Thursday, 11 July 2013

Searching for our flow in July

What to do when a bunch of writers are feeling generally run-down, jet-lagged, heat-exhausted, worn-out and battle-weary? Gather in Rob’s garden on a rare, warm July evening with Annie’s banoffee pie and drink –how decadent – Pimms, and discuss Linda’s novel and Tony’s trip to Nova Scotia and Annie’s recent illness and Chris’s struggles with combining work and writing and the fact that Izzie is in Marrakech (and resist singing Crosby, Stills and Nash) and Rob’s canoe and who’s going to have a go at the Costa Short Story Competition and when is a professional magazine actually an academic journal and does that give them the right to pay their contributors nothing and how would it be to have a novel within a novel, especially if it were an erotic novel inside a comic novel?   

The truth is, we are all struggling a bit to get back into our flow – avoiding apathy and boredom and worry and anxiety and finding a path between control and excitement where writing becomes what it can be at best – a ‘flow’ activity, when the mind is completely engrossed in the task at hand, without our being conscious of it, and when we lose awareness of other things - time, external stimuli, the need to stop and eat. Annie thought I’d made up Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his concept of flow but I promise I haven’t and, hopefully, between now and our next meeting we will all have had a few flow experiences (and I don’t mean that in any erotic or even comic sense.)

Friday, 5 July 2013

Summer Solstice Blues

Image from

Well, what a depleted little band we are. Tony is in Novia Scotia, Annie is suffering with a chest infection and Chris is sleeping after a 13 hour truck-driving shift. Aware of their ghosts in the room we three encourage each other in our various efforts to make a dent in the literary scene: Linda and Rob both submitting their latest projects to agents, Linda entering the Bridport Prize and Izzie blogging for England and a prize in a humorous blog competition.
Judging from the humour in Izzie's critiqued work she will do well. Her short story A Normal Family  describes a day-trip to the seaside by four generations of one family whose main concern is the matriarchal figure of 'Grandma' who is prone to wandering off.  Inevitably she 'slips through the net' of relatives set out in a cordon around her.
Both Linda and Rob feel that with some tightening up it would make a promising entry to a competition with a 'family' theme or one of the magazines that uses warm-hearted, life-affirming short-stories.  As far as constructive criticism is concerned, the main focus is on injecting more emotion in terms of the relatives' reactions to the mini-crisis and taking a more leisurely approach to the back-half of the story which feels a little rushed.
The sun is still high in the sky as we break up following an abbreviated meeting.  We're all looking forward to all being together at the next one. We miss you guys.