The writer is a lonely hunter

gailaldwin

Happenings in Dorchester

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I was invited to the launch of the Dorchester Literary Festival last week to represent the Dorset Writers’ Network. Held at Duke’s Fine Art Salesrooms there was a mingling of sponsors and supporters plus writers including Kate Adie. It was a splendid event and included the launch of a new competition. The DFL Local Writing Prize invites self-published authors in the South West (and those who have been published by an independent publisher in the South West) to submit copies of their full-length fiction or non-fiction books for this prize. This is a wonderful opportunity for a local writer to gain national recognition and a chance to win £1000. Find more details here.

While I was happy chatting with fellow DFL volunteers, my friend decided we should make an effort to talk to others. We introduced ourselves group who turned out to work for WessexFM and Breakfast in Dorchester. This was the most successful piece of networking I’ve ever done! The next day I was contacted by Breakfast in Dorchester and invited to talk about National Poetry Day. You can hear the recording of me (I speak at 1:57:39, Sarah Barr at 42:41 and Myriam San Marco, Bournemouth Poet Laureate at 1:19:30) by clicking here. (The recording is available until 27 October 2017.)

As part of the interview, I was able to promote the Dorset Writers’ Network Open House at Dorchester Library on 7 October from 10am-1pm. This is a free event for anyone who is interested in writing. Whether you’re new to writing or want to make a start, we can offer advice and encouragement. If you’re a published writer wishing to meet others, the Dorset Writers’ Network is here to support you. I hope to see some of you on Saturday!

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Edinburgh International Book Festival 2017, best bits

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Photograph by Jim Barton

I was fortunate to attend many different events at the book festival this year but these are my highlights:

Ian Stephen and Philip Hoare shared their passion for sailing and the sea. Ian read from his brilliant new book Waypoints (I bought a copy and am looking forward to diving in) and Philip talked about his wonderful obsession with whales.

A ten minute reading at 10am by Yrsa Sigurdardottir had me enthralled by her new novel The Legacy.

The Bosco Theatre on George Street was venue for a remarkable poetry performance by Scottish poets Jenny Lindsay and Michael Pedersen who were joined by poets from Australia Luka Lesson and Omar Musa.

I also attended a workshop offered by Elizabeth Reeder which discussed the novel Skating to Antarctica by Jenny Diski. Another one for my reading list.

 

 

 

 

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White Stuff, Edinburgh

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Besides the fringe shows and book festival events I found a wonderful distraction in White Stuff on George Street, Edinburgh. When I went to try on a jumper I found an amazing passage of wardrobes with each door leading into a changing room uniquely decorated.

There was the Havisham room with a discarded wedding dress hanging from a peg.

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Behind another wardrobe door was a potting shed complete with equipment.

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This is my favourite, a 1950s kitchen.

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The changing room entered through the yellow wardrobe door was the last one I visited.

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I had to laugh when I saw what was inside.

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Following me into the changing room, the assistant warned me that the toilet was not plumbed in. I wonder if they’ve had accidents in the past!

In case you’re wondering, I did buy the jumper.

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Flat out July

 

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After four years of hard work I submitted my novel and thesis to the University of South Wales on Friday 28 July. This is in partial fulfilment of a PhD in creative writing.  The next hurdle is the viva but in the meantime I’m savouring the feeling of being unencumbered with studies. But the writing does not stop here. I’m going through my novel with edits to try to secure a publisher for The String Games and a collection of flash fiction is currently with the editor of Bridge House Publishing and will be released later this year.

Looks like it will be flat out August as well!

 

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# Finally getting to grips with hashtags

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I have revived my interest in Twitter (you can find me @gailaldwin) and I’m now seeing the benefits of using hashtags. This is a way to find likeminded people on social media and the current hashtags I’m using frequently are:

#dorsethour – a chance to touch base with others who are passionate about Dorset. Online every Monday from 7:30pm – 8:30pm

#Devonbookhour – chat about books online each Monday from 8pm-9pm

#Tuesnews – lots of members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association use this hashtag to share information on Tuesdays

#women_writers – highlight the achievements of women writers by using this hashtag

#digitalinclusion – came across this hashtag as part of the digital story project where I made the two-minute film  Journey

#womenintranslation –  find out about notable female authors whose work has been translated. Also see #WITmonth held in August which celebrates women in translation

For further information on how to make the most of hashtags see Neetsmarketing.

 

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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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Flash Fiction Festival, Bath

I enjoyed an absolutely excellent time at the first Flash Fiction Festival held in Bath over the weekend 24-25 June. The programme included two workshops each day and I was lucky enough to attend sessions offered by Kit De Waal, David Gaffney and Tania Hershman. Another session was led by Jude Higgins and Meg Pokrass with two winners from the Bath Novella-in-Flash competition. This proved to be a very interesting session which has started me thinking about a new project. For a Novella-in-Flash, each chapter is contained in a piece of flash fiction. This must be shaped in such a way that it can be read as a stand alone piece while at the same time supporting the story arc of the novella. Sounds complicated? It is! Thank you to Charmaine Wilkerson and Ingrid Jendrzejewski for their helpful tips and advice on how this can be achieved.

Saturday evening provided the opportunity to launch the National Flash Fiction Day 2017 anthology titled Sleep is a Beautiful Colour which is packed with amazing flash fiction stories. I’m looking forward to delving further into my copy having heard some wonderful flashes as part of the launch. I particularly like Stephanie Hutton‘s Geology of a Girl, a superb micro-ficton.

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