July meeting – AGM

On July 13, 2021 a few of us attended the WWG AGM 2021. The meeting was quorate.

The AGM part of the meeting saw the officers re-elected with offers of additional support.

The Accounts approved and a resolution to hold the membership fee at the present amount (£36.00 p.a.). It was decided to retain the Zoom facility for (probably) another twelve months as folks ease back into the new normals and as a contingency for the winter. Suffice to say there is money in the bank and subs are due this month folks!

The business complete piece of work by Barbara was reviewed – it was submitted under this month’s writing exercise that suggested the traits of someone close were transposed into a character in a situation either based in reality or imagination. Barbara’s piece was evocative and funny in parts. Full of dialogue which is a new departure for the author – it was well done. 

Nick’s piece was a reworking of something he had written a while ago. He had taken a real life anecdote and addressed the writing exercise suggestion. It was a potent, powerful piece of writing which generated much discussion – not because it needed any alteration per se, rather because it was so good and provocative!

Lastly, Sophie asked for a further piece from her novel to be reviewed – read by Nick, it was fantastic and a long way from her earlier novel. The narrative, scene setting and dialogue flowed and evocative. Sophie was able to contextualise the episode verbally in terms of where it sits in British History and Folklore -that was fascinating and I hope she writes the book that tells that story too!

The evening ended without a firm decision as to whether we will meet in August – you will find out in due course no doubt – there was enthusiasm for it in our small party.

April meeting

An enjoyable, lively meeting of seven of us reviewed some quality, interesting work, some of which had been written at the mid-month meeting. There, objects of beauty/ugliness produced imaginative and surprising writing. The speed with which Barbara produced a thought-provoking poem was commented on. Marion’s story and Jenny’s covid story were critiqued.

Adele plans to write a children’s story and talked us through her ideas. A lively discussion ensued.  Her idea was overwhelmingly supported and we all look forward to her story.

Janine recommended two books which suit the theme of people whose lives are determined by factors pushing them outside society at some time: Jews Don’t Count by Baddiel and The Madness of Grief by Richard Coles.

As always, thanks to Sophie for organising all the meetings. Thanks also to Janine for overhauling dropbox.

The renewed vigour of spring

We’ve made it through the winter months and it is starting to feel like spring. In my garden, crocuses (or croci if you prefer) appeared as the snow melted. Snowdrops gave way to banks of violet and gold. Along the road this morning I noticed an early daffodil in full sunshiny flower. The blue skies, the buds showing on the trees and the catkins in the hedges speak of hope and life to come and suddenly, with the announcement of the slow re-opening of the country, it feels like there may be things to look forward to once again.

The group continued to meet over Zoom through the winter. We kept each other company on a Tuesday night each month and looked forward to our monthly catch ups – a space to dream, to share and above all, to obtain support – of each others’ writing and in facing the bleak days of a winter lockdown. This week we started our mid-month writing time – Zoom based still, of course. Marion and Janine hosted our first session and feedback so far suggests members found it inspirational – some of the poetry shared with me, spring-filled and beautiful, attests to that being the case.

Our March meeting will roll around soon, the task to write dialogue. I’ve read about the difficulties many are facing with their writing at the moment, the challenges of being creative when our reality has become so narrow, but I am pleased that our meetings continue to inspire the members of the WWG to keep writing. In February we had nine submissions to review in addition to the 4 people who had completed the task for that month which did not require any writing to be submitted.

With the coming of spring we see renewed vigour in the garden, life bursting out of ground which only days ago was frozen, leaves shooting from branches barren for months. With the amount of work submitted in February and the success of our first mid-month writing time, it feels as though our writing group is currently suffering from a bout of spring. Here’s hoping we move forwards to an abundant summer and fruitful autumn as we progress through the rest of 2021.

A reflective November meetup

Sarah summarises our November meeting.

The shift in seasons, the encroachment of winter and wilder weather, and a global pandemic continues to spark emotive responses in our writing.  Our November session and submissions felt poignant, pensive and sometimes very personal.

As a newcomer to the group and to poetry, this was an especially rich session for me to attend. We reviewed vivid expressions of Autumn, more personal reflections on time passing and a new chapter from a fantasy epic, where the writing captured that sense of returning somewhere familiar after a long time – this tapestry of distinct and unique pieces somehow flowed into each other with a real synergy of themes and emotions. The writing was impactful, thought provoking and hugely inspiring. 

Indulging in both polished pieces of work and the early drafts of work in progress is a treat and a window into everyone’s creative approach. Whilst there were undercurrents of foreboding, sadness, reflectiveness, there were notes of optimism and beauty in everyone’s work. The session flew by with a wealth of readings and feedback. What is so refreshing is the exposure to styles of writing and approaches so different from your own. The creative cup is filled up once more thanks to everyone’s willing vulnerability, unwavering support of each other and considered guidance. 

This was the first time anyone has ever read anything of mine out loud back to me, which was terrifying but so sensitively approached. This group is funny, warm, supportive and constructive, so if you are a fellow introverted writer and find yourself debating whether to join this group… I promise you can survive having your work read out and reviewed in this way! Whether we write with a goal or for pleasure, or simply a compulsion to make sense of something, it is a wonderful creative bubble to ensconce yourself in.

October meeting – shipwrecks, any old iron, Dorset and some fantasy

Sheila tells us about our October meeting.

After last month’s very successful evening in the company (virtual, of course) of Helen Stockton, author, the group members were asked to produce a poem on any theme for this October meeting.

Ten of us ‘Zoomed’ in to the meeting and after a brief AGM we turned to the real joy of the evening – welcoming a potential new member, introducing her to the group, and reading written work from our group members. 

We reviewed a number of submissions that comprised poetry and a chapter of a novel in progress. First we read and critiqued a powerful poem inspired by a painting on a great-grandmother’s wall, with thunderous clouds, stormy seas and shipwrecked sailors; then poetry inspired by various radio station programmes and leading the writer to wonder about ‘rag and bone men’ and ‘any old iron’, combined with a trip down memory lane. The next poem introduced another new word into the vocabulary of at least one of us, and painted a beautiful and positive ‘picture’ – using just pen and ink – to balance the veil of fear (of Covid-19 maybe?).  

The book chapter was engaging and the language illustrative, drawing us deep into the storyline.   Perhaps a blockbusting novel of the future?  With all these submissions we wanted to read more and were fortunate to have an unexpected late addition to our evening reading in the form of a short but colourful poem about a long car journey and the subsequent walking holiday in Dorset.

The writing styles vary enormously but the imagination and quality of the written articles is always amazing!

As the meeting was coming to a close, we discussed a writing theme for us to focus on and submit for review next month.  We agreed the group’s Chair would circulate photos of a few random items and each WWG member would write a poem or short story about the item(s) that most fires their imagination. These will be submitted for our review at our next meeting.

September meeting – Poetry with Helen Stockton

9 members met on Zoom in September to attend a poetry workshop with Helen Stockton. Barbara describes the meeting below.

Helen is both a poet and a teacher and she provided us with three poems and a work sheet before the meeting. The poems were:

The Glory of the Garden by Rudyard Kipling

There’s Some Mistake- which starts off Mirror, Mirror, on the wall

The Simple Truth by Philip Levine.

We went into groups to study one in depth and then we shared our thoughts in response to the question posed.

Helen asked us whether or not these were poems and we defended our views.

We then looked at the simile sheet she gave us and shared our own interpretations with the group.

Metaphor, as Helen explained is a little bit more difficult to write but we gave it a go and shared our ideas.

Finally we were shown a picture of Birch trees and asked to use these as a springboard to write a metaphor or two ourselves, which we again shared.

Without exception it was declared a very enjoyable and worthwhile meeting.

May meeting – murder, therapy and support of the WWG

We met online again today for the second time. A slightly smaller group this month meant we were able to have a relaxed meeting catching up on everyone’s activities since the last meeting and sharing our thoughts on the current position in the UK relating to coronavirus among other things.

We read through the submissions for feedback – two poems inspired by current events showed similar themes linking environmental impact and the coronavirus but written in each writer’s own style ensuring each was distinct and impactful in its own way. A further poem, shocking in depicting the aftermath of a road accident yet beautiful and haunting in its use of language, caused shivers down spines as it was read to us. We heard of a murder in Woldingham – an introduction, perhaps to a murder mystery – why was a green-eyed, tennis-playing grandmother dangling from a swing in the playground on the Glebe?* We also considered a monologue, written in response to a call for monologues for a local dramatic group currently unable to meet and act together – a stream of consciousness of a lady meeting with her bereavement therapist and having a good day, in as far as she could have good days – her hair was clean anyway.

The writing was, as usual, inspirational and while we provided constructive criticism to assist in improvements (on some there was very little to do) we all enjoyed the work as it had been presented and are looking forward to seeing the revisions.

After feedback, our conversation turned back to coronavirus and the work ongoing in local communities to assist the vulnerable. We talked of the loneliness in living alone and the desire we all had to be able to touch those loved ones we have kept ourselves away from for all of this time. We shared our fears and sought to boost each other in reminding ourselves of the tremendous good that is being done and the blessings being counted at a time when so many are struggling, whether that’s with the illness itself or the impact it is having on jobs and the wider economy as well as with mental health and wellbeing.

We all agreed that we took comfort from the regular meetings of our group which enable us to keep in touch with people that have become friends through our shared interest in writing. The Woldingham Writers’ Group fulfills its primary purpose in supporting us in our writing. However, we all recognise and are grateful for the fact that it supports us in so many other ways.

* This month’s task was to write about a fictitious murder using a local setting.

First virtual meeting – April 2020

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We had our first virtual meeting this evening and 9 members joined which as you’ll see made for a very even screen in terms of being able to see everyone (sorry about my photo – I am a writer not a photographer, clearly!)

As always with the Woldingham Writers’ Group, the evening was a great success. We welcomed a potential new member who bravely decided to meet us for the first time virtually. We managed our usual round of introductions and then moved onto the feedback work submitted.

The task had been to start with “I remember” and then write from there. At the time I set the 2020 exercises I had no idea of the events that would come to pass by the time we reached April and the influence they would have on the memory exercise. Remembering is always a great source of writing inspiration – much can be found as we rummage through our lives. An almost forgotten memory re-surfaces in our writing as a vividly expressed experience with resonance for others.

Well, this memory exercise resulted, almost exclusively, in recent memories of a time, in the last few months, when we collectively realised Covid-19 was not the same as winter flu. It was wonderful to experience living history through the eyes of our members. From the sound of woodpeckers being heard as our streets quietened to the sound of a horn bought at a souk on honeymoon sounding as we clapped for carers – reminiscent of a time when the heat of bodies close together was the norm – we were clearly inspired by what was before and what now is.

The writing was so strong that we put out a call to all of our members to either polish what had been submitted or to submit more. It may be that we manage to publish some of this, perhaps with sale proceeds to go to charity, at some point soon.

Again, I leave a WWG meeting full of inspiration and desire not only to write but also to publish – thank you WWG members for really joining in with the virtual meeting and enabling us to continue writing and sharing our work in these otherwise challenging times. I look forward to seeing you all again in May.

 

March meeting – just before lockdown

Three members met on Tuesday 10th March. There would have been more of us but a few were ill or self-isolating already with Covid-19 circulating. At that time, we were told we were only high risk if we’d been in contact with a known case or had recently come back from one of the places on the list – certain parts of China, Northern Italy…

How times have changed just one month on!

Jenny kindly prepared minutes of the meeting, a shortened version of which are below:

There were one or two bits of business we discussed:

Menu for poetry day – we are going for option A from the menu at £15.95 per person. The menu will be made up with vegetarian/vegan and gluten/lactose free members catered for. But Marion is going to have to ask the hotel if we need a different menu that takes into account our gluten free members. The options available may change. [Note, our planned poetry day has now been postponed due to being in lockdown.]

Contributions for our next book – rather a lot of ‘Winter’s Tale’ titles; Authors will be asked to rename pieces. Also, Jenny and Marion thought we could expand ideas so they’re not just about weather, maybe into more philosophical or metaphorical areas e.g. ‘Now is the winter of our discontent’? Though not necessarily gloomy! We even discussed broadening the theme. It would be interesting to see what other people think.

Groups and Meeting – with such a healthy membership, we discussed maybe having daytime meetings – mums might prefer this – as well as evenings, maybe more than one a month, also breaking into groups, if a large number attend. As numbers at meetings have been small recently, it’s not urgent, but a contingency plan is needed. Further discussion covering all options would be useful.

Work submitted
Although a very small group, we had fun discussing three pieces written by those present. Susie brought along a lovely, gentle, lyrical piece about materials she has in a box which evoked memories and moods. It was beautifully executed and could well be included in our book with maybe a title linking it to the theme.
Marion’s piece was also fab and completely different from her usual work. It was based on Schrödinger’s experiment – no I didn’t know what that was either. It was really thought provoking. As it was very last minute, you may not have read it yet. Do.
Jenny brought along chapter 3 of her children’s book, The Crossing Sweeper Mystery. Judged to be fast moving and polished, it provoked a lively discussion on how to make it more child-engaging yet keep the historical tone.

A good time was had by all. Looking forward to our next meeting on Tuesday 14th April.

January meeting

A very full meeting this evening with 7 attendees, some of whom had not been able to make it for a while so it was lovely to see everyone and wish each other a Happy New Year!

For the second time in three months we were joined by a potential new member who left saying she’d like to join the group – so we are growing which is wonderful.

We went through the usual introductions and talked about why we had all joined the group and then moved onto some updates from Janine about the planned theatre trip to watch To Kill a Mockingbird and a potential trip to the cinema together. Janine also updated us on Artworks2 in Woldingham and in her capacity as chair of that project, formally invited us to attend – we were delighted to accept.

We then turned to the feedback work. We’d received 4 pieces for review. 3 of these were based on the theme of our next collection, which currently has a loose working title of A Winter’s Tale and the other was a revised chapter of Sophie’s novel which resulted from her Cornerstones edit.

The first submission was a vivid description of a Woldingham garden and the creatures that lived within it. We debated whether the inclusion of the mother and child was best at the beginning, the end or should be left out all together – there were many different views on this. We then enjoyed a poem which thoughtfully set out the concerns we all have with the harm we are doing to our planet in a description of the sun shining through winter mist. We then read Sophie’s revised chapter and agreed, the stakes had been raised as suggested.

We talked through why one might pay for an edit and debated the merits of making changes to render a novel (potentially) more commercial versus writing the story the writer wanted to write. Sophie felt that one could do both and is pleased with the changes made so far.

Then followed a description of the colours to be seen on a winter’s day prompting much discussion on how to really see.

As always, we had a great time together and left feeling inspired and keen to write more!

 

Artworks