The writer is a lonely hunter

gailaldwin

Brisons Veor, a writing residency

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I am enjoying the last couple of days of a two-week writing residency at the wonderful Brisons Veor, in St Just in Cornwall. This is made possible by the trust which accepts applications from anyone working in the arts to enjoy a period of respite from the distractions of daily life to focus on creative projects. The house is part of the brick building beyond the white houses. Constructed as a boiler house for the Cape Cornwall Tin Mine, it was converted by an architect in 1978 and purchased by Tracy O’Kates, the benefactor of Brisons Veor. It is believed to be the westernmost dwelling on the English mainland. You can also see the 138 year-old chimney stack of the mine which forms the highest point of the Cape.

Brisons Veor is situated at a point where Atlantic currents divide, moving south to the English Channel and north to the Irish Sea. In 1987 the Cape was purchased for the nation by Heinz, and given into the care of the National Trust. This unique location provides a rich environment for ideas and creativity to flourish.

 

It has been a wonderful fortnight of solitude, isolation and the elements. The wind is fabulous: it turns the sea into a rucked white apron that spreads over the blue. When the sun is out, warmth floods through an open doorway into the first floor workshop. The sound of the Ocean sucking, clawing and whooshing is a constant accompaniment. Inside at night when the wind blasts the walls, Brisons Veor embraces the occupant, safe and warm.

What a privilege to spend time at Brisons Veor, such a remarkable location. During the fortnight I have written poetry and started my next novel, this time using a six-year-old boy as the narrator of ‘That’s What I Know’.

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Authors for Grenfell Tower

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Following the Grenfell Tower disaster, many authors came together to offer their time and expertise to raise money for those suffering from the fire. I was one of the lucky people to secured a lot through Authors for Grenfell Tower. This was back in the June and Amal Al-Agroobi (filmmaker, director, producer and writer) was very patient in delaying our meeting until the autumn. She also kindly agreed to not only meet me, but my fellow screenwriting collaborators Sarah Scally, Perwina Whitmore, Jane Rayner and Maria Pruden.

We took an early train to London on Saturday to meet Amal in the cafe at the PictureHouse Central where she shared feedback from our 90-minute screenplay titled The F Word. Although there is still much work to do on the screenplay, the meeting was a wonderful way to learn more about the filmmaking process and has inspired us to refocus on our project.

To make the most of our day out in London, we went to a matinée of Heinsenberg: The Uncertainty Principle, a new play by Simon Stephens.  The two-hander was at Wyndham’s Theatre with Anne-Marie Duff and Kenneth Cranham.  I loved the minimalist set and performance.

We ate lunch in China Town, had afternoon tea on the South Bank and then enjoyed a bottle of Prosecco on the train journey home. Quite a day!

 

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Writers’ Open House

Do come along to this event if you’re a published writer or just beginning your writing journey.

Flyer for 7 October

About the Dorset Writers Network

Run by a voluntary steering group, the Dorset Writers Network offers support to writers across the county including isolated writers in rural areas. Their last funded project resulted in the publication of an anthology by Dorset writers titled This Little World.

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In Vienna

We spent five days in Vienna in early September. It is a great city to walk around and when we got tired it was easy to catch a tram or tube back to our hotel. (I can recommend the Kugel Hotel in a good location with outstandingly helpful staff and an excellent breakfast). We were based in the museum quarter and went to loads of galleries with exhibitions of Klimt and Schiele (the Upper Belvedere was particularly stunning with displays that showed connections between the two artists). Hotel staff recommended a visit to the opera and after an hour long wait (those wearing shorts were turned away) we got standing tickets to Il Trovatore for three euros each.

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with my very tall family members

The food was another highlight:

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melon cocktail with a rasher of streaky bacon as a garnish

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cake and tea for me

 

 

 

 

 

But the highlight was eating beside the Danube canal at Meierei at Stadtpark  (hotel staff made the reservation) where we enjoyed a delicious meal and I ordered venison goulash.

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venison goulash with curd cheese toast, broccoli and black walnut

 

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Fashion as an inspiration for writing

The Wimborne Writing Group went on a summer outing this week to the Blandford Fashion Museum. Tucked away behind the market square in a delightful Georgian house, the fashion collection of the founder, Mrs Betty Penny, forms the basis of the displays. I loved looking at garments from the 1960s and 1970s and remembered owning dresses with Laura Ashley flower prints. My favourite exhibit was a mini dress and hot pants set made from lime green cotton with white trim. It was sleeveless with off centre decorative lacing on the skirt in matching white cotton.

Sarah Barr  who leads the  Wimborne Writing Group, provided some prompts for writing as we browsed the displays. She suggested we find an outfit we liked and to imagine:

  • who the owner would have been
  • what they were like
  • their name, age and occupation

Why don’t you have a go at writing a short piece of prose by using Sarah’s prompts and applying them to this lovely exhibit?

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1960s Mini Dress and Hot Pants Set

Get in touch if you’re willing to share your story.

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A guest on 90.1 Hope FM

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Kimari Raven on Livewire LIVE

I was fortunate to be invited onto Hope Radio’s Livewire programme to talk about my participation in the Reading on Screen workshops which resulted in the production of my digital story titled Journey. Kimari Raven hosts the weekly show  which showcases creative talent in the Bournemouth area. The live show is aired each week on Wednesdays from 7-9pm. It was a great experienced to be interviewed by Kimari who creates a relaxed environment in which to talk. I was pleased to be on the show with another guest, the hugely talented singer and songwriter Tim Somerfield. It was great to learn about Kimari and Tim’s experiences of writing lyrics and to begin to see similarities in the process with writing prose and poetry.  I felt very privileged to be sitting beside Tim as he performed his songs live on radio.

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Tim Somerfield

This was my second interview on radio following an earlier recording on UK Talk Radio with Jonathan Hines. You can read about that experience here. It is fascinating to be in a recording studio and a pleasure to share my love of writing.

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Poetry and Prose Performance Workshop

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Rob Casey

On Saturday 10 June, I joined sixteen other writers attending Rob Casey’s workshop at The White Room, in the Chapel in the Garden, Bridport. The building is set back from East Street and provides a delightful oasis on a busy market morning. We had such fun trying out ways of how-not-to perform and of course, there were plenty of tips and advice to get the delivery right. Rob had us working in small groups to share ideas and generate writing for development. It was great to hear other people’s work and learn from an experienced performance poet.

Rob is one of the founders of the Apothecary Open Mic, poetry and spoken word event that is held regularly at the Beach and Barnicott in Bridport. For more information see the Apothecary Facebook page.

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Interview on UK Talk Radio

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I was invited by Jonathan Hines to join him for an interview on UK Talk Radio to share  my experiences as a writer. The office and recording studio are located in Poole and following a drive through the rain, I arrived. Jonathan is very personable and soon put me at ease. I chatted with him before the recording began and then he started on the questions. It was a lot of fun – and a great opportunity to talk about my writing.

The interview is scheduled to be aired again on Sunday 11 June 2017. If you’d like to listen, click here and tune in around noon.

Jonathan is looking to work with more authors so if you would like to take part in this series of interviews, please email jonathan.hines@uktalkradio.org to express your interest.

 

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Retreats for You with Debbie Flint

I met Debbie Flint in 2011 when we both attended a retreat at Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre.  (I returned there last year – you can read about my second visit here.) Debbie works as a presenter on QVC shopping channel, has a number of books published, and she’s recently taken over a writing retreat in Devon. It was great to touch base with Debbie again and draw upon her experience as a TV presenter to produce a couple of YouTube clips where I talk about my writing journey. Debbie’s help was invaluable in introducing me to interview techniques, accessing handy tips and supporting me through the process. I’d never done anything like this before so her coaching allowed me to feel confident throughout filming and I’m delighted with the results. You can watch the interviews here.

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Debbie has made Retreats for You into a homely and relaxing place to write and reflect. My window overlooks the square with views onto the fields beyond. There’s no excuse for not getting on with your work as a delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner is provided. It’s  also good to be in the company of other writers and tap into the positive energy this creates. A few days away makes all the difference to my word count, I find!

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Writers in the Alley, open mic

There is a friendly and talented group of writers who meet in Dorchester on the first Wednesday of each month. They are known as Writers in the Alley due to the venue, a room sometimes used for playing skittles at Goldie’s Bar, 36 High East Street. Regular meetings are held at 7pm for a 7:30 start. Members support each other by showing a positive interest in the writing shared. On Wednesday 5 April, the group is hosting a second open mic session, so if you’re in Dorchester this is well worth attending. Go along to hear some wonderful poetry and prose presented in a variety of forms or bring your own writing to read or perform. I attended an open mic held in the autumn and it was great to find a receptive audience for my poetry. You can find Writers in the Alley on Facebook or contact the organiser on suzie.suze1@gmail.com.

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I’m really disappointed  I won’t be able to attend this open mic as I’m away from home at the beginning of April. Luckily Writers in the Alley are planning to make the open mic session a regular event so I hope to be there next time.

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