Monday, 12 January 2009

paper planes

On Saturday I went to a writing workshop in Manchester. I've been meaning to go to Paper Planes for some time. Somehow I ended up on the mailing list and kept getting lovely mails about these creative writing workshops every second Saturday of the month.

So, this week, I packed my little notebook and pen and headed down to Fuel cafe bar in Withington, Manchester. The group is run by poet Steven Waling, and fiction writer Anthony Sides. I know Steven a little from various poetry events and his latest book Travelator. I've never met Tony Sides, although I have to say he was very forgiving about me sitting in his chair, and also using his fleece as a blanket because the venue was oh so cold.

Those of you who know me from myspace or real life will know I have mixed feelings about writing groups. I tend to drop in and drop out of them. I love workshops and courses, but find it hard to commit and am never sure whether I will get on with people. It was a lovely group. There were one or two familiar faces. A nice mix of writers. Very laid back atmosphere. Some inspiring writing exercises. A lot of laughs, respect for others' writing, and encouragement.

It started at 12 (ish) finished at 4 (ish), we started with two good writing exercises - one using a kicker line to start some stream of consciousness writing, one focusing on sound which seemed to inspire an unexpected piece of prose for me. Then we broke for lunch where we all bought tasty food from the cafe downstairs and chatted about writing and life and relationships. I found out that the workshop has been running for a few years, some people there from the beginning, others have just started.

After lunch, three more writing exercises. One focusing on dialogue, another on a childhood object, and the last brief one where we had to include six very disconnected words into a poem. It wasn't rocket science, these were good old writing exercises designed to inspire new work. We all read out what we had written after each one, and people made a few comments on what they thought, mainly positive and encouraging. And there was some good writing. Inspiring.

One woman, Almeira, came up with an image that I found really beautiful - 'a pigeon cooing inside its own head'. I learnt that the word 'kareoke' means 'quiet orchestra', and a man called Paul wrote a very moving poem about his 'interrupted childhood'. I never fail to be surprised by how inspiring words can be, how people can write the most amazing lines or poems in such a short burst of time.

Me. I wrote three pieces that I feel have promise. Unexpected subject matter. One was very autobiographical, the others fiction. And I met such lovely people.


Michelle said...

Thank you for sharing this, Annie. Sounds like a positive experience. (I can't imagine you not getting on with people.)

"a pigeon cooing inside its own head" - wonderful.

I didn't know kareoke meant "quiet orchestra" either.

Susan Richardson said...

Sounds like a good workshop experience, Annie. Am looking forward to reading more of this blog (and I so admire you for maintaining two!)

ArtYarn said...

i love what you are writing about on this blog, its really pleasurable to read. :o)

Jen HE said...

Well done taking the plunge and going for this. I'm the same about groups etc - always worry about not fitting in or liking people (though it always turns out that people are nice and at the very least interesting!). I imagine that Steve Waling was an excellent tutor - he's got a great sense of humour and is laid back and has such a positive approach to things.


Hello Annie, and thank you for the nice things you wrote about us. Karaoke means "EMPTY orchestra."
All the best with your writing.