📸 You know when you’ve been somewhere so often that it doesn’t even cross your mind to take a photo?
That’s the case with me and Shap, Cumbria.
🐑🚗🐑 I’ve just scrolled through my photos to see whether I had anything I could use to illustrate my post and it’s slim pickings. Just this one when I was stuck in a traffic jam one day. 😅
So why am I talking about Shap?
📍 Because, yesterday, I was back up there again on home turf. Home — as in the area I grew up in as opposed to the area I live now.
I took a 45 minute drive up there to join the monthly writing group which takes place in the wonderful creative hub, The Old Courthouse.
📚 It’s a library, a gallery and a community space all rolled together.
They hold a free monthly writing group run by a very nice woman called Susan from the Wordsworth Trust.
☕ It’s a great bunch of people. A rather small gathering by usual standards, I believe, since the date clashed with the church coffee morning.
We spent the first hour mainly chatting. It was fascinating to hear about people’s journeys into writing. And there was a very illuminating chat about who considers themselves a writer and who considers themselves as someone who writes. Who is happy to say they are a poet, and who is not (yet.)
📝I got to see my very first renga. I didn’t know about this poetic form until yesterday. Think of it like a community quilt. Various people had written haiku about Shap following the 7,5,7 structure, and then these had cleverly been stitched together using pairs of lines of 7 syllables each. The result was great and it’s really got me thinking about other contexts where this renga structure could be used to bring people together creatively.
In the second hour, we did some of our own writing using prompts put together by the Wordsworth Trust. They were a set of cards beautifully presented in a small, humble box. Each card had a watercolour one one side painted by a local artist inspired by lines of poetry or letters from William and Dorothy Wordsworth. In keeping with the theme of the excerpts, a creative writing prompt was given asking writers to do something, or think of something, or imagine something and produce a piece of writing based on it.
😊 The writing prompt I picked out was related to giving and gratitude. I took a rather left field angle on this task, thinking back to a daft situation in Leeds involving a group of teenagers and some smiles they ended up giving me in spite of themselves. Just an anecdote presented in poetic form, really, but it seemed to amuse the group.
Such different directions around the table from the others and the prompts they’d picked. We were all storytelling, though, in one way or another and we experienced a whole spectrum of emotions.
⛱️ Creative writing classes are invigorating and good for the soul. I’m still keen to find one in the Morecambe/Lancaster area as it’d be good to get to know more creative types round here.
But I will nevertheless be back at the Shap group from time to time. I can combine it with seeing family and it’s absolutely worth the trip up the motorway to hear creative writing read to me in a variety of voices including some that sound like mine.
Every creative writing group has a slightly different feel.
❓Do you go to one? If so, what’s yours like?