The Fountain at the Temple of The Tooth

Sri Lanka is where I have spread the word about Creative Writing and enjoy being an observer of the culture here.

Three years ago I complained to our British foreign minister that this fountain was in a poor state of repair and so was the area around it. Sri Lanka had been through 20 years of civil war and a bomb blast at the temple.

The fountain was forged in Glasgow and it was put in situ in 1875 for the then Prince of Wales. He came here to look around against the advice of the UK government. Sri Lanka was not at  all like it is now. Sadly, HRH came here to shoot animals. Having a broken fountain doesn’t change that.

Now it has been beautifully restored and local people and visitors alike can enjoy it.

This is what I love about Sri Lanka. Someone needed to dry their washing and found a suitable spot.

p1030469When you stand in this spot the smell of the flower stalls selling jasmine and lotus flowers is

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The Indie Book Revolution

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Reach for the sky

I recently wrote a reply to an Indie author bemoaning  on Facebook they weren’t making sales on line.  I think my reply is worth sharing.

There are 1.5 million Indie books published in the US alone, every year. I wondered how many of these authors buy Indie books?

I buy 2 a month as that fills my reading time. Mostly I find them lively and interesting, the occasional one, not so.   No different from a traditionally published highly advertised book, they are not always great even if the grammar is pretty much guaranteed. To be a successful Indie author you have to be better than the best, even then you might not make it. It’s like agents who have turned down amazing works of literature many times over but they have gone on to be best selling novels, the reading public are doing the same thing, turning away from amazing possibilities. Don’t miss out on discovering a book that might be brilliant; buy loads of Indie books. How many agents turned down Beatrix Potter and J. K .Rowling etc. As an Indie author your experience may be like theirs and you have to keep marketing – and waiting, and hoping readers will cotton on to your amazing book.

In the meantime why not buy a few Indie books and enjoy the whole reading writing scene?

As a Creative Writing tutor I have read across genre, often reading genres I would not have freely chosen. Sometimes they have surprised me at how much I have enjoyed reading them, sometimes I have found them awkward and uninteresting. I am never sorry to have read them. The bad ones teach me how not to write a book and I think about the author who has embarked on a learning curve and , on day, they might become a great writer. Everyone starts somewhere.

From a writer’s perspective reaching the top rung of success can be an unrealistic goal. If you play tennis are you going to be a Wimbledon champion? Would you give up singing if you weren’t the winner of X Factor? You can enjoy playing tennis and singing at any level – you can enjoy writing at any level.

Make friends and meet people on line and through organisations; enjoy working on language skills, going to literary festivals etc. There is so much more to do when you are interested in writing than become famous. Even listening to related programmes on radio or analysing something you are watching on T.V. I would recommend a writer’s life to anyone.

Why do people ask, ‘Do you write? What have you published?’ Would we ask, ‘Do you play tennis? What tournaments have you won? If a writer is successful they will tell you without being asked!

It’s all about money for some potential authors. If that’s you and you’re starting out, make sure you have a good day job.

I have made a living out of writing. I started out earlier than most and this was a big advantage. From selling articles and poems to major magazines my writing career developed. I went into education and taught other people to write, I wrote Creative Writing examinations and marked them. This gave people a qualification that was recognised  in a subject they enjoyed and I loved teaching. Splitting the subject into communications and media studies at level 3 meant that adult students could use it for university entrance.

The aspect of my career I enjoyed the most was Creative Writing for rehab of mental health patients, for prisoners, and as a stepping stone for homeless people back into education.

Over the past few years I have been teaching Creative Writing in Sri Lanka (for free), a work/vacation. I’m lucky that writing has added so much to life, and I believe in can for others. Don’t be a  lone writer, get out there and join in things.

What I really have written this blog for, is to say to indie authors – buy indie books. If we all did this we could start an indie revolution.

As I sit looking at my cup of coffee I realise that for half the price of that coffee I can download an Indie book. For the whole cup – thats 2 books (I’m sure you worked that out). So what if I don’t enjoy them all? I will certainly enjoy most. Of all my reading this year one indie book stood out and I will always remember it. I bought it because I met the author at one of these social writing events and bought the paperback. Indie books can be better than the best.

My husband has met people at these indie events when he has tagged along with me. Occasionally he smiles at the daft book, but it made him smile and other times he has raved on about how good a book is. Because it’s indie he has been able to read their blog, join their twitter etc. and he has spoken to the author and might meet them again.

I write reviews when I’ve read a book, but if it is not my usual genre I say so, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a good review . If it really is bad then I don’t say anything. I’m sure a poor writer is capable of giving back what they get. When I do write a poor review it is for a highly publicised book and the story genuinely isn’t good. I  hate reading a traditional published book with the might of the media behind it and it could – no should be better. You can forgive indie books but not professional writers. Readers have often agreed with my review and said so. If I love it I do always say so, or if it’s good but not my type of book it may be worth 5*.

Christmas is coming and I’ve order my presents – I want paperback Indie books and they will cost under £10 They will give me several hours of pleasure when Christmas is over. ‘Which indie book,’ I’m asked. My reply, ‘Surprise me. You know me.’

I belong to BGS. If you are looking for an indie book join this site or something similar.

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See what other people are reading. Goodreads has indie books with reviews.

Be bold and make an Indie book a regular addition to a book club reading list. My Romantic Comedy is only 99p 5* reviews around the world. http://tinyurl.com/jd6bn9a

Writing for Therapy – Introduction Blog 2 of 6

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Pick up a pen

What’s the difference between Creative Writing and Writing for therapy? It is one of the same in many ways.

Writing for Therapy is not directed at a market, or writing purely for pleasure, it is about using words to analyze and plan. Your words can be a basis for discussion with a friend or in a group.

Writing things down – fact or fiction can help.

Teaching Writing for Therapy is about individuals. In this introduction it is not possible to tailor it to individuals. I can’t slow down, go faster, or stop and listen. Please remember that this is an introduction.

Exercise 2

This is about word association directly not like the creative word association in the first lesson.

Write a word you are contemplating regarding a problem then write as many words as you like, that you associate with it. It is better to write quickly rather than taking time to think. When you have your words take the word that you think is the most important one and the then the word you think is least important and do the exercise again based on these words.

You will see how you have broken a situation down into small parts. Now make at least one constructive plan based on your words. Try to write and add to a ‘can do’ something about, list of words. There are things none of us can do anything about, but look for the can do’s.

Seeing something written down and broken into small parts is all that is needed in a number of situations. A guide of a time schedule for doing things can be constructive, without being too rigid.

You can see how sharing your words should encourage others in a group or a friend or group member can add helpful comments for you. I could suggest a list of topics and situations where this exercise could be used, but that would take pages and pages. This is starting list – add more: Dieting, relationships, growing up and growing older, finances,being abused, time management etc……..

Next week it is about sharing and I will include some case histories without mentioning names.

Reading and writing fiction can take you out of yourself in the way that listening to music or doing anything creative can do. Having something written down can help focus on where to go from a starting point. Make noes can materialise into a plan over a period of time.

At the end of group Writing for Therapy sessions there is an opportunity to  share and encourage, or sit in silence.

Case history;

A family had financial problems. Every member wrote a creative word association then went on to write a direct association and discussed the possibilities. A plan was made. Everyone kept a diary and they were on a  journey to get a grip on expenditure. Writing for Therapy was more constructive than arguing.

Writing things down can expand the picture.

Next Week – Sharing and poetry. More  case histories.

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my pleasure

Amazon ebook and paperback

Spike the Jack Russell Terrier

This is Hattie, who I thought of when writing about Spike. Do you have a picture of a Jack Russell Terrier or a dog who might have travelled with Natalie through France and Spain? When I was choosing a dog I stopped many unsuspecting dog owners in the street and took photos of their dogs. I could have used anyone of them. If you have a small dog and a copy of my book, see if you can get a picture of your pet and the book, or your pet and your book and link it to the page.If you have a book staring a dog It would be fun to know about it.

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It’s at times like these you realise that you are a better writer than photographer, but the dog and the book are there.

You can send a tweet to @brendahSedgwick with a photo. The pictures can be tranfered to my facebook and shared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Millwall Football Club and Alan

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The Den

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Before writing Marriage, a Journey and a Dog I knew little of Millwall Football Club. When I realised they played Manchester United in the FA cup in 2004,  they were the perfect choice for Alan the football fan.

Alan’s obsession with football left him with girlfriend problems he didn’t understand. First his wife left him and then Natalie (heroine) didn’t fancy him – at all. Both big disappointments to him.

When he met Gerry (Natalie’s husband) they found common ground in having a sport obsession.

With the  two characters obsessed with sport, men reading the book have laughed as they relate to an all consuming love of sport. Women sympathise with Natalie for what she has to put up with and feels helpless to change.

I’m sure he isn’t typical of Millwall fans as his hygiene habits and communication skills are not good.

I follow Millwall on twitter and amuse myself checking on their results. It feels personal if they win or lose.

Millwall at Wembley 2004

 

Sri Lanka Floods and Lanslips

Today is a sad day for Sri Lanka. Yet again floods and land slips have destroyed parts of the country and killed an unknown number and displaced thousands.

My husband and I saw this type of devastation in 2010 when we were living in Kandy. A large rock hit the back of our house and our garden went into the house below us. Houses completely disappeared and people died as the earth and rocks landed on their houses. This was all a new experience for the protected Brits that we are.

Now the floods and landslips in Sri Lanka sound as if they have become more frequent. Climate change, population growth and more and more buildings all contribute. At night you can see lorries with illegal logs on them. I never buy mahogany furniture, although I used to.

We are privileged to put our small drop into the ocean of need in that place and in doing so, we have become attached to children and their families.

I know that communities will pull together. I am always challenged by the way they care for each other, and that included us in the landslips of 2010.

It isn’t just people caught up in this, but the  animals and insects too. Insects from the jungle above us invaded our house. We were lucky to be able to go to a hotel while our house was cleaned up. In the river a small dead elephant hung from a tree.

We will be sending to the people we know and trust in Kandy and as a part of that, profits from the sales Marriage a Journey and a Dog this month, will be added to our gifts.

The Tsunami in Sri Lanka has left its scars, but life goes on after tragedy and poor people more than most know that.

The 1st picture is where a whole family died just down the road from us. The 2nd shows the tools workmen have to clear land slips. The 3rd is our front garden that was. The fourth is the tunnel that is always having land slips and holding up traffic . The 5th is our neighbor’s house being cleared of mud with a simple basket. The window is our window and shows how close a land slip came.

We will return there in October this year. (We are not affiliated to any organisation or religion).

Henri Marcel. French artist 1938 – 1996

I have been asked about Henri Marcel, the French artist I quote in Marriage, a Journey and a Dog..

Henri Marcel is remembered for his quotations as well as his art. He was a part of the cubism movement that changed the face of art.

Pablo Picasso was credited with cubism’s creation, but there are other examples of this style of art. As with all artists and creative people there is a reliance on what you have learnt and your environment, mixed with your own creativity. It was Picasso that brought cubism to the forefront in art.

This is a link to cubism art pictures – Cubism Art

I came across these in Le Louvre. I’m not sure how old they are but they are described as ancient. 33-P100092134-P1000922

George Keyt 1901 – 1993,  is a famous Sri Lankan artist and as far as it is known he had no contact with Picasso and his associates.

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George Keyt

George Keyt is worth knowing about – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Keyt

Henri Marcel was a part of the  cubism movement, creating his own distinguished style – hidden in many ways, but a great  discovery if you find him.

Quotes about Henri Marcel in Marriage, a Journey and a Dog.

This is where it all began.

This is when I realised what my life could be

                                     Henri Marcel. French Artist 1938-1996

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Once outside on the pavement, I notice a small house, squeezed between the shops, on the wall there is a brass plaque to Henri Marcel. I have a book about him from a charity shop. He painted pictures then ripped them up, repositioned them and painted the new picture, similar to Picasso and cubism. The colours he used were bold and the reconstructed paintings vibrant. Some of his paintings are of people; others of buildings. So he lived here for twenty years until he died in 1996.

‘I am always doing what I thought I couldn’t do because I learn something’ is the quote under his name.

“Yes, Henri!” I say out loud. I mustn’t let Gerry see me talking to myself, and clasping my hands with agreement!

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Alan might offend me when I’m vulnerable, so as much as he might be useful I decide to try this one on my own and hope I’ve benefitted something from my one and only past experience of cycling.

‘I am always doing what I thought I couldn’t do because I learn something’ I reflect on Henri Marcel’s words. ‘Remember Natalie, you made it through France and Spain’. I pinch myself at the thought.

As his paintings are held in private galleries they are not available on google. Maybe, one day there will be an exhibition.

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“To tell the truth is often distracting, Make what you will of me.”  Henri Marcel.

Semiotics and Nonverbal Communication

Semiotics is about how meaning and understanding are created. It’s all about communication.

If you’re not a media student or don’t know about this subject google it and a whole new world of awareness will open up. It is important in every aspect of writing, from the written word, for getting the editing and presentation right, and for marketing.

It’s a whole lot of fun to discover and an important awareness exercise. I could write a hundred pages on the subject or more, but it would be a waste of time since it is all there on google.

Semiotics is part of nonverbal communication.

What I try to remember, and often fail, is that when someone is reading what I have written they can’t see my facial expression, they don’t always have context to refer to and they cannot hear my tone of voice. That’s strange because I can hear it in my head when I write. That’s a good reason for someone else editing. It’s why what I think I have written and what I have actually written can be two different things.

Paralanguage is an NVC – important in dialogue- pauses, the lowering of the voice or the shouting. I sometimes find this difficult to get absolutely right.

Semiotics goes beyond grammar. It makes context and description important. If someone wears pale pink or bright red lipstick it says something about them. I must stop there or I am off on all the stuff that is on google. (Google color semiotics)

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In marketing semiotics comes up hugely. Branding, cultural association,  and when we are using social media and adverts.

Tweeting can be hard because of economizing with punctuation and explanation. Blogging needs good pictures (my Achilles heel). Covers and websites are all using semiotics.

It’s a fascinating subject and can be fun – really.

 

Signs:

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