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Writing for Wellbeing Workshop- this April!

 This workshop will use fun techniques to improve confidence, self esteem, and help us access our memories and stories! You don’t have to be a writer, you just have to be open to it!

 

When: Saturday 26th April – 10am-4pm

Where: The Amber Lounge, Underhill Stadium, Barnet, EN5 2DN

Cost: £65 – includes all handouts and writing tools, plus tea/coffee, snacks and a delicious lunch!

Where can I book? 

Right here!

As we like to keep this very intimate, we have very limited places, so please book early. If we don’t have space this time, please email and we’ll book you on the next!

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Finchley Literary Festival and Competition!

Hello there!

I’m super excited to be involved with the Finchley Literary Festival, happening this May, in a variety of excellent venues around (you guessed it!) Finchley, North London. I’ll be running my typical DumbSaint Creative Writing Workshop for kids in Friern Barnet Community Library on Wednesday 28th May, for two sessions (10.30am-11.15am and 11.30am-12.15pm). No booking needed and it’s FREE!

Come play with the Story Dice, be a Prop Detective, create a superhero, race in the Sixty Second Scribble and loads more great games!

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL ARTY FOLKS!

COMPETITION TIME!

Greenacre Writers, who are presenting the festival, are looking for one creative young person to design a logo for the festival! 

All you have to do is look at the flyers below to get an idea of last years style, then submit your logo idea to andrealmichael@aol.com

The winner will get a copy of this years anthology, a free ticket to the festival, their name plastered all about, and cake and thanks from the Greenacre Writers 😀

 

DETAILS/RULES:

  • You have to be from the borough of Barnet (preferably Finchley!) BUT if you can offer us some sort of tenuous link to Finchley (your favourite pub, for example?!) we might look the other way …. 
  • Adults and children are encouraged to join in, whether you’re a designer, a student or just like to draw!
  • We will be keeping the font used in the below documents, so try and find something that would go well with it!
  • All applications have to include a name, age, a couple of sentences about yourself, and the image in the highest resolution you can offer. 
  • All applications must be received by Sunday 23rd March 

Other than that, happy designing!

Sample images: 

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Writing For Wellbeing: Fragments of ‘Us’

Writing For Wellbeing: Fragments of ‘Us’

 

 

As many of you know, I’m currently setting up workshops in Writing for Wellbeing, as I continue training in my MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. 

The Arts have always been accepted as having healing properties, it’s why art therapists and music therapists are so widely accepted in hospitals, hospices, rehab facilities, and why the arts are at the forefront of the health and wellbeing industry. But where have the writers been in this? 

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Writers are very often complicated people with complex lives and emotions, and putting things down on the page, whether as autobiography or as fiction, is a release from that. How about journals? As children and teenagers, diaries were encouraged as a way to share the thoughts that we weren’t comfortable or capable of expressing to the adults in our lives. Why is that any different now? Sometimes, we just need a space to address and accept the parts of our lives we’re not sure about, without judgement or comment. Writing is the simplest way to open a direct line with your subconscious, open up your feelings, and validate how you feel.

 

We all have stories of value, we all have moments that make us who we are. My style of workshops (and my style of writing) is influenced by ideas of fragmentation. We all exist in a series of moments, a childhood memory, a dream, a description of your mother’s kitchen, – our lives and our selves are made up of snapshots. They’re not necessarily in order, and you might not be the same person you were in those moments- but they’re still a part of you. 

Connecting to your stories through a fragmented writing process can bring a sense of calm, confidence, and a greater sense of self. It also allows us to be more empathetic with our ‘selves’. To look back and say ‘yes, I see why he/she made that decision, fair enough.’ To get some distance, some perspective, and look inwards with kindness.

Our lives are brilliant interweaving tapestries, complex and sustained narratives that are still growing and changing every day. Writing for Wellbeing, and working with fragments, can work a lot like therapy, helping us to break down the chunks, but to also take a step back and look at the bigger picture of who we are. 

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Sounds like a lot? It’s also fun! It’s brilliant to unearth those beautiful memories you thought you’d lost, to make up stories that make you laugh, to adequately and comfortably handle those stories that you never think about. 

If you’re interested in what Writing for Wellbeing can do for you, leave me a message here, and stay tuned for the workshop in April 2014, based in Barnet.

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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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Why I Love my Kindle…And Why I Hate Myself For It.

 

I was a steadfast, never-changing, can’t-see-the-point, technology-goes-too-far defender of printed books. The ‘Original Book’ if you will. I spent a year on my MA in Creative Entrepreneurship listening to people defending the uses of e-readers, imploring me to consider changing markets and adapting writing to new ways of reading. I refused. The printed book will never be replaced, and I just wasn’t interested. However, when I needed to start editing other people’s books and stories, and my back was starting to break from dragging my laptop everywhere (which I still do, I’ve just added a kindle to the Big Bag of Doom), I decided to give them a chance.

Reasons I love it:

1. Instantaneous gratification

Ooh, I really want that book. Ooh, it’s coming out today! I can’t get to the shop today. My local bookshop doesn’t stock it. Oh, I don’t want to order it and wait for weeks, I want it NOW. Oh, BLAM, look at that! I have it. Shopping for books is one of the greatest pleasures, I may even prefer it to reading books. Seeing a book that grabs me, and instantly getting to read and enjoy it really feels good.

2. Holidays

I have always been a bookworm. When we went away on holiday, as a kid I had to think very carefully about my packing allowance. I always had three books for the plane (just in case) and five more in my case (for a two week holiday). No more using up all my packing space, weighing down my luggage, or having to make awful torn decisions about which book had to be left behind (poor little thing).

3. People can’t see what you’re reading

I think this was voted the number one favourite thing about e-readers. If I’m reading my typical maudlin YA fiction that I’ve read a hundred times before and probably has nothing to offer me, no one can judge. If I did want to read such absolute shite as Fifty Shades of Grey, or Twilight, I could do so without judgement. Which perhaps should be counted as a negative, as shaming people out of buying such things might be a good idea.

4. Supporting indie authors

It’s pretty easy to publish on Amazon for kindle, or even publish an e-book. For a minimal price, you can instantly support an author trying to make it, you can spend fifty pence and show solidarity without even really having to read the thing. It’s one click to make someone really happy. I’ve found some great stuff on twitter, downloaded it straight to my kindle, and it’s a bit like finding some hidden gems, it wasn’t what you were looking for, but you’re glad you took a chance.

 

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And some things I just can’t get over:

 

– People can’t see what you’re reading

As a Londoner, I’m quite averse to unnecessary communications on public transport, BUT sometimes it’s nice to have a chat with another book nerd on a bus. When I worked as a barista, it was really easy to start up a conversation with someone about their book. Reading is an internal thing, but the externalising is the talking about it.

You can’t lend books!

This absolutely drives me mad. I recently read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and it was one of the best books I’d read in ages. And whilst I was recommending it to everyone, could I force it on them by physically handing them a copy? No. So e-books are cheaper, but you have to buy them. Again, internalising reading.

On the beach

There’s something very anti-holiday reading about screens and glare and doohickeys and technology. I like the way my pages get crinkled in the sun, and sand gets between the pages. Getting sand on a kindle-fear.

I worry about getting mugged

No-one’s ever going to stop me for my copy of Harry Potter, but for an e-reader worth a hundred quid? My reading on the tube makes me feel like I’ve got to stow everything away going to the ‘dodgier’ parts of London. And that’s not nice.

The Smell

You know what I mean, don’t you?

 

As always, you can buy my book in physical print and on kindle. Because having the best of both is important, right?

 

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My Career as a Professional Bullshitter

 

So, the day of The Book Launch is almost upon me. The books are at the printers, the merchandise has arrived, the venue is confirmed. And yet, I’m still panicking. Why? Well, firstly, whilst it’s a moment of accomplishment and joy, it’s also bloody stressful. And really, so far, things have gone smoothly. So why the stress? Is it the idea of talking in front of a crowd? No, there’ll be wine to deal with that problem. Is it the judgement, the idea that people will be reading your work and forming opinions and not all of them will be good? Maybe, but as writers we become accustomed to that. Is it, perhaps, that all of this is going swimmingly, and yet I still feel like a bit of a fraud? Bazinga.

Writing is about bullshit. Writing itself is a world of lies. Talking about writing is giving opinions on something that may mean something different to someone else. Talking about your own writing is pointless, because it should speak for itself. When we teach writing, it’s a different kind of bullshit again. We are determined to make ourselves sound good, because no-one else will do it for us.

I am destined to say ‘I’m a professional writer and teach workshops’ for a very long time, and will almost always be confronted with questions of what my ‘real’ job is, and sniggers of derision. That’s fine, they don’t really get what I do. My job will always be a patchwork of various opportunities coming together at various points in time. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it’s a colossal mistake. But that’s what my job is. Bullshit about how much I’ve achieved, bullshit other people’s CVs, bullshit my way through interviews, editing, talking about my students’ progress. This is not to say I’m lying, that I don’t do the editing, that I don’t have experience, or my students aren’t improving. But with everything we do, as creative entrepreneurs, it feels like we’re just winging it.

Tote bags!
Tote bags!

So, the book launch will no doubt be a lovely event where I’m surrounded by people who love and support me, even if they’re not sure about my writing. But here’s some things to think about when considering launching your book:

  •  Appropriate excerpts. I don’t know about you, but I write a lot about sex and drugs, with a lot of swearing. Finding a family friendly excerpt is proving pretty difficult. Similarly, finding something where family won’t assume I AM my narrator, or people present won’t be looking for themselves in my fiction is pretty damn hard.
  • Swag! Man, who doesn’t love merchandise? I do! Big time. So I’ve had some tote bags and bookmarks made up that the first hundred people can claim with their buy. Added value, and extra publicity for me.
  • Press release. Despite having written these on my MA, it’s pretty hard going. Again, it’s a form of bullshittery. What sounds good, what fits the theme? What do people want to hear? Some may fight back against pigeonholing but it’s the easiest way to draw in your target market.
  • What do you want from your evening? I went for laid back, dingy pub, making use of my excellent creative friends by having them perform or get involved. Themes are also useful. I’m all about collaboration and creative community, so anyone who wanted to be involved was.
Launch poster
Launch poster

Okay, so there’s my guide to bullshitting your launch party. Act confident, be proud, and enjoy it. I’m sure I’ll be talking about my event once it’s happened. Which, if you’re about in London on 10th May 2013, can be found here.

And here you can find the press release:

Press release one adjusted

Here’s some of our performers:

 

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Novel: Complete

 

Just a little update, because ladies and gents, drum roll please…I’ve finished my novel.

Clocking in at just under a year, it’s about 60,000 words and it’s called Wine Dark, Sea Blue. So I would give you a little teaser, but you know what, I’m sick of the sight of it at the moment. It’s done, it’s fine and that’s what matters.

For Writerly Cliches, drink black coffee and write in a moleskine

No, actually, what matters is that I FINISHED something. I completed my first big project as a writer, and now comes the difficult part- marketing it, publicising it and getting it out there.

So, I’ll be entering this Mslexia Novel Competition, which I urge everyone who has a novel sitting about to do. Oh, you have to be a woman. So if your reproductive organs are on the outside, afraid you’ll have to pass on this opportunity. Mslexia are an excellent magazine for female writers and I’d really recommend checking them out. I intend to subscribe as soon as I’ve got some spare change.

Whilst we’re talking about magazines, I’m finding Writers’ Forum a really good resource. I usually feel quite isolated when choosing a magazine. Occasionally, a copy of Vogue or Glamour will hit the spot, but there doesn’t seem to be anything aimed at creatives trying to survive, or sharing their work. Writers’ Forum focuses on both the professional and amateur writer, but try not to let that dissuade you, there’s a wealth of information concerning getting paid for your work, where and how to market it, plus competitions and festival info. Also, I don’t know about you, but just reading something to do with writing makes me feel more in touch with what I’m meant to be doing.

So, I’ll be hopping off on my travels for a while, to recharge my batteries and start throwing around ideas for my new projects (including kids books, teenage and YA fiction) and preparing my DumbSaint Creative Writing Workshops for when I get back.

Until then, you can find my random wonderings about various topics over here with the lovely folks at Pop Culture Play Pen. And of course, I’ll be keeping up the anonymous fun over at Cafe Disaster, the home of the enraged barista who judges mean customers and ridicules them for your reading pleasure.

Keep an eye out for some guest writers whilst I’m off gallivanting, and some special ‘straight off the road’ coffee updates from Oz and the USA. Will Aussies order things like triple shot extra hot decaf soya cappuccinos? Or will they likely tell me to calm down and have a beer? I hope so. Also, I’ll be hanging around in LA Airport for six hours…I feel like this will be a prime opportunity to see an American Starbucks in action. I have a certain feeling about LA-ers. Let’s see if it’s correct.

And I’ll be back as soon as there’s some writing-related excitement to relate! Ciaou!