A Glowing Feedback – 13 November 2019

It was a brisk, clear evening last Wednesday, when I arrived at the Mercure Hotel. The rising, full moon was casting an anticipatory glow and, as I stepped in from the chill, I was not disappointed. For a warm welcome awaited, at one of the best turnouts for a Feedback evening at the Ayr Writers’ Club.

Members were asked to bring four copies of writing; in any genre, up to a maximum of 1000 words, identifiable by only a pseudonym and to be placed on a numbered pile at the front table. So we handed over our submissions that had been carefully prepared, and joined an allocated group with a different number. Then, the evening commenced and for one hour, our group of four members studied three works. In silence, we read and then, altogether, reviewed each submission for, what was good, how it could be improved and, additional comments:

• A theatrical script: Sleeping Beauty was based on the traditional fairy tale with two of the lead characters named ‘Ovaltine’ and ‘Horlicks’. Modern and humorous, it was cleverly written in poetic, rhyming couplets.

• A Scottish poem: The Wahshin’ was a mix of poetry and Scottish language. A daughter was watching her mother, hanging out her clothes from an upstairs window. As she hung out her dress and knickers, with pegs that drooped ‘like fags’ from her mouth, she was afraid that the good looking neighbour would notice the size of her enormous ‘bahookie’! The poem was humorous, cleverly written and appreciated, particularly, when read out loud.

• A prologue from a novel: Two Plus Two was a thriller and began with a man in a supermarket queue, with only one carton of milk and a single pork chop, who is described as ‘a sad bastard’ from someone behind. But after examining the contents of an overflowing trolley in front, he later recalls the same man with the trolley, a wad of cash and flashy car, as someone whom he had known before and the reader was enticed, quickly, into the intrigue.

Then, it was the break. Time to reflect and enjoy conversations over well-earned refreshments before the last 45 minutes, when we returned to our groups and shared the reviews with the club.

The many other submissions, in a variety of genre, included: a thriller with an assassin; a prose poem with great images and a sense of infinity that is beyond human comprehension; a poem about love; a young adult fantasy set in a parallel world; a mid-range children’s fantasy, with a teenager in a wood who encounters some ‘nasty’ fungi and a talking toadstool; a toddler book entitled, Granny Came to Visit which was also enjoyed by the adults; a fictional story entitled, Auld Toun, New Town, that describes the contrasting world of Betty, who has dementia, and her daughter, who are on a shopping trip together; a wartime love letter, entitled Dearest Millicent that ends with an unexpected twist, when the writer turns out to be female; a short story with a tormented character; and a horror story that received mixed opinions due to its content.

The submissions were first appreciated and received many positive words, including; humorous, fast paced, exciting, good ideas, colourful imagery, good dialogue, suitable for the age group and great potential. Suggestions then followed on how the pieces might be improved, including; changes to grammar, punctuation, restructuring of paragraphs and altering beginnings of sentences. Finally, the Feedback Evening ended with everyone grateful for their feedback.

Clutching my own submission that had been usefully critiqued, I stepped out of the warmth, then sharply inhaled. For the full moon, now risen, was reflecting tenaciously and I quickened my pace, determined to keep writing, for one day – who knows…

Carolyn Ann Watts

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