Benefits of a Writing Workshop

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I have become distracted. Somewhere along the way my original purpose for writing this blog lost its way and, instead of writing about writing, I’ve used this space for sharing some of my writing projects, such as memoir writing and social history. But hopefully I’ve remained faithful to the whole idea of writing stories – my stories, your stories, the stories so many of us like to read because we can relate to them.

This morning I attended a two hour creative non-fiction writing workshop, the writing I spend about half of my writing life doing. This was the first writing workshop I’ve attended for a few years. I came away with more than I expected.

A writing workshop ideally offers us opportunities to write, to put into practice what we’re focused on. Yes, I came home with a piece of new writing developed at this morning’s workshop. But I came home with even more.

Perhaps even more stimulating was the contact with other writers, all writing different stories, all having something valid to say, most of whom I’d never met before. I enjoyed being exposed to different styles of writing and discussing them. I also listened to how each writer faced challenges in their writing lives.

Writing tends to be an isolated task. A writing workshop brings us into contact with other writers. For me this was more powerful than the piece of writing I produced.

If you have the opportunity to be part of such a session, grab it. There’s something quite powerful about thinking about and talking about writing, while producing the start of a new piece of work and receiving feedback.

Have you had similar experiences?

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Listening Through Closed Doors

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I’m sure many of your parents, like mine, told you that no good comes of listening to conversations not meant for your ears. But when you’re a bored teenager sometimes listening to an adult conversation can be quite revealing. How else were we to learn about life?

On one occasion my parents’ saying proved to be wrong and what I heard became a turning point in my life. The conversation unfolded between my father and a woman who often visited us, the very woman written about yesterday with the silver grey hair and the pink volkswagen car.

Said woman disapproved of the freedom I was given since I had started competitive swimming. She’d apparently seen me biking home from training with some boys.

‘You give that girl too much freedom,’ she said. ‘She’ll end up getting herself into trouble.’

Now I was at an age where girls getting into trouble meant only one thing, they found themselves pregnant. I was about to burst through the door in protest, but my father’s reply stopped me. His answer was simple.

‘We trust her,’ he said.

They were such powerful words and even though he never said as much to me personally he didn’t need to. His trust always came to mind when I found myself getting involved in teenage shenanigans.

So, conversations listened on through closed doors are not always a bad thing.

Painting My Writing With Colour

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Falling into familiar patterns is easy. They creep up on us without our noticing and we find the excitement in our writing slowly goes into hiding. That’s what it’s like for me anyway.

I’ve done more factual than creative writing over the past three years, but now I’m trying to kick start my creativity. I have a few go-to books I enjoy when this happens and I pulled out one this morning. I randomly opened at a chapter about including the detail of colour in writing.

This was exactly what I needed. I’m currently writing a piece about ‘That Woman’ for my memoir group. My writing was drab, even though I was describing a woman vibrant in both the colours she chose and in her personality. Just being reminded of colour enabled me to revitalise my writing, bring more life to it.

The woman’s grey hair became silver grey hair, so silver the light bounced off it like sparks. Her pink volkswagen car became a car so pink it shocked the drab neighbourhood around it.

Sometimes it is easy to fall into lazy habits, but they are not impossible to turn around. Today I’m looking forward to painting the piece I’m writing with colour.

Even Non-Fiction Books Have Sequels

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The book launch is over, the books are continuing to sell and although I’m still my own promoter and marketer I’m ready to start writing again.

I knew the right next step would present itself and yesterday, as I was working on an article for the local history journal, I realised what my next project will be. In fact, I’d already started on it without realising.

At the book launch and during the period prior to it many local swimming stories were emerging that were not connected to the baths I wrote about, but were local social history stories that deserve to be told. Just like the driftwood above, stories can find a second life, continuing their journey on a different course.

Consequently, I am about to embark on a continuing story, a sequel to Down at the Baths. The story is not yet named, but will be about children and swimming places in our city prior to about 1970.

Have you ever noticed that once you set your focus things start happening? Within a couple of hours of making the decision to write a sequel to my book I was given two independent stories of an old swimming hole I’d previously known nothing about. That was definitely a sign this next book is meant to be.

So, my way forward is now clear and I’m rather excited. It seems the next couple of years of my life have now been taken care of.

 

Making a Start on Writing Your Stories

So many people tell me there life is not worth recording, they’ve never done anything interesting that others may want to read. Of course, I tell them that is absolute nonsense. No one else knows our life as we do. What seems ordinary to us seems fascinating to others. That is why it is important to get your stories written down.

As I go about my research for my latest writing project I’m grateful that people in the past have recorded their everyday stories, so that every day details are not lost. In the future someone may be grateful to you for writing your stories down. Even the smallest details may prove to be informative or interesting to someone in the years to come.

Why not start writing down your stories today?Image

Captured by the Fairies at Midnight

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I’m sure you’ve heard the term, away with the fairies. Well, that’s me right now! I was writing a few words at midnight elsewhere last night, when my mind wandered back to childhood and what midnight meant to me then. For some reason, fairies leaped into my mind, and they’ve stayed there ever since.

All sorts of notions have been running through my brain, as if the fairies have captured me and transported me back into another world. My childhood visions of fairies were deeply embedded in my imagination, fuelled by the books I read. I even went fairy hunting in the backyard by moonlight.

Today my preoccupation continues and I’ve decided to delve into these mythical little creatures further. Just for fun of course. I don’t want them to think I’m spying on them!

Red Faced Embarrassment for a Swimmer at the Bank

Why is it we tend to remember the embarrassing moments of our lives more easily than the more rewarding times? Well, I do anyway. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve had plenty of embarrassing moments, not that I’m prepared to reveal all here.

Some of you already know I’m a swimmer, a lapsed one at the moment, but still a swimmer. I have chlorine in my veins and so does my husband.

So, when I heard a quite common line on TV the other night, ‘I didn’t recognise you with your clothes on,’ I had to laugh. Oh yes, I’ve definitely heard that line before.

It was when I was in my thirties. My husband was manager of the local outdoor swimming pool and worked seven days a week during the summer, so I spent many of my waking summer hours there. My usual attire was either my swim suit of course, or shorts, top and bare feet. That was how people knew me and how I knew many of the people in my life.

So when a well dressed young man spoke to me in the bank queue one day, at first I didn’t recognise him. Then he smiled and the penny dropped.

‘Oh, I didn’t recognise you with your clothes on,’ I blurted out.

I can smile now, but at the time I blushed more red than any sunburn I’d ever experienced.

Isn’t is funny how a simple throw-away line on TV can bring forth old memories in a rush. It certainly did for me and now my mind is racing with other stories that may one day get told.

We all have so many stories to tell. How about you?

Do you find some things just unhatch the lid on your mind, like opening Pandora’s box, letting out more than you keep up with?