I recently flirted with the idea of doing a distance learning or part-time English degree but eventually decided it would be too time consuming and too expensive (especially with a new baby in the house). However I still wanted to explore a bit more creative writing and eventually decided that instead of putting it off I should just give it a try.
Over the last couple of months I’ve been putting together story ideas and writing some wee pieces of flash fiction and short stories. I’ll try and put some of it up on here in the future. It’s been great as a hobby that I can devote time to while still taking a shift looking after the baby. I type away at the table while she sleeps in her bouncy chair or gurgles away on the playmat. Other times I can read some of the community work at Scribophile.com and practice my critical eye by offering critiques for others (the worth of this kind of online community is hard to overstate, it’s brilliant!).
Last week I went along to the local community centre for a meeting of Stonehaven’s creative writing group. Before I turned up I had all kinds of mental images in my head of what the class would be like. To be honest most of them were pretty close to the reality but aside from that the class was also friendly, welcoming, supportive, non-judgemental and full of interesting discussion about literature and various other things.
We spent some time discussing a long poetry piece one of the group members have written. I found the standard was very high and everyone raised good points, both on the technical and emotional components of the work. Then we went through some short exercises to try and generate discussion and possible writing topics. These included a few poems on St George (as it was his day) and a task to list things we hate touching and list reasons why. Finally we finished with a review and discussion of a story written by the group leader based on a bit of his family history from Peterhead where it’s rumoured his ancestors came across a large chest of money washed up from the sea. He’d used this to write an entertaining and humorous piece with dialogue in broad doric telling the tale of the chest and the inevitable double-cross within the group that found it.
The conversation around this piece darted off in various directions in great detail. It was really refreshing just to be able to sit and discuss a piece of writing like this and go into the technical details as well as the broad themes and history which inspired it. I thought it was a great way to spend a couple of hours so think I’ll definitely be going back again.