Monday, 16 July 2012

Fireworks: literal and metaphorical

Just back from French House Party in the Languedoc, where seven willing participants ignited their imaginations over four days of intensive writing.

The above pic is not of their brains but the Bastille Day fireworks over Carcassonne. This was one of the most moving displays I've witnessed: beautifully paced and constructed over half an hour and set above the walls of Carcassonne which was so thoroughly brought to its knees by Christian crusaders in the 13th century.

That's the paradox of fireworks: beauty commemorating a brutal event. And I couldn't watch these, or feel the reverbations of the booming (and their echoes) on Saturday night without thinking of what terror Damascus must be under right now. Apparently Dubrovnik still does not allow firework displays.


Inevitably we discussed this the day after the trip (we'd all been taken to the city by Moira as part of the course) and perhaps some used it as trigger for their writing. One of my rules (I only have two in any workshop) is that no one is expected to read out everything they've just written in a session. We have a short 'airing' at the end of each three hours where everyone (including me) selects one piece - however long or short - to share with the group, to release it to the world, as it were, and see how it sounds on their tongue. While I often will stumble upon some great ideas in workshops, I personally hate most of what I write under those kind of conditions and don't see why I should expect others to present work freshly written for consideration or analysis by others.

We introduced a feedback session this year, so those who had something they wanted others to comment on could bring copies for a more thorough group discussion. And despite coming directly after the wine tasting, this was a great addition to the week. Or maybe, because...   

In case you're wondering my only other rule is only one person speaks at a time. Anything else goes. And it always does

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