Showing posts from November, 2010

T + 802 Writers' Toolkit Part 6 The Writer's Smoking Jacket

For the final plenary session of the day we all filed back into the slightly chilly main auditorium to hear an address from the novelist Graham Joyce entitled The Writer's Smoking Jacket.
The Writer's Smoking Jacket
Graham Joyce began his talk by holding up a paperback book and saying "This is a Tardis. It is bigger on the inside that it is on the outside and it can transport you in time and space." Which is a brilliant metaphor for a book. However, he intoned that in this time of the digital age writers must face up or fossilise . "They have invented a better Tardis".
He then, in a similar vein to how Jim Crace had started the day, explained how he grew up in a mining village near Coventry and after taking himself off to a greek island for twelve months he returned to the UK with a deal for his first novel. Before that he too, like Crace, had a romantic image of a writer as someone who wore a brocade smoking jacket, ate kedgeree for breakfast and smoked cher…

T + 801 Writers' Toolkit Part 5

The last seminar session I attended before the closing address from Graham Joyce was one of the sessions that had been held on the same topic earlier in the day but this time it was with a different panel.
Real Writing Lives – 2
Writers sustain their creative careers in different way. Our Real Writing Lives panel sessions give you an opportunity to hear established writers talk about the reality of their writing lives.

Brenda Read-Brown: writer
Helen Cross: writer
Naylad Ahmed: writer, former Development Producer: BBC Radio
Ceri Gorton (Chair): Relationship Manager, Literature: Arts Council England, West Midlands

In this session the three panelists spoke about the experience of being a full time writer and what that really means in terms of earning a living and how much time is actually spent writing.
Helen said she had been a full time writer for 12 years and to some extent she will do any sort of writing that pays. She had written articles and reviews when asked and also done writing worksh…

T + 799 Writers' Toolkit Part Four

After a nice buffet lunch and chat with a couple of other delegates, during which I managed to give away 4 of my business cards (246 to go ), I attended the ante-penultimate seminar session of the day.

Writing and Science

Many scientists have been excellent writers, both about their subject and in other genres. Arguably science needs good writers and writing is a way into science. Discuss…

Prof Chris McCabe: Professor of Molecular Endocrinology:University of Birmingham
Prof David Morley: poet, ecologist, Professor of Creative Writing: University of Warwick
Philip Monks (Chair): writer, Board Member: Writing West Midlands

David Morley began by putting the whole two cultures debate in a nut shell. Whilst at school he had a passion for poetry and the hummaties but was also good at science and his teacher said he would have to make a choice. So it was that after a degree in Biology he became a cold water ecologist obtaining his PhD whilst working at a research station on Lake Windemere.

After ei…

T + 798 Writers Toolkit Part Three

The second session I attended was about the use of digital media and tools.
Doing Digital
Working on digital platforms and using social networking is now part of our lives. How can writers make it work for them, both creatively and to manage their careers?
Peggy Riley: writer, Director: East Kent Live Lit
Chris Unitt: Managing Director: Meshed Media
Ros Robins (Chair): Regional Director, West Midlands: Arts Council England

This was probably my favourite session of the day which I guess might be performing to type for me as a professional Geek, but even so I think it is a subject many writers are interested in today.
Chris started by explaining a little of his background and what his company does, which you can find out more about via the links above. He was keen to point out digital tools should be just that tools to achieve another end. Tools to be used imaginatively by creative people and they need to be "taken out of the hands of the geeks".
His other main blog Created In Birmi…

T + 797 Writers' Toolkit Part Two

After the initial plenary session of the conference there were separate symposium/seminar/panel sessions with a number of different topics being addressed.
The first one I attended was:-
Different Fictions
This had the topic of:-
It is too easy to assume ‘literary’ novels when we talk of fiction. Excellent writing sustains other genres. This session looks at how we can support and celebrate this work.
Ian Macleod : ‘fantastic’ fiction writer
Catherine Rogers: Project Manager: Writing East Midlands
Damien Walter: Writer, Director: The Literature Network
Jonathan Davidson (Chair): Chief Executive: Writing West Midlands
The panel spoke about some of the pre-conceptions they felt that genre fiction was up against when being considered as Literature ( with a capital "L"). The main areas discussed related to science fiction, fantasy and horror writing but were equally applicable to thriller, crime, romance or any other genre.
Ian Macleod made the point that the demarcation of genre had bec…

T + 796 Writers' Toolkit Part One

Yesterday I attended a one day conference for writers and people involved with the creative writing profession entitled The Writers' Toolkit. This is the 3rd annual conference of its type run by Writing West Midlands.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable and well organised event held at the Digbeth campus of South Birmingham College and over the next few blog posts I'll be writing about what I saw and heard at the conference.
Beginnings - No Messages
After a witty and well delivered introduction to the day from the Chief Executive of Writing West Midlands , Jonathan Davidson, the opening keynote talk was delivered by the author Jim Crace.
In an entertaining and heartfelt talk entitled No Messages Jim Crace spoke to what it means to be a writer and how the reality of it differs from many people's perceptions.
He began by explaining how for Christmas one year at the age of 11 or 12 in about 1956 his father bought him a copy of the Everyman Roget's Thesaurus, a copy he still uses to …

T + 792 Grapefruit and Swimming Pools

I went to the clinic yesterday and finally after 792 days I have been told I can stop taking ciclosporin.
This is quite a symbolic step even though the 10mg once a day dose I was on wasn't doing that much it was enough to partly suppress my immune system and keep any last rumblings of GVHD down. Hopefully the GVHD won't return.
One of the immediate consequences of this is that I can now drink grapefruit juice and eat grapefruits. I was not allowed them whilst I was on ciclosporin as it reacts with it and increases the levels carried in the blood. It's one of the less onerous conditions of my treatment that I have had to bear but even so I may celebrate tomorrow with a glass of chilled grapefruit juice.
I had a nice long chat with my consultant about how you classify the state of my immune system and I also asked him a couple of questions about how antibodies work just for my own curiosity. He explained the key points of the immune system as simply as he could and even then it…

T + 783 It's Story Time

I'm pleased to say the antibiotics have cleared up my secondary infection and my annoying tickly cough had all but gone. I'm at the clinic for a regular appointment next week.
Creative Writing
As mentioned previously I'm doing a creative writing course with the Open University.
Here is a link to the first full story I have written for this course. ( It's only 750 words as that was the limit).
Here's the teaser for it.....
He woke with the now usual flicker of confusion then the weight of remembrance came crashing in upon him. He was cold, that was always the first coherent thought he had.