MINUTES OF WOKING WRITERS’ CIRCLE MEETING AT ST MARY’S CHURCH HALL, HORSELL ON 28 FEBRUARY 2019
Present: Peter Morley, Amanda, Alan, Liz, Simon, Greg, Cathy, Peter Murphy, Carla, Tricia, Daniel, Hilary, Heather
Apologies: Sarah DD
Hilary advised that WWC now has internet banking facilities. Details: Lloyds Bank. Account Name: Woking Writers Circle Sort Code: 30-99-80 A/C no: 00223011
Liz reported that the next meeting of the Book Club would take place on 1 April and attendees would be discussing ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’.
Alan had responded to an online challenge to write a story in 81 words. Alan’s entry will be published in an anthology in due course and he will be involved in the book launch. Profits will go to the Arkbound Foundation, a charity which supports underprivileged children.
Greg brought news of dramatic activity in Send when ‘Bride Before a Fall’, ‘Nursery School Flowers’ and ‘Over My Dead Body’ will be staged at Lancaster Hall, on 14-16 March. Box Office: 07542 107815, email: Sendamateurdramatics@hotmail.co.com
Greg also invited members with a poem or two up their sleeves to take part in five hours of open-mic poetry on Saturday 27 April at the Woking literary festival in the cafe area at The Lightbox art gallery and museum, Woking, 11am to 4pm. Greg is one of the comperes and anyone wishing to have a five-minute slot should email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cathy had reviewed ‘Abigail’s Party’ and Carla had reviewed an exhibition of work by women photographers. Both reviews are on the WWC website.
Tricia’s poem, ‘Glimpses of the Past’, was greatly enjoyed. Loosely based on a trip to the north of Norway, the poem conjured up a magical atmosphere with its intriguing reference to the migration of emperor crabs and vivid memories of food and brightly painted houses. The imagery was powerful and the poem well crafted.
Peter (Morley) read a philosophical ode, ‘A Brief Encounter with Life’, which had been dictated to him by a pig, presumably after several abortive attempts to get hold of a trotter-friendly keyboard. This was a clever poem outlining the pig’s apparently happy life, with vivid references to servicing his sows and the tranquil autumn days foraging for acorns. The last two lines of the poem were intriguing, leaving the reader to put his/her own interpretation on them.
Heather, who doesn’t write short stories, had written a short story, ‘The Encounter’. She had been concerned about several aspects of the story, including whether the period it was set in was clearly established and whether the fact that the outcome was foreseeable was a disadvantage. Comments were encouraging and she might even risk venturing down this path again.
Greg read his evocative poem, ‘The Local Rag’, inspired by a recent reunion and encouraged by Simon, who had urged him to write more poetry with a nostalgic flavour. The spare language with minimal use of verbs cleverly conveyed the pace of activity and atmosphere of the newspaper offices of times past. Liz would have liked a rhyming poem, but Greg said he avoids rhyme – or maybe, rhyme avoids him – and that he looks for music and rhythm instead. All agreed that this was an excellent poem.
Daniel’s short story, ‘The Dead Ringers’, was vibrant and pacey with great economy of language. Even so, there were some memorable descriptions, including, ‘…the delicate red silk flirting against her ankles …’. Daniel said that the story had started off longer, but he had trimmed it. All agreed that this spare and powerful result was a piece of excellent writing.
Hilary read a further extract from her novel. In this extract, Sam was 35 and having a session in ‘The White Room’ with therapist Diane. As always in Hilary’s writing, the details were skilfully and indelibly sketched, including Sam noticing that one of the amber beads on the therapist’s necklace contained a fly. The tension was maintained throughout. The name ‘Blessed’ was applauded as ‘just right’ for the kindly nurse working in the hellish setting of a secure hospital as was the ironical naming of the ward as ‘Summer’ ward. The appearance of the narrator to explain the layout, etc, of the hospital was cleverly handled and did not disrupt the flow.
Liz had tackled some life writing with the intriguing subject of ‘Three Samples of Soil’ with family links. Her reading focused on the interrment of her mother’s ashes and the events surrounding it, including the replacement of the plaque and reflections on the activities following a death. All agreed that the subject matter, which could have resulted in a dark piece, had been sensitively and skilfully handled with an enjoyable lightness of touch.
Amanda’s ‘Pause for Thought’ was a hugely amusing piece about the inescapable subject of the menopause. Apart from being very funny, the article was extremely well-written with many memorable phrases and references, including ‘brain bingo’ and ‘the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon’. Possible markets include ‘The Tatler’ and ‘Good Housekeeping’.
Cathy read a story contained in just under 300 words, featuring a woman who appears to be behaving suspiciously in a supermarket. The story sustained tension and mystery throughout with listeners (as well as the security guard) being kept guessing until the sad truth was revealed – that this was a mother desperate for a glimpse of the baby she had had to give up. An incredible piece of writing, conveying so much in so few words.
Alan’s story, ‘Don’t Try This at Home’, was very different in style from his usual work. Set in a souk, the noise, colours and exotic surroundings were vividly conveyed. Readers knew from the beginning that the heroine was nursing a major worry following a consultation and the subsequent other worldliness of her experiences in the souk had a poignancy as well as mystery. This was a satisfying and haunting story which was greatly enjoyed. (Alan also showed us a wonderful pencil sketch which the minute-taker was very tempted to take home.)
Carla’s short and vivid prose piece, ‘The Encounter’, was the sort of writing that lingered in the mind long after hearing it read. It was written in the second person and it was agreed that this worked well. Descriptions were spare and intense and the sense of uneasiness grew, leaving an unanswered question: was the incident witnessed one of kindness or corruption?
Next meeting: Thursday, 28 March at 7.30pm
Chair: Peter Morley
Wine: Peter Murphy
Milk and biscuits: Tricia
Homework: ‘Uncharted Territory’
FUTURE MEETING DATES
19 December (to be confirmed)
Please note that parking spaces are available in adjacent side streets. The school car park opposite the church will only be opened by arrangement.