‘Without question, Cornerstones is the best organisation I know – no other is as helpful, friendly and nurturing.’
Anita Andrews, writer and founder of writers-clinic.com scouts for leading literary agents structural editing, copy-editing and proofreading listed by The Society of Authors call Helen Corner 020 7792 5551
WOMEN’S SHORT STORY COMPETITION 2012
‘You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your hand’ Margaret Atwood
1st prize £2,000 plus two optional extras: a week’s writing retreat at Chawton House Library and a day with a Virago editor (terms & conditions apply)
Judge: Tessa Hadley
Closing date: 19 March 2012 For entry details visit www.mslexia.co.uk/shortstory email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0191 233 3860
2 Mar/Apr/May 2012 MSLEXIA ISSUE 53
VA L E R
Life is tough right now: the need to economise and batten down the hatches has never been greater. But there can be a sort of triumph in that, for the creative person. Provided it doesn’t tip you over the edge, a financial setback can signal a leaner lifestyle that prioritises things that money can’t buy.
We writers have never needed much by way of income. Our rewards come in inexpensive packages: a borrowed book, a woodland walk, a poetry evening. All we need is pen and paper or a cheapo eBay laptop. With free internet access in so many places, doing research has never been easier.
This issue is all about triumph in adversity. Our investigation into creativity and mental health reveals how many of you are writing in the teeth of depression. And the winner of our Novel Competition has survived rejection and throat cancer to produce an extraordinary debut.
DEBBIE TAYLOR is Editorial Director at Mslexia, which she founded in 1999. Before that she was an editor at New Internationalist and Writing Women, and has written for Oxfam, UNICEF, Anti Slavery and others about women and social issues. Her books include My Children, My Gold (Virago), a nonfiction travelogue about single mothers, and The Fourth Queen (Penguin), a novel set in a harem in 18th Century Morocco.
the ability to be taken seriously, to have that talent recognised and nurtured, is still very much on the male side Cordelia Fine, p 9
features It is incredible, crossing from the house to the shed. It is cold, dark, starry. I’m the only person awake and I love that ALICE OSWALD, p 49 Mermaids are associated with death and birth and the subconscious, the depths of the ocean, parts of the world no one has ever seen DANUTA KEAN, p 53 What if I blogged about the things I spend my time thinking about? Could blogging be as rewarding as writing poetry? KONA MACPHEE, p 16 You can take on a new identity when you take on a new name. It confers a kind of invisibility that can be very liberating JANEY FRASER, p 18 The quality of the writing may be strengthened by the hypersensitivity and vulnerability associated with mental illness DEBBIE TAYLOR, p 24
Your Mslexia 4 Letters, emails, posts, tweets, blogs What’s new 6 …in the writing world, on the web, in our lives Agenda 9 Negative feedback: Cordelia Fine on how inequality affects women writers’ confidence and ambitions Features 13 Buried treasure: Debbie Taylor discusses the results of our novel competition 16 Blogaholic: poet Kona Macphee on how blogging took over her life 18 Reinvent yourself: Janey Fraser advises on choosing a pseudonym Writing life 21 Life coach: Bekki Hill tackles a stubborn case of procrastination 22 What went horribly wrong for Celia Rees 23 Make a splash: exploit your life story Make a living: ghost writing 24 Big question: Does writing keep you sane? Results of our survey on creativity and mental health 25 Make a difference: Wish, working with mentally ill women and prisoners New writing 27 Ann VanderMeer introduces her selection of science fiction poetry and prose 40 How I did it: Isabel Galleymore Inspiration 41 Fiction masterclass: Lesley Glaister on writing dialogue 42 Pen portrait by Adele Mendelson 43 Digital age: Facebook – a guide for
Luddites by Katy Evans-Bush 44 The creative mix: writing exercises,
monologue, 4 lines that rhyme, plus advice from novelist Fiona Gibson 45 Blue pencil by Debbie Taylor How I keep going: Rachel Elliott 47 Making a poem: Ruth Padel is interviewed by Fiona Sampson Interview 49 Alice Oswald talks to Alex Pryce Books 53 Books to look out for: Danuta Kean on the craze for mermaids 54 Vox pop: National Glass Centre café What’s Hot: Annette Green 55 A book to change your life, by Celia
Brayfield; Indie Press: Pindrop Press; How I did it: Unbelievable 56 Book group: TheBees; Poetry and short story reviews 57 What’s new in historical biography, by
Helen Rappaport 58 How to write a bestseller: TheHelp 59 Submitting and subscribing to Mslexia Directory 61 Opportunities: competitions, calls for submissions, grants, courses 66 Out and about: events and workshops in your area And finally 72 Ann Widdecombe’s bedtime reading Mslexiapublication details
Mar/Apr/May 2012 3