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There are a lot of pyjamas in this edition. Costa Award winner Monique Roffey lives in hers and sees them as part of her writing process (page 51). Rebecca Hastings is wearing hers too for her daily transcontinental writing sessions (page 58). And A K Blakemore does her best work hunched over the kitchen table at two in the morning (page 56). They’re all reaching for that elusive state of mind that is both utterly awake and firing on all cylinders, yet still keeps a toe, a hand, a tousled head, in the dream world of the unconscious.

There’s more about accessing the unconscious in the latest instalment of Victoria Field’s series on the links between therapeutic and creative writing (page 53). And Jessica Grene’s writing nest – in a wardrobe! – shows how far some people are prepared to go to establish a place where their imagination can have free rein (page 5).

The results of this kind of commitment are evident in the winning poems from the annual Mslexia Poetry Competition. First prize winner Ellora Sutton talks about how a freewriting exercise resulted in the outpouring of images that resulted in her extraordinary winning entry (page 37).

The message from all of this? Cling to what works for you – however antisocial and eccentric – and amazing writing will emerge.

DEBBIE TAYLOR is the founder and Editorial Director of Mslexia. She has written for Oxfam, UNICEF, Anti-Slavery, WHO and others about women and social issues. Her many books include My Children, My Gold (Virago), a travelogue about single mothers, and The Fourth Queen (Penguin), a novel set in a harem in 18th Century Morocco. Her latest novel is Herring Girl (Oneworld), a paranormal historical murder mystery.


Forum 5 Mslexia poll;

Writing nest; Bear necessities; Submission stories; Blogability 6 What you’re saying;

What’s next on Mslexia Max 7 #amwriting:

Rebecca Chamaa on writing with schizophrenia Agenda 9 Why do feminists read romance? Caroline Carpenter asks whether romantic fiction is good or bad for its readers Craft 15 Warm-up; Seven plots; Poet Laureate 16 Transitioning: how

Claire Dyer used poetry to navigate her daughter’s transition 19 The story of my life with Catherine Cho 20 Poetry challenge,

selected by Linda

France 21 U is for...

Flash challenge, with Meg Pokrass Interview 23 Caroline Sanderson talks to Daisy Johnson Reading for writers 27 Breaking the mould,

with Yvonne BattleFelton; Books about writing 28 The knowledge:

YA magic realism, with Julie Vuong 30 What’s new in poetry by Jennifer Lee Tsai 31 Indie in the news:

Verve Poetry Press 32 What’s new in short stories by Terri-Jane Dow 33 Indie in the news:

Peepal Tree Press Showcase 34 Karen McCarthy

Woolf introduces the winners of the 2020 Mslexia Poetry Competition

Creativity & Wellbeing 51 Brain gym, with Lucy

Corkhill; Monique Roffey’s Achilles’ heel 53 Crafting a cure, with

Victoria Field 54 Wintering for writers: Katherine May looks at fallow periods in a writer’s life 56 It works for me:

A K Blakemore; Lapidoptera, interview with Mel Perry Career 57 What’s new on

YouTube, with Bethany Rutter 58 Writing time:

Rebecca Hastings on the Writers’ Hour 60 Proud to place, with agent Hellie Ogden; Leigh Chambers’ portfolio career 61 Self-publish your memoir by Debbie Young 62 Noticeboard

Opportunities 64 Open for submissions 65 Insight: The Alpine

Fellowship Writing Prize 66 Three of a kind:

mindfulness mags 67 Insight: The Authors’

Contingency Fund 69 Insight: Felicity

Blunt’s manuscript wishlist Off the page 70 The world's wife;

Eyeverse 71 Playmaking, with

Margaret Wilkinson 72 Bedtime story;

Breaking the mould, with Cecilia Knapp; Mslexia moths, with Molly Naylor Events 74 Events and courses 77 Getting a gig:

Writing Class Radio And finally 81 Marian Keyes’s bedside table 82 Submitting and

89 c o n t e n t s subscribing to Mslexia

3 CONTENTS / Mslexia / Mar/Apr/May 2021

‘Modern romances cover a wide spectrum, including mental illness, disability, sexuality and gender politics’ CAROLINE CARPENTER p9

Being a writer taught me everything I need to know about how to endure a season in the cold KATHERINE MAY P54

‘There is always a monster in everything I write’ DAISY JOHNSON P23

Everyone raises their mug of tea or coffee in a toast, and then the writing time starts REBECCA HASTINGS P58

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