Until I get the gig calender up and running on the homepage, here are the shows I’ve got coming up over the next couple of months.
Friday 2nd July 2010: Mona House Art, Comedy and Music Night. Mollie Baxter, Sam Wilson, Jess Thomas, Al Alvarez, Ron Scowcroft, Dee Sidlo. 7.30pm, FREE
Friday 16th July: Spotlight Club, Storey, Lancaster. Moll Baxter band finishing off a night of spoken word with music. 8pm, £4.00/£2.00
Thursday 5th August: Moll Baxter Band play The Golden Lion, Lancaster from 9pm. FREE
Saturday 14th August: Moll Baxter Band at the Music Coop’s festival in Warton. More details tbc.
Tuesday 27th July: Wordsoup Tringe special, a second chance to see the dramatisation of ‘Keeping Light,’ a collaboration between Mollie Baxter, Norman Hadley and David Riley. The Continental Preston, 8pm £3.00
It’s very easy sometimes to fall into predictable patterns with our writing. We start something new initiated, perhaps, from a free-writing exercise and we just see where the pen leads us. This is, of course, what free-writing is all about: writing without inhibition, self-censorship or concern for trifling first-draft issues such as layout and spelling, which can be dealt with later. Our aim with a free-write is to get words on the page. Making them good words can come later.
But also think about what you like to read. Most of us, whether consciously or not, start to build expectations about where a story is going from the very first page, the first paragraph or even the first line. This happens while you are writing too – you start to speculate, and the most obvious ideas tend to come first. When you read, do you like to be able to predict the course of a story, or do you like to be taken somewhere unexpected? For most of us, it’s the latter, so maybe sometimes first thoughts aren’t best.
Last night we convened at the Continental to celebrate Wordsoup’s first anniversary and the launch of the new anthology, presented in little bundles done up with string – can’t beat a bit of Julie Andrews wrapping! (Not to be confused with Julie Andrews rapping. ‘I say super calli fragilistic expialidosious (one time – uh!)’
The Anthology! Available to buy from the Lancashire Writing Hub!
It was a fantastic night and I got to try out some of my new pieces: ‘The Self Sufficient Opinion Grower’ and ‘Hen’.
There were a whole plethora of performances, I particularly enjoyed Rachel McGladdery’s final piece, which I think was called ‘My Dead Dad,’ – the subject matter was risky, but executed and performed with total assurance and integrity. And Johnny5thWheel’s music was fantastic: lyrical substance, a light touch on the strings and real energy. Wordy without being heavy! Yup – Instant fan.
Sarah Hymas treated us to a selection of poetry from a sequence in bedrock: really inspired to hear the narrative told through four generations; Socrates Adams did a fantastic piece about, well, shall we say, young parenthood; Norman Hadley not only performed but in a multi-tasking powerhouse recorded the whole night too – three cheers for Norm! Tom Fletcher read two extracts from The Leaping which I reckon is going to be the thing to read when summer is over and the winter starts to draw in like a Great Dark Thing.
And that’s not to mention the Open Mic! Max Wallis, Sarah Fiske, Kev McVeigh, Dave, James Diable and his performing orange, Ron Baker, Pascal the Rascal and Mark Mace Smith.
And I came home with a tray of chips and a short story in a little blue book! Who could ask for anything more! But apparently extracts from the anthology are going to bus-stopped around the North West too and this continues from earlier in the week when Jane and Ruth donned balaclavas and projected extracts from the anthology in Preston and Lancaster, at the Harris Museum and Lancaster library respectively. Thanks guys!
When you write, do you listen to music? For me, music playing low in the background when I’m writing really helps keep me settled – particularly in the Useless Hour that begins most sessions. But I can’t listen to anything too upbeat, and certainly nothing with lyrics else I start listening to them rather than the words wandering around in my head!
Recently, the West-End urchins have been using my TV cable as a swing/garotte so, this week, the aerial repairman came round to reattach it to the wall, hopefully out of their reach.
‘We’ll have to drill through there,’ he said pointing to the corner of the room where my Oxford English Dictionaries stood in a vertical and completely unusable pile. We moved them out into the hall which uncovered the footstool at the bottom – one of those with a little storage box. Inside, I found a whole bunch of old home-recorded cassette tapes.
The old cassette discovered this week. Tracklist: 'A Case of You,' Joni Mitchell; 'Getting There,' Bob Dylan; 'Cello Song,' Nick Drake; 'Suzanne' Leonard Cohen; 'Hey Jupiter,' - Tori Amos; 'After Halloween,' Sandy Denny and 'Bells For Her' Tori Amos.
In years gone by, I used cassettes extensively and, to be truthful, I have never quite recovered and adapted since their demise. I’d record scraps of songs, interviews with friends, radio shows… so I had a nostalgic few minutes shuffling through the tapes in the box, but one that particularly caught my eye went alongside a writing project from 10 years ago. It was the ‘soundtrack’ to the novel I’d been working on and like so many of us who have made cassettes for our friends, or burned CDs, or shared playlists, it simply compiled a selection of songs and pieces of music, but here chosen to reflect the novel in some way.
I love Frankenstein. You might too - but do we like it for same reasons?
This Wordspark Exercise explores influences, and by the end of it you will have a greater idea of what makes you tick as a writer: the ideas, philosophies, situations, facets of character, genres, structures and styles that create the little alchemies inside you.
Understanding these influences is valuable for two reasons:
-It helps you write something you yourself would like to read, rather than writing what you think you ought to be writing. When you write what you would enjoy as a reader, the sincerity and enthusiam you feel creates interesting currents in your work, that are hard to convey unless you are truly engaged with what you’re writing.
It also brings disparate ideas together, allowing you to ask ‘What If’ and look for unexpected possibilities that can set your writing apart.
Here is an exercise that seeks to draw out a character’s inner landscape via their external, so they become a product of place, just as we all are.
Have you ever looked at one of your characters, peered at them between the words on the page, a bit like a kid at a fence, and found they aren’t quite real yet?
We’ve all had it, but to some extent it’s a bit like looking at the tomato plants you’ve grown from seed and, after four weeks of healthy growth, calling it a ‘problem’ that there are no tomatoes yet.They’ll get there in their own time, of course, you just have to maintain the right conditions.
It’s the same with your characters, they need the warmth of your continued attention, patience and some kind of nourishment. Many exercises suggest profiling – the interrogation of your character using a series of questions that look at, say, personality, past, likes and dislikes, ambitions etc. This can be very useful, and it works because it makes you look inwards – into the character – to get a sense of what you might call their internal landscape.
But we can also turn that on its head and instead look outward. In Writing Fiction, Janet Burroway says ‘…just as character and plot are interlinked, so character itself is a product of place and culture.’ This exercise seeks to explore those links. It might have particular appeal to writers whose minds work visually. (Or who like crayons.)
A creative map I drew for 'Nailing Cats to Trees,' a short story I'm working on. I used 'bubbles' to represent the three most significant places to the character and explored how they connected. I learnt some new things about interconnection within the piece, and it also helped me locate the 'fuzzy' areas.