Friday, 25 February 2011

Nik´s Last Stand

The 23 February was the designated day for Nik Morton to stand down after five years as Chair of the Torrevieja Writers´Circle.

Nik has recently taken on work with Solstice Publishing as Editor and that, together with his own writing, decided him to step down and hand over to another member, Ian Clarke.

The first half of the meeting followed the usual format with members reading their work and putting it up for constructive criticism.

First off was Gerry with part of a story set at the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War. Very atmospheric and worth working at but point of view issues needed attending to.

Stan told the salutary tale of a dog left in an American-type Cadillac -the pride and joy of the owner , who was devastated to find it ripped to shreds when the offending pooch was let out. An ouch feeling around the room!

Rita, our spiritualist member, read a short story set in 11th century Persia. Lots of interesting detail.

Alan Winter read  a piece about letters to newspapers and began with the Kingsley Amies´ quote: "If you can´t offend anybody, is there any point in writing?"  Any views on this?

Glyn continued reading from his novel where the PTSS soldier has just murdered a prostitute. His description of a man in meltdown was excellent.

John McGregor continued his tales of sales people and had a go at pharmacists.

Anne Grierson wrote on the day´s topic "A Long Night" and gave an accurate description, recognised by everyone, of a sleepless night.

Nik wound up with some useful pointers on words which, when used wrongly, have been  declared by editors to be irritating and best avoided. They were: sigh, glance, growl, blink, stare, hiss, look and could see.

Since coffee arrived at this point, the meeting moved into social mode and the cakes and biscuits brought along by members ( Maureen, Jane, Lisa, Nan - sorry if I´ve left anyone out) were fallen upon and eaten with gusto.

Ian, in his role as incoming Chair, thanked Nik for his sterling work during his five years as Chair, and as a token of members´appreciation  presented him with an Amazon Kindle eReader.

Chris and Mary K both read poems specially written  for the occasion (See Below) and then Nik made a speech of thanks, appreciation for our work as writers and encouragement for the future (also See Below). Quoting the Terminator, he threatened/promised "I´ll be back" and we hope he will!
23 members then went into the restaurant and had a very pleasant lunch.

                                                        Hasta La Vista Nik!

Nik´s speech.
After five years as Chairman, I ask myself, why do we come to the TWC meetings? Presumably, we all like to read – whether books or magazines. Most of us were brought up with a love of books – either imparted by our parents or our teachers. Even in this age of the e-book, books play an important part in our lives. As Cicero said, ‘A room without books is like a body without soul.’

The Canadian-Japanese Professor of English, Samuel Hayakawa said, ‘In a very real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read… It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.’

They’re talking about books. But we aren’t a reading circle. We strive to write. As E L Doctorow said, ‘Planning to write is not writing. Outlining a book is not writing. Researching is not writing. Talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.’

So it’s the placing of your bum on a chair and writing. No pressure, there then.
Still, as we know – no pressure, no diamonds.

Many of you have written for years and received little or no pecuniary reward, but that doesn’t stop you, nor should it. Richard Bach, who wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull, says, quite rightly, ‘A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.’

So, if it isn’t for the financial reward, why do we write? Is it because we must? Katherine Mansfield said, ‘Looking back, I imagine I was always writing. Twaddle it was, too. But better far to write twaddle or anything, anything, than nothing at all.’ Maybe we want to make sense of the world, or understand ourselves, our past. Indeed, the life of every person is like a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another.

I think I’ve used this quotation from O Henry before, but make no apology for using it again: "A good story is like a bitter pill, with the sugar coating inside of it."

Maybe that’s it: we just like telling stories! To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything. Of course, you don’t have to rely on imagination; you can reminisce about your past. You don’t have to write fiction. You can write memoirs and poems, rants and articles. It doesn’t matter, really, so long as you write. You write to be read, however. You write for an audience, even if that’s an audience of one or the circle members only. You don’t write for praise, though it’s always welcome. You write to affect others, to raise a laugh, stir an emotion, elicit a tear. You don’t write to slavishly copy your favourite authors. Each one of us is unique, and we see the world and humanity in different ways. The secret is that in our writing we invite the reader to see the world – our imagined world – as we see it.

In my five years of Chairmanship, I’ve been privileged to listen to a vast array of writing from the TWC members – poems that made me think or cry, stories that made me laugh and empathise, articles that made me see some aspect of life with a fresh eye. Many of you have already done it, but I would recommend that in your writing, make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.

Thank you for putting up with my terrible puns over the years. I’ll miss banging my gavel, and inevitably I’ll miss several gems that will be read out in future meetings, since I will no longer be a regular attendee. However, to use a final quotation, in the immortal words of the Terminator, ‘I’ll be back.’

The Poems "Woe!" by Chris and "Hasta Luego" by Mary K

        Woe! The Master Leaves! 

Five whole years! That´s quite a stint!
And now you´re off. (Is that a hint?)

We realise we´re not best sellers
But try quite hard as story tellers.

You´ve given us loads of good advice
And said the following more than twice:

* Start off with a thrilling hook
* Show, not tell should fill our book
* Take great care with point of view
* Repeated words we must eschew

You´ve led us on to levels higher
And with good grace you may retire

We´ll miss your firm and guiding hands
Your puns and jokeshave made us fans.

So off you go with your eReader
O Wondrous Chief, O Worthy Leader!

Armed to the teeth with your new Kindle
Your lust to read will never dwindle.

We wish you well with future schemes
And hope you´ll soon fulfill your dreams.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Biblical Whales and Chicken Whisperers.


23 present, apologies from the rest.
Nik started off with the news that his book "Death Is Another Life" has been accepted by Solstice. It is a vampire romance (?!) and comes out as an eBook in a couple of months. It started as short stories, became a film script and now has transformed into a novel. Those with Kindles, get ready to place your orders! He read the prologue and a part of the first chapter. Enough to whet the appetite!

A new member, Sara (Sorry Sara, didn´t get your surname!) introduced herself. She is working on a children´s book and will be looking for help from the group to write a synopsis. She hadn´t got the book with her but as a taster of her writing style read out a tribute to her Nan, recently passed away. It gave a very clear picture of the sort of person she was for we who had never met her.

Alan Gillespie gave an account of a trip to the Jalon Valley. Some interesting facts were revealed: the Moors introduced window bars to Spain - not to keep thieves out, as is the case today, but to keep wives in!

Maureen read a piece which she will be putting on her website, which caters for those wishing to become or to improve their skills as tour guides.

Brenda gave part of her novel, this time relating Belle´s relationship with Matthew, a police officer.

Jane´s piece was called "After Sales, Part 2" describing the anxious and demanding buyer of her house who thinks Jane should be available, 24/7, to deal with queries and problems.

Ann Flynn had another biblical tale. This time about the National Police Undercover Unit based in Nineveh, and one of its officers, Jonah, who gets swallowed by a whale in the course of duty.

Douglas read a salutory tale of how his insurance company, AXA, let him down during a trip to the States.

John McGregor´s piece , loosely based on this week´s theme of  "Don´t Believe A Word or The Whole Truth", described, amongst other things, a chat-up line used successfully about being a chicken psychologist whose task was to ensure well-adjusted hens who would lay brown eggs.

A few people had things to read but didn´t get time so they will start next week ( Glyn, Nan, Stan and Rita???)

A reminder that next week is Nik´s last as Chair and at the break we will be presenting a token of our appreciation for his work over the last five years.


Sunday, 13 February 2011

Girls, Goals and Gripes

20 Members attended this weeks meeting for which the theme was "I'm Not That Kind Of Girl."

John McG kicked off with a tale based on the theme. It told of an interview being held in a police station with a girl who has been sexually harassed.The policeman at the end of the interview is persuaded to transport her home and is invited in for a drink. One thing leads to another and eventually he finds out that she is not the girl he thinks she is. This was a well written piece although several alternative endings were suggested.

Maureen was next and read an article about the trials and tribulations of being a Torry FC fan. To those who have attended such games this was very true. The piece was written very much tongue in cheek and could appear in any local publication.

Nan gave us a poem she had written for friends who were celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. There was lots of good sentiment expressed in this offering.

Alan read his piece entitled "Misunderstandings" based on the theme and was all about how the theme is phrased.

Jenny's poem, on the theme, was a story about a mechanic and one of his customers and his efforts to obtain a date with her. This was very entertaining with lots of good rhyme.

Ann B read out her poem also based on the theme and was up to Ann's normal high standard.

Jane told the story of a girl looking for what she sees as her ideal accommodation. Her potential flatmate starts making advances towards her and she has to forego moving in as "she's not a girl like that". This was a different take on the theme.

Mary K's offering called "Not All Tarts Are Apples" was a poem written as a conversation piece. The fact that it was written in rhyme constrained the piece. It was suggested that it might be better written as a piece of prose.

Pat continued her memories of wartime evacuation in her story called "Going Home". This was a very evocative item with lots of good description.

Alan's story about Spike was another tale in this dog's life where he eventually finds a new friend - a cat. Again this was another well observed item.

Margaret was last with her rant - a poem about bankers and the current economic situation. This was well written with lots of good alliteration.

Ian C

Friday, 4 February 2011

A Good Turnout

There were 24 members in attendance this week and the themes were "Time Stood Still" and "My Hero". Apologies were tendered for several members.

Prior to starting, Nik ammounced that he had been appointed as Chief Editor for Solstice Publishing and that his new appointment was effective as from 1st February.

Glyn announced that he had had replies from agents interested in his submissions and that his story "Kandahar" had been shortlisted for "The Page Turner" competition, the first prize being publication and a four figure cash sum.

Margaret read out two pieces, the first taking this week's theme and was a poem about how everyone has an age fixed in their mind at which they seem to stay. Her second piece was entitled "Home" and was very descriptive item about homelessness.

Alan's story was his version of a hero- St. George and how he came to fight the dragon. This was a well crafted script.

Glyn gave us another episode from his story "Kandahar" this time it was Brian's interview with the Adjutant who suspects that Brian does not want to face his demons. Again thia was a well observed piece of writing.

Douglas told the story of a man who wakes himself up with a scream. Thiswas a short chapter which left the members wanting more. Douglas explained that this was the start of a much larger item.

John Macgregor's tale "The House That Steve Built" was about two former workmates who meet and bring each other up to date with their lives.There were a few constructive comments which members thought could enhance the story.

Ann F read an excerpt from "Dementia Diary" and  was full of good observstion about her heroine's wandering mind.Again a well written piece with lots of play on words.

Mary K's poem "What's In The Pots" told of her efforts at making a pot of soup which turned into a hotpot. The end result being so good that she decided not to share the repast.

Anne G also read out a poem called "Merry England" and was a history lesson on "Elizabeth 1". This was extremely hmourous and was greeted with applause at the end of the reading.

Brenda took two past themes " Going Home" and "Waterfall" as her inspiration for a story about a soldier saying goodbye to a fallen comrade in Afghanistan. This was a different take on a well-written subject.

Heinke's tale entitled "The Other Side" encapsulated her off-the-wall sense of humour detailing a man's attempt at cooking for a guest. His attempt ends up a disaster causing a fire and their deaths conveying them to "the other side".

Rita also gave us a history lesson with an abridged biography of Genghis Khan. This detailed the changes Khan made for the benefit of his people. As was pointed out to Rita  she perhaps should have itemised some of his faults which would have presented a more balanced view.

Ian C