Saturday, September 29, 2012

Cancelled Sessions

Sadly I have to go to UK for a funeral.
Because of flight availability and prices I am afraid I am going to be away for two Fridays, 5th and 12th October.
Next session will be 19 October 2012
Hope to see you then.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Small is beautiful!

We had a smaller group this week as people had visitors and a couple still have not returned from UK but we looked at an example of a striking opening paragraph to a work in progress by one of our members, worked on a few common errors in English and found out the answer to, 'Which famous writer said that his best work was a six word story?' (which was asked in a previous blog.)

The writer was Hemingway and the story:
For sale, baby shoes, never worn.

We observed how, no matter how thoroughly we describe, how carefully we explain, there are always as many interpretations of a story as there are readers. Each reader brings something of themselves to the images and nuances of the text. Therefore, the six word story loses nothing by its brevity because it allows each reader to have a slightly different view of exactly why the shoes are unworn but nevertheless has the main ingredients of a story: a main character, or characters, action and reaction, pathos, empathy. I felt it was in a recognisable genre, as I saw it as a tragedy but Marc made us smile when he said he saw it as a comedy in which a baby was born with enormous feet! Which sort of proved the point, we all use our imagination to conjure up our version of a story.

Keeping it small we had a go at writing haiku (Based on a Japanese poetry form using 17 syllables)  before we moved to, what seemed by then quite a generous word allowance, 100 words, which non-the-less made us think about keeping our writing tight and not wasting words.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

How did it go?

Week 1

We looked at some reflective pieces, done since we all met last, and examined the different styles of writing and use of language. Liz had used lots of sombre and at times quite ponderous, `over´ descriptive language to talk about her mother´s final illness. It was heavily laced with cliché, simile, alliteration and we decided that some of these literary devices might be used when it is so painful to explore your own feelings sufficiently to enable you to put them into your own words. Sometimes a cliché is needed simply because `everyone knows what it means´ and it really is the best way you can think of to transmit a feeling. It is best to avoid too many clichés particularly if the piece is to be read as opposed to listened to, they are more obvious on paper than when read out loud. Liz was writing as if speaking, telling the reader her story.
It raises a point to note: You should always consider the purpose of your writing and if preparing a speech, or anything to be read out loud do listen to it and note how it should differ from a prepared reading.
Marc´s piece was wonderfully evocative of his journey by train in Australia and captured the immediacy of writing in real time. His reflections were intrinsic to the clear description, his sense of wonder and appreciation coming across in very straightforward language with no use of cliché at all.
Sue´used a poem to deflect grief over Brian´s cancer journey, using humour and light hearted language to express admiration for Brian in a way that it would be impossible to do as straight dialogue. It allows for emotion to be expressed without becoming ´emotional´. ( Only one cliche´!)
Peter expressed his feelings well in a short piece demonstrating how much can be said in relatively few words. It was very expressive and came across as open and honest, almost like a diary entry, writing down his feelings without artifice. It seemed to be a desire to express, vent his genuine feelings rather than a desire to impress.

The writing exercise produced some varied responses, and some humour, also in reflective pieces although everyone had total choice and the brief was simply to write for 15 minutes on one of seven random headings.
Two people wrote about `Drinking Tea´, Lyn commenting on the enduring but changing nature of tea drinking amongst the British and Marc telling us about his father, a champion tea drinker whose ashes are stored in his favourite tea tin, in which every dent and smudge evokes memories.
Liz explored her fascination with `Crime´, Peter entertained us with a tale of waking up, after a boozy night to `The Smell of Nail varnish´ which he discovered he was wearing, Jackie made us laugh with a piece on `Running Water ´that began quite poetically and led to a need to run to the bathroom! Sue bemoaned the difficulties of finding appropriate `Plastic bags´.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wrong date!!!!

Please note, the date on the previous blog is wrong. It should read 14 SEPTEMBER not December. Sorry!

Term Starts on 14 December 2012

In order to get in a minimum of eight, and possible ten sessions without a break we should start the new term on 14 September, with the option to have a couple of extras in December.
Ideas for this term include, 'Think Again,' which is about taking your first thought but giving it a twist.
We have thought about economy of language before but I bet you don't know which famous author said that his best work was a six word story! I have used Louise Doughty's column again for a couple of ideas, a three word starter and 'bad writing' which is about over use of adjectives and cliche. I am going to reuse a couple of very old sessions, as we have said before it is interesting to see how those who have seen them before tackle them as their writing has developed over time, and they will be new to some members anyway. We might have a look at verbs of movement, how many can you think of off the top of your head?

Having classes at my apartment seemed to work all right earlier in the year so I propose to hold the sessions there again, at the same time, 11.00 till 13.00 on Fridays. I have a small prize to present for the story competition from last term on Week 1. We are to have Lena back with us, arriving on the island on 27 September and hoping to join us for a couple of sessions from 28 September. (Pencil in 28 September for lunch after the session, Lena is on holiday after all!)

We could accommodate a couple of extra people, especially as one or two will not be back for the first couple of weeks. So, if you know anyone who is interested please encourage them to consider joining us. They have nothing to lose if they decide after a few sessions that it is not for them, there is no obligation to sign up for a  set number of sessions and if other commitments mean that they cannot come every week that should not be too much of a problem.

Looking forward to seeing as many as possible of the old crew on the 14th.