Inspired by…

photo 1 (2)After reflecting on the magic of writing last week, and how the extraordinary often lies in the ordinary, I thought I’d share a few things which have inspired my own writing this week.

Said inspiration refers to both writing still locked away in my thoughts for later, and also actual writing written.:)photo 3 (1)

My coastal walks with the pup offer a daily source of reflection of course, with the landscapes either inspiring in themselves, or simply allowing the space to think on other things.

But I also picked up the violin again over the weekend, after a fairly long break in playing, and have included this in my reflections this week, for I think music is another great way to step outside of yourself and give the mind free rein to wander and explore new ideas.photo 2 (1)

Music and words – whether we’re playing and writing, or reading and listening – can conjure up a torrent of emotions and ideas if we let them.

We can lose ourselves in both and maybe even make a few discoveries along the way…

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Making magic with words

‘I am sure there is magic in everything, only we have not sense enough to get hold of it and make it do things for us.’ – Frances Hodgson Burnett.

The extraordinary very often lies in the ordinary, if only we take the time to look and find it, though writers of course, are more likely to focus on the minor details of life than anyone else. A poem or a short story feeds off the seemingly mundane, presenting it in a way which makes the reader stop and think and re-examine. It uses language to convey new meaning, insight or wonder, shutting out the noise of the world to zone in on one particular thing.photo 1 (1)

I found myself, this weekend, at the foot of Seamus Heaney’s grave in Bellaghy. I hadn’t planned to go there and it was my first visit, but I was in the area and so it came about. Heaney of course, was highly skilled when it came to writing about the everyday in a way which enchanted readers of all ages. He found the magic in the mundane.

The spot where Heaney lies appeared fairly magical in itself on Saturday – well, as much as any plot in a graveyard can be – but on a cool spring day, with the sun dappling the ground with shadows, and the fields just visible through the branches which shelter the grave, it seemed the perfect contemplative corner for a poet to rest. photo 3

Making your readers spellbound with your words is what every writer wants, I imagine, but it can often seem an impossible task. I doubt I’ve ever achieved it myself. However, I do believe that if we take the time to pause, and look again at the world, we might just have a chance of conjuring up some of that magic in our writing after all…

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Writing refreshed

photo 2I’ve mentioned before how the dark winter evenings inspire my writing, the bleakness of the season the perfect fodder for creating ghostly tales and the like. Similarly however, I find that spring in all its brightness and abundance is equally as inspiring and that my writing often reflects this in some way. I guess I’m a seasonal writer then, and it may be something to do with the fact that I’m out and about twice a day every day with my pup, trekking around the north coast come hail, rain or shine (coincidentally, all of which featured on yesterday morning’s walk!), soaking up the scenery and letting the mind wander off into the sights and sounds around us.photo 1

Of late, my writing has been sporadic enough – it’s inevitable that when I write business content all day, journalism, professional blogs and so on, the writing that forms my hobby can sometimes be squeezed out due to sheer lack of mental energy! To write something is often better than nothing, but I like to write knowing that there’ll be a story or a poem at the end of the process that I’m happy with, and prefer not to waste my energies on writing just for writing’s sake.

Anyway, over the past week, I’ve managed to scribble out a poem and work at a short story, with an idea for another one floating around in my head. With each new season comes the opportunity to renew focus, I think, and for me, it’s as good a time as any to get back into the swing of things…:)

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Writing from experience

All writing is somewhat autobiographical, whether we’re aware of it at the time of creation or not. Snippets and tippets of our life experiences seep into sentences, be it a memory, something we’ve read, a conversation overheard, or a mish-mash of all of the above. We may write ‘real’ with intent or without, but undoubtedly what we’ve encountered in life will affect what it is that we write.

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I usually write fiction without overtly intending my characters or scenarios to be reflective of my own personal ‘real-life’, in that I aim not to write characters identifiable as anyone I know, or to have a situation occur where readers might link it to something which has happened to myself or to someone I know. However, I’m currently breaking with tradition in that my latest story is very obviously based around a person and their work who would be easily identifiable by a fair few people in NI. There are elements of truth woven into the fiction and the task I now have is deciding how best to present the story.

We all source our ideas from the life we see around us, but if the person in question was to read it, what would they think of it? How much does this matter to us as writers, and how much creative licence do we have when writing about people we know? I think these questions take on a more serious tone if the writing in question is dealing with sensitive or controversial issues and in this instance, my writing is not. It’s a tale inspired by the work of another creative soul and would cause no offence to them or anyone else.

The question remains however: How would you feel if you picked up a story and saw yourself – albeit a slight distortion of yourself – ensconced in a piece of fiction someone else had written…?:)

 

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‘A New Corner’

Here’s a little something I wrote recently for Jason O’Rourke’s Vernacularisms site. Happy Easter!

Royal Avenue hums with activity the further along she goes, pedestrians filtering in from side streets; dropping out of shop doorways and sliding into the throng from the Metros. The buses cut a pa…

Source: Guest Post: ‘A New Corner’ by Claire Savage

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The world is a story…

Today is World Storytelling Day – a day which celebrates the art of oral storytelling and which this year, focuses on the theme of water.photo 5

Stories saturate every part of our lives, whether we’re fully aware of it or not. We use them when we’re relaying accounts of our day; we find them in advertising and in the news. They come to us in thoughts, in oral form, in the written word and in pictures. Stories are powerful because they connect us with one another and they make things personal.

We ‘buy into’ commercial stories because they hook into our emotions – we buy the vision of the brand above what they’re actually selling. That’s the power of storytelling.

Books can leave us emotionally drained, exultant, bewildered and more, depending on what you’re reading. They can challenge our perceptions and open up new worlds and belief systems to us.boy-1262989_1280

Oral storytelling engages us in an ancient and still thriving way of sharing stories. The storyteller may use different voices for characters; they set the scene with the tone of their voice, through dramatic pauses and energetic or quiet speech. Telling stories aloud isn’t just for the kids!

Stories have been around for longer than we can remember and will always play a central role in our lives. On World Storytelling Day, why not have a think about what stories mean to you, or try to remember a story that’s really stayed with you over the years. It just might surprise you what comes to mind…

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Celebrating women writers

So, International Women’s Day came and went and all in all, it was a great success with regards to the Women Aloud NI project. Women writers gathered across Northern Ireland to celebrate each other’s achievements, enjoying readings and chatting about all things relating to writing.

Some of the writers who read in Coleraine, including Women Aloud NI organiser, Jane Talbot (far right).

Some of the writers who read in Coleraine, including Women Aloud NI organiser, Jane Talbot (far right).

In Coleraine, the audience enjoyed hearing from a variety of talent throughout the day, and it was great to see such healthy numbers in attendance, with some people even staying from morning until evening.

It was my first time reading my work at an event like this and I don’t know whether it was the supportive atmosphere and the attentiveness of the audience, the prompting from author Bernie McGill (who was facilitating the readings) with questions during my discussion, or simply feeling at ease surrounded by so many shelves of books in a store I used to work in, but I really enjoyed the experience.

WOMEN ALOUDFeedback from everyone else seems to be the same and, as someone who used to get nervous reading in public, all I have to say is – when’s the next one?! Of course, part of what helped my confidence is the fact that I was reading a story which had been published in a literary journal.Waterstones reading1

For me, knowing that someone liked my work enough to print it, automatically boosted my confidence in reading it in public, and I think journals are an excellent way to improve your confidence as a writer, as well as building up your reputation.

I also shared some tips about submitting to journals, and brought some with me as props so the audience could see examples of what’s out there, which I think worked quite well.

It certainly inspired me to get back to scribbling in my notebooks, so I think it’s about time I started that next story…

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