I'd like to welcome you to my interview with writer, Betty Taylor. Enjoy.
Hello Betty. Can you introduce yourself?
I'm Betty Tayloy from Codsall, South Staffordshire, near Wolverhampton.
How long have you been writing?
What first got you interested in writing?
I went to a 6-week ‘Writing For Fun’ course at a local evening class. After the course several course members wanted to continue writing so we formed the Codsall Writers’ Group – it is still going today.
I am the group leader/organiser. The original group I helped found has now operates as a Community Learning Group which means we get a little funding from the County Council. It also means that we have to demonstrate that learning takes place in order to secure our funding.
What is the most valuable thing you've taken away from your writing group?
The joy in hearing everyone’s work when we’re all writing to the same brief. The result is amazingly diverse so it’s interesting to see how each member interprets the subject matter.
Exactly, especially when people go off on a tangent that you hadn't even considered. What genre(s) do you write?
At the group we attempt many genres. My personal writing is usually poetry these days. In the past I’ve attempted short stories for the women’s mag market and articles. I also write short stories and factual pieces.
Are there any genres that you don't enjoy writing?
I’m not interested in writing horror or anything gory.
I'm with you there. It scares me too much, on many levels! Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
With fiction, I can never plan a plot. I just start writing and see where it takes me. I guess when I write fiction it has to be character-driven.
How do you come up with your characters' names and personalities?
Pluck them from the air.
What is your writing routine?
I used to write late at night but now I’m older mornings are much more productive.
Do you have an editing process?
I write straight on to the computer – edit it many times and constantly change bits. I think every time you read your own work you find something to change.
And even then you still miss things; well I know I do! Who/what influences your writing? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I read the writing mags especially Mslexia. I now only write in response to writers’ group exercises. Topics are joint contributions from the members and myself. We compile an annual programme to work to so we have set topics.
Have you ever had anything published?
I’ve had a couple of factual articles published in Writers’ Forum. Short story in a teenage mag (many years ago). I’ve won poetry prizes and received prizes in many writing competitions. Pieces read on local Radio. And once I had a poem read by Derek Jamieson on a Radio Two late night programme.
Very impressive. Would you consider self-publishing/e-publishing?
I’m not interested in self-publishing – too much cost involved. I do own a Kindle so I like reading e-books.
Have you ever entered any writing competitions?
Now and then – I’ve won runner up prizes and once had first prize in a poetry competition.
How important is it for you to share your writing?
It’s tempting to be precious about one’s writing but I think it’s very important to share your writing, after all, why do we write if not to be read? A writer needs a response to his/her work in the same way an artist or musician needs a response. Feedback is important so that a writer can measure the quality of his/her writing.
I agree. It's always important to have an impartial eye look over our work. What do you enjoy most/least about writing?
Getting my bum on the chair in the first place – procrastination is rife.
I think procrastination comes hand in hand with creativity! What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever been given?
There are no dull subjects – only dull writers.
That's the first time I've heard that, and I like it! What advice could you give to a new writer?
Keep slogging away – there is a market for all levels – don’t be intimidated by the super-intelligent.
Do you have any favourite lines from novels/plays/poetry/songs, or any favourite literary quotations?
Lots:As stated earlier: "There are no dull subjects – only dull writers."
I love this one and find it quite funny: "The old repeat themselves and the young have nothing to say, the boredom is mutual." ~ Jacques Bainville.
"Love is all there is…" ~ Emily Dickinson.
"You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club." ~ Jack London 1876-1916.
"A rejection (which in any case is directed toward your work and not to you as a person) may well reflect more unfavourably on the editor’s ability than on yours." ~ Judith Appelbaum and Nancy Evans from How to Get Happily Published.
Do you think your writing reflects your book tastes?"A Haiku is a raindrop of a poem." ~ Radio 4 Poetry Please January 2002.
No, I don’t think my writing reflects my books tastes. I like contemporary literary fiction and poetry. I don’t think I’m capable of writing as well as the authors I read.
If you could have written anything, what do you wish that could have been?
A novel – contemporary fiction.
Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
I attend an art class.
What are you working on at the moment?
Next week’s writers’ group topic. And I’m always pondering the current competitions.
Do you have a website/blog/Twitter/Facebook dedicated to your writing?
The website I have built is for the writers’ group and does not reflect my writing. www.codsallwriters.weebly.com
Codsall Writers are on Twitter but I don’t think many members use it. Our members are all in the ‘retired’ age bracket and not too keen to confront the technology.
Would you be able to provide a short piece of your work?
I decided to learn the piano when in my forties – this is the result.
Strife Begins At Forte
Not being the type that's sporty,
Not too highbrow, nor too haughty,I'm learning' pianoforte - drat the scales,But my battering of the ivoriesIs shattering to Clive, he isMy much tormented tutor - hear his wails!When playing pizzicatoI confuse it with legato,And my grandioso tends to be quite small,I can't do a tremolandoD'ye think he'll smack me hand?- oh!Before I drive us both right up the wall.
I'm sure he feels quite weary
When he's teaching me the theory,Dreary demisemiquavers won't behave,They don't fit the acciaccaturaAnd cause a big furore,Poor Chopin's turning over in his grave.Just a middle-aged beginnerAnd a great harmonic sinnerHubby's dinner's never done when he gets home,As I thump the old 'pianner'In my unmelodic manner,Neighbour's bangin' on the wall's my metronome.Though I send them all quite franticI intend to be pedantic...Continuing this antic just the same,While husband, son and daughterMight threaten me with slaughter,I’ll regale them with my 'music' - what a shame!
One day my great cacophony
May turn into a symphony,By Jiminy! I think that pigs might fly,So, whilst I'm still a duffer,The world will have to suffer,But, I'll get the hang of it before I die!
© Betty TaylorThank you Betty.