I apologise for being a bit quiet on the blog. Last week I got back from the Storymoja Festival in Nairobi and I convinced myself that I was suffering from “buslag”. It is a real thing, people. I just googled the symptoms of jetlag and they include anxiety, constipation, diarrhea, confusion, dehydration, headache, irritability, nausea, sweating, coordination problems, dizziness, and even memory loss. My buslag (no air quotes here because it is real) symptoms were not that intense (and this could be why it is not yet considered a thing), but my neck really got messed up and I missed my bed too much.
Plus running across the border to fill in cards to welcome you back into your home country in the middle of the night can be traumatic: What is my date of birth again? Where did this journey start? Who even reads this stuff? Why are the people on the Ugandan side this slow? Of course I don’t look like the photo in my passport; it’s the middle of the night. I don’t look like any of my photos!
But I think I have fully recovered from the buslag now and I will be putting up my highlights of the festival soon.
For today’s 7/7 we are going to focus on opportunities writers should know about. Opportunities to learn, to study, to improve your craft, to set time off to write and to win.
1. The 2015 Writivism Creative Writing Workshops
The Writivism workshops are back! The three-day non-residential workshops will take place in January 2015 in five different African cities: Lagos, Gaborone, Kampala, Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg. You will attend the workshop in the city closest to where you stay. The workshops will include daily two-hour master classes on fiction writing, group sessions of critiquing of draft stories and private time for participants to re-write their stories. Participants who produce high quality work in the workshops and show commitment to their writing shall be assigned mentors at the end of the workshop. They shall work on two flash fiction stories to be published in newspapers and online and a short story for submission to the Writivism African Short Story Prize under the guidance of the mentors. They shall also be required to review assigned work by the mentors and also apply to various writing opportunities on recommendation by the mentor.
You have up to 31st October to apply for this. Have a look at the application guidelines here and go on and apply.
2. Remember that prize that Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi won this year, for her story Let’s Tell This Story Properly? You can now enter your story for the same prize, the 2015 Commonwealth Short story Prize. Each year, five winning writers from five different Commonwealth regions are selected. The overall winner receives £5000, and the four regional winners receive £2500 each.. Read the eligibility and entry rules here. You have up to November 15 to submit your story.
3. You can also register for Rhodes University’s MA in Creative Writing for 2015. The university is now accepting full time applications for 2015, with a closing date of 30 October 2014. The programme is committed to innovative work that expands the possibilities of writing. It is open to students working in all forms of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and playwriting, and welcomes writing that challenges the boundaries of existing genres and literary modes, including flash fiction, prose poetry, and genre fiction (such as science fiction, fantasy, crime writing etc). The programme runs over one year for full time students based in Grahamstown and two years for part time students living elsewhere.
Check out the MA programme in Creative Writing website for more information and application forms.
4. Have a look at The Fine Arts Work Centre which offers a unique residency for writers and visual artists in the crucial early stages of their careers. Located in Provincetown, the Work Centre provides seven-month Fellowships to twenty Fellows each year in the form of living/work space and a modest monthly stipend. Residencies run from October 1 through May 1. Fellows have the opportunity to pursue their work independently in a diverse and supportive community of peers. Each year, the deadline for the Writing Fellowship applications is December 1, and the deadline for The Visual Arts Fellowship applications is February 1. Fellowships are open to writers and visual artists in the emerging stages of their careers from any country. Please find out if you are eligible for this and how you can apply.
5. If you want to find out about other residencies, here are 20 Amazing Writing Residencies You Should Apply for This Year.
6. And if you are just starting out and would like to join a group of people with whom you can share your work and get some feedback, join the Femrite Readers/Writers club that meets every Monday (rain, sunshine or hail storm) at the Femrite Offices. They meet at 5:30pm. Besides the feedback you will get on your work, you will have a cup of tea and the best boiled maize.
7. And lastly, on the relevance of creative writing courses, here is So you want to be a writer…
“What lies, or ought to lie, beneath the growth of creative writing as a subject is the conviction that a good deal of the best writing derives from conscious craft, if not all of it. Commentators sometimes say that writing can’t be taught; that beginning writers either have “it”, in which case they don’t need to be taught, or they don’t have “it”, in which case money and time is being wasted by the exercise. But writers can perfectly well have native ability, a feel for language, an inventiveness and a keen eye towards the world and still not quite understand how they can do something well, not once, but repeatedly. A good creative writing course will explore underlying principles of good writing – not to impose invented “rules” on writing, but to introduce ways of thinking about writing that are strong and purposeful. You could teach yourself how to make a chair by taking a lot apart, and experimenting with joists. A furniture-making course might school you in some unsuspected skills, and save you some time.” Read the rest here.
I hope this gives some direction to our writing this week.
7/7 is Sooo Many Stories’ way of helping you beat the Monday blues. 7 things that are making me happy in the literary world that will make you happy too!