Sunday, March 22, 2015

The FWC blog hop edition!

Frome Writers Collective is one of those collaborative initiatives Frome seems to do so well, with regular meetings at Three Swans and a lively core group organising trips and other events for the writers, illustrators, editors, and publishers who have all joined. I'm privileged to be an honorary member, and very happy to support their Blog Hop (thanks Piotr for nominating me). So this posting will use as focus the five interview questions:

1. My genre? I've published both short stories and novels in the past, but now I'm focusing particularly on stage drama, with two long plays and several shorts produced. Currently my work-in-progress is for a Nevertheless Productions Frome Festival 2015 performance  ~  in the Dissenters Cemetery! Here's Rosie Finnegan, company founder & director of this piece, at our last production meeting.  Midsummer Dusk will be performed at twilight by three superb actors, and we think it will be fabulous.
I'm also connected with the poetry scene as organiser of the bi-monthly Poetry Cafe at the Garden Cafe in Stony Street ~ I've had some poems published (2 in Mslexia) and still perform randomly after a brief career as a performance poet (with a few slam wins) but have taken a step back to an organisational role now, as Frome positively brims with brilliant poets like Helen Moore, Rose Flint, Rosie Jackson, and more.
And I run the monthly Words at the Black Swan workshop, an open group meeting on the first Sunday of each month 3-4.30 in the gallery to respond to the current art exhibition. Next one April 5th, responding to the Young Open, which has some stunning images.
And linking poetry with drama, brilliant stand-up poet Rob Gee agreed to bring his award-winning one-man show FRUITCAKE to Frome's Merlin on March 27th. Not to be missed!
So in short, my writing life is a mix of doing it and working with other people who're doing it. Perfect.

2  Current projects?  As well as the play for Nevertheless Productions, I'm co-scripting a piece which will be performed by Annabelle Macfadyen, initially in the garden of the American Museum in Bath and later in Frome. Time Walk is basically the story of the whole of life in the last 4.6 billion years... massive research required but all fascinating. We performed a version in the festival last year and are now busily updating with recent cosmic research.
I also review for Plays International, which involves enjoying great productions at Theatre Royal Bath, Bristol Old Vic, Tobacco Factory, Salisbury Playhouse ~ and of course at our own Merlin Theatre. My first responses are posted in my blog, then the best are combined for my column. And I count this blog itself as a writing project too ~ my aim is to show all the amazing creative stuff that goes on in Frome!
3 Jack London once said "You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club." Which may be true, as long as you don't stun it senseless, but in my experience of working with writers on creative courses for nearly 20 years, the problem is more likely to be self-doubt than lack of enthusiasm. Most writers have a severe self-critic, ready to whisper negatively whether they do write ('that's terrible prose!) or don't ("see, you've run out of ideas already!")  Negotiating with that inner voice is key: persuade it to let you originate freely, and then invite it back later to edit. Fay Weldon explains more in her essay Harnessed to the Harpy in the Penguin collection The Agony and the Ego (recommended for fiction writers, orderable from Hunting Raven Books)
4 When bored with staring at a blank page...  actually I can't help there, as writing to me has since childhood been as enticing as Black Magic to a chocoholic. I'd suggest going for a walk ~ but take a notebook. And of course, a creative writing course (like the ones on Skyros or in Andalucia) never fails to inspire...
5  My personal favourite place to work is anywhere I can take my laptop ~ cafes in Frome like the River House, Divas, the Garden Cafe. At home I've got a study which has sunset views. And I always, always, always carry a notebook.

So, on to the next FWC member to share their modus operandi.  Do take a look at the web page of Alison Clink, founder of the Frome Festival short story contest, prolific & much published short story writer, and now memoirist, whose book The Man Who Didn't Go To Newcastle is about to be launched. This immensely moving tribute to her brother combines pathos with humour and gives insight, as her publisher promises, "into what happens when ordinary lives are faced with the extraordinary."

Footnote to this somewhat patchwork posting: Bristol theatre company Show of Strength teamed up with Wells Festival of Literature on Saturday to offer twelve short plays in 15 shops throughout the day in their 'Trading Local' free theatre event.  FWC member Tim O'Connor was one of the writers, with a very funny monologue located in a flower shop.  I didn't get to see all the plays as I'd spent the morning at Frome's Welshmill Pump Track marvelling at the skill & speed of the bikers (youngest just 5 years old! and the older lads went round like rockets) but the plays I saw were all excellent. Here's David Reakes as Prince Steve, looking for a dance outfit in the sale rail... gentle humour with a powerful & moving subtext. And ~ because it's all theatre too ~ here's a glimpse of the bikers

and some of last week's musical gems: Back Before Breakfast at the Grain bar, and the community choir at Wesley Chapel. Frome really does have it all!

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