The Wight Fair Writers & Artists Circle

A Place for Isle of Wight Authors, Writers and Artists

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, instead of, 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 idea, and is working through it. She has written 12k words so far. Her main problems are creativity peaks at 3:00am, and an antediluvian PC that keeps crashing. Her daughter has taken it away to attempt some kind or reboot or repair, so she’s making slow progress. It’s about an urban couple arriving in a village, and the inevitable clashes and complications.

Lucy hasn’t achieved much with her time-travel novel, but the good news is that I did see it in the shops last time I time-travelled myself. Sadly I wasn’t able to read it, because I only get Economy time-travel, which is observation only… She is writing the first chapter of her egg-donation novel, but she hasn’t set up her website or done her editing course yet. It’s all in the future!

Andrew has written two novels but neither has been published, so he’s concentrating on short stories for competitions and magazines. He’s continuing his writing tutor work, but his blog feels dry and unexciting, and he wonders whether anyone reads it. There was a discussion about blogs, and the need to write for yourself, and make sure it’s varied and interesting, otherwise it can become a chore.

David has been writing his poetry. He has been donating his CD to the Hospice shop. He‘s been going to Waterstones to read, and he had a poem printed by the Daily Mail, although they mis-spelt his name and got the title wrong. He read us hoi sates poem, called A Thing of Beauty, about the life of a banana. Very moving.

End notes

We all managed to have time to talk about our progress and news, and we finished on time even though our start was delayed, so it was a good meeting, with lots of things mentioned to think about. We all liked the new venue, and it’ll be easier next time, because we’ll all know where to go and what to do. Hopefully we’ll have a room to ourselves too. We welcomed a new member and the return of a previous member, and we were all stimulated in a creative way. We had our photo taken too.

 The next meeting will be on Friday 6th July 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.

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