The #FFFinal Curtain

This Friday (29th March) will be the last day of my placement at Glasgow Women’s Library and my last #FlashFictionFriday.  It will seem strange not journeying through to Glasgow every Friday once it’s over.

I’m looking forward, this week, to reading the submissions prompted by the current image (below)  and to preparing a #FFF file with additional images so that the project can be continued or resurrected by others at any time after my departure.

This blog will be brief because much of what I have to say will now find its way into the impending reflective essay.  However, as many of you will know,  I’ve enjoyed this project and am glad that I had the chance to engage with it.

In addition to my work around #FlashFictionFriday I’ve also had the opportunity to participate in other activities undertaken by Glasgow Women’s Library.  I have been fortunate to sit in on the planning meetings for GWL’s own Women’s Literary Festival, Open the Door.  Some of you may be interested in the activites taking place over the two day festival.  You can find out more here:

GWL Launches Plans for Open the Door 2019

It promised to be an inspiring couple of days. I hope you can catch some of it.

That’s all, folks!

#FFF – Artemisia inspires!

Artemisia has arrived in Glasgow.  Artemisia Gentileschi’s self portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria is on tour from the National Gallery and has popped up at Glasgow Women’s Library.  Here she is.  Isn’t she beautiful?


She has taken up residence in the upstairs gallery at the library, right next to the Decoding Inequalities exhibition.  She will be there until Tuesday 19th March.  Both Artemisia and Saint Catherine have extraordinary histories.  For this reason I have used the above image as this week’s #FlashFictionFriday prompt.  To tempt readers of this blog to submit a story some information about Artemisia and Saint Catherine appears below.   Or you can find out more by following this link:

Get writing, get tweeting, what have you got to lose?

  • Write a tiny story of up to 240 characters inspired by the Artemisia painting
  • Be brief, dive right in to the heart of the story
  • You can hint at a wider backstory – remember your <240 characters are the tip of an iceberg
  • Trust your reader to fill in the gaps
  • Tweet your story using #FlashFictionFriday and remember to tag  @womenslibrary

If you are not a Twitter user you can send your story to:

If you are in or around Glasgow before 19th March – come on in and meet her!

Glasgow Women’s Library
23 Landressy Street
Glasgow, G40 1BP

Opening hours:

Our opening hours are 9.30am-5pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday and 9.30am-7.30pm on Thursday. We are also open on Saturday from 12pm to 4pm.



#FFF – tip of the iceberg.

This week sees a slight departure from the  prompts sourced from the GWL archive in that I have used an image of the umbrella stand, reputedly painted by Suffragettes in Duke Street Prison, Glasgow.  The umbrella stand sits proudly displayed within the library so many users will already be familiar with it.

In the course of the past week I uncovered the analogy, attributed to Ernest Hemingway, of flash fiction being like an iceberg – only one tenth visible to the eye and above the surface with nine tenths lurking, unseen, beneath it.  This seemed to fit perfectly with the tips I have been giving about being brief but hinting at a much larger backstory.  I have now used the analogy in my GWL website blog and in the tweeted guidance accompanying this image.

This week I attended my second meeting of the “Open the Door” (women’s reading and writing festival) planning group.  The festival  promises to be excellent and I hope to attend as a participant in May.

Next Friday will be exciting as it’s International Women’s Day (March 8th)   The Decoding Inequality  exhibition will  already have been launched on the 6th March followed closely on 7th March by the start of the pop-up exhibition at the library of Artemisia Gentileschi’s Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria, an oil painting from about 1615–17, as it makes its way on a ‘grand tour’ from the National Gallery, London.

Interesting times!

#FFF Flying Solo

Eek – this week my trusty tech-mentor, Hannah, was taking some well earned leave and the technophobe was on her own!

On the “to do” list was the blog on the GWL website about the four submissions received from week’s prompt and to introduce a new image as a flash fiction prompt for the coming week.  Also, I was to tweet the new prompt. Unsurprisingly this took me most of the day but I have to admit to a sneeky smugness at crossing everything off the list.

The stories from last week have been very varied and interesting.  Each one is a tiny creative jewel.  Here they are:

1.”I move closer. Alert to the red scent of your rage. Your breath snorts and rasps. Each intake another chance to heal.”

Are you angry still? (@_RedFi)

2.“In the distance, I heard my mother’s voice: ‘Come away from that strange creature, Wendy!’ You see, that’s how it’d started with Aunty Flo, the one we don’t talk about who danced for the King, a candy bar from a travelling musician. The chain came later.” (@H_Cross_21)

3.“Quite an adventurous and nice dream you had, but you’re also not plump, when awake? You are beautifully beary!” she said. “And you know what? I now will share my hazelnutbar with you dearest bear. And with you beariest red squirrel, that you are in your dreams, too, of course!” (@HagandSquirrel)

4.“It happened again, didn’t it?” Kim wagged her Flake in her best friend’s direction and Wendy nodded helpessly. It was not easy being a were-bear and certainly not during hunting season at Miss Bunty’s School for Gels” (@JayDeeSunshine)

Spurred on by the quality of these submissions, I selected a very different image as this week’s prompt.  It is slightly more political in spirit and is one of many postcards from the GWL archive.  For some of us of a certain age, this image may recall memories of the Greenham Common protests.  Here it  is:

I hope the shiny, tiny stories above will have encouraged readers of this blog to have a go at a tweeted story.  As usual, stories do not have to describe or be explicitly linked to the given image – the images are there simply to provide inspiration.  Stories should fit into the format of a Tweet (or a series of linked Tweets) and be told in less than 240 characters! Remember to  tag @womenslibrary!  For those who do not tweet, stories can be e-mailed to and identified as #FlashFiction Friday.  Submissions should be made on or before Friday 22nd February and will subsequently appear on the GWL website.  #FlashFictionFriday is open to all so get writing, tweeting and sharing with your friends!

#FlashFictionFriday – here we go!

How thrilling to arrive at the Women’s Library today to find that we have our first piece of tweeted flash fiction.  Here it is :-

During the day, three further submissions have appeared on the GWL Twitterfeed.  I am overcome with excitement.

Having done some more publicity via the website and Twitter today, the prompt will remain the one which appears below until next Friday 15th February.  A compilation of the stories inspired by this prompt will then be published on the GWL website next week, at which point I shall choose a different image from the wonderful GWL archive to whet the creative appetite and inspire new submissions.

Please consider writing and tweeting a piece.  Share with your friends and encourage them to participate too.  It’s fun! If you are not a Twitter user, feel free to e-mail your response to

Just use the above image as inspiration – and tell your story in up to 240 characters

#FlashFictionFriday @womenslibrary

#FlashFictionFriday is live!

As promised in my last post – #FlashFictionFriday is here!

I have spent the day setting up and blogging about the first installment of this project.  Here is a link which will explain it:

#FlashFictionFriday is back!

Thanks must go to the ever-patient and helpful Hannah who has actually uploaded it to the website and done all the techy bits.

If you Tweet, please consider having a go at writing something.  Or encourage your friends to submit a piece – the more submissions the merrier.  If you don’t like the prompt, don’t worry – there’ll be another one along next week!

I also spent yesterday evening at the library, where I attended the launch of a visiting exhibition of the work of Ruth Barker and Hannah Leighton-Boyce.  The exhibition was accompanied by readings from Jackie Kay of three poems she has written, inspired by the exhibition.  This was not the first time I’ve been in an audience with Jackie and I am always struck by her personal warmth and ability to draw her audience in.  It was an inspiring evening.  The exhibition catalogue can be accessed here:

Ruth Barker & Hannah Leighton-Boyce

The new Glasgow Women’s Library Spring Programme was also launched yesterday and is packed with news of forthcoming activities, exhibitions and events, both in Glasgow and elsewhere in Scotland.

You can browse the programme here:

Spring 2019 Programme Out Now!



#FlashFictionFriday coming soon!

My first full day at Glasgow Women’s Library is in the bag!  An interesting and varied day began with an introduction to the library, its history, value base, scope of projects, policy framework and overview of the team and who does what.  Thankfully,  I was also given a crash course in Twitter.  I’ll be using this platform in coming weeks as a vehicle for the flash fiction project and I’m a rookie when it comes to the ways of the Tweet!

After lunch I sat in on a planning meeting for the 2019 Open the Door festival, the library’s own literary festival which aims to put women’s writing to the fore and break down barriers between writer and reader using an innovative format.  It is named after Catherine Carswell’s novel published in 1920 and is now in its third year.  Discover more about the exciting programmes offered in previous years here:

Open the Door


It was fascinating to listen to discussion of ideas for the 2019 festival, which will take place on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th May.   I’m already thinking I’d like to catch some of the literary action that weekend!  I’ll post more details here as they are formalised.

Hot on the heels of this meeting, I caught up with with Samantha and Jasmin, two post-graduate students on the Museum Studies Masters course at Glasgow University.  They are involved in supporting the GWL Decoding Inequality project which will apply a feminist interpretation to a collection of objects from the library archive to create a  new body of innovative object interpretation and a temporary exhibition.  The exhibition will be launched on 6th March to concide with the pop-up exhibition at the library of Self Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Artemisia Gentileschi 

Rare Artemisia Gentileschi Self Portrait to Tour to GWL in March 2019

There will be an accompanying community learning programme, outreach handling resource and an online digital collection and interpretation resource.  Friday 15th March sees  the launch of the sectoral report at a Decoding Inequality event, sharing this equalities-led approach to object interpretation with museum and archive colleagues in the sector and beyond.

My final activity for the day was to make a foray into the archive with Hannah to identify some objects which can be used as writing prompts for #FlashFictionFriday over the course of my placement.  With limited time available today we unearthed a few possible items ranging from 1950’s annuals for girls to women’s roller-derby artefacts.  Next week I hope to discover more intriguing materials to stimulate the creative imagination and to prepare the ground in readiness for our first flash fiction submissions .

For those unfamiliar with Glasgow Women’s Library, lots of information about the library, the archives, current projects, programmes and activities available here:

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A grand day out in Glasgow and Susan Calman’s Hat

HO, HO, HO ….the festive season approaches and Semester 1 draws to an end. I have a hurried e-mail conversation with Hannah at Glasgow Women’s Library about my prospective internship in Semester 2. Let’s meet, we agree. Early in the new year before everything gets too busy. Brilliant. We put a date in the diary. I’m feeling very organised and it’s not even Christmas yet.

I ring a friend. “Do you fancy a day out in Glasgow? I’m going to the Women’s Library.”

“Oh please, I’ve always wanted to go. It’s been on my list for years.”

“That’s settled then. Don’t forget your bus pass.”

With Twelfth Night behind us and Semester 2 looming ahead, we arrive in Laundressy Street and are made most welcome at the library. As my friend explores, I meet with Hannah to discuss the detail of the forthcoming internship. I shall spend the next ten Fridays here and my focus will be #FlashFictionFriday – encouraging women to submit short pieces of fiction online using prompts to be sourced from the library archive. This is great news and I try to contain the urge to babble with excitement.  I don’t want to alarm Hannah.  Instead, I focus on taking in the unique atmosphere here. The lending library consists mostly of donated books and free copies of significant texts blagged from publishers. The siren shelves sparkle with the stripey spines of Women’s Press Fiction and glow green with Virago Modern Classics. It feels comfortable and familiar  and  I want to stay all day,  looking at books. But there is much more to see and discover about this space which celebrates the lives and achievements of women whilst championing their contribution to Scottish Culture. Hannah gives me an overview of the many projects undertaken by GWL – events, groups, activities, learning programmes, outreach projects but then asks if I would like to see the archive. And would my friend like to come along? I search for her and find her devouring information about Women’s Heritage Walks.  We must come back and investigate some of these, she says.

Waves of wonder and nostalgia sweep over us as Hannah guides us through the stacks, randomly opening boxes to reveal the treasures within. Members of the public donate much of the archive materials so there are are boxes of photographs and memorabilia relating both to individuals and to social, civic and community groups. Also here are complete back collections of feminist publications like Spare Rib and Harpies and Quines ( oh, the memories!….) We look at some placards made recently by a group of female prison inmates as part of a women’s history project and spy a lone top-hat sitting on one of the shelves.

“Oh…that’s Susan Calman’s hat from Strictly Come Dancing,” says Hannah, “Susan is a regular donor.” We are impressed.

Do they ever refuse donations, we wonder? Hannah tells us they’ve had to politely turn away more knitting patterns as there is limited space to store them.

My friend and I resist the urge to stay all day. We thank Hannah and I tell her with complete sincerity that I can’t wait to come back. We venture forth to search for lunch in Bridgeton. As we eat, we ask ourselves how a pair of ageing feminists have managed to avoid the lure of the Women’s Library for so long. We have no idea but agree that we’ll both be back.