The Most Glorious CakeFest Ever!

Agnes with the winning cake made by Rachel joseph

Hi gang,

Yeehaa! LM celebrated it’s 10th birthday on 10th September, and at last am able to write to you about it.

It was a mega cake-fest, enough cake to make your heart and veins whimper in despair. Ironically, Sara-Mae Tuson, my incredibly hard-working fellow editorial group member, had texted me that afternoon to say she was worried there wouldn’t be enough cake. She’d spent the day baking cupcakes (which were absolutely delicious by the way…I had two and could easily have scoffed half a tin full without a qualm!). I had wanted to bake something, but spent the afternoon in total despair because there was no electricity in my block between noon and about 4.00 p.m. (don’t ask!!). So couldn’t log on or print anything out, or do any of the things I wanted to do ….aaargh! I had to go to M&S and buy two cakes instead.

As all of you who were there know, there was enough cake to feed an army of poets for a month. Even though we ate vast quantities, gave away as much again to everyone who would take it, I still had to take a stupendous amount home and was therefore eating cake for a week. My teeth and gut still haven’t stopped protesting, and I haven’t been able to look at anything remotely cake-like since then – though this will pass, I’m sure.

The night was a stupendous success. Sara-Mae and Chikodi Nwaiwu had both come earlier that evening and worked like Trojans to set everything up and make the room look a bit special. I love them both, and it would be absolutely true to say the night wouldn’t have been what it was if it hadn’t been for their hard work. We also unfurled the fabulous Loose Muse banner, which had been designed and made by artist Catherine Tuson. It looks amazing, so a massive thank you to Catherine, even if she wasn’t able to be there on the night to see the unveiling.

Sally Spedding had come all the way from Wales to be the other feature – she was totally fab. She’s a novelist whose work concentrate on the dark and dangerous, definitely right up my street, and a truly lovely, lovely person. She’s keen to help me set up LM Wales in the New Year, and has been talking to venues. A lot of women writers seem very keen indeed to get something going there, so watch this space. And as always there was an incredibly strong open mic with 16 readers sharing their poems and short stories with an enthusiastic audience. They had come from Cornwall, Winchester, the south coast, NYC, and Spain – lots of old friends as well as some new faces, all joined by the desire to see women’s writing get the credit and credibility it deserves.

I got flowers and pressies and had the satisfaction of a lot of people telling me how much they valued LM and everything it stood for/represented, which was extremely gratifying. It’s always nice to know that what you do has value beyond anything you imagined.

And so we go from strength to strength. The next LM event in London is on October 8th and features novelist/poet Fathieh Saudi and award-winning poet Malika Booker – there won’t be any cake, but it promises to be another exceptional night. So why not join us then at the Poetry Café…

Come along and share the magic.

Love

Agnes

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EATS, SHOOTS, LEAVES, AND OTHER APOLOGIES TO LYNN TRUSS

 

Don’t fear the red ink

Having put the final touches to the 3rd Loose Muse Anthology of New Writing by Women, in order to be ready for the launch on Thursday 4th April, I started thinking about the knotty editorial process.  It’s another corker of a collection, with contributions from 40 writers, 17 of whom have not contributed before, and coming from all over London and the UK, as well as a sprinkling of internationals for good measure.  Looking at the final product gives me a warm glow of satisfaction, as I truly believe it is another volume stuffed with high quality work displaying a very great deal of imagination and creativity.

 

But although pulling together something as terrific as this is immensely gratifying, anyone who says its easy and that the editing process is a piece of cake is bonkers!  It’s really hard work because you have to encourage the writer to produce stronger, better material without making them lose confidence in themselves as creators.  It’s certainly not a task that is always appreciated by writers who are submitting work for publication.  Nobody should be telling a writer what/how to write, they cry with an angry flash of the eyes.  Yeah….well, that’s fine if each word is a pearl written with the pen of perfection using the ink of inspiration.  Sadly, however, that’s not always the case.  You wouldn’t believe the time it took me to sort out the punctuation, grammar, spelling and presentation of some of the submissions we included in the anthology.  It really tested my patience, as well as making it take twice as long to get the first draft ready for the printer and looking good.

 

A good editor isn’t there to massage a writer’s ego, but to help them, among other things, to move away from bad habits, sloppy presentation, lazy formatting, grammar and punctuation, dull images and vocabulary, and encouraging the production of leaner, tighter and more original work.  However well a writer actually writes, sloppy presentation and rubbish punctuation does a writer no favours.  They’re the most basic skills that any writer should have regardless of genre.  And if you can’t be bothered to get these things right, why should any publisher take you seriously or want to publish whatever you’re producing?  A professional attitude to writing can only make you a better professional.

 

Yes, of course you can argue with your editor and debate with them content, vocabulary and so on of a particular piece…you can re-jig your poems or stories, paint the whole the purple and cover it in strawberry yoghurt if you want to.  But ultimately if you want to be published, you have to take on board that your editor is trying to help you, even if you don’t necessary agree with what they are saying.

 

I’m really lucky.  My editor Nii Parkes, who runs Flipped Eye/Waterways, is excellent at his job, and we have a very good relationship.  But he’s totally ruthless when it comes to the editing process.  And however painful this process has been for me in the three collections of mine he’s published to date – and sometimes it really did feel as if I he’d asked me to chop up my children to make them fit into a different shaped crib – in the end he helped me grow as a writer, enabling me to understand more about line-breaks, presentation, vocabulary and content, and many other things.  All of this has made me become more professional about this writing lark, as well as appreciating what a tough and thankless job editing actually is.

 

Check out the results of all this professionalism.  The 3rd Loose Muse Anthology was launched on Thursday 4th April, at Cotton’s.

It was a free event, Cotton’s is a great venue selling terrific Caribbean food, and the night was full of fabulous poems, stories and plays.  How much cooler do you want a night to be that doesn’t involve sex with Johnny Depp!

Love

 

Agnes

LOOSE MUSE EVENT – 10TH OCTOBER, 2012

Hi gang,

With autumn chasing away the last remnants of summer, the October Loose Muse has a real international flavour:

LOOSE MUSE – London’s Premiere Women’s Writers Night.

Wednesday 10th October – the second Wednesday of each month.

@ The Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2 (closest tube = Covent Garden),

8.00 p.m. – £5.00 – £3.00 concessions

Features this month:

Ivy Alvarez is the author of Mortal (Washington, DC: Red Morning Press, 2006), with a second collection forthcoming from Seren Books. A recipient of writing residencies from MacDowell Colony, Hawthornden Castle and Fundacion Valparaiso, her work appears in journals and anthologies in many countries, with individual poems translated into Russian, Spanish, Japanese and Korean. www.ivyalvarez.com

Jona Burghardt is a writer, poet, translator and teacher, from Buenos Aires, who has lived in Germany since the mid 80’s.  She specializes in poetry written in Spanish and German, edited a series of Korean literature, and translated German, Austrian, Swiss, Arab and Asian authors into Spanish for International Poetry Festivals in Colombia, Argentina and Venezuela, where she also led workshops. Her poems have been translated into Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Portuguese and Turkish, and she has presented her work at international festivals all over the world.

Plus plenty of chances to come read your own work from the floor. 

So come share the passion, share the joy!

Agnes Meadows

Host and Coordinator – Loose Muse Women’s Writers’ Night