Not my own success in this case but a friend's, Jan Bengree, (whose blog, jan's writing journal, you can read). Jan has recently had a run of success with flash fiction and short stories - second Prize in the Keele University short story competition and several short pieces published in Flash magazine (published by Chester University); success she shared at Words and Biscuits, our writing group of 10 women, who meet every 6 weeks. Jan is a very, very good writer but somehow for years she did not seem to do much, but suddenly she has the bit between her teeth and is at full gallop. And it's great to see!
Not only great to see but inspirational too: I went home after the group meeting and felt really keen to try some flash fiction writing myself so have spent a happy weekend spewing out short pieces. Three seemed really promising and I have sent these off to Flash magazine. Mslexia magazine also regularly features readers' flash fiction but their word limit is 150 words, extremely short - Flash magazine's word limit is 360, a bit more generous!
Words and Biscuits has had an interesting history. It was founded by Jan in the year 2000, and has only seen two people leave and two new faces arrive, and then only because these 2 former members moved away from the area. So we have been pretty constant. We are a mixture of poets and prose writers; some of us write in both forms. We used to broadcast our work twice a year on BBC Radio Merseyside, on the Artwaves programme, and were recorded by Angela Heslop who is very dear to all our hearts, such a relaxed, lovely person. But the programme got axed in favour of sport - totally disgraceful! as Artwaves was a really good and enjoyable programme, which presented details and snippets of art happenings all round our region and kept us in touch with what was going on. One of the few Radio M programmes I used to listen to regularly whether Words and Biscuits were on it or not.
Anyway, a cheerful goodbye to our past in the media! And on to other things: one of our members, Dilys Dowswell, is an active WI member also and she has organised for us to read our work to various WI groups round Cheshire. So we now troop around the county to some of the loveliest villages and read our work to groups that vary between tiny numbers and huge hallfuls of members. We get given wonderful tea and cakes, and we join in the singing of 'Jerusalem' with great gusto. I've never experienced anything quite like it in my life, and I tell you it's been a revelation and a joy. I never thought I would like this but to my surprise I do. Not just the tea and cakes but the obscure places we get to, the variety of village halls or other meeting places, the passionate causes championed by the different groups - yes, the WI is a great campaigning body for rural issues and is currently taking up the matter of the dearth of the honey bee, which I'm delighted about. (But that subject is for another blog post , when I get round to it...) I am beginning to have a great deal of admiration for the WI. They are remarkable women.
And you find out that some villages have Poems and Pints session which you don't know about, and other have 'Poems and Pies' lunches. These forays into Cheshire could almost take the place of Artwaves....