2020 Update from The Shouting Mute

Hello there. I decided it was time to share an update about events, appearances, and upcoming work from The Shouting Mute. Unfortunately because of Covid-19 all of my partners and I have come to the conclusion that all of our planned work will be called off or postponed to 2021, if it’s safe by then to do so. I will continue blogging and sharing online so look out for that and, just like many other businesses are moving online, I’ve been thinking about what else I can adapt to maintain this creative community we’ve built.

My team and I are researching the possibility of publishing a book of poetry soon, and I would love to know how much interest there would be for it. Would you be keen to own your own copy of a collection of my poems? It would include some much-loved poems that inspired my show ‘Grow Up and Just Love Chocolate’ as well as a whole bunch of fresh new material. Give me a shout if you think I should publish a book of poetry, not as any kind of commitment or pre-order, but just so I can gauge interest and decide how quickly I should make this happen. I can’t wait to hear from you…

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The brand image for my play Grow Up and Just Love Chocolate

Mini Workshop: Writing Song Lyrics

Welcome back to writing tips with the Shouting Mute.  This is song and poetry writing. Poetry and song lyrics are basically the same, to tell you the truth, people will probably tell you that is a lie but it is pretty much the same. Someone out in the big wild world might want to argue with me but I am going to say that they are the same and it’s pretty much the same process just with a slightly different outcome.
If you want to write song lyrics, start by listing words like we did before. 100 words is ideal but it could be more.
break bread. peach. hungry. drink. milkshake. chocolate strawberry. banana. apple crumble. rocks. stones. melt. hot cold chill ice. white. ghost. emergency. emery. magazine. paper. news . stories. events. places. space. moon sun. stars. gold diamond silver bronze. medal money. cash Slash. splash. out swim physical. run. wheel propel. drive. car van. place. poole. and so on.
Then take a break. Chill out for a bit before you come back to it.
Then pick a word from your list, and spend 20 minutes writing from that word, 30 minutes for eye gaze / communication aid users. Write sentences inspired by that word. My word is Poole. Here is my example –
Poole the birth. the place of me. it wasn’t for me. I learnt about the world.. the relaxing channel.. my heart beat is in the waves.  the sea washes me away. the cold sea touching my toes. the sand in my feet.. I will never forget the days sailing with my granddad.
Next you need to choose a little chorus from what you’ve written. My chorus is –

Poole, the birth of me, the place of me.

The relaxing channel, the sea, is washing me.

The sea washes me away.

The sea washes me away.

The sea washes me away.

Rewrite the chorus into the lyrics roughly every four lines, or when your verses come to their natural end, a bit like this –

Poole

Poole, the birth of me, the place of me.

The world wasn’t ready.

Poole, the birth of me, the place of me.

The relaxing channel, the sea, is washing me.

The sea washes me away.

The sea washes me away.

The sea washes me away.

I learnt about the world.

Became the person who I am.

Is it for me now though?

Poole, the sand in my feet.

The cold sea touching my toes.

I love coming home.

Having cream teas with my family.

Poole, the birth of me, the place of me.

The relaxing channel, the sea, is washing me.

The sea washes me away.

The sea washes me away.

The sea washes me away.

Poole smells fresh like seaweed at low tide.

We can’t see the sea for a mile.

It’s the most beautiful mile that you will ever see.

Blue wash with green trees on Brownsea.

I took somebody to Evening Hill to look over the harbor once.

They broke my heart with grit.

That won’t be the end of my Poole story.

Poole, the birth of me, the place of me.

The relaxing channel, the sea, is washing me.

The sea washes me away.

The sea washes me away.

The sea washes me away.

I love my family home.

I will never forget the day I first drove my power wheelchair at White Cliff Park.

I will never forget sailing on Granddad’s boat.

The wind on my red chin.

Poole, the birth of me, the place of me.

The relaxing channel, the sea, is washing me.

The sea washes me away.

The sea washes me away.

The sea washes me away.

I will never forget the map of the town and where I like to go.

I will never forget the community that gave me my life.

I will never forget the chocolate on my face in most of the cafes.

I will never forget the strength that my school gave me and the life that I needed.

Poole, the birth of me, the place of me.

The relaxing channel, the sea, is washing me.

A life where I treasure friends.

A life where I worked my passions.

Those passions are now bigger than a place.

A life that is my family and I love them.

Poole, my home, a place in my heart.

And that’s it! You should now have a song type poem, with verses and choruses. You could even try singing it, or getting another person to sing it for you.
Just to recap – pick a word, write from your word, reorder it, put a repeating chorus through it – and you should have a simple poem that could be a song.
Let me know how you get on, and look out for my next blog 🙂
lyrics

Mini Workshop: Writing Funny as well as being an Activist

Welcome back to writing tips with the Shouting Mute. Today I’m going to talk about events to propel your plot along, so we can develop the story. It’s very similar to action and activism. If you’re just writing fantasy your story will have action and activism in, but sometimes we don’t want to be so serious, talking about politics all the time because, to be frank, you and your audience will get bored of being the disabled writers, or the writer who writes the same play seven different times (who’s probably much more successful than me and you) but I think that’s wrong and boring.

There are times to be political and be proud of who we are, we need to own ourselves, but it’s also good to get away and have fun, most importantly with our work and our audience. We need diversity because people have seen history but they can’t see the future. Plus you’re naturally being an activist just by writing and championing disabled people, but you don’t always have to talk about disability or diversity, or whatever. You can talk about chocolate instead, or something else. See, you’re getting bored now because I’m ranting. But do you see my point?

For this task, list some events like I showed you before but less political –
a date
a car crash
a family meal
a fire
an office meeting
going to buy snacks
a dragon coming
going to space
etc etc etc.
I’m going to use Charlie and the meeting with their crush, who I’ve decided to call Sam. I’ve picked a date and there’s a dragon coming. Here’s my example –

Sam: thank you for taking me out tonight. it was wonderful.
Charlie: Sam.
Sam: Charlie. why don’t you kiss me under the 2 stars. we are stars together Sam.
Charlie: that would be nice. I want to kiss but
Sam: tell me you have another partner. you look so beautiful. Am I beautiful Charlie? do you want to kiss me?
Charlie: we would but there is a dragon behind you. I think we should quickly run instead.
Hot dog seller: do you want a hot dog?
Charles : no thanks. but I would advise you to run and not sell hot dogs. goodnight.

The story can just go on from there. My tip today is to write funny, as well as political. I say variety is the ice cream in life. You can have lots of flavours. Don’t choose just one. choose at least two or even five. You can have as many as you like. The point is to challenge yourself. You can write funny and ridiculous as well as political or trying to be an activist, because just being creative is activism in itself.

hahaha

 

Mini Workshop: Activism in Storytelling

Hello there. Welcome back to writing tips with The Shouting Mute. Now I’m going to talk about action and activism. They are both very important to writing. They both propel the story forward and get your audience engaged.
Now we had a character, Charlie who goes to the penny arcade near Bournemouth pier. Charlie met his crush and that was the action in the last bit of plot, which is fine and great if you’re just writing as escapism, but there might be a deeper meaning to your story or your writing that you would like to get across.
For this, list some issues that you might like to explore –
Disability rights, Brexit, Viruses, Alcoholism, Mental Health, an event in history, Stan Lee… Whatever and/or whoever you’re interested in. Then pick one and do some research on your subject. You can also draw on your own experiences if it’s a subject that relates to you, or write from memory. I will pick disability rights.
Now for this exercise I will turn Charlie into a wheelchair user. He has GCSEs to get in to college, but the college wants him to study a course in ‘Life Skills’, because he is a wheelchair user. That’s the scenario, and here is my example –
Charlie: I’m going to Poole college to study sports leadership. I like sports, I’m quite social and I play sports in school all the time.
The teacher: Really, sports leadership? We have a good life skills course. It’s the one most of our disabled students do. You would be cooking, going out in the town and planning trips out.
Charlie: I’ve worked in a gym and they told me about the course they did at DW Sports. They know what to do. I go to a disability sports club and help run the under 15’s already. It’s what I want to do.
The teacher: That’s nice but that course is level 4. Your school said you’re only at level 3. Life Skills will give the experience you need.
Charlie: Well maybe then, but I really want to study sports leadership, and you’re suggesting Life Skills just because I’m a wheelchair user. You’re saying I can’t do something, and I could sue you for that.
Adding action and activism can add to your story and tell people about real life situations, but also you’re relaxed with it not being about you. It’s just a similar story that you and your audience can relate to. You can also get a conversation going around the situation you’re talking about.
That’s it for today. Join me in a couple of days for more, and let me know how you get on with adding action and activism to your writing.
activism1

Mini Workshop: Setting

Hello and welcome to writing tips with The Shouting Mute. Today I will be talking about setting in story telling.
Now a few weeks ago I created a character, Charlie Smith, who has blonde hair and green eyes. Charlie likes fish and chips, salad and wears a baseball cap that says Bournemouth on it. 
So we already have a town in there and that town is obviously special to Charlie Smith. Now we need to get Charlie to paint the town in words. Whether it’s for a play in a theatre, a book, or a poem about a place, setting is extremely important.
For this exercise you can start by making a list of places like the beach, an arcade, an ice cream kiosk, a fish and chip shop, a park, a shopping centre, and so on. List places for 10 minutes, or 15 minutes for eye gaze and communication aid users, then pick a place and describe the actions of your character in that setting. Here is my example –
Charlie: I am at the beach with some mates. it was a sunny day with the ice cream kiosk open. there was a big penny arcade at the beach on the prom with shops and restaurants. all types of establishments. we went into the penny arcade. it was a noisy room of fun with pinging, zipping pennies dropping and the smell of sweets chocolate and sweaty teenagers. I accidentally dropped a penny on the red and blue spotted carpet and my crush picked the penny up for me.
Use your setting to create drama. Use your setting to get to know your character and what they would do, in their natural habitat, and unfamiliar environments. The best plays and books have a place or setting. Without thinking about where you place your characters, you can’t properly bring your characters to life.
So where is your piece of writing set? How will the setting change your character? How does the character react to different places?
Those are your tips for the next few days, think about setting. Set up drama in your setting, and let the story unfold in a place. Join me next time for another mini workshop and let me know how you get on, or if you have any questions, or suggestions of your own.
setting