Wednesday, 18 April 2018

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“I had a dream” - 17 April 2018.

This topic naturally inspired stories and poems of dreams of different writer’s views of the ideal world, of dreams that came true and others that did not.

We looked for a utopian world free of pain and strife, a litter free country, springtime without rain, a life uncontrolled by electronics and a mind hovering between dreams and nightmares.

Off the main theme of dreams were two very diverse pieces; the culinary masterpiece of baked beans and an introduction to volunteer tutoring. The latter was not easy to pitch in terms of format, length and content for the ‘average’ potential volunteer.

The group had previously decided to improve the amount of suggestions, critique and discussion provided for each of the writings.

This worked well. It obviously took more time but most appeared to think it was worthwhile. Like everything else it needs practice.

We did not all agree on our comments about any particular piece, but that’s life; we are all different and often have diverse opinions.

It was agreed that, where used, the extra element of humour had worked well.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Fairy Fails

During the Easter break Wilma and myself journeyed to the land of make believe. The Macrobert Arts Centre housed within the grounds of Stirling University was showing Stirling’s Musical Theatre Society’s adaptation of several well-known fairy stories. The theatrical production placed the various stories into one contemporary play.

            It was performed on a black featureless stage. The young cast, wearing their own fashionable clothing, were all on stage for the opening number. This gave the audience a blast of things to come. We were then introduced to the cast and the characters, which they played. With the aid of the obligatory Fairy Godmother and the character of Rapunzel, this scene set out the premise for the show- how not to pair off characters with out knowing and caring about them?

             Said characters were Bell, Aurora, Gavin, Snow White, Prince Charming male, (of which there were only two in the show.) It took me a wee while to cotton onto this after several checks of the programme in the darkened auditorium.)  Other players included the Director, Alice, Dad, Cleaners and Party guests. The over officious and blundering Fairy Godmother had made a list of wishes each character had wanted granted. They included, finding love, friends, and freedom. The list of wishes would then ticked off from a ledger after being awarded to the relevant characters. Using a grand party as the vehicle, the wishers were then endowed using the most appropriate spell. This as you might guess, caused misunderstandings and problems for all as the individual’s stories evolved.

            With interesting sub plots, social innuendos, local jokes and classis pantomime gestures, the cast bravely fought, through difficult songs. The story line tried to introduce some aspects of the original fairy stories.

            One of the best scenes was when the play’s director had been corralled by the Fairy Godmother as she complained she had not been on stage since scene three. She then told the audience she was the most important character in the show so she should have more time on stage.

            The young cast worked very hard, throughout the play. The audience, which were mainly family and friends, were very encouraging. The show was interesting and it was unusual. It could have been much funnier if the scriptwriter had used more unusual Disney characters, making the misunderstandings far more pronounce.

Hilary Stevenson.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Writer’s Notes. - April

A second edition of Writer’s Notes has been posted. This time it’s by Kate.
If you struggle to understand the poem, that is because it in Scots dialect. Kate is bi-lingual.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Review of SAW Conference – 27 Feb 2018.

All who had attended had enjoyed an extremely interesting and well run Conference.

Hilary, Jacklin and Joan Fl agreed that problems of sticking to timetables and timing of workshops at the 2017 Conference had been overcome and therefore this year’s conference ran much more smoothly.

The “Dragon’s Pen” event continued to be popular, but could perhaps be scheduled earlier.

A more comprehensive description of some of the workshops might have been helpful.

The performances of the winning 3 – 5 minute Sketches were debated, but no firm conclusions reached.

Myra had spoken to a representative of  the “People’s Friend” and drew people’s attention to the fact that the guidelines for submissions to magazine had changed and widened. See the ‘Guidelines at
Elizabeth, Diana, Pete and Hilary gave readings of their SAW Competition Entries:-

Elizabeth – General Article. "Sunshine Island".
A travelogue of an exotic holiday in Jamaica. It was made more interesting by been shown the island by a relative who lived there.

Diana – Poetry   “Aberdeen” (previously entitled “Chased”)
A disturbing story of a girl escaping from people trafficking. She realises that she is likely to be re-caught in the granite city.

Pete – General Short Story  “Don’t outshine the Bride”.
A tale of improvisation. A boy dressed up for a wedding, falls into a drum of dirty oil and is re-clothed by his father. His new outfit becomes the star attraction at the wedding.

Hilary – Woman’s Short Story   “No Man’s an Island”.
An older lady’s only friend Alison, is in hospital and whilst collecting clothes from her friend’s flat, the lady realises how different they are. Unintentionally, but happily, she also collects some of Alison’s friends.


Next meeting  17th Apr:-  Poem or 500 words on 'I HAVE A DREAM'.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Scottish Association of Writers - Conference 2018

               Competition Winners from Erskine Writers.

Bill Daly                    Self Published Book         The Pheasent Plucker'               2nd Place 

Bill Daly                    Under 7s story                  'Damien and the Allian'             Commended

Rosemary Gemmell  Article                               'Frankenstein and the Modern
                                                                             Promethus'                                Highly Commended

Morag Moffet           3-5 min sketch                   'Mona Lisa and the Girl
                                                                             with the Pearl earings'              Highly Commended


After reading the blog and hearing accounts of those who attended the March 2017 SAW Conference, I decided that I would attend the next one.

Early in November 2017, I put my name down for the three day March 2018 Scottish Association of Writers Conference at the Westerwood Hotel in Cumbernauld. I also started working on submissions for competitions and finally sent in four pieces totaling 4948 words. ie nothing demanding too much work.

I am a dilettante at writing; it comes third or fourth in my list of hobbies, but I like to try anything at least once. I decided that even if I won first prize at every competition, this would be my first and only attendance at the conference.

In February I started to get collywobbles; I would be out of my league and out of my comfort zone; had I made a mistake?

At the Friday night dinner and during the welcoming speeches and competition adjudications, my worst fears were realised; I had made a mistake; this was one big party. Partying is ninth or tenth in my list of priorities.

On the Saturday morning I breakfasted with a lovely lady who was thrilled about her seventeen year old daughter Kirsty, also being a member of her Ayr writing group.

That evening, both mother and daughter were mentioned in dispatches during the Gala Dinner award ceremony. I reveled in my own inadequacy.

During the gaps between meals and workshops I walked the adjoining gold course; partly to enjoy my number one hobby; partly out of necessity, to work off some of those seemingly continuous sumptuous meals. I am normally a one square meal a day guy.

If, unlike me, you were a real writer, all the workshops would have been useful. However, the benefits of self-publishing, for instance, do not become apparent unless you have previously indulged in a bucketful of inspiration and perspiration. (And don’t forget the edit, edit, edit, edit and when you have done that, edit some more.)

The after dinner speech was literally a resounding success. It was laugh-out-loud funny and also extremely clever. It is no wonder that Simon Brett has achieved 100 publications.

I only started to become interested in writing as a means of creating memoirs; not for publication, but to leave to our three sons and six grandchildren. My final workshop was “Memoirs” and it was excellent. It was the only workshop where we actually ‘worked’. It left me with countless notes of ideas for improvements and additions to my existing hefty digital memoirs document.

An ex primary school head teacher from Inverness was my Sunday breakfast companion. He was expecting to drive for three and a half to four hours later that day to get home. That and many other conversations and aspects of the conference emphasised the enthusiasm and dedication of these writers. Writing is number one in their list of priorities and in many instances, right out of the ‘hobby’ category.

For a keen writer who also enjoys a party, the well organised SAW conference and get together of the Scottish Writing “Family” is the ‘not-to-be-missed’ event of the year.  

Friday, 23 March 2018

Launch of "Only the Dead Can Tell” by Alex Gray.

It was good to be able to attend the launch of Alex Gray's fifteenth book in the Lorimer series, “Only the Dead Can Tell”, on Thursday evening in Glasgow.

Alex introduced her book and read two short extracts from it before giving detailed interesting answers to the audience’s questions.

This book contains a bonus story at the end, detailing the events which lead to Lorimer’s career in crime.

The attendance was perhaps spoiled by a last minute change of venue due to a major fire in Sauchiehall Street, but there was still a long queue of people who waited to have their books signed.

Because of the fire, the event had to be transferred from Waterston’s book store to the Adobe Hotel & Restaurant which is known for its “Pie and Brew”.

Alex quote of the night was “There’s a pie shop downstairs, so please don’t all run away!”

Alex is well into the creation of her sixteenth Lorimer novel and so congratulations and best wishes for continued success, from all your friends and colleagues at Erskine Writers.