Faber Academy Quickfic winner 11/10/2019

After a quiet few months in the writing department, I am delighted to share a few recent successes. On Friday 11th October, I entered the Faber Academy’s relaunched Faber Quickfic competition. In short, participants have from 9:50am BST/GMT until 2:30pm to write 250 words inspired by a picture prompt posted on Faber Academy’s social media.

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Everything is Practice

I am really enjoying blogging again, knee deep though I am in work that I cannot yet share. I recently had the pleasure of a Burst into Bloom coaching session with Mary Lunnen, whose work has inspired me since I first attended a workshop with her a couple of years ago at a local Mind, Body and Spirit event. Continue reading

Coming into Community: She Howls Open Mic

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of being an audience member for the second She Howls online open mic night for female authors.

Even if only as an audience member, being part of groups such as these is an integral part of me returning to my craft.

Bearing witness to the strength and power in these women’s words underlined the importance of being able to speak things into submission. Guest poet Jhilmil Breckenridge said it best when she asserted ‘Writing can set you free.’

I’ve seen it in my practice, and more recently railed against it – as beautiful as the process can be, there is no denying the ache that comes with it.

To be fully human is to be vulnerable…and to use vulnerability well is a gift, which every one of those who read on Thursday night had in spades.

I am already eagerly anticipating the next event in September, within which I hope to be able to share in the magic of others’ words, and perhaps add some of my own.

For further information, please visit Dal Kular’s website.

Longing and Belonging workshop with Penny Shutt

This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop facilitated by Dr. Penny Shutt at Pinetum Gardens, Cornwall.

In May, I became a member of Lapidus International, an organisation for people with an interest in writing for wellbeing. This was the first of their events that I was able to attend..and what a wonderful way to begin. Continue reading

Swimming in Circles

In the midst of a challenging few months, I haven’t exactly known what to write here. So, I haven’t written, except for myself. Pieces that may see the light of day at some point, or pieces that may not. I’m trying hard to be OK with that.

In my spare time, I have returned to Matt Haig’s Reasons To Stay Alive once again. When my brain won’t just ‘Sit’ and ‘Stay’, I find audio-books very useful indeed. I’m not exactly sure why I’m writing here today, beyond wanting to convey that I haven’t quite fallen off the face of the earth.

The title of this post arises from my short-lived stint of swimming lessons. I can swim, but I’m not the strongest of swimmers. As you might imagine, swimming in circles is the result of one leg putting in substantially more effort than the other.

I have another piece in the pipeline for PETRIe, and a piece under consideration by Parabola magazine. Things are happening, but not necessarily at the pace which I would like them to. In the meantime, I’d ask you to be patient with me, whilst I work out how to move forward over the next few weeks and months. Thank you for reading this far.

Embracing My Experience with PETRIe

It’s not my style to talk about it, but I live with cerebral palsy. I’ve spent my life running from it, metaphorically speaking. Chances are, if you saw me on the street, you wouldn’t know.

I’ve written about it sparingly, first off for the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities’ Pen2Paper contest in 2013. The poem I submitted, ‘Dis-ability’, ended up on the shortlist.

I was thrilled, but after a while, I returned to my usual place of not really wanting to write about something I know so intimately. I live a life of looking twice, making sure that there isn’t something which could trip me up lurking unseen on the pavement.

I’ve received continued support for my work from the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, much to my amazement and delight, including Director of Communications, Laura Perna, reading one of the poems from Stones in the Road: Poems of Grief and Growth at their open mic event in Texas. (Watch that here)

Even so, I still wasn’t comfortable exploring my experiences any further. Then, I came across PETRIe. I was excited to contribute, thinking I might send a couple of poems which were casualties of the small press struggle. I was hardly surprised when their Creative Director informed me that he wasn’t entirely sure where the market was for such work, so the ethos of PETRIe is more geared towards collaboration between writers and other artists.

I was excited about that, and even more so when he added that they were interested in writing on the fringes of society, the kinds of things that people don’t usually discuss. I then elaborated on my experience of writing about loss, and he seemed interested, although it took a while to get my point across.

When I went on to mention the fact that I live with cerebral palsy, he warmed to the idea immediately, and thus I am working on an article on disability and transparency for the April issue of PETRIe‘s online magazine.

Getting Back On The Horse

Wow, it’s been a while since I last blogged.

I’ve no good reason, of course. I had to take some time to focus on completing my MA project, and then life intervened. I wanted to blog, but I wasn’t really writing.

Now, though, I am. Just poetry for the moment, waiting for the prose to kick back into gear. I’ve submitted a piece to Bethlehem Writers’ Roundtable, the online magazine of the Bethlehem Writers’ Group.

There are three other pieces I’ve written recently, two of which don’t yet have titles. For that reason, as well as a couple of others, I’m sitting tight.

In an ideal world, I would like to be able to move away from the subject that has characterised much of my writing, but it doesn’t seem as though that is going to happen any time soon.

‘Til next time…I will try to  blog more often from here on out.

For The Love of Short Form Writing

As writers, we face two main challenges within our craft. Firstly, finding inspiration: where does the next great story idea come from? If you are anything like me, I spend an awful lot of time wondering when the well will dry up, versus actively feeding it. I’ve become better at increasing the supply of creative ideas, so that fear isn’t quite as strong.

A third challenge is the belief that writing should be a joyous activity. The delight of being a writer is that we get to play again as adults. Sometimes, of course, it is difficult to find the time to do so. There are endless tensions between the things that we ought to be producing, and those things we want to produce.

Working on projects for other people has been a challenge that I have had to overcome. I am not referring to my MA project in this, which has been and still is a delight. I just wish I had more time to dedicate to it whilst persevering with another project. It was during this time that I remembered tanka, the other form of Japanese poetry. Rather than haiku, which demands three lines of 5 syllables, 7 syllables and 5 syllables respectively, the tanka adds an extra two lines of seven syllables. Much as I love haiku, the tanka is another beautiful way of creating a vignette. Within five lines, you can create a complete sketch.

Amidst the remains
I realized who I was
Simply not myself
Adrift, at sea, suffering
Lost in my own deep sorrow

by Casey Bottono
(Originally published in Lyrical Passion Poetry ezine)

For the time-crunched writer, short-form writing represents a kind of play that has been forgotten, or buried under the responsibilities of adulthood. Whether you’re writing stories or poems, such writing is a good way to keep the machine oiled so that when you finally return to the projects that ignite that spark, the magic can flow.
Writing is, after all, a form of magic. There is something about the written word which isn’t specific, but it is nonetheless a lure towards balance. The inability to find time or inspiration to write creates an imbalance within us which culminates in an intense fear of the blank page. Though we know it, though we know it intimately, and we know that we will fill it, the terror remains. Short-form writing is a way to disrupt that terror before it begins.
Short-form writing is both a beginning and a continuation. If you’ve never picked up a pen or tapped at a keyboard before for creative purposes, short form writing provides a useful jumping off point. For the experienced author, it is a kind of writerly First Aid kit, something to which we can return when necessary to replenish the well.
If you are struggling with a project or with motivation or some other aspect of the craft, I urge you to indulge in some form of short form writing. It greases the wheels, and might just get you going again.