Sunday, 11 August 2013

Fundraising in Yeovil, Somerset. Then and now. by Margaret Graham

I'm talking about past and present fundraising, plus I've added some writing tips, to cheer you on towards entering our competition!

Some years ago I lived in Yeovil in Somerset and was patron of the Yeovil Community Arts Association. Sadly the council decided to withdraw funds - well they did have many calls on their budget. In an effort to keep the YCAA going in some form I set up the Yeovil Literary Prize to bring in funds helped by Jim Mitchell, an ex-student of mine.

Unable to afford the Arts Centre premises we were invited to set up our stall at The Octagon, Yeovil's professional theatre. So the YCAA together with the Yeovil Literary Prize trotted up the road with our spotted red handkerchief, just the two of us then, and voluntarily administered the Prize and the Association , (I was still writing novels to a tight deadline and had children - and trust me, I learned a great deal about time management!). Dear John White and Grant Sellen, the Octagon management team were great friends to YCAA - and such a laugh. There was always someone to talk to when problems occurred, and oh yes, dear reader, how they occurred.

Pretty soon there was a cracking committee to help and we incorporated an Events programme called the Prose Cafes, at the Octagon. We added yet again to this with the annual Booker Debate, in which Marcus Bishop of Waterstones provided the short-listed novels for a panel of celebrities who gave their opinion of the books at the Booker Debate Evening at the theatre, in advance of the decision of the Booker judges.

Julian Fellowes
Fay Weldon and Julian Fellowes (W4W patron) were just two of the panellists who joined us and somehow everything always ended up being not only interesting but incredibly good fun. We also ran a Stage Play Prize which Julian Fellowes judged, the winner of which was given a week long run at the Octagon. All these activities were not only fundraisers but created a strong arts presence. The main fundraising thrust however continued to be The Yeovil Literary Prize. The funds we raised went straight out again to various exhibitions, or in the form of bursaries. Any and all applications were considered, and many of the winners were set on the road to a writing career.
Penny Deacon

Penny Deacon, one of W4W trustees and author of A Thankless Child, sequel to A Kind of Puritan (pub. Creme de la Crime and as e-books by Creative Content)  took over when I moved from Yeovil, and then when she also moved, Liz Pike, artist, writer and
Liz Pike
one of my ex-students ran with it and, boy, has it continued to flourish.

One of our dreams back then, and I remember so clearly all the talks I had with Marcus about it, was a Yeovil Literary Festival. And it is to happen!!!  The wonderful Adam Burgen the present manager of The Octagon, Marcus Bishop of Waterstones, and Liz Pike, Administrator of the Yeovil Literary Prize have banded together and created magic. It's here. It starts on 19th September. It has stunning events. It finishes on 22nd September.

And what's more, it includes fundraising events for W4W, so here I am, back in the present, working with Yeovil again! Wonderful, and they thought they'd got rid of me!

Tracy Baines
To huge excitement, W4W team member, Tracy Baines, successful commercial short story writer and I have been invited to run not just a writers' workshop but also 1-2-1 interviews and critiques for aspiring writers, the proceeds of which will be shared between the YCAA and W4W. What's more we will be in evidence with our flyers to tell people more about ourselves. So, after Winchester Writers Conference we now add Yeovil Literary Festival as venues that are helping our wounded. We are very thrilled.
Margaret Graham being thrilled!
More details will be posted next week when Liz Pike will guest on the blog and at that stage we can all book the events we fancy.

In addition, mad old trouts that we are, Jan - my friend from school who is coming onto the W4W team, and I, have decided we WILL do a sky-dive in aid of W4W next spring. But details of that very much later on - we need to make clear even at this stage though that we will be paying for our 'trip' 'plummet' or whatever ones wants to call it, ourselves so that every penny raised in sponsorship goes to W4W. Good timing - I have some novels coming out over the next couple of years, new and reprints, starting with Maeve's Afternoon Delight (e-book) a couple of months ago and  After the Storm (Random House) this month so no problem with funding that little adventure.

I can't wait to hear more about this crackin' festival next week from Liz Pike, when she will tell us of the talks, concerts and dinners that have been arranged. Will have to start thinking of a frock.

In the meantime, the team here thought that as Words for the Wounded is very much to do with writing, we would start to include writing tips within the blog. This will perhaps help you gain enough confidence to enter Words for the Wounded Writing Prize, and the Yeovil Literary Prize. Two very different beasts but all with the same aim in mind - raising funds for good causes. I'm kicking off with a nod at the basic techniques. Tracy will chat at some stage about marketing commercial short stories and other related issues, and Penny Deacon, a W4W team member, about poetry and crime fiction. I'll just flop about with the basics, the publishing world, and generally we'll all be chipping in here and there.

So here we go for starters.

 The short story.

When writing a short story keep in mind The Three Unities. Unity of person (there is only one main character) Unity of Place (the action should take place in one setting) Unity of Time (you may reflect backwards or forwards but the present action should take place at one moment in time).

In this way you are writing a contained but complete story. Just remember that a short story is a moment in time, not a saga dealing with one person's issue. You just need to think carefully about what you really want to say. Is is about dementia as chosen by Janet Scrivens, our third place winner, but shown through a moment in time in the life of a woman?

Is it about a change in circumstances? Perhaps an event occurs which changes the main character's way of life?

Whatever it is, the short story needs to follow certain structural rules, starting in the normal world, and at a point of change. I will explain more about this during the next blog. It will involve looking briefly at Cinderella! Then there is the pesky little thing called show not tell. You might have noticed I said when referring to Janet's story, Twilight, shown through a moment in time...

And do remember, that being placed in writing competitions does help an aspiring writer's CV.

So, there you are everyone. As you can see we're all beavering away here, thinking of ways to encourage you into writing. We can't wait to read the end products when we open for entries in November.

1 comment:

  1. Well done Margaret and team! What a worthwhile cause. Keep up the good work. Shelagh Mazey


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