Having finally completed the tedious submission process for my novel, the last week and a half has been spent busily covering various editions at the newspaper where I work, so next week’s imminent journey to Armagh for the 26th John Hewitt Summer School is now even more eagerly anticipated!
Amongst those who will be speaking at the Summer School is the Baroness Shirley Williams, along with lunchtime readings from Sally Vickers, Gavin Corbett, Pat McCabe, Deirdre Madden and Anne Enright. There will also be poetry readings from the likes of Simon Armitage, Medbh McGuckin, Penelope Shuttle, James Byrne and Pat Boran, amongst others, so there will certainly be plenty to get to grips with throughout the course of the week. Add to this a mixture of drama performances and music, as well as three exhibitions and the launch of John Hewitt’s autobiography, ‘A North Light Twenty-Five Years in a Municipal Art Gallery’ and you have all the right ingredients for the perfect literary getaway…
I also hope to enjoy one of the creative writing workshops on offer, which will be run by several writers, including Carlo Gebler, James Byrne, Eoghan Walls, Nessa O’Mahony, Heather Richardson, Kimberley Lynne and Stuart Neville. As a JHSS bursary recipient I have the option of attending a course led by one of these tutors and I’m sure that whichever one I end up in will be suitably enlightening!
The Summer School has actually come at a good time for me, as I am currently in the ‘in-between’ stage of having written one book and poised to start the second. I have a good idea of how it’s going to go and have already been making notes about it, but I think that ‘time out’ is definitely needed before launching straight into writing another all-comsuming manuscript.
That said, I’ve been thinking back to what kick-started a lot of my more recent writing activities – the creative writing class I attended at Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart last winter. It certainly spurred me on to be more proactive in pursuing my writing dream and helped instill confidence in going to more writing classes and events. It also inspired me to begin a blog, after I met up with a fellow writer from the class and since I therefore never had the opportunity to include the details of what we did, I shall begin now…
The course was led by Damian Gorman – who I have mentioned before on this blog – and it was entitled ‘Speaking Fluent Human’… the focus being on how writers can ‘carry to other people the felt observations of what we feel’.
We began by putting onto paper a few lines about ‘My Writing Life’, before going on to look at some Principles of Writing:
- Begin with energy
- Read a lot
- Be precise
- See things anew each time you write – ‘creative writing that walks in the company of strangers should be written from the outside in. Write it from the point of view of someone reading it. What do they see? What is it saying?’
Very good advice to begin with, I think you’ll agree.
As writers we should always remember to ‘write from the outside in’ and write for the company of strangers’…