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Troon Writing Games – Summer Readaround – 17 August

The golfers were gone. Troon was no longer in the eyes of the sporting world. It was already Day Twelve of the Olympics in Rio, yet the day lacked in sporting inspiration: Team GB collected no medals. However, in Anne’s garden room, a dozen writers showcased their creative skills. True to the Olympian spirit, it was all about taking part: no medals, no anthems and nobody would have been expelled for word-doping.

Anne sought feedback on how effectively the character of her narrator emerged as he entered the surroundings of a country house. Distant laughter melded with culinary smells from below stairs as he pondered the elegant nape of a retreating lady’s neck.

The eating habits of Maggie’s young monsters had already been touted round the Frankfurt Bookfair. Green warty noses wriggled and squiggled as they devoured rattles, spoons and bowls; then we learned of their parents’ favourite tasty snack.

What are you prepared to sacrifice to save a bob or two? The spirit of Greta’s character left us chilled and questioning our understanding of cost, value and life itself.

Insincere retirement celebrations and crocodile tears at a funeral appeared in another of Pearl’s intriguing legal settings. Her exclamation, “No way was I a mourner” entertainingly conjured up wry smiles and less than sympathetic emotions.

A collage of observed and overheard phrases, culled from Chris G’s colleagues and workmates, rang bells, created characters and suggested plots in ways that were both descriptive and poetic.

Carrie was the evening’s raconteur. She preceded her black-dog tale of someone’s recurring depression with an entertaining anecdote that shouted out to be written. Just be careful if you find yourself on a ride at Flamingoland.

Was the only way Essex as Chris P’s book review of The Essex Serpent mixed memoir and review. The enduring image of his nan being extracted from her bath by the fire brigade almost eclipsed the book’s sense of place he praised from the novel’s depiction of misty marshes of Magwitch’s Dickensian haunts.

Chloe shared two drafts of her poetry in which she explored the emotional impact of those wrestling with sexuality and relationships. As ever, strengths were seen in each, diverse views were presented and she was left pondering how to incorporate the feedback.

Dorothy admitted to salvaging a piece from the skip: a euphemism for that draw full of first drafts and early scribbles? Much of the resulting discussion centred around a single phrase, showing how important each word is in a short, powerful poem.

We learned more about the criminal underworld of Mauchline and the team investigating a serial killer as Martin shared his latest chapter. Strangely named dogs and mysterious photographs that don’t match the workplace image twisted the plot further.

Finally, Janice read a book review that was welcomed for the way in which she dealt with the negative. Rather than simply heaping praise on the writer, criticism should be couched in a constructive way, highlighting shortcomings and the way they affect the reader’s enjoyment of the book. And beware: don’t inadvertently slip in a spoiler.

 

So, the Summer Readarounds came to an end for 2016. Yet again they have been a popular part of the club’s calendar and an informally social way to keep the writing going before the new programme starts in September. I’m already looking forward to next year’s.

 

Nigel Ward

Glad rags, gongs and gavels: Annual Awards Dinner – 9 May 2018

Posted by on May 10, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

While the Oscars, the BAFTAs and even the Nobel Prize for Literature might be mired in controversy, the club’s Annual Awards Dinner for 2018 stood proud and unblemished. A groaning table of trophies The Savoy Park Hotel fed a clutch of local writers all hungry to share and celebrate their successes. With certificates a-plenty awarded to those whose writing merited commendations, third and second prizes, let the photographs of grins, smiles and handshakes tell the story of the evening as each first prize-winner received something to put...

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An AGM? Res ipsa loquitor – 2 May 2018

Posted by on May 8, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

How do you assess the health of a club that has been running for nearly 50 years? Our club’s Annual General Meeting last week may have provided a few indicators. In the first instance, approaching thirty members turned out for a gathering that could hardly claim to be the most alluring of our weekly meetings. There was still however the usual buzz and exchange of stories that precedes most meetings. Secondly, the retiring President’s comprehensive report provided ample evidence of a club continuing to flourish with a packed agenda of keynote...

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The Journey Towards Good Travel Writing – 18 April 2018

Posted by on Apr 23, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Nigel Ward’s travel writing workshop was, as expected, entertaining and informative but definitely not for slackers! There was much furious scribbling going on. As one member said, because of other commitments, this was the first actual writing she had done in months. After a brief flow-writing exercise, Nigel gave us many useful tips and ideas such as the ‘nut-graph’. That is the ‘grabber’ paragraph that encapsulates the nub of your piece. This should capture the reader’s interest in what will be later...

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Such talent from Ayr Writers – 11 April 2018

Posted by on Apr 12, 2018 in Blog | 1 comment

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...

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Oh What a Night: AWC Really SAW Success – 28 March 2018

Posted by on Apr 9, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Once again the members of Ayr Writers’ Club who entered work in the Scottish Association of Writers competitions did the club proud, amassing no less than a dozen accolades. A success night was held on 28 March to showcase their winning pieces. First up was Greta Yorke who won 1st place with her children’s self published book Tartan Witch, a delightful and practical tale of finding a way to understand each other’s language. The book is illustrated by Maggie Bolton. Greta was placed 1st in the poetry wall with a moving poem about the tragic...

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Children’s Fiction, with Maggie Bolton – 4 April 2018

Posted by on Apr 5, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

One of the possibly more difficult aspects of writing for most people is how to pitch it at a level that 11-18 year olds relate to. In an attempt to demistify and explain how it might be done, Maggie Bolton took the stage on the topic of “Children’s Fiction”. Maggie, who has had a number of books published, took the meeting through the nuts and bolts of writing for that particular genre. If “children” are defined as widely as 11- 18 year olds then this, for a start, poses difficulties given the range and maturity it encompases. Yet...

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A shed full of potent bits: writing for young adults, with Martin Stewart – 21 April 2018

Posted by on Mar 28, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

It may seem a tall order to write something that will appeal to children from aged eleven right through to adult, but clearly it’s possible (think of J K Rowling, Anthony Horowitz, Philip Pullman and Suzanne Collins to name but a few.) Well, on Wednesday night Martin Stewart gave AWC members an insight into how it might be done by sharing his approach to writing Young Adult Fiction. After many years of writing but not giving up the day job, Martin’s ‘big break’ came, ironically enough, after a big break. Forced immobility after knee surgery...

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

Posted by on Mar 21, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

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...

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Writing Articles with Sheila Grant – 7 March 2018

Posted by on Mar 12, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

A writer has to start somewhere and for those who attended the club on Wednesday evening, there was no better person to give advice than Sheila Grant. Sheila became a member of Ayr Writers’ Club over twenty years ago, spurred on after publication of a children’s story in a magazine. Sheila admits this story had many flaws and now confesses to never having written or finished a children’s story since. Enthusiastic and keen to learn, Sheila attended every workshop that the club offered but it was the Article Workshop where Sheila found her...

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A meeting with Moira: Alan Bissett on monologues – 21 February 2018

Posted by on Feb 26, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

For those brave members of Ayr Writers’ Club who defied the cold and damp to attend the meeting at Mercure Hotel in Ayr on 21 February (and there were many) it was to be an evening to remember. It was billed simply as “Speaker: Monologues – Alan Bissett”, which gave no indication of what was to come. And what was to come was a masterclass in both writing and performing. Alan is talented in both and the bland description “talented” hardly sums up his skill in these fields. His early writing career followed work as a teacher of English and...

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