Sunday, 2 October 2011

The bad and good of writing

I love this mini heatwave we are having in the south of England but it doesn't do anything for my creative juices. At poetry class on Thursday it was just too hot and my concentration was nil.  We did have a good look at a poem by Gillian Clarke called Taid's Grave, which is a beautiful poem.  Mainly we were looking at the line breaks and language and it was interesting to see how others saw it/read it.  The more we looked at it the more we found and connections made.  A really useful exercise.  We also compared our homework and again it was interesting to see that most of us put the prose into similar lines.  The writing exercise on the day was dreadful for me.  The hum of the fan and the noise outside (the singing classes going over their scales) only seemed to make my headache worse and I felt hotter.  Most of us struggled, to be fair.  We were in fact supposed to be writing about the noises around us, though some ended up writing about the heat!  Only one person found any stillness (I wish I knew her technique!).  Our tutor recommended a book to us called Writing Poetry by W.N. Herbert which she says would be helpful to us in understanding how poetry writing works  It has interviews with poets about different aspects of writing.

Yesterday I attended the AGM and Writer's Day of the Association of Christian Writers.  We had the shortest AGM I have ever been at (if only other committees could be that brief!) and then the main attraction.  Adrian Plass is a well known Christian writer and speaker and happens to be our President.  This being ACW's 40th anniversary it was lovely to have him with us.  He spoke in three sessions across the day, firstly about how he ended up writing, his early life, his breakdown and his first books The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass which took off overnight (he thought they would be a failure).  He told us that the first writing he ever did was found by his brother and written when he was aged 5.  It said 'At Christmas we remember Jesus by having a turkey'.  Adrian read from the Sacred Diary as well as from his other books.  He stated that he wants to share the 'yes' of God in his writing and that the cross is a mission field.  He was utterly amusing with 'off the wall' comments, but also very moving.  He gave us a little exercise - we each had a small piece of paper and he wanted us to write My God is......and write what he meant to us that day, not want we thought we should say, the right thing, but how we felt.  Adrian then read each one out (it was all anonymous) interspersing with Our God is many it was like a prayer.  It was very powerful.

Adrian spoke of his work at Scargill House, a retreat centre where he will be until next year but he has no concrete plans afterwards just ideas about books he would like to write.  He said that writing was a passion and I think most of us who write understand that to some degree as I can't imagine my life without writing, even if it's rubbish!  Adrian then helped cut out anniversary cake and I accosted him to sign his book of poems I had bought from the bookstall (Silences and Nonsenses). What a lovely day!

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