Saturday, 13 July 2013

My writing workshops at the National Star College, Ullenwood Manor, Cheltenham

Hello again,

I've actually had a wonderful week, in spite of the sleep deprivation on - um - Monday? I led some writing workshops at the National Star College, at Ullenwood, Cheltenham. I'd been there before, so I was beginning to know the staff and to have an idea what to expect. The first time I went was back in December, when I was asked to do workshops around the theme of winter. I uploaded some videos of ice hotels and freezing weather onto their interactive whiteboard (which was a new skill for me), and then I guided the students through the process of writing stories, using all their senses to make the descriptions more vivid. They produced some lovely work, and I think we all enjoyed it. I didn't want to stop at the end because one student was dictating such a moving story.

The workshops this week were equally lovely. I find the whole atmosphere there very conducive to creativity. Staff have a relaxed and gentle approach. No one is ever rushed (even me :D) and the students also seem exceptional and very open to new ideas. We began with a music video on a summer theme (Bryan Adams), then went out into the beautiful gardens. I read some summer poetry to them, including one by Spike Milligan, and then they had a go at writing their own. I always feel slightly awed by this process. Every student writes something so different, and yet every one is good. I wish I'd asked for photocopies of the poems to take away, so I could have put them here. Next time I will.

Yesterday I took some time out to go shopping, but today I have been working steadily on my robot play, which I want to finish and send out. (I'm just making minor amendments after the staged reading last year, but I have a long version and a short version and am trying to untangle the bits I want to keep. Quite a task.) Tonight I finished reading the scripts of Roald Dahl's 'The Witches'. I've had this horrible fear that it might be a bit like my Hag of Horra and her cat, Humphrey, but, to my relief it's about mice and witches, not cats and witches. A boy cowers under the table at one point, and in mine the cat cowers under a table, but all similarities stop there, and all of the rest is totally different. Phew. Of course I knew this would be the case, but I was almost afraid to read it in case Roald Dahl had had the same idea. :D

I've finished a lot of books lately, but I've already written a lot about them on goodreads. I loved Oliver Sacks's 'Hallucinations' - and was fascinated to learn that hallucinations can be associated with all sorts of things, including visual problems. I remember seeing little people rather like the seven dwarfs when I'd been hitchhiking with my boyfriend in hot weather, and never knew it was a typical hallucination (though I knew it was one).

I've also read a couple of very good books on forensic techniques and anthropology. (Dead Men Do Tell Tales and Forensic Clues to Murder). Have a look at my reviews if any of this interests you, and do get in touch.

love to all,

Pippa x

PS. A gorgeous golden moth has just settled beside me. Never seen anything like it! :)

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