Monday, 10 June 2013
Woman's Weekly Writing Workshop Part 2 or Did Wendy Ever Get Her Coffee?
Here is part two of our day at The Woman's Weekly Fiction Workshop.
As you will have noticed from part one in my Friday post, it is a little tongue in cheek so I shall direct you to my companion for the day, Tracy Fells', blog for the more serious stuff - she'll be posting later.
So the revolving doors have spat us out into what can only be described as 'The Land of the Young and Beautiful' - the Blue Fin Building. We are asked to join some others who are waiting and told we will be taken upstairs soon but my bladder is telling me something different (who can blame me - after the morning I've had). We find the toilets and then emerge back into reception to find that they have gone without us.
We look at each other - should we wait? Should we search the hundreds of rooms in the hope that we might eventually find Gaynor? We decide to wait... and wait... Eventually a sweet girl arrives (surely she can't be more that fourteen) and tells us we will wait for a few others to arrive before going up. We wait... and then wait some more. I am suffering from lack of caffeine and the shock of the gun shot (I'm sorry, Tracy but I'm sticking to my theory). Time is also going by and we picture Gaynor giving the introductory talk without us. We start to get twitchy. At last we are escorted upstairs and into the conference room.
Twenty five pairs of eyes stare at us and Gaynor stops mid-sentence - she is charming and welcomes us but we can't help but feel like school children who have arrived after the bell.
'Do take a seat, ladies.'
I look at Tracy then at the full table. Tracy manages to find a place at the table and I find myself a corner. It is a very nice corner, actually. Gaynor's talk is interesting but I am more worried about my stomach. I didn't have much breakfast and I can feel it is about to rumble. I am also worried about my see-through t-shirt and the prospect of going into post traumatic shock due to the sniper (see part one).
During the talk, I notice across the table a striking looking lady with red brown hair and glasses, beside her sits a confident looking woman with beautiful blonde highlights. Ah, faces I recognise. It's Patsy Collins and Cara Cooper - it will be nice to have a chat with someone I know. After learning everything we will ever need to know to sell thousands of stories to the magazine, we have a coffee break. Now's my chance.
'Hi, Patsy. Hi Cara. Really nice to see you here!'
I watch them desperately scan my chest for the sticker that will identify me (and which I am not wearing because I was late). I am unaware that the security tag with my name on is turned round the wrong way. The pause lengthens and I realise that I have done that thing that people do if they meet a celebrity in the street - presume that just because you know them, they will know you.
At last I blurt out, 'Oh it's me, Wendy Clarke'. Luckily they recognise the name and we all sigh in relief. Sorry to put you through that, girls, it was great to meet you.
After saying a quick hello to Jean Bull and Helen Hunt I sit back down and turn to my neighbour.
'Hope you weren't disturbed by my stomach rumbling?'
'Not at all, Wendy.' I realise that I am sitting next to a pub landlady who has won the lottery and wants to own a sweet shop (oh no, I'm getting confused with one of our writing tasks where we had to create a fictional character based on an interview with out neighbour). It is in fact the lovely Karen (no relation) Clarke and beside her is Amanda Brittany from Writing Allsorts. I begin to feel like I am in one of those TV programmes where the compare names the famous people in the audience and I am in awe. I just hope they don't notice the see-through t-shirt.
Then the fun begins. 'You are going to write the first three lines of a story, based on a letter.'
Cue total mind blank. There is a pen and paper in front of me - they are alien - I only ever write on a computer... in my own home... with nobody around except the pets. I watch as everyone feverishly scribbles away and I chew the lid of my pen. First lines, what do I know about first lines? I've written enough of them and didn't I recently write a blog post on them?The page remains stubbornly blank.
'Three more minutes' says Gaynor.
My writing career is over. I cannot write a first word let alone a first line. As people start to read theirs out, I manage to get something down. I read it and am relieved when Gaynor smiles - maybe it wasn't so bad... or maybe she is just being kind.
The day goes by in a bit of a blur. Serial writer Susanne Ahern wows us with her knowledge of... well... serial writing and I vow to give it a go - along with writing a pocket novel, an article and a full length novel. I imagine placing said novel into the capable hands of agent Laura Lonrigg who in her talk is very candid about the state of the publishing industry - oh well, a girl can but dream!
At last it is time to leave and I have an urge to run up to Gaynor and say, 'Choose me, choose me!' Luckily for everyone I manage to suppress the urge and instead say, 'It's been lovely to meet you, Gaynor.'
And it has. Overall it has been a lovely day - despite the assassination attempt and the wardrobe malfunction. It has been a pleasure to meet other writers - there is no space to mention them all but a quick hello to Lindsay Bamfield and the lovely Ola whose sweet comments about my blog made my day. And of course, a special thanks to Tracy for putting up with me and being the co-star of my blog post.
But I have a big apology to make to all my readers... I forgot to ask Gaynor the vital question - you know the one about the Well Worn Theme. Oh well, I guess we'll never know!
My story 'A School of Thought' can be read in this month's Woman's Weekly Fiction Special - I hope you enjoy it.