The Wight Fair Writers & Artists Circle

A Place for Isle of Wight Authors, Writers and Artists

Jonathan’s Jottings March 2019


Jonathan’s Jottings

7:00pm Friday 1st March 2019, That Beefeater place near Premier Inn at Seaclose Park. A cool pint of Doombar. Very satisfactory. Surprisingly quiet, considering it was a Friday night at the local Beefery.

Next meeting

7:00pm Friday 5th April 2019, Beefeater again. Sadly, I won’t be there, because I need to be presiding over a Quiz again.


Maggie, Jenni, Piers, Aidan, Diana, Freda, Jonathan, Sue, Michelle, Kevin, Irene and David.

Maggie’s Announcements

Maggie has announced that she’s standing down as Chairman and President and Supremo of our group, because she needs to spend time and energy on herself for a while. She has worked tirelessly for years, leading and steering us forward, and we have continued and thrived under her leadership. She will be missed, but she has assured us that she will continue to come to at least some meetings, so she has not completely left.

We thank Maggie for all her hard work and enthusiasm, we wish her well in her life, and we hope she will be able to bounce back soon. We also hope to see her being able to concentrate on writing again, if that’s what she wants.

Jenni will take over Maggie’s role, and we wish her luck too, in trying to herd us, like cats, towards a successful and happy writing future…

This month we welcomed Kevin, who joined us for the first time. He has started to write Dr Seuss-like rhyming stories for his children, and he is also learning how to illustrate them on his computer. He brought some examples, apologising for the printer not working properly (we’ve all had that problem!), and we were impressed.

We had a discussion about the Beefeater, and we understand that it was a quiet evening, not in school holidays, and not in the summer, so the staff were happy to turn down the music in our corner and leave us alone. We don’t know whether it’ll always be like this, but we’re going to give it a go, maybe not meeting in August during the holiday season, and maybe moving the date if it corresponds to school holidays or half-terms.

We also agreed in the meantime to keep looking for alternative venues.

Achievements, Confessions, and Excuses

Jenni has been ill for ages, and was still coughing during the meeting. Please get well soon. She has started her novel, and has written several stories. Her problem is that she can’t stop herself editing in her head while she is writing, and that gets in the way. We discussed lots of ideas for stopping that, changing that, and not interrupting the creative flow. She’s going to see whether any of them might end up helping her. Good luck.

Michelle hasn’t been able to come recently, and it was good to see her again. She has been ill too. She hasn’t made much progress on her Fantasy/SF legendary story set on the Isle of Wight, and using the local folklore. It sounds like a great idea. We hope she makes more progress, and gets better soon.

Kevin brought some examples of his own computer-generated artwork for his rhyming children’s story, which is a tribute to the Dr Seuss books he loved in his own childhood. He has an original style, which is obvious.  He talked about his first forays into the world of agents and publishers, which we are all familiar with, and his contact with the owner of the Christmas Imaginarium in Ryde. He’s hoping in due course to ask our help in reading and critiquing his work. We hope he continues to come.

Irene has also been ill. There’s a lot of it about, it seems. She has been feeling better and has become more mobile now she’s recovering from her injury.  She’s still working on her legal cases, but she’s also concentrating on her writing, although not making huge progress.

David bought Maggie’s book when he saw it in a charity shop. We weren’t sure whether this was a triumph or not, but David enjoyed reading it, and no writer will turn down a good review. He hasn’t written many poems, apart from his weekly commitment. He has been with his band at many gigs, and gets some of his poems read out and sells some CDs on the way. He wants to write children’s stories for his grandchildren. He read us his latest work, a bittersweet rumination on the perils of School Reunions.

Sue is very close to the end of her latest book, and thoroughly enjoying writing it. She feels that she’s in charge, which is great, and is wondering whether she should be tying every loose end thoroughly and leaving no stone unturned, as she has always done, or whether she should be daring and leave some stories unfinished. Not to be sloppy, but because some of her readers like the precision, and others like being left with a few things to mull over, so they can imagine those ends for themselves. We had a lively discussion about this, and we all envied Sue’s good problem here. As far as leaving loose ends was concerned, we split approximately 50/50 on that. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. It’s nice to be able to please half of them. And I suspect the other half aren’t over-worried about it. Good luck with this book too.

Jonathan is still writing the column more or less every week, I did write a Christmas story that I wasn’t very happy with, and mostly I’m still obsessing about my anti-novel. Now I’ve realised I have to break every rule, even the last one, I’ve got to get down to rewriting it all. And I’m working in Southampton, and training myself up to running a 10k race in June, so writing has been a bit squeezed. But I’m here, writing the Jottings, at least. And I haven’t been ill.

Freda is much better. She’s more mobile, thank goodness, and there may not be a spring in her step right now, but the twinkle has returned to her eye. She had us entranced with her thoughts. She’s throwing out books,  thinking about a story about a lady in a chair, watching the birds, wishing they would lend her their wings. She found a book called Poets of the Year, and a poem she wrote about a wall at Seaview. She talked about ‘poetical prose’, in the spirit of poetry but still prose. She has a huge number of pieces of paper with her handwritten pieces on, and the handwritten manuscript of her autographical book, Dare to be Different. Fantastic.

Diana talked about her Amy Wild books. She has two new ones with the publishers and is talking with them about covers. They’re excited about these, and if they go well, there might be a rerelease of the whole series, suitably updated. They’re also selling like hotcakes in Japan. She’s got a commission to write an article in Writing magazine. She has been ill too.

Aidan has been ill. He has been continuing to write more of his Facebook page pieces, and is working on the big project, his Fantasy SF book.

Piers didn’t like Timeslip much, but has been enjoying the Tom Hanks short stories. He is 30k in to his second book about 1969. He has been very impressed with Gillie Davies, a poet who sails. He likes Oceans of My Soul, a blank verse book that’s not about sailing, but is influenced by sailing solo all over the world.

Maggie has just read the new R C Bridgestock book, Poetic Justice, a prequel to the Dylan series, and is full of praise for it.

End notes

We had a series of complications, resulting in several meetings being cancelled, but we settled in last Friday to a meeting like any other, with hardly a ripple to disturb our course. The new venue worked for us, there was a good turn-out, and we’ve all been getting on with our ridiculously busy lives, as well as struggling with our writing projects, with the usual variety of success and disaster. But we keep coming back.

Maggie is stepping down, but Jenni is stepping up, so it’s not the end of an era, it’s just a new chapter. We shall keep going. And Maggie isn’t going to disappear, she’ll still be turning up. Let’s hope this year sees more success for all of us. These are turbulent times, which may cause disruption, but also give everyone plenty to think about, and possibly a lot of new thoughts and ideas for new projects. And it’s probably good too to revisit current projects, because they are familiar parts of our internal lives. I never thought about writing as a form of lifeboat before, but I like that idea, so it’s mine now. Feel free to plagiarise it as and when you want.

My favourite recent quote goes like this: If you steal somebody else’s idea in your book, that’s called Plagiarism. But if you steal the ideas of many people, it’s called Research.

The next meeting will be on 7:00pm Friday 5th April 2019, at the Beefeater again. I shall miss it, but I look forward to reading the Jottings, whoever writes them.

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

Tom Gauld The Guardian

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