

How awful that gap, like a crevasse, deep and shocking, dizzying if I cared to stare down over its icy lip, to gauge the drop, to see how terrible the injury would be if I were to slip.

How awful the gap, and how hopeless my attempts have been to close it.

But that was then. I see now that you don’t need to heave that boulder that will leave you weak to fill that void, or to climb that rope that burns and cuts or traverse on a ladder that asks you to balance too much.

No. Find the paper, grasp the pen – an act of faith, and leap.

 

Note

My poem ‘Writing is a leap of faith’ has been inspired by the extract from ‘Autobiographical Fragment’ by Charles Dickens. In the extract Dickens expresses ‘the secret agony of his soul’ when the reality of his situation of working in a rat infested warehouse is set in stark contrast to ‘his hopes of growing to be a learned and distinguished man’.

This sentiment struck a chord with me, as I have felt ‘the agony of my soul’ in relation to what I define in my poem as ‘the gap’ between ‘my authentic self’ and ‘the self’ measured and defined on society’s terms, and how exposed I have felt by this. The act of writing, becoming a writer, described as ‘the leap of faith’ in this poem has offered me identity on my terms. I no longer seek to close ‘the gap’ but rather have found my own way to traverse it. I can imagine myself in nightmarish dreams, like Dickens, looking back and shuddering at the awful thought I might not have found writing.

I have utilised the prose poem form to speak to the flow of Dickens’ narrative.

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‘Writing is a leap of faith’ has been published by Leicester University’s Centre for New Writing in a pamphlet and online.

ISBN 978-1-9997526-2-0

 

© 2016 All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.

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DIVA Literary Festival

DIVA Literary FestivalI’m thrilled to be taking part in the inaugural DIVA Literary Festival and Awards which are taking place at the Hilton Metropole, NEC Birmingham on 3rd/4th/5th November 2017.

The weekend will begin on the Friday evening with the DIVA Literary Awards and continue with two days full of book readings, writing workshops, panel discussions, poetry readings and much more.

Come and perhaps discover your new favourite writers!

Radio DIVA Interview

To tempt your appetite for the weekend listen here to me chatting with Rosie Wilby and Heather Peace on Radio DIVA.

I chat about my debut novel Highland Fling, my publisher Bold Strokes Books and my excitement about the upcoming DIVA Literary Festival. (from 42mins)

I look forward to seeing you there …

 

Saturday Nov 4th 10:30 – 11:15 
LEADING LADIES
Iconic literary characters live on in readers’ memories for all time. Bold Strokes Books authors explore the challenges involved in creating memorable characters and discuss strategies for making characters unique, non-traditional, and unforgettable.

Sunday Nov 5th 12:45 – 13:30
GENRE BENDING
From Fantasy to Adventure to Romance, Bold Strokes Books authors discuss what drew them to write in their particular genre(s). What are the similarities between genres? Where is there overlap? Do genre conventions matter?

 

Review of Girls next door by Sandy Lowe and Stacia Seaman (eds.)

Thanks, thrilled you enjoyed Hooper Street!

LezReviewBooks

Short stories are a great way to try new authors or enjoy a short read of your favourite ones. The idea of “the girl next door” as a unifying theme is original for a lesfic compilation and allows a wide range of creative possibilities. Most of these stories can be read in 15-20 minutes so it’s never too long if you don’t enjoy them fully but if you like them, the good feeling stays for much longer. I’ve enjoyed more than half of these stories which was good considering there were nineteen of them. I’m sure everyone will have their own favourite, mine was Hooper Street by Anna Larner. Definitely worth a read.
Overall, 4 stars.
ARC provided by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Finding The Way Out

way outFinding the way out can be hard, can’t it?

Be it finding your way out of a confusing car park or poorly signposted building. Or indeed finding your way out of an embarrassing situation or, perhaps heartbreakingly out of a love lost or broken.

Finding the way out of feelings that hurt us is at the heart of life. But then mercifully there are those words that form stories, images, and ideas to be found spilling out of books, to console us and to show us a way through.

We find such solace in the shared experience depicted by the writer, who in turn is writing to find their own way out for those feelings and characters that crowd their head and heart.

It is therefore no wonder that those spaces that bring the reader and writer together are so incredibly precious. I couldn’t have felt this more when in the last few weeks I have been so fortunate to read at both Gay’s The Word and at LFest.

For me Gay’s The Word is not just a bookshop, and LFest is not just a festival, they are without question the champions of our words, our stories, and the providers of sanctuary for our hearts.

For nestled amongst the many shelves of books at Gay’s The Word and canopied underneath the dome of the big top at LFest, the audience looked back at me, waiting for the writers with their lips pressed to the microphone to speak the words with the potential to connect, inspire, and delight.

In those moments, paved by books, perhaps we found a way out together towards our queer future, illuminated in hope and wonder by the stories we love and share.

 

© 2016 All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.

Finding The Way In

way in sign

Finding the way in is at the heart of everything isn’t it?

Be it finding the way in to a confusing car park or a poorly signposted building. Or indeed finding your way in to establishing the common ground of a friendship or perhaps most importantly to the heart of the one you love.

Finding the way in is not only at the heart of life, it is at the heart of writing. It is that moment when a writer’s creativity sparks, igniting an imagined scene or character or dialogue. It is where the story begins.

I remember reading an interview with author Nancy Garden explaining how she found her way in to writing Annie on My Mind with a single line of dialogue.

“One rainy day…the words ‘It’s raining, Annie’ popped into my head. I know it sounds weird, but something told me that at last this might be the beginning of the book, although I didn’t know who was saying ‘It’s raining’ or who Annie was. But nonetheless that was how Annie on My Mind was born.” 1

Nancy’s explanation resonated with me as my debut novel Highland Fling began as much with a line of dialogue as with the setting of the Scottish Highlands. I could hear my main character Eve saying tenderly to her lover Moira, “You can touch me if you want”.  These few words began a paragraph of writing, which then became a page, which eventually developed into a novel.

In a similar way my short story “Hooper Street in the anthology Girls Next Door: Lesbian Romance became the destined home for a phrase that had loitered in my head, potent yet aimless: “It was a Tuesday when…” The line now continues “I first met Abbie.”  “Hooper Street had already been loosely drafted before those homeless words gave the story the purpose and orientation it needed. It peculiarly felt like those five words were fated to belong in the story, but that at some point they had been separated from it, like a dream half forgotten and then suddenly fully remembered.

For sometimes ideas, words, and images conjured by the imagination are so fleeting, that the writer is left chasing the memory of something, constantly editing and refining, working to get as close as possible to the perfect creative form just out of reach.

Despite the writer’s efforts to capture their imagination onto a page and to craft the perfect story, the ultimate meaning of a work lies with the reader. After all, the words and images that connected the story to the writer will not be the same words and images that connect the story to the reader.

All a writer can do is guide the reader in the direction we hope they will travel. But in the end, as it should be, the joy is the discoveries you make for yourself, the satisfaction of finding your own way in.

You will find me, should you wish, reading from Highland Fling and “Hooper Street and chatting more about writing at Gay’s The Word Bookshop, London, on 13th July, and at L Fest, Loughborough on 22nd July.

I look forward to seeing you then.

  1. p254, A Conversation with Nancy Garden, interview with Kathleen Horning, Annie on My Mind, 2007 Edition, FSG

 

© 2016 All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.

Girls Next Door Edited by Sandy Lowe & Stacia Seaman

Les Rêveur

Girl Next Door – Anthology

What a great collection of stories. Here’s 8 of my favourites with a short review. Enjoy…

Synopsis

Sometimes the most intriguing girls are right next door—BFFs, ex-girlfriends, new girls in town, party girls, study mates, teammates, and sexy strangers. All it takes is a night out, the right moment, or an accidental kiss to discover what’s been there all along—the perfect girl for a love that lasts a lifetime. Best-selling romance authors tell it from the heart—sexy, romantic stories of falling for the girls next door.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Cupcake by Georgia Beers
  • Guilty Pleasure by M. Ullrich
  • Hooper Street by Anna Larner
  • Snow Day by Missouri Vaun
  • Knocking on Haven’s Door by Brey Willows
  • Gold by Giselle Renarde
  • Love Unleashed by Karis Walsh
  • Bat Girl by Laney Webber
  • The Aisle of Lesbos by Allison Wonderland
  • Kiss Cam by Lisa Moreau
  • The Girl Next Door…

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Thoughts From The Bold Strokes Books Festival June 2017

Talk To Me - Writing Good Dialogue
Writing Good Dialogue Panel

 

“Writing good dialogue”

Here are some of the ways I think good dialogue contributes to a story:-

 

 

  • It can entertain – enlivening the prose and engaging the reader.
  • It can move an aspect of the plot or narrative forward in a way which, because it is absorbed within the ‘chat’, feels light and digestible – meeting the wise adage of show not tell.
  • It can impart information about a character, allowing the reader to: ‘hear’ the character’s unique voice; ‘see’ their mannerisms; and ‘understand’ their emotions/reactions.
  • It can reveal how a character can change depending on who they’re talking to, illuminating the distinct relationship between characters. For example, a character chatting with their best mate might have ‘banter’, but the same character with their lover may have much more intense dialogue.
  • It can heighten the potency and the impact of a character’s internal thoughts, at times playing with the unspoken monologues. For example, when a character thinks one thing but says the opposite.
  • Particularly if the piece is written in third person, where you have a silent narrator if you like, it can cleverly allow the writer to say things the narrator can’t. Dialogue lends a character a dangerous independence.

So here’s a checklist of some of the things I think about when I’m writing dialogue:-

  1. Does the style of the dialogue I’m writing match the personality of my character? Is the ‘voice’ authentic to them?
  2. Does the tone and content of the dialogue fit the moment in the narrative? Are the characters saying the right thing, in the right manner, at the right time?
  3. Is the content of the dialogue engaging and informative, and will it help my reader better understand either the character and/or the plot?
  4. Is the dialogue easy to read – does it flow?
  5. Will the reader know at all times who is speaking and what is going on?
  6. Have I been careful not to overuse dialogue tags – those speech tags attributing dialogue, actions, and emotions to a particular character?
  7. Have I remembered that the pauses or pregnant silences can be as important as what is actually being said – the natural rhythm of speech if you like.

Top tip:-

Try sitting in public spaces and listen to people chatting. Hear how they interrupt each other, how they might begin on one subject and end on another, how passionate or flat their tone is.

Can you (without looking of course) imagine what they look like, what their life might be like?  What is distinctive about them – is it their accent, the pace of their speech, is their language – informal or formal?

And finally – listen to your characters chatting in your head (and they do!), let your writing be their voice.

 


 

“Thoughts about ‘Conflict’ in fiction writing”

 

Moderating the Conflict Panel
Danger, Conflict, Uh-Oh Panel

In works of narrative, ‘Conflict’ is the opposition main characters must face to achieve their goals.1

A writer might employ two forms of conflict to create the tension which drives the narrative. Conflict may be ‘internal’ or ‘external’ – it may occur within a character’s mind, most commonly revealed in their internal debates or monologues or between a character and exterior forces, for example in conflict with another person or the world around them.

Writers will often employ both forms at once, as a combined tool, for the development of plot and character.

To avoid the conflict feeling forced or unbelievable a writer will embed the conflict at the heart of the novel, so that it is an integral element and arises organically and effortlessly.

Conflict creates drama and interest in a novel by setting seeds of doubt, it keeps the reader guessing, it invests the reader in the outcome, and keeps them turning the pages again and again…

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_(narrative)

 

© 2016 All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.