Iain Hood

Iain Hood was born in Glasgow and grew up in the seaside town of Ayr. He studied for a BSc at the University of Glasgow and a PGCE at Jordanhill College, and then worked in education in Glasgow and the West Country. He moved to Cambridge in 1998. During these years he attended the University of Manchester to complete an MA in Novel Writing. He continues to live in Cambridge with his wife and daughter. He joined Angles in 2017 and workshopped his writing with the support of the other writers, greatly sharpening the focus of his attempts at writing novels.

Iain’s first published novel, This Good Book, will come out through Renard Press in June 2021. Set in Glasgow from 1988 to the present day, This Good Book follows two artists as they live, love, get drunk, create successful and failed art, squabble, fight and commit to an art project that risks ultimately destroying one or both of them. It will be Iain’s fourth in terms of novels written.

Read more about Renard here: https://renardpress.com/about/
Follow Iain’s journey to publication here: https://twitter.com/iain_hood
Portrait of Iain by Jeremy Andrews: http://www.jeremyandrewsartist.com

Five Tips For When You’re Struggling to Write

At one of our recent Angles meetings, some writers said they’d been struggling to write regularly. Reasons varied from lack of time and motivation to life just generally taking over. For what it’s worth, here’s what I do to get words down when it doesn’t feel that easy or free:

1. Show up every day

I have a time every day (even just 15 minutes is fine if that’s all I can manage) during which I will be writing. It’s time to show up and write. I don’t speak of it as ‘making’ or ‘stealing’ time. We can’t make time. It just is. We don’t need to steal what we already have – i.e. our own time. Maybe it’s that I claim my own time.

2. Practise your scales

The writing during this time doesn’t have to be on a big project. Actually, this time is usually not devoted to any particular piece of writing. It’s just to write whatever comes to mind. In a way, it’s like when a musician picks up their instrument and plays some warm-up scales and etudes. They don’t plan on performing those scales to great acclaim at a concert. But they still play them to keep their technical fluency in their fingers, ears and mind. That’s what this writing is – scales and etudes. I might think of something to do with a bigger project, but I might not. I might just list what I see in front of me and then, if I run out of things, I turn around and list what I see behind me. Usually something becomes interesting enough that I want to say more.

3. Draw inspiration from those you admire

If I’m really stuck, I pick up a favourite book – usually poetry is easiest for this – and copy a passage I admire. It counts. It’s a way of trying on someone else’s syntax and sentences. It really doesn’t matter that it’s not my original, pristine, crystal clear piece of prose on the page. It matters that I slowed down enough to really think about how another writer has put together a sentence or a stanza. There are so many choices that I notice when I copy someone else’s words. This kind of writing is a very intimate kind of reading.

4. Start with words or phrases you like

Sometimes I just collect words I like. I just list them. Or phrases. And then I free associate – not in full, coherent sentences, but other words or images or sounds.

5. If you’re bored, move on

If I am working on a bigger piece, I skip the boring parts. If I don’t want to write them, then probably no one else will want to read them.

It really doesn’t matter WHAT I write each day during this time, only that I write. All these puzzle pieces find each other eventually. But first I have to show up and let them appear on the page.

More about Angles Writing Group, Cambridge

Who’s in our group?

Angles is a group of creative writers who live in and around Cambridge. We include novelists, short story and flash fiction writers, poets, biographers, playwrights and script writers, journalists…and anything else we care to turn our hands to. Some of us have MAs in creative writing, some of us are currently studying, some have no literary qualifications at all. One or two of us are professional writers, one or two of us are still unpublished, but most of us are somewhere in-between. We write, we try and make our writing better, and we try and find a home for it when we think it’s good enough. And we  have fun along the way.

What does being in a writing group entail?

Well, mostly what we do is discuss and critique each other’s work. A session will generally look at work from two writers, each submitting up to 3000 words – though this is only a guideline and if one person is submitting less, we’re happy to be flexible. And what you submit is entirely up to you. We get a lot of the obvious genres – novel extracts, short stories, flash fiction, poetry – but in the past few years we’ve also looked at scripts for children’s picture books, journalistic articles, travel writing, various forms of creative non-fiction, blogs, radio play scripts, synopses, covering letters and bios, and even funding applications. Basically, if it’s something you’ve written, we’re happy to look at it.

 But there is so much more to Angles. If no one has anything to submit we fill our time with writing exercises, or led discussions on various aspects of the world of creative writing. Recent topics that spring to mind have been; how to get more out of poetry, how to write for competitions, being a writer in residence, the benefits of working with a mentor. Sometimes we invite guests. These have included a tv script writer, an agent, a crime novelist and the founding editor of a literary magazine.

 And if all else fails, we occasionally meet up and simply get on with our own work – because creative writing really doesn’t have to be a solitary business – or just talk. We share news, discuss authors and recommend books, suggest competitions and journals – anything that might help make us better writers.

Why join a writing group?

Because it’s interesting. Because it’s fun. Because it’s helpful. Because it pushes us. Because it gives us our very first readers and critics. Because it broadens our literary horizons. Because it keeps us writing. Because it helps to make us feel more like writers and less like people who write in their spare time. So many reasons.

When and where do we meet?

Wednesday mornings from 10:30 to 12.30ish. We like tea and coffee with our lit-crit so it’s always a cafe. We’ve had several previous homes, and several peripatetic periods of exploration and discovery around central Cambridge, searching for that perfect combination of large and available tables and little in the way of background noise. For now we’ve settled on the Whale Café at the Museum of Zoology, just off Downing Street.

Andrew Stickland

Andrew likes to write and will write anything that seems like a good idea at the time, whether that happens to be non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, or a full-length novel. A lot of his work has been published, but as he would rather be writing than submitting, even more of it hasn’t.

He has two collections of poetry: Broken Bottles (Envoi Poets Publications, 1989) and The Opposite Page (Seal Books, 1992). Various poems have also been published by Envoi, Proof (Lincolnshire & Humberside Arts), New Prospects Poetry, The Sandburg-Livesay Award Anthology, The Hippocrates Prize Anthology and Visual Verse.

His short fiction has appeared in: All Write! (An Post – Republic of Ireland), A Cache of Flashes (Worcestershire Literary Festival) and Visual Verse.

 Other published work includes Coincidence, Correlation and Chance and All About Averages – articles written for BBC Radio and reused by Plus Magazine, The Funeral – a two-page comic script which appeared in A1 Book 4 (Atomeka Press) and numerous articles, rules supplements and short fiction for Games Workshop.

Most recently, Andrew has published his long-awaited trilogy of YA/crossover science fiction novels, The New Mars Trilogy, and all three are now available to purchase online.

wattpad – AndrewStickland

andrewsticklandwriter.wordpress.com

 

Angelica Lai

 

Angelica Lai grew up on Guam and has since lived in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and now Cambridge. She often writes about home, family, and food in both fiction and nonfiction short stories. Her works have appeared in the book collection ‘Six Words Fresh Off the Boat,’ the Columbia Journal, Paper Darts, Literature for Life, and Firewords Magazine. Angelica is also a digital writer and editor who has a soft spot for food puns.

Wordsonaplate.com

Twitter @wordsonaplate

Instagram @punsonaplate

Jan Hurst

Jan Hurst was born and grew up in Hackney and educated in London and Sussex. Jan worked for over fifteen years in consumer journalism, on broadsheets and magazines and co-authored numerous healthcare books, had short stories published and started a family.  After moving from London to Cambridge Jan became freelance features editor on an early education magazine for Times Supplements and more recently has written and edited everything from a consumer help website to an educational guide to cemeteries, to fund an MA in Creative Writing and buy more time to write fiction. Love Child, a thriller about surrogacy, based (loosely) on her experiences as features editor on a parenting magazine, was shortlisted for the Myriad Editions First Drafts competition.

Jan is represented by KHLA.

katehordern.co.uk

Melissa Fu

Melissa Fu grew up in Northern New Mexico and moved to Cambridge, UK in 2006. With backgrounds in physics and English, she spent many years working in education, both as a teacher and a curriculum consultant.

Melissa was the regional winner of the Words and Women 2016 Prose Competition and was a 2017 Apprentice with the London-based Word Factory. Her work appears in several publications including The Willowherb Review, The Lonely Crowd, International Literature Showcase, Bare Fiction, Wasafiri Online, and The Nottingham Review. In 2019, her debut poetry pamphlet, Falling Outside Eden, was published by the Hedgehog Poetry Press.

Melissa was awarded an Arts Council England Developing Your Creative Practice grant to work on her first novel and was the 2018/2019 David TK Wong Fellow at the University of East Anglia. Her debut novel Peach Blossom Spring will be published in early 2022 by Wildfire (UK) and Little, Brown (US).

She is represented by Clare Alexander of Aitken Alexander Associates.

Found on the web at: www.spillingtheink.com

Found on Twitter at: @WritingCircles

Leigh Chambers

Leigh trained as a journalist and worked freelance for several years before moving into communications and PR in the voluntary sector. In 2010 she completed an MA in Creative Writing at Anglia Ruskin University. It was while studying at ARU that she began writing her novel, Scapa Flow,  set in the Orkney Islands during World War 2. The story is told from four points of view: an 11-year-old Orkney boy, an Italian Prisoner of War, a teenage Orkney girl and a German U-boat Commander, Gunther Prien (based on his real life story).

www.humanist.org.uk/leighchambers

Anthea Morrison

Anthea Morrison Anthea is a copywriter by trade with a passion for reading and writing short fiction. Her stories are published online at the Nottingham Review, the Londonist, Reflex Fiction and Visual Verse, and in print at Open Pen Magazine. Her story  ‘You Have What You Want’ was selected as a winning entry in the annual Words and Women prose competition in 2015 and appears in the print anthology ‘Words and Women: Two,’ published by Unthank Books. She was the winner of the Greenacres/ Finchley Literary Festival Short Story Competition in 2015. Anthea graduated from the Royal Holloway Creative Writing MA with a Distinction in 2016, where she was awarded the MA’s Margaret Hewson Memorial Prize.

antheamorrison.com

anthea.morrison@mac.com

Twitter: @antheamorrison