Alan’s workshop was a more ‘nuts and bolts’ job than is usual. He spoke about the importance of description and used the phrase show, don’t tell as his title. In other words, make sure your reader is absorbed into the scene rather than an outsider looking in. He read two pieces from the wonderful Raymond Chandler (sadly without the accent!) to illustrate his thesis. He also offered various scenarios for us to work with and stressed that we were to write a scene, not a story.
One of his suggestions featured a cat, so needless to say, felines dominated the various offerings. I especially liked the one of the bad-tempered Siamese forced to visit the vet and rather wished I could have heard more of it. There were several scenes in cafes and also in gardens, both of these places causing the writers to conjure up both sounds and smells in a way that perhaps they would not have done without the workshop.
The character from the painting who looked into the pond and saw the reflection of a wise old woman had great resonance, as, in a very different genre, did the poem about Tarquin and his thong – unforgettable, that one!
It made for a thoughtful evening, and hopefully will influence some future writing. It was a more subdued meeting than usual, as just before embarking on the workshop we heard news of the tragedy unfolding in Paris, and saw the images of Notre Dame burning. Such an iconic building has a place in all our hearts, and we can only hope that, like our own St Pauls all those years ago, it will eventually rise again from the ashes.
Thank you, Alan, not only for the work you had obviously put into the evening, but for stepping into the breach at quite short notice. No meeting next week, as it is a Bank Holiday, and the week after that (29th) we are at Westfield for a reading week, optional theme: I swear I was just looking for my cat…
Have a happy Easter, Sally