Last week saw me running my first afternoon of regular, weekly creative writing sessions at the newly opened Peter Pan Moat Brae, Scotland’s National Centre for Children’s Literature & Storytelling. Which isn’t only for people under a certain age. We all need to free our inner child from time to time, and that’s what my two sessions are all about.
The first, which is at 2pm every Wednesday afternoon, is called What’s Your Story, and is for people who would like to be able to write about an aspect of their own lives. This could be as exciting and dramatic as travelling around the globe on a lawn-mower; or as apparently mundane as bringing up four kids on a cleaner’s wage (like my mother had to once my dad died). I asked them to write about a time they had to do something for the first time, and gave them a sheet of questions to act as prompts. They were free to ignore those questions, but everyone made use of them and I was delighted with the results. My favourite line from the session came from Becky: ‘It’s like trying to get blood from a butterfly.’
The second, which runs from 4-6pm, is called The Write Way, and is designed to help with descriptive writing. The format is the same, I give them a sheet of prompting questions, but I also put an object on the table for them to describe:
Once they’d decided what it was, who might own such a thing, where it lives, etc they wrote sumptuous, magical pieces. I say pieces because one participant wrote something akin to abstract art, like a prose poem or a passage from a Neil Gaiman novel, rather than a narrative. I was really impressed by how their imaginations were fired by something that used to hang on my old plum tree in all weathers. It seems true that everyone can write, they just need a little help to loosen their imaginations, and Peter Pan Moat Brae is the perfect place for that.
I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to this afternoon’s sessions…