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Feedback Night – Wednesday 13th March 2024

Where did I go to on Wednesday night? Everywhere. From 1970s discos to the murderous streets of Glasgow via magical worlds hidden behind mirrors and everywhere else in between. The usual Ayr Writers’ Club night, then.

On this occasion, in a departure from the original programme, a feedback night for the group’s members.

One of the problems with writing is you have no idea if any of your work makes sense or is of any interest to anyone else. Opportunities to find this out can be limited. Is it worth pursuing another 100,000 words of that novel written entirely without vowels? That is where the feedback nights come in. Probably my favourite nights. Baring your soul in public has the potential to end quite badly – there is probably a good reason novels are written with plenty of vowels, for example. However, everyone is in the same boat, and what feedback there is, is offered in the spirit of helping others improve.

For me, the value in obtaining feedback lies in opening the eyes to possibilities that had not occurred to the writer. For example, I had brought along the first 1,000 words of a crime novel – an ideal opportunity to get some feedback ahead of the club’s monthly competition. Someone suggested changing it from a novel into a screenplay format. I have no idea why this did not occur to me – generally, screenplay writing is more preferable to me than writing prose and my piece is heavy on dialogue. Sometimes we are blind to what is obvious to others.

Had Robert Burns been in town on Wednesday night, he would probably have appreciated the chance to discuss his work. Maybe this is what he was thinking when he wrote:

“O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion.”

Fortunately, not a lot of blunders or foolish notions were evident, but a lot of ideas floating around to make everyone’s writing just that little bit better.

Andy Fairie

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