Alpha Season X: Alphaday 3

Hi Alphas,

Welcome to Alphaday 3, Season X.

This is the real thing. All the little wheels and cogs have been set in motion and the Alpha season’s machinery is purring contentedly like a well-oiled cat.

Well done, Alphas. Every one of you has contributed something to the feast of writing treats that we’ll enjoy today. We have good reason to feel proud of how much we get out of this group. It’s simply in direct proportions with how much we put into it. Which is far from negligible!

So today’s menu is as follows:

  • This bulletin from me
  • The LOG from Margie
  • The results of Ch.1 (Dust) from Olaf
  • The collated entries for Ch.2 (Postcard) from Sue
  • The brief for Ch.3 from Christine
  • The showcase pieces. They’re part of the menu but follow their own schedule.

I think we’re spoilt. And I’m quite confident that we can easily keep this up until the end of the season.

General Alpha news:

We have a new member. Stephen will join us as from today. Stephen is an acquaintance of Olaf’s and has followed the Alpha goings-on of Season X. He decided to apply for membership and has even entered Challenge 2! Stephen has written pieces (sometimes tongue-in-cheek) for the local church and village and is looking forward to join in the varied repertory of Alpha writing. I’m sure we’re all pleased to welcome Stephen into the Alpha Group.

I’ll attach an amended, up-to-date address list. *Please, could you all make sure you make the necessary changes. Thank you!

The new web site is coming on splendidly.

If your photo and details are not yet on the members’ page, please, could you sort that out with Rosemary asap. Most of the pages now have up-to-date information on them. Do check it all out. I’m pleased to see the Alpha books nicely presented. Soon time for Xmas pressies, don’t forget! All money from sales goes to the Macmillan Cancer Support Charity.

The showcasing is new for this season, and some members needed a bit of prodding and extra guidance on the finer points of what’s involved. But it’s slowly sinking in and Clare has so far offered two pieces for our benefit. They certainly illustrate the wide range of possible contributions and I expect we’ll soon realise what a perfect addition to the Alpha register these pieces are. The Log tells us about all the things Alphas do with their writing talent; the showcasing pieces give us real examples. Clare is keen to hear from anyone who hasn’t come up with anything yet.

I’ve created a separate folder for the showcasing pieces to make sure I can find them when I’ve got time to read them. The great thing is that there are no deadlines for comments; in other words you’ve never “missed” the opportunity to comment on one of the showcased pieces. Any time and any piece is fine.


Literature has made headlines recently with some really exciting news. I can’t get over how neat it looks, as if it was selected for effect. Alice Munro received the Nobel Prize for her life’s work. Eleanor Catton received the Man Booker Prize for her second novel. (That’s two women, but that’s by the by!)

Alice Munro is 82. Eleanor Catton is 28. AM lives in Canada. EC lives in New Zealand. (Opposite ends) AM was rewarded for her short stories. EC was rewarded for her 832-page long novel.

Isn’t that as if the patterns were pre-arranged? I think it’s so pretty .

Enjoy your Alphaday!


PS: I did get very entangled in a question of punctuation. What follows is optional for those who’d care to read it. It’s outside the formal Alpha business schedule. (You have been warned!)


When I’m overcome by doubts on a writing related subject, I turn to my esteemed Alpha friends to see how they deal with the problem. I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ve slipped into bad habits: I cannot resist the temptation to use ellipses and dashes; indiscriminately and excessively, I fear. Exclamation marks I’ve managed to keep under control. I may use them loosely in informal emails, but for serious writing purposes I’ll only use exclamation marks after an authentic exclamation, dammit! But time and again I’m itching to use ellipses and dashes. I think it’s because they seem to add drama to my written words in a far more striking way than ordinary punctuation marks can muster. When I look up articles on the subject on the web, warning bells start clanging. E.g. “In informal writing a dash may replace commas, semicolons, colons, and parentheses to indicate emphasis, interruption, abrupt change of thought.” Oops! Doesn’t this mean that the dash lacks the different nuances you can get by choosing a suitable punctuation mark from the usual register? Perhaps the dramatic-looking dash is in fact as inarticulate as a string of exclamation marks or a “see wot I mean?” tag. The most authoritative punctuation experts insist that the dash should only be used for violent, abrupt interruptions or changes of thought. The ellipsis is, strictly speaking, reserved for omissions and trailing off in full flow. But what about all those pauses, then? I ask. This is where the danger lies, I think. Is there an exact science of telling an interruption from a pause? Might they occasionally overlap? What’s wrong with a full stop? To see where I was going wrong, I went through all the entries for Ch.1. That gave me plenty of food for thought. Did I find the answer to my problem? Let’s just say I’m much better informed . Whatever your personal approach is, the main thing is to be consistent. I’ve attached my findings separately, just in case some of you are or aren’t interested.