Welcome to Alphaday 8, Season XVI. We have just – nonchalantly – passed the halfway mark and there’s no sign of exhaustion as we prepare to complete the course. Far from it – and why should there be? The more Alpha energy we put into each Alphaday, the brighter our combined talents shine, giving us a satisfying inspirational buzz.
Today’s agenda is packed full of enough treats to provide the buzz we look forward to every Alphaday. As follows:
Alpha Bulletin 8, Season XVI agenda:
- This bulletin from me
- The results of the fairy tale challenge from Maria
- The collated entries for the Open Page, 2nd edition, from Elke
- The brief for Challenge 6 from Stephen
- Your Log 5 news from Phil
All this will arrive in your in-box some time in the course of this Alphaday to whet your writerly appetite. Thank you to those who helped put this agenda together. It’s particularly good to hear that some of these willing helpers actually enjoyed the hard work!
Olaf’s death has touched us all deeply. His enthusiasm for the email writing group that he created back in 2004 attracted a great many writers from all over the world to join Alpha and to share his enthusiasm. Back in 2004 an email-based group was quite a pioneering adventure, allowing writers, who for some reason were isolated from contact with fellow writers, to get together in a small friendly group with just the one common passion: writing. The friendship we share with our fellow Alpha writers is in a realm apart from our everyday lives because it concerns our main interest. Olaf made that possible for us and his achievement still benefits us all.
I met Olaf in person in 2016 when he visited Normandy with a friend. We spent a delightful day together and discussed Alpha and other things over a lunch and a stroll round a small Norman town. I’m glad we met, but our main personal interaction was through Alpha and working together for Alpha to flourish.
Which is best: bent cucumbers or chlorinated chickens? The UK is now free to choose and only the future will tell how this momentous decision will shape history.
Mary Higgins Clark died on the same day as Olaf. She published over 50 crime and suspense thrillers. I came across her books at an Amnesty International book fair. Her books seemed to outnumber any other writer’s. So I bought some and they were certainly page-turners.
The pattern is known to every writer: conflict, tension, resolution. The victim is in danger and comes close to disaster before being saved. The dragon-slaying St. George pattern, you may call it. Sometimes there’s collateral damage. The sheep plunge to their death over the cliff edge, and Bathsheba marries Troy before finally settling down with Gabriel Oak. In the Bible story about Noah and climate disaster the collateral damage is far greater. But good prevails over evil, we’re told. Even in our stylised fairy tales, happiness is not always doled out justly forever after, as our latest challenge demonstrated, but the reader closes the book with satisfaction because victory is always on the side of virtue.
Mary Higgins Clark understood this. She knew that her readers were looking for confirmation of their instinctive optimism and wishful thinking. She gave them that confirmation. There may be plenty of proofs to the contrary in the real world, but writers like Mary Higgins Clark who encourage their readers to look for something uplifting in very unfavourable settings are perhaps helping psychotherapists out.
Let’s keep writing.