Hidden Talents

It was a full house (well table) today in our library space between the non-fiction shelves.

We began by discussing a recent competition round-up which Wanda had shared amongst the group. Precia has received an email update from one she recently entered. Wanda, who had submitted work to the same competition had heard nothing. Tears and tantrums were threatened but thankfully the tea trolley averted attention. Unfortunately, there was no milk which almost resulted in the hurling of some mince pies on the cusp of their sell-by date – it would never have happened under Lou McGough’s watch.

Caroline was back amongst us today and shared news of a new project being produced by local writer Mal Dewhirst. The Adventures of Abigail Skyrocket will be performed by theatre company Fired Up who will soon be auditioning. Caroline, was present at a recent open morning and said that anyone wishing to help with writing, marketing etc., should attend the next meeting. The show is being written to coincide with the 130th anniversary of the Assembly Rooms, Tamworth incorporating many of the shows and stars that have performed there.

We were joined once more by English language student, Fayzur with his tutor, Patsy. They were hoping for lively conversation so it was time to move on to the subject of the day, Spotlight.

I read work by our newest recruit, Justin who checks in remotely via Yorkshire. He provided a short poem that dealt with the glare of the spotlight both acceptable and unwanted. Wanda liked the phrasing, particularly the ‘bright insight’ to which we often have no escape. A well-received piece by our cyber member.

Following on from her previous story introduction, Vic continued her account of a young woman trapped in work she despises. Forced to take a job as a pole dancer, our protagonist has become adept at getting through the ordeal, focusing on the music to drown out reality. The spotlight is turned on newest employee, Maria who suffers abuse from a disappointed audience as well as unpleasant boss Barry. Wonderfully descriptive language brings the characters to life, Maria ‘like a fledgeling pushed out of the nest’, was well depicted. Vic’s insight into pole dancing was questioned as the realism of this story had us on the edge of our seat.

Sue brought in a poem that dealt with the nerves faced by a ballerina when forced into the spotlight. When the principal dancer is unable to take part, the ballerina is promoted from signet to swan. Her confidence is shaken with nowhere to hide but once in the spotlight, her soul takes flight. Another expressive account which brought the words to life, the poem was beautifully narrated with a deep understanding of the dancer’s feelings.

Marilia was last under our Spotlight. Another brief poem whose theme included an actress who becomes a Duchess, a Prince now hiding in the snow. I don’t think you’ll need three guesses to determine the subject matter? For a short poem the words spoke volumes, interpretation was ambiguous. Well written and accurately current.

The subject matter of today’s writing aimed a spotlight on some of our member’s hidden talents. Whilst Vic vehemently denies having ever danced around a pole, Sue was in fact a ballerina. Not only that, she has performed in Swan Lake at Birmingham Town Hall as well as many other ballets; no wonder her poem was ‘en pointe’. Wanda revealed her talent as being able to ride a bike without holding the handle bars; images of Wanda pulling a wheelie down the skate park are hard to remove from my head now!

It was Wanda who rounded off our meeting with mention of her latest Dragon book. Showing us the illustration for the forthcoming front cover she explained that she has misgivings about her chosen title, The Dragon’s Nativity. Depicting gravestones engraved with humourous and thought-provoking epitaphs, a mist rises from the ground. Wanda explained how she needs the title to reflect Dragons transition through adolescence. Caroline suggested this is more a ‘Rite of Passage’, Moya thought of it hatching and ‘Awakening’ was put forward. The Pre-pubescent Dragon was rejected, I’ll get me coat… (If I’m not here next week it’s because Wanda is wheelie cross about the photo I’ve shared)

wheelie

Our 2020 Debut

It was the First day of Tamworth Writers 2020 and we had a good turn out although not everyone managed to produce their debut, piece of work.

The theme ‘Debut’ was only taken up by Vic who produced a piece of work based part on fact, part fiction. A great start to our writing programme, we were taken via a jobsworth in the dole office to the launch of our protagonists pole dancing career in a backstreet club. A lively discussion on this dance style ensued, during which we learnt where to find proud lines (you won’t find them on Googleand Precia gave us an insight into her technique when crossing a stile.

As I’d not completed any homework I cheated by bringing in my Tamworth Writers debut the first short story I wrote when joining three years ago. It also happened to be the first fictional tale I’d penned since forging school sick notes. It was strange revisiting an old piece of work as I’d forgotten the plot line (it was that memorable).

The Writers then listened to some feedback I have received on a couple of excerpts from my book. Wanda has kindly edited them for me and her sister, Cerisa also read them and supplied some excellent comments. As a result of this I shall be resuming my editing forthwith as I am entering one of the excerpts in a Life Writing Competition. I am learning that editing is a game of two halves; first what you change and correct yourself, followed by what others see that you don’t. I’m 10,000 words in, just another 65,000 to go…

Precia had some exciting news about her latest novel, In Dangerous Company. It is in the process of being recorded as an audio book by an up and coming actor (who’s name I will drop in here once I retrieve it). News this week has confirmed that audio books stimulate the same areas of the brain as reading books. The rise of podcasts and audio books confirms that this is the way forward for authors, good luck Precia with your latest project, can’t wait to hear it!

in dangerous company

Next weeks theme is Translation. We will be on the first floor of Tamworth Library between 1-4pm for anyone who wants to come along and write; all genres and abilities.

Happy New Year!

Straight & Marrow

Lots to discuss today and we were joined by a newbie and a Mommy. Marilia brought her mother along who was visiting from Brazil so it was good to Welcome Sophia back. The other guest was Ed, a young man who enjoys writing in the cosy crime genre.

Caroline brought up the question of competitions, do we want to continue running in house comps or should we, as has been previously suggested, stop them altogether. Those of us present were unanimous in keeping them going with conditions; a judge should be decided before entries taken, at least six entries have to be made and funds have to be available for the winners. The possibility of dropping to just two; short story and poetry was put forward but as non-fiction is my favourite, I dug my heels in.  If entries are low, then the competition won’t run anyway.

Introductions were made to Ed at this point and he shared his latest idea for a book, asking for our input in the following; interesting ways to kill a person using garden shears – I kid you not. Caroline’s suggestion of lunging aggressively with the blades open had a flaw, it’s not exactly ‘cosy crime’. Neither is Ed’s own idea of dropping the shears onto someone’s head from a height. Sue preferred poisoning the blades whilst I favoured using them to sever a cable and electrocuting the victim. All of the aforementioned amounted to marrowcide according to Moya! Other marrow jokes were available much to Caroline’s amusement, especially when delivered in a mock German accent (you had to be there).

Swiftly moving on, we then discussed the weekend’s literary event put on by Where the Rivers Meet together with Tamworth Literary festival. Only Caroline had attended this on Saturday in the Castle Grounds, joining other local writers including Mal Dewhurst and Anthony Poulton-Smith with the organiser Darren Cannan. The poets and storytellers made their way through the Castle Grounds to Ladybridge, stopping en route to read their work before finishing at The Moat House. There was another opportunity for readings and some interesting local history. Caroline took plenty of notes and her blog will soon be available to read here and on her WordPress site The Divine Write.

On then to today’s subject, Journal. I read first, a piece detailing my diaries which began aged six, continuing throughout my life to the present day. I’ve kept almost all of them, a few gaps can be found in my teenage years where the books are probably still hidden under floorboards at my Moms. The rest cover, marriage, raising kids, starting work, setting up a business and everything that life has thrown at me. I brought along my earliest diary, a school news book from 1973 from which I read a couple of excerpts. Ah those halcyon days where I could fill a page with tales of rolling around on the grass (not my teenage diaries honest!)

Vic read next, a story that centred on friendships of the unrequited kind. A long overdue catch up leaves an alliance in tatters when one discovers unkind diary entries about the other in a journal left unattended. The spiteful revelations she reads lead our protagonist to storm out, ending the bond they’ve held for so long. She then bumps into another acquaintance who, seeing the woman’s distress hugs her and offers comfort, taking her for a coffee. As one tie is severed, another is made and while this new relationship builds the old one is deleted, unfollowed and ended for good.

Finally, we had a heart-rending tale from Sue about how significant diaries can be. In his 79th year, John reflects on the special relationship he had with his Grandad and how, when Althzeimers took hold, John offered comfort by reading to his Grandad from the diaries he’d kept. When John noticed the telltale symptoms of this cruel disease taking hold of his own life, he realises that just as he himself did, his own children are aware of the illness. History repeats as his children relate the diaries of his Grandfather to their Dad. The journalling is passed on from father to son and so on and the entries offer just as much comfort year in and year out. Beautifully written and told by Sue who never ceases to amaze in the way she can perfectly craft a story anywhere in no time at all – this tale was written while waiting for Writers to begin today.

We were all disappointed that Moya hadn’t taken on today’s subject as one of her brilliant characters would have been more than a match for Adrian Mole!

That’s all from me for today. Next Wednesday we have Andrew Sparkes joining us so make sure that date is in your diary. Oh, and don’t forget to add our next evening meet up on Thursday October 5th at 7.30pm in the Castle Hotel, Tamworth – bring some writing to share, all welcome.

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Fresh Ideas

Following on from last weeks brainstorming session, we discussed the ideas put forward to improve our weekly meetings. Tamworth Writers has seen some positive changes since making the move from the Town Hall to Tamworth Library. The extension of hours has enabled more members to participate for longer, however, this has also blurred the lines as to when the meeting starts and ends.

It has been agreed that the first 20 minutes of each meeting should be used for general discussion, updates and information that needs passing on. We should then have strict writing time, for now, this will be 40 minutes taking us to 2pm. This way, members who have been unable to find time to write on the weekly subject can pen their work. Alternatively, it can be used for work in progress or reading/editing. Whatever purpose each member finds for the allotted time, it should be spent quietly. This will also allow latecomers to join us and hear everyones work after 2pm.

The question of weekly subs was brought up and it was unanimously agreed that this should now be lowered to £1 per session. This will cover the cost of speakers we may book but moving forward, any theatre trips and excursions are to be paid for individually; this includes the Readers & Writers meeting at Christophers. Competitions will still be run and this money is to be found from subs for now.

As we are saying goodbye to Lou, Wanda has agreed to take money for drinks and biscuits, I shall look forward to running up a suitable pinny for Wanda’s Refreshments which she can model whilst pushing in the trolley (I’ve a feeling I may regret this…) Funds will be found from this for our Christmas meal.

The last point on the agenda was a prospective meeting to be held once a month in the evening. This has yet to be finalised; maybe members can bring some ideas for days and venues next week. Already the response on Twitter has been positive with some good interest shown.

 

Without further ado, we slipped seamlessly into our dedicated writing time. A little later owing to the previous discussion but everyone was eager to put pen to paper; well except Sean who preferred the role of writing invigilator, a job he took very seriously. The theme this week was Mystery, this was taken up by the majority of the group beginning with Sue.

Reading a descriptive piece about a subject we are all familiar with, the loss of keys, in Sue’s case her car keys. Taking us on a journey through the various odds and ends she searched, making discoveries including old sweets and scribbled notes. The mystery is ultimately solved by her daughter who returns from school that day to casually mention she had picked the keys up herself by accident. Sue always manages to produce quality work in no time at all, the discovery of the phone number could be mystery no2.

Lou continued by observing the mystery of life, thought-provoking and leaving us with the knowledge that the only certainties in life are death and taxes.

Moya teased us with the beginnings of a dragon story, amusingly titled, Glowering Inferno. We were introduced to King Fred who called for a melee during which we heard mention of the dragon Snowdrop. As always packed with fantastic names and larger than life characters. We want more!

Caroline had also managed to pen several pages towards the start of a novel, no mean feat in a short time. We heard about a police incident happening outside the home of George and Edna, the latter of whom had situated herself in prime position for speculating on what was going on. From her armchair she regaled George with imagined tales of the drama unfolding in their neighbours home. This included a classic observance about the shiftiness of people who don’t bring in their bins! Again, more please Caroline.

Marilia took us away on holiday with Diane and Richard. Describing an average day visiting the beach before returning to the hotel room where Diane is unable to locate her make up bag, a mystery that bordered on crisis until Diane remembered putting it in the safe. Another different take on the subject, well written.

Precia, starting with the line, “It’s a mystery” told how she was a fan of 80s songstress Toyah, well until she took on the role of Evita, unsuccessfully. This was followed by a humorous observation about the wherabouts of baby pigeons and doves. Continuing with an anecdote about the heavy-footed pigeons that disturb the peace in the Pitt household that concluded with the tale of a buzzard decapitating one unfortunate pigeon. Maybe that was the mystery solved?

Wanda had continued with a novel she has read from previously. A historical piece that took us to the court of Laird Douglas where he handed out a dreadful punishment to an unfortunate young girl, Mary MacDonald. In her despair as she was taken away, Mary laid an ancient deity curse upon the household of the Laird to be paid with a blood debt. It concludes when the Lady, having taken her leave from court makes plans to save the young girl in the hopes that the curse is lifted. Another excellent use of such a short time, as Wanda read, the tension built. I’m hoping we don’t have to wait long before hearing the next instalment.

Lily worked on an idea that may be inserted in a book or just a blog piece. The title was Everyone Else Is and it concerned the age-old phrase used by kids when peer pressure takes over. Cool kids of every decade lead the way for those of us more easily led, some more so than others… In today’s society, peer pressure has never been greater, I dread to think where my boundaries would have been drawn if the internet had been around!

Next week’s topic is Enigma so if times evades you this week, don’t forget to bring pen and paper, 1.20pm is time to write.

time to write

 

 

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