Jenny’s workshop was an exploration of the many uses of one word in our complex language. To illustrate her hypothesis the word she chose was ‘dig’ and we had a brief conversation about its multiple meanings before beginning to write. I have been asked recently by people who read this blog (reassuring to know that someone does!) why we operate on this dual level system of workshop/ reading week so I thought I would endeavour to explain.
The workshops, always run by members, are designed to provoke our creative juices, get us thinking on our feet (no, not literally!) and produce a piece of prose or poetry in an allotted time, usually between 15- 20 minutes. The work, which always covers everything from the sublime to the ridiculous, is then read back to the group. And the ‘reading weeks’ are just that. We read our pieces, written in our own time, out loud. Sometimes these are on the optional theme which members like to have, or part of a longer work such as a novel, or just about anything the writer fancies. The only criteria are an absolute maximum of ten minutes read-back time and no politics or religion. It sounds straightforward because it is, and the standard of the work is often breathtaking.
So, back to Jenny’s gloriously simple workshop. There was, obviously, quite a lot of conventional digging going on, I loved Digger Jenkins, the crooked Australian opal-digger, who dug up the last ticket on the Titanic, and Molly, frantically digging for buried treasure under the burning sun, finally revealed as little girl on the beach. We made a trip to New Orleans and really dug some Cajun music and poetry. We also met a Koala bear, dug for Victory, and some of us were inspired by a poem to recall how, in the 1970’s, it was mandatory to dig just about everything.
We were hilariously regaled with the antics of the ghost of Lady Cynthia Strumpet as she haunted a 16th century cottage, and reminded of an apparently true story of a lost ring turning up years later embedded in a freshly dug carrot and another vegetable one about Irish potato diggers. An especially gruesome one about burying deer to mature the venison should encourage the present move toward vegetarianism. And by contrast, a magical, beautiful, very visual one about dragon puppies.
As you can tell, by these sketchy examples, we dug deep –OK, sorry. But well done, and thanks, Jenny. There were many more stories, of course, all imaginative and all entertaining. A really enjoyable exercise.
At Tesco next week for a reading week, and the optional theme is: It was raining that day. See you there. Sally