spiny hedgehog

Spiny thoughts

Here we are already in August. The five months of my time as writer-in-residence got the Hysteria Writing Competition have flown by. Personally, it has been a tricky time as I was fairly immobile at first, gradually regaining some pain free movement after experiencing two collapsed vertebrae in March.

The blog has been a lifesaver. It has made me think about different things – more enjoyable things – and made me focus on gathering my thoughts into something hopefully coherent for the Hysteria 10 competitors. So thank you, Linda for this opportunity and the therapy writing can be in so many circumstances.

I thought I would write about what you can do in the last days of a competition period. Your poem or prose may well have been drafted refined and polished. It’s all ready to go.

But I wanted to pass on something I learned from an extremely useful technical session I attended some years ago at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival held at Snape Maltings in Suffolk. Led by the eminent poet, Julia Copas, I have no memory of the title, but what I learned has been of the greatest value to me ever since. Julia was talking about a poem, but the principle applies as much to flash or short stories. She emphasized that every line must relate to the central theme of the poem. So your writing has a strong spine. (You can see why this subject appeals to me in my present predicament.)

 Often when drafting a piece, fresh images and ideas will be triggered and creep into the writing. But is this where they belong? If your piece has its origins in a real event, the temptation to include details which actually occurred is ever-present.

Ask yourself. Do these details need to be built into the structure of this piece or could they be the spark for a new piece of writing? As you read your entry have you slipped in something which doesn’t comfortably belong? Does your poem or flash resemble a hedgehog – spikes everywhere – images you can’t bear to leave out, snippets and unnecessary witty comments rather than an elegant well-oiled mechanism working smoothly to bring your main premise to life in a satisfying read.

On the other hand, YOU are the writer. You may want to construct a piece which spins across the page like a Catherine wheel, sparking ideas in all directions. That is how new forms of writing are generated, by the writer throwing received wisdom out of the window and letting rip. It’s up to you.

We look forward to reading your entries to Hysteria 10. To paraphrase the late great Dave Allen: May your Muse go with you.

The challenge to hunt the clichés in my July blog is still openWinner of most clichés spotted will receive a copy of my first collection Lessons from the Orchard. pub Sacred Eagle publishing.

(Image by xiSerge from Pixabay)

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