10 June 2019
Posted by Hazel Orriss
Have you been to Shirley Library lately? You ought to go, really, I hear there is a fantastic anthology by local women writers on the shelves…
Of course, you knew that already, but it was a delight to be greeted with some positive feedback from Damian O’Vitch who had indeed found a copy of the anthology in Shirley Library and really enjoyed the So:Write women’s words. It is always good to start a workshop with positive news and this month we had plenty to celebrate. Regular attendee Clare Golding has signed with an agent, fresh on the heels of winning the 2018 Yeovil Literary Prize for her novel ’In Just One Day.’ In April, Damhnait Monaghan published her flash fiction pamphlet ‘The Neverlands’. Damhnait’s work has been gathering splendid reviews, and if you have a hankering for a copy signed by the author herself, you can head direct her website where there is a link to her publications.
Now before you go thinking that So:Write women is like a fusty old gentlemans’ club, filled with self-satisfied types patting each other on the back and smoking cigars, I will tell you we then got down to work pretty quickly with a selection of writing prompts cleverly designed to get our brains thinking and our pens moving. Sleeves were rolled up, tea was drunk and we got down to the gritty business of crafting words. Taking a selection of classified ads as a starting point, we wrote the backstories to a variety of advertisements; the pets that needed to be rehomed, the services offered and unwanted goods for sale. The limitations of the price-per-word newspaper advert leaves room for misunderstanding as crucial information is omitted, resulting in space to create something sinister from the most innocent words. Of course, we found much to laugh at, too. Who is looking for a spare racoon? Would you go on a date with Johnny Angelsnake? And how about booking in for a quick squeeze with a cuddle service? Who places these adverts? Who responds? We may never find out, but it doesn’t matter because we found a rich seam of writing prompts instead.
Other inspiration… the books we’re reading… the things we’re doing…
Anne Sexton – for her subjective poetry
Tami Hoag, Cold Cold Heart
Killer Women 2019 A mentoring scheme for women writing in the crime, psychological thriller or suspense genres. Applications are open until 1st July 2019.
Unnatural Causes by Dr Richard Shepherd. A true, true crime book detailing Dr Shepherd’s work as a top forensic pathologist. Essential reading for anyone writing in the crime/murder genre.
Visiting Blue Plaques Good exercise, see the sights, and check out the (not so) humble abodes of your favourite writers.
Finally, a very big thank you to Dr Nazneen Ahmed, Writer in Residence at the John Hansard Gallery, who led a special one-off workshop session last month. We explored the history of the Mayflower and found ourselves pulled through time, imagining our wonderful city back when waves lapped at the stone walls. We imagined the lives of those on board the Mayflower, even taking a voyeuristic glance at a possible love triangle! The session was part of the Mayflower Folk. Southampton Stories project run by Nazneen and fellow writer (and Mayflower Young Writers facilitator) Susmita Bhattacharya. You can follow the group on Twitter @FolkMayflower