Highs and Lows of the Writing Life

River Deep Mountain High pretty much sums up how I feel from day to day whilst navigating through the MLitt Writing Practice and Study course. I can go from feeling complete deflation at momentary lack of creativity or inability to respond intelligently in tutorials, to feeling on top of the world when that once tricky poem begins to flow or that short story finally gets a decent ending.

So the University Archives exhibition that myself and my fellow students recently contributed to was aptly named, River Deep Mountain High, as although we were all thrilled to be included in an actual exhibition, that people would actually see, that would even have its own *gasp* launch night, we were all also feeling rather apprehensive and weird about the prospect of our work being on display for everyone to see. At the end of last year, we had been invited to view some of the University Archives that related to the natural landscape- bridge models, mountaineering photographs, botanical artefacts etc- and to produce a creative response to any that gave us inspiration. The exhibition is currently running in the University’s Tower Building and it is a stunning collection of super interesting archives on display alongside the hugely varied creative responses of writers and artists. Such a diverse mix of poetry, prose, essays, sculpting, jewellery, paintings and drawings that offer something for everyone. Go see it!

In the exhibition you’ll see a poem I wrote, ‘The Bothy’, inspired by the visitor book from the Scottish Highlands’ Corrour Bothy. I was feeling rather chuffed and excited before the exhibition launch, my first one, but when I got there and saw my poem on a large board at the far side of the room a strange sensation of vulnerability made me want to turn on my heels and run away before anyone could figure out that it was my poem. I still can’t figure out what I was feeling; nerves, self-doubt, a wish that I’d spent more time on it? I did stay for the duration of the launch, and gulped down a glass of red wine to calm the jitters, and I did actually make it close enough to my poem to check for typos (too late anyway but luckily there were none). When asked if I wanted my photo taken beside my piece I politely declined and edged away (all the while inside I was screaming, ‘Nooooooo, never, don’t you know how mortified I am that people are reading my poem??’). Hmmm. What was going on there then?

Writers are funny folk. We write to express but some of us shy away from the sharing of our expressions. Perhaps some of us feel imposter syndrome more than others? More of that in my next blog in which I will pretend I am a blogger and blog about pretending.

Fringe Fun

Hello all! Can’t talk long, as I’m writing from the Ed Fringe!

 

Today is preview day, so I hopped a train to Edinburgh with my trusty sidekick William in tow. We stopped by a stand-up/storytelling show called “A Very British Lesbian” and then it was time to watch the preview for Cumbernauld Theatre’s own Fringe show, Lip Sync.

 

In Lip Sync, two women play the same character, Kirsty, as she describes life with Cystic Fibrosis. Often they speak simultaneously – that is, in sync. One of them is the “real” Kirsty, who wrote the show based on her own experiences. It’s a heavy-hitting show, but handled with humour. Its been a privelege sitting in on rehearsals, and today I had the opportunity to observe an audience react, and witness what does and doesn’t work.

I’d best be off, I’ve a musical to run to: “Unfortunate: The Untold Tale of a Sea Witch”

History Talks and Boat Walks

Captain’s Log: 09/02/19, 16.35

Back with another update!

First of all, I’m delighted to announce that I am now doing a second placement! Along with Loretta, I am going to be helping facilitate a creative writing workshop as part of the Dundee Women’s Festival. The event, titled “Women’s Lives, Women’s Voices” will be occurring on the 2nd of March, and is composed of two parts: the morning will be talks from three different historians about extraordinary women from history; while the afternoon will be a chance for attendees to write in response to these talks. I don’t want to give too much away about the talks, but the topics span from right here in Dundee all the way to Germany, and I can tell you right now you don’t wanna miss any of them!

The main goal of Loretta and myself as facilitators is simply to encourage the women attending to put pen to paper. I have technically lead a writing workshop before. One person, a very smart, cooperative and forgiving 11 year-old turned up, and we mainly talked about her Harry Potter fan-fiction. Despite this bountiful wealth of experience and knowledge to draw from, I am as nervous as I am excited. I think I might defer to Loretta, who actually has real teaching experience.

In news regarding my placement at the Rep, on Thursday Hamzah and I met to share our ideas of people and places we might want to investigate and interview. This included a trip to Dundee’s own HMS Unicorn, one of the oldest warships in the world. We conducted a little research, explored the exhibition onboard the ship and established some potential contacts to interview later. I also took a plethora of pictures, though I unfortunately didn’t manage to catch any of the ship’s supposed ghosts on camera:

A narwhal horn

The gun deck

I think this is called the hold

Following this visit Hamzah and I headed to the library to record our first interviewees – ourselves. Next step is trying to edit out all the background noise so they’re usable!

This is Captain Kai,

Signing off.

P.S. Did you know that Captain Kidd, supposed pirate and inspiration for the persona of Ryuji Sakamoto in Persona 5, was born in Dundee?

 

Diving on the Archives

The first “dive” of the Brechin Book Project is tomorrow!

I met with Archivist Caroline Brown last Friday and got a quick preview of what we’ll be seeing, feeling, etc. The collection is impressive, to say the least, and expansive in that it covers not just subjects theological, but everything from Anatomy to Botany to Politics and Society (as in the Tatler) of the day. And that’s the contents. There are many, many cloth bound books but equally many rather lovely (and some stunning) leather bindings together with coloured engravings that will make you go, “Ah!”

But I don’t want to jinx your experience with the Brechin Collection, by gushing any more. Here’s a photo of what sort of thing to expect.

(As we’re allowed limited amount of space for Media in this blog, hope that’s enough to whet your appetites.)

In news of the same vein, a few people have asked where we’re actually meeting tomorrow and how to find it. How to find Archives: Downstairs in the Tower Building. There are signs pointing you away from IT and toward Archives (left turn at bottom of stairs). Easy peasy.

Michele and Brenda are meeting the 11:00 crowd in the Library Coffee Shop at 10:30. If you can’t make that, you can go directly to the Archives reception at 11:00.

For the 12:00 batch, I thought it would be easy to meet in the Lobby at about 11:50 and go down together, but again, you can also turn up at the witching hour in the Archives themselves. For variety’s sake, I will be in the Tower Café from around 11:20 for anyone who want to meet up there first.

Finally, a wee reminder as to who signed up when:

11:00-12:00: Nicole, Hammy, Michele, Brenda, Chris, Kai

12:00-13:00: Loreta, Geraldine, Sue, Elaine, Rhoda, Jane, Ian, and Hannah.

Jeannie is the only person I haven’t heard back from.

Look forward to seeing you all tomorrow, if only in passing!