Friday 21 August 2015

Edit Is A Four Letter Word

Glynis Scrivens is a name that will be familiar to many readers and writers. Her short stories and articles have been published in magazines and newspapers all over the world and she is a regular contributor to UK magazine, Writer’s Forum.

I am delighted to welcome Glynis to my blog to talk about writing in general and the publication of her new book, Edit Is A Four Letter Word.

Welcome, Glynis. I’ll start by asking, did you always want to be a writer and when did you first start?

I think I’ve always been a writer but it took me a while to realise. Ever since I was a child, I’ve found it easier to express myself in writing. When I turned fifty, I finally gave myself permission to write.

I’m very glad you did. Some of us have lucky mascots or charms on our desks, do you?

I’ve framed the drawing my daughter Amy did for the cover of my eBook of stories – still on my to-do list. I also have lucky notebooks and pens. If someone goes overseas, I ask them to bring me back a pen or pencil. I have pens from Alaska and Canada and some lovely pencils from Florence and also Jodrell Bank.

That’s a terrific drawing, Glynis. Your daughter is very talented. I love collecting pens from different places too. Do you have a dedicated writing room?

Yes – and no. We have a room under the house which I’ve claimed, but it’s not always usable. In mid-winter it’s an icebox and in mid-summer there are mosquitoes. It’s multi-purpose, being the only place we can store spare mattresses, an old wardrobe, assorted memorabilia and STUFF.
I’m usually there for a short while every day. I sit in a big armchair, feet up, working out my priorities. I edited my book in this chair, taking time out from life upstairs. The writing I do here is the hard projects – the commissioned articles I find hard to knuckle down to. It’s such a plain room with no distractions that I can shut the door and just get on with whatever needs doing.
I also like to write on our veranda. Or when I have the luxury of an empty house, I sit at the kitchen table.

How perfect, Glynis – apart from the cold and the mosquitoes! You’ve written both successfully, but do you prefer writing fiction or non-fiction?

I’d have to say fiction, for its greater freedom. You can literally let your imagination go anywhere it wants. And there’s nothing quite like the buzz of a story acceptance.
I enjoy non-fiction, particularly interviewing, but it’s me, my imagination AND an editor’s expectations. I like to let go of the latter when I can.

I agree it is lovely to let the imagination run wild. Do you write every day?

No. I can go for weeks without writing. It’s always a hard time for me. Then the drought ends and the words flow, and it’s a wonderful feeling. Some days I’m not well enough, other times there’s just too much going on. I need to create/find an empty space in my mind before I can write. And I also seem to need these fallow patches.

I’m sure a lot of writers will identify with that. I know you have a lovely beach house – do you write more when you’re there?

There’s no wi-fi at our beach house so most of my time-wasting activities are unavailable. Instead I relax and recharge my batteries. Sitting in the sun. Watching my kelpie chase waves. Looking out to sea for migrating whales. Everything lends itself to writing and I sometimes get an amazing amount written there. I drafted my editing book there, sometimes actually sitting on the sand watching the ocean as I wrote.
Other times, though, I simply clear my mind and come home in writing mode.

It sounds just wonderful, Glynis and a very inspiring place to be. You mentioned your Kelpie, do you have any other pets?

How much space do I have to answer this one? We have seven hens – Mildred, Gwendolyn, Marion, Elsa, Octavia, Roberta and Susie. Plus a Pekin rooster called Baxter who spends every night in my writing room, under a laundry basket, so his crowing won’t disturb our neighbours.
We also have two ducks, Odette and Hamilton. Odette is sitting on her first clutch of eggs. We candled them the other night and they’re fertile. The ducklings are due to hatch soon.
We have two rescue dogs, Lucy and Benny, and a magnificent Maine Coon cat called Myrtle.
On the veranda are a rainbow lorikeet called Rufus and a scaly-breasted lorikeet called Vincent, an evil pair who like to bite fingers that feed them.

That's my idea of heaven. I’m very tempted to up sticks and move in with you! But we should move on to your new book, Edit is a Four Letter Word. What gave you the idea to write a book about editing?

I wondered about collecting some of my Writers’ Forum articles together for an eBook. Then I noticed Suzanne Ruthven’s comment on Facebook about wanting a book on editing as part of the Compass Points series. I already had more than the required 25,000 words just in articles, so felt I could put a book together. Writing buddy Lynne Hackles made sure I submitted a proposal. Funnily enough, none of the WF material ended up in the book. But its presence made me feel the project was do-able and I’ll always be grateful to Carl Styants for that.

It seems as if it was meant to be from the very beginning. Finally, do you have a favourite tip/advice for anyone just starting out?

When I started writing, my brother Jim said I should write what was inside me to write and then look for suitable places to publish it – rather than doing things the other way around.
It’s advice I return to.
It’s easy to become pragmatic. Write what sells. And often this is necessary – bills need to be paid.
But the magic gets lost in the process.
We need to remember who we are and what it is we want to say in our work.

That’s great advice, Glynis. Thank you for being interviewed on my blog. It’s been lovely getting to know more about you.

Edit Is A Four Letter Word is published by Compass Books and is available to buy from AmazonUK and Amazon as well as other outlets.

Good editing skills are very important, more so now than ever. Your work, whether it is a novel, an article or a short story will stand a better chance of being accepted if it is well presented and properly edited. Not everyone has the same approach to editing, but Glynis will help you find what works best for you. This book is an invaluable addition to the writer’s bookshelf.

Thursday 13 August 2015

The People's Friend - Serial Writing Competition

Well here I am back sooner than I thought, but I just had to share this with you and for once it is a proper writerly post.

In this week’s People’s Friend you will find details of their fantastic serial writing competition and I highly recommend having a go.

It’s a long time since I’ve had the time to write a serial, but from my own experience I can tell you it is very rewarding.

And unlike a lot of writing competitions these days, there is no entry fee and there is a proper prize.

All you have to do is buy this week’s issue for all the details and if you’re not already a regular reader don’t just buy it for the competition, take time to enjoy the stories and articles too. I’m looking forward to the weekend when I intend to put my feet up and have a good read.

If that’s not enough for you, there are also details of their Fiction Workshops.

D C Thomson has always had a reputation for encouraging new writers. When I started out in the early 1980s, I found their advice and encouragement invaluable. And here they are all these years later, still doing it!

If you fancy a sneak peek at the stories in this week’s magazine, take a look at Fiction Editor Shirley Blair’s post here. I’m not even sure I can wait till the weekend….

Good luck if you decide to have a go.

Monday 10 August 2015

Tardy - that will be me.

I love that word – tardy. And that’s just what I’ve been with regard to blogging and reading blogs. And I think I may be tardy for a little longer.

It’s been a busy few weeks. For the first full week of the summer holidays I looked after six grandchildren. Their ages, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10. I know – I’m missing a 9 and I do like things to be neat. Too late now. And by the end of this month I’ll have no 7 but two 8s. The time passes a lot faster than it did when my kids were growing up.

We had a lovely week. We went crabbing twice, but after putting the caught crabs in the bucket and admiring them, we let them go straight away. It seems cruel to hold them in a bucket for any period of time and dangerous for the smaller crabs too.

When we'd finished, we fed the leftover bait to the gulls. No one will ever convince me that these birds should be culled and I hope this government will leave them alone or we'll have no wildlife left.

I took them to Mistley Place Park, a local rescue centre where they fell in love with goats, pigs, alpaca and well, everything really! If ever you're in the area, it's well worth a visit. Mistley is famous for its swans. It is also the home of Old Knobbley. Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General, is buried there.

And of course there was the beach and swimming – pool and sea. It wasn't as murky as it looks - the water was very clear which is usually a sign that it's cold!

We did tie-dyeing too which was fun and I was the only one that got dyed. I have a tiny blue mark on one of my fingernails which no amount of washing will shift.

I used to tie-dye T shirts in the 70s but in a completely different way. It would involve lots of rubber bands, my mum’s big Dutch pot and only one colour used. Because there was a lot of dye, friends would come round and we’d cook our T shirts together in the same pot.

I’ve seen the ENT consultant who looked at my sinuses with a camera on a tube thingy and said they were lovely and healthy! Well that was a surprise. I had to go back for a CT scan and I’m awaiting the results of that.

Harley will be two this month. We don’t know her exact birth date, but we chose the 28th August.

Here’s a photo of her when she was a kitten.

Oops wrong cat.

It’s not just grandchildren that grow up faster these days!

All right, Dusty – I won’t forget you. This summer Dusty has mostly been in the sea (and on Harley’s kitty thingy) and playing with his best friend, Poppy who stayed with us all last week. He couldn't believe his luck having her for sleepovers every day! 

After my tardy summer, I hope to return to regular blogging in September - but who knows, things happen and change and the best laid plans and all that...

Happy Writing!