How times have changed with Covid-19. With few exceptions, the last meeting of the year at City Voices would have meant a Festive Meal at lunchtime for the group, lots of laughs and maybe a speech or two nicely fuelled with alcohol. Determined not to spoil the holiday spirit, we had a Zoom get together with silly hats and antlers, a little drink (once the sun was over the yard-arm) and some festive nibbles. We managed some readings and critiques, and then I led a workshop with the prompt ‘Fear’. Imagine your character going about their morning routine, but in a state of abject fear. The catch is that you don’t say what they are scared of, and don’t actually state that they are afraid. The ultimate ‘show not tell’. It worked very well and most people absolutely met the brief, but the odd slip up doesn’t matter! That is what critique is for, to iron out glitches and think of better ways to express the same emotions e.g. body language, physical turmoil, reactions. The meeting over-ran by 30 minutes because we were all enjoying the moment.
We welcomed Mary, a newbie to the group but not to writing; she is currently working on a novel and enthusiastically joined in the critique and workshop. We assured her that alcohol, party hats and mince pies were not part of the usual City Voices set-up!
We are now having a bit of a sabbatical from City Voices (although not from writing, I’m sure) but we will be back 30th January 2021 on Zoom.
Thanks to everyone who have where possible supported City Voices Creative Writers in these unprecedented times; the stress, the heartbreak, the pressures of work, study and family. Thank you everyone for your patience and perseverance with technology. It’s been a learning curve like no other. Here’s to vacations and vaccines!
The last meeting in November 2020 saw an old face (metaphorically that is) return to City Voices after an absence of some years due to other commitments. It was great to welcome Josie Kinnersley back to our gallery of writers. It is worth noting here that there is no official collective noun for a group of writers. I have seen an ‘alliteration’ of writers as one suggestion. Also a ‘murder’, as in crows. Perhaps a parliament of writers would be good, as in rooks. In fact parliament seems very apt; a gathering of people with intelligence – yes I did say that - but some a bit flaky, or at times living in a bubble, and not good with practical detail (as a poet I own up to all three) certainly everyone having their own opinion and secretly thinking that’s the right one! Oh and re-writing everything constantly. Of course I jest, and this is NOT a political platform. My experience of writers is one of people who work very hard, not just at writing but their day-jobs, family and friendships, and helping other writers to develop. Some (not me) are also incredibly talented in other branches of the arts; I know writers who can even use both sides of their brains. (Definitely not me).
As ever at the meeting we had readings and critiques. We were all very struck with Bev’s poem about someone ‘coming down’ from a drug high. Bev assured us that this followed research, not experience. Debbi set us an exercise called ‘Hermit Crab’. Take something like a shopping list, or a paint colour chart, that is something everyday and make it into a story (or a poem). ‘Hermit Crab’ I believe originated in Flash Fiction, the name being a reference to the idea of ‘Fresh Stories from Borrowed Forms’© medium.com/the-book-mechanic/hermit-crab-fictions-fresh-stories-from-borrowed-forms-21f1048f163a
I chose the titles of chapters in a book. Everyone wrote for 20 minutes and I thought it was great fun but also very challenging. I managed 6 chapters with quick thoughts, some more original than others. Here is how I wrote at great speed about a chapter called ‘Dark Lamp’
More Harold Shipman than Florence Nightingale,
more Fred West than Kanye West,
although both like to be in control.
More darkness than any illumination of words;
the pixie grin, the hidden creature, the coward.
The Twitter troll.
Thanks Debbi and everyone who came along.