27 Jun 2012

Writing in Space (or, Creative Spaces), Part I

Where do you write? A while ago Book Chick City hosted a series of guest blogs called Where Stories Are Made, in which writers posted a short entry about their creative workspaces and their writing routines. These range from home offices to parks and coffee shops, and any other place writers feel inspired and comfortable, and most importantly—where they get stuff done.

Here at Storyslingers we thought we'd share a few of our own Creative Spaces on the blog.

Shaftesbury-based writer Becky Bye shares Old Wardour Castle:

Many people say that there is a time and a place for writing, and for me, no place is better than Old Wardour Castle, near Tisbury in Wiltshire. A romantic ruin set in the Wiltshire landscape, the castle is a serene and beautiful spot in which my notebook has been filled on numerous occasions.

There is something intriguing and mysterious about writing in a location where so much history has taken place, and that I myself become part of history in those few moments; scribbling profusely in my notepad under a tree, or sat at the bottom of a spiral staircase. The mood of the castle shifts from day to day, which has a significant impact on my writing; some days the castle reveals its secrets, most of which I was never expecting to find, and which weave their way into my stories. On other days, the castle looks less inviting than usual, blending into the grey backdrop of a dreary English afternoon, and on such occasions the grandeur of the castle simply adds a unique elegance to my thoughts and ideas. No matter how bad a particular bout of writers block may be, there is no level of inspiration which cannot be released after just a few moments at Wardour Castle.

Dorchester-based author Gail Aldwin shares her study desktop:

I like writing somewhere quiet but I'm not sure what the best writing environment is, as I haven't experimented with this. Normally I work in the family study, a small, untidy room with a window which has a fabulous view over the water meadows to the north of Dorchester.

 I share the space with everyone except my daughter who prefers doing homework in her bedroom.  My husband and son play games on the desktop and I write on a notebook.  Sometimes we sit alongside each other but that's only possible when the headphones are in use. If I can't stand the distraction, I relocate to the kitchen table and work there.

Writer-in-denial Stephen Pellow talks about inner creative spaces:

Writing about something that doesn’t exist is something people who write do all the time. Being asked to write about something that probably should exist but doesn’t is proving to be problematic, though.

I don’t have a writing space. No nooks, crannies or cubby holes. No ready room. No secret garden. No stark whites, or muted earth tones and certainly nothing airy and spacious overlooking sweeping vistas. I write in my head, and with all the useless trivia I have retained over the years there’s certainly no room for a desk in there.  Sometimes that’s all I need, but it mostly comes down to having pen and paper and me, and that’s it. If I were to sit in a room at a desk and try and surround myself with inspiration – when I’m put against a clock, pressured even slightly to produce something – nothing happens. If I have to do it, I rarely want to.

So I always make sure I have ready access to a notepad and pen (or pencil) because I never know when, or where, I’m going to be pinched by creativeness!


We will be posting more Creative Spaces over the coming weeks, so do check back for updates.

24 Jun 2012

Storyslingers Summer Story Slam Poster

We're thrilled to reveal the Storyslingers Summer Story Slam poster, designed by the super talented Dan Morison.

 We also now have a Facebook event set up for the Slam. If you're on FB, please do join, and spread the word!

More details about the Slam, including booking info, are available at the SAC website here. But book soon, before the slots fill up!

9 Jun 2012

Miracle Marvel at Old Wardour Castle

One of our members, the fabulous Becky Bye, recently wrote a parody article about Old Wardour Castle where she's lucky enough to work, and since it gave me a chuckle I thought it worth asking if we could link to it from the Storyslingers blog. Becky was happy to share, so here is the aforementioned link: Miracle Marvel at Old Wardour Castle.

And an excerpt:

Visitors will be pleased to know that Old Wardour now boasts a wide range of miracle merchandise, including bottled miracle water from the castle well, and pilgrim patches, guaranteed to cure any ailments that you may have (not subject to liability), as well as a range of miracle medicines, with current BOGOF offers on selected items, such as genuine and authentic signed portraits of The Blessed Lady Blanche. (Items mentioned may alter from items actually sold.)

Additionally, there is now a wide range of miracle inspired snacks to refresh you after your long pilgrimage, such as ‘Holy Hotcakes,’ Miracle Mochas’ and ‘Oh My Lord Hot Chocolate.’ (Please do not enquire instore.)

Definitely worth checking out if you like a bit of tongue-in-cheek!

8 Jun 2012

Announcing our first Short Story Slam, July 20th 2012!

Hi everyone. We have a very special announcement to make about something that's been in the works for a few weeks now. This morning we finalised the remaining deails, so we can officially invite you to the first:

Storyslingers Short Story Slam!
Friday 20th July, 2012.
The Rutter Room, Shaftesbury Arts Centre. 7pm start. The official SAC page is here.

Storyslingers is hosting Shaftesbury’s first ever Story Slam – THE summer event for emerging writers to showcase their work, and for audiences to engage in fresh local literature.

A story slam is a contest of words, like a poetry slam for prose writers. Each writer has approximately five minutes (or 780 words) to read their story in front of a cosy audience and a friendly panel of judges.

This is an open event, and any writer can register to participate, though please be aware that some content may be unsuitable for children. We have a 60-seat maximum capacity with 10-15 performance slots. If we have any slots free on the night you can register on the door.

There are no set themes—you can read anything you like, from contemporary to fantasy, literary to genre-based fiction. The only restriction is that it's your own work. And it doesn't end there: Stories can even have live musical accompaniment if you want. But please contact us in this case so we can sort out the technicalities beforehand.

If you'd rather not compete you can still read a story during the non-competitive readers’ slots. Just please make clear in advance whether you want to compete or not. If you plan to read out a story email Jennifer K. Oliver at joliverdesigns(at)gmail(dot)com to book a reading slot.

Winner(s) will receive a small prize! And everyone will receive a massive round of applause.

Non-writers please come along and hear fresh new writing from the best local authors. There will be handmade books, zines, bookmarks and postcards for sale – mostly limited edition prints/ books, or one-off Book Art pieces.

Tickets £5 (£4 for SAC members and under 18s).

Bar and coffee-making facilities available.

Frome Festival, July 2012

Frome Festival, taking place in July 2012, looks set to be a wide, interesting mixture of events, lectures and workshops, and a good place for creative types to do a spot of local networking. There are a lot of different things going on in the writing and publishing fields too, and it's worth checking out the line up if you're involved in the local lit scene.

Both me and Jennifer Bell are attending this year. I'll be going to the Dickens' London seminar, run by author Peter Clark, and Jennifer B is going to What Do Agents Look For In New Talent? run by Julia Churchill, and then we're both doing Editing Without Tears – A Workshop For Writers, run by writers Jane Elmor and Jill Harris.

They're also running a Short Story Competition for stories of any theme between 1000 and 2000 words, and it's not too late to enter. The judges are crime novelist Peter Lovesey and novelist Maria McCann. The winning story will receive £300,  second place £150, and third place £75. Stories that make it through to the longlist will also be recorded and broadcast over FromeFM, so if you've always wanted to hear your stories on the radio, this is definitely a competition you should consider!

We hope to see some of you there.