Displaying items by tag: mavis - Rosie Garland

As part of my Writer’s Residency at The John Rylands Library, I’m writing a series of blogs… here’s the first – The Power of Asking.

“I’ve just been appointed the first writer-in-residence at The John Rylands Library. How did I manage this wonderful achievement? I asked.

Sounds easy.

It wasn’t. If you’re anything like me (and the longer I live, the more I realise I’m not alone), asking is far more difficult than it sounds.

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. Unless you were born with a set of silver spoons in your mouth (which is everyone reading this, right?), then you’ve worked out that opportunities don’t fall magically into your lap. You’ve had to work hard to get where you are.

I like what Julia Cameron (author of the inspirational ‘The Artists Way’) says: “Pray to catch the bus, then run as fast as you can.” It’s a reminder to put myself into the path of opportunities. The bus does not come to the front door. I have to leave the house, and darn well run for it.

I have to take a deep breath, and ask. So, why is it so difficult?

Here’s my take. I grew up with a spectacularly unhelpful dictum: Ask, don’t get. Don’t ask, don’t want. I shared this with friends recently, and was shocked to discover it’s very common. I end up stuck in a bizarre Catch 22 situation, thinking that if I have to ask for something, then I don’t deserve it. Or, that I must to wait for someone else to ask me. The most I’m allowed to do is stand around looking hopeful.
This lose-lose mentality is combined with a vicious internal critic. I call her Mavis (I’ve blogged about her here and run Anti-Mavis workshops). She never, ever says anything nice. If someone says they like my writing, Mavis jumps in and whispers ‘they’re only being nice.’ In fact, she can be neatly summed up by this great Savage Chickens cartoon (Doug Savage):

Naturally, my internal critic undermined any notion that somewhere as amazing as The John Rylands Library would want the likes of me.

So – standing up and asking for what I want can be pretty damn hard. I’m swamped with fears of rejection, coming over as needy, an underachiever, someone who’s failed because they need to ask.

Luckily, this isn’t a poor-me blog.

Years ago I decided that I was not going to let fear of rejection stop me living a life that is too darn short as it is. I take inspiration from Jia Jiang, whose TED talk about dealing with rejection is well worth 15 minutes of anyone’s time.

So, however hard it is to ask, to put myself forward, to send that manuscript to a competition or agent – I take several deep breaths and do it. In the words of Susan Jeffers: ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’.

And here’s the good news. The John Rylands Library is delighted to have a writer-in-residence. Correction: The John Rylands Library is delighted to have me as a writer-in-residence.

I have told Mavis to put that in her pipe and smoke it.

Coming next – what I asked for, and how to ask for a residency.”

https://rylandscollections.wordpress.com/2018/12/10/the-power-of-asking/

Published in News
Workshop: a 10 Step Program for Dealing with the Internal Critic

22 September at 10:00–13:00

GIFT Cafe Chester
Grosvenor Park Road,
CH1 1QQ Chester, Cheshire

Ever write a short story, only to doubt it? Find yourself apologising for your poems when sharing them with others? Do you lie awake at night thinking that your novel might be complete crap?

Welcome to the world of the internal critic.

Come along to this informal and supportive workshop for an introduction to Imposter Syndrome, plus a chance to explore strategies for dealing with your own internal critic.

Tickets are £20/ £10 for concessions/low income
Email tesifypoetrycic@gmail to secure your place!

Rosie Garland is a novelist, poet and singer with post-punk band The March Violets. She also performs cabaret as The Time-Travelling Suffragette & infamous alter-ego Rosie Lugosi the Vampire Queen.
An experienced workshop facilitator, she has worked with organisations as diverse as For Books' Sake, Northern Writers’ Conference, Louder Than Words, Survivors’ Poetry, Apples and Snakes & Pride on Tyne.

Her latest novel, The Night Brother, is out now with Borough Press. She is the author of Vixen, a Green Carnation Prize nominee. Her debut novel, The Palace of Curiosities won the Mslexia Novel Competition and was nominated for both The Desmond Elliott and Polari First Book Prize.
She also has a vicious internal critic called Mavis.

http://www.rosiegarland.com/
https://twitter.com/rosieauthor
Instagram - rosiegarlandwriter
https://www.facebook.com/rosielugosi

Published in Gig List
Friday, 23 June 2017 13:45

16-18.6.2017 - Grrrl Con, Manchester!

Grrrl Con 2017

A big shout out to Jane Bradley, Claire Askew & Kerry Ryan - organisers of GrrrlCon 2017 - for inviting me to present a workshop on ‘Dealing With The Internal Critic’ as well as contribute to the ‘Paths to Publication’ panel!

And wow – such wonderful feedback from workshop participants:

“Have to say Rosie Garland has been the shining light of my Grrrl Con experience so far. Fab workshop!!”
“My first workshop was with on dealing with your inner critic, & was one of the best things I've ever been part of.”
“Worker Bees Manchester: Our new Whatsapp group name inspired by the amazing Rosie Garland is #fuckoffmavis”
“Magic atmosphere, easy, open and collaborative despite some tough subject matter. Cannot thank you enough, Rosie Garland”
“Really tough workshop but so good and so valid and needed”

Here’s to GrrrlCon 2018!
http://grrrlcon.com/

Published in News

Thank you to Write-Track for featuring me on their blog for a second time!
Here is the text in full, with the link at the end.

On the Write Track - Adventures with writing habits
Rosie Garland – the bonus interview: channelling characters and living a creative life

In our first interview with Rosie Garland we found out how she kept going using rituals to support her writing and overcome the fear of the blank page. She spoke about having to "hack out time for writing" amongst work and grown up responsibilities. Here we find out how she took steps to adjust the balance of her working and creative life, and get an insight into how she writes such amazing characters.

The work-writing balance

Rosie made the decision to go part time in her job, not to write novels specifically, but to shift the balance of her work life and creative life, which she felt was out of kilter. She describes her life as being a process of getting off the career ladder: decreasing the amount of time given over to conventional work and increasing opportunities for creativity.

"When I was a kid I was always writing and had time to draw pictures, write poems, and create alternative universes. Then at the age of 18 'real' life happened. Time to get a sensible job and put creative self-indulgence away. It may only have been a handful of years, yet it felt like a long sojourn away from what I really wanted to do. I realised that all that creativity I had as a kid was a vital part of my existence, not an add-on. What I was doing was moving away from it and denying its importance. Since my late 20s my life has been a slow process of going back to it, partly by taking part-time jobs that gave me time to think."

Despite day jobs taking Rosie away from herself, she didn't resent it: "I got gifts from work and I am very grateful for the things it has given me. I don't think I would have been right being a full time writer back then. I needed to go and engage with the outside world and not stare at my navel."

Writing is the process not the end

Like many writers, Rosie says she writes because she has to. She describes writing as being a process and uses a Zen proverb to illustrate. "If you meet the Buddha on the road – kill him." I must admit to being rather puzzled by the idea of killing the Buddha, so Rosie explains.

"Rather than being literal, the proverb symbolises the creative 'road' I travel as a writer. The 'Buddha' could stand for some idealised faultless novel and therefore the end of needing to strive, grow, create... you get the picture. This deceptive Buddha suggests that I'll reach some magical, perfect endpoint. That a magical endpoint exists. No it doesn't. So I need to throw out that illusion and keep writing. There is no retiring from being writer."

Character: it all starts with a question

The rituals Rosie previously talked about help open her up to ideas and characters. She said "Part of the process is to find ways to put myself in the way of characters, to make it easier for them to come to talk to me." I was fascinated about this approach to developing character and asked her to tell me more.

"When I'm at the absolute beginning of developing a character it will often start as a question that niggles me. So for Abel [the central character in The Palace of Curiosities] the question in my head was – 'what would it be really be like to live forever?' I began to daydream and found that a particular character was answering. He – and his answers – developed into the voice of Abel. He's one example. It happens with the others in a similar way. Often, inconveniently, at 3am..."

"I write pages and pages of conversations with these characters in notebooks, longhand. I might fill six or seven notebooks with rabbiting, unedited scribble. When I've done that I start typing up to see what I've got, where all the gaps are, whether there is a story in the mess. And if, out of all the whatever-thousand words, I see the root of a story then I will start writing."

Right character wrong novel

Rosie says that her characters have very insistent voices and they can stay with her for a long time. Abel began in "awful novel two which was woefully in search of a plot" and couldn't tell his story. Rosie carried him around in her head until she introduced him to Eve in The Palace of Curiosities who enabled him to grow and develop. "He just needed to meet the right people at the right time."

Abel has left Rosie alone. She explains. "He has told his story now. It's like closure. He gets the last line in Palace, 'I am joy, complete, forever'. And that's it. Abel has told his story and has left me alone."

Don't get it right – get it written

Tom Clancy summed it up when he said "just tell the damn story". Rosie believes that you don't have to get it right but get it written. It's very easy to get carried away with research, especially when writing novels set in the past. Because Vixen is set in 1349, it's important the historical details were correct, but they mustn't get in the way of the story. She explains,

"I did some research about mediaeval laundry and some of the awful stuff they used to bleach it, but none of it is in the story – what's important is that Thomas makes Anne do the laundry far more often than necessary and it drives her nuts having to waste all her time. That's the important thing, the interaction between them, not about what paddle she uses. Just tell the damn story."

If you get stuck over a detail Rosie advises putting it in brackets for checking later and carrying on with the storyline. She says "No one cares whether the arrow is tipped with pigeon feather, eagle feather or goshawk feather, what's important is who the hell does he shoot with the arrow."

Read our first interview with Rosie Garland. Find out what she's been up to by following her on Twitter @rosieauthor and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/rosielugosi. Or better still read her excellent novels Vixen and The Palace of Curiosities.

Click to go to Write-Track blog page

Published in News

Thank you to Write-Track for featuring me on their blog!
Here is the text in full, with the link at the end.

On the Write Track - Adventures with writing habits
Keeping going – novelist Rosie Garland on persistence and creative rituals

Three years ago Rosie Garland had pretty much given up all hope of getting her novels published. Her agent wasn't taking her calls, rejections were coming thick and fast, and she'd been diagnosed with cancer. She had spent 12 years writing four and a half novels – perhaps it was time to call it a day? As her second novel is published to great acclaim she shares her experience of keeping going through the tough times.

Overcoming creative self-harm

Rosie had an early taste of fame as a singer in post-punk band the March Violets. Grown up responsibilities soon got in the way and full time work as a teacher pushed her creative projects to the side. She wrote short stories and poetry, and performed her cabaret act Rosie Lugosi, then at the turn of the millennium she got an idea "that was too big to be a poem or short story." Rosie made the decision to work part time to shift the balance of her work and creative life, she landed an agent, and dedicated more of her time to writing novels.

However, after 12 years Rosie had pretty much given up all hope of being published. She said:
"My agent wasn't getting back to me and I felt I had to stop continually putting myself through the self-cruelty of writing and having it rejected. It felt like a bizarre form of creative self-harm."

She needed to protect herself and go to "the places that weren't harming me. That was the poetry and singing and performance. So I made a decision to do that and that was when I entered the Mslexia competition as a last ditch attempt."

Mslexia ran its inaugural competition for unpublished novelists in 2011. Rosie not only bagged the top spot with The Palace of Curiosities, but got a place on the shortlist with another (as yet unpublished) novel. From this came a bidding war between publishers and a six-figure two-book deal with Harper Collins. Her second novel Vixen has just been published to rave reviews.

The apprentice novelist

Rosie believes if success had come earlier she might not be where she is now. "I might have sunk without a trace – become one of those people who has one book." She refers to the years of writing as her apprenticeship, and doesn't resent the time spent refining her writing skills. "The amount of time I have had to work to become a novelist has paid off. I have learnt my craft, I have done my apprenticeship."
She learned from her mistakes, referring to the second novel she wrote as "awful". She said, "it's going to stay under the bed forever. I will keep it as a reminder to never get above myself. The second novel was a process of writing something really badly – I can point to it, as an example of how not to write."

Keeping going: habits and rituals to support creativity

Over the years Rosie developed tactics to support her writing. The first is being open to feedback. She told me:
"I try to give myself as much input as possible. That might be going on a writing course, or Arvon retreat, getting full, frank feedback from tutors, my agent or editors. I don't want to write in a vacuum – 'bring it on' is my mantra! Part of being a writer is always wanting to grow, always wanting to learn, never taking for granted that I am a writer. Because I think the day that happens is a really bad day for me."

Her other support mechanism has been creative rituals. This is vital to someone who admits to being terrified of the blank page and needs a routine each day to get words on the page and the creative juices flowing. Rosie starts the day with three pages of journaling – she says this isn't creative writing but "rubbing the crust out of my eyes" and getting out of the way all the 'what I did yesterday' stuff.

She continues:

"The next thing I do is write six images. What a snail looks like climbing up a leaf, what it felt like to stub your toe. I do it every morning without fail, if miss one I do a catch up session later. Coming out of the six images I write a haiku. Then I do the classic three pages of morning pages – free writing coming out of the six images or using a writing prompt."

These rituals sound like a lot of work, but taken individually they are small tasks and quick to perform, and that's the secret for Rosie. "For me it's all about small commitments. Don't set yourself up to fail. If had to write a full chapter I wouldn't be able to do it."

Dealing with an inner critic – silencing Mavis

Morning can be a special time for writers and artists, and for Rosie it's when she's open to more playful non-linear writing, but also because her internal critic hasn't got out of bed yet.

Throughout her writing life Rosie has battled with a vicious internal critic. A few years ago she gave this critic a name: Mavis. She found that naming her was a release; separating the cruelty from herself made it easier to deal with the criticism.

Rosie says "My rituals are there to nurture and support me. They enable my writing; provide nourishment, support and food for my writing. Yet Mavis will say to me, 'call yourself an artist when you enjoy rituals so much.' That's Mavis telling me an artist flounces around in clothes pulled together from a bunch of headscarves."

A weekly reflection inspired by Julia Cameron

The rituals are the foundations of Rosie's writing, a way of keeping in touch with her creativity. She's a big fan of Julia Cameron, though admits it took nearly a year to complete one 12-week programme and felt it "nearly killed me!"

Her final ritual was inspired by Julia Cameron from her creativity bibles The Artist's Way and Walking in the World. Rosie takes time each week to reflect on four things:

How have my morning pages been going this week?
Have given myself an artist date?
Have I gone on an artist's walk?
Other issues – what else has been going on?

Keep going

For most of her life Rosie has worked while writing. "I haven't had the luxury of being a writer as my full time job. I have had to hack out time for my writing in around all the things that put bread on the table and keep the rent man from chucking you out the time at the end of week."

Getting cancer made Rosie realise that life is too short. She told herself, "I'm not doing this any longer. I don't care what's in the future, I'll just trust." Rosie's advice to others struggling to find their creative balance is to just "keep going". It might take a long time, but it will happen.

I'm going to give the last line to one of Rosie's characters, Anne from Vixen who says "I shall live that life like the gift it is, and waste neither it nor myself. I am my own woman. I like her. She has stories to tell and all of them are interesting."

Vixen was published in July in hardback, and The Palace of Curiosities is available in paperback. You can find out what Rosie has been up to by following her on Twitter @rosieauthor and Facebook Click to go to Rosie's Facebook page

Click here to go to Write-Track blog page

 

Published in News

News and Events

  • 10.8.2019 - Val McDermid's 10 most compelling LGBTQI writers in the UK today
    10.8.2019 - Val McDermid's 10 most compelling LGBTQI writers in the UK today

    I’m thrilled to announce that Val McDermid has selected me as one of the 10 most compelling LGBTQI+ writers working in the UK today!

    Val said: “These writers are writing for everyone. These are not words for a niche readership. These are not writings for a ghetto. These are the works of writers who have something to say that can be – and should be – heard by as many people as possible.”

    She continued: “Auden was wrong when he claimed “poetry makes nothing happen”. Words do change the world, reader by reader. They open our eyes, they provoke thought. The work of these 10 writers… will awaken in us fresh delight in the wonder of words.”

    The list was commissioned by the National Centre for Writing and British Council, supported by Arts Council England as part of a two-year programme to promote writing from the UK to an international audience. It also includes the amazing Colette Bryce, Juno Dawson, Juliet Jacques, Keith Jarrett, Kirsty Logan, Andrew McMillan, Fiona Mozley, Mary Paulson-Ellis & Luke Turner.

    The Guardian - The Word Is Out. Val McDermid selects Britain's 10 most outstanding lgbtq writers

    Written on Wednesday, 14 August 2019 08:44
  • 20.6.2019 - Peterloo: massacre or riot? The John Rylands Library
    20.6.2019 - Peterloo: massacre or riot? The John Rylands Library
    Peterloo – massacre or riot?

    On June 20th 2019, The John Rylands Library staged a live performance event to mark the bicentenary of the Peterloo Massacre. It was a first for the library and I was excited to take the part of Jemima Bamford – one of the thousands of men, women and children who gathered at St Peter’s Field in August 1819. I donned bonnet and shawl and created a speech, imagining how she might have spoken out against the actions of the militia, who charged into an unarmed crowd, and murdered up to 23 people.

    Then joined by 5 other actors, I took part in a public debate as we decide: was Peterloo a massacre or a riot? At the end of the debate, votes were cast, and Manchester decided overwhelmingly – massacre.

    Written on Sunday, 21 July 2019 10:32
  • 8.6.2019 - Guest vox with The Bellwether Syndicate, Wave-Gotik Treffen
    8.6.2019 - Guest vox with The Bellwether Syndicate, Wave-Gotik Treffen
    Guest vox with The Bellwether Syndicate at Wave-Gotik Treffen

    The high point of WGT 2019 was being invited to be guest vocalist with The Bellwether Syndicate from Chicago! Rocking out to a special rendition of The March Violets track ‘Snake Dance’…
    The gig on Saturday 8th June 2019 at Taubchenthal, Leipzig was packed out – and what a crowd…

    A great pleasure to work with William Faith, Sarah Rose (aka Scary Lady Sarah), keyboards Phil Destefano, bassist Paul Sin & drummer extraordinaire Stevyn Grey

    https://www.wave-gotik-treffen.de/ro/go4it.php?id=197&loc=en

    Written on Sunday, 21 July 2019 10:20
  • 'How to ask for a residency' - The John Rylands blog
    'How to ask for a residency' - The John Rylands blog
    How to ask for a residency

    Since I wrote about the Power of Asking, I’ve been heartened by how many writers have told me they’re going to ask for Writers’ Residencies too. There are plenty of questions: What do you say? What do you ask for? This blog offers a few suggestions.

    Where do you want your residency to be?
    Chip shop, bus stop, lighthouse, theatre, cemetery. The choice is yours. Think of where you’d love to write. It may be a place you pass every day on the way to work, or somewhere you’ve stumbled on by chance. Perhaps you have a connection already. For example, when I was invited to read at The John Rylands Library, I fell in love with this Mancunian gem. It sparked a train of thought…

    What do you want to do?
    I’ve a pretty simple plan: my next novel is set in The John Rylands and I’m exploring what it’s like to write ‘on site’, drawing inspiration from the spirit of the place. You’ll have your own ideas. It’s a wonderful opportunity to try something new, with time to focus on your writing in an inspiring workspace. The clearer you are about what you’d like to create and how it’s connected to the venue you’ve chosen, the better. Do your research, and put together a proposal. I’ve broken this down below.

    How long is a residency?
    Weeks, months, or a year – it’s largely up to you and the organisation. My residency is running for a calendar year; time to produce a first draft of the novel. I’ve committed to being on site for one day a week, but can’t keep away from the place…

    What can you offer?
    As well as being clear about what you want to achieve, think about what you can offer your host organisation. Ideas can include giving talks, workshops, writing tutorials or readings, and writing blogs on the progress of the residency. You might produce a poem etched in the window, or devise a grand finale performance. There’s no limit.
    If you’re unsure, ask for advice from writer friends (or friends of friends) who’ve done residencies in the past. If you don’t know any – ask the internet. Social media can be a lot more supportive than you might imagine.

    How do you get an introduction?
    You’ll need to approach your chosen organisation to find out of they’re interested in your idea. I asked writer friends for signposting, and got an introduction. People were only too pleased to help, a warm reminder that we’re in this together. There’s a community of writers out there, and we are pretty groovy people.

    What about money?
    This blog is about building your own residency from scratch, not applying for a funded opportunity. So, when the question of money and payment arose (pretty much the first question), I said no. Nowhere has money for residencies, unless it’s a regular gig like The Forestry Commission
    And, unsurprisingly, these residencies are massively oversubscribed.
    A personal tip is to source funding elsewhere. I applied to The Arts Council - Successfully.

    Then again – aim for the stars! One writer told me she’s asking for a residency at a private members’ club with buckets of money. Needless to say, she IS asking them to fund it.

    What’s the worst that can happen?
    Fear of the word no can stop us asking in the first place. Your chosen venue may say no. But they’re not going to poke you with forks. Trust me on this one. And in the words of Steve Jobs: “Most people don't get experiences because they never ask. I've never found anybody who didn't want to help me when I've asked them for help.”

    Keep going. Keep asking.

    https://rylandscollections.wordpress.com/2019/02/26/how-to-ask-for-a-residency/

    Written on Sunday, 24 March 2019 10:08
  • 'The Power of Asking' blog - The John Rylands Library
    'The Power of Asking' blog - The John Rylands Library

    As part of my Writer’s Residency at The John Rylands Library, I’m writing a series of blogs… here’s the first – The Power of Asking.

    “I’ve just been appointed the first writer-in-residence at The John Rylands Library. How did I manage this wonderful achievement? I asked.

    Sounds easy.

    It wasn’t. If you’re anything like me (and the longer I live, the more I realise I’m not alone), asking is far more difficult than it sounds.

    Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. Unless you were born with a set of silver spoons in your mouth (which is everyone reading this, right?), then you’ve worked out that opportunities don’t fall magically into your lap. You’ve had to work hard to get where you are.

    I like what Julia Cameron (author of the inspirational ‘The Artists Way’) says: “Pray to catch the bus, then run as fast as you can.” It’s a reminder to put myself into the path of opportunities. The bus does not come to the front door. I have to leave the house, and darn well run for it.

    I have to take a deep breath, and ask. So, why is it so difficult?

    Here’s my take. I grew up with a spectacularly unhelpful dictum: Ask, don’t get. Don’t ask, don’t want. I shared this with friends recently, and was shocked to discover it’s very common. I end up stuck in a bizarre Catch 22 situation, thinking that if I have to ask for something, then I don’t deserve it. Or, that I must to wait for someone else to ask me. The most I’m allowed to do is stand around looking hopeful.
    This lose-lose mentality is combined with a vicious internal critic. I call her Mavis (I’ve blogged about her here and run Anti-Mavis workshops). She never, ever says anything nice. If someone says they like my writing, Mavis jumps in and whispers ‘they’re only being nice.’ In fact, she can be neatly summed up by this great Savage Chickens cartoon (Doug Savage):

    Naturally, my internal critic undermined any notion that somewhere as amazing as The John Rylands Library would want the likes of me.

    So – standing up and asking for what I want can be pretty damn hard. I’m swamped with fears of rejection, coming over as needy, an underachiever, someone who’s failed because they need to ask.

    Luckily, this isn’t a poor-me blog.

    Years ago I decided that I was not going to let fear of rejection stop me living a life that is too darn short as it is. I take inspiration from Jia Jiang, whose TED talk about dealing with rejection is well worth 15 minutes of anyone’s time.

    So, however hard it is to ask, to put myself forward, to send that manuscript to a competition or agent – I take several deep breaths and do it. In the words of Susan Jeffers: ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’.

    And here’s the good news. The John Rylands Library is delighted to have a writer-in-residence. Correction: The John Rylands Library is delighted to have me as a writer-in-residence.

    I have told Mavis to put that in her pipe and smoke it.

    Coming next – what I asked for, and how to ask for a residency.”

    https://rylandscollections.wordpress.com/2018/12/10/the-power-of-asking/

    Written on Saturday, 02 March 2019 15:36