bookish blonde

A writer of blonde psychology ...

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Can Performing Your Writing Make You a Better Writer?

theatre photo: WordPlay Scene 1 DSC06905.jpg

That is the question.

Always on the look out for tips and tricks in becoming a better writer I decided to try Stand Up. That is, I decided to attend a Writer's Open Mic Night, called Hotchpotch being held in The Burgh, Commercial Street, Dundee. Of course, being someone not used to the pub scene it took a bit of nerve to walk into a pub on my own, except, with great relief, I found that, The Burgh is a rather pleasant coffee house on two floors. The second floor, where the event takes place, is kitted out like Sherlock Holmes study, having a hotchpotch (pardon the pun) of furniture; floor to ceiling bookshelves, comfy tub seats, lazy sofas, dining sized tables and chairs and Internet points - writers' heaven. Yikes! Except, I'm here to perform not relax with a coffee!

I'm going to be honest, this being my first time (that's my excuse), I didn't actually take to the stage. I thought I'd stare out the competition first. I was impressed. IMPRESSED! R-E-S-P-E-C-T. A group of around 12 poets, story writers and playwrights performed a hotchpotch of themes from love, the scariness of being a writer (very apt), war, crime, mystery and politics (ie. John's poem about the upcoming vote for Scottish Independence).

According to the level of performance from the attendees, I can see I'm needing an evening class in drama before next months open mic night, when I will participate. Armed with props - umbrella and scarf - and a recording of what sounded like gale on a cliff top to accompany Mark Andrews and John Quinn's theatrical performance of The Well Meaning Palimpsest; all I can hope for in the reading of my writing is a dream that my very appreciative and kind audience will, to quote Gavin's poem Performance, cry out,

'You were fabulous Darling,
Your a Star!'

And break a leg.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Can Your Favourite Movie Truely Be A Reflection of Your Personality?

Brokeback Mountain photo: Brokeback Mountain BrokebackMountain.jpg

I can only watch so many movies in a week, month, lifetime so unless I can watch every movie ever made how can I best decide my favourites? And if my state of being changes like the tides, what may be my favourite in any one year may be in the bin the next.

And what constitutes a favourite? That the movie inspired me, stirred emotion, made me laugh, envied even? Or did I learn something from the production, the location, the characters. Or simply is this movie one I return to time and again on a subliminal level; do I just plain fancy the lead man!

Bearing this in mind, here are my top 6 favourite movies to date:

1 Good Will Hunting
2 Brokeback Mountain
3 No Country for Old Men
4 Eat Pray Love
5 I Am Legend
6 Into The Wild

I Am Legend photo: I Am Legend IAmLegend.jpg

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Coon Head

racoon photo: racoon Animals-2-53.jpg

'Wassup Shaz?'
Inge hisses like a snake, her words inflicting a sneer. She's staring at my head, poker faced.
'Wa-SSSS-up wit' your hair?' Inge continues, still venomous. Eyes surveying my recently styled Hollywood hair.
What's up with you more like! I think, feelings hurt.
'Hair extensions, Inge. I love them, aren't they gorgeous. Super sexy?' I coo.
No reaction from Inge. A mute. Jealousy? I fill up the space in that nervous way you do during awkward silences by chattering on, 'Cost a bomb, top of the range, Sir Henry himself applied the weave ...'.
Aha, a raised brow from Inge at the mention of Sir Henry; she doesn't believe I managed to book an appointment with him at the salon; it's common knowledge that his waiting list is at least 12 months long. 'It's Raccoon Hair Extensions,' I finish proudly, smirking.
At this Inge chokes on a gulp of her coffee and takes a few minutes coughing the liquid up, which pleases me as I'm finding it uncomfortable having a one sided conversation. Just deserts.

We have a good table by the window overlooking the Sensation Science Centre directly down the hill and the Tay river beyond. I wonder if choosing to meet in the DCA was the right thing. It's not our usual. I felt it would be a new start for Inge and I. A good place to patch up our friendship; but her moodiness is making me think otherwise. I glance towards Inge, narrowing my eyes in puzzlement. Is she still hankering after the old days? That's it! Eureka. She misses me! Bless! I gaze adoringly as Inge composes herself after her near death experience and still embarrassed, thanks the waiter for thumping her on her back; and thanks also the chef who flew out from the kitchen as he's the first aider of the establishment.

Annoyed with me for her mishap, she resorts to name calling. 'Raccoon Head Shaz. You'll have Brigitte Bardot after you! Killer! Some animal lover you are; what will your cats say? How many raccoons died for your beauty? Humph.' Inge finishes her soliloquy almost choking again on her spit, fishes up her bag from the floor beneath the table and barges towards the ladies room; her final remarks cast over her shoulder. 'You've been hanging with Janet Low and Jay Blonde too long. From next week I'm your best friend; and say goodbye to the  DCA, our local is the Mexicanna across the road. Dumb Head!

I'm agreeable to the changes, though slightly miffed as the DCA chef was rather good looking and worth further investigation, however the Mexicanna is our local. Of course, there is now a chance of encountering Attila the Hun. Sour note.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Lost & Found

It's taken me a time to find something special, something inspirational, a tool that will help me develop my writing. Keep me on the straight and narrow. Take me up a level even.

A long time ago I thought, that if all I wanted to do was write, then everything would neatly fall into place. It would just happen! Published! Rich! Wayhey! It didn't! Wake-up call!

I need to get back to the drawing board. Literally. Back to scratch, though not quite, I have kissed writing success on the lips. Once. Relief.

What I am saying, in a long winded way, is that I was lost (my writing career that is) and now I have found an aid, a new start, with the discovery of Writers' Forum magazine.

What I need to do is get back to basics; and Writers' Forum is helping me with this. There are practical exercises Homework to encourage my revision. Expert advice to help with focus, pin point my weak areas and instruction on the technical side of writing (computers). An Ideas Store to ignite Eurika moments, and competitions for readers to send short fiction and poetry to. Writers' Forum have thought of everything in the schooling of the writer, even supplying a monthly achievement calendar to pencil in important dates, submissions, books read, research etc.  In addition, they research the industry with features on the magazine scene and insider information on how to break into particular genres. I particularly like the Fiction Workshop where readers can have their work expertly critiqued and the results shared in the magazine.

Writers' Forum is published monthly and costs £3.60. I have found a magazine that appears to genuinely want their audience to improve, and grow as writers. Now, I've got no excuse for It not to happen.


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Perfectly Popular: A Visit to Jack Vettrianno A Retrospective

What makes anyone popular? Attractive?  Luck? Talent? Ambition? Prolific? Animated? Glamorous? Probably.

I recently visited Jack Vettriano A Retrospective at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, in Glasgow. An exhibition consisting of over 100 of his paintings brought together for the first time in twenty-one years. I have always admired Jack; Scottish like myself, from a life of the working class, like myself, and taking up a creative career in later life (he was in his thirties when he started painting) like myself. However, I had not seen the breadth of his work, so this retrospective was a perfect opportunity. A delight!

What draws me to Jack's figurative paintings is the elegance of dress of the women (One Moment in Time), the old school glamour of the interiors (Drifters), the nostalgia of the props (Suddenly One Summer). Jack himself , says he

'wished people would dress more carefully, more beautifully, and make the best of themselves.'

Although it's the costume, the interiors, that I love best, his colour pallet and composition is affective.  Crimson reds, emerald greens - deep and moody: very film noir. And composition. His placement of elements is graphic; considered, right down to bric-a-brac on a side-table or mantle:  theatrical in effect. Can this explain why his work has been bought by movie stars ... paintings going for six figures.

There is another side to his work, of course, a side that

'suggest stories, dark and hot happenings, complicated pasts and futures.' (A.L. Kennedy, writer).

I am not so interested in these 'stories', which suggest to me rather seedy, grim and unhappy characters. Is Jack showing what's going on in his world; his mind?  I can't wait to see what the next twenty-one years brings, how he develops.

Overall the exhibition was a great success for Kelvingrove Gallery and Museum breaking all attendance figures, with 132, 502 visitors. Vettriano is a brand and the galleries souvenir shop was Vettriano collectors' heaven, with any object that can be printed upon having the Vettriano stamp - umbrellas, tea-towels, note-books etc. I bought a print Portrait in Black and Pearl. I am a fan!

Portrait in Black and Pearl


Saturday, 22 March 2014

Another Reason To Smile. (Two In Fact)


Psychologists say smiling cheers you up when you are feeling depressed. It's really true. Of course, when you are feeling down it's hard to find something to smile about. Sorted! These two t.v. adverts, recently broadcast in Britain, are having me grin like a Cheshire cat. ADORABLE.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Book Bonanza

I know I shouldn't. It's like putting yourself on a diet, you start craving what you shouldn't (carrot cake all moist and sweet, toasted brioche with a smear of Lurpak, Cadbury's Cream Egg ... STOP!). I said that this year I would cut back buying books; that's what libraries are for, after all. However, I am a book girl; try telling a cat to stop stalking birds or a dog to stop nicking sweets from your kids sticky fingers. Hard, indeed. So here are my book spoils to add to my collection for March.
1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die. I have only had a quick glance; but I think I have seen two paintings mentioned in the book: Robert Burns by Alexander Nasmyth at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh and Guernica by Pablo Picasso, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain. (Except I saw Guernica at Musee Picasso in Paris.) Only 999 to go!

Robert Burns, by Alexander Nasmyth
 
Guernica, Pablo Picasso


Wonder Walls by Sarah Bagnar. This is a good book showcasing how other collector's display their stuff creatively and practically too.

The Great Interior Design Challenge, a book by the BBC based on the television programme. I was glued to my T.V. in January, whilst the wannabe interior designers battled it out to win the BBC competition. Loved it!