Sadly, for reasons beyond my control the Flash Fiction workshop at Groundwork Gallery has been postponed.
Flash Fiction workshop: Groundwork Gallery, Kings Lynn. www.groundworkgallery.com inspired by the exhibition Fragile Nature.
Tel: 01553 340714 best to call Tues-Saturday between 10-4pm firstname.lastname@example.org
Flash or micro fiction is an exercise in concision, it teaches disciplined editing, presents challenges but also opportunities to get your writing noticed, particularly with publication and competitions.
I always like time of the year, partly because the teacher in me is hard-wired to the academic year and to me this is the new year; more so than January. So I am dusting off projects to re-launch and also excited by new possibilities; I’ve been working on my short stories and I almost have a collection.
Summer is particularly lovely here in North Norfolk, it is busy; lots of visitors and people dropping by for al fresco dining in the meadow and the occasional hot afternoon nodding off in the hammock.This summer I have been focusing on preparing the meadow and its vernacular architecture for a new venture, location shoots. Aimed at magazines, stylists, fashion and homeware shops, study groups, painters, writers and photography clubs – anything or anyone who would like to book it for it inspirational rural aesthetic including and, if required, the studio and cottage. The shed is now painted ash white and the roof topped off with cedar shingles, the summer house has a wrinkly tin roof and is almost completed. There is a rustic fire bowl with a tripod for hanging kettles and pots and of course there is bunting – gypsy boho meets village fete!
In the cottage, as the proud owner of central heating and two wood burners, I can guarantee warmth. No more fingerless gloves for me, I can tap away at the keyboard without the encumbrance of wearing multiple layers of what would normally be considered outdoor attire. The photos will appear over the coming month on www.meadowcottagenorfolk.com here is a taster.
Fragile Nature at the Groundwork Gallery, Kings Lynn, is the inspiration for a masterclass in flash fiction.
Please bring writing materials and your lunch. Tea and coffee provided.
Booking is essential.
Fees £50.00 Students and under 25s: £25.00
Booking: 01553.340714 email@example.com
Flash fiction, micro–fiction and mini sagas are all terms for the shortest of short stories. Within a limited number of words; 100, 150, 300 and 500 sometimes up to a 1,000 (although personally I call that a pretty standard, if low, word count for a short story) the writer must complete a story, not a poem, but a complete short fiction.
They have become very popular, partly because they are an easy to assemble collection for the self–publisher and a good way to get your work out in the public arena, also a quick read for any competition judge. They don’t take a daunting amount of time and have the added bonus of training the writer to be concise.
They are a form where the title does a lot of work. I have seen this described as the title doing the ‘heavy lifting.’ There are also plenty of competitions and e–zines to submit to. Below is a short fiction I wrote inspired by Cornelia Parker’s Thirty Pieces of Silver. Parker collected old silver plate and then ran a steamroller over them. Squished flat they became coin–like discs magically suspended from the ceiling and grouped as coins, this title is doing some heavy lifting in referencing Judas.
Like ill–fitting ball–gowns they lurk, the silver salvers and carriage clocks of commemoration.
Uncle Henry’s rose bowls, a relic of his ill–made match, have come to me.
It takes twenty–five roses to fill them and no one has ever sent me twenty-five roses. I haven’t waited to get divorced to dispose of them; they were car–booted on a damp Saturday. Snapped up by a buyer with his fiver and silver polish, no doubt, within weeks they will retire to the back of a cupboard to tarnish.
Family heirlooms, christening mugs and presentations, have no hiding place, minimalist décor having superseded showing off with fine candelabras and tea services. Crushed under the weight of inherited relics, self–service, is the new silver service. We carry so little of our past forward, steamrollering through life, making our presence felt with landfill.
Occasion Wear pub: Ink, Sweat and Tears ©Patricia Mullin 2005
Everyone understands that novels require planning; they take a long time to research. The author works on setting and characterisation, decides on their theme, genre and structure. Works on points of tension, climax and denouement, they may write a synopsis and perhaps a structured chapter by chapter plan.
So what of the short story? Surely there’s no need, after all it’s only a few thousand words or less, you just plunge in don’t you? Well, no; for me that would be like setting off without an address, map or compass. I have left Satnav out of this analogy because it would take me on the journey; whereas I aim to navigate.
When I begin a short story I write a plan, it’s generally a page of single spaced writing and it acts as my guide to the written journey I intend to embark on. I begin by writing the title and a short paragraph which outlines the inspiration and early facts of the piece. It reads a little bit like a pitch as in: describe your story in a paragraph. Next, I describe the central theme, then the characters and the setting; I also consider tone and voice.
While the story has been incubating I will have been alert and making notes these are then added to the page, they may be factual or lead to further research. Finally, I ask myself if this story has a universal theme that people will relate to; something bigger than the story itself. As the story is written it diverts from these notes in unexpected ways, the plan is a template and is not cast in stone. Notes and additions will appear around the margins of the plan. The short story when finally realised will have changed and developed, which is a big part of the magic of writing, later it will be edited and revised over several drafts.
I feel privileged to have been invited to work with the Groundwork Gallery, leading a creative writing workshop inspired by the exhibition Water Rising.
Water Rising: making art in storm or calm.
‘The Groundwork Gallery sits directly on a river, the Purfleet, which is a tributary of the Great Ouse which we can see from our windows. We are in a flood plain and water is both our benevolent neighbour, having for centuries brought the trade and commerce which is the source of the Town’s wealth, and its greatest threat...’ Veronica Sekules.
A Journey Through Water, exploring poetic geography. Monday 20th May 2019
A creative writing masterclass with Patricia Mullin.
Ideal for developing creative skills in your writing with the potential to work verbally - literally - laterally - visually.
Bring lunch and your preferred notebook/sketchbook and pens, but tea, coffee and materials are provided.
Introductory price offer: £45.00
Students and under 25s: £25.00
Early booking is strongly advised.
17 Purfleet Street,
King's Lynn, England, PE30 1ER,
Phone 01553 340714
Zeitgeist – the spirit of the time. Some novels are perennial and treasured, touching something within all of us so that we read them time and again The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird. As history has an unnerving way of repeating itself, the distant past can suddenly have relevance.
My brother retired MP, author and diarist, Chris Mullin, had eventual success with A Very British Coup published in 1982. I’m looking now at the inside of the flyleaf now and I quote, ‘...And who poses the greatest threat to democracy? Is it the Trotskyists and Marxists who are alleged to have infiltrated the Labour Party? Or is it the real threat to the democracy to be found in the secret recesses of Whitehall bureaucracy; in the drawing rooms of the newspaper owner, and in the Oval office of the White House?’ Add ‘social media’ to ‘newspaper owner’ and add ‘Russia’ to ‘Whitehall’ and there you have it... contemporary relevance.
His novel didn’t have a particularly promising start in life, the print runs were short, the publishers, and there were several, tardy and Chris had to do a lot of footwork to get it noticed at all. However, it went on to become a highly successful TV series which garnered awards (an Emmy) and acclaim. The phrase ‘A Very British Coup’ turns up all the time in the press and on television; it is a book title that has become part of the lexicon of political comment in this country. Interest has been renewed since the election to the Labour party leadership of Jeremy Corbin and a sequel The Friends of Harry Perkins is due out shortly. This is remarkable; not least as I recall the author Rose Tremain commenting that the life of a novel is far shorter these days.
On February 25th 2019 I find that my novel Gene Genie is relevant again. I’m driving, Woman’s Hour is on the radio and the playwright Maud Dromgoole and Dr Yuliya Hilevych are being interviewed about her play ‘Mary’s Babies’ opening at the Germain Street Theatre in London. In the nineteen thirties Mary Barton and her husband Bertold Weisner started a fertility clinic, at first Mary used the brother of the infertile as donors literally keeping it in the family! It often resulted in family breakdown; soon her husband Bertold was the donor.
In 1999 I found a paragraph in a newspaper, pressure from the parents of donor children was building to allow the ‘social’ father’s name to appear on the child’s birth certificate. This interested me on two counts: firstly, in a legal document falsification of a birth certificate was punishable by a long prison term; and secondly it had never occurred to me that parents would not tell their children about the circumstances of their conception. Especially at a time when adoption files were being opened up as society recognised the damage that secrecy and identity issues caused. Gene Genie had a troubled birth the legendary agent at Curtis Brown who took me left, e-books had yet to arrive, in the end I went with a fledgling press with no publicity budget. Despite this it sold reasonably well and it still produces modest royalties. It did not though fulfil its early promise, no TV series, no best seller lists. I now think if Davina and Long Lost Family had been broadcasting it would have taken off. Gene Genie was simply ahead of its time. When the rights reverted to me, I was able to publish on Kindle and the good thing about e-books is they’re always out there and when you write another novel that does become a best seller then you will likely find a readership for the one that didn’t take off.
Luck definitely plays a part in publishing success, but then so does dogged determination and fortunately I have that in spades; it’s in my genes.
Follow this link for more information on Chris http://www.chrismullinexmp.com/
The Friends of Harry Perkins is out on 28th March and can be pre-ordered by following this link
Follow this link to download your copy of Gene Genie
I have watched Marie Kondo on Netflix and then graduated to ‘Consumed’ in which a rather bossy American with luscious shiny hair briskly tackles families affected by hoarding. One woman with a lifetime Tupperware obsession left no space in her young child to play and yet remained determined to cling on to her hoard.
I clutter clear as a side–career and I love it, people freed from the weight of their stuff are lighter happier and open to enjoying new experiences. I’ve been doing this for years and I have noticed that loss and unexpressed grief can kick start hoarding. Hoarders often suffer under the misconception that what they actually require is more storage or a bigger house they also, in my experience, struggle with decision making.
My own tactics for keeping my life clear of clutter involves routine — the turn of the seasons generally heralds a clear out. At the end of summer I launder my clothes and pack them away, this gives me the opportunity to check what no longer fits, what is simply too dated (relegated to gardening/decorating clothes) and what can go to charity shops. I don’t have a lot of clothes anyway because I don’t buy a lot. I’m an author and contrary to popular belief, J. k. Rowling we are not; wealthy authors are as rare as hen’s teeth.
I downsized to a cottage where my kitchen is tiny; it makes the Little Paris Kitchen look generous, so labour saving appliances have to earn their place. Kitchens are mega hoarding venues where sandwich toasters, fondue sets and all manner of gadgets to whip, grind or pulp lurk. I once went to one of those demonstration events in a friend’s house where you feel obliged to purchase something, I turned down the pizza stone (pricey) in favour of a cheese grating gadget with several differing barrels for grating that required you to break the cheese into small bits to feed into its mechanism then turn a handle, it was quite a fiddle to put together. When I got it home and set it down next to my sensible square cheese grater I saw how ridiculous it was. It got some use as an ice–breaker at the beginning of my creative writing classes; I got participants to see if they could put it together in record time, which caused much hilarity.
It’s not just about getting rid of stuff. It’s about consumption versus calm. If you hoard you consume in a way that begs the question what is it that you truly need in your life? Because it probably isn’t 200 hundred figurines or condiment sets. And just because you can’t help buying a lot of objects in the same category doesn’t make you a collector.
I only ever dallied with modernist minimalism, because I do love objects of beauty (see my copious Pinterest boards) although I am less enamoured with shopping. I find shopping stressful and depressing, this might of course be because I’m not J.K. Rowling, but actually shopping doesn’t bring me joy and I absolutely loathe trying on clothes in changing rooms, I’m better at home-wares. Apologies to the high street, but I often find shops nerve–jangling, bright and noisy places where I suffer from sensory overload. My bright place is the summer house in the meadow, it’s full of colour and some endearing Gypsy/boho trinkets. Whereas Meadow Cottage is designed to be visually restful and calm.
Using a natural/neutral colour palette I create vignettes, simple arrangements with paintings and objects. One of the things my inner stylist craves are areas where it appears that someone has just got up and stepped out of the room. I treat my home as I might a story composing a visual narrative within it to create areas of calm; in a frantic, overstimulating world I find it soothing and I feel sure it helps me create and write. If you want to improve the look of an area in your home and create a calming space take things away, it really is that simple.