Skip to content


AYR WRITERS’ CLUB NIGHT – 26th October 2022

A Sense of Occasion

Club nights are ones where impromptu practice is the name of the game, and Maggie Morton was at the helm to guide us through uncharted territory.

But first it was time for a round of applause, in appreciation of Linda Brown’s most recent success in having a piece included in the latest SCOTTISH BOOK TRUST publication, this autumn.

We had been alerted to the fact that we would be encouraged to ‘flex our creative muscles’ and, in preparation, to bring along a striking image. It might be a photograph, a picture from a recent magazine, a picture that is hung on the wall of your living room for years, something to ‘strike a chord – triggering an emotion or a memory’.

In keeping with preparation for any form of exercise, warming up is essential! Maggie had devised a little opening game, a written version of something we probably all played many moons ago, called Chinese Whispers, though we unanimously agreed that there is no doubt a more PC name for it these days.

With twelve of us clustered around two tables, we were each given a blank sheet of A4 paper. Our instructions were each to select an opening sentence from a variety displayed on Maggie’s first Power Point slide, write it at the top of our sheet and then, in only ONE minute, compose a follow up line.

Now the tricky bit! Fold the sheet so that only our contribution is visible before passing it onto the person on our left. Thus, each person around the table adds to the developing tale, each time responding only to the last entry.

Did you follow that? It is difficult to explain!

What did we discover? Well, firstly, that origami is definitely not in the skill set of Ayr Writers. Much hilarity and confusion ensued until we got the hang of it.

Six minutes later and twelve random stories had evolved from some of the opening lines provided. There were certainly no openings to any Booker Prize Winning novels as far as we could tell but we all learned the importance of clarity in writing!

With our fingers – and linguistic skills – warmed up, we moved onto the main event.

For Part One, Maggie began to focus our attention on exploring the SENSES in our writing, by reading an extract from the October Blog written by last week’s speaker, Patrick Laurie. It was filled with detailed imaginative observations for sights, sounds and scents – definitely qualities to be admired and aspired to in our own writing.

This led smoothly into the IMAGE prompt exercise. With a selection of photographs on a slide for anyone who was without one of their own, our challenge – and conundrum – was to write a piece inspired by the image but devoid of using visual observation. Instead, we had to ‘focus’ on the other senses, and write for a period of twenty minutes.

Silence – other than scribbling, and occasional sighing – created a creative frisson in the room. And then it was time to share. As is customary on such occasions, there is never any pressure to read your work aloud but five of us dared to share, and as ever listeners were entertained and amazed at the talent and variety of members’ pieces, which included musings on a tub of household paint; a ghostly image of Shackleton’s ENDURANCE taken in 1915; a 70s image of teenage girls cycling (to a Marc Bolan soundtrack, of course); a campfire stimulating nostalgic memories of marshmallows and sizzling limbs; a wooden crate amongst the contents of a polytunnel and, last but not least Shona’s first ever sharing at Ayr Writers – a piece based on an image of the Chocolate Box Football Stadium in Buenos Aires, and the excitement of the Boca Juniors in action. Good for you, Shona!

With time to chat and quench our thirsts at tea break, we were then eager to hear about up-and-coming competitions and a Book Sale night in the offing, before getting back to Part two of the evening, entitled Transforming the Mundane.

Again, focussing on the senses – including sight this time – our second challenge was to think of some mundane everyday activity and imbue it with a freshness by considering it in a new light, under the magnifying glass of the senses. Once again, we were given a twenty-minute writing window, and this proved to be a fruitful task.

Subject matter this time included car washing, cat feeding, the joy of dusting, furry alarm awakening, autumn leaf clearing, post office queuing, hand dish washing and finally, finding comfort in the hanging out of washing.

Each provided a singular – and often surprising – take on a task each of us does day-in, day-out, revealing a rich variety of unique voices, and I would not be surprised if nuggets from these exercises find their way into future pieces of work for competitions.

In fact, that could be a new Ayr Writers’ game: how many can you spot in the months to come?

Thank you, Maggie, for any excellent evening.


Carolyn O’Hara


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *