Tag Archives: creative writing

Jannat’s Lucent Dreaming – a new Cardiff-based creative writing magazine

In today’s profile, we meet Jannat Ahmed, founder and editor-in-chief of Lucent Dreaming – a new creative writing magazine coming straight out of Cardiff!

I’m Jannat, founder and editor-in-chief at Lucent Dreaming. The LD team and I have officially just launched our debut issue from Rabble Studio. I’m a 22-year-old MA English Literature graduate from Cardiff University, born and bred in South Wales and ever since I could read, I’ve wanted to write. Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and J.K. Rowling have been the cornerstones of my imaginative life since I started school and they continue to inform what I do today. I dabbled, about 11-ish years ago when I was in my final year of primary school with a little thing called J Club. It was a club I made up where I asked for the email addresses of anyone who visited our house and sent them a ‘magazine’, i.e. a word document that comprised exclusively of wordart, clipart and rhyming poetry about flowers written by me.

At 10 or 11 years of age I had a club that sent a magazine every month (for only about two months), that also sold stationery I’d bought from Woolworths, and even had its own paperclip collection bought by my dad. Looking back, I think I was ridiculous but onto something. Just over a decade later and it seems I’m kind of doing the same thing but better (I hope!)

Lucent Dreaming is my childhood dream come true: it’s a new independent creative writing magazine publishing beautiful, strange and surreal short stories, poetry and artwork from emerging authors and artists worldwide. Our first issue even has poetry about flowers! This is the story of how it started.

It was during my MA, this time last year, that I happened to be working on a parody creative writing magazine for one of my modules. After having too much fun making parody adverts for Cardiff University’s new revolving doors and Arriva Trains Wales’ delayed transport, I thought it would be a great idea to make a real creative writing magazine. I was talking to my friend Jess—now also one of Lucent Dreaming’s editors—about her experience of trying to get a job in publishing. She told me she’d exhausted her savings going to publishing internships and still didn’t have enough experience to get a job. It was then I asked if she’d be willing to donate her time to my as-yet-unnamed ‘real’ creative writing magazine and she said yes! Jo and Jonas—my two other editors—also, surprisingly, said yes. And so it began.

The idea was put on hold over the summer while I was working on my dissertation but come September it was back on. We had a name and a logo and we launched our website for submissions on Halloween last year. We planned on being an online-only creative writing magazine but that soon changed.

In November last year I applied for the pilot Ymlaen placement and got it! The placement is for six months and gives me desk space and business mentoring at Rabble Studio as a collaboration between Creative Cardiff, Cardiff University’s Enterprise and Start-up Team and Rabble Studio. Since January I’ve been working from Rabble, a coworking space for freelancers, small businesses and remote workers, and it’s been fantastic. I’ve been around freelance writers and designers and a bunch of other wonderful humans who have set up businesses before, worked with printers before and know what it’s like to work in creative industries. Everyone is so friendly, helpful and incredible at what they do; it’s been invaluable to me to be around them.

Working at Rabble has morphed Lucent Dreaming from an online-only to an also-print magazine. Last Saturday saw the launch of our debut issue and we’re so proud of how far it has come in such a short space of time. We sold half our magazine print run as well as our hand-designed notebooks and we can’t wait for issue 2! (We’re currently accepting short story and poetry submissions by the way!)

As far as the future is concerned, we hope to continue LD in print. Our aim is to encourage creativity and to help writers reach publication. However, we’re not just a publisher, we see ourselves as a springboard. We offer feedback on all qualifying submissions so that writers aren’t left in the dark about why their work might be rejected. We give our writers feedback so they have constructive ways to improve for their next submission. And, for everyday creatives, writers and doodlers, we’ve also set up a notebook subscription because we know that creativity rarely concludes with publication in day-to-day life (and it’s the other half of my childhood dream to sell stationery!). Whether or not you’re interested in publishing your work, we want to encourage you to be creative. A haiku, a doodle, a list of important memories—they are all produced from a feeling that cannot always be pinned down, but it’s that beautiful, strange, surreal feeling that we want to inspire both through our magazine and everything else we may create in the future. I hope we never lose sight of that dream!

Visit the Lucent Dreaming site – they’re currently open for submissions and preorders of Issue 2.

Jannat Ahmed is a recent English Literature graduate and expert project-starter. She enjoys anything she is capable of envying and secretly compares LD to Lovegood’s The Quibbler with confessedly more fiction. She is editor-in-chief at Lucent Dreaming.

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Yoga and Writing: The Sun in the Self writing retreat

This summer, blog kween Phoenix headed up to Criccieth for a short writing retreat at the Literature Wales house, Tŷ Newydd. Here’s what she got up to.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit of a reluctant writer. I long to indulge that part of myself that creates words, but I find sitting down for periods of time difficult. My day job involves a lot of spreadsheets and emails, which makes the occasions where I’m trying to do creative work that involves my laptop even harder. Also there’s all that stuff about YOU’RE A WRITER CALL YOURSELF A MOTHERFLIPPING WRITER. But also cringe, and pride, and all those things.

Anyway. So I’d been thinking about doing a writing course for a while, but the thought of being so stationary (sit down and write!) kept putting me off. Some joyous synchronicity in my life, then, that drew my attention to a Literature Wales course, Yoga and Writing: The Sun in the Self. The course promised to combine meditation and movement, seeing what ideas we could generate – what we could churn up from the milky sea within – over five days in the beautiful house up in Criccieth. (Also an amazing excuse to get myself up to north Wales – in amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK). 

And it really is an incredible setting. Originally built in the fifteenth century, Tŷ Newydd is a Grade II* listed building that was the last home of former Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and the grounds were restyled by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis (of Portmeirion fame) in the 1940s. The gardens are full of thick, edible hedgerows (the rosemary bushes are thick and pungent, and absolutely amazing in Tony’s focaccia – more about Tony shortly!).

Our programme over the week consisted of morning meditation, storytelling, writing exercises and yoga practise every day, with free time in the afternoons for wandering and absorbing from the beautiful surroundings. Our practice was facilitated and led by yoga instructor and writer Sian Melangell Dafydd, who is totally fabulous and is currently based in Paris (which just adds to her fabulousness as far as I’m concerned), but leads workshops back in the UK throughout the year. She told us stories from Hindu mythology, focusing around water as the main theme for the week. The milky sea was a reference to our own deep consciousness … and how the practical aspects of the week and the exercises would help us churn up ideas and new themes for our own artistic work.

We also had two awe-inspiring female artists come to share their work with us: the first was Vivienne Rickman-Poole, a wild swimmer whose photography has been featured in the Guardian and other places … and Amali Rodrigo, a Sri Lankan poet who now lives in London, and who focuses on using mandalas in her creative work.

Also Vivienne took us wild swimming to a Snowdonia mountain lake! A lifetime highlight. No jokes.

On the last day, I took advantage of the afternoon free time to do some solo exploring, seeking out an abandoned local mansion that Sian had visited some years before: Plas Gwynfryn Mansion. I got covered in soggy cow pats and possibly wandered a little way off the public footpath. But it was so incredibly worth it.

It was one of the most stimulating and challenging experiences of my entire life. Besides the visiting artists, and Sian, the other people on the course all brought with them their own ideas about writing, poetry, art, yoga, and artistic living. The exercises that we did, along with the visiting artists and the free time all served to challenge me to generate new ideas, and challenge existing modes of thinking I was stuck in, especially with my writing.

Also, I can’t really complete the review without saying something about the house’s chef, Tony. I’m not a vegan, or even a vegetarian – but we had vegan food all week, and it was absolutely delicious. I volunteered in the kitchen one afternoon, and Tony even showed me how to make focaccia, a skill that I have brought home with me … and don’t intend to forget.

So in conclusion: it was the perfect retreat, and I would absolutely recommend to anyone who’s looking for a few days out to indulge their “inner child” in. 

And if all the yoga and meditation sounds a bit much for you, Tŷ Newydd also has a whole range of other kinds of writing courses – specialising on poetry, non-fiction, memoir, scripting, short stories, and even modern mythology, delivered in English and also some courses in Welsh. A highly recommended investment in your writing self.

Ty Newydd

Literature Wales

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A-Z of Cardiff – U is for Cardiff University

Katie Hamer continues her A–Z series of Cardiff by taking a walk along the corridors of learning. Here’s what she discovered!

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Mythical beasts emerge from the earth at Bute Park

They say that travel broadens the horizons. What is equally true is that learning a new skill can have a similar effect. This is the discovery I made when I signed up for a creative writing course through the Centre for Lifelong Learning just a few months ago.

What course did I sign up for? Well, it began with ‘Once upon a time’ and finished with ‘they all lived happily ever after’. Is that enough of a clue? I signed up for a ten-week workshop: an ‘Introduction to Writing Traditional and Modern-day Fairy Tales’.

What inspired me to take up such a course? As I am an enthusiastic scribbler of short stories and poems I’m constantly aware that there is more I can learn. And Cardiff is the kind of place to inspire a creative writer with magic and fairy tales.

In fact, while writing this A–Z series, I have had many experiences to fill me with wonder. I’ve experienced a Medieval castle, ghosts at Llandaff, and even time travel in a matter of minutes at St Fagans. All these experiences have filled me with a sense of wonder as well as a curiosity to see what’s around the next corner. It’s this magic that is at the heart of fairy tales and I couldn’t have chosen a better place to study the ancient art.

I met like-minded people who had all been touched by fairy mythology in some way. We all sensed the otherworldliness, the escapism and the feeling that anything could be made possible from these stories.

Each week we wrote a new installment of our own stories before reading them aloud to the class. I loved this part, as I believe stories should be read aloud and not left static on the page. I wish we could just switch of our televisions and computers from time to time in order to share the experiences that previous generations took for granted.

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Will this frog ever be a prince?

Each installment of the stories served a different purpose, for instance to introduce the main characters or send them on a quest, or present them with a different challenge or obstacle. It was a pleasure to hear each story develop towards its conclusion. Although we all chose from the same ‘dressing up box’ of characters and settings, typical to most fairy tales, our destinations couldn’t have been more contrasting.

As a result, I have my first completed fairy tale, although I intend to write more. Thanks to the corroboration of my fellow students, I also have a small anthology of stories to cherish for many years to come.

So, I’d like to thank Cardiff University for providing me with the opportunity to continue expanding my horizons through their prospectus of day and evening classes. I would also like to thank Briony Goffin, the course tutor, who has provided me with the motivation to delve into a deeper exploration of fairy tales and fairy tale writing.

You can find more information about courses available at Cardiff University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning here:
Their website

Thank you for reading my article. I hope you enjoy looking at my gallery of magical sights from around Cardiff!

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A Celtic Ring in Cardiff Bay
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A Tale of Three Geese in Roath Park
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A Mother Goose Tale
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A boat flying over the lighthouse at Roath Park
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Fire-breathing dragons on Queen Street
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The ghostly image of an owl at the National Museum
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A giant dragonfly at the National Museum
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Llandaff at night – a truly spooky experience on the Ghost Trail
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Even nature is skeletal in Llandaff during the winter
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Snarling creatures bare their fangs on the Animal Wall
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Under the watchful gaze of the Animal Wall
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East meets West
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Back to the 1980’s in St Fagans
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Then even further back in a matter of minutes
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The remains of St Mary’s Church from the Caerau Hill Fort
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An ancient flint at Caerau Hill Fort brings ancient battles to mind
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Time travel from the safety of my sofa!
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An ornate ceiling fills me with wonder at Cardiff Castle
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An archer’s view of Cardiff Castle
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A steep climb to the summit is avoided by some, including me!
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Birds, who are often messengers in fairy tales

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