Tagged with "Writers Abroad"
This Week on WA 12th February
Category: Site News
Tags: writers Abroad News

It has been another busy week for many members of Writers Abroad.

Voting on the magazine versus newsletter resulted in the newsletter being agreed as a way forward for now. The what and when details yet to be discussed.

Members are updating posts on their writing plans and goals; we all know that plans are ever-shifting so reviewing and updating on a regular basis is a great idea.

The February challenges and opportunities thread is being added to all the time, and Alyson has taken up the challenge to write a really tough story with a 2099 setting in an American city. What a wowzer of a challenge and what an impressive offering from Alyson. If you haven't already - check this one out.

Angela, too, has a wonderful unicorn story resulting from last week's muses. Any publishers of stories for children out there? This one is well worthy of going to print.

And take a look at Jill's 'Bend in the River' a breathtaking piece also resulting from last week's muses. 

The Adhoccers are keeping up the beat as always, and it is really good to see new mum Luara back in the saddle. Great stories as always.

Speaking of which, yours truly attended a poetry and story telling event yesterday (Sunday) - reading from the Ad Hoc files is always fun. And swift too. It felt good to give them an outing.

As for this week - the muses are up thanks to Angela, Maggie's blog should be posted shortly.

Hope I've not forgotten anything - if I have, just holler. Have a good week all. 

This week on Writer's Abroad 5th February 2018
Category: Site News
Tags: writers abroad

Angela has posted the blog for this week on magical objects and asks whether we are writers have any superstitions we uphold and would a talisman make a good catalyst for a short story. I think it probably would - if people's beliefs are strong enough they are bound to create conflict and thus a story is born.

Jo has added the muses for this week. A wide selection including keywords, dialogue, plot and setting along with some photos. Excellent prompts for those in need of inspiration. 

A forum is open with the question of whether to replace the WA magazine with a newsletter. This subject arose at the last formal meeting. If you haven't voted, please go over and add your thoughts. 

Vanessa has posted details of an opportunity to be interviewed on expat radio - they want guests to talk about bookish issues which would probably be a good opportunity to promote your own material.

On the bragging stool this week are the Ad Hoc crew of Sue, Chris and Angela. Hopefully Laura will get time to join them again soon. Sue's interview with Bath Flash is there to read too and I know Nicola has news but she hasn't posted about it yet. 

A selection of opportunities are available on February Challenges and Opportunities. Feel free to add any more to the list.

And finally Bruce's novella Medium Rare is on the works in progress forum for comments.

Hopefully I've missed nothing for this week. Have a good writing week all. 

Magical Objects Tags: Apotropaia talismans superstition writing research Foreign Encounters Writers Abroad anthology The Idalo Man Northampton Museum Hidden Shoes I

 

 

During a visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park last year a print by illustrator, Alice Pattullo, caught my eye. The poster was entitled, 'Apotropaic Devices For the Home.' I wasn't sure what apotropaic meant, but the mirror-image china dogs triggered a childhood memory of dutiful visits with my mother to an elderly neighbour who had the same ornaments on her mantelpiece. We had few decorative objects in our farmhouse apart from photos of prize-winning sheep or horses displayed on a sideboard. Our main source of heat was a Rayburn (similar to an Aga) so we didn't even have a mantelpiece to put china dogs on but still, I coveted them. After googling the word I learned that apotropaic meant designed to avert evil, and discovered that china, or Staffordshire dogs were not merely ornamental, they also guarded against malign forces entering through the fireplace.

 

Superstitions

Even though we never had china dogs, my mum was quite superstitious; always buying J-cloths or scrubbing brushes to appease Gypsies who called at our house to prevent them from casting spells upon us, always turning a horseshoe right side up so the good luck didn't fall out and always closing umbrellas before entering the house. Naturally, I inherited some of these behaviours. As I sit here typing, I can see at least three protective talismans in my home. The Indalo man (dating from the Paleolithic period), which was a lovely gift from fellow WA member, Chris Nedahl; a nazar (stylized glass eye) which I bought in Istanbul; and a Mexican day of the dead skull which I bought in Leiden's Museum of Ethnography.

Story Inspiration

Since leaving the depths of the countryside and living amongst the more rational Dutch I have become less superstitious but for our second WA anthology, Foreign Encounters, I wrote a story, Blow Me a Kiss, about a curious object which fascinated me. Displayed in the tiny but entrancing Butcher Row House Museum, in Ledbury, Herefordshire, was a child's shoe which had been found bricked up in the chimney of a local cottage. The museum attendant told me it was common practice to place shoes in portals of the home, i.e. chimneys or above windows or door lintels. The shoes were meant to ward off malicious forces, luring evil entities to attack the shoe rather than the wearer. A child's shoe might also promote fertility according to local beliefs so my initial impression that a child had died in the house was unfounded. The Ledbury shoe had merely been outgrown and granted a second life protecting the home's inhabitants.

 

An Archive of Hidden Shoes

The custom was so widespread in the UK that in the 1950s a Hidden Shoe Index was set up by former curator June Swann, at Northampton Museum. The index lists just under 3,000 shoes found in properties from the Shetland Islands to the Isles of Scilly, with the greatest number being from the south-east of England. The museum also holds 250 found shoes, the oldest dating to the 1540s from St John's College, Oxford (pictured above). The practice was taken by immigrants to the New World where it continued into the 1920s and 1930s. The current curator still receives two or three messages per month about found shoes from as far afield as the US, Canada and Australia. The museum index has recently been digitized and should you want to research further there is also a user-generated, online catalogue of hidden shoes with their locations on Historypin.

 

Are Writers More Superstitious?

So in an age where science and technology rule our lives what makes some of us still superstitious? Are writers and creative folk generally more superstitious than others? Does a writer's need to attribute meaning to events or objects when creating a story make us more susceptible to magical beliefs? Do you (consciously) have apotropaic devices in your home, perhaps you are even wearing one? Would these objects be a good way of describing a character who owned them? Or perhaps even the catalyst for a short story like the shoe I saw in Ledbury. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

 

With thanks to Alyson who reawakened my interest in hidden shoes by sharing this BBC article. Images courtesy of Alice Pattullo and Dr Ceri Houlbrook

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This Week on WA 12th February
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