Writing For Children Course: Week 6
The last week of the course. It has been quite a journey but more on that later. We started the session with the usual brain dump. I had a complete incapability to spout prose due to everything else that was swirling around in my tiny mind. So I decided to own that and wrote a list instead. Not a list of writing competitions to enter or magnificent things I have learnt about writing, but a good old Things To Do list. It included such inspirations as ‘buy ink cartridge’ and ‘Harmony Day - kids dress up on Friday.’ Not exactly Shakespeare but it allowed me to free up some brain space to concentrate on the rest of the session.
I had submitted an Early Reader manuscript to the group during the week. It was my last greedy chance to get feedback for my writing and I couldn’t pass it up. I was worried that the manuscript was mind-numbingly dull. In summary of the peer critique I can only say that at least my intuition was spot on.
Our next activity for the week was writing a flash fiction passage - a story in 50 words or less. If you ever want to play with a plot in the least verbose way, this is a great exercise:
Jack stormed in and stood at the desk.
She didn’t look up.
‘I was told you have something for me? Is that it?
Hey, stop typing!’
He ripped the paper from her and ran outside. He stopped dead. It read: ‘Jack stormed in and stood at the desk…’
Weirdly two of the group had written a story about a guy named Bill who was involved with a fire. Any suggestions on what other-worldly-shit could be going on there would be appreciated (and apparently it’s immature to suggest they peaked at each other’s work).
At the end of the session we wrote a reflection on the entire course. Mine was morbidly titled ‘Is This The End?’
I had been thinking about the journey all groups go through as a whole, from the time they meet to the time they disperse. Psychs, of course, think they have it all mapped out (and in rhyme!).
FORMING: This is when the group first gets together. They are excited, anxious and full of expectations. Yes my first post on the course was called ‘Fear Filled Fun.’
STORMING: Some of the group get a little frustrated and conflicted when they realize they might not reach those said expectations. There is less ‘polite’ all round. I didn't see this happening in our group but I suspect it's because this process was designed to reflect businessmen groups not creativewomen groups. Or perhaps I was just too busy arguing with those bitches to notice.
NORMING: Everyone begins to resolve the expectation discrepancy and there is an increased sense of harmony. I strongly felt this but may have been a tiny bit distracted by a creepy and indestructible disturbance.
PERFORMING: The group starts to feel satisfaction in their collective progress. There is an awareness and appreciation of others’ strength and weaknesses. Hello week 4.
TERMINATION: Um ok folks, what happened to the rhyming? Such a disappointing final stage for so many reasons. I think I will override all the well known research by important people and rename the final part of the journey…wait for it…
MOURNING: It is a stretch of a rhyme but I am committing to it. This is when the group feels a variety of concerns about the team’s impending dissolution. I think my mourning started in Week 5 with a depressing philosophical debate about the entire state of the creative arts – starting with my leaky tap.
Then I kept feeling it all the next week until I came to a deranged revelation as if I was in the final hour of a two-day drug-fuelled rave: we should keep doing this (course) FOREVER! I contemplated blackmailing the rest of the participants with a threatening email suggesting there would be consequences if they didn’t agree to continuing the course every Tuesday night for the next 17 years.
But deep down I knew I had to let it go.
Now my reflection on the course:
It is difficult to contemplate going back to Tuesday nights without this 2 hours of activity, inspiration and arse-kicking-disguised-as-peer-critique. I have looked forward to Tuesdays from Sunday, and feel like I finally know the craziness that other people have always talked about when they say they really love doing something. The sharing thang is over, and I am left with just me and my laptop, isolated and self-critical. How long before I go back to the shadows and wonder if I am hollering up the wrong tree.
The good news is that I did remember Friday was dress up day.