Wight Fair Writers & Artists Circle

A Place for Isle of Wight Authors, Writers and Artists
Browsing Jonathan’s Jottings

Jonathan’s Jottings August 2018


Jonathan’s Jottings

7:00pm Friday 3rd August 2018, Orchard House Care Centre. Make-it-yourself coffee and tea. On a diet anyway.

Next meeting

7:00pm Friday 7th September 2018, Orchard House again.


Maggie, Aidan, Irene, Michelle, Tony, Mary, Martin, Fiona, Jonathan, Freda, Jenni and David.

Maggie’s Announcements

Maggie reminded us that our contributions each month, should we be willing to put money in the pot, will be given to the management at Orchard House in December as a thank-you for allowing us to meet there.

We all agreed to keep it reasonably short because of the continuing intense heat.

Achievements, Confessions, and Excuses

Aidan hasn’t done much because of the heat. He has been making notes, and studying Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Norse, so he can use names that feel right for all his characters.

Irene promised to write three chapters, and she has. Well done! This is an inspiration! She now has seven chapters of her book written, and has promised to write three more in the coming month.

Michelle has not had a lot of time to write, mainly because of her children. She has managed to write two chapters, but has made the mistake of editing these each time before writing anything new, and as an inevitable result, has failed to write anything new. We all told her to stop that, and just get on with writing the thing. Afterwards she can edit to her heart’s content.

Her book has evolved from a romance to a horror story, and is taking place in Ventnor.

Tony has been painting his trademark eyeball a lot lately. He’s involved with Ventnor Fringe, up in the cemetery, painting on recycled scrap. He’s very excited about the Peruvian street artist Phlegm, who’s going to paint a huge mural on a wall in Ventnor.

Mary has taken two weeks off from writing for the first time in five years. She also had a scary experience doing a live video on Facebook, talking about writing and answering questions. It’s available to see if you want to. She’ll put it on her own website. She really enjoyed it, and apparently she gave a very good account of herself. Well done!

Martin is nearing the end of his long editing period. On Chapter 29, with one more chapter to go. He’s discovered that the secret to successful editing during a heatwave is investing in an industrial fan. We’re wondering what he’s going to do when he finishes editing.

Fiona has been preparing  press releases for Tony. They have received application forms for the Flightless programme, which w2ilkl air for seven weeks in October and November. They’re hoping to be selected for the epic trip from England to somewhere in the Middle East w2ithout leaving the ground, and accompanied by a camera crew. It sounds extraordinary, and very exciting. Let’s hope their application is successful.

She is writing a story about a zoo, and asked the group if we think she can give animals voices and allow them to talk. We generally said that in children’s books, anything goes. Good luck with that.

Jonathan: I finally talked about my second novel. I didn’t choose this, but it forced itself on me. The idea is about as impossible for a story as it could be. Basically, there is only one character, no time passes, there is no movement at all, nothing happens, and it’s all inexplicable. I have written about 40,000 words so far, I’ve come to an end, but I have no idea if it’s any good or not.

The idea is this: A young man is sitting in a crowded coffee shop before work one morning, stirring his coffee, and he’s thinking, about stuff, because that’s what he does. He happens to be thinking about time, and at that moment, three things happen. He notices a man with a rucksack start to explode, at the same moment he sees the girl he loves coming in the door, and everything stops still. It’s like a still from a film, He’s in mid-stir, the man’s head is coming apart unpleasantly, he can’t move, but his mind is working.

That’s the set-up.

Everyone listened to this very politely, without saying how insane this idea is, and they asked questions, and I answered as much as I could without giving away spoilers. I have an ending, but I don’t know whether it’ good enough. I said I would read it all again in the coming month and decide what to do about it. Whatever else I do, I will write 3000 words, or three chapters. Of something.

Freda has been away with her family. She went to Treorchy, which is just like Sandown. She met a lady poet and professor, and talked about poetry, and listened to this lady read her verse. She will write a poetic response. We became a little confused about whether she’s going to become a grandmother or a great-grandmother, or even more than that.

Jenni has suffered injuries, and has suffered in the heat. But she has three ideas for short stories and three drafts. She had an idea for a Science Fiction book, and intends to write some chapters by December. Her problem is that everything is in her head, and she knows she has to convert all of it into files in her computer, but it’s a bit of a daunting task. Good luck with that.

David has being doing gigs in aid of the Hospice. He’s still writing one poem each week for his poetry group. His New Zealand family is visiting. He read us his latest poem, called Pink Thoughts, about working in a department store. Excellent.

End notes

We had another enjoyable meeting, and talked about a wide range of topics, and everyone went away with a mixture of inspiration and incredulity and puzzlement in our heads. Well, at least I did…

We all get so much from these meetings. That’s why our group is so vibrant and lively, and why we all keep turning up every month. It’s a good place for us to open our hearts and minds, without fear of ridicule or criticism, where we can say what we can’t say to anyone who doesn’t write or create themselves.

It’s often said that writing is a solitary and lonely occupation, and it is generally, but we have a place where we can come and be ourselves, as our writing selves, and it feels good. I hope we continue to meet for a long time. I appreciate every one of you, and every meeting I attend. Thank you all.

The next meeting will be on Friday 7th September at Orchard House. See you then. I can’t wait.

As always, if you’ve been mis- or under-represented, please let me know and I’ll correct it next month.


pJonathan's Jottings | Comments Off on Jonathan’s Jottings August 2018

Jonathan’s Jottings July 2018


Jonathan’s Jottings

7:00pm Friday 6th July 2018, Orchard House Care Centre. Make-it-yourself coffee and tea. ON a diet anyway.

Next meeting

7:00pm Friday 3rd August 2018, Orchard House again.


Maggie, Andrew, Erica, Jonathan, Julie, Aidan, Anna, Fred, Martin, Irene, and Bev.

Maggie’s Announcements

Maggie announced that her publisher, Alfie Dog Fiction, is gradually easing down on its work, prior to shutting down. Sher will find another publisher onc3e she starts to produce her own work and has finished sorting out her house and garden.

Achievements, Confessions, and Excuses

Andrew quite rightly asked me to amend some of my comments in past jottings, as below. I’m always happy to do this, because my memory isn’t what it used to be:

May: I wasn’t the winner of a short story competition in 2011 but placed second in the Isle of Wight Crime and Intrigue Competition, which I won the next year  resulting in my being invited to join Wight Fair Writers’ Circle in 2012.  I didn’t really “do the usual publishing thing”.  What happened was that I then wrote a novel in which an Agent showed interest, requesting a re-write and working on it with me for a couple of months before deciding that, despite liking the writing, she’d find it difficult to place.  After this, it didn’t “go quiet” because I was still writing short stories, which placed in competitions or were published – for example, during this period I became a “regular contributor” to Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special.  I started the YA novel alongside this other writing.

June: It wasn’t that I was wondering whether anyone read the blog – it seems to be getting the views/shares; it was a question of whether I was reaching the target audience: writers,  people who hope to write or are interested in writing.  

He was kind enough to suggest that I had inspired him to revisit his blog, and he came up with this idea:

What I’m planning to do in future is to have two sorts of post – one about writing technique, the other about the writing life.

I propose increasing this variety further by doing two collaborative posts, one based upon group members’ top tips on writing technique, the other based upon group members’ tips relating to the writer’s life.  Everyone included would be fully credited.  If those who are interested could bring their ideas to September’s meeting that would be great.

The other news I shared concerns my work with Independent Arts.  As part of their Time & Tide project, I have been delivering creative-writing sessions in a local sheltered accommodation provision.  The residents I worked with made this a delight.

Everyone has ideas and tips. We should take up Andrew’s idea and give these to him in September.

Erica told us she has been long-listed for the OWT (Online Writing Tips) short story competition. Good luck with that.

She’s fed up with getting rejections, and she told us about a friend who has a ‘Rejection Jar’. Every time she has a rejection, she puts 5 Euros in it, and one day these rejections will pay for a treat or a holiday. We all thought that was a great idea.

She also related a comment by one of the OWT judges. If you’re not getting rejections, you’re not trying!

She is rewriting her novel.

Jonathan: I mentioned that I’m keeping up with my columns and reviews and the jottings, but I’m making no headway with the novel.  Read many great books by brilliant authors, and I don’t quite believe that I could be as good as them, or that I could ever produce anything that a publisher would agree to make into a book, and the whole novel thing is so long and hard and time-consuming, and I just don’t seem to find the time for it, even though I’m not working. This brought on a very good and helpful discussion about how we manage to start and keep going and make the time for our writing. It boils down to being somewhat selfish and obstinate, and just getting down to it. There was talk about other people not understanding what this writing thing is, and expecting us to prioritise our lives differently. There was also talk about guilt, both for not spending enough time on our writing and for spending too much time on our writing and not on other things that other people might think were more important.

We came to no conclusion, but there were lots of ideas to think about. Thank you all.

Julie has been to Ireland, driving around the South West Coast on the Wild Atlantic Way, and now has another idea for a travel piece. She stayed at peoples’ homes, using Homestay, a bit like Air BnB

She bought in and passed round the National Express magazine (The View), which published her previous piece.

Aidan has stocked Ryde Bookshop with his wedding book, and one other. He hasn’t received an answer from Waterstones or the County Pres shops yet. He has found the weather too hot to write.

Anna has been busy. She has submitted her book to another agent. She hasn’t heard from the others. She’s feeling flat, and isn’t prioritising properly.

Probably the weather again. Things will look up.

Fred haws had another short-listing in a competition, but he gets depressed and frustrated because he wants to do better. There was a discussion about what this means, and the chances of winning, and the lack of guarantee that the best story will win anyway, because it depends on so many factors, particularly the mood of the final readers. He was mollified by the idea that every story in good competitions gets read several times, and that being listed is a real achievement, even though winning is much more of a lottery.

We also reassured Fred that he is a good writer, but that there’s no mechanism or process for success, which doesn’t always rely on good writing anyway.

He described that he is uncompromising in his writing life, and head refused to go to social occasions with his wife because he was writing. We were all shocked, but also very impressed.

Martin has been writing. He has two chapters left in his epic rewrite of his second novel, and can’t wait to finish it. He also has a website now.

Irene has been doing voluntary legal work, and finds it hard to refuse to help people. Otherwise she has no excuse for not writing, apart from family stuff and it’s too hot.

She has committed to writing two or three chapters by the next meeting. We shall see whether she has or not…

Bev still has no PC. That needs to be sorted properly and fast. In the meantime, she’s been emailing snippets.

She has been creating art, and has been dying using natural things, like rose petals and rust, and is enjoying that very much.

End notes

There were fewer of us, probably because of the weather, but we managed to fill the time with lively discussion and a lot of good ideas. There was plenty to take away to mull over.

The next meeting will be on Friday 3rd August at Orchard House. See you then. I can’t wait.

As always, if you’ve been mis- or under-represented, please let me know and I’ll correct it next month.

pJonathan's Jottings | Comments Off on Jonathan’s Jottings July 2018

Jonathan’s Jottings June 2018


Jonathan’s Jottings

7:00pm Friday 1st June 2018, Orchard House Care Centre. Make-it-yourself coffee and tea, nice cakes and biscuits. Some of them were reputed to be sugar-free. Or maybe fat-free, or perhaps nutrition-free. I tried them all, of course. Very tasty.

Next meeting

7:00pm Friday 6th July 2018, Orchard House again.


Maggie, Jenni, Sarah, Mary, Erica, Anna, Jonathan, Freda, Julie, Fiona, Fred, Tony, Diana, Aidan, Martin, Irene, Bev, Lucy, Andrew and David.

Maggie’s Announcements

Maggie thanked Anna for finding Orchard House for our new regular venue.

Jenni read out some emails, and announced that we currently have 6 potential members on the waiting list.

There’s a talk by Rebecca Alexander at Lord Louis Library (not The Library) on 16th June, about her writing life and how she got published. She is also willing to meet us if we want.

The response to using Orchard House was generally positive, although some of us forgot that we start at 7:00pm rather than 7:30, and there was some confusion about getting in and what room we were supposed to meet in. Apparently the manager was off sick, and was the only person with the keycode, but we were very comfortable in the restaurant. It was good to be able to get our own drinks, and we were undisturbed for the duration  of the meeting.,

Achievements, Confessions, and Excuses

Sarah Blackwell talked about her portfolio and passed a lot of brilliant drawings around for us to appreciate. They were very good. She wants to find ways of collaborating with writers and getting published if possible. She likes drawing monsters, and does good wildlife pictures too. She also mentioned Workaway, where you can arrange to go and stay somewhere, like a farm, and work for free for a while, to gain experience and creative stimulation.

Mary told us about her book, doing fine on the internet, making sales and getting good reviews. She is 10 chapters into her new book, and working hard. It’s a whodunit, and she’s enjoying the process very much. She hopes to be finished and published by the end of the year.

Erica has gone back to the drawing board for more research, because she has realised that her new book is going on a new direction. She’s writing short stories for practice. Her first book was dropped by her agent despite initial interest. It needs a good edit, apparently. Her solution is now to start her own publishing house. We might all be sending her our books soon. Imagine the complications in deciding who to publish and who to reject ! That would be a minefield. Good luck with all that. She also mentioned White Lines, a monthly event at Quay Arts, where anyone can go and read their work, either poetry or short stories or excerpts from their WIP. She said there are not enough prose writers. The next one is on 6th June, and they’re monthly.

Anna applied and received funding for a writing retreat in Yorkshire, run by Steffie Buckland. She’s really looking forward to it. Her first book is still with the agent, her second book is being edited, and her third book is still in draft.

Jonathan explained that life became rather complicated last month, and apologised for last month’s jottings being so late. There was a house move, and various life complications, which isn’t an excuse. He also missed several weekly columns. The problem seems to be the desire to write a great novel, but reading many wonderful books, which dampens the expectation of getting anywhere. He just needs to buck up and get on with it. Hopefully once the new house is sorted out, there will be time to do that.

Freda isn’t going to write any more novels, because it’s so much effort to get the thing written, and she can’t face the idea of having to get it published, so she’s going to stick to poetry, unless someone can be persuaded to turn her book into a sitcom. Her Royal Wedding poem was published in the County Press, but they thought it was two poems.  She also wrote the lyrics for a song, but can’t write music. She did that once before, and found a musician to put her words to music. The only response was that it was a great tune but the lyrics were rubbish! I’m glad she wasn’t put off by that though.

Julie has been writing travel pieces, mainly about Italy. She has had two accepted for the National Express magazine, and for Around the World in 80 Pages. She has been writing 50-word flash fiction.

Fiona is back from her epic trip around the Outer Hebrides. She’s now doing R & D for articles about it. She made good contacts with the editors of Country Walking and Countryfile magazines, who are interested in her pieces. Good luck with that. Apparently they don’t usually ask for photos, because they prefer to use their own stock photos. She brought in 72 old Writing Magazines for anyone to read or take away. Thanks for that.

Fred has now been upgraded to the Nottingham Shortlist rather than the longlist. Well done! He entered a humorous poem in  an Irish competition, and he’s going to enter his latest book in the Richard and Judy new novel competition, to be announced on 16th June. The first prize is apparently £30,000 and a publishing deal. Watch that space! He’s now 70k words into his fourth book. The man  is a writing powerhouse.

Tony was travelling with Fina. While he was away, much of his fantastic work for the Beach Cafe was destroyed because the Council condemned he stairs to the upper terrace, so he’ll have to repaint a lot of it. Apparently there was no disability access. While away he revisited Glasgow, and the Print House Gallery there. He’s been asked to contribute a painted sheet for the fence of the One Life Festival. He’ll be providing a workshop on Street Art at Lord Louis Library (not The Library) on 9th June. Should be good.

Diana has been very successful with Plots and Plotting in the U.S.A., but not over here. It has been published by amazon.com, instead of amazon.co.uk, which doesn’t help. The Japanese don’t like foxes, but hedgehogs are good, as well as squirrels, so she’s going to write a book featuring a hedgehog and a squirrel, and one with a cat and a Highland Terrier puppy, which will take up all her summer. She’s having a problem with her English publisher about re-releasing her previous books, because they insist on putting fluffy kitten photos on the covers, whether they’re appropriate or not, unlike the Japanese, who use very good relevant illustrations, and consequently sell very well.

Aidan showed us the published version of his wedding book, and is planning to sell them himself. He’s looking for venues. Ryde Bookshop and Babushka Books in Shanklin were mentioned. He has been writing flash proses, which will appear on his website soon.

Martin is still slogging away on his epic rewrite, now on chapter 26 of 30, so he’s near the end. Good luck with it. May the reviews be excellent! People who have read it so far are all positive about it.

Irene has handed over the Lottery money to Brading Drama Club, and isn’t going to be involved any more, because she wants to concentrate on her writing. She’s written 5/6 chapters of her new book.

Bev had an