Screenshot from Zoom meeting

What happens when you vaguely ask a Zoom full of writers to submit three lines, or sentences, or thoughts, or whatever?

I can see fellow inmates through the bars of my cell, people sitting in front of curtains and bookcases. I see a live picture of myself as well, my hair is long and I’ve gone slightly mad.  (Definition of open-ended sentence: a set of words without a full stop; incarceration with a fluid parole date.)

Oh no, they’re asking about the blog again. I always feel guilty whenever they bring it up. What on earth could I write about?

I click and you all appear on my screen, you’re there: we laugh, exchange news just as we did in The Blue Cap – then down to business with News, David’s new Community Project and that his books are to be relaunched, also Peter’s success – his book Bosnian Dawn is out “come & buy” and plans for the future”. Liz S’s update, and absorbing readings. Joyce’s new project – letters from history; David Varley’s was the last reading; he made us shiver with his ghost story, one that should be printed!! 
At 9.30 I leave; it’s been a great meeting for I’ve seen 15 of you all via Zoom our way to be together – the VRWG won’t be beaten!!!

Children, let me tell you what we all did in the summer of 2020. We gathered round the radio at teatime every day and listened to Hancock’s Half Hour. Grandpa didn’t think much of it though – he said Hancock was much funnier when he was a boy.

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14+ members managed to Zoom in and share an evening. The exercise for the evening was ‘I turned on the radio and …’, and it easily managed to elicit tales from every genre, from murders to love stories and more. To close the evening Dangerous Dave told us a ghost story in his classical style. Although Peter found Dave’s road map a little awry with County Durham moving 100 miles further south – no doubt to escape the snow.

Space to write. A writer’s life is full of challenges. Ideas have to emerge, characters evolve (and behave), plots thicken and stick. And we need space. Headspace to fill with stories, poems, or plays. Living space to write without distractions. Sometimes you just want to be on the moon.

Fast, clever writing kindly received; readings, varying from somewhat prosaic, poetic, exciting, and to send us to bed, shivering, a creepy horror story. Creativity, constructive criticism, and sometimes (twice in a good year) cake. Most of us aiming for some form of publication, maybe, some already there.

During the meeting I mentioned that stamina was needed in self-publishing. Novels I’ve read recently included a quotation; this is one I used in Bosnian Dawn. ‘Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.’  This has been attributed to the following people: Confucius, Nelson Mandela, Vince Lombardi, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Christian Nestell Bovee.

Monday 1st February raced by in a flurry of active projects for me, including being able to keep pushing on with editing my own book project. I thought it was brilliant to hear the news from David Bruce about the reading work he has been doing for the Redwalls NH along with his own books that are being re-launched too. It was great to hear from Peter that his book Bosnian Dawn has now been published on Amazon and he was able to show it us in full paperback format too!! Impressive and motivating!! If I took one thing to bed with me last night, it was Peter’s comment that everyone can get there, you just need to have the stamina to keep going. I particularly liked Peter’s comment about editing and how it looks wrong, then you edit again and still it needs working on!! It was inspirational to know that it is ok to keep editing until you get there!! Fantastic seeing another new person joining the group. It was lovely to welcome Christine back to the group too and have missed her fabulous poetry!! Best of all were the two outstanding storytellers last night, David and Shauna!!

You will have heard of Leonardo, Canaletto, Degas, Pissarro. But I guarantee you will not have heard of Bürstenmacher of Bechhofen. His story has never been told – until now.

Joined the group today and heard some marvellous pieces of work read out. Read one of my own scribblings which seemed to go down quite well. I definitely enjoyed being called creative by someone. Think I like this group. Oh dear, have just realised I now have a competition piece to write as well as finishing my 3 novels and several short stories.

I zoomed into the meeting after a spell of absence and what a Zoom! Fingers flexed with a writing exercise, eyes wide and ears popping at achievements and readings, ending with my brain being gripped in the hands of a storyteller’s horror magic. I was done … what a workout!! My boots are now filling with inspiration, my pen is in hand to dip into my writing well, my radio is on and I’m singing folks!!

Having hit a writer’s block – or seriously high wall – for most of the past year, I’ve been delighted with the way VRWG has been slowly eliciting some writing ventures out of me the last couple of months. Some people on the gallery view have developed a lovely orange glow about them, which gives an added warmth to the proceedings. I know there is always a rate of attrition and coming and going of various members, but am missing some old regulars who I know would be there if we were in person.

We Zoomed together and wrote for ten minutes about what happened when we turned on the radio; I thought I’d read mine out, but some people wrote such brilliant pieces I thought better of it. Maybe next time. There was friendship and poignancy and hilarity and events to look forward to doing; so much done in just two hours. 

Emotional Roller Coaster – I am hungry – Yay! Bob is closing the meeting! 😊 Oh No! He’s going to squeeze in one of David Varley’s not-short ‘short’ stories! Wow! That was good and I even forgot I was hungry!  😊

Two dimensions or three? Four might be pushing it. Zoom, reality, or imaginary? Flat screen, limited vision; perhaps the tail of a cat or a partner’s right hand offering cake/coffee/custard intrudes for a moment. Glimpses of shelves of books, piles of washing-up, Farrow and Ball walls, gas log fires. Reality offers real ale, gin, ears, and hugs, fidgeting, cold walks to cars. Imaginary meetings produce flights of fancy, beaches, mountain lakes, narrowboat cabins and damn all work done. Common to all, applause, suggestions, smiles, concerns, opening doors. 

I missed the meeting again tonight. Strange really, that the more I miss it, the less I miss it. Perhaps I’m missing something?

All photographs are either in the public domain or the property of the contributors.

This blog has been jointly authored by Mollie Blake, Joan Carter, David Bruce, Peter Dyson, Christine Edwards, Les Green, Andrew Hilton, Joyce Ireland, Tom Ireland, Jo Kirwin, Linda Leigh, Shauna Leishman, Carolyn O’Connell, Liz Sandbach, Marian Smith, David Varley, and Bill Webster.

© VRWG 2021


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