Thursday, 7 July 2011

6 July 2011

There were 17 present with apologies from Annes F, G and B, Chris J and Mary K.  John MacGregor, having been press ganged into the role of Chairman, did a splendid job.
Kathy passed round a Top 100 Book list.  I’m not sure where it came from but these lists are always interesting to disagree with!
Heather mentioned the Mslexia First Novel Competition, closing date 31 August, in case anyone was interested.  Sorry guys, it’s a disgracefully sexist competition, women only.
Brenda told us that she had sent a synopsis and first 2 chapters of her novel off to an agent and had a reply!  Although the agent did not want to take this any further, the comments were useful and, as Brenda said, the main lesson learned was to do the research to make sure an agent has an interest in your genre before making an approach.
Kathy started us off with a leftover from last week on the topic, ‘When all else fails try honesty’.  Doreen, who had perfected the art of putting people down starting with the phrase “quite honestly”, had turned the writer off the notion of ‘honesty is the best policy’ but a twist in the tale led her to change her mind.  There was play on words and use of clich√© throughout the piece.  The meeting appreciated the twist but felt that it would be more effective if that was right at the end of the story and would have liked more description to help visualise the characters.
Maureen gave us a poem on the “Firsts” of a marriage from its start to its end with the first divorce.  It was very well done and conveyed a great deal in a few words. The meeting was split over the phrase “icing on the mud pie”. Those who ate Mississippi Mud Pie were disconcerted, while those who used to make mud pies as children thought it was very effective!
Unfortunately Chris R had to decline as she had brought the wrong bag with her.  (Been there, done that.)
Jane gave us a story inspired by Shirley Valentine of two friends on a Greek island holiday taking time out from work and motherhood .  One enjoys all the innocent pleasures available, while the other is seduced by a handsome Greek.  We wanted to know what happened next (did she really stay on the island??) and while the descriptions as ever were really good, Nik wanted more detail of the young Greek.  (The females present could manage to picture him without any help!)
Cheryl gave us more from her novel about Chloe, describing her first visit to the Catholic boarding school.  Having taken note of comments from last week, Cheryl felt that first rather than third person narrative would be more effective and the meeting thought she had made the change successfully.  We all agreed the descriptions of the approach and the building were very good.  John McG thought that more about the personalities in the journey towards the school would be a good counterbalance.  Nik said that while it was an adult remembering the first visit, it was a 9 year old child experiencing it and this could be reflected in her emotional reaction to what she saw.
Heather stuck to the topic of the week with a review of the book “Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress” by Dai Sijie, thinking that its celebration of the power of storytelling was well suited to a Writers Circle.
Brenda gave us a reading from her novel, this time from Minerva’s diary describing events in the 1930s and ‘40s leading up to Belle’s birth.  This gave a new insight into Minerva’s special bond with her son Kenny, while presenting a colourful picture of one family’s experience of London in war time. Not surprisingly, the absence of Minerva’s husband did not mean the absence of sex…
Nik gave us the beginning of a 7000 word short story entitled Silence.  A shopkeeper called Joe in a town in the West grows more and more suspicious that a visitor is not a real customer, but a threat, and a shooting results.  The sheriff comments that it is a shame Joe has had to shoot 4 robbers over the years.  We go back to Joe/Giuseppe arriving in USA and growing up in New York, but there Nik stopped so we’ll have to wait for the full story.  Comments were good as always, but perhaps a more definite sense of where the shop was at the beginning would be beneficial.
Douglas was inspired by the TV drama series New Tricks to describe a death in Egypt in 1949 when he was in the RASC (Edit: Apologies to Douglas, I originally wrote RAF!).  The Military Police, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, concluded this was suicide, but the doubts and gossip of the time have haunted Douglas since.  What really happened?  As no-one will ever know, it was suggested that Douglas should write a short story offering a suitable explanation.
Gerry read his story “Helmand Heat”, a monthly winner from the Wordplay collection, about one experience of a bomb disposal expert in the Afghan desert. The heat, the danger and the futility of war were very well conveyed.
John read his poem “Candyfloss Dreams” contrasting the dreams of an innocent young girl with the harsh experience of her abusive marriage.
Kathy ended with a review of “The Right”, a film starring Anthony Hopkins about demonic possession and the struggle for faith in the modern world.  Her description was very detailed – but don’t tell us the whole story, Kathy, in case we want to see the film!

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