Saturday, 13 June 2009

I heart writing workshops

Last weekend I was at Geraldine Green's house for a four day poetry workshop with George Wallace and Geraldine leading us into various kinds of inspiring activities.

In the mornings we had fast furious writing exercises from George, which were aimed at emptying the mind of all critical thoughts, and writing quick, getting ideas and words down on the page without time to think to much about it. I would call it freeing the right brain. We did games around word association, turning nouns into verbs, verbs into nouns, sound associations, and all kinds of freeing us up writing.

In the afternoons Geraldine took us walking, to the gypsy horse fair at Appleby, Castlerigg stone circle, and other places to inspire us. It was great to be in Keswick which is so so beautiful.

On Sunday night we all read at the Bluebell Bookshop in Penrith, a really warm friendly night, with some interesting poets. Derek the owner of the bookshop made us beautiful homemade bread with dips and salad, organic pizza, wine, juice. It really is a treat going there. Especially as, with all good independent bookshops right now, business is slow...

Today, I was at Paper Planes which takes place every second Saturday at Fuel Cafe Bar in Withington. Please come along if you are in or near Manchester. It's always a lovely workshop, friendly, relaxed, with some great writing exercises (suited to prose or poetry) and a break for lunch downstairs in the quirky cafe.

It was a good workshop today, I got some interesting pieces, the starts of ideas, some wandering thoughts. I like the discussions we have about eachother's work and life generally. Take today for example, we talked about whether we have obsessions in our writing we keep returning to and where these come from. We talked about capturing those moments in family life where things were very tense (family picnics in the car, parents bickering over directions or some other thing). We did an exercise about what was 'outside' the picture on a postcard, which led to conversation about what inspires us about an exercise, where writing 'practice' can lead. All good, friendly stuff.

There were two people there I've never met before, and everyone wrote some very interesting work. I jot down sometimes, things that people say in workshops, and have just noticed I scribbed down something Dean said with real earnest: 'I wish I was a pigeon.'

There is something about writing workshops I really love... perhaps it's being with other writers, or exchanging ideas and inspirations, or reading our poems aloud, giving feedback, writing in the moment, spontaneity, unusual prompts leading to unexpected places, encouragement....

I think I will always gain from going to workshops, now matter where I am in my writing life.

(Also posted on myspace)


Fran Hill said...

My favourite holidays of all time have been my weeks at the Arvon Foundation writing courses in Lumb Bank, Yorkshire. I usually cried when I had to come away! So good for the soul. So I know what you mean.

Megan said...

Completely agree Annie. Now that my MA is just about over, I'll definitely be seeking out more workshops (getting to run one too! eeee! have you thought of doing that yourself?)
m xxx

annie clarkson said...

Yes, I have... I might have the chance too soon, with two other writers. Just in the planning stages. I know what you mean by eeee! x

Michelle said...

A gypsy horse fair!

It all sounds fantastic, Annie, and you deserve it.


green ink said...

That sounds amzing Annie. I'd love to do something like that. It sounds like it was a productive and inspiring time for you. :D


Thank you for your nice comments about Paper Planes, AC. I'm grateful for your reviews and recommendations, and pleased and proud that you enjoyed the work shop enough to write about us again. You're right about Steve's post card exercise - I only appreciated the brilliance of his twist later.
I always enjoy your writing and your company, and I'm looking fwd to seeing you again [PLUG ALERT] on Sat 11 July from noon til 4pm at Fuel in Withington.

All the best,