Our last day has come around quickly. I wake up still thinking about First Story. I has me inspired, I would love to set up a creative writing group for young people in my area. But, as usual thoughts of my own inadequacies plague me. I don’t feel I am qualified to run such a thing. My own writing is littered with typo’s, grammatical errors, passive voice and a chatty ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’ voice. I’m not a published writer, just a blogging dreamer, what could I have to offer to inspire young people to create great writing? I don’t even think my writing is all that good!
I tell Will about my idea for the writing group over breakfast, and my misgivings. He says I should go for it, as do the others around at this time. Still, I don’t feel confident I can pull it off…
Mark shows me how he has edited the first page of my piece for reading this evening, the improvements making these changes will have can be seen immediately. He suggests I have a go at doing the same with the rest and show him again later. I blue line my work before the workshop, I will re-type it after lunch and see how much better it is. Having been shown what to remove/alter and why it is all so clear to see the same things in the rest of the writing now, and I actually enjoy cutting out chunks that don’t work so well.
Our first session is an exercise in editing, just like I had done with my reading piece. We start out writing a piece about swimming in 150 words, then we have to edit this down to 100 words, and then again down to 50 words. When we read them out the changes editing has made a clear, but we can also see how you can go too far and lose too much of the original content. At 150 words our little flash fiction pieces are okay, at 50 words they are a bit flat and empty but at 100 words they are much catchier and flowing!
After teabreak Mark leads the final session of the week where we look at adapting gossip, or things overheard in real life to create a story. This is fun, and shows how writers spend a lot of time observing people, something I have done a lot myself and intend to do even more of now, notebook at the ready in all situations hehe.
After lunch I re-type my piece for the evening and show it to Mark, I can just about read it in 5 minutes now, having cut it down from the original almost 2000 words to 1600, and then again so it is now just 963 words.
I start typing up my journal entries for blogging when I get home, but get bored of this, so I return to reading Dark Life and complete the whole book in time for dinner.
One of the group has put up a board for us all to sign up our email addresses to keep in touch and set up our own blog, which later gets named ‘Dear My Birds‘. Initially the blog will be private for us to share our writing but we may make it public later on.
Tonight we have Mongolian lamb with vegetables and couscous, I enjoy the lamb but I am not keen on couscous so I eat less than normal. After we have Pineapple and mint, I only eat a little bit when I start feeling itching and burning in my nose and throat. Allergic reaction, I think, not too bad but enough that I rush to my room and take my antihistamines. It takes a while to settle down, breathing is hard and my nose and throat are very uncomfortable, I want to scratch them harshly.
As we settle into the snug to listen to each other read my reaction is finally calming down. I won’t be reading until near the end of the evening as we are going in alphabetical order.
It is great to hear everyone read, most people have taken a piece from earlier in the week and amended and improved it. Most of the pieces are also autobiographical, first boyfriends, first jobs, objects of importance, lost loves… I start to feel anxious, my piece is so different, fiction, not personal. We have a comfort break half way through. Everyone’s readings are moving and well written. by the time it is my turn I am shaking, at least there have been a couple of other fiction pieces by now. As I read I can feel myself reddening and worry am I reading loud enough? too quietly? what will people think of my piece. Finally it is over, a round of applause, as with everyone else and the next person takes their turn.
Readings over and people break off to talk, some bring in books for Will and Mark to sign and we take photographs of the group. We say our goodbyes, as many will be leaving early in the morning so who we will see then is down to chance. We will keep in touch through our blog and who knows, one of us may get published one day!
- Totleigh Barton – Arvon Writing Course. Part 3 (showard76.wordpress.com)
- Totleigh Barton – Arvon Writing Course. Part 1 (showard76.wordpress.com)
- Totleigh Barton – Arvon Writing Course. Part 6 (showard76.wordpress.com)
- Totleigh Barton – Arvon Writing Course. Part 5 (showard76.wordpress.com)
- Totleigh Barton – Arvon Writing Course. Part 2 (showard76.wordpress.com)
- Totleigh Barton – Arvon Writing Course. Part 4 (showard76.wordpress.com)
- Thoughts on the Craft of Writing from DISCOURSE AND DRAGONS (discourseanddragons.blogspot.com)
- Flash Fiction Friday – Postcard prompt (showard76.wordpress.com)