Helen’s Workshop

I was asked recently what the purpose of our workshops is, and the question made me analyse what I think we Shorelinkers probably know instinctively. The workshops not only often challenge us to write out of our comfort zone, but because of the time strictures they teach us to be succinct. If you have to write something coherent and (hopefully!) interesting in 15 or 20 minutes, then there is no room for long rambling sentences or the tempting tautological traps that lie in wait for writers.

Helen’s workshop last night was a prime example of this. Headed Unexpected items in the bagging area, she gave us four wide ranging scenarios to choose from apart from the obvious one. These included a recued cat harbouring what? in the back of its basket, a refugee child opening a Christmas shoebox, and an unexpected knock at the door. We read the choices and then it was quickly heads down followed by silence except for rustling paper and the occasional sigh.

Then, as always, we read our efforts back. The variety was fascinating. We kicked off with a poem about a cat whose basket hid six newborn kittens. The next one was a moving account of a child in Alleppo, followed bizarrely by the accidental purchase of a sonic screwdriver in Lidls. One of our number had forgotten his glasses but treated us to an off-the- cuff oral story about his childhood, leaving us wondering if there might be inspiration for another kind of workshop in the future.

The stories came thick and fast, carousels and lost luggage, one featuring a scorpion, another a platypus (don’t ask!), a vegetarian discovered with carnivore habits, a murder in a supermarket, and a delightful fairy story concerning golden hay bales. Too many to list, of course. Moving ones such the child escaping poverty by learning to read, and inevitably at the moment, some that mentioned certain thinly disguised political figures.

Thank you Helen, it was fun as well as stretching us. Mission achieved, in fact. Next week, back at Tesco, the optional theme I had no idea who he/she was but…

See you there.  Sally.


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