My Greatest Challenges Writing Creatively

I have been there many times – staring at the empty virtual page as I question my own existence and ability to write. It is usually referred to as a writer’s block – although some say it is a disease that only creative workers succumb to. Some say it is a curse. Others argue that it does not exist at all. But I have experienced sitting in front of a blank screen, fingers itching to create a masterpiece, yet nothing happens. It is as if my mind is overwhelmed with ideas, scenarios, characters, plot, but I fail to write anything down as the words are somehow eluding me.

At times like this, I usually take a break. Most often it occurs by re-reading some books on writing such as On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King or The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist by Orhan Pamuk. One cannot produce without consuming. Quite often, reading books inspires me and gives me the needed level of confidence to start writing again. Read More

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There Are Now 100 Cecile’s Writers!

This week our magazine has published work from the hundredth intercultural writer. We are so proud that there are now a hundred Cecile’s writers living in almost 30 countries all over the world from Algeria to Vietnam. We have authors from 44 different nationalities, showing that many of our writers are writing in their second language.

Our Cecile’s writers have the following nationalities:

Algerian, American, Australian, Brazilian, British, Canadian, Chilean, Chinese, Costa Rican, Dutch, Egyptian, Estonian, Filipino, Finish, French, German, Greek, Guyanese, Hungarian, Indian, Irish, Israeli, Italian, Japanese, Kenyan, Kuwaiti, Malawian, Maltese, New Zealander, Nigerian, Pakistani, Peruvian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, South Korean, Spanish, Sudanese, Swedish, Swiss, Taiwanese, Tunisian, Turkish, Vietnamese.

And live in the following countries

Algeria, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Malta, Netherlands, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, Suriname, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vietnam.

We are so honoured that these hundred writers have shared their high-quality stories and poems in Cecile’s Writers Magazine. We are looking forward to further expanding our community and publishing more wonderful works from intercultural writers all over the world.

CW Team

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Reading to Your Children: A Treat or a Chore?

The best part of my day is story time at the end of the day, just before bedtime. Of course, partly because I know that me-time is not too far off, but mostly because I love sharing my love of stories with my children. I enjoy how they laugh, gasp and sigh as I read. I even enjoy the upset faces when the chapter has ended. “No mum, just one more chapter! Please, I need to know what happens next.”

The upside of story time is that it’s really good for children’s creative and linguistic development. It’s known to improve vocabulary as well as empathy. It gives you some calm ‘together-time’ after a usually hectic day, and it will teach kids to love reading for themselves. I think this is something known to most parents, yet surveys have shown that less and less parents are doing it regularly. Read More

Review: No Longer Human

Depression has to be one of the hardest subjects to tackle in fiction. It presents a peculiar set of problems, in that if a piece of writing is to be effective it must grab the reader. It has to do so with energy. Some form of sustained momentum is necessary to propel the reader through the text. An aspect, any aspect, must engage them, and invite them to stay, chapter by chapter, line after line. And what makes this so difficult for writers who choose depression as their subject is that it is an affliction characterized largely by a subject’s inability to summon a feeling of interest.

To the depressed person, nothing is of interest. Nothing manages to grip them. The sadness they feel doesn’t manifest as a sharp pain or sorrow, but a flatness, an absence. An all-encompassing lack. The body is there, held in place, going through its day, its motions, and that numbness just swirls away inside them. The question for the author writing about this tragic, unbelievably difficult state of being is: how do you do the concept of such emptiness justice, when your only option is to fill blank pages with a pile of words?

This is the task Osamu Dazai set for himself in his novel No Longer Human. It is the story of a deeply sad, self-conscious person. Someone whose every action is lorded over by their own overwhelming shame and fear. Having finished it, I’d say Dazai achieved what he set out to do. But it’s hard to know where to go from there. Read More

The Advantages of Writing Prompts

When I think of writing prompts, I always first think of writing school essays. The teacher’s prompts were usually too vague, or strict and inflexible. I often found them extremely boring, so when I heard that some writers use writing prompts, I thought it absurd. Nonetheless, when I found myself in need of some inspiration, I reached out for writing prompts and I was surprised to acknowledge them as actually conducive to creativity and inspiration. Ever since then, I occasionally use them to start a piece, finish it or add some spice to the story I am working on. They are not only effective for fiction writing but also for journalists, content writers and even in the academic field.

by Brad Stallcup

There are several reasons why writing prompts are so useful. We all know that sometimes it is hard to start writing when faced with a blank page. Focusing on an unrelated prompt for a while helps get the creativity flowing. For instance, if you write for just ten to fifteen minutes on a prompt, you might then find it easier to return to the piece you initially intended to write. This works because when you stop trying to think so hard about what you wanted to write and switch your attention to the prompt instead, the words and ideas for your original piece start to come to the surface of your conscious. Read More

Reaching for the Characters

by Josh Marshall

In all the years I’ve been writing – learning, honing, experimenting – the biggest challenge I’ve faced is to stick to writing a novel. There have been many failed attempts for sure. From it’s birth, the ‘aha’ moment where I believe I’ve got a brilliant idea, to the outline. And even to the revision of the first few chapters! But then… empty space.

These experiences have stifled me to the point that I’m apprehensive of attempting a novel, and I just stick to flash fiction, short stories and occasionally, poetry. The all-consuming task of the novel, the culmination and the proof of consistent hard work, sweat and sleepless nights lost in thought or flow eludes me. I want it bad. Yet I can’t go beyond a few pages before I tell myself: Who am I kidding? I won’t finish this and even if I do, who the hell will want to read it? Read More

Review: Pencil Letter by Irina Ratushinskaya

You must not, under any circumstances, allow yourself to hate. Not because your tormentors have not earned it. But if you allow hatred to take root, it would flourish and spread during your years in the camps, driving out everything else, and ultimately corrode and warp your soul. You will no longer be yourself, your identity will be destroyed, all that will remain will be a hysterical, maddened and bedevilled husk of the human being that once was.

Ratushinskaya, from Grey Is the Colour of Hope

In March 1983, on her 29th birthday, Irina Ratushinskaya was sentenced to seven years in a hard-labour camp for crimes against the Soviet regime. What was so terrible a crime that the authoritarian government of Konstantin Chernenko thought to sentence a former schoolteacher and physics graduate to a seven-year maximum sentence in harrowing and torturous conditions? The crime was poetry.

Born in Odessa, she wrote poetry while working as a schoolteacher before graduating with a Masters of Physics in 1976 (deciding to pursue a technical profession due to the oppression of the humanities by the then-communist regime), and she continued to write poetry after receiving her degree. Even though her early work centred on the theological, romantic, and philosophical, it was still enough to warrant the inquisition of the Soviet power structure. Read More

My Most Anticipated Reads for 2018

by Drew Coffman

You don’t realize how difficult it is to frame a list of good books to read until you try to do so. Why this book instead of that other one? What makes these authors special and not the ones standing on the sidewalk in front? It’s been many days of thinking and re-thinking, but here you are. The list includes authors I admire, other ones I’m curious about, new prize winners, best reads suggested by the press, and recommendations from dear people.

Human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil. My children have had other birthplaces, and, so far as their fortunes may be within my control, shall strike their roots into unaccustomed earth.

—Nathaniel Hawthorne.

This citation opens Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri’s second collection of stories after her Pulitzer Prize winner Interpreter of Maladies. The book contains a marvellous collection of nine short stories that tell about the lives of Bengali-American characters and how they deal with their mixed cultural environment. Read More