What have the Exeter Writers been up to this year?

Every year, at about this time, we review the achievements of our merry band over the last twelve months. This year we decided to share it with you.

Cherry Gilchrist
  is currently working on a re-write of Circle of Nine: The Feminine Psyche Revealed through Nine Contemporary Archetypes. Red Wheel Weiser in the USA will publish it in 2018 as a follow-on to Cherry’s book Tarot Triumphs (2016).
Cherry has also had an article on shamanism published in Quest magazine, and has been teaching her own online creative writing courses for the University of Exeter.

Elizabeth Ducie's thriller, Counterfeit! was published in July 2016.
She completed NaNoWriMo for the fourth time, and continues to publish 12 issues a year of Chudleigh Phoenix Community Magazine, and play an active part in organising the Chudleigh Literary Festival.
She also appeared at Plymouth literary festival and Dartington Ways with Words. She presented Pause for Thought on BBC Radio Devon for the third time in February, and has been interviewed on Riviera FM, Tiverton Community Radio and 10Radio.

Margaret James' latest novel, Girl in Red Velvet, was published in April. Margaret continues to  write her monthly Fiction Focus and Author Profile columns in Writing Magazine.
The Creative Writing Student’s Handbook, which she wrote with fellow Exeter Writers member Cathie Hartigan, continues to be an Amazon bestseller, having reached number 1 in its category in the UK, France and Germany.

Cathie Hartigan appeared at Plymouth, Ilminster and Tiverton literary festivals, had a photo shoot and book signing at RAMM, which is now stocking her book, The Secret of the Song. Cathie has also been interviewed on The Voice (Barnstaple) and Tiverton Community Radio.

Hayley Jones joined Exeter Writers after her story, Things I Have Wasted Money On, won our Devon Prize last year. This story was also a finalist in the Aesthetica 2017 Creative Writing Award and was published in their 2017 Creative Writing Annual. Her short story, Misreading The Signs was placed 3rd in the Erewash Writers’ open short story competition.

Angela Wooldridge has had stories published in The People’s Friend and My Weekly. She also had a story featured in the Indie Advent Calendar, and another shortlisted in Writing Magazine. She co-hosted the October blog hop for the Insecure Writers Support Group, and completed Nanowrimo for the first time.

Richard Handy has completed his second novel in the Reich Device series, and hopes to publish it this autumn. The first volume was featured on One Giant Read/Literature Works, in which astronauts were doing readings in space!

Su Bristow’s novel Sealskin was published by Orenda Books as an ebook just before Christmas 2016, and had two paperback launches in March, one in London and one at the presentation of the fourth Exeter Novel Prize awards. She has been interviewed on The Voice (Barnstaple), Tiverton Community Radio and – the big one – The Arts Show with Jonathan Ross on Radio 2. Su also appeared at Tiverton Literary Festival, and gave a talk at Okehampton library.

N. Sian Southern had two stories shortlisted in Writing Magazine, and a third story commended. Her aim next year is to do all the homework assignments, since all three stories originated from homework! 

Gill Barr has been sharing her poetry with various groups and performing public poetry readings for a wider audience.

Sophie Duffy is working on her fourth novel, Betsy and Lilibet. In the run-up to her 50th birthday, she is aiming to review 100 novels written by women in the 20th century.

Pete Simpson's play, Lab Wars, was read and critiqued by Actors and Writers of London.


Chudleigh Literary Festival

It's the time of year for festivals, and it's 

Chudleigh LitFest 
on Wednesday 5th July.

All writers are welcome to join the morning workshop, there's an open mic opportunity over lunch and Exeter Writers, Angela Wooldridge and Margaret James are involved in the FREE networking session in the afternoon.

Hayley's Peruvian Challenge


Exeter writer, Hayley Jones, recently completed a trek to Machu Picchu to raise money and awareness for Amnesty International. Read about the challenges she faced in her own words...

I arrived at Machu Picchu’s Sun Gate on 24th May 2017, after four days of hiking at altitude. It was early evening and the tourists were thinning out. The sun was shining, which seemed prophetic following three and a half days of rain. Trekking to Machu Picchu had been my dream for a long time – since my early teens, I believe – but I never thought I would actually achieve my goal. I was exhausted, relieved and happy.
Several hours before I reached the Sun Gate, I didn’t know whether I could get there. I was suffering from a throat
infection and recovering from altitude sickness, which made me nauseous, lightheaded and breathless for the first few days of the trek. I also have mental health problems, including anxiety. I struggled to control my breath as I hiked up the steep incline, panicking that I wouldn’t be able to keep going. Of course, this made it very difficult to keep going… I was caught in a vicious circle, escaping only through the help and patience of our group’s doctor and guides. I was determined to keep trying because the alternative – giving up – was unbearable.
I feel the same way about writing. It’s often impossible to maintain confidence in my ability to achieve my goals, but I keep going because it’s the only way I have a chance of succeeding. And because I’m stubborn.

A few months ago, I read about a woman who gave up writing after she submitted a short story and it was rejected. She didn’t want to risk another failure, so she opted out. My initial reaction was laughter – all writers get rejected. I’m not aware of a single successful writer who sold every piece of work the first time it was submitted, including Nobel laureates who I can’t imagine have ever written a terrible story. Rejections happen.
My amusement soon gave way to sadness. This woman claimed to be passionate about writing, yet she had quit an activity which gave her joy, because of a single rejection. She didn’t acknowledge her courage in submitting her story; she only saw the result. If she had persevered, she could have published numerous stories. Perhaps she might have sold that first one – or laughed with embarrassment, remembering it as terrible and deserving of rejection (as I do with my early efforts), valuing it as a stepping stone which led to her writing better stories.
Finally, I recognised an aspect of myself in the woman’s experience: I may submit work, but not as often as I could. I talk myself out of seizing opportunities because I’m convinced my writing will be rejected. I limit my chances of success by opting out, instead of stepping up.
My trek to Machu Picchu encapsulated the importance of stepping up and persevering. It would have been easy to quit at any time. I struggled and faced a variety of obstacles, some anticipated and others unexpected. I trained hard, but couldn’t prepare for some elements of the hike – especially the mental challenge. Nobody would have blamed me for pulling out. If I were at home, I probably wouldn’t have walked the dog while feeling so ill, let alone spent several hours a day hiking up mountains. But I wanted to achieve my dream and as long as I could put one foot in front of the other, I was going to keep walking.
Everything else fell away. I didn’t care about being slower than almost everyone else. Nothing was more important than reaching my goal.
I hope to apply this attitude to my writing. It’s hard not to compare myself to others, to get distracted by those who are reaching their goals faster or coping better as they work towards their dreams. I struggle with putting pressure on myself and failing to meet my expectations, even when I’m affected by circumstances beyond my control. Sometimes anxiety and depression convince me that I will never be a good writer, so I stop working for varying periods of time.
None of this matters. All that matters is focusing on my goal and taking the next step.

Next steps are made easier by a supportive team and I’m grateful for both my fellow trekkers and Exeter Writers. They provide support and encouragement, which helps me keep going during the tough parts of my journey. Thank you to everyone – especially those who have sponsored me!

Hayley blogs at www.resurfacingandrewriting.com.

If you would like to support her trek to Machu Picchu please visit her justgiving page.

Tiv Lit Fest

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/tiverton-literary-festival-workshop-who-what-when-where-tickets-34588582381?aff=es2Wondering what to do at TivLit Fest while waiting to see Su Bristow and Cathie Hartigan on the Female Author Panel?

Local author, Jenny Kane is joined by Alison Knight for a workshop on writing technique. Jenny and Alison run a range of workshops, don't miss this opportunity to see them in action!