Posts Tagged ‘open mike events’

I am a fan of the supernatural, when it comes to tv and films.  Not the gory side, but what might be called ‘magical realism’ in books. A vampire slayer here, a zombie detective there: things which marry everyday experiences with the trials and tribulations of a secret otherworldliness.

It’s not something I particularly look for in my reading, or in my writing – but as I prepare a few pieces for open mike night I have the urge to write something poetic about it.  Maybe a vampiric verse, or ode to the undead.  Or perhaps a more prosaic approach, talking tv.

I don’t know what, if anything, will work but it’s a challenge I quite fancy taking on.  New approaches don’t always work but they are always worth trying.

It might even create an opportunity for me to be comedic in my writing, although that could be a step too far…!

Whatever oddness ensues, it’ll be an interesting experiment.  I’ll start by watching a few a few shows for research, to get a feel for the balance between reality and the supernatural.

It’s a hard life!

Happy writing



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I was going to go full on ‘perchance to dream’ but as the line is a metaphor for death it didn’t quite capture my feelings!

I have been so busy this weekend, and although some of the time was writing-related I just don’t have the energy to think about it all.

What I really need to do is get more energetic – but failing that I will just say work is developing with the lyrics and I am working on more poetry. I must get my ad for the open mike out soon and I want a few new pieces to try out for that.

That’s all I can give you tonight but I will be back Tuesday!

Happy writing,



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Firstly, sorry for the failure to post.  Internet issues, power cuts and early nights all got in the way.  I have yet to finish the book though, so you didn’t miss anything on Tuesday!

And although I have been slacking off here, I have been achieving in my writing.  Not only have I been working on a poem inspired by a significant anniversary (a poem I intend to pass on in due course) but I actually used my writing group support to improve and develop it.

I also put the pedal to the metal to get myself out and sharing by organising an open mike event.  I say organising, but really I just raised the idea with the right person and now it’s booked!

After a shaky writing time I am really pleased to get back on the right track.  In my writing group today I saw the payoff of a new approach and really feel positive about getting more poetry written.

Which is good, as I will need something to read at the open mike!

I am going to leave it there for today as I need to hit the hay pretty soon. Plus I still don’t trust my internet!

Happy writing,



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This week has involved books, poetry, illness, writing rooms and weddings, and it’s been an exhausting mix!

I started the week with book club – we discussed ‘The Book Thief’ and it was a very successful, even though we didn’t get through everything I planned. Sometimes the questions I dredge up on particular books make very little sense in the context of the discussion, and you just have to bin them!

The next thing was a plan for a new ‘set list’ of performance poetry. I haven’t been to an open mike since before Christmas, and I’ve asked my writing group to comment on the ‘Cicero’ poem I wrote last year, so I’m hoping that doing some readings and developing that poem will push me in the right direction.

Then there was illness.  That’s all I’ll say about that, except I am strongly tempted to write health-related poetry.

And on to writing rooms!  A friend is building a room and I went out to see the setting for it. It was utterly perfect – the changing seasons, the weather, the wildlife will all inspire; the quiet and peace will allow him to still his mind and write from the heart.

Finally, I rounded the week off attending a wedding fair. I’ve never been to one before, and it was huge – after three hours I literally lost my voice from talking so much! Marriage is about two people wanting to spend their lives together; weddings are about a whole lot more, and going along made me eager to work on an idea I had for celebration poetry.  It was an environment ripe for writing: the excitement, the people, the shiny jewels and crystals – the chocolate fountain… I can imagine all sorts of stories focussing on a day like that.

But that’s my constant and extremely frustrating problem right now – I have all these ideas, and they keep deflecting me from my work.  I feel I am failing as a writer because I can’t keep focussed on one idea.  My mind flits around all over the place and I pick up ideas that light my mind like fireflies – and then they go out, and I start again.

So it’s target setting time for me once more.  By next Sunday I will finish the reading on paranormal writing and I’ll have revisited the guide to plotting I read last year.  Then I can set a new timetable, and you can all give me a metaphorical prod when I go off on tangents.

You are my writing conscience…!

In other news – It’s book 20 of the best novels this week – Little Women.  I can’t remember reading it, but I watched it – I remember a girl with a peg on her nose!  Maybe I’ll read it in the future but my track record with the list is a bit ropey, so please let me know if it’s worth a read.

Also – on the subject of lists, I found this one about the worst couples in literature.  I’m going to compile a few of my own because some of these are relatively inoffensive to me…

And finally – I read this article about Sappo’s poetry with great excitement – as I’ve said before, the discovery of what is thought lost really inspires and delights me.  Writers are part of a tradition that goes back through time to the first fireside storytellers: we are tied to them.  Articles like this really make that connection sing.

And on that note, I’ll leave you to your own writing connections.  Until next time,

Happy writing,



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This week has been another where things haven’t gone quite as expected – or, more honestly, I hadn’t taken into account all the things in my diary when I planned my work!

Not only did I forgo one working day to spend with my mum Christmas shopping (what a hard choice that was…) but I’ve been away since Friday and spent my time completely laptop-free!

So looking back at the targets I set last week, I have to admit to not quite making them:

two chapters edited – I managed one
prep for writing group – done
winter poetry – not done.

In other words – 50% success rate.  I guess after the last few weeks, it’ll take time to build up to full speed!  But I got some information together for Thursday’s inspiration post (there will be a photo!) so I can count that as an extra job…

This week, I’m going to carry on with the editing, and get the next chapter completed, get on top of the poetry review and go to an open mike night.  If I have time, I’ll continue editing beyond that chapter.  We shall see – shopping may trump working again!

In other news – If you were one of the 309,000  who took part in NaNoWriMo this year, I hope you found it positive and useful. Congratulations to everyone who met their target 🙂

Also – I read this article, which reports that 16-24 year olds prefer a hard copy book to an e-book.  I was quite surprised by this, but it does give me faith that the value of physical books is recognised, even among some of the most technology-aware consumers.  It makes me feel less like a dinosaur!

And finally – There’s no new book listed this week for the 100 best novels at the time of writing, but there is this review of progress so far.  I also find many books (and songs, and paintings) transport me back to a more youthful me, looking forward and not backwards as I sometimes do now.  Nostalgia is part of reading, and the experience of revisiting something tied into the complexities of growing up, the strangely delightful moment of understanding something of the world, is one of the reasons I will always want to re-read books I love.

I hope that someone will think of my work in the same way, one day.

Happy writing,



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I knew it would happen one day – I forgot completely that it was Sunday and just as Midnight came and Monday rolled in, I realised I should have written a blog post for you.

So I did what any self-respecting writer would do, and I scrabbled around trying to make 400 words out of thin air.  And I give you – the week that was…

  • I did some editing of the novel (hurrah!) and some more poetry (yee ha!)
  • I went to open mike night (cool!) and got an agency rejection (boo!)
  • I missed the start of my new course (hmm!) and got some boring paperwork done (phew!)

There was lots more to it, of course – but these were the writing-related things that I can remember.

Editing was fine, although I haven’t looked at the manuscript for longer than I thought so it was a bit hard to get back into the flow.  The poetry was and will be fine – I am comfortable with the idea that it’ll change over time and that’s quite exciting to me actually, to see changes in my life blend with my older poetry to give it a different tone.

I won’t say much about the open mike as I spoke about it on Thursday – except to say it was a good night out regardless of my own readings!

The agency rejection wasn’t upsetting – I have zoned out in a way, as there’s nothing I can do to change minds.  I do need to send the book out to another couple of agents this week though.  Meanwhile, the poetry gives me my own little lifestyle and I quite enjoy that.  As it’s not something I expect to publish, I am considering self-publishing a small pamphlet to sell at any performances; I’ve seen it done before and I think it’ll be a sensible thing to do for a small expenditure.  I’ll be setting up a separate blog for that too, eventually.

The course will be a loss if I don’t do it, as it’s about writing historical fiction; it’s a way back into my first NaNo piece or my book 4 (was 3) which is set in 1950s, I think…

And the paperwork was paperwork.  There’s not a lot more to say about it than that!

So there you go – a mixed bag of a week but the next one starts here!

In other news – My travels through the 100 best novels has reached number 4 – ‘Clarissa’.  So far I have read none of the books, but I do remember seeing this on TV in my youth: it must have affected me more than I realised as so much of the story came to mind when I saw this book on the list.  To be honest, I am extremely unlikely to read this one.  Better luck next time, I hope…

As it’s so very, very late I’ll leave it there for tonight – let me know if you’ve read the book though, I’ll be interested to know if my memory of the story is as accurate as I think.  Or, indeed, if it was a good adaptation.

Happy writing,



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Today two positive writerly things have happened.   Well, more than two actually, but two that are important for the purposes of this post!

Firstly, I went to an open mike event, which was a lot of fun. I read one of my poems in a new style and it worked much better; it’s funny but in a wry grin rather than a belly laugh way, so I read it with different inflections and I was really happy with it.

The second is that I was asked to do another performance of the same style as the weekend’s event ie music and poetry over an afternoon session.

How are these relevant to an inspiration post, you ask?  And, why am I talking about them both?

It’s all about inspiring you to get out there.

I’ve said repeatedly that the performance side of things is really hard for me; I’d be happy to read work by others, I think, but I feel very exposed reading my own poetry, so the more I do it, and the more I try things out, the more I can see what works and what doesn’t.  Most of my poetry is serious, but I am aware that I read some poems as though I’m reading the news and that’s not great from an audience point of view!

Using open mike events to see how people respond is useful.  Tonight I learnt that my planned poem introduction for one piece didn’t work, but the new style of reading got a specific response from virtually the whole audience (‘aah’, in this case – the bunch of romantics!).  Until tonight I hadn’t had a response like that to the poem, and now I know what works.

So before my next performance, I’ll practice reading at these events and with someone whose responses can be used to measure the success or failure of an attempt.  I have to remember that my performance is a type of acting, and I have to act the part of a confident performer!  The more I do it, the better I’ll get.

I have been promised a workshop on performing poetry by someone with 30 plus years of experience, so that should help too…

I’m sure I sound like a broken record on this, saying yet again that you should just go and do things.  But it’s true.

My experiences show that even when you are nervous, lacking in confidence or frankly terrified of performing, you can improve.  You can use open mikes to develop your confidence, try out new styles and listen critically to your work.  Then, when the chance comes to perform you might do it better than you thought, and be asked to do it all over again.  And you’ll be using those open mikes to refine your performance for the next time.

If you make a life as a poet or writer, you will have to read your work in public one day.  Preparing yourself is the best tool you have for getting through it successfully.

Happy writing,



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This week’s inspiration post is not an inspiration post at all. It’s written in lieu of a panic attack as I think about my first proper public reading.

Yesterday I spent about three hours with my friend going through the set list – songs, poems and excerpts from relevant books. The way it has worked out, I’ll now be reading six of my own poems, one poem by another person, and three passages from books.

I reckon in total, over two 45 minute sets, I’ll read for a maximum of about 20 minutes – and yet the whole thing is filling me with dread.

I was asked today what the difference is between open mike events and this.  Well, in reality I suppose you could argue that there’s not a lot of difference but in my mind open mike events are full of poets, singers and musicians all sharing their work, whereas this is about performing to an audience.

Even writing that makes my stomach shrivel up…

This is what it means to be a writer though.  The sharing part has never been easy for me, but I have to conquer it to make the life I’ve chosen meaningful.  I can’t do it with the novels until I have exhausted the agent search, but I can do it with the poetry.

All the poems bar one are like old friends, and I can wrap myself in their comforting familiarity. The venue is well-known, and the people warm and supportive. I really am easing into the performance side with a sympathetic first attempt.

But I’m still terrified!

It’s like that phrase you see on inspirational posters – ‘feel the fear, and do it anyway’.  By this time Sunday, the fear will be in the past and I’ll have accomplished something important.

And once I’ve done it, you’ll know you can too.  There you go – a little bit of inspiration after all!

Happy writing,



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For the past couple of days I’ve put the writing to one side to help out with a friend’s business open day – and have been lost in a fog of wool, paper pompoms, fabric, raffia and hessian, with the occasional bit of bunting thrown in for fun.

It was exhausting, and time-consuming but it was just what I needed after the last few weeks – a bit of creativity with a group of lovely people, helping a friend pursue a dream.

I also managed (part of) a charity zumbathon this weekend, which explains my general sleepiness… but now it’s time to refocus all my efforts on phrases not fabric, words not wool.

As I’ve said before, I’m performing at a ‘Listening Lunch’ next Sunday; the poetry count has gone from four to six and now I’m only doing one other reading.  I don’t need to write any more new poems, thankfully, and I’ve performed most of them at open mikes before, so that’s also made me feel a little better.  I just need to get on and finish editing everything.

Having made it through this weekend, and having seen how much can be achieved when people put their minds to something, I feel like this might actually work out – so watch this space!

In other news – As Thursday was National poetry Day here in the UK, I thought I’d belatedly share this article about writing poetry.  Poetry really is a rollercoaster relationship for me – I write copious amounts in different styles for weeks, then I write nothing for months, then I find old drafts and edit for ages, then I struggle to find any words to convey my emotions.  It’s infuriating sometimes – but when it works, and I write something that says everything I’m trying to say, I feel deeply proud of myself.  Of course in six months I won’t think it’s finished and I’ll edit a little more – but that’s how I think poetry should exist anyway.

Also – A few weeks ago I said I’d keep an eye on the reasoning behind the compilation of the 100 best novels.  Well – so far I’m failing but in fairness of the two books posted so far I’ve read neither.  Maybe I’ll get through them once I’ve got poetry week done!

And finally – after last year, I am not intending to register for NaNoWriMo this year, but to use November to get the editing of book two sorted out – but for anyone doing it who needs the occasional pep talk, I’ll try to post a little more often about my progress and the tricks and tips I’ve learnt to get through the daunting word count.  And please, please plan you work fully before you start so you don’t end up unpicking it for the best part of a year!

Until next time – happy writing!



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This week’s post is nice and short as I’ve been out and about a lot for the last few days!

On Thursday I told you a bit about the ‘listening lunch’ where I’ll be reading and sharing some of my poetry.  As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s a pretty big step up from a few open mike events with fellow writers and performers (even if unfriendly ones!), to people paying to attend an event.  It is hugely nerve-wracking and a complete challenge to my comfort zone.

I know I have to do these things; I know that anyone who want a career as a writer has to sell their wares, so to speak. What I also know is that if I don’t do it, I’ll be really angry with myself.  

Although I see prose as my ‘natural’ product, going out and reading the poetry will build my confidence overall so it’s definitely worth doing.  In this case the worst that happens is that my friend has to jump in and do the readings for me, and I look an idiot, but that’s not quite the outcome I’m looking for!  

So from now on until the listening lunch the focus is poetry, and the novel will have to take a back seat.  That means I’m going to put back completion date to the end of November instead of the end of October – I’ll use NaNo as an opportunity to develop the story rather than attempt to write another 50,000 random words.

In fact, Cicero will be springing forth as a fully formed poem in the next few days, if everything goes to plan…  That’ll be three new ones in a week, which is pretty good going.

In other news – I know I’ve linked to book lists a few times, but I thought this one might be a good way to explore different writers and writing styles.  It’s a 100 week series on the best 100 English-language classics, with an explanation of why they’ve been chosen.  Having looked at the earlier list I think ‘classic’ has been confused in some places with ‘have to read for school’, but it’ll be interesting seeing the justifications as to why some were chosen.  There are a number of books on the list that I totally disagree with; perhaps they’ll change my mind…  If I remember, I’ll comment on it here each week, even if just to say I haven’t read the book!

And finally – today is the annual Emmy Awards Show.  I’ve said before how I love the glitz of these award shows, even though part of me is repulsed by the fact that people could live for a year on the value of some of the outfits!  As I write, the presentations haven’t started, so I’ll just catch up with the red carpet. Perhaps I could write a story about the people behind the people we see – the make-up artists busily painting over bruises from surgery, or the stylists who have to shave the chests of their male clients because their shirts go see-through under camera flashes…  See, watching it is practically work!!

Happy writing,



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