Window in derelict mill
Next Thursday, 5th July, I am honoured to once again be facilitating a workshop for Rochdale’s Touchstones Creative Writing Group (TCWG).
The workshop will include plenty of opportunity for the participants to write and there will be two separate but related writing exercises during the session. Usually I like to create a challenge where the writer will need to take different approaches for each piece of writing in order to help develop the range of their writing skills and in this workshop the challenge will be in the format as well as the content of the writing.
I will keep the detail of specific themes and styles under my hat until the day but there will be no shortage off ideas and there may be a connection to one of the new exhibitions at Touchstones.
As always I’m looking forward to working with some of Rochdale’s talented and enthusiastic writers.
TCWG is a friendly and welcoming group and they are always glad to see new faces so if you can make it to the session you’ll be more than welcome. The session runs from 2.00pm to 4.00pm.
My first #shaysimageaday challenge image from Dec 2018
Pretty much every creative person will occasionally get stranded in the metaphorical doldrums, we suffer a creative block. The cause can be anything from tiredness, apathy or fear to events in our busy lives overtaking us. The solutions are many and books have been written about how to move beyond the block and regain our creativity.
Six months ago I found myself feeling creatively stymied, I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t drawing and I wasn’t making images. The circumstances that led me to that point are not important, the important thing is how I was able to more on. This post is an initial look at that process and how it has helped me. Should this approach help others then that would be a real bonus.
I decided in late December 2017 that to stimulate my mind and create something new to focus on I would set myself a challenge: every day I would make a brand new image and that image would be posted online on Instagram. The challenge would be called “#shaysimageaday” and I would use that hashtag on my posts. Images can be photographs (most of them are), drawings, prints or images made from words (as long as the words can create an image in the reader’s mind) and there is no target length for this challenge – as long a it is fun and I’m learning then I might as well keep going!
At first I expected the challenge might run for a few weeks. My very first post on the day I decided on the challenge was the poppy head pictured at the top of this article. There was no advance plan for the images and I generally decide on a subject during the day but strangely enough six months later I find myself posting images of poppy seed heads collected in the last few days from our garden. In the meantime there have been images of all sorts of man-made and natural objects and there have been plenty of shots taken outdoors. The latest image is shown here:
Wild poppy seed heads
The bottom line is that setting myself this challenge has really delivered as I hoped it would and I believe it has gone further than that and the personal and creative benefits have been, and continue to be of real value to me. A nice bonus is that I’ve amassed a collection of over 180 new images with which I am very pleased.
I’m sharing this post partly so that the challenge might offer some value to others as well.
In future posts on this blog I will show more examples of the images created and explain some of the methods I’ve used; meanwhile here area couple more of the images
A photo of my linocut print of Whitby Pier being carved
A drawing from classic cars at Vintage Village in Stockport
My first event at Altrincham Word Fest last month was the poetry open mic, in the upstairs room at Coco’s Italian Restaurant, where poets and listeners enjoyed an evening full of top-notch and varied poetry.
Once we had managed to shoehorn everyone in we started off with a few of my own poems before the first of the open-mic performers took the stage. It was genuinely a pleasure to hear 16 year old Alex Swinton and 18 year old Nanda Saravanan, both students at Altrincham Grammar school, remind us that young people have depth, empathy, can see beyond the obvious and then translate what they see into words.
With a total of 14 people contributing their work in the open mic session we had poems about relationships, politics, Mills and Boon, mathematics, illness and bereavement, growing up, oran-utans, South Africa, whales, Metrolink, truth and lies, dreams, nature, a cosmic photo album and society. There were smiles and laughter, sad faces and perhaps the occasional tear; in fact everything we might hope for in an evening of poetry.
The atmosphere and support for all of the poets was superb and it was honestly great fun and a privilege to compere the evening.
Many thanks to the following poets for sharing with us:
- Alex Swinton
- Nanda Saravanan
- Judith Hey
- Duncan Battman
- Charlotte Gringras
- Fred (the Urban Poet) Varden
- Polina Sparks
- Alan Clemo
- Judith Wilson
- Tracy Fisher
- Sam Barke
- Mark Jones
- Martin Zarrob
As the event approached I had wondered how ticket sales had been going when I received a message from organiser Anne Early that the session had sold out and sales had to be closed. On the night we had even more people arrive and the capacity of the room was stretched beyond its normal limits but the atmosphere was calm, friendly and supportive (if a little warm).
Final thanks to Anne Early and Yoko Isami for organising the event and the festival and to Jane Eaton for providing the venue.