We take it in turn to host the meeting in our homes, once a month, (just drinks and biccies to be provided) and I can heartily recommend it as a ‘model’ if you want to set up any kind of writers’ group.
The idea of ours is that we write a couple of poems and read them out at the meeting, for feedback from the others. There are usually 7 or 8 of us and there are some very good poets in the group (better than me but that’s no bad thing, because I learn from them!) and invariably, because I don’t find writing poetry easy, I am beavering away into the early hours or even on the morning of the meeting itself.
Last time, just before Easter, everyone came to my house. This wasn’t stressful at all.
The dog jumped up on the first lady to arrive and made her trousers dirty (eek!) and then, when I went to make her a coffee, to soothe her, the flippin’ Tassimo machine – which had been perfectly OK the day before – decided not to function. It was apparently telling me, with its flashing red lights, that it needed a new filter but I didn’t have time to find out how to do that, so I yanked out my trusty old coffee machine from the back of a cupboard and opened the bit where you put the coffee in – only to find the remnants of the last time we’d used it (January!) ie: mouldy coffee grounds, so I had to quickly wash it out, hoping no-one would notice a) the mould or b) my panic and all the while, other poets were arriving and I was trying to be a cool, calm hostess and get them drinks.
Luckily my friend Chris arrived and helped me. (She didn’t know about the mould. But she does now. Whoops – sorry, but you had tea, so you were safe).
Anyway, it was a bit of a mad start but it reflected the sort of week I’d been having. Namely, a strange one. But it had given me an idea for a poem and here it is:
The Near Miss
I come out of the supermarket
to find my car has disappeared.
Stolen! But who would want it, really?
A hundred thousand miles on the clock and paintwork
faded to pink.
Oh! There it is!
What is it doing there on the other side of the car park,
lined up, dead straight against the kerb?
I march over,
inspect it for bumps.
There are none.
Nor is there an irate driver with a damaged wing mirror
a flattened old lady on the ground
an injured dog or child…
The car wash men ignore me
other shoppers’ vehicles cruise in and out.
I slip into the driver’s seat
pull the handbrake on,
Take it off again, start the engine.
All the way home my driving is steady,
my mind, racing.
Everyone laughed when I read it out and then realisation hit them. They popped their heads up to check their cars on the drive.
“Erm… so, did that really happen?”
I had to admit that (for the first – and hopefully, last – time in my life) I didn’t put the handbrake on when I went to the supermarket and my car, somehow, (it’s still a mystery to me), snaked its way slowly – and safely – across the car park and parked itself neatly against a metal barrier.
As I finished telling the sorry tale, my friend Chris looked at me. “I’m driving to Fishguard,” she said.
Which brings me on nicely to Writers Holiday in Fishguard, where we go every year and will, hopefully be there again this year (cars and handbrakes permitting).
If you’re looking for a writing holiday where the emphasis is just as much on the holiday (food, drink and general relaxation) as the writing – and you don’t mind a trek to Pembrokeshire – then this could be the one for you!
Have a look at the programme here (they call it a ‘conference’ but honestly, it’s much more informal than that). Famous people like Della Galton, Simon Whaley and Kate Walker are running courses (plus you can do poetry, painting or crime – that’s crime writing, not the real thing – amongst others) and because it’s not huge (unlike some other writing holidays, mentioning no names), Fishguard is much more personal and you’ll get more attention and chance to read out your work and ask questions.
Chris and I run the book quiz on the first night, which is a bit of an ‘ice breaker’ and I’ll also be running a few ‘after tea’ workshops (subjects still to be decided!). If you live within driving distance, you can attend as a day delegate for a reduced rate.
Let me know if you’re going to be there, so I can say hello!
And on a different note, here are details of the Grazia first chapter competition – submit by 5th May, free to enter and you could win £1000 and a trip to the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction Award night!
Puts me off rather that they want your date of birth AND a photo but them’s the rules, as they say, so it’s up to you if you want to give it a go…