Wooooooooo

Wooooooooo

The lights were dimmed to black and the pumpkin glow set to red. The photographer adjusted his light settings and the roomful of writers uttered a collective sigh. The first ghost story of the session was about to start…

Caroline’s spook was unpleasantly smelly, with ‘an odour most wretched’. It put one or two people off the slices of cake in front of them – portions from the celebration cake, baked in honour of Eddie Martin, local musician and writer and the hundredth member to join Frome Writers’ Collective.

cake1 (Medium)

Alan’s ghost, Georgina, was next. She liked walking along in sewers at night and didn’t seem cut out for a long-term relationship with her non-ghost fiancé, unlike the next phantom, who was clearly an expert in keeping secrets for years.

Liz’s story had a mysterious vessel gleaming in the Kefalonian pre-dawn light, while Alison’s murderously-intentioned wife got things horribly wrong – as she discovered, in the undertaker’s office – and rather too late.

Amazing apparitions and ghoulish ghouls of all kinds whirled around the upstairs room of The Three Swans. As one of the oldest and most interesting pubs in Frome, the venue was well-furnished for the task.

Writers leant forward in their eighteenth century chairs to hear the tale of Annie McBride in her tartan cape – and leant back quickly as the bloody dagger advanced.  The air stirred to the arrival of mysterious carvings and chilled to tale of an army riding the land forever, never to dismount. Poor Frederick, the hapless office ghost, with his wilting flowers, drew mutters of sympathy and the LED nightlights flickered at nearly all the right moments.

In the first-ever FWC evening of ghost stories, Caroline, Alan, Andy, Nikki, Liz, Alison, Colin, Sheila, Lisa and Barbara shared their scary tales with a very appreciative audience.

More creepy yarns anticipated in 2018!

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In Pursuit of Fame – Part 2

Unfortunately, writing fame like snow leopards has become an endangered species, and far easier to achieve in, say, the last years of the nineteenth century than in these early years of the twenty-first. Maybe there were fewer aspiring novelists vying for the prize. For the vast majority, the idea of putting pen to paper was as bizarre as journeying to Mars is for me, especially for those for whom attendance at school happened only to others. Besides which, the word ‘leisure or spare time’, a basic requirement for any aspiring writer, had not yet formed part of their existence.

As for leisure pursuits … nope! And what the hell are those?

People were either sleeping or working … no time for fancy embroidery or petite pointe unless it was an occupation to put bread on the table, in which case it was likely to occupy every waking hour. Candidates for writing fame grew from families who had a bob or two to spare, and who were able to educate their children and keep them at home without the family starving to death.

Although it is fair to say starving in a garret in Montmartre did become the in-thing for artists around this time. Never the most dependable of men, a good dose of cold and hunger went a long way in their search for fame and fortune, which brings up the point: how did they manage to live in squalor and never pay rent and yet spend all night in a bar drinking copious amount of brandy or wine? Be that as it may, once fame and fortune struck it was for many artists already too late to jettison the attic in favour of something warmer and more comfortable. Sadly, all too often the cold and damp, not to mention cheap liquor, resulted in TB which took them off at a very young age. (Look at La Bohême and La Traviata).

Surprisingly, this garret business did not apply because writers needed a smattering of education which had to be paid for. In this regard the Bronte sisters might well be considered cool. Their father’s income was, or would have been, sufficient to keep them all handsomely had not their brother run up huge debts. However, having been fortunate enough to belong to the gentry who actually believed in girls being educated, and living in a picturesque part of Yorkshire, they were able to decide on a writing career as a way of providing for themselves, even if they did have to pass themselves off as men.

(What a long way we women have come!)

Indeed, it is likely there are more writers currently starving in garrets or basement flats than there were in the 19th century.

Barbara Spencer

The Three Swans: Home to Frome Writers

The Three Swans: Home to Frome Writers

The Three Swans is ‘home’ to the Frome Writers’ Collective; its welcoming
atmosphere is why the FWC has made it the venue of choice for the last three
years.

The landlady, Helen Rowlingson, unfailingly serves good beer and offers its
upstairs meeting room generously for functions. It’s a comfortable and happy
place to spend an evening. But this has not always been the case. This 17 th
century pub has a long and lively history.

Its early origins are obscure, but the pub was once mentioned in the
national press when, for a bet, a man consumed 193 oysters with a quart of
ale. That was in 1827.

In the mid 19 th century, the pub gained a reputation for ‘wantonness’. One
landlord was summoned before the magistrates for keeping a rowdy house
with troopers and prostitutes ‘carousing lewdly’. We still enjoy music there on
a regular basis, but the lewd carousing seemed to have disappeared.
The unusual room layouts indicate that the Three Swans was probably once
two buildings. It even has an interior ‘external’ passageway, where today
smokers congregate.

Some things don’t change though. In 1860 an advertisement offered ‘Chops
and Steaks’ and ‘Home Brewed Beer of the Best Quality’ at the Three Swans.
And the pub has recently branched out to provide similar lunches at
weekends. In a further echo of its past, in 1891, during one of its most
respectable periods, the landlord was fined for keeping a dog without a
licence. Today, this is no longer an issue and the Three Swans is probably the
most dog-friendly premises in Frome. Helen loves them.

It is also the most eclectic pub in Frome. Local businessman, Chris Moss,
bought it because he wanted ‘somewhere to go for a decent pint’, but then he
filled it with an amazing assortment of furniture and wall displays. There is
nowhere like it in the town, and it is probably unique in the country. It’s
certainly popular with the people of Frome.

Facts garnered from local knowledge and Historic Inns of Frome by Mick
Davis and Valerie Pitt.

In Pursuit of Fame – part 1

In Pursuit of Fame – part 1

Why does an otherwise normal person decide to commit their life to writing a book?

The answer to that question would form a vast mound of paper because we all have different reasons for setting pen to paper. For Daphne du Maurier, a foremost writer of the last century, it was to escape the unhappiness of a loveless marriage. For me, it was being forced to replace a sparkling career with the more mundane aspects of domesticity – cooking, cleaning and ironing. Maybe it was the tedium of housework that led me to writing for children, for whom the joys of domesticity, housework to you and me, remain undiscovered, somewhat like the river Nile, until they are at least 21.

Nevertheless, regardless of what we give as the reason for days spent peering into a notebook, typewriter or pc, the pursuit of ‘fame’ although strenuously denied is the most obvious goal, even if the words ‘and fortune’ do not accompany it. If someone says to me, I write only for myself, my retort is likely to be: ‘I confess the lady/gentleman  protests too much,’ something Shakespeare used about Hamlet’s mum in Hamlet. I mean, if they genuinely do only write for themselves, the book can live on a shelf or in a drawer – like Fagin’s ‘guilty secret’. (Dickens) It does not need the Internet.

I concede that the word ‘fame’ maybe too strong. Maybe recognition is more apt; the recognition of your peers who think it pretty damn good. That, for any would-be writer is the Everest of accolades.

However, if in doubt as to your motives, apply the litmus test: why should someone buy my book? And does it matter if they don’t?

Broken_AZ_Medal_101916.jpg

If your answer is: Like hell it does. Then, like the rest of us, I strongly suspect that you are seeking at the very least recognition as a writer, plus a wish and desire for fame.

Barbara Spencer

I WRITE THEREFORE…………

I WRITE THEREFORE…………

Why do I do it? I have a degree in History and post graduate qualifications in Teaching and Archaeology. By now I could be running a chain of Academies or kneeling at the bottom of a hole in the ground uncovering the secrets of The Bronze Age in Western Europe and expounding upon them to Tony Robinson, four million viewers (give or take) hanging on my every word. But I had to write, a kind of nervous habit; one of those obsessive-compulsive disorders which, according to recent psychological research, prevent you from getting on with your life.

The world is not ordered to my liking, as I discovered when, at the age of five, it was borne in on me that I would have to attend school not for one day only, but for every day, all day for the foreseeable future – in other words, the rest of my life.

School – in my experience – was not fair. It was not Utopia. It was not the New Jerusalem and, above all, it was not the balmy groves of academe. Birchgrove Juniors was a stone-built prison where resentful inmates plodded through dull books and chanted “five times seven is thirty five, six times seven is forty two…..” Nobody ever told us why. If this were not bad enough, for some reason known only to small childish brains, my fellow prisoners failed to see any social allure in a dreamy slightly scruffy posh kid with buck teeth. So I went to live elsewhere.

Sian World was a place where a girl called Sian, with long golden hair and straight teeth, followed by  a gang of fascinated acolytes, got involved in a series of exploits, many of them comical, in which smart kids, teachers’ pets, strict teachers, horrid boys, park keepers and other enemies of Sian were brought low. The World evolved over the years, but, once you’re in you can never leave, even if the other half of your brain manages to grow up. I am a fantasist…..

writer 2

The most obvious career for someone with such capabilities is Crime, but, though my qualifications are peerless, I failed the interview. According to the feed-back I did not present myself well. My clothes were not smart enough, I lacked confidence and my personal statement was unconvincing. You need passion, these days, to become a successful criminal; and commitment. Competition is intense and I could not convince the gate keepers of the Crime Academy that my personal mission in life, the entire focus of my being, was to flog dodgy financial products or convert the life savings of unwary pensioners into vast corporate profits. Openings in the lower end of the organisation still existed – breaking and entering, for example, or a wide variety of car crime, but, I was kindly advised that I was over-qualified for blue collar work of this sort.

Where to go? All the places they used to call lunatic asylums were closed.

After a brief flirtation with Politics, I became a writer. There are no qualifications, no entry fee, no interviews. Of course you have to sit down and do it, and most of us need to share ….but that’s for future bulletins. All I can say now is I write, and nothing will stop me. To paraphrase Descartes, I write therefore I am……

Sian Williams 

 

images: www.pinterest.com

To a point of creation

To a point of creation

Spring Equinox 2017 has brought for me the end of a nine year journey. March 21st 2008 I was invited on an astrology course which inspired a project which began as a performance with song called Keys to the Golden City. Following a conversation with a friend about one of my weird stories of synchronicity it was suggested that I wrote them down, ‘people like to hear these stories’ she said. Thinking I’d give it a go I started to write and 80,000 words and three months later I produced the first draft of my book Journey to the Golden City.

The following year, purely through an interesting set of circumstances and what I would put down to as synchronicity I found myself being taken on by an agent who spent the next four years knocking on the doors of all the Mind, Body, Spirit publishing houses. It created a lot of interest but no more than that. Such is the way if you are not already published or famous.

Meanwhile I began recording the performance into a CD. This became rather more of a beast than I had bargained for. Recording a solo album that I could be happy with was rather like staring at myself in a mirror and working tirelessly till I was happy with what I saw. It took five years and many re-recordings of my vocals but finally, last year it was completed and I was happy.

Three years before I had moved to Frome and became aware of the Frome Writers Collective and joined the group. I was very excited by what was going on as it seemed the collective was developing into exactly what I was looking for, a body of people coming together with a huge amount of experience and expertise, willing to offer their services.

Meanwhile I began looking for a publishing company who could help me self-publish my book. One of the companies that affiliated itself with FWC was Troubador Publishing and after examining all the different services it offered I decided to go with them. It took six months to go from acceptance to having the books delivered to my door and I am not going to say it was an easy ride but it was certainly a steep learning curve. Whenever I struggled with things my new Frome friends and the FWC always came to my rescue.

I am so happy having it completed but although one journey has ended it has actually just changed gear. Having brought the book to a point of creation it now requires nurturing and putting out into the big wide world. Marketing has never been a passion of mine and frankly I can’t wait to get back to the creative aspect of my work as this book and CD are actually part of a trilogy and book two awaits.

Next time with so much hindsight I will venture forth knowing that the FWC has so much to offer that I will certainly dip into its wealth of skills and use them alongside Troubador’s services. I sense it will be a much easier ride next time, but isn’t that always the case. I can only offer a huge thank you to the FWC knowing that everything came together for me in a beautifully synchronistic turn of events.

Vicki Burke

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