Its been quite a while since I blogged – last year in fact – so to anyone reading this – happy happy new year. To anyone wondering why I’ve been so quiet – its been because of general busy-ness, and life and stuff and shit: vis-à-vis
Big development since I last posted. The MA results were announced a day early (on the 10th December) and I am very proud (and relieved) to say I passed with distinction. All my classmates did really well too which is of course, in part, due to our wonderful tutor Kath Stansfield who was (is) so brilliant – helpful, insightful, expert, sensitive and inspiring. Thanks Kath. I count myself so lucky to have found myself under your tutelage.
I’m all action stations now writing my PhD proposal for 11th January. I want to anchor my PhD research inside flash fiction asking questions like what defines it? What effects play large parts in the writing of it? How far can the form can be stretched in using it to write long? As a result of this, I’m unsure if doing a PhD at the OU will be possible but I’m applying there first because, well better the devil you know, but if they don’t feel they can facilitate my area of interest, at least the proposal will be written for sending to other places.
To celebrate/commiserate the results (we didn’t know what they were when we booked it) and by way of an early gift to each other, me and grumpy husband went to Prague on 11th for a couple of days shopping on the Christmas Markets and to drink mulled wine on street corners in the freezing cold, both of which I can highly recommend. Prague is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. The food was divine, the architecture to die for and, as the cold never bother me anyway, it was just the right temperature for Christmas – and they had a Mahoosive Christmas tree that glowed and glittered and shimmered as you can see from the first picture.
On the writing front, I dashed out a quick and evil flash after one of Team Darkness, @allthosestrings tweeted about @weird_Christmas – a brill blog dedicated to everything strangely seasonal that was running a free flash comp. The results were out this morning. I didn’t win but my flash friend @Uksherka (and member of Team Darkness) came second with a moving and emotional flash about loss and coping with it at this festive time of year. My flash did make the cut though and is included on the podcast. Here’s the link https://weirdchristmas.com/2018/12/17/wc-14-weird-christmas-flash-fiction-contest-results-episode/
Probably wont have time to blog again this side of Chrimbo day so season’s greetings and happy holidays cyber friends. Hope you have the sort of Christmas you’re hoping for.
This time next week is a very important day in my world, not just because of the vote in the commons about the PM’s Brexit deal (or no deal) but because the MA results will be out.
I thought waiting for two months would be difficult but I’ve done a lot of reading and studying the form that is flash in the hiatus in prep for my PhD application, and have written a few flashes too. My shortlisted Flashback drabble didn’t make it off the shortlist but having read the winners I’m just grateful it made it onto the list at all to be honest. Talented writer buddy and all round good egg @jonzeywriter came second with this moving gorgeousness http://flashbackfiction.com/index.php/2018/11/10/ogdens/
Here’s the judges feedback on the whole thing which mentions mine anonymously so it can be re-entered for other comps http://flashbackfiction.com/index.php/2018/11/12/wwi-microfiction-competiton-judges-report/
Since I last blogged, I’ve also entered the LISP flash comp for the first time, Reflex again and Writers HQ LGBTQ comp about spreading the love.
In between now and the 11th I’m going to polish my unsubmitted MA stories and send them out into the world and also start the National Flash day advent calendar prompts which look amazing. I’ve not done any yet but if I do two a day for the next couple of days I’ll be up-to-date. Here’s the link is you fancy a go http://flashfloodjournal.blogspot.com/
I’m also hatching two stories for the Molotov Cocktail comp – prompt Phantoms – along with the rest of Team Darkness (a group of uber supportive writers of the teeny weird who gee each other up on Twitter). Here’s the link to the comp https://themolotovcocktail.com/phantom-flash/
And finally here’s me in my Christmas sweater which I’m wearing to get festive whilst doing on-line Christmas shopping. We’re off to Prague next week for the Christmas markets and to do shopping in person, so I’ll be there when the results are posted. Here’s hoping me and Santa Pingu have something to celebrate…gulp.
I’m sitting here with a pile of books to read – recommendations from wonderful Twitter buddies from my call out for essays/academic writing/ forwards on flash fiction and novella-in-flash. I’m reading them because I’m putting together a PhD proposal which must be submitted by 11/1/2019. Everything in the proposal needs placing in the context of current knowledge/arguments and must be accompanied by a bibliography of primary and secondary texts that I intend to study, so there is much to do. I thought getting the proposal drafted ASAP a good way of using my spare time now the MA is done and dusted, and though the results aren’t out until 11th December, I also thought I might as well crack on and not assume the worst.
In between reading for the proposal, I’ve been writing flash fictions in earnest which I haven’t done since I started the MA when I was taken over by learning, writing short stories and my novella, so it has been lovely that my first two post-MA attempts have done quite well. The wee flash I wrote for the ‘The Story for Daniel’ Competition won highly commended and the one I submitted to the FlashBack micro-fiction competition for armistice day has been short-listed. The stories that won Daniel’s comp were just so gorgeous. Here’s a link to them so you can have read. https://gaynor69.wixsite.com/astoryfordaniel
Re FlashBack, I’m not allowed to say which title is mine as the results aren’t all out yet (they’re revealing them one at a time with the winner being published on 11/11), but here’s a link to the shortlist with my teeny tale’s title on it. http://flashbackfiction.com/index.php/2018/11/06/ww1-microfiction-competition-shortlist/
If the rest of the winning stories are as emotionally charged and beautifully written as the first highly commended drabble was yesterday, we’re all in for a series of brilliantly brief reading experiences. Here’s the link to the first, http://flashbackfiction.com/index.php/2018/11/07/life-after-death/
Right, back to Rose Metal Press’s Field Guide to Flash Fiction which I cannot recommend highly enough.
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.
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 book tickets yet but here’s the link for when they go on sale. 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/
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.
Honie on the chair
Hogie in the kitchen
Hogie with Dad
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.
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.
Should have added this to todays blog and in my haste to do my workshop critiques I forgot to say COME ON ENGLAND!