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From Noah to the perils of the i-phone – 14 March 2018

On Wednesday 14 March the Club hosted one of its regular Read-Around nights. Around twenty or so members arrived for the evening, many clutching copies of their work. The description of the evening in the Club’s handbook is simple and disarming – ‘These are informal evenings, where you are given the chance of having your work read by other club members’. The truth is that it can, particularly for a novice writer, be an anxious and potentially unsettling experience. Few writers would deny that they are very protective of their work.

The ambience of the evening was, as usual, friendly and encouraging. Compered by Janice in an unfussy and efficient manner, we were able to review approximately ten scripts. The process involves groups of four club members having the opportunity to review two or three pieces of writing. The identity of the writer is not disclosed until after the critique has been delivered.

What a remarkable range of writing was produced during the evening. They included (I wish I had taken notes) a short story looking at domestic violence from an oblique angle, a play about Noah and the Ark given a contemporary twist, a poem about our love affair with smart phones, a non- fiction description of a nineteenth century coaching inn, the opening chapter of a creepy novel set in an Ayrshire Holiday Park and another poem lamenting the hypocritical path to destruction that mankind appears to be hell-bent on taking.

The aim of the evening is to provide constructive criticism – what was liked, what improvements could be considered and any general comments about the piece of writing as a whole. A successful evening should leave every writer feeling uplifted and positive, having a sense that they have a greater insight and knowledge of their own work than when they arrived. Having heard every critique last Wednesday, I am confident that every member whose work was reviewed will have left feeling buoyant and encouraged. They will have been given tips at improvement, alternative ways of looking at an idea and suggestions where they might enter any potential competitions. It is difficult to overstate how valuable this encouragement can be regardless of a writer’s experience.

The following night I attended a book launch at the Carnegie Library. It was essentially a double act between two distinguished club members – Michael J. Malone interviewing Pat Young about her newly published second novel I Know Where You Live. Good humour, stimulating questions and Pinot Grigio were plentiful. It has since struck me that it is more than likely that these two club stalwarts, now with established writing careers, started their writing lives by anxiously submitting a small piece of writing at a club Read-Around night.

Our club welcomes all prospective writers, offering them a friendly welcome and an environment where their skills will be nurtured and enhanced.

Chris Palmer

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