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We’ve met Martin Impey!

Guest Post by Tina Cooper

No, I’d not heard of him either but I should have as his books are on sale in the shop at work. I knew I’d seen them somewhere. 

You may have heard of Where The Poppies Now Grow written by Hilary Robinson and illustrated by… Can you guess?… That’s right, Martin. 

Martin kindly popped in for a chat during our course run by Creative Hats. I think he was under the impression that he’d pop in and then leave us to get some writing done but we were all a little excited. When Martin asked if he’d been talking for too long there was a unanimous “no,” from his audience. We didn’t get any work done that evening. 

Not only was* Martin rather lovely; he was also fascinating, in the best possible way. I was thrilled to see how much of himself and his family history is put into his illustrations. Much (all) of my writing contains our family history and Martin made that ok. Not just ok, he convinced me it’s great to document family histories in which ever way is fitting. 

I believe the book began as a chat with Hilary at a train station. The train was running late and, as they waited, an idea began to form when they realised they both had an interest in the first world war. Both had family connections to the war and as they swapped stories the seeds of Where The Poppies Now Grow were sown. 

See what I did there? Seeds. Poppies. Sorry. 

The book is infused with Martin’s family history which makes it all the more wonderful. 

Martin has illustrated other books too, one of which I wanted to get signed for my son in a desperate attempt to get him reading. 

Where We Once Stood is the story of the Apollo astronauts who walked on the moon. The book contains illustrations by the splendid Martin and I thought it might inspire my 15yr old. 

As Martin put pen to page I panicked, I realised that I wanted the book, my son wouldn’t read it. At least that’s what I told myself. 

“No, wait, sign it to me,” I almost shouted. 

Martin shared the ups and downs of the life of an illustrator and told us that we needed to be passionate about our projects. Writing needs to be the thing you can’t stop yourself doing rather than a plan to get rich quick. Martin can’t stop himself, drawing is his happy place. We couldn’t see the wide smile behind the covid mask but we could feel it. 

We asked for advice. 

“Put your heart into whatever you do.” 

I’m sure you’ll agree that is sound advice for any endeavour. 

*I’m sure he is still and always will be lovely.

You can find Martin on Instagram, twitter, facebook, and youtube.

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Open Mic Night

Open mic: My first experience by Paul Clark

When I heard about this local event in the Rugby theatre bar on a Sunday evening I thought, “What a great way to make a few local contacts and perform my poems”. As much as I enjoy reading poetry, live poetry seems to add that extra level of interest, watching reactions; sad, happy, funny etc.

What really surprised me was the lack of audience; it had been advertised for weeks!
So, for a few hours the seven people present, performed their pieces. A few people sung folk songs, while others read poems and prose which they hoped would bring comfort and amusement to their audience.

There were a number of pieces read by the authors present including a self penned piece about William Webb Ellis who “invented” Rugby then went on to become a vicar. Another entertaining piece was the vocal accompaniment to a puppet show, so funny even though sadly the puppets had been unable to attend.

We all took our turn and I read a number of my pieces which prompted a positive reaction.

I’m looking forward to the next one, not sure when it is…

The three takeaways would be:

  1. If you are going to rely on memory make sure you practise. One of the guys didn’t and thankfully the quality of the piece shone through in spite of the long pauses.
  2. Have several pieces earmarked and prepared so that while you listen to others you can gage how to contrast the mood for effect and match or compliment previous readings.
  3. Take a notebook, as there are some great ideas and stories which could inspire new work for yourself.
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An Introduction to Comic Script Writing

Writing for comics can be both freeing and terrifying. Few industries have as loose style and formatting guides as comics scripts; from the novelistic scripts of Alan Moore, the cinematic scripts of Matt Fraction and Jennifer Guzeman, Erica Shultz’s use of reference images, Neil Gaiman’s conversational letters to the artists, and to Stan Lee’s Marvel Method, there is no one right way to do it. What this course offers however is an in depth look at the different ways of writing for comics, the tutor’s practical experiences collaborating with artists, and a way of finding a style that works for you. It also offers a breakdown of comic unique elements such as; panels, the gutter, panel transitions, splash pages, and captions. Giving you the knowledge required to use them to full effect in your own work.

Email to express your interest and receive more information.

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Introduction to Writing Audio Dramas

In recent years audio dramas have had a massive resurgence with the boom in podcasting. However, writing for audio as a skill is largely untaught. This course teaches you how to take full advantage of sound effects and atmosphere to tell your story. It breaks down the different methods of writing for audio, and champions a creative manifesto designed to push the medium. Often audio dramas are treated as plays without visuals or are handled as narrated short stories. This course will break down all the unique to audio methods of storytelling and the extra consideration it requires. Drawing on a wealth of practical experience and the current leading scholarship.

Email to express your interest and receive more information.

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Introduction to Writing for VR

Virtual reality filmmaking and storytelling is an exciting new arena for creative writers. One which is largely still being explored and whose visual grammar has yet to fully be defined. Our latest course looks at the most interesting narratives and experiences in VR and how they were written. It will break down various methods of scripting virtual reality films and experiences; from narrative environmental design to branching storytelling. VR has never been more democratised and its potential for storytelling is only now being tapped. This course draws on the practical filmmaking experience and knowledge of our current virtual reality PhD researcher Kitto Maddrell.

Email to express your interest and receive more information.

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This week’s chat …

One of our classes looks through the history of stories, writing, words, letters and printed literature. The notion that we stand on the shoulders of giants has always been a fascination but can also feel overwhelming. Try as hard as you might, it can feel impossible to create something new or original. You look back to take stock of historic influences only to find a vast chasm full of knowledge (deliberate oxymoronic image for you there). Where to begin?

Chunk it down, and don’t use a knife. Have you seen that video where the pineapple is sectioned and pulls neatly out in chunks? Still haven’t tried it. Does it really work that well?

Use this technique with history – that is fine. Do not feel you have to: start at the top, chop that off, cut every slice, carve out the inedible skin, share out exact portions and place them on a decorative tea plate with a serviette before you can eat any. Instead pull a chunk out from the bottom, then the middle, then give one to someone else and talk about the experience together because that section was too darn tasty and needed to be shared. Allow the juice to drip on your T.Shirt, leaving a stain which won’t come out or be forgotten. Get sticky fingers, lick them clean. Take everything in.

If you have no time and the thought of preparing a pineapple still feels too much work to carry out – buy frozen pineapple aka watch a youtube video. You don’t need to hunt around or prepare you can just savour the goods. However, the knowledge could be short lived. If you can find time to dip in to a few sources of historic interest and engage with the content in different ways that’s when you get the sweet sticky fingers which can be licked clean. Forget being a grown up.

Take whichever historic knowledge you delve inside and use it, mould it, read information out loud, play with ideas. Feed your creative project in progress with your new discoveries.

Google search crime fiction for a Work In Progress. Read some other contemporary crime fiction, make notes, learn, delve deeper and discover via the sharp blades of Wikipedia (how much longer can we really exploit this metaphor) that crime fiction has connections with detective stories, murder mystery, mystery and police novels. Remember Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from your school days and re-watch Robert Downey-Junior in Sherlock. Then discover that, One thousand and one nights contains the earliest known examples of crime fiction. What’s, One thousand and one nights? Discover more about the Arabic tales which date back more than 4000 years. 4000 years ago, there was a different version of you sitting creating stories and carving them on tablet stones which would influence exactly what you are aiming for on your electronic tablet today.

How can you use your new found knowledge? Your sub-conscious will engage and your creativity will inevitably improve. You can also choose to make conscious nods to new found knowledge in your work. After reading, The House on Haunted Hill you could have your character drink milk from a mug with stars on it before bed. No one needs to pick up on this reference but you know it can be your way of saying ‘thank you, I read Shirley Jackson and it helped so much I want to honour that in some way in my haunted house story’. We aren’t suggesting you honour past work too much and get inside a plagiarism battle, but finding ways to speak to history, acknowledge historic influences and encourage the future readers not to forget can be very beneficial to your writing.

Try it …

Learn about your craft and not simply by using research for, what uniform/clothes detectives wore in Germany. For your latest novel, search for an early famous German detective, use some of their mannerisms to 4D improve your main character. But above all, as always, keep coming back to your work and making use of findings. Write. Get your fingers sticky.

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This week’s chat …

It’s been a great week.

We began recording re-cap lessons on our YouTube channel for the current cohort of community and college learners. They aren’t planned, edited lessons – instead, a kind of, ‘powerpoint-walk-through-morning-after- the-night-before’.

The plan is to help staff feel comfortable on camera to segue into creative content for new courses which roll out next year.

We also partnered with Lanikco to include writers merchandise and unique gifts on our site. Such an exciting collaboration. A separate post and page will follow.

We have two new book publications ready for release and began a new set of our community writing classes in Letchworth.

But the highlight this week, if we had to pin it to one thing, would have to be the discovery that today is National FlufferNutter Day.

You heard correctly. Marshmallow and peanut butter in a sandwich 🥪 … together.

Enough said. TTFN

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This website will have the odd chat.

Here at Creative HQ we researched the word ‘blog’, then popped on our thinking caps and came up, with chats instead. After all, on the blog still feels somewhat menstrual and these will be weekly rather than monthly. Weirdly some weeks they may involve blood, but head to our research section on horror-comedy if that’s your thing. Look, you don’t need a PhD to make the connection from Creative HATS to CHATS. It sounds friendlier than Blogs. So be it. But first…

This week’s blog, I mean chat will be about blogs, I mean chats, no I definitely mean blogs. This week’s chat will revolve around blogging. Then we can put that to bed and crack on with chatting. This website content made no promises to refer from idioms, even though our courses will teach you otherwise. Do as we don’t and all…

Why are you still reading?

Here goes, blogs are a shortened version of the term Weblog which was coined by Jorn Barger back in December 1997 when he was gazing at his Christmas Yule Log and a glittery red apple bauble fell on to his head from his tree. This went on to inspire Weblog or my name isn’t Joe Blog. My name is not Joe Blog and here at Creative HQ we have no idea if Jorn celebrates Christmas or not, let alone whether he has glittery red apple baubles. However, Wikipedia tells us Jorn first used the term on December 17th and a quick google search shows somewhere we can purchase the festive delight that is an apple bauble. (We make no money from the sale of said goods, but should you wish to thank your tutors with one, go for it! They are quite cute!) We digress but Christmas can and often should have that effect. Creative lesson number one: You should refrain from using the word ‘should’ – That’s a freebie!

Weblog wasn’t shortened for another two whole years and that occurred in April or May but minus the Christmas lights and tinsel. So of course the exact date was lost to the masses.

Early blogs tended to be, ‘manually updated components of common Websites’. Which basically means they were only of interest to geeky computer nerds rather than the rest of the population of geeky human nerds. If you aren’t geeky or nerdy in some way, well that should be unfathomable, so we shan’t continue. No one said we couldn’t ‘shan’t’ our way through to the end of this blog, I mean chat. Goodness, whoever invented blogs should be shot. ‘Shan’t be shot’ doesn’t have the same ring, or meaning for that matter. You didn’t really come here to learn did you? This is a ‘chat’ not a ‘blog’ – you were warned! Though, if you were paying attention you would know who to shoot for having to put up with reading this blog. It isn’t a blog … keep up!

So chats aren’t blogs and blogs aren’t logs and Creative Hats do not sell Hats but we do unashamedly play when we write and help you do the same, albeit without ‘adverbs’ (in-joke!) Interested?

Subscribe and dip back in or better yet chat some nonsense back at us in the comments below. What have you got to lose? Except some of your time, which is a valuable asset, if the comments stay quiet, we get it.

Have a creative week, TTFN.

Some random tomatoes