Creative Writing

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Creative Writing October 2020
There are all sorts of reasons people enjoy creative writing but writers don’t always appreciate that their mental health can benefit from it in many ways.  Writing can be a tool for understanding yourself and the world around you.  It can provide structure, give you a safe space to express yourself and allow you to channel your imagination creatively.  BDU3A understands this and is looking forward to sharing our experiences with you at our currently limited group meetings.
What a delight it was to meet up with the (necessarily limited) group a couple of weeks ago and to share our “What if” stories.  Each one provoked a stimulating conversation and isn’t that what writing is about?  Hillstown Village Hall did us proud by providing a meticulously prepared room with all Covid regulations adhered to.
Future writing groups will take place, for the foreseeable future, on the third Wednesday in the month which is the usual slot for our monthly general meetings, now on hold during this crisis.  Therefore our next meeting will be held on Wed 28th October at 2pm in Hillstown Village Hall.  As you are aware, we can only accommodate six people at the moment and I am asking if you can let me know if you want to be included as it will have to be on a first come, first served basis, taking into account that those attending the last meeting will wait till the rest of you have replied.
In the meantime, I know most of you have enjoyed doing the exercises I have given you during lockdown, so please have a go at the following for ‘homework’ …….
It is International Day of Older Persons on 1st October – an opportunity to celebrate and appreciate older people and the social contributions they make.  Choose one or more of the following options, spending 20 minutes on each: –
  1.  Write a memoir about a parent or grandparent, jotting down some notes of their life and try to write their story.
  2. A piece of fiction about an elderly mentor with wisdom and knowledge such as an elderly grandparent.
  3.  A piece of non-fiction, starting with ‘When I grow old, I shall …..’
  4.  Poetry  –  picture an elderly person in their home, noting colours, styles and details in the environment they have created, together with the objects they have collected during their lifetime.  The poem should give a sense of who they are.
Good luck and, if you are unable to come to the next meeting, please consider sending your work to me so that I can share it with the group.
Finally, I want us to think about entering some competitions in the next year and will bring details to the meeting as well as sending out to other members not present.
Happy scribbling!

Thanks.  It was so good to see everyone after all this time.

The Hall was laid out perfectly to accommodate the “rule of six” with all safety procedures in place.  Thanks also to the caretaker for looking after us so cheerfully.

The group meeting went really well.  It was heartening to see that Covid, rather than dampening our spirits, had in fact inspired some lively and thought-provoking writing.  Hopefully, you will be able to join us when we next meet on Wednesday 28th October.     Rose T

February 20th 2020
Who would have thought that a flat iron could produce such an animated conversation, let alone stimulate the creative writing juices in us, but it did at today’s meeting!
The challenge now is to keep them flowing and produce a short story (between 1 and 2 thousand words) which we will critique, edit and prepare for publication by the end of the year. Care to join us? Our next meeting is Thursday 19th March, 2.00pm at Bolsover library.
From a member of the group:
At the February meeting we were given a real treat when, instead of biscuits, Rose presented the group with a box of Celebration chocolates.  They went down a treat, thanks Rose.
Details of those present and apologies received preceded the sharing of stories given for January’s homework.  The subject in question was ‘Midsummer Murder’ which was intended to be about a murder in Stonehenge.  As ever, the stories were varied in their content but all were considered to be a good attempt.Following this Rose produced a flat iron and we were asked to note down all the memories of such an object which were brought to mind then, a little later to produce a very short story, using the memories experienced.  There was a strong similarity between parts of them  – most of them about grandparents – while still being varied as a whole.  A discussion followed about other household things we remembered from our youth, very stimulating.  The only one out of synch was Trish who shared her surprise at being such a ‘women’s libber’ as she hadn’t been aware of this side of her character.

The book we would like to produce was discussed briefly and it was decided that all future stories should be printed with double spacing and using TIMES NEW ROMAN, font size 14. Next months topic is a historical story, 1-2000 words.

January 20th 2020

Haiku poems, essays on how to make a cup of tea, how to drill a hole and mindfulness. Our resident poetry expert then gave us an introduction to various kinds of poetry – fascinating! Is there no end to this group’s talents?
We shall see next month as the challenge is to write a flash story or crime report that begins with a body being found at Stonehenge. Think you’re up to it? Have a go and bring it to our next meeting on Thursday 20th February.

January 16th 2020

The minutes for the last meeting were read by Rose and agreed.
Following this we had a discussion about Copyright with a warning that
although Copyright remains with the creator for pieces written by ourselves – and for ourselves – if we agree to our work being published in a journal or book, then Copyright would automatically pass to the publishers. U3A already holds its own Copyright for
writing or other creative materials made public in its own publications or on its web site.

Last month we discussed George Orwell’s ‘A Nice Cup of Tea’ and it was decided that we should each write an article on ‘How to …’ , each member to choose
their own topic. We produced a varied number of ideas, and discussed whether
a separate file attached to the website titled ‘How To …..’ may be a practical
activity,  although nothing concrete was decided.

The rest of the meeting was in Barbara’s capable hands as she introduced us to
the art of writing poetry. We learned the difference between poetry and prose
and how to write a sonnet. When writing poetry we were told to write rather
than try to construct a form first, then reshape with as many drafts as required. The title may be used as a trigger or can determine itself as the poem progresses and be added at the end. When writing poetry, there is a  popular and memorable form, with 10 syllables and 5 stresses to each line, (known as iambic pentometer), which apparently fits in well with the English language and ties in with the heartbeat (de dum de dum de dum de dum de dum). However, there are no rules and writing poetry is dependent on
personal choice. The emphasis of a poem may be a narrative or not, abstract
or not, symbolic or not, but thoughts, feelings and empathy can underline a
natural line break and make it more memorable, as does rhyming. Clichés should be avoided.

Our ‘homework’ for next month we will be to write a short story about a ‘Midsummer Murder’, although any poems would also be welcomed.
New members are always very welcome, you might surprise yourself!

December 19th 2019

This month our group shared their thoughts and reflections on the subject of autumn, in the form of short stories, memories and poems, some as colourful as the subject itself.
We were then asked to consider what we wanted to do in the coming year (2020) and it was agreed that we should write and put together a collection of short stories. Several titles/prompts from a recent writing magazine were suggested and eagerly accepted.
At the (16th) January meeting Barbara has offered to share her understanding of poetry with us. I’m not alone in only being able to write poems that rhyme, it seems, so I look forward to being enlightened.
In the meantime, here is a challenge for you: –
George Orwell wrote an essay in 1946, a time of rationing in this country, about “A Nice Cup of Tea”. You will need to google it if you don’t already know of it. He managed to write, very eloquently, two full pages on the subject. As a non-tea drinker myself, I can only wonder why he would bother but do you love your cuppa enough to write at length on how it should be made and served? If so, bring it along on the 16th and we’ll even make a cuppa for you!