Monday, 18 October 2010

Words, words, words.

This morning I have been to one of our monthly writers' meetings - The Discussion Group. There are usually just short of a dozen people at our Writers' Group - at the Discussion usually no more than four or five. What it entails is giving in a piece of work early in the month - one copy to each of us so that we have plenty of time to read and think about it. Then we meet and discuss it.

I love it - it is my favourite meeting of the month. We meet for two hours and get some really meaty discussion going about language, presentation, punctuation, style,
content - absolutely everything and no holds barred. I come home after the meeting really fired up and ready to write.

Why do so few people want to come to this meeting? I think some don't wish to discuss their work, they are happy with it as it stands. Some people are not willing to hand out copies. Fair enough - but they certainly miss a lot.

Today we began by discussing the first chapter of a book on the first World War, which one of our members is writing. It is a novel and is the sort of thing I would never read and yet discussing the minutae of the first chapter made me realise that I would probably enjoy a book of that nature if I allowed myself to get into it.

Then we discussed another member's account of his school days in the 1940's. He has no desire for publication and is writing it to leave behind for his children to read. It was fascinating and brought my own school days (in the same period) into focus. We had a lively discussion on the morals of the day, on the discipline in school -so wide-ranging and such fun.

Joan's poem, which she put through my blog on to the Poetry Bus last Monday, was the next thing and the odd word here and there was questioned and maybe modified.

Finally we talked about my poem, Luggage, which I put on my blog last Monday. We thought about superfluous words in poetry and as a result I cut out a couple of words and I feel it reads much better for it.

If we want to become better writers (let's face it, if we were really very good writers now we wouldn't be blogging our work, we would be publishing it)then I think the more we discuss, the better we will get. I think we all need to learn to take constructive criticism on the chin. (I was going to say 'like a man'!!!, but maybe better not.)

I haven't done a poem for the Poetry Bus today - it was a good prompt - to write a poem in a place where we have never written before - I was going to choose my coffee stop last Friday morning, but got chatting. I need a nice quiet time so that I can empty my mind - such a time has not occured this weekend. So I put here last Monday's entry 'Luggage' again with the one or two words deleted.


In my hand luggage
I carried
the pain of Guernica,
the suffering of its people,
the death of comrades.

In my baggage
I carried
the reasons why,
the solidarity,
the dashed hopes.

On the carousel
they go round,
and round.
There is no-one left
to know
or care.

(on the death of a Spanish Civil War veteran).


jeanette from everton terrace said...

Love the poem. I would enjoy going to your meetings just to read the works in progress and hear the discussions even though I'm certain I'd have no writings of my own to offer. I just talked to my mother this weekend about her writing down some stories from her childhood. It would be great if she had a group like this.

The Solitary Walker said...

Well, I liked it then and I like it now. A really good poem, Pat.

Gerry Snape said...

you have reminded me of the painting by mark-gertler-done just after the 1st W.W. the poem suits the feeling so well.

Derrick said...

Glad you get such pleasure and impetus from your discussions, Weaver. The couple of words that you have removed from your poem do make it tighter and take nothing away.

Eryl said...

The benefits one gets from discussing one's work with interested others are huge. Taking out those few words has made quite some difference to your poem's impact.

Trace said...

I think that those who do not come to the meetings are perhaps a little shy about revealing themselves through their work. It takes a lot of courage to read your work to others. I think they may be frightened about what people might think or say. Some people are not so sure/not so confident about themselves and may have suffered a rebuff or something. An idea is a very fragile thing.

Trace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trace said...

I am the author who removed her comment. This was because for some unknown blogger reason my first comment appeard twice!

Shirley said...

Hello Weaver! I am returning the favour of a visit to your blog. In answer to your question about the mountain ash - the robins have long since migrated and the only other birds which frequent the tree are waxwings. They don't come around every year, sadly, and when they do it is usually during the winter. It is quite a site to see a flock engulf a mountain ash and devour the berries.

I belong to a writer's group too. We read aloud our recent writing to the group and then provide input on eachothers' works. Your way sounds good too as it allows more time to contemplate the piece.

Have a great day!

angryparsnip said...

Your writers group sounds really great.
Fun and help all tied up with a ribbon and a cookie.

As for yesterdays posts question ... we all make mistakes (me, me me) with misspelled words, punctuation or dangling participles (always wanted to say that) are just the norm. I would never point something out even if I saw it unless I was a friend or as in your case just a funny sentence. We all type too fast...
When I first starting out blogging I wrote venting machine instead of vending machine on a post, since I didn't know how to go back and fix it, at that time, I let it ride. Everyone let it ride but a good friend wrote and said that venting machine was a funnier and better fit and it was ! such a hoot.
I usually get what the writer has said or meant to say...
Just my take on mistakes... we all make them and some of us... more that others.

cheers, parsnip

steven said...

weaver - i beg to differ (based on my experience with the writing of several bloggers) that publication is the litmus test of good writing. i see pieces that have appeared digitally that are so extraordinary in their own right and yet they have no copyright, no editor, no publisher. they simply are! steven

Caroline Gill said...

It's funny, isn't it, Weaver, how some of us thrive on writer gatherings while others withdraw at the thought. I know I owe a VAST amount to those who have either led groups or attended them with me, and to those who have taken the trouble to make constructive comments along the way.

I thrive off the buzz of ideas in a live group - but due to health restrictions and other commitments, I cannot always get out to these gatherings. That's why my poetry friends who blog mean such a lot to me - you are all just a few clicks away!

As for your revised poem, Weaver, I think you have undertaken some worthwhile pruning: I agree with Derrick.

Anonymous said...

First of all, Pat, what a fine poem. And a dignified memorial for the passing of the Spanish Civil War veteran.

Concerning discussion groups, I used to really enjoy going to the regular meetings of Weypoets in Guildford. They were a tremendous support at the time of my resumption of poetry writing in the mid-'80s. Sadly, I've never found their equivalent up here in Herts and I regret that still. You're fortunate, Pat. Profites-en!

BT said...

Wow, that's a super poem Weaver. I would say to Jeanette, yes, do get your mother's stories as when your parents are dead, it's too late. Both my parents have died and I so wish I'd taken more notice when they told me stories of their lives.

ChrisJ said...

I used to belong to a writers' group like this when I first began to write in the late 60's. There were six in the group and they were all professional writers -- some well known in their field. They took me under their wing. What an experience that was! I was so wound up after one of those meetings i couldn't sleep! Exciting but very nerve-wracking!

MorningAJ said...

I'd love to be able to attend a meeting like that but the problem round here is that people organising anything even vaguely creative think we're all retired and can do 10am on Tuesdays (or whatever).

I get home from work by 7pm if I'm lucky and most days I've been out 12 hours by then.......

That's why I blog - to meet like-minded people in my own time!

Heather said...

'Luggage' is a mini-marvel Pat - very concise but it says so much. I am writing down events from my childhood too, before I forget them all and there is no-one else to remember them. I'm not sure that I agree with you when you say you would'nt be blogging poems and other writings if they were good enough to be published. I have picked up many a book and wondered how on earth it came to be published! There are hundreds of talented writers tucked away whose work may never be enjoyed by the rest of us, because they think they are not good enough to be published. Sadly, publishers are only interested in books which will sell in vast numbers and make them money. Your group sounds like my group - we discuss each others work but reserve the right to ignore advice if we don't like it!

Tramp said...

These meetings sound very stimulating but at the same time frightening. It's not just the thought of having a piece ripped apart, I would worry that I was making sensible comments about other people's work.
Nevertheless I think that such discussions must be more useful to someone truly interested in developing their writing than blogging.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for the feedback - yes of course you are all right - there is a lot of good writing never published and a lot of nonsense that is published - some of us don't even wish to be published - it is all too much effort of sending stuff off with SAE and typing it all up. Glad you all think the poem is better tidied up a bit. As usual, all your comments make interesting reading.