22/10/2018 Grapes and People and Marching

This week has been full of other things than writing. Now the MA is all done and dusted I decided to pick the grapes from the vine that grows in our back garden. As you can see from the pics below, this year has been a bumper crop. More than bumper really – this summer was perfect for grape growing and we might never see the like again. This and because it seemed like a terrible waste to leave them only to the wasps and birds made us decide to try wine-making. We picked thousands and thousands – me, Nick and Granny Dot (who’d come to visit for the weekend.) When we were sick of the sight of grapes and more grapes I washed me feet and trod them (mine were the only feet small enough to fit in the bucket). We now have litres of grape juice fermenting in a huge plastic vat in the inglenook which Nick reckons will make about 24 bottles of vino. That was one week ago so today it will need passing through muslin to sift out the silt.

This weekend, whislt the yeast was doing its thang, we went on the Peoples’ March in London and I can honestly say I have never seen so many people in all my life. Yesterday’s newspapers said it was around 700,000, and it really did feel like it. And yet there was no trouble, no sense of menace like there was at the poll tax demo all those years ago. It was full of families with their pets and picnics and groups of people with a common cause, NHS workers, the elderly, the young. And loads of musicians. We were next to a troupe of drummers who were excellent and a bloke intermittently playing Ode to Joy on a trombone. I hope the powers that be sit up and take notice because 700k is a lorra, lorra people to ignore. I hope more people get involved next time . I can recommend it. I felt honoured and uplifted to be part of something so well-intentioned, and it got me to thinking about the wine and picking the grapes. Each teeny weeny fruit wouldn’t justify a single swallow, but put them all together and each little dribble becomes a gulp, becomes a glassful, becomes a cellar. Someone cleverer than me once said that no raindrop ever thinks it caused the flood.

17/10/2018 That’s a Wrap

Its eleven days since the final deadline for my MA course in creative writing at the OU and its finally started to hit home that that is very much that. Its so strange how you go from full on super-active, full-throttle writing and feeding back to absolutely nothing. My headspace feels like stark white noise fading to the echo that ricochets around an empty cave after the scream’s stopped sounding. I have so many short stories ripe for final polishing and sending out but don’t feel like engaging with them yet as I have some original flashes to write first. I’m going to enter the Story for Daniel Competition (see following link if you fancy entering too). Its such a heart-warming and poignant competition – the theme is hope – and that is such an important quality/emotion that we could all do with channelling at the moment in this crazy screwed-up modern world. https://gaynor69.wixsite.com/astoryfordaniel

As the MA and life and stuff-and-shit got in the way of me blogging about the wonderful Flash Festival that I attended this summer, thought I’d say a few words now. I had the best time ever meeting flash friends and heroes; attended exceptional workshops and met flash-zine ghoulmates in the form of Molotov Cocktail editors and comp winners. Below are some photos of me reading my winning Molotov flash up close and far away and the whole group of us Molotov’s outside the venue of the festival. It’s on again next year with a whole new host of people giving talks and leading workshops and I  wouldn’t miss it for the world. You can’t bflashfestivaltinymereadingook tickets yet but here’s the link for when they go on mJan-Kaneen-498x1024sale. If you’re interested in flash even one iota it is so worth every penny and this year they had some subsidised tickets too. https://www.flashfictionfestival.com/
molotovcrew

20/9/2018

Not blogged for a bit because life has been full on. Currently in the last two weeks of my EMA and am working like a dervish on the first 15k of my novella which will be my final piece of assessed work, or examiner marked assessment (EMA)

There is so much to write about since I last blogged, flashes published here and there, work done, finished and assessed at the OU, the Flash Fiction Festival which was so brilliant. I learned loads and met many flash friends and heroes (I’ll blog about that next time), but the main thing I want to write about today, before I dip back into writing solitude (writing for a whole week next week to get everything finished) is the passing of my lovely doggie companion Hogarth, or Hogie as we called him.

Losing him has been awful and traumatic. He went to the vets early August with the squits, stayed overnight to be assessed and tested then was referred to the vet hospital in Cambridge when they couldn’t work out what was up with him. He was in the hospital for nine sleeps before he died. They too couldn’t work out what was causing his problems and did a biopsy which indicated irritable bowel syndrome. Unfortunately during his stay at hospital he got pneumonia and other infections and passed away.

We buried him in the garden with flowers and a little ceremony and I’m going to plant a hosta to mark the spot when I’ve found one that seems appropriate. Hogie was a lovely, gentle, Eeyore of a companion who loved his creature comforts and did not like getting his paws wet. This blog is in memorium to him – a gentle soul who went before his time He was only eight. Here are some photos so there’ll  always be a ghost of him somewhere in cyberspace that I can come and visit when I miss him most. Bye Hogie you were a lovely, lovely lad.

 

 

20/7/2018 Flash Festival Here I come

Just read my last post. Football didn’t come home then. It went on holibobs to France which is just as well because the French did seem like they were a miles better team than us. I will always remember this world cup though, not just because of the mad hot weather and the fact that we finally won a penalty shoot out ( I was at the match at old Wembley in 96 which Southgate missed the penalty against Germany in the semi finals and the moment is etched on my memory) but because this world cup was the one at which Gareth Southgate did his absolute best to replace the toxic masculinity that has infected the FA ever since I can remember with something much, much better. I’d call that a result.flash

On a totally different subject that I can’t think of a clever literary link for, I’m currently very excited indeed as I’m packing my teeny suitcase to get ready for the Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol. I’m writing this just before I put the laptop in. I’m so looking forward to three days meeting flash heroes and friends and of gorging myself on a feast of flash. There will be workshops, readings from some of my all time favourite flashers, time to write and create without feeling guilty or being disturbed mid flow. I haven’t written much flash this year due to stuff and shit and doing the MA. The only time I got anything flashy finished was doing the Kathy Fish Fast Flash course so I’m really looking forward to having time and space to create.  I’m also especially looking forward to: meeting Mary and Josh from Molotov Cocktail which is my all time fav flash mag; listening to writers reading their own work, and catching up with my MA buddy from last year the wonderful writer of poetry of flash, Ali McGrane. Right better unplug and be off. Flash heaven, here I come.

11/7/2018

I’m doing a super short blog this time not because loads hasn’t happened but because it has and time is short. There have been family thises and that’s this month that have mahoosively interfered with writing and I’m sooo behind. I’ve got to do my three pieces of workshop feedback today as its the deadline tomorrow at 12am and, as England are playing in the World Cup Semis tonight and a bbq is planned, I must get everything done by tea-time.

Headlines writing wise are: my highly commended story at InkTears is up this month with a readers biog and details about how the story came about. Here’s the link http://www.inktears.com/stories-b/2018/4/4/107-a-walk-in-the-park

meandripeningAlso, my copy of Ripening arrived. Here’s me hiding behind a photo of it. This anthology is packed full of excellent Flashes from a plethora of wonderful writers. I’m looking forward to reading my own teeny tale at the open mic event at The Flash Festival which is now only one weekend away. I’ve also had flashes accepted at Ellipses, Rhythm and Bones and Reflex.

Right off to read these extracts and feedback on them.

10/6/2018

Lying in bed in my hotel room in Edinburgh beavering away writing, submitting and editing. I’m here because yesterday I attended an OU event about publishing which was absolutely brilliant. All the speakers were informative, entertaining and relevant and best of all, I got to meet several of my peers who are doing the MA, which was wonderful.

Because I’ve been here, there and everywhere over the last couple of weeks with half-term traumas, house renovations and the like, I’m a bit behind with writing deadlines. That’s why I’m now in the Bath Flash Last Minute Club having submitted just now. Here’s the brilliant badge you get for submitting on the final day.

BFFFlastminclub

For my last ever Tutor Mark Assessed short story on my MA course, I got a distinction though my over-all mark was pulled down by getting a rubbish mark for my synopsis. I just couldn’t get into this exercise. Not one publisher I researched asks for synopses for short story collections, and when it came to writing one I couldn’t give my endings away. It felt sooo wrong to casually give away crafted endings that had taken weeks to create, so I didn’t and was marked down accordingly. However at the OU event yesterday, all the attendant authors and agents said they’re not that fussed with synopses even for novels. They’d rather have a great covering letter and three wonderful chapters, so I feel totally exonerated. Just glad to put it all behind me and crack on with my novella now. Got until October to get it done and polished.

Getting published wise, I had this in The Drabble

https://thedrabble.wordpress.com/2018/06/02/my-teenage-son-defining-words-just-before-i-challenge-his-use-of-possessive-pronouns/

I’ve also been short-listed for the Tacchi-Morris Spoken Word competition. I’m going to Taunton next Friday to read my entry which will be judged on the night from a short list of  12. No pressure then! Also the proof copies of The National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2018, in which I have a wee flash, were sent a couple of weeks ago and the cover is now finished and the title decided on. Here’s a picture. Cannot wait to get it in my hands.Ripening