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A Touch of Magic

31 May

                                                                    A Touch of Magic

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Stuck in a hospital bed, he practises his trick over and over. The magician at the wedding had captivated us all, but only one thought, that’s going to be me. He got lessons for his birthday; membership of the JMC; secret codes and tricks. We watched as things didn’t quite work out; marvelled when they did.

I watch him shuffle, the professional way, the way of a boy with too much time on his hands. I try to catch him out, or at least understand what he is doing. There’s no way he can know what card I am holding. No way he can turn it from Hearts to Spades. But there is a way, he knows the way, he has the power.

Now, we just need someone to work a little magic on him, and I, the glamorous assistant, can pull back the tucked in sheets, and he will have disappeared from this single room, with all it’s beeps and pings, and reappeared on the other side of the city, running with his friends, laughing. Abracadabra.

 

This piece was inspired by a photo at Creative Writing Ink

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Sunshine Days

15 May

I know my blog can sometimes read like a misery memoir, so here are my cheerier reflections. I am just back from a long weekend spent in  Woodstock Lodge with 5 of my dearest friends, celebrating a significant birthday (which we will pretend is 40, but isn’t)IMG-20180512-WA0037 We got together as our eldest kids are all the same age (and went to school together), and now we are living through their second year at university.

The sun shone, and while we were on the Clyde Coast, we could have easily been on Lake Garda. Sunshine, prosecco,  hot tub, the works. And we talked, and we talked, telling stories, entertaining ones, heartbreaking ones, inconsequential ones. What struck me today, as I recover from the booze, is that even though we meet regularly, and talk, it is only when you have real time to speak and listen that you form deeper connections. I feel as though I understand my friends so much better from hearing more about their past, and their plans and dreams for the future (especially when our lottery wins cover more than the weekend’s food shopping).

So, it’s back to reality now: the shopping and the washing done, the house pulled back together, tomorrow the creative stuff starts again.

 

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SWC Recommends: Five Independent Publishers

8 May

Always interesting to find new opportunities

Scottish Writers' Centre

In November 2017, an article in The Guardian stated that, amidst a publishing industry that has been reportedly struggled, independent publishers were doing better than ever. We wrote about some of our favourite independent publishers last year – including the wonderful Red Squirrel Press, who are showcasing some of their recent poetry publications at the CCA with us tomorrow at 7pm – but we decided that it was time to revisit the topic and talk more about some of our favourite independent publishers operating in Britain today.

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Moniack Mhor – Writers’ Retreat

17 Mar

Moniack Mhor has never looked so beautiful. The sun is shining, there’s blue skies and snow on the mountains. Sometimes you can hardly see 100 metres, so it’s a great treat to have such brilliant views.
I came up here on Thursday with more baggage than could be packed in a suitcase. I’d spent the early hours of the previous night in the hospital, and was ready to cancel my trip. The patient persuaded me that I should carry on regardless, but it took a few hours sleep and better news from the doctors before I was prepared to get on a train for three and a half hours.

Lack of sleep, extreme worry, and just basically being exhausted, meant that I didn’t do much work on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning, but I decided a long time ago, that beating yourself up about not working, doesn’t really help you work. So I listened to music, I lay in my bed, and I read some of the bundle of magazines I had brought to catch up on. When I was packing, before the latest drama, I decided to bring a variety of things to work on – short stories just needing a final brush up; others needing complete revision; and others only in note form. I also thought that I could get on with my novel, but my brain seemed to have been left in Glasgow.

But as I tried to relax, a wee thought came into my head, then another. I better write these down, I thought, and before long, I had another couple of thousand words written. If that’s all I manage, I will be happy. I’ve got back into the groove, and hopefully that will keep me going until I can come back here again and gaze out on this lovely place. And what more to say, the company of the G2 Writers is always fantastic. You can check out who they are, on the tab above.

View from my bedroom at Moniack Mhor

And a slightly moodier one

New Beginnings – Kind of

8 Mar

Seven years ago, I decided that it was time to get a wee job, out of the house, but with low stress and few responsibilities. The job I got at the newly opened, local Waitrose was meant to be a stop-gap, after all I am a qualified librarian, and had spent many years working in adult, and then further education. But I’d left librarianship not long after I became a mum for the first time (nearly 20 years ago); and left teaching when trying to juggle a very challenging job with three small children just got too much.  So, working in a supermarket, just down the road from the house, during school hours seemed like just the thing. It was meant to be a two-year max job, but life had other ideas.

Families are highly recommended, but mine has come with a barrel-load of issues, so in the past few years I’ve had to deal with Parkinson’s, Dementia (two types, one person), Scoliosis, and Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. Each Hogmanay, we’ve said, surely next year can’t be as bad, but then life excels itself, and so we are in March, and I am about to start on extended Carer’s Leave. My job will be kept open for a year, and then I can reassess where we are (hopefully not in the Poor House). In the end, the decision made itself, after the tragic death of a young person very dear to us, which pulled everything into very sharp focus. I need to be at home, giving my kids (even the one who doesn’t live here anymore), all the emotional and practical support they need.

So, a new start. Illness has dictated that there will be a bit of home-schooling going on here (although I hope there is no trigonometry); and I will be chief taxi-driver; bereavement counsellor; cook; housekeeper; teacher; shoulder to cry on; the list goes on. But I am also aware that I have the chance to spend more time reading, writing and proof-reading. My Publishing Training Centre course in Proof-reading is almost finished (which I’ve been saying for weeks, but you can’t spot errors through tears). And I should be able to start touting for business very soon – Beech Editorial Services. I’m also very aware that this really is my last chance to make a go of being a professional writer. The money is dripping in from various publications, but more of a gentle stream (or a flood – go for it), would be nice.

In case you think I am being a total martyr, I am running away from my family next week, for my annual writers’ retreat – back at Moniack Mhor, in beautiful Inverness-shire. From there, I will keep you informed of my progress.

It’s Here

11 Jan

Chroma has arrived.

Not the best photo I’ve ever taken, but probably the smartest magazine I’ve ever been in.

Out with the Old and In with the New

31 Dec

Life

Here we are on Hogmanay, and it’s time to take an inventory of the last year, and plan for the one ahead. I sat this time last year with my family, and we all said ‘well, 2017 can’t be as bad as 2016’, well it was a close run think – I lost my father-in-law and a friend, who were both lovely gentle people and who are missed. I also spent at least ten nights in hospital (5 separate admissions) with one of my kids, and countless other times at A&E, Out-Patients, the GP and Boots with both oldsters and youngsters. But we did welcome a new baby into the family, and had a wedding which united my nephew with the cousin of one of my oldest friends.

I also got on top of my horrible atopic eczema, thank you Child’s Farm, and got my mojo back (at least a bit)

Writing

An alright year on the writing front. I got back to my writers’ group; went on a retreat to a freezing but very atmospheric country house/castle; continued to write short stories; and made some progress with my novel. I managed to get a few pieces published, but there were the inevitable knock-backs and disappointments. I am starting the new year with a new notebook, which I hope will be filled with lots of tantalising snippets that will grow into fully-formed beauties.

Out with the Paperblanks (I love you) and in with the Essential Waitrose

I have a writing plan in hand, should funding become available; and a another plan if it doesn’t. I’ve got my new office/son’s bedroom painted, so all I need is a carpet, and his university term to start again, and I can move back in.

Reading

I failed miserably at my GoodReads challenge of reading 20 books this year (only managed 12), and got to the stage with my book group that I didn’t even know what book I was meant to have bought (and read). That will all change this incoming year, with Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark in honour of her centenary. I am a huge fan of Muriel Spark, but I actually haven’t read this one, so I am really looking forward to it.

The fact that I haven’t finished many books disguises the fact that I have been doing huge amounts of reading. My writers’ group means that I critique around 15k words a month, and I am nearly finished a Proofreading Course which takes reading to a whole new level. I plan to launch my new website/business in the next couple of months.

Talented G2 Writers

I’ve felt huge pride, and not a little jealousy in the success of friends – four past members of my writers’ group have gone on to great things. Ethyl Smith and Maggie Ritchie published their second novels this year, and Kevin Scott and Gail Honeyman , their first. Gail’s success has been phenomenal, and gives hope to us lesser mortals. Having read the books in draft form, I am only now getting round to reading the books in full, but I know they will be great.

So here’s to 2018, may it bring happiness and health to us all.

 

 

Paula Williams Writer

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