'Well done to you all for finding Shropshire' was our greeting at The Hurst. Well done to the Arvon for finding such a wonderfully easygoing, good-humoured group, trawling from Sydney to the States. A great week, stimulating and thought-provoking, though it's left me temporarily unable to construct a sentence without wanting to savage it.
Jane Austen declared she would write about "a heroine whom no one but myself will much like" but even that felt difficult to me with our theme of 'I remember'. Can't blame the tutors for that - Mark Haddon and Will Fiennes were both brilliant, generous with their time & support and munificent with their their epigramatic gems.
"Being in love with language is a way of being in love with the world" says Will, and shows us the oak tree outside, its higgledy-piggledy silhouette and lobate leaves in fists. Quirkus Sessile. "All writing is the act of giving names."
Mark reminds us that the writing part is only half the equation. "Everything you write has to entertain. Readers don't need explanations, we want to know what happened next."
Every session is hands-on, every exercise reinforces the message: what matters in writing is concrete details and rhythmic qualities. Afternoons are times for writing and walking; this is a fabulous location, with forests behind us and a lovely walk along the lanes to Clun where John Osborne, who lived here, is buried. Evenings are times for listening to our tutors sharing their words.
"Does it get easier?"
Home just in time for the Writers Circle barbecue hosted by gourmet chef Mike, a brilliant night.
"It is a lovely hybrid form, a cross between a poem and a novel. The short story allows us in a short space of time to understand huge things, huge dilemmas. They don't hang about. They don't waste any time. They swoop down and get you like a sea gull diving down to take the bread from your hand." - Jackie Kay, and more, on an excellent short story site I discovered. Jackie quotes Chekov's view of the craft: ‘It is better to say not enough than to say too much, because I don't know why!'. After last week I feel I know why, it's how that's hard.