Workshop Blog 04/03/24

Hello good evening and welcome. (David Frost, 1962 onward.)

This week I have been away for a few days, with some friends celebrating us all having come through various operations and medical treatments, contrary to all expectations and dare I say it spousal hopes and wishes. Life’s little disappointments, eh? The unfortunate upshot of my having imbibed significant quantities of muscle relaxant, is that I was unable to put out a post by or even on World Book Day. Instead, here I am on International Women’s Day. I’ve tried a few friends to ask if they were women, in order to have a different viewpoint, but they all denied it. So here we are on a Thursday having a fun time reporting on Monday’s ZOOM call for CWC.

It was a good evening with 12 present, including a first-timer – Laura – and we had seven readings and two or three chats about people’s news. Firstly, we welcomed back Karen from deepest darkest West Wales. Karen’s memoir – Mum – has been sent to a great number of publishers and a few have replied. The discussion included warnings about publishers who ask for contributions toward the costs of publication, and the benefits of having an agent. We await progress on this matter.

Sharif’s frist novel to be published is due some time in March, and the cover pic has at last been agreed. The Abergavenny Small Press will shortly confirm place, date and time of the launch, and we shall keep you updated so as to make it another rip-roaring success.

The first reading was by Matt, with the next section of Peb’s Friends which is about a gnome-like girl who wants to make friends but accidentally causes the death or demise of all who even partially befriend her. But this is an hilarious story and looks to be a huge success, and we eagerly await the grisly demise of Peb’s sole remaining ‘friend’, Slim the Mage. (Last friend – Beryl the extremely violent Dwarf – was dragged underground by a large group of Magways. Also extremely violent. More please young man.

Stephanie was next up, and she gave us a complete change of pace and tone, with two poems. Prelude to Red was a longish prose poem I would say, and The Weight Of Separation was a much shorter piece. Both were full of great imagery and simple use of plain words to make beautiful lines. Fabulous stuff.

We then heard from Karen, with a section of her children’s book Starlets. This was also full of great ideas and images. I loved ‘…like a thousand rabbits thumping their back legs in unison…’ Thank you Karen.

Next up was our first-timer Laura, who is fairly new to Cardiff and has spent years dealing with child safe-guarding. She now writes from her experience and imagination on loving, trauma, hurting, et-cetera, and admits that she does not write ‘happy stories’. She then read us the start of a 3000-word story called Peggy Walks Free. For a newbie to writing this was pretty darned good and I loved ‘…decades of corrosion…’ meaning in the emotional sense. Hard and heavy stuff but good writing.

Next we welcomed Graham back, with another section of his novel about terrorism, police corruption, incompetence and love and loss, set a few decades ago. Graham is a very strong writer, and he is able to flit seamlessly between first and third person perspective. Not an easy task, but this young man manages the task effortlessly. We need to know what happens sir.

Sharif then gave us an improvised short story I believe called Sheese. Sharif admitted that this time he forced himself to ‘write lean’, but it was certainly not lacking brilliance. Very very well done sir. Looking forward to the release my friend. (My first book wasn’t released, it escaped. Luckily it was captured and humanely destroyed.)

Sarah was the final reader with the second half of a chapter of ‘Trash Fiction’. This was a romantic fiction Sarah is forcing herself to write, as her latest historical work set in World War One, is finished and locked in a drawer for hacking about in a few months. But no matter what Sarah herself may say, she is nailing the backdrop and characters for this romance tale. Keep at it young woman.

We missed off young Jack, so he will be the first up next time we have a read-and-feedback session.

Next week – 11th – is a double-whammy of greatness. First, Marcelle Newbold (poet extraordinnairre) is presenting the adjudication of our poetry competition. These are great evenings, as you not only hear great poetry and advice on improvements; but also there is a Q&A session about writing in general and the state of the market. The second great reason to cheer, is that our very own Ruth will be chairing the evening. I am being allowed to bring along the milk, tea/coffee/etcetera, and even the shortbread and chocolate biscuits. (Some may think that makes three good reasons but my contribution is reduced owing to my previous comments. Sorry.)

The 18th is a ZOOM Read’n’feed session, and the 25th – our final meeting pre-Easter – is our AGM. My last. There should be time for some readings afterward, and then I shall (almost certainly) be in exile near Bristle in the West Country. (Oo-arr-buggggrrrrrr. Oi kant reed n oi kant roit, but oi kn droive a tractrrr. Or so I’m told the locals speak thus. I hope to fit in nicely.)

Take care all see you next week.

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