Why it is good to meet up with other writers

Last weekend I attended a writers’ conference. The main theme was short story writing.

The weather was perfect – dry but not too hot. There was plenty of good food, beautiful scenery, birds to watch and more besides.

The speakers and most of those attending the sessions are members of the Association of Christian Writers (ACW), which has a new website. There is a link to its daily blog to which I contribute seven times a year.

The first time I attended one of these weekends I wrote a post about how over-stimulated I was afterwards. Now that I have met many of the people before, it is not so overwhelming. They are the sort of people with whom one resumes a friendship as if we met more frequently. The phrase, picking up where we left off, springs to mind. Quite a few of us keep in touch on Facebook.

I had been feeling short of writing inspiration and enthusiasm for blogging before I went. The writing exercises and conversations with other people helped me write a short story and two poems on the Saturday. I also decided what to write about for my next More than Writers blog post.

Because I was still bruised from a fall in our garden over a week earlier, I didn’t venture on a long walk on the Saturday afternoon, but stayed in, putting a few pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. It had only been started by our group and had 1000 pieces. The usual comment from passers-by was, “Have you finished it yet?”

I also borrowed a children’s book from the library at Scargill House and read it from cover to cover during the weekend. My next post here should be about books. I have been reading more than writing this month.

The weekend ended with a service of Holy Communion in the beautiful chapel and Sunday lunch. The leaders gave the talk in the service, encouraging us in life as well as in writing.


Writing Day and some new directions

Last October I attended a Writers’ Day for the first time since I was a student. I mentioned it briefly here.

Another post tells the story of how I felt after a whole weekend in the company of writers.

I recently made a trip to visit relatives and attend the Writers’ Day in London.  One of the speakers was Amy Boucher Pye, who has written Bible Reading notes for New Daylight, which I have been using almost continuously since its inception.  (I have tried other notes as well.)

The other speaker was Andrew Chamberlain of the Creative Writer’s Toolbelt.

It was good to see some familiar faces and to meet some new people.  I found the talks interesting and learned some things about my writing habits in the workshop led by Amy.  The standard of the pieces which participants read out was very high.  I felt like a beginner in their company.

It was also good to hear a presentation from Sophie Neville about the Bible Society.  She was so enthusiastic that if I were happy to drive myself around, I’d be volunteering at once.  (I think I have got over my fear of public speaking.)

I bought some books, which I have read and intend to review in my next post.

I had to leave early to catch a train home, so missed the discussion at the end.

So what are the changes of direction?

My original blog, Sue’s considered trifles, has not had any new material on it for some considerable time.  However, due (I think) to the way WordPress links a user name to the first blog, it is still attracting new followers.  I signed up for a poetry course from WordPress and decided to post my efforts on Sue’s considered trifles, rather than interrupt my weekly posts here.

I also found myself lured into Goodreads.  I was attracted by a giveaway of a sequel to one of the books I bought.

I find the autumn challenging, with the shorter days and lots of pressures on my time.  Hopefully I will be able to find a balance between writing on- and off-line and life in general.  Social media also need to be kept within reasonable limits.

Going round in small circles

Have you ever heard the expression going round in circles or going round in small circles?  I have even heard going round in ever decreasing circles.  This makes me wonder whether they are concentric or whether a spiral is being described inaccurately.

After that detour into the English language, allow me to lead you to the thoughts I really want to express.

Life is complex in the western world.  Adults have to look after themselves and any dependents, unable to take care of themselves.  Then there are jobs to be done inside or away from the home (assuming they are fortunate enough to have one).  Fitting essential tasks into the time available is a daily challenge for many people, especially those balancing the demands of a busy home and work.

Then there is retirement.  Many people have to manage all their time without any regular appointments for the first time for as long as they can remember.  This may be particularly difficult for those whose jobs involved doing everything to a routine or timetable.  They wake up in the morning and have nowhere they are expected to be at a particular time.  Adjustments are required.

Freedom to do exactly as we like is something that many of us believed as youngsters to be an ideal situation.  In retirement it can be a challenge for some.

Oban with McCaig's Tower

Oban with McCaig’s Tower – a circular structure

So where do the circles I mentioned at the beginning fit in?

I find that there are certain tasks, which have to be done to preserve a level of cleanliness and nutrition.  Then there are pastimes (such as puzzles, which are supposed to help maintain mental capacity) and exercise (in the form of walks in the open air, for example) creative activities (such as knitting, sewing, writing, making music or art) and groups (joined to pursue an interest and for socialising).  At times I feel as though I am repeating the same activities over and over again, while there may be other things, which I should be doing and am neglecting.  It is easy to ignore tasks, which need doing to do something easier or more enjoyable.  Even within an activity it is possible to concentrate on the easy parts and ignore a project or work in progress, which is really more important to us.  So I continue to produce blog posts, which hardly anyone notices, while the book I intend to knock into shape and publish remains half-forgotten.  This is partly because there are aspects of the process, which are difficult and new to me and partly because blogging has become a habit.  I am still interested in it.  To break out of my usual patterns of behaviour and do something new will require some effort and determination.  I need to examine where I am going round in small circles and see how I can change unhelpful patterns of behaviour.

How about you?