Monday, 29 October 2012

A Writing Weekend

I have been lucky recently - I have been out and about to various events connected with writing and with mental health.  I think I have catalogued most of them on recent posts here.  This weekend I attended two writing workshops - one co-ordinated by Cyprus Well and, I think, both run by LitUp

The Cyprus Well event was billled as a networking event for writers in residence, although attendance seemed to be fairly open to all.  The event was free.  It was aimed at those who lead writing groups connected with mental health, and particularly for those who work with people recovering from addiction.  A chap from Vita Nova running it, and he seemed very nice - modest too (he was very down to earth, said he talked from a non-academic viewpoint and you would have been forgiven for thinking he had no qualifications, but it turned out he had taken a degree as a mature student and is now doing an MA).

There were lots of interesting people there - perhaps fourteen attendees in total.  I was really impressed with the venue - Pavilion Dance in Bournemouth  That place must have had a lot of money spent on it recently.  They have really modernised the inside while keeping the outside structure intact, which is wonderful because it is a great old building that deserves to be preserved.  There is also a new modern bistro next door.  The view from the huge windows was of the Lower Gardens, and as I watched a bouncy castle was inflated on the grass below us.  It was a lovely sunny day, fresh and clear, and I couldn't help thinking of my kids, who would have loved to be with me in Bournemouth.  I hate taking myself away from them at the weekend.

I was pleased I went, though.  We talked about various ways of running writing workshops, different ice-breakers and exercises (one lady pointed out that we should use the word activity rather than exercise, so as not to intimidate those people who don't want to be reminded of their schooldays).   I met somebody called Tania Hershman, who is a writer in residence at Bristol University in the Science department.  Aha, I thought - I could learn a lot here (I am thinking of the opportunities which I hope will soon present themself from Newcastle).  I chatted briefly to Tania and gave her a copy of my book, although I have told myself  I should not keep giving them away - but in return she very kindly gave me a copy of hers 'My Mother was an Upright Piano'.  A real book - in exchange for mine!  It's fab - a book of really short stories, very original and striking.

Now I really do hate taking myself away from the kids at the weekend - and I realise it sounds quite contradictory that I attended two workshops on one weekend.  What can I say - it's like buses (and men, according to Wendy Cope) - they all come at once.  The Saturday event had only been for a couple of hours in the morning, but the Sunday one ran from ten until four pm.  It only cost five pounds (it would have been more but you got a discount if you attended more than one event). 

And it was really good too - although there were only four of us so the atmosphere was not as dynamic, the teacher was fine (John Foster, a tutor from the Media School at Bournemouth Universtiy) and he gave us lots of useful handouts to take away.  It is always good to be in the company of other writers, and I feel privileged to have been able to take part.  Although I now have plenty of domestic weekends ahead (no jaunts planned at all now) I am sure the double injection of motivation will help keep me writing more regularly from now on.  Thanks to Cyprus Well and to LitUp - and to Tania Hershmann for her lovely book!


  1. You really are becoming a gad-about, Louise. Seems like just a short time ago you were a little hesitant about going to London. Sounds like a worthwhile week-end!

  2. I remember, Rossa, I was terrified about going to London on the train alone! Just six months later, at the beginning of this month, I travelled to Newcastle by plane, train and taxi without a twinge of nerves. It really is a new world.
    I hope you and your family are well. All the best, Louise.