I’ve mentioned before that I run several writing groups (creative writing and family history writing) and the sessions follow a similar plan; before refreshments we talk about what we have been doing, any news (from me it’s things like competitions, courses, articles/programmes/broadcasts of interest etc) and then I lead a discussion some aspect of writing – it might be characters, beginnings and endings, persuasive writing, using a true story to create fiction – all sorts of things – and sometimes it strays way away from what I planned, which is fine and exciting! From that I make a suggestion of what people might want to write for next time, but suggestion is all it is! I just want people to get writing, I’m delighted with whatever they produce, and this isn’t school homework – sticking to the point is not the point! After the break we share what we have written from last time – some people are really ‘good’ and have worked on the particular topic I suggested, others have gone wild (well, sort of!) and written something else. I hope no-one feels guilty when they don’t manage to write anything new and bring something they wrote before – it’s about sharing what’s written, giving yourself some objectivity as you read it to others, and receiving comments, suggestions, praise, and occasionally, kindly criticism.
I also belong to a writing group where we agree a topic and write to it and share our work the following time we meet. We have had some curious subjects to write about, most of which i have shared here, including ‘Biscuits’ and ‘Death’… – not at the same time, although maybe i should suggest ‘Death of the Biscuit’, ‘Biscuit Deaths’, ‘Death and the Biscuit’… the possibilities are endless and already I have ideas springing into my mind.
The previous time we met the topic set was ‘ Afloat’, or something to do with being on water, being at sea, boats, watery things in general. A most agreeable topic to me as I spent most of my childhood being on or in water, feeling at times like Ratty in Wind in the Willows:
“And you really live by the river? What a jolly life!”
“By it and with it and on it and in it,” said the Rat. “It’s brother and sister to me, and aunts, and company, and food and drink, and (naturally) washing. It’s my world, and I don’t want any other. What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing. Lord! the times we’ve had together! Whether in winter or summer, spring or autumn, it’s always got its fun and its excitements.
So my thoughts were buzzing, but other ideas sprang into my mind, a mixture of actual experiences (sailing round Puget Sound with dear friends on their little yacht) things I’s been told (experiences of another friend, a Dutchman who lived on a canal boat in Amsterdam for several years) and things I had read about, particular the first ever Dick Francis book I heard first on radio and then read about the main character waking up on a boat, kidnapped, although he has no memory of it – the book may have been ‘Risk’, but I’m not sure! it’s that opening scenario of waking below decks on a boat and not knowing where you are or how you got there which triggered some thoughts…
I will share the story I eventually wrote – as usual, I find it difficult to contain my ideas within a short story, and I have a feeling this will lead onto something else!!