July Meeting 2019

Welcome back

Photo by Mabel Amber http://www.pexels.com

Good to see everyone and a nice turnout. Always interesting to have people back after their travels and meet up with new members. Leads to great banter!

Where to begin?

We always start with a catch up and ask for suggestions of what members would like to discuss.

piggy bank
by Skitterphoto at ww.pexels.com

We agreed that, now we are up and running, we could do with a treasurer. Not too onerous a task but important nevertheless.

Please send applications to Writers’ Neuk, unless your name is George Osborne. To be honest, George, we feel that with nine jobs already in your portfolio, one more might tip the balance and we would not like to be responsible for that, what with the additional responsibility and travelling too.

WordPress

photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Several members expressed a wish for help in using WordPress and how to write a blog.

It was suggested that we could get together for a workshop and take it from there.

Discussion

We shared a lot about our writing habits, how we overcome them and what we fear most when we write.

In the main, we agreed that dialogue, in fictional and non-fictional pieces, could be difficult to include, as we often tend to emphasize description and character.

However, dialogue can be an effective way of bringing out character traits and moving a story along. We considered this as we brought our work, for this month, to the table and as a result agreed that we would try and bring along a piece of written dialogue, to share at our next meeting.

Our Writing

There had been two suggestions for themes after last month’s meeting. These were:

Write about an emotion – Kindness, or

A beautiful sunset with an interesting person.

An Act of Kindness

First up was a reading about how bullying can be turned around by an act of kindness. A thoughtful piece, weaving a moral outcome throughout. Group members suggested considering who the audience was and the addition of some dialogue, to bring the story to life.

Sunset

One of our members has been travelling in Ireland and sent us an incredibly evocative piece he had written whilst there. It took him back to family summers, on the west coast, recalling all those special memories of childhood: the sun, the sea, the sand, the food and of course parents and siblings. In his absence, another member read it for us and really did it justice. The combination of the written word and the spoken word transported us to that place and time and no doubt made us reflect on past sunsets, in our own distant childhoods. As this was a first draft, it was suggested looking at the structure and polishing up.

Turning a Corner

Kindness was the prompt for the next piece and a theme of restorative justice in the community. It told the story of a young boy who had been reported to the Children’s Panel for mugging an old lady. He found himself at a Residential Care Home for the Elderly helping in the garden and seeking redemption. The group suggested that the Head Gardener’s reaction could be non-judgemental and that there could be some clarification, near the end, when the boy reflects on his situation.

The Lookout Point

Next we heard a beautifully succinct piece, written from the perspective of a character who is well known to its author, as she has been creating her over a period of time. The character is in a position of trust in the community, living and working in the neighbourhood but she is also rather nosey. From her vantage point, she is able to observe and form opinions about how they really lead their lives. Very thought provoking!

Sun Downer

Lastly, we listened to a haunting piece about a meeting between a young walker out late in the mountains of Arran, who comes across an elderly woman watching the sunset. He feels he should offer her help, not realising that she is the Cailleach who is named for the place (Ceum na Caillich or the Witches’ Step). She has watched such sunsets for millennia and surprises the young man by stepping over the ravine to the Castles Ridge (Caisteal Abhail). A great balance of description, dialogue and intrigue.

Inspiration and Support

Photo by Pixabay http://www.pexels.com

As always, everyone was supportive of each other’s work, which always inspires us to write more.

Thanks to Joy and Jenny for this

Next Month

If you feel inspired, try and bring along a piece of dialogue, on any topic, of approximately 200 – 300 words. If you can’t manage that, no matter, just come along, we’d love to see you.

Remember, we meet on the last Monday of each month, which this month is August 26th at 7pm. See you there!

Contact us

Writers on ‘Jealousy’ April 2019

Mrs Louboutin

Each day, you’d drift in, hair perfectly straightened, clothes neatly pressed: a pristine white t-shirt or top, a pastel cardigan casually draped over your shoulders, lightly coloured expensively cut trousers, a waft of expensive perfume in your wake.

You’d spend lunch time complaining bitterly that glue or paint had ruined your much admired clothing, about how much it had cost. You’d look straight at me, expecting me to magic up a clothes allowance from an already meagre budget. I wish I had been able to. Just to shut you up. Instead, I joined the others in making sympathetic noises whilst we patted down Primark skirts and trousers, wondering why you wore such clothes to work. I knew why. It was all about status.

Your shoes were your pride and joy. They gave the biggest hint of all about just how much you spent. I lost count of the number of times you wore red soles. We knew they were red, because you insisted on taking them off or adjusting them every break time. I was tempted with the black paint! Just a little nudge would have done. It’s one of my biggest regrets!

You actually believed that you were better than us all, that you were the duchess of the work place. You made sure your conversations were steeped in what I’ll call, ‘economics’, about how much you had saved, your husband’s salary, that kind of thing. Others could only listen, as they frantically wished for payday to come around. I simply wondered why you worked at all.

Then you worked out, through various conversations, but without any hint for me, well not much of one, that my ‘economics’ were greater that yours. And that unleashed the bitch from inside you. The cruel comments, the long calculating looks from my head to my toes began in earnest. I was excluded. No wine nights, no drinks or coffees after work for me. Did I care? No. Because by then only you and I knew just how much of a cold calculating bitch you were, that your red soles should have been green.

© Joy Deacon

To have and to hold. To bloody hold?

Brian turned away from the couple and focused his eyes on the sandstone wall, trying to cloud her beauty from his mind.

It wasn’t all Scott’s fault. The times he had told himself that. And they were pals, after all. Had been since they met, really. The day he charged into a lecture room, his blond hair unkempt as though he had just woken up, all smiles, apologies and correct answers.

They had shared a pint, a laugh, a joint and eventually a flat; a life, almost – until she turned up.

For that, he blamed himself. Brian had met her at a party, the prettiest girl there. Instead of staying and dancing to some average hip-hop, he suggested they went for a drink. In the taxi he texted Scott: PINT? He had since convinced himself that he hadn’t subconsciously meant to show-off, but deep down he felt it, that need to prove a point to this mate who somehow always stole the spotlight.

A few days and a couple of unanswered texts later, she was at his door, not for him, but for his pal. An awkward raised eyebrow from her, a good old pat on the back by way of apology from Scott, and off they went.

Now, here he was less than a year later, watching his loss unfurl. He glanced back to his mate, his hair groomed, ski-tan barely fading, a grey suit hugging his frame like a model. Brian wore exactly the same threads – as best man it had been his idea – but somehow his just felt lank, ill-fitting and uneasy.

Best man? Oh the irony of that statement!

Best man while the not so best one got to have, and to hold, and whatever ever else he damn well pleased with this goddess of a girl. His girl. 

© Andy Frazier

The Watcher

The cold crept through his body, like the jealousy crept through his brain. Insidious, eroding his defences in waves. How had he come to this particular place: this street, this state of mind? He did not wish to be here, either physically or spiritually. Their relationship had seemed solid. Three years and it had not crossed his mind to doubt her. He had thought this might be it, whatever it was.

But then she had moved job. Taken up a position in a new office, in the heart of the city.

Her hours had changed, become unpredictable. Travel took up more time and was unreliable. More worrying was the change in her appearance, even her demeanour. The distance between them had grown imperceptibly, like tectonic plates drifting under their feet. He had tried to reach out across the gap but felt no hands reaching back. Suspicion had grown like a vine around a tree trunk.

Mistrust of even the smallest detail had brought him to this point, when he had decided to follow her. Now, staring up at a lit window, above a row of shabby shops, what was he hoping for? Whatever it was, he was about to find out, as she appeared in the unknown doorway.

© Jenny Hoggan

Carve Up

It’s always the same. Every time. It makes me so, so, so… angry. I watch carefully: the blade, the chopping, the squeals, the sniggering … God, I hate it! I hate them! My teeth grind so hard they squeak.

It’s happening again, now. This time the knife’s in my hand … ha! ha! ooh…

I enjoy the cutting. Hmm, look at ’em, eyes bulging with fear, and they can’t do anything, haha! … but watch. Oh my, I’m drooling, excited. Let ’em glance all they want. The power is MINE!

OOoh! The edge slices into the squishy stuff in the middle. I so enjoy his groan and the sticky pull of the blade; the way his face screws up. I saw back and forwards. Another groan, such fun.

With a final crunch Willie’s eyes stick out like organ stops. My triumph is complete.

What’s that? He get’s to choose? It’s not fair, Mum, he always gets the biggest bit. I cry. The Creme Egg is split… and I’m going to lose out … AGAIN!

© Mac Logan

March Meeting 2019

Feels like we’re getting the hang of this! At our first meeting everything seemed strange and new. A bit stressful if I’m honest.

Getting organised, opening the building, getting the heating right, where to sit, what to speak about, meeting new people, making them welcome. It was early days for a new group.

Winter weather, Christmas holidays and the dark days of January all took their toll. Burn’s Night gave those with a poetic leaning, a glimmer of inspiration. Our first meeting of 2019 brought new faces, different experiences and new ideas for discussion and exploration.

Meeting

March was our second of 2019. I feel we are beginning to tune into peoples’ needs and move ideas forward.

I’m relatively new to all of this and I was fascinated to discover that there are all kinds of things out there to help budding writers:

  • software
  • apps
  • helpful blogs
  • websites

Sure, there are many aspiring new writers, scarily many, but help is there and accessible.

I thought I was doing well ordering my shopping online but words like Scrivener and AutoCrit have now entered my vocabulary, alongside Creative Writing Ink and WordPress. All have been stored away for further investigation.

The other thing that became immediately apparent is that people are happy to share, to listen and be supportive. I for one had used storyboards to teach young children but it had not crossed my mind that I could use them to develop my own writing.

For instance, at the February meeting Andy Frazier showed us an example of how he uses a story board for script writing. Check out Andy’s blog, which gives a basic introduction.

In the beginning

At the beginning of our early group meetings we quickly gave a brief history of what we were interested in and, perhaps, current projects. This helped us get to know each other and our aspirations.

Finding old masterpieces

One group member brought along a folder containing her old writing notes. I’m not even sure if she’d had time to look through them. But it’s surprising how looking back can refresh your ideas.

By the end of the evening she had shared a piece of work that mattered to her. We were glad she found the confidence to do that because it was a wee hidden gem, which we found, mattered to us too. It was a powerful piece, well considered, thought provoking and relevant.

Another member, who had not shared her work at this group before, shared a poem she had penned a while back. She is interested in imagery and it became strongly apparent that she has the ability to convey her ideas through this medium. Thank you both!

Getting published

Not the Life Imagined by [Pettigrew, Anne]One of our returning members explained that a friend of hers, from another writing group, has recently had her first novel published. Whilst this is not necessarily the immediate aim for everyone, in the first instance, it did make our ears prick up.

I for one was subsequently well impressed to find it, with ease, on the Internet. What’s more, with very favourable reviews! Anne Pettigrew, Not the life Imagined.

Using a song

The same member had been interested in taking Andy Frazier’s idea from our last meeting, of using song lyrics for the basis of a short story. Her chosen song was Every Breath You Take by The Police.

Now, like me, you may think of the lyrics as coming from the mouth of a broken-hearted lover. Many couples choose it to play at their wedding. Sting had just separated from his first wife to start a relationship with the person who would subsequently become his second wife, when he wrote it.

However, what if you put a different slant on the words? As our member pointed out, they can have a totally different meaning; the words of a stalker, controlling and menacing. Try listening to them again. She used this to great effect in her resulting short story.

If you come along …

Why not drop in and find out what our group is like. You don’t have to do or bring anything, but you can if you like. You can read a short extract from some on-going writing … anything really … and, of course, you can always try our preparation suggestions, below.

At our March meeting we heard:

  • two brief short stories
  • a poem
  • a chunk of non-fiction
  • an extract of Scottish Historic fantasy-fiction
  • a personal reflection

People responded in helpful and interested ways.

As one of the short story writers, when preparing, I was stumped for a new idea and, for the first time, Googled “creative writing prompts“.

I can recommend it because there are lots, and I found something that ‘clicked’ with me straight away. Job done!

Mac tells me he wrote a blog on writers-block a while back.

Next meeting

From the first, we have been keen to steer the group in the direction members need and want. To that end we had a discussion and agreed on two things for next time.

  • Choose any book and create a logline for it

Image result for logline

A logline is a sentence which summarises a TV programme, film or book that states the central conflict of the story. It often provides both a  synopsis of the plot and an emotional “hook” to stimulate interest. And …

  • write up to 200 words on the theme “jealousy” – whatever it means to you – fiction, non-fiction, a poem, a song … you choose.

Why not come along and share your ideas? Hope to see you soon!

© Jenny Hoggan