Tuesday, 17 February 2015

HOW I WORK





--  Thinking about story possibilities 24/7.  While watching   
     TV/In the car etc.      

n  First draft starts before I begin writing.
n  Thinking time between drafts is crucial to give my mind time to work things out.
n  Ruthless in editing and getting to the core of the story.

STAGES OF WRITING A STORY.

Draft one:  Observes/imaginative leap/experiments with possible stories/chooses one/writes to 1st story point/ pauses, considers opening/edit/ decide on next story point and writes to/pause, considers opening and middle/edit/ chooses ending/writes to and finishes draft.

(  Main aim: deciding story path.  Each section flows from the one(s) previous.   Opening from experiments/middle from opening/ end from opening, middle.)

Draft two:  Main draft. Works on story information/ character details/story path with a view to clarifying what the story is about—ie: fear/loneliness/ finishes draft using same method as draft one—story points.

( Main aim:  Clarifying what the story about.)     

Draft three:  Write one sentence summary of main emotion of story/ a line by line strict edit to eliminate, or add detail with a view to serving that story summary.

(Main aim:   Story finished except for three further edits to tighten language/further clarify character/story.  Also proof read each time.)

AND THEN I SUBMIT/ADD TO MY FILE OF FINISHED WORK, AND MOVE ON TO NEXT STORY.

Friday, 13 February 2015

EILDON TREE



For nearly twelve years I was one of the editors of the literary magazine The Eildon Tree produced in the Scottish Borders by the Arts Service of the Scottish Borders Council. 
I was lucky to be around when Tom Bryan then Writer In Residence to the Scottish Borders along with Iain MacAulay of Arts Service started the magazine.  I came onboard at issue two Autumn 1999.
 
During that first few years I was privileged to work alongside not only Tom Bryan but also fellow editors Helen Allan, Stuart Kelly and Jules Horne. Then later with Julian Colton and Carol Norris.  

During my time as editor I co organised two writing festivals; co edited Wilderness an anthology of Poetry and Short Stories from a EildonTree Magazine writing competition; co produced  Eildon Leaves A CD of stories and poems from the Eildon Tree magazine’s 1st 5years. 

Recently to celebrate fifteen years of the Eildon Tree a special event was held at the Damascus Drum in Hawick.  

You can see some of the performances ( inc mine) here: https://www.youtube.com/user/BordersOpenMic   Just scroll down a bit.

The magazine continues to go from strength to strength under its current editors: Carol Norris, Sara Clark; Iona McGregor and Julian Colton.

It is available through libraries and local outlets in the Scottish Borders. It can also be downloaded here:


They are currently looking for submissions for the next issue.  Have a look at the magazine for details.

Below is an article I have in the latest edition. Lots of fantastic stories and poems as well as articles and reviews.  Well worth getting yourself a copy or downloading it whether you are a reader or a writer.  Or both.

EILDON TREE ARTICLE—READER IN RESIDENCE   

This last year has been one of the quickest and most enjoyable years of my creative life.  There has been so much happening, so many miles travelled, so many enthuastic readers encountered at events across the Scottish Borders.
At one of those events a young reader asked what a Reader In Residence did.
‘Do you sit in the corner of the library and read books?’ 
Ahh now there’s a thought but no.  Below I answer that question touching on some of the events and activities I took part in working in partnership with the library service.
The Reader In Residence post was one of only four throughout Scotland in the last year.   Managed by the Scottish Book Trust and funded by Creative Scotland its aim was to encourage reading across the ages and increased use of the library service. 
Scottish Borders Libraries faced competition from libraries all over Scotland for this coveted project.  It was my privilege as a writer to partner the library service in its application and to work alongside it during the twelve months of the residency. 
I have been a reader and an active member of libraries for many a year now.  What I discovered during the residency was how many people from eight to eighty shared that love of books and libraries.  That was very encouraging in a time when we’re been told that books and reading are being supplanted by the multitude of competing activities including TV and computer games.
Maybe these activities are not separate to books but part of the ongoing narrative. They all tell a story in some form.  One of my main aims was to encourage people to explore the vast resources of their local libraries.  That includes books, newspapers, magazines, DVD’s, electronic books and of course the expertise of the library staff.  Libraries can be places of relaxation, education, entertainment and research.
The local library mirrors its members and community in being multi-faceted. 
During these last months I have travelled the four corners of the Scottish Borders discovering nooks and crannies of the region I never knew existed.  It has been a road map of discovery for me.  In a way that coincides with a journey through your local library discovering corners of knowledge and imagination that you might not have been aware off.
On those various journeys I’ve worked alongside library staff in both the community and High School libraries to encourage, maintain and develop the connection between reading and libraries. 
To do this the residency concentrated on three main areas.
Community, intergenerational and teenage reading.
The range and scope of the various events have been enormous below is brief summary of what we’ve been doing.
Taking the residency out into the four corners of the region via the Mobile Library during Book Week Scotland.  Achieving a lifetime ambition of being Doctor Who (for a day anyway!) at an event at Melrose Library—a day of daleks and tales of Doctor Who through his various regenerations. Fans of various ages made it a grand day in the Tardis that was Melrose Library.  We did venture out of the Tardis onto the streets of Melrose, Fez atop my head and sonic screwdriver at the ready in case of a Cyberman attack!
One of the main events held in libraries, Family Centre and schools was The Treasure Train.  This was an event which brought generations together, grandparents, parents and children in a celebration of childhood reading.  All the generations sharing through discussion and reading from their favourite childhood books.  Also by drawing or writing down memories of their favourite characters a Treasure train of family memories are connected up like the carriages in a train. 
Enid Blyton was a favourite of past and present generations but there were many others.  This was an event were personal memories created family memories through the connection with books and libraries.
I also held writers workshops that used the resources of the library to feed into the story or poem.  This was to highlight it was well worth exploring those nooks and crannies of the library to discover inspiration in a section that maybe hadn’t been explored before.  
We held many storytelling events during the year again bringing families together in the library not only myself telling stories but all the family working together to create their own stories. 
The region has a thriving reading group tradition many of which meet in the local library.  My visits to the various groups was one of pleasures of the residency culminating as it did in a Readers Group Day at Galashiels library.  A day of discussing all things books and listening to our guest speaker Mark Douglas-Home author of The Sea Detective and The Woman Who Walked into the Sea. An excellent way to complete the residency. 
Another main area the residency was encouraging teenage reading. Again we are told young people don’t read nowadays.  That wasn’t my experience. 
 I worked in partnership with school librarians and English Departments to set up reading groups in most of the regions High Schools.  These continue to flourish and are one of the main legacies of the residency.  Working alongside the young readers was one of the most encouraging and stimulating experiences of the residency.  The discussions were lively, informative, and educational for me in that I learned of authors and books I have never come across. 
These groups are continuing into the new term with the young readers themselves, with support from the school, taking over the running of the groups and in some instances acting as ambassadors to younger readers in the school.
The above is only a taster really of all that has been happening.  It has been a joy for me and I believe a positive experience for the library service and readers.  I have encountered nothing but enthuasim and love of books and the local library.
The library is an energetic and endlessly stimulating place.  The staff work tirelessly to serve their local communities and for me it has been a privilege to be part of that environment during the last year.
During the last year I’ve discovered and rediscovered books. 
Article complete its time for me to get the coat on and take a walk to my local library.  The library is one of the best page turners there is, you never know where the narrative might take you.

Tom Murray
Scottish Book Trust Reader In Residence To Scottish Borders Libraries 2013-2014.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

PROUD FATHER
















Imagine a world without colour, art, music or personality. A land that is boring, dull and filled with greyness. A place where happiness has never been felt and a smile has never been seen. The land of Cog is such a place, until one man dares to think differently from everyone else and so changes everything forever.
  A story dedicated to all those who think outside the norm and don't mind being a bit weird in the process.



Very proud father as my son Iain has published his first book.  It's a childrens book which can be enjoyed by adults as not only is it entertaining but it is reflective and thought provoking.  Its available now on Amazon.  See the link below