Inside the mind of a writer www.scskillman.co.uk

Archive for December, 2014

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,700 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Brilliant Short Documentary Made by Abigail Robinson: Claiming the Spotlight

 

Claiming the Spotlight documentary by Abigail Robinson

Claiming the Spotlight documentary by Abigail Robinson

My film-maker daughter Abigail Robinson has recently created a short documentary for a college assignment as part of the second year of her HND in Creative Media. It’s about young actors trying to get into the acting profession. Called “Claiming the Spotlight” the documentary centres upon Playbox Theatre at the Dream Factory in Warwick, where Founder and Executive Director Mary King first began offering young people a unique creative experience 28 years ago.

For the documentary Abigail interviewed a selection of individuals who have all experienced the reality for young actors, and each is coming from a different angle, but essentially giving the same compelling message.

The editing is excellent, the interviews very engaging, and above all it is impossible not to be touched and moved by the reality behind the glamour of the acting world. I cannot help but see the similarities between the interviewees’ experience and that of anyone involved in creative endeavour, whether that be as a writer, an actor, a musician or an artist.

Do view the documentary here and like and comment!

Thank you for all your support and encouragement

Thank you to all of you who read my blog and like or leave comments on posts. Your support and encouragement has lifted me up and helped to keep me going as a writer. And often people I know who read my blog mention how much they enjoyed a recent post. This makes it all worthwhile for me.

And many thanks to those who’ve started following this blog in recent weeks.  Recently, I was touched by these words noted on Facebook by a fellow-writer whose blog I follow:

For those like me who get a bit down actually, a lot down, depressed, despairing etc) sometimes things pop up that make things a whole lot better. As an author, reviews matter and realising that a reader not only enjoyed your book, but *got* what it’s truly about, is a magical moment.
I got one such review today that has given me the warm fuzzies in abundance(Vivienne Tuffnell)

This is certainly how I feel when a new positive review appears on my Amazon page, and it’s also how I feel when I suddenly get new followers, or a thoughtful comment on my blog. As a writer, this tells me that people out there are responding to me, and to what I write.

Please do let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see me blog about, too! I’ll do my best to post on that subject.

Meanwhile, may I wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year.

Opening Up the Genius of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Evocative and Imaginative Sherlock Holmes Exhibition at the Museum of London

Sherlock Holmes' famous address

Sherlock Holmes’ famous address

The Museum of London have explored the story of Sherlock Holmes and his creation in an evocative and imaginative exhibition.

Sheila & Jamie at the Sherlock exhibition, Museum of London

Sheila & Jamie at the Sherlock exhibition, Museum of London

When we visited on Saturday, as Sherlock fans, we found much to enthral, amuse and intrigue us. I was particularly captivated by a number of paintings of Victorian London in the fog, which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used to such great effect in his Sherlock Holmes stories.

He used the fog of London almost as a character in its own right, as a metaphor for human life, and for the mysteries Holmes was called upon to unravel. Sherlock Holmes’s familiarity with the rail network, the bus routes, the streets, pubs and cafes was used not only to give the stories character and depth but almost to power them. The exhibition enriched my understanding of how setting itself fires and drives a writer’s creativity.

A new client for Sherlock Holmes

A new client for Sherlock Holmes

The number of actors (the highest on the list, to my mind, are Jeremy Brett and Benedict Cumberbatch) who have portrayed Holmes in the media is just one indication of the hold the character has taken on the public imagination.

An inspiring and illuminating exhibition which I recommend to all lovers of the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Sherlock's iconic coat

Sherlock’s iconic coat

Christmas Wreath Making at Kenilworth Castle

Have you ever put yourself in for something that was out of your comfort zone? Or maybe you fancied doing it but hadn’t considered whether you had the skill or know-how?

close-up of Christmas wreath

close-up of Christmas wreath

On Friday I went to a traditional Christmas wreath making workshop at Kenilworth Castle.

I had always loved these wreaths and jumped at the chance to find out how to make one myself.

16 of us turned up in the Castle shop ready for action and a very jolly English heritage shop assistant in festive mood plied us with spicy Christmas mead samples.

Then we headed off for the Stables, which were very cold, and met our teacher, a professional florist called Zoe.

Fortified by English Heritage ginger wine we watched Zoe demonstrate and listened to her instructions, then we were off, with buckets of damp sphagnum moss, sharp and potentially lethal lengths of wires, secateurs, spruce branches and reels of wire.

The Stables at Kenilworth Castle

The Stables at Kenilworth Castle

What I hadn’t previously realised was how much skill, patience and dexterity is involved in making these wreaths, and that rubber gloves and protective clothing are to be recommended.

Some of us seemed to have a natural flair, others were more challenged. For me, time was fast running out as I battled in a welter of wires, spruce branches, damp moss, and blood from the cuts I had acquired  trying to locate the end of the sharp wires that I had pushed through the moss in order to twist them round back into the moss and attach my “accessories” – dried orange slices, fir cones, sprigs of red berries, bunches of cinnamon sticks and seed-heads.

As I finally staggered out of Kenilworth Castle with my heavy wreath I reflected upon what joy this would give me and a sense of achievement as my family enjoyed a truly hand-made traditional Christmas wreath!

Sheila  with Christmas wreath

Sheila with Christmas wreath

“The Imitation Game” Film Starring Benedict Cumberbatch – Moving and Powerful

I was very moved by the film “The Imitation Game” which I saw the other day.

The Imitation Game poster

The Imitation Game poster

It tells the story of Alan Turing who led the team which cracked the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park during World War II.

Benedict Cumberbatch opened up for us a picture of a hero who was never rewarded and acknowledged, and in fact eventually met with the condemnation of an ignorant and intolerant society. The film reminded me that  in the 2nd World War there were heroes whose contributions were visible, acknowledged and celebrated. But Alan Turing was one of the heroes whose genius and dedication would remain a secret for many years.

I applaud the gifts of a great actor like Benedict Cumberbatch who can bring such forgotten heroes alive for us in a new way.

 

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