CLOVER by Jaine Irish (written during the class in Sandwich)
Clover was asked to design a group of interesting shapes in clay. A group of shapes that would fit one into the other. A bit like life really, one part fitting snugly into another – nothing like her life she thought. Clover loved her ceramics night-classes. She loved the challenges and the people who went there. Every week her tutor found a new way of helping them to express themselves by sharing their feelings, joys and concerns through clay. Somehow, with the soft, grey clay, it was easy to express herself. Easier than talking about it.
Clover took her mound of solid, shapeless matter and began by slicing chunks off it. She looked around the room. Everyone was busy concentrating intensely on the task, too busy for words.
She rolled the soft clay into one centimetre thick ropes and started to coil them around, one at a time, creating the five, little figures that had formed in her mind. She had seen the Russian Doll sets before – but she didn’t like the strong, bold colours. It was the idea they wanted her to use and to make it her own. Clover chose her message carefully. She felt strongly about the pollution in the Tundra and she had been on a rally fighting the mass slaughter of seal pups. Her five pieces were to portray this in her own special way and style.
First, the small figure of a man, about fifteen centimetres high, dressed in the clothes of the Inuit people. Their life was the ice and the snow and their use of the seal and other animals was essential for their very survival. Next, she would create the seal figure itself, his bright, black eyes gleaming in the white coat – his tiny paws held under his chin, entreating peace. On the back of his silky coat, she would delicately paint the hunter-figure in blood-red, holding a hatchet – her message was clear.
The whole process would take a number of days to complete, as each stage needed both drying and firing time. Finally, the application of her chosen slips and then a clear glaze. There was no guarantee as to how they would turn out. That was the real thrill for her, the creation of the unknown in the knowledge that she would achieve something unique and magical.
This fantastic piece from the Guardian really sums up the process of writing, editing and redrafting. I heartily recommend that you read it, dear writers and students. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/04/what-writers-really-do-when-they-write
Quite a few Writing Matters students are taking part in the Thanet Creative Writers’ competition (details here: https://thanetcreativewriters.wordpress.com/2017/03/01/competition-faq/). The competition requires entrants to build a platform for their work and Jessica Joy (from the Deal Wednesday group) has got hers going already. To read Jess’ terrific first entry, click the link below.
We are adding an exciting new course to our arsenal. The new cohort will begin at the Astor Theatre on March 21st 2017 and meet weekly from 1-3pm. The cost of this course is £85 for 8 weeks and places are strictly limited.
There are only a few places left on this course so we advise you to sign up soon.
Have a go at this super quiz put together by the nice people at National Book Tokens.
Test your knowledge by clicking here. Why not post your score in the comments?
Have a look at the entry requirements here.
Then send one in…
Here at Writing Matters we’re encouraging everyone to have a go at this.
It’s £15 to enter but, if you nail the story, has to be worth a shot for such a great prize.
The winner of this competition gets a four-night all-inclusive retreat in Broadchurch country.
Go for it, Writing Matters team…
Nick is a great speaker and extremely knowledgeable about all things publishing and writing. He has edited two books that made the Booker list – I’m not sure but I’d say he’s probably the only UK editor to have done that.
The event is free and you can find details here.
Jennifer Egan’s amazing book ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ is very high in my list of all-time favourites. It won the Pulitzer prize for Fiction in 2011 and – if you read it – you’ll see why. It’s a great example of how, despite there being so many authors and so many books, you can still be dazzlingly original in your structure and style.
In this article, Egan gives some great writing advice. It is always worth listening to what experienced writers have to say – it can give you confidence in those quiet ‘incubating’ phases or help you to trust yourself as the words fall on to the page in periods of great output. You can read what Egan says here.