Tag Archives: haiku

News! Unchained to be unleashed at library launch

We are thrilled to announce that preparations for the launch of Unchained have been finalised and even more delighted to reveal it will take place in the gorgeous surroundings of Bristol Reference Library. Less than two weeks to go and the excitement at BWW Towers is mounting!

Join us for the launch

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If anyone out there hasn’t heard the details, the launch event is part of the Bristol Festival of Literature (lots of other great stuff going on there) and will be at 7.30 on October 23rd. Every local writer or even reader we know should have had an invitation by now, but if you have somehow been missed, do leave a comment and we’ll get one to you.

Or download our Press Release (.pdf file 220KB approx)
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unchained coverOf course we hope the joy will not be confined to Bristol. This is  celebration of all libraries, everywhere and other things besides. If you can’t join us on the night, the book is in bookshops now and available to order online. Don’t forget the proceeds are going to a great cause, the National Literacy Trust.

There’s still a lot to do before the Big Day, but now we have the book in our hot little hands.  Worth a small celebration!

Bristol Women Writers

By the way, this post will be stuck fast to the top of this page for the time being – but don’t forget to have a look at the new posts which will still be coming up underneath.

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Children and writing don’t mix – or do they?

Jenni O'ConnorJenni O’Connor, novelist, haiku poet, journalist and copywriter,  is also mother to Zoe, aged four. Here she muses on the unlikely fusion between writing and parenting.

“Children and writing don’t mix.” So said one famous male writer, whose name escapes me, presumably as he hastened to the haven of his oak-panelled study, slamming the door to shut out the sound of a wailing baby.

I was musing on this truism today, as I juggled a lorry load of commercial writing commitments with a two-hour long school day – my daughter has just started school and is in the midst of an extended settling in period. Having picked her up, fed her and admired a motley collection of leaf paintings and drawings, and reassured her that it really is OK not to have been able to recognise all the numbers from one to twenty in her second week at school, I then fired up the laptop and CBeebies simultaneously, so I could finish a press release while she enjoyed a bit of time out.

Oh, the guilt! Looking at it that way, children and writing really don’t mix. There’s never the head space, even if there are – on occasion – periods of twenty minutes or more when it might, just might, be possible to pen anything more profound than a shopping list. If only I weren’t so tired.

“How did you write a novel with a baby?” I’m often asked. The truth is, I didn’t. I wrote it before she came along, having very sensibly negotiated a four-day week with my very understanding employer. (I’ve never been a pre-dawn writer, nor a midnight-to-two-am one).

But, around naps and short periods at nursery, and Thursday mornings with gran-gran, I did manage to edit it, and eventually (in 2012), Reach for a Different Sun was nominated a quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. When it came to the Unchained anthology, I’m embarrassed to admit that my story was the only one to show up at the first editorial workshop as a first draft stream of consciousness, and it was only with the many thoughtful, insightful and diligent insights from my ‘writing buddy’ that I managed to knock it into any kind of shape.

And yet, and yet. When Zoe was one, and I was just about able to step back and reflect on the wonder and madness of becoming a parent, I wrote a collection of haikus, exploring the journey into motherhood, the marvels and miracles of a baby’s first milestones, and the evolving relationship between parent and child. Perhaps this shortest of short forms, along with flash fiction, is best suited to new (and new-ish) parenthood, given as it is  to capturing and distilling the essence of a given moment in time.

But the greatest gift which parenthood can bring a writer, to my view, is the opportunity to see the world through a child’s eye once more. The chance to regain the awe and wonder in simple things, to stop running just to stay still (in theory, if the laundry, washing up and ironing are ever done), and smile. Children smile, on average, 400 times a day – but by the time they reach adulthood, this is generally reduced to just 20.

So even if it seems impossible; even if there isn’t, in this moment, the time to connect the creative neurons and put fingers to keyboard, I’d urge all writers who are also parents of young children to do this: stop, breathe and observe. Your child or children will bring you untold insights, truths and delights – just by existing. If you’re so inclined, you can jot them down and save them for the day when you finally have more time. And even if they don’t refresh your writing mojo, these moments have the capacity to enrich your life, as long as you’re prepared to stop and listen.

Reach for a Different SunJenni’s first novel, Reach for a Different Sun, is available on Amazon. Her company, Kaiku Communications, specialises in copywriting for print and web. She is currently planning her second novel – though she realises this may take some time!