Friday, 15 December 2017

November Submission Mission

In a fog of tiredness staved off by coffee at a Garden Room Writers’ meeting at the end of October, I suggested submitting a piece daily for the month as a writing challenge.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Month of May Poetry Challenge and figured that this would be a similarly stimulating thing to try. 

I approached the task with determination, even posted on Twitter to fasten myself to the commitment and got off to a fine start. (The coffee had kicked in by the time I got home) Over the next day or so,
I researched new outlets, intending not to rely on magazines or sites that had taken my work before and organised a planner with deadlines and T&Cs.
I sent poems out for nine days in a row. After a lapse, I sent out work on three more occasions. A mere forty percent of what I’d hoped.

Still, I learned a few things along the way.
I love Angela Carr for her monthly compilation of  submission opportunities.
It is healthy to probe around the folders and take a fresh look at older work.
I am a fussy submitter. I will not send out work for the sake of it.
I discovered some great new places to read and send work; I like the look of the Lascaux Review, and Jacar Press's  One a lot. Leanne O'Sullivan has a beautiful poem in the recent issue. 
When you send out a lot, you get rejected a lot.
There is a great comfort when rejections come that there is still work out there and with it the continued hope of success.
I have always resisted sim subs, and I plan to continue this. Too much organising required.
Some sites, for example Riggwelter Press  have a very quick turnaround. I’m not convinced this is a good thing but it was helpful to have the work available again quickly in the context of this challenge.

It’s definitely easier to write daily than to submit daily, reassuring to have tested this.

My best outcome is that work has been accepted by Algebra of Owls, for publication in January and that wee validation, that hit of encouragement never fails to give me a boost. 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

North West Words with Garden Room Writers in Rathmullan Community Festival

L to R: Deirdre  McClay, Maureen Curran and Nick Griffiths

Sometimes an opportunity falls your way, that you just can't refuse. So it is, when you are asked to read your work in Rathmullan. Readings by the seaside, good food in An Bonnan Bui - heavenly, historical and beautiful Rathmullan, Co. Donegal.

Flight of the Earls, Rathmullan, Co. Donegal  

The weekend of 04th-6th August was the Rathmullan Community Festival, and three members of Garden Room Writers, Maureen Curran, Nick Griffith and Deirdre McClay read at North West Words at the festival. In the beautiful setting of An Bonnan Bui restaurant, the readings attracted a lovely audience of both locals and visitors. We had to keep running out to get more chairs. 

 Maureen Curran reading

Maureen Curran was first to read, and she treated us to some recent poems and some old favourites - she made us ponder, laugh and cry, and all in her lovely lyrical style. 

                                                              Nick Griffiths reading

Anyone who has heard Nick Griffiths read, will know to expect quick wit, humour, and as often as not, a twist in the tail. He did not disappoint. And, he read the only poem I've ever heard about Midsomer Murders.

                                                              Deirdre McClay reading

And then for something different, I read my one published poem, and two flash fictions featuring an exploding mother in law and a three foot statute of the Virgin Mary (not in the same story - although that's an idea).

Then, of course, we just had to have lunch with friends downstairs.

Thank you to the Rathmullan Community Festival for inviting us, to Maureen Curran for all the arrangements, to a lovely audience, and to Monica and Martin (An Bonnan Bui) our lovely hosts. And to Rathmullan, for just being so incredibly beautiful, as always. Go visit it - it's a treasure.


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

In pursuit of writing time: my Month of May Poetry Challenge (and a new poem)

While I struggle to find the time to dedicate solely to writing I am conscious of the need to do just that. Pursuit of dedicated writing time is a major reason why I attend, organise and promote workshops. It is why I completed the Iowa Writers MOOC How Writers Write Poetry why I have done NaPoWriMo, why I joined Kevin Higgins' online workshop.
I also realise that although the actual writing is a solitary activity, for me an important impetus is the group; the joint participation, the feedback, the energy, the companionship it offers.
So, when I was invited to join a poetry writing challenge on Facebook for the month of May, I jumped at the chance. I would have to commit to sitting at my desk (mostly kitchen table) for a set amount of time per day. Some of the group were familiar to me and included Nick from Garden Room Writers, but most were not.

And that way, May began with a daily prompt, a word or image, and twenty-four hours to respond. At school May is busy with planning and marking student revision, so it was almost always after 10 pm when I sat down to consider my poem. Incredibly, the poems would come. Not all masterpieces but many of them solid first drafts. Most interesting were the poems I wrote that I wouldn't have reached on my own without the prompts.

The camaraderie of the group was important  and the diverse voices without a doubt enriched the month's writing. It was impossible to resist the urge to read what others posted on my lunch-break and at the end of the day (Facebook is blocked on my work computer and 4G coverage poor). Maybe I would have been better to try to respond 'blind', I'll never know. I was surprised by the angles people took, the quality of the writing produced in these constraints and the productivity of everyone involved, not least my own.

The quality of my own responses varied, there were "Yes" moments definitely, but some writing was a chore and reads that way. I persisted even with prompts I disliked, as the discipline of the challenge was so important to me. There were tired evenings and busy evenings, the latest post from me was 11.58 pm. I missed two poems but was determined to get back and I did, writing three responses on May 27th which I posted at 8.36, 8.59 and 11.22 pm.

The challenge produced poems (which is not to be undervalued) but did it instill that all important writing habit? Yes, resoundingly, yes. It certainly proved what I've been told often. Of course you will write if you sit down to write, it is unlikely to happen otherwise.
I have written more since the end of May, although I admit not every day. But still. I'm on holidays now, and excuse free, I have a body of work to edit and submit. I feel satisfied with 31 pieces of work produced in May, nine of which I consider worthy pieces. I have never written nine poems in a month.

Here is my response to 'Tame' and a photo of my print of one of Kim Sharkey's beautiful hares.


There is fox in that glic eye
hare in the mad dash of you
the badger in you won't relent
you are salmon sure of your path
hedgehog safe when you roll

my frog adaptable dear one
don't tame for them,

not entirely.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Magic Minutes

Our writing group meets every three weeks and the idea is that we each prepare a piece of writing to bring along and share with the group. Three weeks can go by very quickly and, more often than not, I find that once again I have nothing prepared.
At one of our recent meetings Maureen read out a poem she had written on her smartphone while watching a basketball practice proving that with no pen, paper or dedicated 'writing time' it is still possible to write and get ideas down. Inspired by this I took myself to Café Davitt in Letterkenny during a lunch break and started writing. Forty minutes later I had the start of a poem and something to share with the Garden Room Writers at the next meeting. I'm going to try and catch these 'magic minutes' more often and get something down on paper. Waiting for an opportunity to write, and expecting inspiration to hit at the same time, is precious time lost. Grab the moments and the minutes will look after themselves.

Melting Clocks and Coffee Cups

Melting clocks and coffee cups
Chandeliers and scones
Glitter jars and wooden spoons
Falafel wraps and more

Clink of teaspoons
Stories stirring
Lime-green candles burn
Chalk-board menus
Cake displays
Dalí prints on walls

An invitation
To open the door
What's on the other side?
Mindful murals
Remind us all
To live
To laugh
To love.

By Annalisa Deeney

Monday, 27 March 2017

North West Words Irish Language Poetry Award Night Thursday 30th March

This Thursday is the Award Night for the North West Words, Ealaín na Gaeltachta, and Donegal Creameries/Aurivo Irish Language Poetry Competition 2016. It's in Florence Food Co, Main Street, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal at 8pm. There will be readings of the six shortlisted poems, our judge Proinsias Mac a'Bhaird, Trad music and open mic. All free of charge - see you there.


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Launchpad Journal - April submissions

The Launchpad Journal showcases new children's writing and will be open for submissions for the whole month of April - includes stories and poems for pre-school to YA.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Bath Children's Novel Award

The 2017 Bath Children's Novel Award will be open for entries from 2nd May to 19th November 2017 - a competition for unsigned children's novelists of all genres of middle grade and young adult fiction. The website has an interview with last years winner, Gareth Osborne, as well as interviews with previous winners and short-listed authors. There are also links to read the opening chapters of the winning and short-listed entries - you can spend a few hours browsing the site as I have done this evening! For this award the novels are initially shortlisted by a team of junior judges aged 7 -17. The interviews are informative and help give an insight into the processes both author and agent go through to develop a novel.
The Bath Novel Award invites submissions of unpublished or independently-published novels written for adults or young adults. It is open for submissions now and the closing date is 24th April 2017. (Fee £25).

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Show me the money!

Claire Hennessy wrote a useful piece in the Irish Times about the reality of being a children's author with respect to earning an income. It would be easy to become deflated by the realisation that earning a comfortable living by becoming a children's author is not an easy or common scenario for many. However, with challenges come opportunities and it is inspiring to read about people who do still work full or part-time while managing to write and publish their work.
It's a tough industry and, while I know it doesn't pay the bills, the reward gained from meeting other creative like-minded souls, laughing together, sharing work and celebrating each others successes is equally as valuable to me.
But, another tip that may help, which for some reason keeps popping into my head, is something Steve Martin said which is: 'Be so good they can't ignore you.' And Steve Martin did ok so I think that's good advice!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Garden Room Writers Artists' date with Errigal Writers

The Glenveagh Room at Arnolds Hotel Dunfanaghy
Saturday morning, I stroll Dunfanaghy, a pretty town twenty-five minutes from home, the sun tries to break out and the rain holds off for the moment. Half my mind is logging off, detaching from the working week, seizing  a moment to draw breath in what has been a really busy year at work. The other half, I hope the right side of the old brain, is firing on all cylinders.
I am on mid-term break, the Mock exams are over, and I am on an artists' date with Garden Room Writers and our more experienced writing friends, the Errigal Writers. I defer the opportunity for a lie in for the opportunity to spend creative time together with these writers in the hope of generating new work. Friendships overlap between writers in the two groups and Deirdre from our group and Averil from Errigal Writers have suggested an Artists' Date. In each group we feel the need for a bit of energy, for some stocktaking and are curious to see if sharing creative dates together might be useful.  

Sunday, 19 February 2017

North West Words February Event - 23rd February at 8pm in Cafe Florence

The North West Words February event is next Thursday at 8pm in Cafe Florence, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. Kate Newmann, poet and co-founder of Summer Palace Press,  will be there to announce the winner and runners-up in the North West Words and Donegal Creameries Poetry Competition 2016. There will be readings of all the shortlisted poems, and the monthly open mic - a great evening of new poetry.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

North West Words January Event - 26th January at 8pm in Cafe Florence

This month's North West Words is back to its usual last Thursday of the month slot in Cafe Florence, Main Street, Letterkenny. All are welcome and it's free of charge. Again, there's a great lineup of readers, and also music from Highland Radio's Jean Curran.And, of course, there's the open mic for  readers who come along on the night and want to read their work. So come along and listen, or listen and read - whatever you enjoy.