the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other Dorset writers

Writing plates are spinning

I’m currently in the fortunate position of having a debut novel published, a children’s picture book under contract, a novel on submission and a new work-in-progress. My time is carved up between marketing and promoting The String Games, sending out submission packages for This Much Huxley Knowsfinalising the illustrations for Pan de mo nium and cracking through the first draft of Little Swot. It’s just as well my only other commitment is ten hours a week e-volunteering with VSO. Some days it feels like my feet hardly touch the ground but I’m not complaining.

girl-1112243__340

Does this girl look like a little swot?

With all of these plates spinning, the real excitement is my new work-in-progress Little Swot which is quite different from my other manuscripts. The idea came from evenings in Ugandawhen I was too tired to read, too hot to sleep and so listened to podcasts. I’m writing one thousand words each day which soon adds up and I’m now over half way through the story and pleased with my progress. I’ve written a synopsis so I know what’s going to happen and I’ve played around with ideas for pitching the novel to publishers when the time comes.Indeed, I’d love to receive some feedback from you. Do you think this novel idea has legs?

Read the rest of this entry »

2 Comments »

When e-volunteering and writing collide

As a former VSO international volunteer at Bidibidi Refugee Settlement in Uganda, I am  pleased to be able to continue work with colleagues remotely. I was repatriated from my post as a psychosocial and child protection adviser due to Covid19 in March 2020. Now I’m in contact with team in Yumbe to develop ways to support young children and families through the pandemic.

EA86B219-D08C-4276-8D8F-775692665CD2_4_5005_c

In Uganda, the lockdown continues much as experienced elsewhere: social distancing, wearing of masks, essential shopping only etc. Yet in a country where there have been only 870 cases (as of 30 June) and no deaths, one might think that restrictions would be easing. But such is the concern to avoid spread of the virus, there remains no proposals to reopen schools, no allowing of motorcycle taxis (bodas) to carry passengers and no opening of shopping centres. Indeed there is no indication of when lockdown may end. 
This has considerable implications for families who are forced into poverty due to loss of earning. And as for children, without schools this not only means a lack of education but can mean hunger where children rely on school feeding programmes.

Read the rest of this entry »

3 Comments »

Podcasts: stay-at-home journeys

I returned from  Uganda three weeks ago and I’m still living in a limbo space. I’m not yet willing to relinquish the experience of volunteering at Bidibidi refugee settlement and not ready to launch into a new project. So what am I doing with my time? While overseas, I started listening to podcasts and this is something I continue to enjoy. Before I left home I downloaded BBC Sounds and while I was away, began to also use the podcast app on my phone. Every time I went to a hotel or restaurant with good internet access, I downloaded as many episodes as I could. As it became dark in West Nile around 7:30pm, I was usually in bed an hour later. Although there was electricity in the evening until around midnight, my eyes were often too tired to read, so I’d lie down and listen to a podcast.

mobile-2571625__340

There are some fabulous journalists who have turned their hand to creating podcasts and I became absorbed by many different stories including Paradise. In this series Dan Maudsley and Stephen Nolan investigate the deaths of British backpackers, Chris Farmer and Peta Frampton, who were found murdered in Guatemala after getting on a boat in 1978. Although there were witnesses to the murders, it takes thirty-eight years to arrest the only suspect. Why?

Another story I followed while overseas was The Missing Crypto Queen where Jamie Bartlett traces the whereabouts of Dr Ruja Ignatova who persuaded millions to join her financial revolution. Interestingly, episodes of this podcasts are recorded in Uganda, to illustrate the spread of her deceitful operation.

Now that I’m back at home, I’ve continued to listen to podcasts and can recommend Girl Taken by Sue Mitchell. The story shares the relationship between Rob Lawrie, a British volunteer at the Calais refugee camp and Reza who hopes to start a new life in England with his daughter Bru. Reza’s account of his experiences is not entirely truthful but Lawrie is taken with the idea of saving this refugee family. Both men make impetuous decisions that have consequences.

finding-cleo-feed-banner

I’ve listened to quite a few cold case stories from North America where journalist try to crack unsolved crimes. One of the most interesting is Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo, where Canadian journalist Connie Walker unravels the story of a child believed to be murdered. Cleo, a young Cree girl, was taken by welfare workers from her home in Saskatchewan and put up for adoption in America. This shameful period which tore families, siblings and communities apart became known as the Sixties Scoop. But what happened to Cleo? The answers are obtained after a nugget of information is revealed during a late night internet search. (Incidentally, I could listen to Connie Walker all day. She has an easy-on-the-ear voice and is an empathetic interviewer.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »