You can’t change the past, obviously, but you can wonder what would have happened if something had been different.. It was one of my writing groups yesterday, and the topic was ‘Puzzle’… just that, and with the gang of us who met in a seaside café each had a different offering. I’m afraid mine was rather feeble – no excuses, but time seems squeezed at the moment for various reasons. I wrote about a puzzle in my family history, how did my great-grandparents met. I was in awe of the other stories, mine seemed a bit of a cop-out really!
We listened to the very touching story of a couple who had seemed chalk and cheese when they first married, and gradually and always lovingly changed to become less chalky and more cheesy, and more cheesy and less chalky. As one of them declined in health their shared joy was doing jigsaw puzzles. Another one was a chillingly realistic story of how a young girl from a loving family became drawn into the seedy world of drugs, being manipulated and used by a school-friend she trusted. Thankfully for the imagined child, and us listeners, her sister saved her! There was a darkly comic story of young children learning about skeletons – it followed on from a previous story about a murder and the disposal of the body! The story about the children was a stand alone, if you hadn’t read the tale about murder, but a satisfying sequel to those of us who had. Very clever writing, with the perfect satisfying end! We were given a very different poem which was written as a crossword puzzle – yes, a poem puzzle! I had never come across anything like this; It was a poem about poetry and what poetry is or can be, and how we can all interpret and understand a piece differently. It was in a way so simple, but really so very, very clever and I’ll enjoy looking at it again, no doubt many times! We have another poet, and her gentle poem was about a grandma who somehow knew the gender of an expected baby before the child was born. She also intrigued us all with a poetic form new to most of us, a pantoum…
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantoum?fbclid=IwAR1p0ok7n16QKnadd45ftBnLRNWwEqOjDObt9ws_rEX-m8woFi3yIjZlFyg As well as enjoying and admiring her poem, I think a few of us thought we might like to try writing one!
Meeting and sharing with other writers is not just enjoyable, but useful in many ways. It’s not just learning new styles, techniques, ways of addressing a story/prose piece/ poem etc, but about reflecting on our own work and thinking how we could write differently and better. It’s not just about receiving praise and encouragement it’s about realising that what you’ve written could be better, cleverer, more accessible, more subtle, more engaging – not through criticism or negative comments, but through ideas exchanged, conversations, and lots of thinking afterwards! I belong to another writing group, of very different, older writers, but I get a similar inspiration and creative energy from meeting them – just as I do from the writing groups I lead.
So, going back to my initial thoughts… I have always written; before i could write I would imagine and tell little tales. Apart from a few friends who were kind enough to read what I’d produced, I didn’t belong to any groups where there was a forum to read, share, discuss, consider, ponder and learn from. I’m sure my writing would have been much better, it’s possible I might have gone in other directions – maybe play-writing, maybe radio drama or programmes? I think I would have written more poetry, but I’m not sure I would ever be a poet like my writing group friends are, but I’m sure I would have enjoyed writing much more in that form.
If I had to give any advice to a writer, I would say join a writing group! Apart from it being useful, helpful and enjoyable, it is also great fun and you can make enduring friendships – if it’s not fun, if it’s not enjoyable, and most of all if it’s over critical and proscriptive, it’s probably the wrong writing group! If you come away feeling bad about yourself or your writing, then that’s completely wrong! You should come away feeling you’ve learned something, been inspired, been pleased with your efforts, but determined to make them better!
Thank you, my writing groups!!