Pointed Response

Imagine being asked to be interviewed, as an author, you know: likes, dislikes and advice. Boy, the invitation had my ego stretching my toupee. If you don’t know what a toupee is, keep your hair on.

Part of the interview was my top five tips for aspiring authors. Well, in the spirit of writing for the Safe Space Write-athon I thought another post was in order. I’ve been meaning to do more but fate grabbed me and made me do some other things for a couple of weeks.

What were my top five? Off the top of my head (like instant)?

  1. Write, write, write — you gotta kiss a lot a frogs before you find your voice.
  2. Believe — you do have a story to tell and it’s great!
  3. Trust your flow — when it comes you’ll know; the words throw themselves at the page as you immerse in a creative surge; and laugh, cry, rage and tremble with your characters.
  4. Ask for and listen to advice — different perspectives and expertise help ground you; even if you don’t agree—you have to think.
  5. Set goals — you won’t hit them all, but you will get somewhere and you’ll see the progress.

If you write, or think you might like to, or are even just plain terrified of putting pen to paper—but would kind of have a go … if only I could … I don’t want to look foolish … Don’t avoid it. Here is a worthwhile opportunity to get involved and help to build:

  • an excellent and developing resource and support site for writers, and
  • contribute to an essential charitable project.

If you fancy doing a guest blog, contact me via this form.

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You’ll never guess what happened!

I want to tell you about something. It happened on Monday night. The gathering was subdued, interested … expectant. No, madam, not expectorant, although there may have been the odd splutter now and then.

For the most part the audience was abuzz; hopeful, perhaps not quite sure. What do you expect when you’re about to step into the unknown? People weren’t fearful, for certain, but there was tension. ‘Tenterhooks’ capture the atmosphere — everyone was on tenterhooks.

The organisers were on tenterhooks, buoyed by hope and ready for anything: excellent, organised, unfailingly hospitable; helpful … would any one show? Loads of people came. Many more than expected. Did I hear some sighs? Perhaps. Of what? I couldn’t possibly comment.

We authors and editors were on tenterhooks. Perched on a platform, visible, aiming to respond, but to what? What sort of resource would we be? Well, whatever we felt at the outset, our reception was fantastic, and the two-way communication a delight.

That leaves the (much larger than expected) audience. They were on tenterhooks too. I could see it in their eyes. They asked and were answered: an exchange of articulate goodwill and respect, warmed by a sense of common ground; young and old alike, sharing, thinking, being present; laughter and thoughtfulness the key characteristics.

At the last, I have to say that the Safe Space Write-athon didn’t start with a bang; it began with a surge, an outpouring of goodwill and interest. A six-month project needs exactly that to sustain itself.

Time will tell. For myself, I’m persuaded something special happened when three streams of interest intersected and generated some excellent energy. I was there!

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Wha–da–ya mean ‘your writing depends on it?’

One day, computers might replace writersA Twitter conversation I’m involved in has been concerned about the idea of technology replacing writers. Could it happen? Where will the creative spark come from? And how will a readers emotions and imagination be engaged?

One of the big challenges in writing is getting started. I’m doing an experiment today. I’m going to open up the first spam or selling type of email I receive from the top of my email inbox.

The task? Go five lines down and seven words across, then write 250 words based on the word I find, and complete the rough text in under half an hour. Here goes, the word is ‘for’; the time 09:21 (I finished at 09:46).

You need to get something for that …’

… A mumbled  statement from a person I knew, and I’d missed the first part. Something for what? I rushed to the mirror and looked at myself. Was it the reddish purple pimple with the yellow tip at the end of my slightly gnarled nose? Or my black, cracked, rough-edged fingernails? God, they looked like crumbly tombstones. Then there were my feet stuffed into my creaky black lizard leather boots; they were sooo comfy and, okay, they might have been slightly dilapidated, but the heels gave me an impressive, rather intimidating height.

Something for that! Something for what? Maybe it was my fabulous, furry, feral feline; an appropriate cat for someone like me! He was big and ugly, like a few pounds of greenish tripe. Of course, he smelled better most of the time. Apart from scaring children by sneaking up on them, making loud, alternate growls and hissy-spits, while arching his craggy, clumpy, mangy back, bulging his dirty red eyes, and lunging with menace as they shrieked ‘MUM!’, he was simply a wonderful familiar presence. I felt safe when he was around. In fact, there was only one real problem with him … flatulence! That was it! It was the scent of sulphur. He’d just fragranced the air with a hiss of a different sort.

It’s always good to solve a problem. I’m glad my friend didn’t insult me because I’d have been forced to turn her into something vile: a leprous frog, a squishy caterpillar, or a politician …

So, I drafted the above 257 words in twenty-five minutes. When I typed ‘for’ into my computer, all that came back was a list of Google responses. Creative computers, eh? …

Why not try the experiment and see how you get on. One piece of advice if you do: just start. Please share your experiences.

Mac Logan

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Write? Right! Write …

Every person has a writer hidden away. I bet you wonder about it at times. Maybe you’re laughing at a funny email or Tweet and, for a moment, your eyes mist and you feel a tiny urge; a teeny-weeny whisper … Oooh, I wish I could … You can! It’s there, struggling to get out, to be unbound. Your inner scribbler will leap to the fore, if you let it.

What do you mean ‘not me?’ Get away. Of course it means you. There’s a story in there … it’s twinkling in your eyes. Oh, I’m making you blush a little. I like it when you smile, laugh and say, ‘I wish I could.’

Have your fingers started to twitch? Remember the bump on your pencil finger at school? Come on, admit it, if only to yourself. ‘Okay,’ you say, ‘everybody writes: shopping lists, texts, notes, letters, postcards, forms, love poetry, plays, novels, adverts, emails, Tweets … But I’m not a writer.’

If you write anything, you’re a writer. And now, you have access to a space for exploring and enjoying writing, where you are guaranteed to be able to participate as a writer — even if you kan’t spel.

Oh puuleeeze, don’t give me coy. You don’t want to do it on your own, right? That’s covered too. You can be right there in the mix and you don’t have to be alone. Get a team together with some friends and enjoy.

No time? Of course you’ll have time. The Safe Space Write-athon runs from September to March 2013: there’s loads of time.

Next, you’ll be telling me you’re too old, too young, too lacking in this or that. It won’t wash. Sorry. The Safe Space Write-athon will accommodate anyone and everyone, regardless.

Iain Banks is launching the event in the ancient Scots city of Dunfermline, Fife. Come and join us.

So don’t be shy. Please, get involved and help make a significant contribution to an essential charity. It’s win-win: have fun, help others, and make a difference.

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Cute Cucumber …

Is there no end to the miraculous benefits of a simple cucumber? Lose your wrinkles, get your vitamins, pick me up, scare bugs and slugs, hide cellulite … They must have forgotten to add a bit about a fountain of youth.

I wish I could lay claim to this, but it came to me through a Canadian relative and is obviously doing the Internet rounds I just had to share it. I hope it the information is true but have to warn you I haven’t tested this … yet.

  1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin  B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.
  2. Feeling tired? Put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a Cucumber.  Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.
  3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a Cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, Spa-like fragrance.
  4. Are grubs and Slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a smallpie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminium to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.
  5. Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool?  Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up  the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!!!
  6. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and Headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B Vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!
  7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explorers for quick meals to thwart starvation.
  8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don’t have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.
  9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice andrub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the  squeak is gone!
  10. Stressed out and don’t have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire Cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber react with the boiling water and be releasedin the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.
  11. Just  finish a business lunch and realize you don’t have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.
  12. Looking for a ‘green’ way to clean your taps, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but is won’t leave streaks and won’t harm your fingers or fingernails while you clean.
  13. Using a Pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the Cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the Walls!!

If you know the source, please let me know so I can attribute it.

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The Graphic Goose

What really went on? What is the truth? We were able to capture and document the story of the visit to Glenkinchie from Rest Your Weary Antlers. Here it is!

Gelnkinchie Goose

Shocking Exposé, truth is stranger, caution – graphic

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Rest Your Weary Antlers

I was told to dress as a country gentleman. Saturday 28th July found me in downtown Edinburgh at 10:30 in the morning. The weather was more October than July as I headed to a stag party.

An old pair of green moleskin breeches, long blue walking socks, a pair of tough, grippy soled shoes and a wax jacket added a subtle je ne sais quoi; at least to me. The transformation drew some interesting cat-calls and whistles from young women at Edinburgh Bus Station. Isn’t it wonderful to be admired? It is hard to say what physical features attracted their comment … I have quite a few.

Before long we shot up a few clay pigeons and then had a dram. This was followed by a trip to the Glenkinchie Distillery, cartoon on the subject on Facebook scroll down until you see the headline “The Gelnkinchie Goose” another two drams here … noble and sober drivers. Glenkinchie is a lovely light lowland malt with just the right amount of sweetness and warmth. Then at last we were out for the evening. Food, beer and fine company.

And the point of all this? Once again it’s great to find a strong connection with people thirty and more years younger than myself. We had a laugh or two or three; we met up with a hen party and some banter ensued and the rest I can’t tell you. It’s great to be young again – if just for a wee while. I believe there were some formidable hangovers next day. Boy, I’m an angel.

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