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Words With Edge Festival!

Litfest poster

 

It’s finally happening!

At: Red Door Studios, Masterman Road (rear of 120 high street south) East Ham, E63RW

Sat 24th: Opening, feat Newham Music Hub, Poetry Society’s Slambassadors (Rhythm of Men, Megan Beech, Naga MC) and Dizraeli. 7pm Free entry

Sat 25th/Sun 26th: 11am-5pm  Workshops, performances from Early Doors Collective, Myths of the Near Future, Four Thirty Three Magazine, Hollie Mcnish (performance and poetry workshop), Arachne Press, Stairwell Books, Atlantic Books, Kids storytelling with Clare Murphy, Writing for wellness with Me! Scriptwriting, both beginners and people who want feedback, with Louise Davidson.

Tues 28th- Literary Pub Quiz, £3 entry, 7pm start

Weds 29th – Cake Club. Theme: stories. Bake about stories! Free entry if you bring cake, £2 entry if you just want to eat!

Thurs 30th- Theatre ThursdayThe Woodhouse Players perform The Book Club of Little Whitterington and Joz Norris in his one-man comedy ‘Awkward Prophet’free entry!

Fri 31st- Open mic from local authors and artists, followed by End of Festival (and end of my residency!) party! All welcome! Free! 7pm

 

For more info:

facebook.com/wordswithedge

@wordswithedge

 

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How to Write More in 2014

 

So, who made a new years resolution to write more? Are you working on new projects, or you just want to get yourself back in the habit? I’ve jumped into 2014 with the realisation that I have about three months (thought I’m desperately begging my publisher otherwise!) to finish the next novel. Now, considering I had absolutely NOTHING, I almost freaked out. And then I got writing. So maybe a little pressure is a good thing!

Here’s a couple of ideas me and some friends are working on to increase our writing this year:

Writing in a different environment. I work from home, and as much as I love it, things can get a bit samey. Some writers will tell you routine is key, and I’m not going to argue with them. But a different environment to shake it up can really get your writing going! Natalie Goldberg, in Writing Down the Bones, suggests going to a cafe to write. Make sure there’s comfy seats, it’s not crazy busy, and you’re actually hungry! Plus, if you’re taking up a table for a while, make sure you tip well! I went to Drink Shop Do in Kings Cross, which is my favourite London cafe so far. I went in knowing I wanted to write, and came out knowing my characters and rough plot! Inject some life into your writing routine! Plus, treating yourself to a decent snack never hurt the senses, did it?

Writing Together. My friend (and writer and blogger and publisher extraordinaire) Sara Veal and I have decided to have writing dates. We take turns picking a venue, sit together, write for a while, break and have a chat, write for a while, and so on. Probably until I drink wine and end up too drunk to write! Hemmingway, I am not. 

Talk About It… This is what I absolutely love about having friends in the same field. I can chat to my friend Louise Davidson (scriptwriter and drama genius) about what I’m up to, and she’ll get it! I got a text the other day saying she fixed a plot twist and felt like a genius. And I got it! Those little fiddly bits of writing, where you can spend hours trying to sort something really simple, can drive you mad and it’s great to have some support!

But Also Be About It… This doesn’t mean everyone wants to hear the whole plot of your novel. In fact, I’d avoid doing that. Firstly, because if you’re taking up a whole conversation with a play by play, no-one’s going to appreciate your company, and no-one’s going to buy your book! Also, it tends to make it a bit dry when you come to write it. So, share your enthusiasm, your progress, you irritations, but this is your story. If you’re not going to write it, there’s no point talking about it. Get to it!

Stationary- I don’t know about you, but buying a new notebook for a project really gets me excited! It took me forty five minutes in Paperchase to choose the right one the other day. #writerproblems

Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself- Not to get all business-speak on you, but the problem with most excellent writers is that they don’t have a product. Talk the talk, blog, get excited, make contacts, look up publishers…but you need something to show them! Don’t make promises on what you think you can do- just do it! Lock yourself down and get going!

Read! I know a lot of writers who don’t read whilst they’re writing a book, incase it distracts them from their story. To each their own, but if you’re not reading fiction, then you should at least be looking at blogs, newspapers and just keeping engaged with the world. If we’re retreating into our own minds for sufficient periods of time, it’s good to get back into the world every now and then. Ideas come from within, but inspiration comes from the external world. The more you see, read and experience,the more you’re likely to get ideas!

Trust your process– You might not write every day. You might write when you feel like it. Some days may bring pages, others may have one great idea. If you know how and when you work best, trust that it works for you! We all work differently, and as they say, comparison is the thief of joy! Trust that you do this because you enjoy it, so make it enjoyable for you!

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I wish you all a creative and inspiring 2014! Please do follow my twitter @almichael and my facebook Author Page to keep up to date with the release of my ‘snarky chick lit’ novel The Last Word being published by Carina UK in the coming months! You’ll be hearing more about it soon! 

Plus, be aware of my East London Literary Festival Words With Edge

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Stories, Festivals and Studying

Hey there,

Long time no write!  A little update on a few of the bits and pieces that I’m up to at the moment:

The new novel- it’s coming along painstakingly slowly, mainly because whilst I adore jumping back and forth through time and perspective, I hate the necessity of dates and detail in those jumps. Not that this is a time travel book. I’m just interested in nostalgia. Anyway, the book now has a title: Little Birds. I quite like it. 

This is a link to a piece of work by David Apps called No Birds Do Sing that inspired me, and I would absolutely love to use as the cover.

Birds are a theme, obviously.

In other news:

I’ve started an MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes, which is at the Metanoia Institute in Ealing- It’s brilliant and you’ll be hearing a lot more from me on the therapeutic power of writing workshops as I go along in the course. Words have so much power, not only to create, but to heal. It’s honestly amazing.

Also:

I’m setting up a Lit Fest in January at Red Door Studios where I’m the writer in residence. It’s called Words With Edge and it’s about ways of telling stories, about not fearing the isolation and disconnectedness of not being a ‘reader’, when we all have a story of value to share and express. So far, we’ve got a bunch of brilliant people on the line up- including Hollie Mcnish, and Roundhouse graduates the Early Doors Collective. The festival will run from 24th – 30th January 2014  and includes performances, workshops, exhibition, interactive installations and stalls, talks, and lots more! 

If you want to get involved, you can email wordswithedgefest@gmail.com and we’ll start tweeting on @wordswithedge soon!

 

 

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Paying for Validation: Buying Success.

 

In my post on The Thriving Creative website, I wrote that publication cannot give you validation. That’s not entirely true. What I meant, is that there is a delicate balance between self-belief and the respect of others. To have a publisher wave their magical publishing wand over you is only to tell you two things: they like what you wrote or they think you can make money. Usually, both.

I know writers who spend all their time worrying about whether or not other people like their work. These are usually in the beginning of their career, before being shot down or attacked in writing workshops beats it out of you. Some go the other way, and become so defensive of their masterpiece that they don’t think they need feedback. They know their story, and your opinion (if negative) is void. If it’s positive it just reinforces that they know better.

This is not the writer’s fault- they have responded to the pressure of their work, and unless you can find a balance, it’s hard not to become a dickhead. The problem is that validation becomes both impossible and necessary. ‘I’ve got a book deal’ can be waved in the face of anyone who ever criticised. But a book deal hardly defines quality anymore. It just defines whether something might have a chance of selling.

So what happens to that validation when we can just buy it? If we can afford to self-publish, surely we need no-one’s validation but our own. And yet, that is why self-publishing is still looked down on. If you didn’t think your work was good, you wouldn’t put it out there. If it’s affordable to ‘make’ yourself an author, then why not? Do self-published authors feel they are missing a vital element, do they feel looked down upon in literary society? Or is it the only way for them to ensure a pure vision and retain control?

I am currently working in a studio/gallery where we are considering how we put on exhibitions. Until now, artists have come to us, requested an exhibition, rented the space and done it. But is that how real galleries are run? If you are an artist, hoping to be picked for an exhibition, hoping for that validation of a confirmation, how can you get that by forking over money and just doing it yourself?

I suppose what I’m asking is ‘How do we know we’re any good, if we can buy that belief?’ Does ‘good’ always rely on other people? Or is ‘good’ more about marketing, branding, audience, timing?

To sell your validation (as a printer or a gallery space) is a dangerous thing. People enjoy throwing your name around as if you christened them a genius, and yet, all you’ve done is let them pay to have their own one-horn parade, really. So are you helping or hurting?

I haven’t got any answers here, I’m just assuming that a shortlist exists for a reason, and that rejection makes character, and that something earned instead of bought, will reap more rewards. What do you think?