Such talent from Ayr Writers – 11 April 2018

We had a good turnout for our read-a-round evening on 11 April, with four groups enthusiastically discussing the pieces submitted for scrutiny. For those of you who don’t know what these evenings consist of, the instructions tell us to bring along four copies of a piece of prose or poetry no longer than 1,000 words. The pieces are anonymous and usually each group of reviewers does not read their own work. However this time we did it differently, with each group discussing two or three items written by its members. This worked very well, with members asking questions about each piece and discussing the reasons for the way the piece was written. Some of the deliberations were so interesting, we worked through the break.

As for the comments shared later on, well, in the ten pieces we reviewed we had everything from novels to YA stories, to poems in English and in the vernacular, a children’s book and even a play. The first comments were on a novel about revenge after a close friend dies in childbirth, which I had written in the first person as a test to see if it worked better than in the third person. The opinion was that it did, so now I have to rewrite my novel. Ho hum. Next was a young adult novel, with a fourteen year old and an elderly person reminiscing over a photograph. This raised the question of appropriate dialogue. Then there was a children’s picture book with a satisfying last line, about a child being too heavy to lift because she was full of happiness. A poem written from the perspective of a miner’s daughter came next, followed by a chilling story of child abuse told from the point of view of a social worker. The dialogue in this, although gritty, was thought to be appropriate to the scenario. Then there was a memoir, for which the writer realised that sometimes you can be so close to your subject you forget that others might be misled unless you explain. A humorous poem with a nod to Burns and clever rhymes made us laugh about procrastination, while another poem was much more serious, with the subject of wife-killing. There was an almost perfect science fiction story, except that the method of ‘insertion’ needed to be clearer. That’s all I’m saying about that one. Finally we had the Christmas play ‘Saint vs. Saviour’. This was a humorous piece that raised comments about Mrs Claus’s subservient role needing to change.

Everyone who submitted their pieces felt that the comments confirmed the success of their style of writing or encouraged them to think again about some aspects of the work. The evening was rounded off by the readings of all the poems, including one about underwear that was tweeted to Marks and Spencer and appreciated by them. Maybe there will be a simplified selection of knickers in the shops soon? Maybe not.

If you have not been to a read-a-round evening before, make sure you come to one when the new season starts. It is inspirational to read the work of other writers, and a way of obtaining valuable comments on your own.

Jennifer West

One comment

  1. Thanks for writing this up so vividly, Jennifer, I really wish I could have been there.

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