Creative Writing in Lockdown

It’s a month since I’ve posted here, just before the coronavirus lock-down started on Tuesday 24th March. This also coincided with starting a new on-line creative writing course with Alison Taft using email and a private Facebook group for sharing and comment. This is working very well. The daily contact and asynchronous communication makes possible exercises and tasks that can accumulate over the week. One particular exercise for instance was to write a 40 to 50 word micro-fiction story, or dribble, using the word ‘envy’. Then each day for six days the story is added to using a new prompt word. We all ended up with pretty good short stories of between 300 and 400 words.

One of the things I like about this exercise is how later sections make you revise your understanding of earlier sections. Each short section is replete with possibilities, things hinted at, unsaid, story potentialities. Each new section, focused by the word, picks up on one of these, developing one possible story line and foreclosing on others. But in the process opens up new unforeseen possibilities. Each new section forces a new understanding of the previous section, a bit like the present acting back and modifying the writer’s understanding of the past – a bit like time travel! My story was called ‘The Three Sisters’ and I’ll publish it here.

The other writing activity during the lock-down involves my other creative writing course with an establish group at Headingley, Leeds. I’ve helped set up a web site for the group to publish some of its work. They’ve been together for up to seven years and I’m very much the new boy but they are very friendly and supportive. Our meetings were due to start at the end of this month but have had to be put on hold. In the meantime we have been meeting on-line weekly using Zoom where we share what we have written as the previous week’s writing task. This has worked very well and fortunately most of the group have been able to access this system for on-line meetings. So far all the tasks have been poetry and to my surprise I’ve enjoyed them, not being a poet or having any pretensions of being one. I have written a villanelle, an acrostic and an ekphrastic poem. All will be revealed when I post then here! The group has a number of very accomplished and published poets and there feedback has been very encouraging.

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