Happy 1st Birthday Blog

I can’t believe that it’s October already and it made me realise that it’s over a year ago since I started my blog. I set myself a personal challenge to blog once a week or so and I’m chuffed that I’ve achieved my goal and reached a milestone.

Since starting the blog, I’ve racked up 51 posts and 27k words! I’ve often questioned whether it’s worth the time and effort but I’ve had lots of positive feedback from family and friends and I enjoy writing the posts, regardless of the number of hits.

Before I began blogging, I wasn’t even on Facebook, never mind Twitter. What a difference a year makes! I’ve really got to grips with social media now and despite my initial fear of the unknown, I feel part of a small group of like-minded aspiring writers who’ve offered me support and advice during the ups and downs of my writing journey and life in general. I’ve gained a great group of virtual friends through blogging and Twitter and I’ve even met up with the lovely Anne Glennie in person.

There are hunners and hunners and hunners of blogs out there written by writers all trying to break through but I’ve found a few gems worth following.  One of my favourite blogs, On the Literary Sofa is written by Isabel Costello’s and she also celebrated the first birthday of her blog recently.

Zadie’s latest novel is described as depicting the modern urban zone.

Isabel ran an anniversary competition with the first prize of a literary lunch with her in London. I didn’t win this prize but I hope to one day meet up with Isabel to talk books and put the world to rights.I never win anything except an argument so I was delighted to win one of the runner-up prizes of a copy of Zadie Smith’s new novel, NW.  Sandy the postie delivered it this morning and I can’t wait to see if it lives up to Isabel’s review as being, “definitely worth reading for the realistic depiction of London in all its aspects, not just of place but situation and dialogue, which Smith does brilliantly from pretentious dinner parties to confrontations between strangers in kids’ playgrounds.

If you’re an avid reader or looking to share your writing aspirations and have a laugh along the way, as Dermot would say in the X Factor finals, “In no particular order…”, up there with Anne and Isabel, the others who make up my top ten writing bloggers  are Wendy Storer, Cath Bore, Louise Walters, Teresa Stenson, Kristin Celms, Anne Stormont, Anita Chapman and Josephine Corcoran. Enjoy checking out these interesting and entertaining blogs- you won’t be disappointed and you don’t need to be a writer to enjoy the book chat etc! Do you know any great blogs for writers that I’m missing out on? What would be in your top ten?

P.S. I’ve just noticed that all of my favourite bloggers are women. I’ve not got a conscious gender bias but maybe it’s simply that I can relate more to these ladies who’re busy juggling family and work commitments alongside their writing aspirations. But if anyone knows of a male blogger who’s worth following, please let me know.

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Write On

Last week, I blogged about whether I could sustain a blog about writing without the backdrop of my MLitt programme for material with the worry that the source of content might run dry.

I was being too narrow-minded. One of my twitter writing pals, Josephine Corcoran, rightly pointed out that, “Updates about a chapter, re-writes, books you’ve read, workshops you’ve attended, articles you’ve read, programmes you’ve listened to, places you visit, conversations you overhear – however you engage with all of this material” is all related to writing. Wendy Storer, said blogging is, “just like writing anything really – write through the blocks and you dig up all sorts of stuff you weren’t planning or expecting.”  And one of my long-time friends, Jill commented on Facebook that I shouldn’t feel pressure to blog about something related to writing and just write about “whatever comes up your proverbial”.

So it’s business as usual and this week I do have a bit of ‘writing’ news.  Firstly, one of my short stories is to be published in the 2nd edition of Valve Literary Journal and I’m absolutely chuffed to add this to my literary CV.  Put yee and ha together to make Yeeha!

The second piece of news is that, I joined a local writers’ group. Ever since finishing the MLitt classes, I’ve felt a bit adrift at no longer belonging to a like-minded group of people. I’m very lucky to have a supportive home life but none of the three males that I share a home with share my love of literature (the most they read is the Glasgow Herald and 2/3 only read the Sports pages). It can be a lonely existence when there’s no one around to discuss POV, WIP, 3rd person narrative, dramatic function blah blah blah. I missed the group structure, submission deadlines and banter of being involved with other writers all on the same page. So I took the plunge on Tuesday night and went along to Stirling Writers’ Group (thanks for the recommendation Laura).

As a virgin (it’s been a long time since I could make that claim), you don’t share your work and are only expected to observe/participate in the discussions at your first meeting. It is early days and I’ve joined at the penultimate meeting for this session, but in the words of Arnie, “Hasta la vista baby”.

Before I went along, I was cautious about committing to a writing group (I kept a close eye on the door but it remained unlocked and there was no initiation ceremony where I was asked to spill blood) who might not match my writing ambitions. I’d heard scary stories of amateur hobby groups who met only for a good blether and bitch about each other’s writing.

Stirling’s first makar for nearly 500 years but well worth the wait!

But the beauty of this group is that they have regular professional tutors to give proper constructive feedback. On Tuesday, the tutor was Magi Gibson and I was well impressed by her sharp, intuitive constructive criticism on the work of the members. Without the input of an experienced writer to facilitate, there’s always a danger that a writing group could simply be a case of the blind leading the blind but this is not going to be a problem at SWG.

So next week, I’ll offer up my words for the group to chew on and possibly spit out but the beauty is that I’ll have a deadline and an audience for my work. And that can only be a good thing, whether they like my writing or not!