30 January 2009
A couple of weeks back I was running a writing workshop in a lovely, snug little Leeds pub in the heart of Woodhouse. The Chemic is one of those real assets in a community, a proper old-fashioned boozer with live music and loads of interesting customers, ranging in age from students to near death. I noted for future reference that you could buy fish and chips in the little chippie next door and take them into the pub and consume them with your beer. How civilised is that?
It’s also the meeting place for Leeds Writers, a group set up by the inspirational Lorna Hutchinson, where every fortnight a group of amiable folk meet up and talk writing. I was a bit nerve-wracked to tell the truth; I was sure they there’s be a few Plaths and Hughes amongst the assembled ten or so there. And I was worried that I would sound a bit lame in the presence of genius.
I took them through a few writing exercises and we talked about different aspects of writing poetry from generating ideas all the way through to shape and form, ending up discussing the editing and redrafting process. I took a couple of artefacts in with me and they provided a good starting point for writing. One of them was the clay head, a favourite object of mine, and the other was the little plaster bust [ pictured] which seems to come from a different artistic and cultural tradition and provides an interesting contrast.
It became very clear that there were some excellent writers in our company and their work stood up brilliantly when it was read out in its very embryo form. One member worried that they sometimes spent lots of time thinking about what to write, and never actually got round to the writing. [ My apologies if I’ve paraphrased them very badly.] With my own agonisingly slow writing of my novel The Champion at the forefront of my mind, I offered them the advice of WTBT, or Write the Bloody Thing.
It was also a reminder to myself.
Though I’m more inclined to say savagely under my breath, WTFT. I think you can work that out...