the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other Dorset writers

Writing places: a new project

Thomas Hardy's Cottage

Thomas Hardy’s Cottage

The National Trust, Literature Works and the Poetry Archive have formed a new partnership to offer to offer a programme of events celebrating the literary heritage of the South West. The launch of the programme was held on 2 July (the birth date of Thomas Hardy) at Max Gate. As an invited guests, I toured the house, listened to Andrew Motion read from a forthcoming collection of poetry and found out more about the project. Five National Trust properties with strong literary connections, including Max Gate and Hardy’s Cottage,  will have professional writers appointed to act as writers-in-residence. The purpose is to explore ‘the domestic lives of some of the country’s greatest writers, revealing how the houses and landscape that they loved inspired them to create their masterpieces, and how these places continue to be relevant today’.  A programme of workshops and events will be developed so that writers and visitors can contribute to the project. Find out about developments as the programmes progress by visiting the Writing Places blog.

As a result of the launch, I’ve discovered it’s well worth visiting the Poetry Archive.  I spent a delightful couple of hours listening to poets read from their work. By following  a tour of the archive with Mark Grist and David Almond (there are many tours to choose from), I was introduced to new poetry, which I loved. The experience encouraged me to try my hand a writing a poem – the first one since school days!

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Flash fiction workshops in Dorset

Dorset Writers' Network, Winfrith Newburgh Village Hall

Dorset Writers’ Network, Winfrith Newburgh Village Hall

I was delighted to offer two flash fiction workshops locally on Saturday. The first was delivered at a fantastic event in celebration of Dorset Women’s Day, held at the Dorford Centre in Dorchester. The second was in the afternoon, working with some wonderful Dorset writers on behalf of the Dorset Writers’ Network. The content for each workshop varied slightly, but as an overview, I’ve listed some of the activities included.

  • Definition of flash fiction

Not an easy task, but we did our best to come up with a definition by considering the length, the content, the structure, the process and the purpose of writing flash fiction

  • Giving it a go – six word stories

Using models from the famous (Hemmingway and Atwood) and the not so famous (shortlisted entries to Fleeting Magazine’s 2012 competition) a variety of six word stories were shared to inspire participants. The resulting writing ranged from the sexually-charged to the humorous.

  • Keeping it short

Using a piece of paper with a pretty picture prompt (a bit larger than a post-it note) participants produced pieces of flash fiction by drawing on the senses. Something about writing on a small piece of paper seems to focus the mind on careful word selection allowing participants to keep the writing short.

  • Using stereotypes

This is a quick way into writing. Using prompts from the addictive television series ‘Come Dine with Me’ some useful characters sketches were drawn

  • Putting yourself in the shoes of a photograph

By looking at a range of black and white photographs, participants were asked to imagine that they were the photographer and to write a short piece of fiction considering their relationship with the people in the photograph and to think about why the photograph was taken

  • Making an origami book as a form of self publishing

This involved a demonstration and the distribution of a pre-prepared book containing one of my flash fiction stories.  If you want to know how this is done, you’ll have to attend one of my workshops in the future.

A big thank you to everyone who attended the workshops – you were generous in sharing your writing and it was a pleasure working with you. If you would like me to deliver a workshop to your writing group, please get in touch using the ‘contact me’ page.

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Spring writing workshops

I’ve been invited to deliver several flash fiction workshops in the coming months and I’m delighted at the prospect. To give you an idea of what I’ll be covering, please see the outline below:

Flash fiction, keeping it short

Everyday lives are packed with tasks and activities that leave little time for reading or writing at length.  Flash fiction has the ability to fit into the breaks and provides satisfying stories with all the elements of a longer piece of fiction.  ‘Keeping it short’ is an interactive workshop that explores opportunities to incorporate flash fiction into your creative life and will use examples to share:

  • Flash fiction at its best
  • Starting points for writing flash fiction
  • Ideas about the definition of flash fiction
  • Websites and journals that publish flash fiction enabling writers to reach a wider audience

What do you think?  Have I got all the bases covered?

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