Sunday, July 31, 2005

Yes, but...

Our group has got some work published. Yes, but none of us are actually going to get paid.

You can play this game for years.

Yes, but I didn't get paid for it. Yes, but it was only a small press journal. Yes, but I didn't get paid much. Yes, but I haven't had my own book published. Yes, but my book didn't sell that well. Yes, but I'll never be able to write another bestseller. Yes, but I got a bad review. Yes, but the critics say it isn't great literature. Yes, but J.K.Rowling is still earning more than me.

A really skilful player of this game can deny that they've achieved anything worthwhile pretty much indefinitely.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Writing articles and getting them published

The task of writing a 1,000 word article, which looked a bit daunting at first, proved to be no problem at all for the group. Three of the articles have since been accepted for publication. Even better, one of them was mine! I'd say the others were of publishable quality, but as the authors have not yet sent them anywhere this assessment has not been rigorously tested.

How did we achieve this remarkable success rate? I think we did a couple of vital things right. We picked subjects we knew a fair bit about (haiku, hill-walking, librarianship, churches and the Manx diaspora. Yes, it's quite a diverse group!) We had a particular market in mind - in most cases a particular journal. This meant that the articles were targeted towards a very specific audience. If I'd sent my article on haiku to a librarianship or hill-walking journal it might not have been so well received. Ok, I have just enough sense not to do that.

New Writing - Seen Through a Window by M

All week I had waited for the postman - each morning looking impatiently for him as the minutes ticked away. Worried I would have to leave before I saw him, each day I was cutting it fine to catch the train for work, the normal seven minutes walk compressed to four and a half and a wish that British Rail would not run to time.

The interview at the time had seemed to go so well but each day since, my confidence had dwindled until by now I was convinced my dream job would not be mine.

And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him coming along the road, going to next door but two, next door but one, next door and then...

The envelope landed face down on the doormat, white, A4 and sealed. I came down the stairs in a rush and looked at it - who was it from? Could it be? Could this really be the letter I was waiting for? My heart skipped a beat as I moved towards it and tried to imagine what it might say: "I am pleased to inform you..." I smiled in anticipation and then reality struck. This was me. Surely it was much more likely to be "I regret to inform you that on this occasion..."

I dithered not knowing what to do. My cat purred round my legs in a figure of eight not used to being ignored at this time of day. Surely breakfast (his) was far more important than any piece of paper? He finally lost patience and elegantly posed on top of the white envelope, guaranteed my attention at last. I sighed, picked him up for a cuddle and with the other hand turned over the envelope.

Seen through the window was the name and address of my neighbour. It wasn't even for me. Our dyslexic postman had yet again read number 29 as number 92.

I fed the cat and ran to the station as the tannoy announced that British Rail regret that...


Copyright on all writing that appears on this blog belongs to the individual authors. If you want to do anything at all with writing that appears here please request permission first. This is the law but more importantly, it's good manners. Authors can be contacted by sending an email to me. Thanks!


New Writing - Seen Through a Window by Hanish Parmar

The sun is rising in the east. As the morning awakens, the hustle and bustle of Mumbai opens its sore sleepy eyes.

Looking down from this mountaintop I see the hazy movement of cars, trucks, and rickshaws all rushing toward their destined destinations, each on a mission, many oblivious to this abode above.

This mountaintop brings serenity and peace to all who manage to climb her rocky and slippery steps, even to those who arrive using the cliff lift.

The freshness of the mountain breeze, untainted by the smoke and pollution, gently guide the clouds through their journey - of course, their movements are also pre-destined.

In the distance the approaching footsteps of priests and the chanting of sacred mantras bring a wake up call, the doors are unlocked. Again this daily samsara has begun, another day of worshiping, sacrificing, giving, and forgiving.

My face lightens up as I see the fully effulgent sunlight beaming through those harsh doors; the window restricts its full splendour. Temples now have to be securely locked to prevent thieves and rogues from robbing them - a sad but true sign of the times.

The priests hurriedly dress me in the finest attire and jewellery, perform the customary aarti, and light incense sticks, it is opening time – and time is money.

In the distance I see the many pilgrims and devotees slowly making their way up through the rough and rugged mountainside, uttering my praises as they take each single step.

What will they ask for today? As if I need to ask myself this! I see through them, see in their minds eyes and read what is within their hearts.

The lady with her husband halfway up the mountain, just behind the naked sadhu, they are coming to ask me to grant them a son.

The naked sadhu on the other-hand is coming to ask for my blesssing, and nothing more - his gift will be salvation granted by the absolute, as this is the one and only true path of the wise.

The cliff lift to my right is slowly approaching the mountaintop. Seated at the front is a man, a very rich man and illustriously dressed bearing gifts of gold, silver and precious stones. He has come to offer these gifts to me, as he has on many occasions, so that I may bless him with even more gold and riches. He is fully aware of the murder, adultery, and a countless number of robberies he has commited...

… this time, I won't grant him riches, but something far superior, a knowledge so that he may realise his true self - he is good person by heart but has swerved off the path of righteousness.

Well, here we go again, time to impart my unconditional love to all that come, until those heavy steel doors are closed and the sun sets in the west … then back to just me, and the small window.


Copyright on all writing that appears on this blog belongs to the individual authors. If you want to do anything at all with writing that appears here please request permission first. This is the law but more importantly, it's good manners. Authors can be contacted by sending an email to me. Thanks!


Thursday, July 28, 2005


An anecdote of between 300 and 500 words. How hard can it be to write something like that?

Well, it depends. When we discussed our experience of doing this exercise we found that different members of the group had struggled with different aspects of it. Some found it hard to keep it below 500 words, others (including me) had to work hard to write more than 300.

Then there was the fact that we read our contributions out. With other people there. Listening. Making notes. Getting ready to comment when we'd finished.

Most, in fact almost all, of my writing workshop experience up to now has been online. I send an email, some people read it, they send an email with comments. It's all nice and remote. The face to face version is a bit more scary, but it's not as bad as I thought it might be. Not that they're scary people! (I have to say that - they're probably reading this...)

I'd like to post some examples of what was produced. I'm thinking of heading these New Writing - and the title, so they stand out from my ramblings.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Today's tip on getting published.

I've heard that a third article from our exercise 2 has now been accepted for publication.

Since this group was set up one thing has become clear to me. Your chances of getting work into print go up if you send it to publishers.

Why Cabbage Soup?

Well, why not? This story might have had something to do with it.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Cabbage Soup - a writing group. (Hey, that rhymes...!)

Cabbage Soup was formed in May 2005 for no better reason than that it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The original idea was to work through the exercises in the book 'Teach Yourself Creative Writing' by Diane Doubtfire. The two founder members agreed to attempt every exercise, and not to let each other wriggle out of those exercises which took them furthest from their respective comfort zones.

The group was advertised within the library where the founders work and attracted some interest. Membership began with 2, peaked at 8, and currently stands at 5.

This blog is likely to be mainly me rambling on, but I'd like to also include some samples of work, with the writers' permission of course. Let's see how it goes.

If you'd like to play along from a distance get yourself a copy of the book. Watch out for different editions by the way, the exercises vary. We're using the 1996 2nd edition rather than the latest one. Let us know how you get on.

So far we've done the following exercises. (Much more info in the book.)

1. Write a 300-500 word anecdote called "Seen through a window."
2. Write a 1000 word article.
3. Find a time and place to write for an hour a day.
4. Prepare your article for submission for publication.
5. Write a 5 minute radio talk.

Two of the articles from Ex. 2 have already been accepted for publication!

We're currently working on

6. Plan and write the first two pages of a short story.