Illustration and caption by Hugh Scott, as appearing in Writer's Forum issue 152 2014
Are writers' lives glamorous? Rich? According to an article in this months edition of Writer's Forum magazine a research found that the average full-time income for writing was £11,000 in 2013. Part-time writers' earnings were just £4,000. So why do we do it? Answers on a postcard.
I don't know if it's just me or the culture we live in, but I'm always throwing things away. Chucking out books, clothes, cds, dvds ... it's like I'm either psychologically dismissing a bad year or desperately looking for a new me and this habit is my proactive attempt. Remarkably, something new has arrived on the scene, even though its old. Vintage.
If only I'd known vintage was going to be trendy; I'd have appreciated my old clutter. Been patient even. I was rummaging through a second hand - oops - vintage sale yesterday and guess what? I discovered the very book I'd packed to a charity shop over 15 years ago, The Home Front. So what did I do? Bought it back of course, for 50p.
Dayzee was orphaned at 9 weeks old and came to Mountains Animal Sanctuary, Glenochil by Forfar in 2010, which then became her home. Dayzee is a Flabella, which is an Argentinean Miniature Horse and she has settled well into her new little herd of pony pals. Dayzee and the majority of the 92 ponies, horses and donkeys are available for adoption from the 250 acre sanctuary.
I wanted to support Mountains Animal Sanctuary and the excellent work that they do, so I paid £15 for my adoption pack. The pack includes a welcome letter, information on the pony's history, rosette, photos and an invitation to visit your new furry friend anytime.
Here is a small selection of other deserving animals looking for your support.
A Fun Day Out Mountains Animal Sanctuary are hosting a spectacular event that will please all animal lovers and the proceeds will help support the charity.
This event will take place on 17th August 2014, 11.30am - 4.00 pm. I''ll see you there!
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,
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
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.
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.
The first book I ever wrote was a very thin volume of illustrated non-fiction about my personal experience breeding rabbits, I was fourteen at the time. I still have this book today. I progressed over the next couple of years thinking 'I'm going to write a novel!'. I excitedly drafted one chapter, then forgot all about it. However, I did become a writer and published two books: a city guide and a volume of short fiction based on historical facts and lore. I would love to write a novel and am leaning towards satire.
I HAVE SOLD BOOKS, WRITTEN BOOKS, ILLUSTRATED BOOKS, PUBLISHED BOOKS, STUDIED BOOKS, COVETED BOOKS, VANDALISED BOOKS (THOUGH, I WAS ONLY TWO YEARS OLD AT THE TIME: HAVING BEEN LET LOOSE WITH CRAYONS), GIVEN PUBLIC TALKS ABOUT BOOKS, BOUGHT BOOKS (I PAID 400 FRENCH FRANKS ONCE - £40.00 - FOR A BOOK IN FRENCH TEXT THAT I CANNOT READ), DESIGNED BOOKS AND LAST, BUT NOT LEAST, I ONCE OWNED A BUSINESS ABOUT BOOKS ... YET, BOOKISH THOUGH I MAY BE ... NEVER UNDERESTIMATE A BLONDE WITH A PEN!