Showing posts from 2012

The Cafe Aphra November Challenge: A Review

I love a challenge. And so, it seems, do many others. Over 500,000* people took part in NaNoWriMo last month and, even more excitingly, many were those that took part in our Café Aphra November Writing Challenge. To recap, we decided to hold our own writing task whereby you, the writer, set your own goals, targets or aim and work towards it with the support of others online who were doing the same. There was an instant camaraderie from the unified act of writing. Within the first few days of cold November, our Facebook ‘Likes’ doubled and we had people from all over the world – Europe, the USA and the Middle East – joining in. People chatted to each other, asked for advice, gave support. It was exactly what we had hoped to achieve – the seed of a community of writers. Writing is a solitary activity. Only you are writing those words onto that page or screen and this can cause a degree of loneliness. Some writers thrive on this, others struggle. During my first year of full-time wri

The Café Aphra November Writing Challenge 2012!

Inspired by NaNoWriMo , a wonderful project run by the Office of Letters and Light every November since at least 2001, Café Aphra have decided to set our own challenge for the month of November. Many of us are stuck with our writing, either through a lack of time, inspiration or discipline. Some of us need a kick-start to just get going again, to break through those barriers, blockages and general blahs that are stopping our fingers from writing those words. Café Aphra proposes that whoever wants to join us in our November Writing Challenge can pledge to write a certain number of words every day for the 30 days of November, or alternatively can set themselves a similar goal. Such as, for example: “to have finished chapter 3 by the end of Week 1 and to have written chapter 4 by the end of Week 3”.  Whatever works for you and makes sense for your writing right now. Our idea is this: It doesn’t matter what we write. It might be a short story, flash fiction, an existing
                     THE MOTHER OF THE MUSES,   MY FRIENDS AND MNEMOSYNE Mnemosyne - The Mother of the Muses   Mnemosyne,, the Mother of the Muses, has been on my mind a lot recently as I search for inspiration for my first novel or collection of short stories. Plot, structure, characterisation, pacing etc are one set of difficulties but there is another fundamental question that causes me to seize completely.  That stumbling block is purpose.  What is it exactly that I am trying to achieve with my writing?  This is not the first time I have wondered about the purpose of literature.  This topic has occupied my thoughts for many years. Rewind 10 years or so ago to a casual phone call with an old friend from university when we ventured rather close to philosophy when I asked her what she thought the purpose of literature was. After all,  she had studied it for four years while I had veered off after two years to specialise in Psychology.   We were both entirely sober at the time

The Art of Giving

The Art of Giving I went to see the The Edinburgh Book Sculptures Tour 2012   recently when it visited Aberdeen Central Library. Ten book-sized sculptures, twisted bits of paper, cut up pages, glue and occasional flashes of colour that made up incredibly detailed, beautiful images of scenes and messages from and to the literary world. They were found throughout 2011 in various locations across Edinburgh including the Scottish Poetry Library, the Writer’s Museum and the Edinburgh Book Festival. They are extraordinary, brilliant pieces of art but what astounded me most was their provenance. To this day the artist is anonymous. From a note left by the artist with the final offering we know that she is a She, but that is all. She has not revealed herself despite a media search and mass, adoring calls for revelation. She has not stood up and said ‘It’s me and I’m available for commissions’ which would undoubtedly make her fortune as they are wildly popular and surely collectable. The

The best ways to learn to be a writer?

For the past few years, I have daydreamed about doing an MFA in Creative Writing. As I conceive it, an MFA (Masters of Fine Art, taught in American universities) or an MA (Masters of Art, taught in British universities) would provide me with expert tuition in writing. In my daydream, I cycle happily along to the university each day, spend my time engaged in exciting writing activities, and at the end of two years I emerge, in my cap and gown, as a Writer. BUT.... 1. Money . That two years would cost about the same amount as buying thirty gas combi-boilers. When we bought one gas combi-boiler a few years ago, I was so alarmed by the cost that I demanded a fairly detailed breakdown of fuel bills to demonstrate that, within five years, the reduction in our household gas bills would justify our initial expenditure on the boiler. I'm struggling to work through the potential returns on investment for an MFA/MA. I can imagine that, if I was a business person for example, it would

Writing communities

" Hi. I'm Zoe Fowler and I'm a writer ...." There is something about those words which carries echoes of Alcoholics Anonymous: I'm confessing to something; revealing something that I might otherwise keep hidden from people (and in most areas of my life, I'm more likely to say "Hi, I'm Zoe and I'm a mom"). When I say that I'm a 'writer' I'm taking on an identity which only feels truly comfortable when I'm within a community where other people are similarly afflicted, and it's only recently that I have had a community within which I can 'be' a writer. I take my writing seriously and I work hard. My daughters leave for school early in the morning and I wave goodbye to their big yellow school bus, come back into the house, squeeze the last drops of coffee from the coffee-maker, and sit down at my desk to start writing. I'm lucky and I appreciate how lucky I am. I have a tiny room at the top of the house wh

The Summer of Women

This has been the summer of inspirational women. It started with the Jubilee. The nation, the Commonwealth, the world celebrated sixty years of reign by Queen Elizabeth II. Aside from the all the pomp and ceremony, the necessary rituals and rigmarole that come with her position, Her Majesty is a constant and consistent example of a strong, loyal and dedicated woman: tireless, despite being in her eighties, and a model of decorum and exemplary behaviour. Then came the Olympics. From the outset, women were portrayed as strong, brave and vital. When Danny Boyle’s industrial revolution began in the Opening Ceremony, a group of Suffragettes marched into the stadium and re-enacted the 1913 death of Emily Davison (a prolific feminist writer herself) as she tried to attach a protest banner to the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby. This was the defining moment of the suffrage movement. The banner itself was carried in a box into the stadium, reminding us of the passion and determination

How to post a comment

Want to comment on something but not sure how to?   It should be easy and hopefully more so with this... Scroll down to the bottom of the post, where it should say in small letters either No comments or 3 comments, or however many comments there already are on that post. Click on this phrase. You should go through to a page with the comments on it and a small white box where you can write your own comment. Here you will need to go to the drop-down menu that says: "Select profile" and choose the profile you want to comment under. This can be with: a Google account , LiveJournal, WordPress, TypePad, AIM, Open ID, or just a name or URL, or as Anonymous. If you want to comment from your Google Account or blog I believe you will need to be logged into it at the time when you post your comment.  When you're happy with your comment, press publish. You can also preview your comment before your publish it if you want to. In theory, it should be a simple

All Women Writers Together

All Women Together.......  ‘ All women together, ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn… for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.’ (Virginia Woolf). APHRA – The Inspiration: Imagine a woman who writes. She’s blazing a trail of poetry and drama and words, but she’s in debt, lacking time, scandalizing friends and society; she’s a ‘darling’ among the creative set but struggles to gain acceptance in the eyes of the wider public.   Aphra Behn, writing nearly four hundred years ago, overcame each of these challenges and became the first great English female writer. Her life might have been very different from ours, but the challenges and experiences that she had around her development as a writer are not so very different from our own. We, too, are busy women, working women; we are women with professional and familial obligations and responsibilities; we struggle to find time, we struggle to make financial ends meet; and we are women who write. None