#MondayBlogs ‘Write from the heart’ #WritingTips @BathFlashAward #FlashFiction

I was recently browsing the Bath Flash Awards website when I came across an interview with this edition’s (March-June 2019) Flash Fiction Award Judge, Christopher Allen. You can read the whole interview here.

It was the final question and answer that has mesmerised me all weekend. I quote the question and answer here:

  • Any final suggestions for writers entering our award?

Yes. Write from the heart. Edit it and edit it and edit it. Have other people read it. Ask them if it has an emotional impact. Did it make them feel something? Write something you think the world needs.

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So much advice in so few words, a true ‘flash answer’ to a complex question.

My thoughts on this priceless and concise advice:

‘Write from the heart’

Inspiration is entwined with emotion. Whatever we write should spring from passionate feelings about an issue. That’s an easy one to fulfill. Most of us write stories about people, places and events that are meaningful to us.

‘Edit it and edit it and edit it’

First drafts are necessary, but also messy and too long. Most of us need to ramble to ourselves to get to know our characters and understand their thoughts and actions, and yet those ramblings need to be carefully edited, more than once, thus the repetition, before they can be shared with readers.

‘Have other people read it’

We all know and appreciate the invaluable task of alpha and beta readers, friends, agents, editors, proof readers, and an array of generous and professional people who are usually acknowledged by authors in their books.

Ask them if it has an emotional impact. Did it make them feel something?

Words need to go beyond an aesthetic use of language in order to make an impact on the reader. It’s not only about organisation, expression, wording, pace, and grammar, but about the inspiration and feelings conveyed in the writing.

Write something you think the world needs.

Finally, the most important attribute which distinguishes good writing from outstanding writing, the content or message of the text.

Is there an intention beyond entertaining readers? And secondly, is the idea worth writing about? Do readers need to know or think about the characters or issues in your flash/novel?

Christopher’s answer is great advice for writing, a haiku, a birthday card, a flash, a letter, a short story, a novella, a novel and everything else.

If it’s worth writing, it’s worth doing it from the heart.

My twenty-word flash conclusion:

Write with passion about a meaningful issue, edit, aim for emotional impact, edit, share and test, edit, publish. Start again.

And now, let’s finish that flash/novel and start the next one…

 

 

 

Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction ‘Forest Bathing’ #99Words #MondayBlogs

This post was written in response to Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch’s weekly #99 word Flash Fiction Challenge. This week’s prompt is to write a story about forest bathing. You can use the Japanese term, Shinrin Yoku. Check out other entries or take part yourself!

Inspirational Walks

The Verger at Rochester Cathedral heard the author’s cane tapping the cobbled streets below his window. He must be on his way back from his daily, inspirational walk from Gad’s Hill.

Mr. Miles stepped out to greet his old friend. Turk trotted by his master’s side biting a dry branch collected in the woods.

‘A cup of tea, Mr. Dickens?’

‘Not today, Mr. Miles. The seventh instalment of Edwin Drood awaits.’

Miles sighed, watching him trudge up the hill, stopping to peer at the little graveyard under the castle wall where he had expressed his desire to be buried.

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Unfortunately, Charles Dickens died of a stroke before The Mystery of Edwin Drood was finished. Only six instalments were published. Dickens died in June and the seventh, unfinished instalment, would have been published in October 1870.

Neither was he buried at the cemetery at Rochester Cathedral, as had been his wish. Instead, he was buried at Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey, due to the pressure of Arthur Stanley, the Dean, who was searching for a famous writer to boost the prestige of the Abbey.

Turk was his favourite dog, but he died five years before him, so Turk wouldn’t have accompanied Dickens on his last walks.

According to his biographer, Peter Ackroyd, Charles Dickens walked for twelve miles a day, either along the London streets or in the countryside in Rochester, Kent, where he lived. He was usually accompanied by one or more of his many dogs.

He either walked on fact-finding missions for his novels, or for inspiration and tranquility.

Gad’s Hill, where he lived for the last years of his life, is a forty-minute walk from Rochester. Dickens preferred to walk alone because his purpose was to think and create. More information on Dickens walks here.

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I find walking in nature, is invigorating and inspiring, so I do it as often as possible. I often post pictures and poems or thoughts after my #SundayWalks, as I did yesterday, for example.

I’m fortunate enough to live in the country, and like Dickens, the town centre is about a 40 minute walk.

I used to walk with my dogs, but they’ve both passed away. I often walk with my grandchildren and children or my husband. I enjoy walking alone, but I don’t mind being accompanied. Even when I’m chatting with someone, I feel inspired and always take a notebook with me to jot down ideas.

Here’s a picture of a path I often take for my walks.

Here’s recent walk with my grandson, who loves inventing stories on our walks. On this occasion, some sheep had been put out to pasture that afternoon.

Does walking leisurely in a forest or the countryside open your senses and inspire you, too?

#Writerslife #Haiku Inspiration #amwriting

I took this picture and wrote the following haiku, a few minutes ago, this evening, when I looked up from my desk, as I was enthusiastically writing the last chapters of the first draft of my fourth novel.

Inspiration

Subtle and intense.

My heart quivers, my head whirls.  

That fleeting moment…

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There are times, special moments, when words flow more easily.

It’s hard to know why, I wish I did, so that I could clear my schedule and prepare for the onslaught of overwhelming inspiration.

Sometimes I blame the full moon, the waning moon, the new moon, the blue moon or the harvest moon!

Other times I blame clear blue heavens, breathtaking sunsets, amazing dawns, stormy grey skies, or pearly white clouds.

Who knows?

What I do know is that when I feel the ideas rushing to my mind and the words flowing from my pen or fingers, it’s such a unique feeling that I wish I were there all the time.

Such is the delirious moment of creation, of course it must end, or else I’d never edit, rewrite or improve, or publish my work!

Happy weekend! I’ll be writing away…

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#NationalPoetryMonth ‘Let it Flow’ #inspiration #amwriting #poem

Today I offer you a poem I’ve written for one of my best friends, artist Anna Overbury Sujar. We were recently sitting by the beach, chatting about inspiration and the process of creating a picture or a poem.

When I returned home, I wrote this poem for her, for me, for you, for everyone who creates art.

I hope you enjoy it!

Anna Overbury Sujar, in her studio.

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Let it Flow by Luccia Gray.

Push away your fear,

Ignore your doubts,

Let it flow.

Loosen your arms,

Relax your hand,

Let it flow.

Capture the moment

You saw the light,

Let it flow.

Feel the grandeur,

Bathed in gratitude,

Let it flow.

Channel your magic,

Connect with the awe,

Let it flow.

Pick up your brush,

Awaken the fairy,

Let it flow.

Let the brush slide,

Over your canvas,

Let it flow.

Blend the colours into sound,

Melt the music into movement,

Let it flow.

For Anna Overbury Sujar.

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Anna Overbury Sujar at home with one of her beautiful mosaics.

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#AtoZChallenge ‘L’ #NationalPoetryMonth ‘The Lightest Touch’ #NPM17 #amwriting #poem #inspiration

This year to celebrate National Poetry Month and to take part in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, I’ll be posting two poems a day, one written by me and another poem written by one of my favourite poets. The title or first word of both poems will begin with the corresponding letter in the Blogging Challenge.

Today I offer you two poems about poetic inspiration. The Lightest Touch by David Whyte, which has in turn inspired me to write a poem with the same name about the same subject, The Lightest Touch by Luccia Gray

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 THE LIGHTEST TOUCH by David Whyte

Good poetry begins with

the lightest touch,

a breeze arriving from nowhere,

a whispered healing arrival,

a word in your ear,

a settling into things,

then, like a hand in the dark,

it arrests the whole body,

steeling you for revelation.

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In the silence that follows

a great line,

you can feel Lazarus,

deep inside

even the laziest, most deathly afraid

part of you,

lift up his hands and walk toward the light.

– from EVERYTHING IS WAITING FOR YOU and RIVER FLOW

David Whyte in 2009 by Eugene Kim

David Whyte, of Anglo-Irish origins, was born and brought up in the UK. He was a marine zoologist, before he started writing poetry.

The lightest Touch is a beautiful poem which aims to identify the fleeting and magical moment of inspiration or revelation, before a poem is written.

More about David and his poetry here.

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I’ve used the same title in my poem and tied to identify the same moment.

The Lightest Touch by Luccia Gray (inspired by David Whyte)

A whisper in my dream,

A fading ripple in the sea,

A breeze when your eyes open,

A trembling leaf just fallen.

A bolt of lightning,

A shadow sliding

Over the waning sun.

The lightest touch,

Like a distant hum

Has finally come.

A sudden surge of light,

Which starts so slight,

Yet grows and grows

‘Till it explodes,

Into words and lines

And other signs,

Later a poem,

Just for them.

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#SaturdayInspiration The March Puddle #poem #WeekendBlogShare

I love rainy winter weekends, because I have the perfect excuse to stay at home by the fireplace, or in my study, and read and write all day long…

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The view from my study. A puddle in my garden by the orange tree.

The March Puddle

March is the month in between.

Spring’s not arrived,

Winter’s not left.

Birds are busy storing twigs,

And buds are peeking their tiny heads,

Daring to tempt this moody month,

While puddles warn us,

‘Nothing’s over until the time is right.’

 

March is unimagined.

Like a line you start and leave

Unfinished,

Because you walk out to feel the rain on your hair,

Washing away your unready thoughts,

Before dripping into a puddle

At your feet,

Like the world.

 

Now you’re ready.

Go back and write.

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You can listen to me read my poem on a 1 minute video I uploaded to Facebook here:

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1880882085488464&id=1393735074203170

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As I was writing the poem, I was reminded of Natasha Bedingfield’s song ‘Unwritten’. It has two fabulous line:

‘Feel the rain on your skin. No one else can feel it for you.’ 

Every person experiences events in their own unique way. Only you will feel the rain they way you feel it, the same as inspiration. Your own inspiration and creativity is unique to you. Explore it and embrace it. 

The second line I love is:

‘Today is when your book begins. The rest is still unwritten.’

Your book, poem, flash, can start any day you want it to. Today or tomorrow, it doesn’t matter when. Every new day is today. Your future is unwritten and only you can write it.

Here’s the song, just over a minute of inspiration!

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#WordlessWednesday & #1LinerWeds on Life and Coffee

I’ve just discovered via Twitter, that there’s a Blog called Create With Joy which hosts, among other events,  #WordlessWednesday. There’s a badge and a linky at the end of Joy’s the post and there’s a Facebook and Twitter connection, too. So, I’ll be joining in. The only rule seems to be ‘sharing family-friendly photos’. Sounds fun and easy. Most entries have some text, too, but I’ll be keeping it to the minimum.

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This week, I’ve been looking over my holiday photos, and I was thinking how the basic, simple things in life bring us the greatest pleasure. Water. Looking at pure, clean, fresh water has a calming effect.

These pictures were taken standing at the edge of one of the largest dams in Spain ‘El Pantano del Ebro’ in Cantabria. There’s a little beach ‘Playa de Arija‘, where people can swim, too, and there’s a camping site. Well worth a visit if you’re ever in the north of Spain.

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As usual, I’m going to be linking #WordlessWednesday to #1LinerWeds on Linda G. Hill’s blog, which I’ve been taking part in on and off.

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I’m joining both this week. Lind’s 1-liner is C is for Coffee.

I love Jim Carey. He’s funny, he’s intelligent, he’s caring and I love the things he says in his inspirational talks.

I love this quote, which has some relation to coffee 🙂 but it’s really about not taking anything or anyone for granted and remembering there’s a time limit to everything.

I wake up some mornings and sit and have my coffee and look out at my beautiful garden, and I go, ‘Remember how good this is. Because you can lose it.’

Jim Carey

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While I’m working, one of the best moments in my mornings is my coffee break, when I chat to my colleagues and sometimes my students (I teach adults, so we often have a coffee and a chat during the break). The reason’s not because I don’t like my job (I love it), but because I love speaking and listening to people informally.

I enjoy those brief moments (20-30 minute break) of relaxed and real conversation, which inspire me as a writer. No wonder those 18th century coffee shops contributed to the Enlightenment and the rise of the novel…

Anyone else for coffee?