Monday, May 16, 2016

Our homegrown writing festival

This is just a quickie (really!) as a kind of thank you from me to the lovely writers, audience and ABC staff who made our own homegrown English Writing Festival such a success this last Saturday. It was an event that had taken several months from germination and nurture to fruition, but when it happened it was an inspiring afternoon from which I hope everyone left feeling it was worth their while.

Here's what I learnt from each of the other writers who spoke:
Jennifer Harvey : Flash Fiction
Jennifer Harvey, a prize winning writer who stems from Scotland, but writes and edits for an online story writers website, taught me that for a powerful and evocative piece of Flash Fiction (anything under 1000 words), the writer has to make careful choices about what information to leave out - in other words, how much of 'less' is 'more'.

Floris Kleijne: Short Stories
Floris Kleijne, who is Dutch, but writes in English for which he has won awards, taught me about not censoring my 'mental flatulence' (he did!). His message, delivered with flair and great humour, was that we should let our creativity bubble rise up and flow out unchecked. He gets his inspiration from being a participant in theatre sports and improv acting where the participants must accept any idea offered or block the story. You can always edit out the rubbish (stench) afterwards. Nice, hey?

Marinca Kaldeway: Poetry

Marinca, who'd just arrived back from a trip to the land of poets, Ireland, showed me that poetry doesn't have to be a lonely pursuit as online publishing has given her a feeling of community she never had before. She told us that her inspiration for her prose poetry comes from her own sense of longing, so it is very centred on self, rather than flash fiction short stories which are often not.

Olga Mecking: Blogging
Olga Mecking comes from Poland, is married to a German and lives in the Netherlands. She started blogging as a means of finding a community to belong to, and she reinforced this notion for me too, for as a blogger myself, I've found a great community in my blogging sphere as well. As a stranger in a strange land, it can be a marvellous way of making contacts and building a social circle on both the web and in real life.

Me on writing memoirs
As for me, what did I learn from my own talk? Well, for one thing, I should never bother to write a script because I never keep to it and I lose the plot all too easily. Ahem. No points to Val for structure and organisation. In my own defense though, I am a teacher used to working without script and just a basic plan, so I am more at ease in that mode. I have learnt that I won't write out my talks again...

But I did write a script and writing it helped me realise why I love writing memoirs. I started after being inspired by Peter Mayle's Year in Provence, and it was his stories about the people he lived among in France that appealed to me. For me, then, memoirs give me the outlet for my observations on the life, people and wonderful quirks of the world in which I live. I thought I'd written my last memoir, but now, I've learnt that I can just go on doing so as long as I have the will and curiosity for life to keep fuelling them.

As I said, it was an inspiring event and as the Dutch say, a very leerzaam or learnsome one too.


PS, thank you too to Jo (for the lovely photos), Mo (for the great questions) and to Ko(os) for being there for me (always), driving me there, paying the exorbitant parking bill, and helping me carry all the stuff around.

13 comments:

  1. That sounds wonderful! I'd have loved to have been there. So much to learn! I'm glad it went so well, Val.

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    1. I learnt a lot from it, Roger, I really did. Maybe there'll be another time and you and Grace can come over!

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  2. Hi Val - sounds fun ... and with some interesting speakers ... and then the 'leerzaam' thing - that is essential ... learning all the time ... great photos from Jo .. cheers Hilary

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    1. I so agree. Learning is always the best part. Thanks Hilary!

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  3. Claudia Schneider4:33 pm, May 16, 2016

    Now I feel a little bit like I was there.. ��

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    1. Wow, thank you, Claudia! So nice to see you here too :) Maybe you'll feel able to come to the next one we hold in October! That would be lovely :)

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  4. So glad you all had such a wonderful time.

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    1. We did indeed, Jo! It was a lot of fun.

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  5. What fun! Thanks for all I've learned from your blog! Sorry about the exorbitant parking fees...but I love hearing what all the writers say and I agree with you - you don't need a script! You're good at thinking on your feet!

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    1. I'm better at that than following scripts in any area of life, Steph xx

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  6. Mental flatulence is a terrible problem, especially as one gets older. Someone should invent a mental Gaviscon....

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    1. Haha, Stephanie, now that would be something wouldn't it? But seriously, think how limiting it would be...

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  7. Hi Val,

    Thank you so much for orgainising such a wonderful event. It was very enjoyable and worthwhile. Like you, I also prepared a script and then ended up adlibbing. I much prefer to look at the audience when I speak - so lesson learned there for me too.

    Hope to do it again some time!

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