WooA… a recent member of this writing group asked me how the name came about:
WooA = Writers of OUR age. Apparently, when founding members were on an MA together, amongst much younger writers, they found themselves saying this on a regular basis and it stuck, sometimes the ‘our’ is not emphasised, and we refer to ourselves like this with muted irony.
WooA is where the second Arachne Press title, Stations originated – we used to meet in the Broca cafe just opposite Brockley Station, (I wrote such a lot of food-themed stories then!)
The Overground runs at the bottom of my garden. Before there was the Overground, there was only Southern, but trains went to London Bridge, Victoria and Charing Cross. With the advent of the Overground, the Charing Cross trains were lost, and with them, the possibility of an easy last train home from many favourite central London venues. There was lamenting, there were protests, there was a coffin carried on the very last train. It was epic.
Then there was the disruption: the endless sleepless nights while the track was relaid and the station lengthened and the trees on either side of the cutting massacred. (More protests).
There were the huffy, what use is it? conversations on rush-hour platforms, the disbelieving sneer when told the value of my home would increase, followed by the overcrowding, the noise
…and then there was the eating of words.
Because the Overground is wonderful. It cut ten minutes off my journey to work, it halved the time to get to all sorts of North London places I had given up going to: the Kings Head, the Union Chapel and the Estorick Collection. It made getting to the Geffrye Museum simple. It expanded my horizons. (I’m missing my horizons at the moment!)
I ate my words.
Mentioning this in passing at WooA as we settled for a twenty minute writing exercise, Rosalind said: we should write about the Overground. So we did.
From that twenty minutes blossomed the idea for an entire book, with a story for every station on our section of the line: Highbury & Islington to New Cross, Crystal Palace and West Croydon. So: thank you, Overground, and thank you, WooA.
Over the years, Arachne has published quite a few, although not all, of the shifting membership of WooA. And I continue to go to as many meetings as I can. At the moment these are online, and more frequent than normal, for the comfort of talking – as much about not writing, at the moment, as anything anything else.
We have a few traditions, one of which is to hold a live lit event as part of Brockley Max, our local festival. Of course, that’s gone pfft, like a lot else, but a week ago(?) we got an email saying are you doing anything online that could be part of a virtual Brockley Max?
We weren’t – but – we don’t have a website/Facebook page, anything – well, we could – couldn’t we?
So we are.
At the time and on the date that we would have been doing this live at the Talbot, Arachne Press is hosting WooA (including Arachne Authors, Bartle Sawbridge, Cherry Potts, Joan Taylor-Rowan, Carolyn Robertson and Neil Lawrence; plus Ruth Bradshaw and Innes Stanley) for Open Mind – an evening of stories and poems.
So Friday 5th June at 7pm BST, join us on Facebook: Event / Actual video
or Youtube for Love, Loss, Lockdown, Protest, Playdates, Dancing and DINOSAURS.
*TRIGGER WARNING* reported violence between children about half way through (Neil Lawrence’s story).
Video will be available for a week thereafter on both platforms.
Tonight, Friday 7th June, Arachne Press authors, Bartle Sawbridge and Cherry Potts are taking part in Hidden Corners, the WooA event for Brockley Max at the Talbot pub, corner of Tyrwhitt Road and Lewisham Way.
Two stories each, and a silly writing game after the interval. 7.30pm
We had so much fun at the party on Friday. The quality of the live video (find it on Facebook) is a bit ropey so here is some better quality!
Here are Summer All Year Long singing the song from the original launch party for Stations, Sweet Train Roll Softly based on (the much better) Sweet Thames Roll Softly, by Ewan MacColl. We had a different arrangement originally, by Peter Morgan, but an almost entirely different choir membership and very little rehearsal, so this is Melanie Harrold‘s arrangement (more or less) which we learnt more recently.
And Bartle Sawbridge reading the middle section of Rich and Strange, the story he wrote for the Shadwell stop on the journey the anthology takes from Highbury and Islington to West Croydon.
2nd June 7pm at the Talbot Pub in Brockley SE4 1QG, Arachne authors Bartle Sawbridge, Rosalind Stopps and Cherry Potts join other writers from WooA (Writers of Our Age), Neil Lawrence, Anna Somerset and Hilary Dunn for Urban Myths. (the link says 7-7.30 that means 7 for 7.30, we aim to be there at least 2 hours.
You can join in with 100 words of your own urban myth, and get stuck in with the epic writing relay, which is definitely best experienced slightly sozzled.
Part of the ethos of Arachne Press is to celebrate our authors even when they do something with a different publisher.
So here’s a quick round up of what they’ve been doing (that we know about, anyway). Anna Fodorova recently published her first novel, The Training Patient with Karnac Press. Bartle Sawbridge has very recently published his novel, A Piece of String. Bobbie Darbyshire published a third novel, Oz, a while back but we didn’t feature it at the time. Cathy Bryant is launching her first historical mystery novel Pride & Regicide, a Mary Bennett novel (yes, that Mary Bennett) TOMORROW on facebook David Mathews has had 3 pieces of flash fiction accepted for the October edition of Flash Magazine, about tea, poetry and love. Emma Timpany had a pamphlet of five short stories, Over The Dam, published by Red Squirrel Press in April, a result of winning their Sara Park Memorial Short Story Competition in 2013. In July, Cultured Llama Press published The Lost of Syros, a collection of sixteen of Emma’s short stories. She was also shortlisted for The Bristol Short Story Prize 2015; and will be published in the prize anthology on 10 October. Geraldine Green has been combining being writer in residence at Brantwood in Cumbria with a poetry tour of America. j.lewis has had literally dozens of poems published since his early outing with us with Grass was Taller in The Other Side of Sleep. Jennifer A McGowan had some good news – but can’t say what until mid-October. Hmm… intriguing. Kate Foley was runner-up in the Proms poetry competition and had her poem read by the marvellous Carolyn Pickles on Radio 3. The link here is good for a week or so still I think. Michelle Shine has a shiny new website: www.michelleshine.co.uk Paula Read has several projects on the go: she & her daughter, Lily, are putting together an anthology of short stories they’ve written with a French theme. And she’s writing the story of a family member who reinvented herself as an artist after moving to the top of a mountain in Italy! And finally she is working on a story for 11-15 year olds, set in the near future and concerning the fate of dogs. Pippa Gladhill has a short play WE ARE WEATHER receiving script in hand performance on Monday 19th October at BORDEAUX QUAY on Bristol Harbourside.
Saturday: It’s sunny in Faversham, and the peaceful rather lovely market town is doing it’s thing, having a market, (excellent russian street food) and round the corner in the Alexander Centre there are writers and publishers at TLW LEXiCON talking about writing and publishing and marketing and … making friends, reading their work (aloud! Including Arachne Authors Katy Darby and Bartle Sawbridge) selling books and generally having a good time.
Bartle Sawbridge reading at LEXiCON
Katy Darby reading at LEXiCON
Sunday: we’re still here, doing the writery stuff. So if you live in North Kent, or even South East London, it’s a lovely day, come down to Faversham, enjoy the pubs and cafes, walk along the creek and drop into the Alexander Centre to meet the lovely people. We’re talking about writing across genres at 10, and Cherry Potts is reading a story of YOUR choice (so long as she wrote it, and you are there to ask) at around 12 (the schedule has been a little fluid).
Arachne Press is taking part in TLW LEXiCON in Faversham on 15th & 16th March 2014, with readings from Cherry Potts,Katy Darby and Bartle Sawbridge, and a panel discussion from Katy and Cherry about the collaboration between Arachne Press and Liars’ League. Katy is even doing something about writing historical novels. We will also have a stall so that the good folk of Kent can buy our lovely books!
And we had three Flash From the Floor, (one of which was a riposte to Pete’s story!) so thank you to our audience for joining in with your flash fiction, and wearing hats as requested for Bartle’s story, and for the feedback to Paula, all much appreciated.
It was Hats ON for Bartle at Wednesday Night’s Story Sessions, a seasonal collection of stories about cult singing groups and carol services, Spanish and Greek alcohol, a lack of christmas spirit, unwelcome and uninvited guests, and interlopers of other kinds, from Cherry Potts, Peter Higgins, Joan Taylor-Rowan and Paula Read, as well as Bartle and his hats – the audience joined in with a few Flash from the Floor, and hat wearing! The Ivy House got in the spirit of things with ivy garlands, fairly lights, roaring log fires, additional speakers (thanks Nyge) and festive gold lamé curtains for the stage too.