Eyes, Fish, Writing and Painting

Several paintings, a book cover, and a swirl of tropical fish.

Dear Reader,

Over the years I have had many people ask me why fish appear so often in my poems, short stories, novellas and novels. These include those written under my own name and the two books written under the pseudonym of Craig Carden. A lot of my paintings and drawings include, or wholly involve, fish. Why? The answer lies in my early childhood and involves something my mother did during a time when I was experiencing severe eye problems. Here is the story:

My fascination with fish, often bordering on the fanatic, began as a young child. Between the ages of three and a half and nine, I had to undergo several operations to my eyes. At the conclusion of each operation, my eyes were heavily bandaged. I could not see for about a week after my first operation and for two weeks after the second. Whenever the time came to remove the bandages, I was always filled with a great deal of expectation. Finally, I would be able to see again. It was strange to be looked after in hospital by people who I learned to recognise by voice only. As I lay in the dark, I spent a lot of time imagining what they looked like.

Following my second operation, as was done after the first, the bandages were removed in an almost-dark room so that my eyes, unused to the light for some time, would not hurt. The hospital room had blinds and they were slowly, slowly opened to allow more and more light to filter in. Even though this was all gently done, my eyes felt as if they were being stabbed. The first thing I saw after the bandages were carefully removed, and the blinds were close to half open, was a bowl of colourful fish. They were being held by my mother who had bought and then carried them into the hospital for me. As I got used to looking into the light again and the pain began to subside, I concentrated on the moving colours right in front of me: red, black, orange, blue, silver gently moving in and around brilliant green water weed.

The bowl with the little fish stayed beside my bed until I was ready to be discharged about two days later. They were two guppies and two red wagtail platies, and they made the journey back with me from seaside Durban to rural Zululand, a place of rolling green hills, citrus trees and sugar cane. The car was a station wagon and I lay in the back all the way home. Every hour we needed to pull over so that ointment could be administered to my eyes. We also used this opportunity to check that the fish, placed in a plastic bag for the journey, were okay.

To this day I have never been without fish. My mother had unknowingly begun a lifelong hobby. Today, many, many years later, I have several tanks in my bedroom and the fish are the last things I see when I go to sleep and the first when I wake up.

To those of you who write and paint: happy creating.

Andrew Pender-Smith

Writing Clubs

The first part of this article was published on the Green Money Publications website on 06/06/2017. Here is the continuation. 

success - go get it

Writing Clubs

Part Two

 The Business Side

As you are seeking to publish professionally, each member needs to bring an agreed monthly financial contribution to every meeting. They may, for example, pay in five dollars or five pounds at each session. The money accrued goes to the running of the club and eventual publication. Remember, this is a co-operative venture designed to develop writers and to help them publish their work and bring it to the attention of the wider world. You need to bear the following in mind:

  1. Monthly contributions should be affordable to all even if this means some writers, such as students and pensioners, paying less.
  2. Stick to the same date and time each month. For example, the second Saturday morning of every month from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  3. Have at least one person who will help collect and deposit the money into the group’s account.
  4. As this is a professional venture, ensure that all rules are known, agreed upon and stuck to. The group needs to clear about its aims and objectives and how it will attain them. Obtain signatures when it comes to attendance and money. It could save problems arising later on.

Publication

After a while, and this could be a few months or a year or more, the group should have produced enough short stories to publish in an anthology. Discuss the following if you have not already done so:

Who will collate the stories?

Who will edit them?

Who will help with layout and cover design?

This could be one or more people within the group or a paid editor may be asked to help in the processes of publication.

Also, have fun choosing a name and logo for your publication venture. 

NEXT    Will you publish privately and go for a small print run, or are the group aiming for something bigger? You might, for example, want to publish the book as an e-book and a print book on a platform such as Amazon. At least one of the group will be needed to do all the negotiations and help upload the work. Now comes:

Marketing and Advertising

I have been looking closely at the whole business of publishing through organisations such as Amazon. This is a long discussion in itself and I know a great deal has been written about it. My conclusion is that it is best to pay for some form of advertising. Amazon is a big business with millions interacting with it book sections. The best way to get noticed is to pay them to advertise. As part of marketing, have a group website and also do the now usual routes of making announcements on Facebook, Twitter, et al. Free community newspapers and magazines might be happy to do a feature on the group and its accomplishments.

NOTE: Before venturing onto these platforms, the group will need to spend a lot of time analysing exactly what publishing spaces such as Amazon, Smash Words and Barnes and Noble offer.

Novels, Novellas, Children’s Books, Autobiographies, Biographies and other Publications.

As writing and publishing are expensive to many, here is when being part of a co-operative can really help. When a writer has competed a novel, novella or other work, the group may add to its success by helping the writer publish and market his or her work. The money collected by the group could be used to cover costs such as editing and cover design as well as advertising. Perhaps it could be agreed that when the writer has made enough money to cover the costs of publication, he or she gives the money back to the group. Any income after that goes to the author.

Have fun being part of a writing group and building yourself and fellow members. May a great writing club and publishing success be achieved in bright gold stars by you and your group.  

VISION + STRATEGY + PERFORMANCE + RESULTS = HAPPINESS

With good wishes,

Andrew Pender-Smith

writing 1

 

 

Writing Clubs

Together We Create.jpg

Writing Clubs

Part One

KEYWORDS: writing, development, co-operation, support, publication, advertising, marketing, success

An excellent way to develop your skills, and get published, is to create or join a writing club. I was involved one for about seven years. The group published anthologies of short stories and poems, and some of the writers went on to publish children’s books and novels. I was also involved in the editing and layout for several of the anthologies we published. A suggested system for your group could work as follows:

The Creative Aspect

  1. A group of writers eager to be part of a group writing and publishing venture gets together to write in a quiet space. If you do not already have a number of keen individuals, advertise for them online, at your local library or on campus, if you are a student.
  2. Getting started as writers: Writers may write on a subject of their choice or be prompted by a stimulus. Set writing times. Initially, ten minutes is often a good time space for what could be treated as a warm-up. Once the time is up, even if what is being worked on is incomplete, each member reads out what they have written. Special Note: this is not the time to be critical. The idea is to get and keep people writing with the aid of encouragement. It is a case of create first and craft afterwards. Your primary aim is to get your story out on paper, PC or laptop THEN work at polishing it for publication. This is all about process and building as new writers often have a lot to learn. To use an analogy, you are creating the rough diamond or piece of clay first. Once you have created it in the form of a first draft, you then set about shaping it into a desired piece of fiction.
  3. If members of the group wish to comment after one of the writers has read out his or her work, they are to only mention what they think works. Do not, at this stage, enter any form of criticism. Criticism can have a negative effect on the right hemisphere of the brain (the creative side) send it into melt down. See the end of part one for some useful links.
  4. The writers may now tackle a new piece or continue with the one on which they were working. This could well be a longer session. If the first was ten minutes, the next could be twenty. Again, people are encouraged to read out what they have written.
  5. If the writers have not been writing with a cup of tea or coffee at the side, now is the time for refreshments.
  6. The pieces the writers have created in the group could be left simply as exercises or developed into publishable fiction, be it a poem, short story, novelette, novella or novel.
  7. On some days you might like to hold discussions concerning issues such as plot or character development or writing through the senses, before tackling more writing while taking into account the contents of the discussion. Times such as these could be informal within the group or you could have a workshop on one or more aspects of writing and invite a local writer to spend time sharing with you. The main aim here are about trying different approaches to writing including exploring a broad range of literary forms. There is great deal that can be found online to assist writers.

Here are links to two useful discussions on the roles of the left and right hemispheres of the brain in the writing processes. Though I have not included any links here, you will numerous discussions online on the actual workings of the human brain.

http://www.writersonthemove.com/       https://ruthlivingstone.net/

Part two will follow in three days.

Regards,

Andrew Pender-Smith

writing 2

Good luck finding the stories in you. May they sprout forth and grow in abundance.