03 June 2020
Posted by Hazel Orriss
Our world seems so much smaller since lockdown and yet, as restrictions are slowly relaxed, many of us are feeling understandably hesitant about life returning to ‘normal’. We miss the sea, we long for a forest walk and we yearn to see friends, but it is impossible to deny, lockdown has also given many of us the opportunity to slow down and give some thought to the things that really matter in our lives. When a video call is the only way to see and hear from friends, those calls take on a greater significance, with every word, laugh and gesture committed to memory for the repeated playbacks that will keep you going until the next call. It wrenches at the heartstrings, and yet the intense focus we bring to each experience carries with it a vivid and fresh way of seeing that feeds our work. It is as if we have been awarded a very special power that allows us to distil the essence of every experience and pour it into our words.
It was quite fitting that our recent SO:Write Women Zoom call looked at Drabbles, those chewy little 100-word nuggets that convey so much in the briefest of spaces. You must make every single word count, and we did! Lips moving with deep concentration and pencils tapping each word – 73, 74, 75… 99, 100, oh, 101… We kept the prompt concise, too, allowing space to let our thoughts expand without too many strictures. We listed three items that have ceased to be useful since lockdown. To this, we added three words that described lockdown emotions, and then we let our pens run across the page. No counting of words at this stage, just a messy spilling of ideas to see what we came up with. From the superficial appreciation of mascara, to the cerebral longing to flex that furloughed library card, we poured our hearts onto the page. Did it make our small, scary world seem any bigger or safer? No, but we took our feelings and committed them to the page, and in sharing them helped to soothe the sadness and celebrate the humorous. Words are like that, they have so much power. Yes, even just 100 of them.
The 100 voices for 100 years project which explored the lives of women (and includes submissions from some of the So:Write women) is to be published by Unbound.
Damhnait Monaghan has been particularly busy of late! Her collection The Neverlands, was awarded the best novella prize in the 2020 Saboteur Awards and her debut novel ‘New Girl in Little Cove’ will also be published by Harper Collins Canada in 2021.
Writers HQ have a selection of online courses available that may be useful if you find your inspiration flagging in between SO:Write Women sessions.
National flash fiction day 2020 (6th June) is a celebration of the succinct! As well as the annual launch of the NFFD Anthology, there’ll be ‘write ins’ and opportunities to submit your flash fiction pieces.
So:Write Women sessions are taking place via Zoom at the moment. We meet again on Thursday 4th June at 11am, drop us an email for the meeting link and password.