Saturday, 27 February 2016

Creative Writing Workshop Beats Black Dog

A Toilet of a Year

This has been a W.C. of a year. Battling with the anguish of bereavement and supporting my father through two operations, I find it tough to get back to writing.

People tell me to 'pull myself together' but have bugger all idea how I might go about it. Still, there is a gem of truth in those old wives' tales.

This week I pull myself together in three ways; 1) sign up for a creative writing workshop 2) start a fresh, new course and 3) win a prize for a piece of flash fiction. In a literary city like London there are loads of workshops available; large and noisy, intimate and searching, cosy and hilarious, stretching and expensive.  I choose one called 'Less Thinking More Writing'. It's run by JoJo Thomas on Sunday mornings. The atmosphere's creative and beautifully prepared, with fab fab home-made cakes and coffee.

Delicious Homemade Cakes
There is little critique. The extended a.m. session (4 hours for £40) is targeted towards creativity. Packed with exercises and perfect for a Sunday, the 'round the table' set-up with discussion and lots of funny, insightful reflection means that we all leave feeling positive yet gloriously stretched. 'I'll never view haddock in quite the same way,' says Huw, as we say goodbye. And neither will the rest of us.

Set in Torbay
 Last time I attended JoJo's workshop I turned one of the exercises into a teensy story which, to my delight, won first prize in a Flash Fiction competition. The judge describes it as 'beguiling', which was great. I can live with 'beguiling'.

 The flash fiction story is set in Torbay and I use the raw grief of my mother's death for this piece - better than boring everyone on the bus. The prize of £50 is a huge boost to my morale. This week's results may, according to JoJo, have produced a deliciously new, darker beginning to one of my novels in progress. Watch this space.

A Darker Beginning

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.
Somerset Maughan 1874-1965 

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