the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other Dorset writers

What’s in a name?

My maiden name is Chappell. My Dad thought we were descended from those who fled France during the revolution but it is more likely we have Huguenot ancestry. I hated my family name from the first time a classmate shouted, ‘What’s the time, Chappell? Or has your clock gone wrong?’

I was delighted to shed my family name upon marriage. I met my first husband in Tenant Creek, a town in Outback Australia. He persuaded me to travel with him to Cairns where we applied for a twenty-four hour marriage licence. My horrified parents couldn’t understand the urgency but a whirlwind romance is terribly exciting.

Four years later and back in the UK we fell out of love. But, I liked the sound of my name, Gail Marshall, so much I continued to use it for another five years. Upon marrying David, he obviously didn’t want me to carry on using that name, but I was mortified by the prospect of adopting his. I was a primary school teacher by then and anticipating being called Mrs Aldwinckle all day long filled me with dread. So, I chopped off my husband’s ‘winckle’ or rather his ‘ckle’ to become Gail Aldwin.

It is an irony to now find myself back in the Chapel fold. The publisher of Paisley Shirt (my collection of short fiction) is called Chapeltown Books. To reconnect with my family name under these circumstances is a surprise and delight.

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Visting Patsy Collins

Check out the power of purple – I’m chatting with Patsy Collins today. Why not pop over to her blog for a read?  Click here.

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Enjoy!

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Recently published on Paragraph Planet: take my advice

Please find below a 75-word story that was recently published on Paragraph Planet.  This is a great way for your work to reach a wider audience.The website’s been running since November 2008 and each day there’s a new 75-word story to enjoy.  Famous authors, aspiring writers and occasional dabblers have all been involved by making a range of submissions. Here’s one of mine:

Take my advice and see if it helps: (1) stay strong; (2) listen to your reflective voice; (3) treat yourself kindly; (4) tell the circling thoughts to piss off; (5) go out with friends: you’ve chosen them wisely; (6) eat well, drink a little wine; (7) work hard: there’s intrinsic satisfaction to be had; (8) you’re allowed to feel sad at times; (9) you’re special, remember that; (10) give it time, you’ll meet someone new.

Why don’t you give it a go?

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Writing autobiography: prompts for prose and poetry

9558910During the latest Lit Up professional development training for facilitators, activities to develop autobiographical prose and poetry were presented. Participants responded to the very structured tasks in a deeply imaginative way and this impressed me so much, that I thought I’d share the activities here.   To create a 10-line poem, respond to the prompts in the centre column by recording your ideas in the third column.

Line 1 Your given name
Line 2 List 4 of your traits
Line 3 Complete the line Daughter of/Son of…
Line 4 Lover of…
Line 5 Who feels…
Line 6 Who needs…
Line 7 Who gives…
Line 8 Who fears…
Line 9 Who would like…
Line 10 Resident of…

Another idea uses free writing where every sentence begins with the words I am…   Have a go with these activities and let me know how you get on!      

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Dorset’s Digital Stories Ebook Anthology Competition


E-BOOK comp FLYERThe Dorset Writer’s Network have secured Arts Council funding to launch a new project with the aim of publishing an ebook which celebrates the diversity of the county. I recently delivered a workshop to support entry and you can read about this here. To have your writing considered for inclusion in the ebook, you are invited to join a competition. Stories must be no longer than 500 words and set in Dorset. Anyone can enter the competition (information for adults appears below) and a further category for  11-16 year olds will be made available shortly. Entrants can live or work anywhere in the country but the story must take place in Dorset (including Poole and Bournemouth). The full rules for the competition appear below.

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I do hope you’ll take the opportunity to submit a piece of short fiction. Good luck!

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Public Speaking

In preparation for a time when I might be asked to give book talks, interviews, masterclasses and the rest, I decided to improve my public speaking skills. I was inspired to do this following a recent workshop I delivered for the Dorset Writers’ Network as part of the in the mood programme offered at Dorchester Library. Also at the event were members from the Casterbridge Speakers who did a very good pitch and encouraged me to attend one of their sessions. A couple of months later, I’m now a member of the group and promoting this to you!

The group is part of Toastmaster International based in America and meetings are run along very strict lines. In the past, this would have put me off joining, but I can see the benefit of having a very structured agenda now that I’m used to it.

So, do you wish you could lose the nerves, capture attention and inspire your audience? Join Casterbridge Speakers to find out more! Meetings are held on the first and third Wednesdays of every month at the Wessex Royale Hotel in High West Street Dorchester, from  7.15pm – 9.30pm. If you’d like more information about the group, click here. For further information about other groups around the country take a look at the Toastmasters website and click on the ‘find a club’ tab.

Happy public speaking!

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Lit Up with time, place and action in writing

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I have joined a course of CPD to support skills in creative writing workshop delivery and facilitation. The programme is organised by Lit Up! with 16 sessions offered by Simon McCormack. With two session already completed, I thought I’d share one of the activities I’ve developed.

Participants were asked to think about time, place and action in writing. Frequently, it is possible to combine two of these elements and Gun fight at the OK Corral was given as an example. The idea made me reflect on product placement as an effective way to:

  • give a timeframe for writing
  • provide an insight into the setting
  • allow readers to know more about the characters

Examples of product placements might include Pressure Cooker, Sherbet Lemons, Vim Scouring Powder.

I was reminded of the powerful effect of product placement when I reread the following extract from The Devil’s Music by Jane Rushbridge.

Janice brings a tray with tea in a teapot and four lemon puffs on a plate. The ritual of pouring – milk jug, strainer, sugar cubes and tongs, the teaspoon stirring – steadies you, but one bite of Lemon Puff and the nausea washes through you again. The teaspoon clatters down in the saucer and you ask Janice where you can go to powder your nose.

Although the story is set in 1958 (before I was born), I can taste those Lemon Puffs.

For the purpose of using this activity in a workshop, I would ask participants to list products that bring time and place to mind and use one or two as a prompt for story writing.

Anyone game to give this activity a go?

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Launch of Dorset’s Digital Stories with Natasha Solomons

The Dorset Writers’ Network is running a competition for local writers. The aim is to produce an e-book with stories up to 500 words each which reflect the diversity of the county. Workshops to support new writing are scheduled at rural locations during January and February. Further details can be found here.

To celebrate the launch of the competition, Natasha Solomons has been invited to talk about her books and her writing journey. She lives in Dorset and has written novels that are set in the county. Her first novel Mr Rosenblum’s List was shortlisted for the Galaxy National Book Awards, and tells the story of  an immigrant trying to settle in England after the Second World War.  The Novel in the Viola is based in the now abandoned Dorset village of Tyneham, and follows the lives  of service staff at Tyneford House. Natasha’s most recent novel is called The Gallery of Vanished Husbands which shares the experiences of Juliet Montague following the disappears of her husband.

This is a FREE event!

Saturday 24 January 2015 at 2:30pm

Dorchester Library and Learning Centre

Charles Street, Dorchester

Advance booking is required – please telephone 01305 224440

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