The pieces that make up Jigsaw
Words & Image: Rosie Gillingan
"Onlookers and fellow customers are often curious about us,"
...admits Gaynor Roberts, one of five locally-based individuals who call themselves Ellipsis Writers …. "We come to St Thomas’s Centre Café every other Wednesday morning, we huddle around a table studying documents and papers, and we’re obviously busy doing something important! Perhaps we’re planning a coup d’etat – or something less ambitious such as a children’s tea party! Whatever it is, it’s clearly more than a social gathering."
Rosie Gilligan, another member of Ellipsis Writers …, takes up the theme. "People approach us to ask what we’re doing. We’re happy to tell them we’re writers, meeting regularly to help one another with our own work, share ideas and perhaps plan our latest writing project."
"Being a writer isn’t easy," Sue Pacey adds. "We spend most of our time alone at home with our thoughts, our notebooks and laptops. Writing can be a lonely experience and without others reading and commenting on what we’ve written, it’s easy to end up producing something second-rate. We enjoy and value our Wednesday morning sessions."
Recently, the group have produced an anthology of mainly locally-based short stories and poems, titled Jigsaw. Having used Amazon’s self-publishing facility to produce his own work, Steve Hewitt volunteered to turn the group’s contributions into a physical book. ‘The others asked me to show them how to do it. Now they have the skills to self-publish with Amazon by themselves,’ he says.
"We read each story, checking everything from spelling and grammar, and we had to decide if there was sufficient range and variety in the stories."
Work began on Jigsaw in the early part of summer 2018, and there was much to do before the five writers could see and hold a hard copy of their work. "We all wrote stories and poems and then passed them around one another for editing, an important aspect of book publishing," Celia Renshaw, the fifth member of the group, explains. "We read each story, checking everything from spelling and grammar, and we had to decide if there was sufficient range and variety in the stories."
"We decided to call ourselves Ellipsis Writers … because we spend so much time discussing minor points of punctuation, such as the ellipsis (…)," Gaynor explains. "We’ve set ourselves high standards."
Jigsaw is a joint effort but many of the five have already committed their work to print. Gaynor, writing under the name Gaynor Lynn Taylor, has written two historical novels set in the early Roman Empire: The Herodian Stones and The Cleopatra Papers. A story set in Viking times is planned for publication soon. Sue’s three published novels are influenced by her time as a midwife: Listening to Linnie, A Silent Cradle, and Beyond the Blue Swing Doors. She’s also written a true story, A Voice for Stan, about a local, critically-disabled man’s struggle for rehabilitation and justice. Her latest story is being set in South Africa.
"We’ve tried a number of places, but two years ago we decided to give the Café a try. From the first day we were made very welcome. It’s a pleasant and comfortable space to work in, and the food and drink are excellent. Just what we need for all the mental energy we use."
Steve’s interest in horror and fantasy led to A Voyage Round My Head, his own collection of short stories, and to a series called Forbidden Knowledge, with the first volume out and the second due later this year, both published using Amazon. Celia is in the process of presenting her novel, based on her great-grandmother’s time in 1870s Sheffield, to publishers. Rosie writes for Reflections Magazine and has had success in selling her short stories to Take a Break’s Fiction Feast magazine. Her work is included in two short story magazines, Scribble and Scrittura, and she’s focussing on writing a novel called The Red-Haired Sisters. Rosie is also an artist and has designed the cover and illustrations for Jigsaw.
"Finding somewhere suitable to meet hasn’t been easy," Steve says. "We’ve tried a number of places, but two years ago we decided to give the Café a try. From the first day we were made very welcome. It’s a pleasant and comfortable space to work in, and the food and drink are excellent. Just what we need for all the mental energy we use."
Jigsaw, by Ellipsis Writers … Rosie Gilligan, Steve Hewitt, Celia Renshaw, Sue Pacey and Gaynor Lynn Taylor is available on Amazon, and is for sale in Chesterfield Tourist Information Centre at £6.99.
And on Thursday 12 December, Ellipsis Writers … will have a stand in the main area in Chesterfield Library, from ten till three o’clock, chatting about their work and selling their books.