PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY JOHN COOPER, WITH PHOTOS BY DAVID LEWIS
LINK TO FILE: plotting-shed-press-release
PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY JOHN COOPER, WITH PHOTOS BY DAVID LEWIS
LINK TO FILE: plotting-shed-press-release
Plotting Shed Charity Gala Night
in aid of
A glass of wine or soft drink included in the ticket price on arrival and the proceeds from the ticket sales will go to Yorkshire Air Ambulance. The format will be cabaret style seating at tables with candles and nibbles and an informal atmosphere. The book will of course be on sale at the special show price on the night. A promotional film launch will take place in the upstairs foyer area before the main event and will run on a loop on a screen during the interval and after the show.
Ticket price: £10 – Under 15 £5
TICKETS FROM THE STEPHEN JOSEPH THEATRE
If you can’t make the evening please consider pledging your support on Kickstarter.
You will be helping local writers and helping the world by spreading Creative Writing to the parts most writers never reach.
All you have to do is pledge £10 plus the p and p fee as stated according to where you are in the world and that’s it until 28th November when, if the fundraiser is successful, Plotting Shed will automatically have the money transferred into its account. You will receive your pledge order asap after that. If the fundraiser is not successful nothing else happens.
August is small stones month.
Use your senses to notice things in the world and write down what you find… visit the small stones website for details.
Small stones everywhere;
take the time to stop and stare.
Indulge your senses.
How fortunate that this coincides with the gift of a diary-free month I gave myself in order for me to be selective in my choice of activities. Therefore, during the month’s progression, I will be adding my self-indulgent small stones observations as I drift through the days of August… focussing on my response to each day’s chosen activity.
Scarecrows at Muston;
interpretation of art
making people smile.
A handful of maps;
from the middle of nowhere
I seek out old haunts.
The lavender breeze
sprinkles me with happiness
when it starts to rain.
Waves lapping at the shoreline
disguise a downpour;
My house-guest has left
but the memory lingers;
my home is silent.
Rabbit hopping in a field
makes it through the hedge
to become road kill.
I pray for its soul
that, if there is a heaven,
it finds its way there.
Orchestra of leaves;
crochets, quavers, semibreves
dancing through the trees.
A writer’s nightmare;
computer crash in progress
destroying all files.
Sunshine on the sea
as Acapella voices
echo over waves.
shopping at ‘Shuropody’
in Earth Spirit shoes.
Ordnance Maps Project
I called in at The Studio and chose Map Number 109 – Manchester © 1974. There was no metro-link, no M60, but when I traced my finger along the map’s red lines, I was transported via the 59 bus route through the bitter-sweet memories of my younger days.
(I think it’s going to be quite traumatic cutting this map into pieces for my art project yet, at the same time, an exciting aide-memoir for my ongoing life writing project)
The Great Potato Challenge
It’s not the winning… it’s the elation at weigh-in as you unearth your potatoes and breathe in the community spirit of a home-grown meal.
(at Wandales Housing Scheme)
Good mobile signal
but when she doesn’t answer
the black dog comes out…
stuck in the moment
the black dog bites my heart out
as the phone rings on
Rustling trees reveal two deer as they spring out to prance around then, noticing me, run back into hiding, never to be seen again.
New programs are challenging.
I miss Office Suite!
Summer in Scarborough;
an explosion of tourists
covet the beaches.
Bridlington Harbour bustles with tourists tempted by fish and chips as locals relax with cold glasses of ale and people-watch.
The fried egg in the pan splits and separates into a friendly face when two holes appear in the white above the yolk and a slit below spreads in a smile.
cleansing my aura,
lightening my load.
Spreading sunshine with flash mob – singing about a great day.
(at Scarborough Art Gallery for the WEA Art Classes’ Exhibition)
I’m still smiling at yesterday’s memory of a guy demonstrating his art by covering himself with clay mixture as he told the story of how God moulded people from clay, making them as empty vessels that he could fill with love. Those of us in the room were invited to go forward and accept a blessing of love by being marked with the clay and drinking refreshing water from a clay pot the guy had made, after which he whispered in our ear: the spirit of love breathes through you.
Bumped into a friend in town and shared a hot chocolate: Rescue Remedy.
Scarborough Writers’ Circle
telling tales of adventure
in worlds of their creation.
People-watching on the cobbles of York: shoppers shoving, children crying, buskers hustling, homeless pleading — and an invisible man sees everything from behind his mask.
A downpour of rain hits my hot sandalled feet
springing them back to life
stepping up my pace.
The summer’s crowds bless the town with raucous love and laughter
as we dance-dodge in the streets to avoid collision crash disaster.
blowing bubbles in the air
(deep breathing technique).
First time flyer trying to retain meditative state whilst juggling baggage to comply with conflicting rules and regulations between airline and airport.
And it came to pass…
weigh-in for baggage –
hope home scales are accurate.
Snakes and ladders, draughts,
ludo, uno, flying hats.
Games afternoon at Wandales.
All packed and waiting to go…
notebook and pen ready for the writing journey.
Brno here we come!
I hope you enjoyed reading through my daily offerings of small stones at Spinning Stories from the Secret Self. The month ends on a good note of discovery with one of my poems shortlisted and an article published in the print edition of Writing Magazine (October Issue).
I’ll be back mid-September with an update on my experience as a first time flyer… meanwhile please do check out my personal perspective on ‘seven things you need to know about writing short stories’ at Kate Evans’ Blog: www.writingourselveswell.co.uk/ (due to be published on 5th September).
The Inspiration behind Rain Dance
(a short story of fiction influenced by life memory)
Given the subject of ‘the weather’ as a theme for the Scarborough Writers’ Circle’s latest competition, I wanted to write about the rain because it hadn’t stopped for days. I began by writing a statement to that effect, and produced a rough draft straight off. This took into account my personal feelings of how the rain affected my thoughts in relation to a current life event – over which, like the weather, I also have no control.
This initial draft constituted three-quarters the allotted word count of 1,000 words. On re-reading, the middle section didn’t quite gel. It veered off slightly from the main theme, which could have become a sub-plot if I was writing a novel. For such a short story there is no room for meandering within the time frame. Thus, I turned over possibilities of connections to the beginning that tied in with how I, more-or-less, wanted it to end, though I remained open to changes – as is my usual writing process.
I had taken part in two May Day dances during the week of this rainy weather, thus a strong memory of my sister being crowned Rose Queen of May from our childhood was prominent in my thoughts. I wanted to explore this a bit more in connection with my story, as my sister is very much at the forefront of my mind since her diagnosis, so I went along these lines and used an edited first section of my story’s draft as a lead in.
Many words and phrases presented in relation to that May Day as I was writing. I jotted these down to capture the image and emotion of it on the page in a higgledy-piggeldy way. Next was the task of connecting the memory to the present day beginning of the story. I remembered the smell of the paper roses we made for the head garland and used this as the glue to bring it together in the middle section. I felt I was on the right track when my husband, knowing nothing about what I was writing, walked into the room singing Paper Roses (remember the song by Marie Osmond?).
After much exploration of the theme and going to and fro’ with various connections from the May Day memory to my current emotional state, I played around with words until I had enough material to write a final draft. This then lived in my head for a week and, whenever an additional piece of information occurred, I incorporated it into the draft. I read it through again after a two-day break from writing, making adjustments where necessary. I continued in this pattern until I reached the point where I was able to finally say ‘this is a story’. I didn’t feel the need to alter anything in the main thrust of it but waited another day for any stray ‘gems’ that could enhance it in any way.
The link between my memories, my creativity and my faith is a never-ending cycle of circles and, during the waiting period for any stray ‘gems’ to emerge, I attended a church testimonial service where the title of the talk was offered as ‘Praying in Circles’. As the talk progressed, I recognised this as being a God-incident with it being delivered on the very eve of the completion of my story which, incidentally, is about dancing in circles. Influenced by the talk, I did make one phrase change in the story that illustrated circle dancing as an analogy to circle praying. It felt like a missing piece of the jigsaw.
If you ask me the question ‘what’s the story about?’, the answer will be ‘dancing in circles’, but if you ask me the question ‘what’s the story really about?’, in the context of what’s going on for me I would have to answer ‘it’s about coming to terms with my sister’s diagnosis.’
The experience of analysing my story in line with the talk has given me a great insight into the way I’m dealing with my sister’s illness. It has shown me a way forward in that I can use a prayer circle instead of merely accepting the inevitable. Prayers have already been answered that my sister remains positive, and the tumours have shrunk considerably to afford her more time. Yet, until the delivery of this talk, I no longer knew what to pray for in respect of the situation. The outcome of the talk’s influence is that I am going to be bold in my prayers and circle pray without ceasing for the miracle I want.
Written 22 May
(Competition closing date 24 May – Results announced 21 June)
Posted on the Scarborough Writers’ Circle Facebook Page:
Yesterday evening we had the Nikki Barker competition results. For the first time (well since I’ve been a member, at least) the entries were judged by people outside the Circle. Thank you to the Scalby Reading Group.The winner was Julie Fairweather with her story ‘Rain Dance’. It was a very moving story – and a bit of a first for Julie – it had a happy ending! Sort of.
Post penned by Chair of the Writers’ Circle, Dorinda Cass, on 22.6.16
I would say Rain Dance has a hopeful ending… Julie F
On Holy Saturday night, a vase of daffodils surrounded by glowing candles was the focal centrepiece of the evening. Friends circle-danced around it in time to the meditative rhythmical melodies as harmonic voices sang songs of Shalom.
Later, I prepared the Sacred Space Prayer Corner at Burniston Church in readiness for Easter Day, placing the gift of daffodils from the dance as a central focus below the cross – to celebrate our risen Lord.
On Easter morning, as the scented narcissus filled the room with Shalom, the congregation’s joyous rhythmical melodies and harmonic voices rang out in praise and worship.
Since retiring in March, I’ve thrown myself headlong into various activities. I had many of these interests during my working life but, like so many new retirees, I thought I would have more spare time so added new interests to those. Hence, I have taken on so much that I am no longer enjoying my freedom from the routine of a working life. I realised this when I reached my birthday recently, a number that does look quite attractive, and took stock of myself. I looked at what I’d committed myself to and compared it to what I was actually enjoying. And it was a chance encounter with a friend that helped me reach a decision about taking drastic action to cut down on activities.
My friend’s name is Julie too – and she asked, ‘Julie, where have all your colourful butterflies gone?’ She went on to explain this as being the aura I usually carry around with me that she was so used to seeing and it is what makes me… well, me.
I thought about this some more when I got home and looked in the mirror. I looked tired and dull and there was definitely no sparkle. I’d confided in my friend about a stressful period I’d been going through in recent weeks and how I’d felt quite unwell, both physically and mentally, at times. She advised me to stop pleasing others and please myself more, to encourage my butterflies back. Looking in that mirror again, I think I saw what she saw: I was surrounded by dark moths that had taken my light and they were flying around me like prophesies of doom.
Over the next few days, as people made demands on my time, it finally came to a head with me reacting badly to a situation. I demonstrated traits of my character that I do not like. I knew I had to do something immediately. Once I’d made that decision, it was easier to sort out what I would keep and what I would let go, and I felt in control again.
At the moment I am honouring two commitments that end in mid-December, have dropped two things I am no longer enjoying, and I have two commitments to honour in early 2016. I feel refreshed knowing that after this I will have a clean canvas to work with. I have already started saying ‘no’ to things I’ve been asked to do that I really don’t want to do. And I owe it to myself and my butterflies to continue with that promise to myself.
At the Scarborough Writers’ Circle this week, one of the members led a session in celebration of Thanksgiving Day. The remit was to bring a piece of writing to read on the night illustrating the subject of ‘giving thanks’ by way of our own interpretation of that.
This was my offering:
I’m thankful that I am able to express my creativity through writing, painting, music and dance; I am grateful that I am blessed with the means to do this because of my sense of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch… thus enabling me to use the therapeutic qualities of my creativity as a celebration of my life.
I give thanks that my response to this creativity highlights what is important to me, and it is through the gift of my creative self that I recognise my belief in a God who gave His only son as an atoning sacrifice to pay for my sins… so that I may be forgiven and receive salvation for my soul.
I give thanks for the people I encounter on my life journey who help me grow into the kind of person fit to serve a loving God… and I also give thanks for those I encounter who bring out distasteful traits in me by their challenging behaviour, because this helps me strive to change my own reactions to that behaviour.
Mostly I give thanks that in His mercy God does not look on what I am now nor on what I have been but on what I desire to be.
I am grateful that in this world of manmade rules and regulations there are none that govern how I should pray; there is no right or wrong way. I simply talk to God, sometimes baring my soul and falling before Him like an open wound. And He picks up the pieces and fixes me within the boundaries of my broken life.
And in the midst of all this, there is love.
I give thanks for the love I’ve known; the contented feeling of loving arms; the warmth of a human heart from a random act of kindness; a loving touch of support from a friend; a visit or phone call from a prodigal – returning home – and I’m grateful for a bond so strong that time apart has allowed for a reconciliation and a rebirth of that relationship.
I give thanks for the love of my partner; my children; my family; my friends; the people in the places where I work, rest and play – yes, even those who are ‘not like me’. I give thanks for our individuality – our diversity – and that I am surrounded in love, completed in love and enabled to share my love with others.
So then at the end of each day… when I’m stripped of myself – of my expectations – of others’ expectations – of what I am or should be, and love, even love for myself, flows down like grace into my empty vessel, I can become full of what God intended me to be – for His purpose, His plan – not mine, or yours.
And I pray that God’s glory will shine from me, reflecting the love I have received, so that others who touch the edge of that radiance will know that they are in the presence of God – because God is the essence of me.
At the end of my reading I sat down and I knew that I’d just described what my butterflies look like.
And I want them back!
The recent neglect of my social media sites is due entirely to my retirement from employment at the end of March this year. I have been engulfed in creative energy which has involved creating things for other people to enjoy (hopefully!). It’s like a burst of joy having time to spend on things I love doing though I am aware that I take too much on and need to focus on my own projects to get them finished. Come the end of September, I feel I will be in a position to do just that.
Remember the Peace Wall at Vernon Road Library. http://juliefairweather.co.uk/2015/04/wall-of-peace/ Well, I have now collated the hundred plus comments and photos from this and it will be on here for you to enjoy as soon as I set those into a presentation. This presentation is also to be interwoven with poetry/reflections about peace – to be written and performed by local writers. Please watch this space – and the local press – for details of when and where that will be.
In relation to demonstrating my faith, I have prepared various talks to illustrate how my creativity links to my faith, i.e., ‘my creative faith’, some of which have been executed; others pending presentation at their destination venue. I hope to gather these together into pamphlet form for distribution as soon as time permits. I’m also coming to the closing stages of the creation of a prayer/meditation book… and I have a file of personal pilgrimage journal writing screaming out to become a collection of meditations. As well as writing, there is the ongoing preparation for the Sacred Space Prayer Station display at my local church.
I am overseeing an anthology of short stories and poems for the Scarborough Writers’ Circle, due to be published in autumn. This is at the stage of my bringing together all the SWC Members’ submissions into one document in book format, for a final proofread. The book’s cover, title and blurb will be decided by the whole group at a session I’m leading on 1st September.
Attempting to bring all of the above nearer to fruition became extremely challenging during the recent chaotic renovation of my flat – new kitchen, bathroom and heating system – which caused the most unbelievable mess of dust and rubble. Don’t get me started on it – please! I have a long list… not least having no quality concentration time for creativity.
I am so aware of the focus on mindfulness these days and being too busy to relax with a colouring book is a sign for me that I have taken too much on. I say this after enrolling on three pleasurable courses due to start at the end of September: Circle Dancing, Singing for Health and Well-being, and Drawing – the latter because I would like to use my own sketches for illustrating my projects. I will also be participating in a Poetry Salon – a new venture for winter months set up by two local poets/writers.
So, forgive me then for not keeping up with my blog… and other social media, I hasten to add. I have been too busy to spend time procrastinating (even with one of my favourite pastimes – colouring in my doodle books).
Colouring for adults is not a new thing. In fact, I bought several doodle colouring books from Boyes’ store in Scarborough ten years ago to aid relaxation for the management of stress/anxiety… so all the fuss about the new mindfulness creative colouring books is beyond me. The books from Boyes, by the way, were completed a long time ago. Now, when I colour, I doodle my own patterns. Remember how we created them in Reception Class? Simply, take your pencil and scribble a pattern … then colour it in. And here I am once more, making time for mindfulness colouring as a form of procrastination. Ah, bliss! Who knows what doodles I will be colouring in when I’ve completed the drawing course?
I hope my retirement lasts for a long time. It needs to with all these things I have yet to enjoy.
See you soon on here… promise!
A brief glimpse of the May Day celebration held at Cross Hill Methodist Church, Hunmanby on Saturday 16th May 2015 from 11.00 a.m. until 3.00pm.
A lighted candle was the centrepiece of a circle of chairs on which those attending were seated. The candle flame was there to remind us of the light of Christ and how the darkness can never put it out.
Our day was spent weaving in, out and around this circle of love – symbolic of a maypole dance – through quiet reflection… activities… prayer… and interaction with one another. As we weaved around God at the centre it reminded us that God is the centre of us. And through weaving in, out and around the circle throughout the day, during various activities, we were able to contemplate on the greatness of God’s love for us and recognise our own love for God.
We celebrated the dance of creation with a dance around our maypole (above). Those who chose to remain seated danced in the spirit by mirroring/improvising the actions of those dancing in the circle, thus enabling full inclusion, as the light of Christ radiated from the core of it.
This meditative dance afforded time and space to focus on the day’s silent prayers of our hearts and our offering of them to God from within our shared creativity.
(top photo: candle is shown as unlit for its return to my home)
Putting the World to Rights at the Wall of Peace
This simple idea stemmed from a personal experience at a special service for peace that I attended last year. We were asked to use post-it notes to pin prayers for peace onto a wall and I asked myself: ‘how can I take a similar idea into the community?’ Answer: I could ask people ‘when you think of peace – what do you see?’ The perfect opportunity for this presented itself and the Wall of Peace in the Foyer at the Library during the Books by the Beach Festival April 2015 (when lots of visitors come to events there) was set up.
I also created a Facebook page to start the responses off by printing these out to pin on the wall at the onset of the event. (https://www.facebook.com/jmfairweather.co.uk). In addition, I received contributions via text and email from friends – including two from friends holidaying in Berlin (with photos of The Berlin Wall attached)!
The first day was quite slow as library users came and went, barely looking at the wall, and festival goers looked over suspiciously on their way up the stairs to the concert room where their chosen writer was speaking. I encouraged all those who glanced my way to come over and discover what it was about. It was an interesting day watching people’s first tentative steps to make a move towards the wall. The highlight of this particular day has to be a spontaneous truce between two people taking place at the wall – which made it all worthwhile.
On the second day, people were beginning to get used to me standing there, waiting to catch their eye, and they were more relaxed about coming forward – without being prompted in some cases. The same people tend to come in each day, as well as an additional mix of folk, and the regulars ambled over for a chat so I was able to coax them more naturally to complete a response through that. This second day saw varied individuals at the Wall of Peace, thus – to all these people in turn – I was a stranger, a friend, a confidante, a listening ear, a puzzle solver, a bag holder, a loo director, a pathfinder, a writer on behalf of those who couldn’t hold a pen, and so on. People have such fascinating complexities and I found it challenging to see who would walk in and talk to me next. I ended the day needing to trim the contributions down to make room for more. As an added bonus, I made several connections and contacts to help develop this project further.
On day 3, I felt I was coming to the end of my energy and was grateful for the ongoing cover support from the Scarborough Flare Committee – and a friend who continuously checked in to help out – which stopped me flagging.
As the library was closed to the public after 3pm on day 3 and the whole of day 4, we had to try not to encroach too much on loyal event goers and wait until they showed an interest before approaching them. However, many of them were happy to take a card and several brought them back to the wall as they left the building. So the end of day 3 saw more trimming and tidying of the contributions in preparation for the last day.
By day 4 the wall was pretty packed after a last trim and tidy before the final event of the Festival. Many event goers returned for the finale (Val McDermid) so most of these had already contributed a peace card though there were a few people writing cards as I left that event with more promising to return – therefore, the display will be left up until Friday 24th April.
The Peace Wall was a beautiful experience of community working together and a great team effort. I met some intriguing people with diverse opinions about peace – all of which will make for a good melting pot for the planned follow up performance from the responses. It is exciting to be part of something that started with a simple idea that the community embraced by their willingness to participate and develop together. I am looking forward to preparing the performance with fellow local writers and performers.
A notice will be available on social media, in the library and Scarborough News giving details of the performance date and venue a.s.a.p. It will be a free event with voluntary donations going to the Scarborough Amnesty Group.
(Please do call into the library up to 24.4.15 to read the responses and/or add one of your own.)
Julie Fairweather 21.4.15
Photos on Day 2, 3 and 4:
I’ve been so busy procrastinating (successfully) and learning how to say no (unsuccessfully) to other people’s requests that I haven’t had time to write my December blog… until now. I had planned to write it on the first Sunday of Advent (30th November) but here we are almost approaching the third week! Advent is a good time to stop and think as we begin to prepare… and I wanted to write something about that at the onset of its season – but it slipped by me whilst I was busy enabling others to be ready (through my work in the North Yorkshire Coast Church Circuit – paid and voluntary). It’s as though I’ve been waiting for my own Advent to begin … waiting for my time to be my own so I could simply be still and silent.
Each year as Christmas approaches I like to use the Advent period of waiting to take stock – a little like you do on New Year’s Eve before the onslaught of another year. This year though I’ve been busier than ever and feel I’m waiting for so many things that I have been jumping ahead of myself every step of the way. I’ve barely had time to ponder my faith journey through Advent… because I’m trying to get my head round the reason why, if I am due to retire next year, my job has not slowed down enough for me to prepare for that gift of retirement – my reward for having worked my whole life. I have hardly had time to think straight as I live from one day to the next filling it up with things I love to do. It will be quite nice not having to fit my regular job into that and I am looking forward to a diary that displays things of my own choosing. See? I have jumped ahead of the waiting time again… trying to sort next year out already. Really, there is no need for me to do that because God will have it all in hand anyway.
After an extremely challenging week fraught with anxieties and concerns, I was finally brought to my knees on the evening of 6th December at the community carol service between the villages of Cloughton and Burniston (where I live). The service began with the carol Silent Night’s first verse being sung in German by Revd. Mike Leigh (vicar with a beautiful voice!) then the congregation joined in using English. When a re-enactment of the Christmas Day Truce in the 1st World War was portrayed as a silent sketch by the young people, it really brought it home to me how trivial my anxieties and concerns had actually been that week. I let them go as I listened to a short sermon by Revd. Peter Cross that challenged me even further – to make peace with someone I was experiencing conflict with. Though I have chosen not to discuss this particular issue here, I did come away from the service feeling hopeful.
The following day (7th) was the second Sunday in Advent and, as if to mark the turnaround in my attitude regarding that certain situation, a double rainbow appeared over Cloughton and Burniston villages – arching over the place where the Truce had been re-enacted the previous evening. It felt like the hope of Advent had arrived for me. I believe that when God shines his light into the darkness, like he did that Christmas Day in 1914 and as he did for me at that carol service, there is hope for mankind.
I’ve decided not to prepare for retirement as I know what I want to do with the gift and what God has planned for me will fall into place in its own time. I am going to go with the flow of it and relax, have fun and enjoy what is in store for me, as I enter into that new phase of my life – whenever it arrives.