MINUTES OF WOKING WRITERS’ CIRCLE MEETING AT ST MARY’S CHURCH HALL, HORSELL ON 27 SEPTEMBER 2018

Present: Peter One, Amanda, Alan, Hilary, Liz, Heather, Cathy, Simon, Greg, Sarah SH

Apologies: Dermot, Sarah DD, Tricia, Carla, Peter 2

News:

Greg brought a copy of the publication ‘South 58’ in which he and Carla had poems published.

Greg and Gillian will be reprising their one-act play in Woking Drama Festival at the Rhoda McGaw theatre on Wednesday, 17 October 2018 at 7.30pm

Greg also reported that a record number of poets had attended Write Out Loud Woking at the Lightbox in August.

Liz reported that the next meeting of the Book Club will take place at 8pm on 4 October and attendees will be discussing their own book choice. Liz will take ‘How to Write Like Tolstoy’.

Liz distributed copies of ‘My Culture Fix’ by William Boyd and programmes for the Guildford Book Festival, plus examples of previous booklets assembled by WWC some years ago, including ‘The Shape of Things to Come’.

Peter has written another motorcycle article for the magazine that published his previous piece and this has been accepted.

Greg agreed to circulate details of shows for review at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking. The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre was not interested in having reviews done.

For discussion at October meeting:

  • Do WWC members want to do more to publicise the Circle with a view to attracting new members?
  • Christmas Get-Together

Readings:

Peter read an article, ‘I Nearly Pissed Myself’, inspired by the homework photograph. This dealt realistically and powerfully with adolescent uncertainties and the compelling need to avoid being identified as ‘a cuckoo in the nest’. The discovery of books – the limited selection at home and the wider possibilities to be found in the village library – opened the way to new ideas. Everyone enjoyed the piece and particularly the fine descriptions of the natural world through which Peter and his dog roamed; the imagined appearance of a sword-bearing Mongolian effectively illustrated the blurring of fact and fiction.

Cathy read two poems to be sung to a musical accompaniment (ukulele). ‘Sheffield Rules’ referred to unofficial football rules and the second poem movingly told of sisterhood between a cotton mill worker and her ‘sister’ who picked the cotton in a far-off country. Both women suffered the ill-effects of working with gossypium (cotton). There was unanimous clamouring to hear the poems (Cathy has written five) being sung.

Greg read his poem, ‘The Village that Time Forgot’ which gave an atmospheric account of the ‘suburban yet exotic’ world of Shepperton, the verses spangled with the names of movie stars. One listener preferred Greg’s more lyrical poetry to verses containing ‘lists of names’, but others felt that the names conjured up the exoticism of this world ‘where anything might happen’.

Simon presented his poem, ‘Academy’, which recounted a father and son going to a gig at Brixton Academy. The poem convincingly evoked the father’s feelings of alienation from the scene and also his recognition that it could be ‘just that I can’t read the signs’. Simon felt that the final stanza required more work and said he would bring the poem back to the group once he had done this.

Heather presented another animal article, ‘The Running of the Deer’, which provided further evidence of the uneven struggle between vulnerable humans and the animal world. There was some helpful discussion about other subjects which could feature – so watch this space, provided the author doesn’t meet a grisly end in an uneven contest with a woman-eating slug.

Liz’s life-writing piece, ‘A Big Issue’, was dedicated to Sarah Seahorse after their chance meeting. It was cleverly introduced by reference to the author having ‘a big issue’ that she only hinted at. She had visited the library to escape home pressures and the pleasure she took in this world of books was strongly conveyed. It was agreed that the description of the people outside the window in Jubilee Square  – including a Big Issue seller – was particularly vivid. It was suggested that for publication the article would need to have a defined subject, such as Jubilee Square.

Alan had found inspiration in the homework photograph for a piece of flash fiction, ‘Prime Cuts’, which told a ghoulish tale by means of a one-sided phone conversation. All agreed that this technique worked superbly, intensifying the horror.

Amanda provided more material from her sinister novel about four women and a body. This section of back history was tense and contained many splashes of dark humour, such as Lana’s interest in taking a crime writing course. Listeners felt the writing cleverly evoked the characters of Lana and Gina, but there was some concern about the similarity of the names which could cause confusion in the reader’s mind. There was a suggestion that one or two adverbs and adjectives could be omitted.

Hilary read a further excerpt from her novel featuring 15-year-old Sam and her alcoholic mother. This reading related the last day out in London shared by Sam and her mother, during which Sam remembered her mother drinking white wine spritzer in public and vodka at home. She was hugely embarrassed by her mother’s flirtatious behaviour with the waiter and by her mother’s inevitable drunkenness, with the expresso coffee held at a dangerous angle. All agreed that this was brilliant writing. (Hilary is about one third of the way through the novel.)

Next meeting: Thursday, 25 October 2018 at 7.30pm

Chair: Hilary

Minutes: Alan

Wine: Greg

Tea, coffee, biscuits: Amanda

Homework: A piece about animals or an animal

Please note that parking spaces are available in adjacent side streets. The school car park opposite the Church will only be opened by arrangement.

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