Guest speaker at our local writers' group this week was Roz Goddard. Roz is a former poet laureate for Birmingham, with several volumes of poetry published. She also writes short fiction. We all enjoyed hearing Roz read some of her own poems, including the powerful and haunting Spaceman. This poem was runner up in Mslexia's poetry competition last year. You can find it, and other work, on Roz's website here.
Roz spoke about her sources of inspiration, such as the visual arts, and how we don't always have to try and write about the big things in life, but just look at small things in new ways. One thing Roz said, which I certainly need to hear every so often, was that we have to decide what is the actual story within the idea that's bubbling away - and whose story it is too.
This may seem obvious, but sometimes when writing longer stories I feel myself throwing more and more elements into the mix, just because I like them. It can take hours of rewriting before I see that these random details add nothing, and out they must go! Maybe this is why I enjoy flash fiction - it gives me no room for meandering down scenic by-roads and forces me into the heart of the story from the outset.
By co-incidence, today I came across an excellent post on editing at Denise Covey's blog from the other side of the world. Here again I found the questions 'what is my story about?' and 'whose story is it?' This is clearly my message from the universe this week. Focus, Jo, focus.
One editing trick I've been trying lately is recording my shorter stories onto my MP3 player. If I find my gaze wandering out of the window during playback, then it's quite likely a reader would lose interest too. I just note down those points where my attention flags, and see how I can give them more oomph. Then of course I delete everything, because it's too horrible hearing a recording of your own voice.
Tomorrow I break up from work for a whole fortnight. Yippee! This time last year I was in Paris. ("We'll always have Paris.") I am taking a little trip next week. Not Paris, but I'm sure it'll be fun in different ways. No, I'm not telling you where yet. You'll have to come back and see my holiday snaps!
Apparently we're going to have a heatwave in July. Are you planning a month of sunbathing and travelling, or will you be a busy bee like the one below? Do drop by and tell me what you're up to this summer.