Find Your Inner Creative
Free Friendly Creative Writers Group
L to R - Debbi, Bev, June, Adam, Christian, Paul (and grand-daughter), and Michaela who all came along to the last meeting.
It was great to see Michaela again - as she works in the Care Sector getting to meetings was always tricky! Last Saturday, author Debbi ran a Flash Fiction workshop with a difference. This was micro-fiction, roughly the length of a Twitter post. This is what Debbi has to say
'City Voices has been enjoying a kind of resurgence during lockdown, thanks to Zoom. I have been enjoying hosting our fortnightly Zoom session, at which about half a dozen or so members are showing up. We are hoping more will start to join us before things start getting back to normal, and everyone is welcome, even non-members.
On 4th July I hosted a workshop with CV about writing very short stories. Anyone familiar with Twitter will know that posts (or Tweets) are limited to 280 characters. Every day on Twitter, using the hashtag #vss365, people post short, tweet length stories using a daily prompt word, which has to appear in the story. Being a story, these tweets have to be a “complete” thought, with a purpose. It’s tricky, but a great challenge, and teaches brevity and gives you practise in being able to use only the most necessary words. It’s amazing how much can be conveyed in so few words.
Last year, one of my very short stories was published in the first VSS365 anthology. In response to the prompt word “contact”, I wrote:
She has to close her heart when she sees him. Their contact is electric but fleeting; eyes when his finally wander around to meet hers, hands when she’s helping him off the bed, lips if he remembers her. Soon everything will be just crackling echo-memory of love.
You can easily practise these kinds of stories by selecting random words from books or newspapers, and then challenging yourself to write stories of this length. Don’t get too hung up on counting the characters, unless you do actually post them on Twitter. Just limit yourself to 50 words, and get used to being brutal with your word cutting to only leave in what you need to get your point across. You have to see your story as a “fleeting thought” that needs to be conveyed, and a lot of it has to be done by implication rather than spelling everything out. This will become easier the more you practise. You’ll may initially think it impossible because you may reach 50 words before you even start your story properly… well, that just means you have probably written 50 words you don’t need! You will notice in my example above that we don’t know anyone’s name, what they look like, where they are. We are just interested in this connection they have and how it will soon be gone. Simple.
Have a go and we’d love to see your examples posted here in the comments.'
Thank you Debbi Voisey for setting up our Zoom meetings every two weeks. We use them to deliver workshops on poetry and fiction, and to read and critique each other’s work. The meetings have been very productive, not a minute wasted, but we do have a chat and a laugh too. This week I ran a poetry workshop where we discussed ‘Snow Joke’ by Simon Armitage.
After our discussion I asked everyone to write for twenty minutes to try and emulate the ‘storytelling’ aspect of Armitage’s poem, the changes in tone, and how despite the free verse and jokey introduction this really is a poem as opposed to prose fiction. (Although not all of the group agreed!)
Armitage once said
‘Poems that wave flags, campaign and crusade often fall flat on their arse. But I do think of my poetry as political' – can we see this in Snow Joke?
After writing and a read-around of our fledgling work, we then read and critiqued poetry by David Bayliss, one of the group. It was great to see our founder Paul Williamson join in the Zoom call; of course Zoom is not for everyone, for various reasons, but it has been great for us.
Pattie, a long-standing member of the City Voices community was also with us but had to dash off right at the end so sadly she has not made the photograph.
Until City Central Library in Hanley opens again, we will be on Zoom at 11am – 1pm every other Saturday. Our next meeting (fiction workshop) will be 4th July 2012.
Lockdown and the temporary closure of City Central Library in Hanley due to Covid-19 has been a pain, but an absolutely necessary one. City Voices send love to anyone suffering a loss or extreme stress in lockdown. Paul Williamson (pictured) has been self-isolating but is in amazingly good spirits and has the outlook and beliefs usually associated with some-one much, much younger. He also has the wisdom and compassionate understanding that comes with someone who has seen all the good and bad things this world has to offer. It was a joy to talk to him yesterday. Paul founded City Voices in 2006 and says ‘Good writing can bring people closer together through love, beauty and understanding’ And 'There really is something so wonderfully special about good novels. You can learn so much about people and the world, and this helps to keep you close to what it is to be human and drives you onwards to better things. So, what advice would you give someone starting out in creative writing? Join a Library. Read lots of Good Books - Novels, Poetry, Biography, Plays. Join a Writers Group. Try to find your own True voice. Cultivate your Muse!
Here are some novels that Paul recommends for lock-down reading.
‘War and Peace’ and ‘Anna Karenina’- Leo Tolstoy ‘Crime and Punishment’ Fyodor Dostoevsky. ‘Wuthering Heights’ Emily Brontë. ‘North and South’ Elizabeth Gaskell. ‘The Mill on the Floss’ George Eliot.’ ’Moby Dick’ Herman Melville. ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles.’Thomas Hardy. ‘The Rainbow’ D.H. Lawrence. ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’John Steinbeck. ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’. Harper Lee. ‘The God of small things’ Arundhati Roy’. ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. ‘Things Fall Apart’. Chinua Achebe. ‘Brick Lane’ Monica Ali. ‘Beloved’ Toni Morrison. ‘Red Dust Road’ Jackie Kay.
City Voices Meetings are back via Zoom! On 9th May 2020 we had our very first Zoom meeting, following temporary closure of City Central Library in Hanley due to Covid-19. It was so successful (and fun!) it has been decided to continue with the meetings every two weeks. City Voices meetings are open to all (and potential) writers, but to avoid trolling and spamming you need a the link (no password required) to get into the meeting. Zoom is really easy, you don't need to download the app. Genuine writers can email me or send me a message on City Voices Creative Writers Facebook Page to get the link for each meeting. You need to send your email address. Those already on our mailing list will recieve regular updates.
NEXT ZOOM MEETING SATURDAY 20th JUNE 11AM - 1PM