Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Ballad of Solar Flares and a Writers' Day

Grape Hyacinth in my garde
Writing ballads isn't really my favourite poetry form but that is what we looked at on Thursday at poetry class. There was all this stressed and unstressed talk again...ahhhh!  I counted syllables from our examples and used that as a guide when we had to write our own.  The subject was the solar storm that was being talked about that day.  We had a news report to use as background information and we were told to use our imaginations and just go for it.  There was a lot of giggling and laughter as we tried rhyming our lines and even more laughter as we read out our scribblings.  These were my two verses:

Tonight I put my PC on
To see who had hotmailed
My Inbox flashed a page which said
The Universe has failed.

The solar storm had hit the earth
And all the radiation
Had knocked out all the satellites
Messing communication.

We've been asked to develop our ballad and take it back the week after next.  I've since written another six verses of this very weird story!

For those of you who want to write a ballad the form is abab, stanzas four lines long with rhymes on the 2nd and fourth lines or the 1st and third lines (or each line can rhyme), stresses are 4 in 1st line, 3 in 2nd, 4 in 3rd and 3 in 4th (or even 3,4,3,4!).  Ballads tell a story like The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (though there is a variation here in the form).  Have a go yourself.

Yesterday I attended the Writers' Day.  Excellent speakers, including Liz Babbs.  She spoke about a writer's profile, using 'platform' to advertise ourselves through blogs, websites, Facebook, Twitter and other online media, as well as giving talks and interviews.  Liz was very enthusiastic and funny.  She gave us much to think about.  The next speaker was from Lion Hudson, publishers of religious books.  He spoke about how Christian writers can go about keeping theology in their writing without being 'preachy', something that can be difficult to handle.  After lunch there were three workshops to choose from, one for beginner writers, one for professional writers and the one I attended which was on Self Publishing.  Here I learned the difference between mainstream publishers, vanity publishers, print-on-demand and self publishing.  There were plenty of hand-outs and tips on how to go about self publishing and the cost involved.  People had many questions; one was about ISBN numbers, did we need them and the cost.  We were told that if we were just printing a booklet to hand to family and friends we didn't need an ISBN number, but if we wanted to sell copies, have them in libraries etc., then an ISBN number would make the book traceable.  The cost would be between £10-£20 for one ISBN number.  I found it a very interesting workshop.

Member authors had books on sale during the day and I bought a poetry book (surprise, surprise!).  Simon Baynes is my favourite ACW poet!

Going to something like a writers' day makes me realise I have much still to do/learn.  I felt awful that I'd not done much new writing this year and had sent out nothing for potential publication.  So bad did I feel that this morning I sent three poems off by email and vowed to spend more time writing new stuff and editing older things.

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