Ten Tips for Writing While Quarantined

Here’s hoping none of you are infected. But if it happens…

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Brenda, head shotby Brenda Ridley

Assuming that you are up and about during the COVID-19 pandemic, you could view this period of social distancing as an unexpected gift to your writing life. That’s the attitude I’ve adopted as I decide how to use my time while exiled from my job for two weeks.

Last week, Pennsylvania’s governor ordered schools state-wide closed to help contain the spread of COVID-19. The small independent school where I double as admissions coordinator and office manager complied. While the risk to our students of COVID-19 exposure is probably low, we could not in good conscience remain open while 99% of the schools in Philadelphia shut down. Ours is a very small school but, luckily, one with digital resources that teachers can use for online instruction. Most of my work time is spent on the phone, making sure that teachers have the resources they need, the office runs…

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Finishing my PhD

 

I intend to finish my creative writing PhD this year. At the moment it looks like a daunting task because I have to finish my +80 000 word historical novel plus a 20 000 word reflective essay. Every time I have to write the first person ‘I’ to articulate my personal views it freaks me out. I prefer to depict the world through fictional characters and here I have a task in the reflective essay to writer about MY experience in writing this novel.

To help me I have been searching for PhD essays in creative writing. So far I discovered one by Emma Lucie Darwin at Goldsmiths’ College, University of London. In her abstract she calls her reflective essay ‘a critical commentary on the process and context of writing’. In reading her comments I have become more confident, it appears eminently doable.

Her project is similar to mine in that it is also a historical novel with a parallel narrative which tells two or more stories. My novel links three narratives and was difficult to write until I separated the three story lines and developed them separately. I was so busy developing links in theme that the one story overwhelmed the other two!

Since I separated them I know where each story is going and have listed scenes which make it much easier.
Have any of you written a parallel narrative? Please share your experience. I’m sure there are many writers out there who could learn from your trials and failures.

Last but not least:
If you know of any other helpful PhD Creative Writing reflective texts please let me know.

#writerscommunity #amwriting #historicalfiction creative writing PhD, reflective essay

Submissions for anthology

I’m pleased to work on this project 🙂

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES: CULTURE AND THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE IN SOUTH AFRICA…BOOK PROJECT

Submissions should be in the form of articles, essays, interviews, personal memoirs, eulogies, biographies, and visual images (paintings, posters, photographs, etc.)
Submission of material is open to all participants regardless of nationality.
Submissions should bear the contributor’s full names, address, email address and telephone numbers. Blind copies of the submissions are not necessary.
The material should not have been previously published elsewhere in the current format and/or currently sent to other publication for consideration.
Once submitted, the material will be distributed to three Contributing Editors for round-robin evaluation and decision. The submission should be supported by at least two Contributing Editors for suitability for publishing. However, the Editor has the final discretion over the suitability or otherwise of the material for various considerations. Once approved for publishing, the contributor will be notified officially in writing by the Editor.
A maximum of two submissions is entitled to the contributor provided they address two different themes, respectively.
Although cross-cutting but by no means not exhaustive, the six themes identified are: Politics of the arts for colonial exemption (1916-’56); King Kong musical and its impact on the arts and society (1950-’90); Cinema, print and broadcast media and the enterprise of Black struggle (1916-2016); Cultural boycott and international isolation of South Africa (1960-2000); Three decades of fire (1960-1990s), and; Politics and the arts in a post-Apartheid South Africa (1994-2016). Other themes not disclosed herein but related to the topic are accepted.
The medium of communication for submission is any of South Africa’s eleven official languages subject to accompaniment by, where possible, English translation in the event the original/primary language used is not English.
There are no prescriptions on style and format of the submissions provided the presentations are of good quality and, where applicable, referenced accordingly in contributors’ preferred Harvard style/version that accommodates footnotes and endnotes provided they don’t detract from the texts. The length should be a maximum of 6000 words or less.
Once submissions have been officially accepted as suitable for publishing, negotiations for remunerations and intellectual property/copy rights issues will be entered into with successful contributors in the next phase of the project from June 2020 onwards. The next phase entails the formatting, printing, publishing and launching of the book.
Deadlines for submissions is on or before 15 April 2020 and should be mailed electronically to segarona.c.i@gmail.com
Further enquiries also be directed to the afore-mentioned email address.

CONTINUE: a poem

Love this poem

Phil Ebersole's Blog

Maya Angelou Maya Angelou

By Maya Angelou

My wish for you
Is that you continue

         Continue

To be who and how you are
To astonish a mean world
With your acts of kindness

         Continue

To allow humor to lighten the burden
Of your tender heart

         Continue

In a society dark with cruelty
To let the people hear the grandeur
Of God in the peals of your laughter

          Continue

To let your eloquence
Elevate the people to heights
They had only imagined

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Goodbye to 2019

I’ve had a challenging year, with betrayal of one kind or another, but in spite of that there have been highlights. Three poems were accepted for Highveld Poetry Review and a flash fiction story published in ‘Through the Looking Glass: an anthology’. I found an editor for my upcoming poetry collection, had an order for my book, ‘Eye of a Needle: And other stories’ from the Department of Arts and Culture, donated five books to Johannesburg township libraries, attended the Romance Writers Conference online and started regular posting on my blog which I also tried to monetize. I finished three online courses: How to make a poem, History of fashion and The Tudors.

I wrote a book review and 30 000 words on my new work in progress, ‘The Weight of Bodies’ – a historical novel for my PhD at the University of the Western Cape; got an encouraging poetry review  https://corneliafick.com/2019/08/25/the-nicest-rejection-letter/ had an interview on Marylee McDonald’s blog and a story on Taylor Woodland’s podcast

Among the darker experiences, I struggled with ill-health and was admitted to hospital, applied and was rejected for a residency in Switzerland, and was rejected by Modjaji, a woman’s publisher.

Thankfully I’m still standing, battered but still upright. Here’s wishing for a good year in 2020 for you and for the planet. Aluta continua

New ways of writing poetry

Wordsworth’s definition of poetry: “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility”

 

I’m doing this online course ‘How to make a poem’ presented by Manchester Metropolitan University on Future Learn and I’m enjoying it tremendously. The title caught my attention because one hardly thinks of writing poetry as something you ‘make’. But that is exactly their approach. It takes the preciousness out of poetry writing by presenting tools you can use to write. And boy have I learned a lot.

During the first week I wrote a cento, a two line poem. You choose two poems and then take a line from each, creating a cento. My effort was from Maya Angelou’s poem ‘The Caged Bird’ (scroll down to read it here –posted on 23 October 2019) and ‘To do list’ a poem by  Simon Armitage . https://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/do-list

I came up with

But a bird that stalks

Skim(s) duckweed from ornamental pond

Now tell me that isn’t poetry! Apparently in the copyright of poetry you are allowed to use one line only. Some poets have created whole poems like this. I don’t know if it’s cheating. What do you think?

In the second week we learned, among other things, rhyme, line breaks, and metre. I have expanded my knowledge of writing poetry and will experiment with different forms, for example a sonnet (haven’t done that before). There are so many forms: ghazal, villanelle, haiku etc. As a poet I want to give myself the challenge of attempting some of them.

I’m looking forward to the third week. If you want to know more about the course click here

#writing #amwriting #poetry

How to submit a short story

As promised the follow-up on how to submit a short story. First we have to make sure it is our best work. The following websites are helpful to achieve this goal:

For plotting, writers block, revision techniques, writing mistakes, writing prompts, etc.
Free downloads, exercises and advice from

Writer’s digest

12 lessons learned from writing short fiction

Writer’s in the Storm

Ten things editors look for

The Review Review

My own advice

  1. Write every day. It sounds like a cliche but it’s the only way to master your craft.
    2. Set aside time for writing and don’t allow anything or anybody to intrude on your writing time. Friends won’t think writing is a real job so prepare to be firm.
    3. If you write in English and it’s not your first language, get a book on English grammar and learn the language.
    4. Observe people, how they walk, carry themselves, smile and go about their lives. You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their body.
    5. Listen carefully when people speak, not only what they are saying but how they say it, what they do while saying it, etc. It will be invaluable when you have to write dialogue.
    6. Find your own way into the story. Some people plan their stories and others just dive in. Find out what works for you.
    7. Don’t be swayed by the glamorous idea of being a writer. Writing is hard work that requires commitment. Being creative in the face of a looming deadline is not for the weak-kneed.
    8. Don’t talk about an idea for a story before you write it. Let it grow organically in your imagination. Talking about it will disturb this process.
    9. Learn how to handle rejection. It is painful but necessary, otherwise how will you grow to become a better writer. But don’t allow someone to kill your writing dream. It is always just the opinion of one person.
    10. If you have accomplished your dream and published, take a deep breath and congratulate yourself!

When the story is ready to be sent out into the world then I format it in this way

Good luck with your story. Till next time. Stay well and keep writing.

<     1     2     3 

How to format for submission

As you know in order for you to be taken seriously you have to cast your masterpiece in the correct format.

Enter William Shunn. He has saved me time and again. Below is an example of how to format a poem for submission to a publication. Next week we’ll have a look at how to format a short story.

Your name and contact information appear in the top-left corner of each poem. If a poem runs more than a single page, each subsequent page requires a header with page number in the upper-right corner. Read more about formatting and submitting poetry manuscripts here.

William Shunn                                            27 lines
12 Courier Lane
Pica's Font, NY 10010
(212) 555-1212
format@shunn.net




                           MEMORY LANE



          She strains at the leash,
          Trying to turn the corner.
          "Not that way," I say.

          But Ella insists,
          So I give in and follow.
          Not that big a deal.

          This short, narrow lane,
          It's a valid path back home,
          Not such a detour.

          Along the sidewalk
          We rush, my arm stretched out straight, 
          Not pausing to sniff.

          She stops at the porch,
          Looks at the door, looks at me,
          Not old now but young.

          We were gone six years,
          Back now in the neighborhood
          Not even six weeks.

          I wish we could knock,
          But our friends are not at home,
          Not now, not for years.

          They fled this city
          Even sooner than we did,
          Not fond of Gotham

          But fond of our dog,
          Who wags on their former stoop,
          Not fenced in by time.



 

William Shunn                                            18 lines
12 Courier Lane
Pica's Font, NY 10010
(212) 555-1212
format@shunn.net




                SALT CRUSTED ON AUTOMOTIVE GLASS



     Between me, safe in my seat on this bus,
     And the decadent majesty of the salmon-red cliffs of
          eastern Utah,
     A ghost landscape stands sentinel,
     As if etched into the glass by a cadre of capering
          goblins.

     The residue of a hasty window washing--
     Loops and whorls of dirt left untouched, uncleansed,
     Unrepentent, at the bottom of the glass on each fluid
          upstroke--
     It sparkles, gritty and salt-sharp in the oblique
          sunlight,
     Like a series of pearly solar flares,
     Or a graph of the desert's pulsebeat,
     Or spectral negatives of a washed-out sandstone arch,
     Photographed in stages over eons of time--
     Snapshots from a child-god's flip-book--
     Frothing, leaping, peaking, then falling back into the
          ground
     Like fountains of earth,
     A time-lapse planetary signature
     That will melt and return to dust
     With the next unlikely rain.

Alliance of Independent Authors

I just renewed my subscription to the Alliance of Independent Authors.
Here are some of the services and benefits your membership facilitates:
Advice:
  • Author Advice Centre: www.selfpublishingadvice.org
  • Member guides, from in-depth guidebooks to quick and easy guides
  • Bi-annual Online Self-Publishing Conference
  • Quarterly Member Magazine, The Indie Author
  • Monthly webinars and workshops and member questions answered
  • Weekly podcast: Beginner and advanced salons, Indie Voices and Member Q&A
  • Daily blog on an aspect of interest to indie authors
Showcase
  • Online Member database
  • “Inspirational Indies”: A Member Showcase telling the world about your books.
Services and Watchdog
  • Searchable database of Recommended Author Services, from the big operations like Amazon and Apple to local freelance designers and editors.
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  • Watchdog and Code of Standards for authors and services
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  • Rights, agents and contract services

Campaigns

  • Open Up To Indie Authors
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If you are interested please click on the logo in the sidebar and it will lead you to their website.

The caged bird

This poem caused a deep excitement the first time I read it. An excitement and a recognition. Being from Africa I’m acutely aware of human rights, about some ‘birds’ being free and others not.

by C Fick

And for me, human rights are encapsulated in the African greeting ‘I see you’. That is profound because the powerful never see the insignificant, or the poor. They become invisible.

THE CAGED BIRD

Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind and floats downstream till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom.
The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom.