Saturday 27 June 2015

Can Holidays Be Good For Your Writing?
Every Wednesday between 8 and 9 pm,  if I can, I tune in to #writingchat on Twitter. It's usually hosted by @PatsyCollins and @mariaAsmith but this week the role fell to @CarolBevitt. 'Tweeps' are encouraged to converse with each other about chosen topics that vary each week . On June 17th, the topic was 'holidays' and guess where I was? On holiday on the beautiful island of Madeira.

Using the hashtag, I was able to catch up with the tweets on my return. Here is a selection of comments made:

Holiday destinations can be good settings in stories. Time to take notes about smell, taste, as well as sounds and sights.

I love being inspired by new places. 

Sometimes a 'writing holiday' can be as simple as taking a notebook to the park, away from the noise of the house.

I always write a travel journal when we're on holiday. The journals have proved their worth, giving me stories and characters.

It got me thinking about how holidays have influenced some of my writing. I don't usually sit and write a whole story or chapter on holiday but I always take my notebook with me. Photographs taken on holiday are also a good inspiration and are a permanent record of what you've seen. My story 'Whispers In The Olive Trees' was inspired by holidays to my aunt's house on the Peloponnese. I remembered feeling the gnarled bark on the solitary olive tree at the end of the garden on the beach. The smell of the summer jasmine and the vibrancy of the scarlet geraniums tumbling out of huge Greek urns was all the more real because I'd been there. I'm pleased to say that it's been short listed in Crediton Short Story Competition 2015 

Madeira is famous for its Jacaranda trees and the beauty of the tree in full bloom figures in my story 'Meet Me By The Jacaranda Tree' which was published on Alfie Dog Fiction last year. I've tried to capture not only what it looks like but the feel and the smell of the flowers. The appeal to the senses has a direct effect on the decision made by Lucy, the main character.

In March this year, we visited Los Gigantes in Tenerife and witnessed the annual carnival which culminated in the Burning of the Sardine ceremony and a firework display. I did use my notebook on that occasion and made loads of notes, writing from our balcony where we had a superb view of the procession. I was able to capture the colour and spectacle of events both with photographs and on video. This has resulted in a short story entitled 'Burning Our Sardine' after I'd asked a favourite question for writers 'What if?' What if a little child was lost in the hoardes of visitors who'd congregated in the square? I'm hoping to submit the story soon so watch this space!

In my novel WiP, my main character, Clara, finds out that her father was an Italian POW from Sicily. For the purposes of authenticity, I hope you agree that I now need to go on a fact finding visit to the place of his birth. Clara herself traces him to a Trattoria in his homeland and it's important that I get it just right I think! :-) That's what I'm telling myself, anyway, and I feel a trip to Italy coming on... 

How have holidays inspired your writing? Do you write whole stories/chapters or use a notebook when away? I'd love to hear about how holiday destinations have influenced you.

Thank you for reading my blog. You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

*** I came home from Madeira to a lovely surprise. I'd subscribed to Bridget Whelan's Newsletter and won a copy of her book, Back to Creative Writing School. It arrived in the post yesterday and I'm looking forward to reading it. Thank you, Bridget! ***

Saturday 13 June 2015

A Day in Hay
Apologies for the lack of posts on the blog. I've had a few busy weeks since half term and although I've managed to keep to deadlines for my writing, it's the blog that has suffered. 

On Wednesday 27th May, my daughter and I went to Hay Festival. We were only able to go on that day and it was relatively quiet but at the weekends it was much busier. There's so much to choose from and I can see why many people stay up there for the whole week so that they can attend every day. 

The weather was kind to us, dry but cold, and we were able to wander around soaking up the atmosphere of the festival. Aren't these deck chairs wonderful?

Our first event was 'Adventures In Stationery: A Journey Through Your Pencil Case'. A strange choice, I hear you say. Jo, my daughter, was always obsessed with stationery when she was little and no holiday to France was complete without a trip to the hypermarket so that she could add to her collection. We were entertained by James Ward, the author, whose lively and hilarious talk made us look at the humble paper clip, post-it note, fibre-tip pen or Pritt stick in a totally new light! For 5 stationery facts to impress your friends at parties, please Click Here.

After lunch we went to the BBC tent and went behind the scenes of Ambridge with the Editor of 'The Archers', Sean O'Connor. The tent was packed and Jo did comment that she was perhaps the youngest member of the audience whereas I was completely at home! We are both avid fans of the programme and from a writing point of view it was interesting to hear how the editor organises a number of writers to present a uniform style. The extensive knowledge of Archers listeners can help shape the show's plots after dragging up story lines even writers have forgotten, we were told.

We did attend a rather more literary event, too. Rose Tremain was ably interviewed by Peter Florence about her short story collection, 'The American Lover'. She read extracts from the book and talked about the soul of her characters.The question and answer session at the end showed how many of her fans in the audience had an in depth knowledge of her books.

We used the shuttle bus to go into the ancient market town of Hay, too, and browsed through the many book shops for which it is world famous. Founded by Richard Booth in 1961, it has become one of the world's largest secondhand and antiquarian book centres. Some of the bookshops specialise whilst others carry general stock.

It was a great 'mother and daughter' day out. Jo and I have promised ourselves we'll plan in advance next year and attend on a number of days rather than restrict ourselves to just the one. 

Did you attend the Hay Festival? Who did you see and what events would you recommend? Thank you for reading my blog. I'd love it if you left a comment. :-) 

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook Page.