I have enjoyed the vibe and the writing at sammiscribbles since discovering it about two years ago. Though I have only sporadically participated with the prompts put out by today’s interviewee, Sammi has prompted me to write some of my favorite pieces and to challenge myself as a writer of both prose and poetry. With her Weekly Writing Prompt Sammi presents not only a new word prompt, but a new word count, anywhere from ten to 150.
I am so glad that Sammi agreed to this interview. I hope you enjoy learning about Sammi as much as I did. There’s much to relate to. Feel free to continue the conversation in the comment section.
Sammi Cox, How D’Ya Do?
Thanks very much for inviting me over to your blog today. My name is Sammi Cox and I live in Bedfordshire, in the UK. I’m a writer and book blogger, and spend the rest of my time making things – I knit, crochet, sew and bake.
Where I live is surrounded by beautiful countryside, including some ancient woodlands, and provides much of the inspiration for the things I write as well as many of the photos I post on my blog. There are a great number of villages and hamlets in the area, many of which have parish churches that date back nearly a thousand years, but local history goes back even further to the Anglo-Saxons, and to a lesser extent, to the Romans and beyond. This too influences my writing.
Besides your blog, what other social media do you use?
I’m going to admit something here…I am absolutely no good at social media, although I do try…a little bit. I have a facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Sammi-Cox-1697023080547692/) which I use as a hub to post updates and share links to all the things I’m doing in various other places, which include:
Describe your prompt.
My prompt goes live every Saturday morning (GMT). The format for year two is simple: I choose a word and set an exact word count and participants have to write a response using the word in some way whilst sticking exactly to the word count, no more, no less.
What prompted you to undertake this?
I find prompts very useful, not to mention entertaining, in my own writing. So I first started to post them on my blog for myself. I went through a couple of formats over an extended period, until I settled on the Weekend Writing Prompt in May 2017. Since then, I have learned other writers enjoy the challenges I set, and it is this which has ensured I’ve kept it up.
How do you determine the prompt word every week?
I pick words that resonate with me somehow, whether it’s because I like the way they sound, or what they mean, or whether they will provide an interesting or thought-provoking starting point for the challenge. Sometimes the words are unusual, sometimes they are not, but I hope they are always inspiring.
How do you determine the word count every week?
When I started planning the prompts for year two, I decided to set a minimum of 10 words and maximum limit of 150 words and then randomly picked enough numbers in between for a year’s worth of prompts.
You also participate as a writer every week. What other writing do you do?
I write a lot, in some form or another. As well as the weekend writing prompt. which I try to participate in as often as I can, I’m currently posting a serial on my blog that is inspired by another writing prompt, Crimson’s Creative Challenge hosted by Crimson Prose (https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/). The serial is called Lyr the Enchanter. I’ve also recently finished the first draft of a novella called The Winter Ghost, which you can, should you wish to, read over on Wattpad. It has just been short-listed for Open Novella Contest 2019. Alongside this I’ve been dipping in and out of a handful of novels I’ve been working on, whilst endeavouring to finish some of the unfinished stories, of varying lengths, I have accumulated over the years – there are quite a number of them…
What is necessary to your writing process?
It depends on what I’m writing. If I’m writing poetry or flash fiction, I don’t need much, just my phone, a notepad and paper or my computer. It doesn’t matter usually what is going on around me. But for anything longer, I like to set aside a block of time where I know I won’t be disturbed by outside influences – it doesn’t take much for my mind to wander…I’m very easily distracted! Usually I write without any background noise, so no music or podcasts, etc. but I have been known to listen to movie soundtracks or instrumental music if the style matches what I’m trying to write. I also ensure that I break up this time I’ve set aside to give myself short breaks away from the computer. So I might edit three chapters and then go and make a cup of tea, or write a couple of scenes and then go for a short walk.
What have you enjoyed the most hosting and participating in the Weekly Writing Prompt?
There are so many things I’ve enjoyed whilst hosting the Weekend Writing Prompt. I love seeing how diverse the responses are to the same prompt. Even if participants interpret the prompt in the same way, the responses are never identical. I also like that a community has built up around it. It’s great to see how many participants like and comment on the responses of other participants, leaving encouraging remarks or words of praise. Finally, at the end of year one, we put together an online anthology, Outcast and Other Words (https://outcastanthology.wordpress.com/), which featured responses to all the first year’s prompts. It was a fantastic project to be part of, and just thinking about it now makes me smile.
I’m glad you’re smiling, as I’m sure that was time and effort to produce.
What has been most surprising or instructive for you from your weekly prompt?
I’ve found being organised helps a great deal when hosting a writing prompt. When I first started this prompt, I would write the post and challenges on the day I published them but I quickly learned that it was easier and the pressure much less, to write a bunch of them in advance. For the second year’s worth of prompts, I wrote all 52 in an afternoon and I’ve found that has helped me a lot. It’s also meant that I have forgotten what words I had chosen all those months ago, so the challenge is almost as much as a surprise for me each week as it is for everyone else.
You get responses from around the world to your prompt. What, if anything, do you have to say about the impact of place on writing?
I think place, especially the spirit of place, can have a great impact on writing. The first time I really connected with this idea was when I first read Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier – I would have been in my teens. The way the moor was described, the atmosphere it conjured…it was more than simply a setting for a story. And this feeling not only has stuck with me throughout the years, it has influenced my own writing. Landscape interests me. I went to university to study physical geography so that I could understand landscape evolution. And I do my best to channel this into my writing, whether the location I’m writing about is real or made up.
How long have you been blogging?
For a while. To be honest, blogging is my favourite form of social media. I’ve been posting to my book blog since 2012 and Sammi Scribbles since 2014. Before that I had another couple of blogs which were in regular use for three or fours years.
What do you want for your blog?
I want my blog to be a place where people can go to be inspired to create something, whether that’s a poem, a piece of flash fiction or anything else.
I want my blog to be a place where people can come visit and when they leave, they do so with a smile on their face because they have read something that they can connect to.
I want my blog to be a place where I can show others my little corner of the world.
Most of all, I want visitors to my blog to enjoy what I write, because I love writing.
If you could go back, what is one thing you would have done differently regarding your blog?
One thing I would have done differently is reorient my focus when I started blogging. To think long and hard about how I wanted my blog to look and what impression I wanted to give anyone who visited it. When I first started, I was more concerned with content. Was my writing good enough? Did I have enough on the blog to keep a reader’s interest? Would anyone actually read what I had written? Now I think it’s just as important to have a blog that is easy to navigate, and reflects who I am and my writing.
Describe or list any publications of yours.
My short stories, flash fiction and poetry can be found in various places, both online and in print. A list of my published works can be found at: https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/about-sammi-cox/published-works/
At the end of 2017, Three Drops Press published my collection of tiny tales of myth, magic, folklore, and witchcraft entitled, One Turn of The Wheel. More information can be found at: http://www.lulu.com/shop/sammi-cox/one-turn-of-the-wheel/paperback/product-23444468.html
I have so many plans and things in the works (who doesn’t?!), that hopefully I will be able to add to this list soon…
Thank you so much, Sammi. I hope folks click on your links and enjoy all you have to share.