Workshop Blog 19/02/24

As the big day draws near, I shall be as brief as I can but not quite as brief as everyone else wants.

Thursday last week we had our very own Laura hold her public launch of The Trials of Lila Dalton, which is published by Pushkin Vertigo. She was in conversation with multiple-published Clare Mackintosh, who lives in North Wales. (Small point: did you know that in North Wales Welsh, there is no word for dual-carriageway?)

This week we had twelve members present on ZOOM, and managed an extraordinary ten readings. Zelia opened the sessions with what could be a flash fiction, a short story, or even a prose poem. Mirror Mirror on the Wall was quite unlike anything Zelia has read before, and even demonstrated her command of the vernacular. This was really good and needs only minor tweaking before sending off for publication. Well done Zelia.

And then we were treated to the next section of what could be Laura’s next published novel. The woman and her son are now in a grocery store and the boy is introduced to the outside world. Things happen that are not explained to us and it is infuriating that we cannot finish the story, but Laura was glad to receive some great suggestions for minor changes. A great listen and we look forward to attending the launch party.

Matt stepped out of his normal routine by reading us a very short poem entitled Tidal. This was excellent but possibly too short. Matt is a man of many talents and he then read us another section of his tale of Pebs the gnome-like girl who doesn’t understand social interchange and has a habit of accidentally killing those she meets, or causing their deaths unintentionally. Last week she aided the demise of her ‘friend’ Beryl the dwarf at the hands of a massive group of  gagwyrs. There was trouble for Slim the mage this week, Pebs’s only remaining ‘friend’. Who doesn’t want to be friendly at all. Great story well-written and with vast amounts of invention by the author. Brilliant.

Angela then read us two poems that she entered for our poetry competition. Carer was inspired and/or influenced by Angela’s times as a social worker and also as a hippy goddess living in a commune of sorts. A fabulously detailed and illuminating work. The other was a villanelle called If Skylark Extinction, and was so strong and beautiful. I don’t know why I bothered entering the competition.

Sarah S told us that her World War One story is finished now and so has been locked up for a while, to be unlocked and revisited once Sarah’s head has cleared of it. Instead, she read us a section of a rom-com sequel (so to speak) as yet untitled. Sarah just wants to be and to do something different. This was pretty funny and to hear it has come from Sarah’s fingers, previously famed for brilliantly-researched historical , serious, fiction, it was a shock. But a very nice one. And again I say it was very funny.

Sharif’s novel about Edmund and Nafa in the early 1950s is also finished, but Sharif wanted help with one particular section. It is where the central characters, who have a break-up, then have a make-up. As with everything Sharif writes it was very carefully covered and researched. Not a lot could be suggested, but a few small points put forward may make the difference between Sharif chewing the end of his pen and instead wearing a huge smile. We hope so.

Next up was young Stephanie, with two more poems. The first – The Unseen Guest in Poe’s Nest – was originally a short story, but she has turned it into a sonnet!!! Yes!!! How crazy and difficult is that? Moreover, it was excellent. The other was The Modern Midas Touch and was also brilliant. Stephanie’s great imagery, word use and rhythm, and as Bruce calls it ‘a luxury of words’. I concur.

Sarah M then gave us another poem, this one untitled. Goodness gracious me but she’s good. Sarah makes such economical use of words but also makes them so punchy and direct, with great meaning and rhythm, but all overlaid with such beauty. No wonder she has just been published by Boston University. (more info to follow ASAP.) Keep it up please Sarah.

We then had another surprise, with a poem from Ian called Blushing Moon. This was beautiful as well and Ian has jumped from brilliant comedy with his hilarious Lloyd the boy chef tales to fabulous poetry. We may know the influence that has brought about this jump, but no matter what or who it is, this was a great poem Ian. You keep it up as well.

Last to read, was Paul with Ammophilla Arenaria a 500-word flash fiction or short story. Everyone was very kind and no one suggested petrol and matches this time around. But a few things were put forward and Paul has taken them on board with a view to submission.

Next week we are at the YMCA for another bring and read session. Failure to attend will result in a rectangular status. Be there or be square.

See you all, P.

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