Past Meetings - 2021
Ten members logged on to zoom for the January meeting when Christine gave a brief talk on poetry and read some examples including on of her own poems. Several members had written poems and read them out.
We also talked about the Winter Solstice writing challenge and a couple of these were read. Piers's poem was called 'Winter Solstice' which fitted both challenges.
Although the zoom meetings are filling the gap left by not being able to meet in person it is a shame that Lesley and Barbara both had difficulty and kept 'fading away'.
Eight members logged on to Zoom for the February meeting which had kindly been set up by Sharon. We started off with Christine who said a few words about poetry and recommended some modern poets to us, including Les Murray and May Oliver. Christine then read three of her own poems. The first, 'A Day in Brid' evoked childhood memories of visits to the seaside. This was followed by 'Drawn from Life' and 'Back to the Drawing Board' about a drawing life class. Christine's poetry always goes down well and provoked a lively discussion.
Next up was Piers with a further chapter of his novel, continuing the story of Tori and her friends at Uni. Another lively discussion centred on the dialogue between the young people and the difficulty of keeping up with trends.
Sharon's contribution, 'The Book Ghost' was an atmospheric piece with some lovely descriptions which left us wanting to hear more.
'Reality', John's contribution asked some interesting questions and debated the 'reality' of dreams. Another interesting discussion ensued.
Finally, Christabel read 'The Shell Collector' bringing to a close an evening that showed what a diverse group we are.
The meeting closed after Robbie reminded everyone that the next meeting is the AGM and asked members to let her have any items to be discussed.
March 3rd 2021 AGM
Due to lockdown, this year’s AGM was held via zoon. Nine members attended and there was one apology for absence.
Annual reports had been circulated beforehand and were taken as read. There were no matters arising. We were pleased to report that despite a difficult year with Covid restrictions and lockdown, we had managed to keep the circle going.
There were no nominations for the committee posts. All officers and committee members offered themselves and they were re-elected en bloc. John had recommended that we add an additional member in the person of Christine, who readily agreed and was voted in unanimously.
It was ageed that, Sharon who had been awarded the John Murray Cup last year, should hold it for a further year as it had not been possible to present it to her until quite late in the year. She was also thanked for her help with Zoom.
After the business of the AGM there was a discussion on writing during a pandemic and, following on from Christine’s Poetry session last month, several people read their poems.
Nine members were able to log on for the April meeting via Zoom. Despite poor connections for some the meeting went well with a lively discussion on the theme ‘Power Words’.
Joe had sent a link to a website giving lists of power words and what they are. The lists are under various headings and Joe screen shared some of them. Power words are used mainly by advertisers and copywriters but can be helpful for fiction and non-fiction writers too. Book titles need to grab attention and Joe show cased two book covers with very different titles and graphics. The contents were exactly the same, but one book sold in six figures while the other got nowhere.
The second half of the meeting was devoted to readings of their work by Piers, Joe and Christine. Piers read another chapter of his story ‘The Island,’ which is progressing well. There was a discussion of his vivid descriptions.
Joe’s piece was a synopsis of his book ‘Why Punish me?’ which describes his Catholic school days and its effects on him growing up.
Christine’s story of a walk at Middleton-on-Sea generated discussion on writing in different tenses – past and present.
Joe reported that his book is being edited and will then be self-published.
Barbara sent apologies and reported that her new book, ‘Vistula Mermaid’ is due to be published soon.
Nine members were present for the May meeting. There was no speaker for the meeting which was once again held via Zoom. We enjoyed an evening of readings of current work in progress by five members.
The first reading from Janet was a chapter from her saga ‘Sold for a Status’. She reported that she had been working hard on this during lockdown and had gone through the whole manuscript re-writing and amending. We all agreed this was an absorbing story. She also spoke about her plans for self publishing and the various options for this.
Piers read three monologues which could be read as poetry. ‘Country Churchyard 1 and 2’ and ‘Ghosts’ had similar themes and good descriptions.
‘Secrets’ is Christabel’s first novel and she read the first chapter which all agreed had an enticing suspenseful opening which made us want to read on.
Christine’s contribution was a description of a Heartsmart walk, ‘Spring in Petworth’ reminding us how good it is to get outside after so many months in lockdown.
John’s poem, ‘They Can’t Touch me Now’ gave thoughts on looking back, remembering and moving on.
Sharon reported that she had finished her novella and asked for a volunteer to read it. Several hands were raised and she said she would send it out.
We had hoped to have our meeting face to face in the Bassil Shippam Centre b ut there was some uncertainty about the current rules so it was decided to have a Zoom meeting this time – hopefully the last one. Nine members logged on, including Lesley who had so far not managed to join us on Zoom. There was one apology for absence.
We had been due to have a talk and workshop with Karen Stevens from Chichester University but as this have been difficult for her to do online we had an evening of readings instead. Karen has agreed to join us for the July meeting.
Three members had submitted readings and we started with John’s poem ‘The Forecaster’s Lament’ which some of us had heard before. It was just as enjoyable on a second reading, The poem describes the weather as read on the radio Shipping Forecast with its evocative place names. John said he wasn’t happy with the last stanza and asked for suggestions. This provoked some discussion and laughter.
Christine was next with another poem, ‘Hand Me Down’ which described an old baby gown found in a charity shop. Christine skilfully painted a picture of an obviously much-loved garment, mended and patched over many years. Again, there were many comments. The Repair Shop television programme was mentioned where so many treasured possessions are lovingly restored. We all felt it would be nice to know the story behind the gown. Sharon disappeared for a few moments and came back holding up a beautiful christening gown which we all exclaimed over.
Lastly it was Piers’s turn. He explained that he had already written four novels about the same family which were now up on Amazon. This new story, ‘Ginny’ was a short story about one of the younger generation and follows on from the novels. He was only able to read the first few pages which told of Ginny’s loss of her beloved grandfather and her longing to see him again. She confides in her cousin that she prays that his ghost or spirit will visit her. Piers has entered this story in the annual Bridport competition and we wished him luck with it.
The meeting ended with a discussion of future meetings and hopes that we will meet in person next time, all being well.
How delightful it was to meet in person for our July meeting, the first face to face since last September. Seven members met in the big hall instead of our usual room to allow for social distancing. There were six apologies for absence.
After having to postpone twice due to the virus, it was a pleasure to welcome Karen Stevens, senior lecturer in Creative Writing at University of Chichester, for her talk and workshop on ‘Writing Against Stereotypes’. Karen has spoken to us many times and always generates enthusiasm and interest.
She first read a short story by an American writer, Mary Robison, and then led a discussion on how we felt the story worked and how the writer had used her characters and setting. Karen had given us a printout of the story and a list of questions. After a lively discussion we were set a writing task which was to draft a story following specific guidelines with the theme of ‘love’ – not necessarily romantic love.
After busily writing for some time, several of us read out our story beginnings or rough notes. This exercise will be the basis for the competition which Karen set for us.
Our next meeting is a talk and writing workshop with Beryl Fleming on the theme of ‘Character and Conversation’.
Our speaker at the August meeting was Beryl Fleming who has spoken to us several times in the past. Her subject was ‘Character and Conversation’ and how these two subjects form the basis of a story, rather than plot.
She explained that you don’t need too much exposition – a brief description of the character inserted into the setting for the story right at the beginning will draw the reader into the story and want them to go on reading.
She then read a short story which illustrated the points she had made.
Then it was time for us to write. Beryl handed round slips with two pictures, a male and female, and an object. The brief was to write a story, or the start of one, using the people in the pictures and incorporating the object. They were all different. It was quite a challenge but soon we were all busy scribbling. There was time for most of us to read our efforts aloud. Congratulations to all for some very innovative and exciting stories.
Beryl has set a story competition to be handed in at the October meeting.
Our next meeting on September 7th is a discussion on ‘Show Don’t Tell’ led by Robbie.
Two new members, Jake and Johnathan, were welcomed to the September meeting, along with eight members. This was the first one in our usual meeting room after lockdown.
Seven entries for the story competition set by Karen Stevens were handed in.
There was no speaker this month but Robbie gave a brief explanation of the advice ‘Show Don’t Tell’ with examples from Dickens’s ‘Oliver Twist’ and Somerset Maugham’s ‘Of Human Bondage’.
Robbie said that showing rather telling allows the reader to experience the story and the characters’ emotions. As you are writing try to visualise the actions, as if you are watching a film.
We congratulated Janet on finally getting her book, ‘Sold for a Status’, published.
We were pleased to welcome a return visit from poet Geoffrey Winch who inspired us with his talk on the American poet Walt Whitman.
After giving us a brief outline of Whitman’s life and explaining the influences on his writing, he asked us to tke turns reading from two poems – ‘There was a Child Went forth Every Day; and ‘Crossing Brooklyn Ferry’.
Both poems are in free verse and contain vivid imagery. The readings provoked a lot of discussion on his observation of everyday life, nature and life in general. Geoffrey ended the meeting by reading some poems from his latest collection, ‘Velocities and Drifts of Winds.’ He has set a competition based on his talk to be handed in at the December meeting.
Our chairman, John, closed the meeting with a teaser. He asked if anyone had come across any interesting sayings - his daughter had come up with 'CATNAV' - how their cat found his way home.
Our next meeting on November 2nd is a writing workshop by member Lesley Pardoe.
Nine members were present at the November meeting and took part in a workshop by member Lesley Pardoe on Pace and Texture.
She began by explaining why workshopping is a valuable tool in developing our writing and then used two poems to illustrate how writers use pace and texture in their writing. John Keats’s ‘Ode to Autumn’ was an interesting example giving much food for thought on how the use of specific words can add extra meaning to a piece. The other example from Daphne du Maurier’s ‘Frenchman’s Creek’ was an example of using short sentences to speed up pace and add excitement to her descriptions.
The results of two recent competitions were announced.
The first was a short story based on Karen Stevens’s talk in June. The winner was ‘God’s Gift’ by Lesley Pardoe with Christabel Milner( Pilot Error) second and Piers Rowlandson (Just for Kicks) third.
Beryl Fleming’s story competition was won by Christabel with ‘The Prize’ amd runner-up Piers with ‘Girl in Blue Jeans’.
The next meeting on December 7th is a social evening with drinks and nibbles and reading of members’ work.
Despite the stormy weather nine members attended the December meeting which was our usual blend of festive readings with drinks and nibbles and time for socialising.
New member Johnathan read a poem about ‘Fire’, followed by Sharon’s hilarious take of Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ which is set a few years after Scrooge’s conversion.
Christine read two pieces – the first was the Nativity story from St Luke’s gospel, reminding us what Christmas is really about. This was followed by her description of Christmas in Chichester.
Barbara’s story from her new children’s book ‘Nic’s Nutty Giant N’uncle’ was read by Lesley.
‘St Eddi’s Service’ by Rudyard Kipling was also read by Lesley and Piers ended with a piece called ‘Winter Solstice.’
The deadline for the competition set by Geoffrey has been extended to the January meeting.