Readarounds come back round – 1 June 2022

After the pageantry of awards season at Ayr Writers, it was time to uncap the fountain pens and power up the laptops in an effort to get down to some writing again. Wednesday 1 June was our first summer Readaround night of the year, where members present what they have been working on and feed back on others’ writing.

We were ably hosted by our newly gazetted president Nigel, who adopted a topical theme with which to order our readings for the night. We were each given an imperial or metric unit of measurement and asked to read our pieces, smallest measure to largest.

Whilst I was assured that the measure I had chosen (a twip – 1/1440th  of an inch) was not reflective of writing ability, I’ll let others be the judge of that. Nevertheless, I did go first, and read out a piece of creative non-fiction I had been working on called The Road. As they always do, the group came up with some great ideas on where I might go with it, suggesting that I might submit it as prose poetry rather than creative non-fiction.

Next up with Jean with two pieces, the first of which – a poem called Bonnet or no Bonnet – has recently been accepted for publication at Soor Plums Press. We were treated to a journey through shifting seasons, with the use of Scots and a lilting rhythm adding flourish to a lovely piece of writing. Jean then read a piece of flash fiction called The Visitor. Her portrait of a less-than-welcoming café on a bleak and blustery day was all the more enjoyable as we were sitting warm in front of our screens in the evening sunlight.

Jeanette then took us through her plans for writing her cosy crime novel, a project she will be able to devote more time to now that she has succeeded in steering the club through Covid and the associated lockdowns. In a programme which would make even the most diligent planners amongst us blanch, Jeanette detailed her plans for genre research, stationary selection, and even a change of writing location. Inadvertently or not, she has left herself no excuses for procrastination, and we look forward to reading the fruits of her labours throughout the year!

Also novel writing was Nigel, who presented the third chapter of his novel Will Power. Freshly armed with advice he got from the SAW conference this year, Nigel is intent upon avoiding mid-novel lulls. We dropped back into the world of Ben and Sarah, who have just buried their father and are wresting with his legacy. There is a delicious sibling tension already simmering beneath a veneer of grief – whatever the will says will come as a surprise to at least one of them…

Next was Damaris with two poems titled Earthquake, Castelluccio and Mowers. Quite apart from prompting me to do some reading on geological activity in the region of Castellucio, the first of these pieces was full of evocative, muscular language interspersed with delicate nature imagery. ‘Mowers’ was a really provocative poem – full of sensory prompts for the reader. Damaris drew us a picture of a child watching her father carrying out the last mow of autumn – the extension cord trailing from the study window, the stray sticks in danger of getting caught in the blades. This was at once a very personal piece and a poem that everyone could identify with.

The eclectic mix of creative non-fiction, novel writing preparation and continuation, and poetry was added to by the introductory chapter of Linda Brown’s family history book, with which she had such success at SAW this year. We all felt that Linda should keep the authentic, warm author voice which she has developed, as it guides the reader through the best part of twenty years of interest in and research of her family history.

Carolyn saw us home with the largest unit of measurement – a league. She had a poem called Gordon Setter inspired by her daughter’s dog. We were treated to ‘juddering jowls and tail thumpings’ as a dog chased floating bubbles – surely no happier sight and rendered perfectly into poetry. Carolyn’s second piece, Autumnal Train Journey is a poem we have enjoyed before. It was added to and by common consent improved here, as the ‘gentle jolts and pneumatic hisses’ of the train journey took us to the end of the evening.

This was a great start to our summer Readaround programme and hopefully the sign of things to come.



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