Blankets

21 Mar

She forgets her age and runs up the white slopes, interacting as the sign permits her to. On the next level she stops at a wooden stool. Blankets, neatly folded: lambswool tartan, beige and pink; coarse battlefield grey; blue waffle from a hospital ward. A teenage tut. ‘Call that art?’

Every month the Scottish Book Trust puts up a prompt for a 50-word story. This was my unsuccessful entry from last month. I rather like it. It was inspired by a trip a few years ago to Tate Liverpool.

This month’s prompt is a story that features a blackbird.

A Certain Neatness

25 Nov

So my work-in-progress has reached quite a nice number 47474 – I could have manipulated this a little for sheer perfection and shown you page 47 of 147 pages, but it is a work-in-progress and far from being perfect. It will be interesting to see if at the end of the day my word count has gone up or down. What I do know is that there will have been movement in the text, some additions, some deletions and lots of moving paragraphs from my patchwork to their correct places.

If you want to read completed work by me, then click here.

Twenty-One Years On

29 Oct

This time last week I started working through a book called The Right to Write by Julia Cameron (who also wrote The Artist’s Way). The book talks about the creative process – in particular getting your bum on the seat – and invites you to do an exercise at the end of each chapter.

Now, I’ve been doing quite a bit of personal and professional development over the last month or so, for my editing business, Beech Editorial Services , my writing life and just general self-help stuff.

What prompted me to write this post, though, was a comparison of working through The Right to Write this time and when I have used it before to inspire me. Judging from the bookmarks in it, I have started the process three times and managed to find the exercises I did from the first time – twenty-one years ago (I did say this was a process). The task I had to complete today was to write a list of 100 things I love.

Picture shows the front cover of The Right to Write by Julia Cameron
The Right to Write by Julia Cameron

It was an interesting thing to do, harder than you would think, but once I got a wee run going (e.g. food, drink, flowers) I made it to the end. Once I was done, I compared it with the list from twenty-one years ago. Had I changed much? Had the things I cared about changed? Well, I had to add a couple of lines for two kids I didn’t have in 2000. Relative newcomers like Sarah Millican and Kevin Bridges had replaced Jack Lemmon and Ingrid Bergman; and Brain of Britain has replaced 15:1. Totally missing from my current list are cinema, theatre, live music and ballet, though I quick nip round GOMA reminded me that, while it’s been over a year since I have ventured to post non-essential public spaces, I do love soaking up culture (please go away Covid).

There were items that appeared on both lists – my friends, limoncello (both combined), strong coffee and dark chocolate (again with friends), walking in the park, tulips – but my taste has changed for perfumes and some music (I can’t imagine why Moby made my list in 2000). Cherry blossom and the moon I do still love, but I had neglected to put both on my new list, but that made room for my big garden swing and my favourite mug.

Why don’t you have a go at your own list? Keep going in one sitting until you get to one hundred. See what really matters and either keep it by your side or hide it away for twenty-one years and make a time capsule of your own.

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

18 Oct

At the start of the year I started the Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge where I had to read a book either with the author or title from every letter of the alphabet. Half way through Oct and I have read 24 books but still have 9 letters to go (Q,U,X,Y,Z – not surprisingly, but also F,G,K and L). I think I need to be a little more strategic in my reading (or give up). Mmm, what to read next?

While I chose my next book, I can browse through Southlight, a magazine from the southwest of Scotland. I have a short story ‘Oh’ in it, which did the rounds of a few magazines before I added another section at the end (from the second character’s point of view) and managed to get it published.

I am also waiting for a couple of anthologies to arrive with my work in them, but more of that when it happens.

Picture of the front cover of Southlight 30
Southlight 30 – Magazine of Poetry, Prose, Interview and Illustration

Belongings

16 Aug

I can’t tell you how delighted I am to be in Popshot Quarterly – my flash fiction is beautifully illustrated by Andrea Iris who has managed to get all of the elements of my story into her picture – a wallet, a watch and some keys.

Popshot Quarterly Autumn 2021

Gifts for Him

8 Aug

My second flash fiction for the Friday Flash Fiction Edinburgh Festival competition is now online at Friday Flash Fiction. It is called Gifts for Him posted on the 7th of August. There is a companion piece called Gifts for Her, posted on the 6th of August.

It would be great if you could add a wee comment below the stories letting me know what you think.

Gifts for Her

7 Aug

You can read my flash fiction Gifts for Her at Friday Flash Fiction If you are scrolling through, it is dated the 06/08/21. As ever, if you like it, it would be great if you could leave a comment on the website and if you like it ‘like’ it. If you are feeling generous, you could do a wee retweet https://twitter.com/FridayFlashFict or @colettecoen

I have just submitted the companion piece – Gifts for Him – hopefully they post that one too.

Twenty Five

14 Jun

You can read my response to the Scottish Book Trust’s call-out for Celebration themed writing at https://www.scottishbooktrust.com/your-stories/celebration-2021/twenty-five

Take a Deep Breath

10 Jun

The tag line of this blog is that is about writing and the creative process. Well, I am feeling very Zen at the moment and having had a birthday last week, it’s time again for a re-focusing. Those of you who have followed me for a while will know that life can be a struggle and that my creative time is nibbled away with a whole range of things – from the need to make money, to care commitments or the self-destructive need to sit and do nothing for a while.

But, I am feeling charged up thanks to two books and a YouTube video. First, the video – I have suffered from insomnia all of my life and up until now I have used the hours before sleep to tell myself stories and to let my mind go to a million places (some of them useful, others, not so much). But none of this was good for my mental, emotional or physical health. On a particularly rough day, my husband passed on a recommendation for Yoga Nidra for sleep. I have listened to the video a few times but can now use its techniques and fall to sleep really quickly without it. The fact that I am sleeping better has made me a lot calmer (albeit I have only been using this technique for a few weeks) and I feel as though I can concentrate better rather than my head spinning in different directions, with nothing getting done.

Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library was one of the books that has given me pause for reflection too. If you don’t know the book, a woman is allowed to experience all of the lives she could have lived if she had made different choices. Wow – mind blown. A great mix of philosophy, engaging characters and realism.

The second book, I am only half way through, but again, my mind is a bit blown. Will Storr’s The Science of Storytelling is easily the best book I have read about writing. That’s not to say that it is highly technical or explains the process or gives you great story beats. Instead it links in with the very heart (or mind) of storytelling. I have a deep interest in psychology, so this book is ideal for me. It talks deeply about perception and perceptions, of how we construct the narrative of our lives and how we can construct the narrative for our characters. Cracking. This will not be left half-read like so many other books on writing that I have.

And so, to action. I am trying to add a photo here of a blank grid which I intend to fill with lovely pink rectangles over the next 120 days (each one marking a writing day) but my IT is being obstructive. I will show you it when there is something more to see.

Free Event – Change of Date

8 Jun

The Scottish Writers’ Centre is hosting a great selection of readers and writing on the 15th of June at 7pm (changed from tonight). Tickets are free (although you do have to sign up for free membership of the Scottish Writers’ Centre to access). As with most things at the moment, the event will take place over Zoom.

I am reading a new flash fiction piece at the event and was lucky enough to hear the rehearsal of some of the other readers, so can guarantee a great night. Each writer only has a five minute slot to impress you, so there will be a cornucopia of talent.

I hope you can join me.