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Well I'm in pretty full lockdown. Been told to stay at home for 12 weeks. I have been writing.
Hi Emily. How many weeks into lockdown are you?
But the good thing is that you're writing. What kind of stuff?
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Well I last went to a shop five weeks ago. I am seeing people from a distance and online and going for socially distanced walks.
Have tried to treat it like a writer's retreat. Been writing short stories.
And keeping a diary to keep track of time.
I was going to be on a City Lit writing course this term. But instead I have been bingeing on reading short stories and keeping a journal of the techniques that they are using.
Sounds good, the writing bit. I see you are looking for readers for some of them. I'll try and flag that up in the video-con Cafe casual tomorrow evening, unless you will be there yourself.
Do flag it up. Might do the cafe thing. Is that on the same app as this or Zoom?
How about you?
I'm locked-down and daytime space has been gatecrashed by husband and young son! I've just carved out some time in the early afternoons, so I too am writing short pieces, maybe a group of scenes that will form a novella. Same main character, all set in Japan.
I remember when my son was small and I was working, it was really hard to write. I would suddenly write a poem and then have to put it away for weeks before I could work on it again.
Did you live in Japan?
The Forum is less than a month old but numbers are increasing, and, so is activity. Are you connected with any other writers groups online?
No. I've been focusing on meeting people at City Lit and also getting reader feedback from my friends. One of them has published novels but the other readers give just as good feedback. Especially during lockdown when there are fewer distractions.
Most of my friends are kind of straight, so getting feedback on stories which are less straight is a varied experience!
Do you know any good lgbtqi writers of short stories? I've just got hold of Philip Hensher's Tales of Persuasion. And I have read Michele Roberts' Mud. Maybe Ali Smith next. I've been reading her novels.
I'm trying to discern your taste via Hensher and Roberts 🙂 - just heading to my bookshelves!
I don't read a lot of short stories and the collections I had seemed to date and they have ended up in the loft. However, I have kept Kirsty Logan's The Rental Heart, and, Abdellah Taia's 'Another Morocco' on my shelves.
I've read Kirsty Logan's The Gracekeepers. Magic realism meets lesbian love story? Didn't know that she wrote short stories as well.
It's quite interesting when gay writers encounter a mainstream audience. Patrick Gale or Philip Hensher for instance.
I was listening to BBC Sounds on my phone in the early hours of this morning. Mariella Frostrup on Books and Authors talking to Garth Greenwell about his novel Cleanness. Frostrup said that a lot of the gay sex was sadomasochistic.
Can you explain a bit more?
Oh My! Having to defend and justify all over again! This is precisely why writers come on our retreats etc, so they don't have to explain. Then things actually come down to the style and quality of writing.
Hello! Just catching up on this very interesting conversation! Very grateful for these evenings Paul, I have felt very energised since the last one. Although I can't seem to time having a cocktail in my hand on a Wednesday evening.
Hi Jonathan - it great to hear you're energised. It's having the same effect on me, at least in terms of time spent writing if not quality. My most productive month this year.
Absolutely same! I'm treating it as a deadline.
Did you manage to get started on a story?
I did indeed start and finish the first draft of a story and I have edited and submitted to 4 places. It's been a blur of productivity.
That's great! Let me know how it goes.
I will :)
Jonathan - what do you think might be the best online format for a critique session?
At university we used to have a workshop on a Wednesday, then you had to submit your work for the following week by Sunday, so the person had two days to read and make notes. The important bit is the word count and the number of people sending work to each other. Also some rule around fairness...as in if you submit but then you don't read other people's, it's not very fair.
I know some writing groups just space it a week apart. Not sure exactly how that works, I guess you start by submitting, then have your first workshop a week later so you're always running a week ahead with submitting work. That gives people a week to read your work too.
Oh, another nice thing to do so a workshop isn't all just critiquing work is to maybe share a short story or piece of fiction by an author, offer writing prompts for the week ahead or share articles, good ideas, questions, etc.
Thanks Jonathan - I'll consider these suggestions, and others, as I design some pilot for June.
Hi everyone - just to let you know I'll be finishing up here at 10pm. Hope to see you around, maybe at tomorrows online Cafe Casual. Drop in anytime from 8.30pm until 10.