Ormskirk Writers' & Literary Society - OWLS - was established in 1963 by Dora Doyle to promote local writers. Founder member Ron Bartholomew contributed to the Waverly Encyclopaedias and was widely published in Practical Mechanics Magazine. A successful playwright, he opened his house to us for weekly meetings and served us with tea and home made cakes for many years. As Otis lifts Chief Engineer he also designed the press button control boxes used in lifts to this day. ALT="Ormskirk Writers' & Literary Society">

Friday, 8 July 2011

Owls minutes 4th July 2011

Owls Minutes
4th July 2011

Fantasy Evening

Present: Liz, Alex, Margaret, Trish, Judy, Sarah Cec, Bryan, Saime, Keith, Tess (guest) and Nick (guest)

Apologies: Julie, Susan, Tim


The MS magazine is still awaiting submissions and poems, of 500 words from Owl members. Please do see if you have anything suitable and email it on to Judy to forward to the magazine.

The Owls group has been contacted by Jenni Ashcroft from the West Lancs Arts services, who is developing aspects of creative writing for people in West Lancashire, with regular workshops and open mic sessions in Skelmersdale and Ormskirk. Jenni asked if she would be able to come along to one of our sessions to discuss the project in more detail and consult members. Owls members looked at the forthcoming programme and decided the best dates to offer were 15th August or 5th September. Sarah will liaise with Jenni to see if either of these dates are suitable and arrange details. Sarah will feedback information as soon as possible to owl members.

Cec kicked the night off with his story ‘Kanga’ which was read brilliantly by Liz. This was a story first broadcast on the radio a few years ago. We were launched into the energy of the characters Jane meeting Paul, who tells her about a situation that happened in Africa… we all loved the ending. Well twisted!! Owls loved the dialogue and felt it worked well as a single voice piece. Feeling it lends itself to broadcast. Owls wondered if the title would benefit from a rethink, suggesting ‘A lot has Happened’ as a possible alternative title.

Trisha read us the next Ted installment, ‘Ted’s first Christmas’. Ted is feeling happy about the general excitement around the house, and finds out from his friend Brutus in the park that ‘Christmas is when people try to be really nice to each other and usually fail.’ Brutus tells him about the presents and father Christmas. So on Christmas Eve, Ted is very excited to know what his present might be! Then, a certain someone in a red suit gets stuck in the chimney. As ever, Ted leaps to the rescue. And has an amazing adventure! And, of course, some sausages! Owls loved the ending of the story. Trisha explained she has completed 8 of the 10 she hopes to write in the Ted Series. It led to much discussion about children’s fiction, the aim of attracting both adult and child readers. Owls especially liked the images and asides of the tree being brought in and Ted’s response ‘handy’ and how long it took him to ‘get the squeak out of his new toy’ feeling this humour would appeal to both adults and children.

Judy read ‘Heralding a New Britain’ a wonderfully satirical piece about Britain, but not quite as we know it (but frighteningly believable!) At a conference with Cleggy and the PM, they are presenting a whole new set of policies involving prisoners and pensioners. They are to swap places – pensioners to go to prison and pensioners to go to care homes. The PM presents a relatively common sense argument for it, too!! Judy explained the idea for the story had been sparked by an email she had received. With the ‘Cleggy’ references, Owls wondered whether it could be extended to have last of the summer wine references. Judy shared this was something she had considered. A wonderfully wry and entertaining piece. Definitely fantasy, but not so far removed from the truth!

Bryan read ‘News’, about a man considering his garden, with the rough piece of grassy area at the end. Leaning on his lawnmower, he meets Charles Oberon Smith, who urges him not to destroy the grassland. The half acre of uncultivated land with wildflowers and toadstools might be perfect habitat for fairies. Charles Oberon Smith says he has some fairy blood in him. Due to some good news about a job, the uncultivated fairy land gets to remain. Owls enjoyed the fantasy element and the way the story teetered between two generations – the older one who would have reveled in the ideology of fairy and human worlds colliding, and the newer where the words ‘fairy’ carry a different connotation. Bryan may have created an entirely new fairy genre!

Keith read ‘When Two World’s Collide’. On a beautiful summer morning, we meet Lucy, overjoyed at the thought of cousins coming to visit. When Michael and Samantha arrive they go off for walks in the forest, with Pixie, the dog. When they start to stray near to the ruins of Saxmead House where Lucy’s mother has told her not to go, the temptation for Michael is too great. The children witness a chilling and terrifying scene. Years later, a housing estate is built over the ruins of Saxmead House, but as Lucy finds out, the chilling scenes may not have disappeared. Keith’s wonderful story inspired lots of ideas amongst Owls. Suggestions included adding a prologue, restructuring the story to start at the end and then unravel the tale, and to ensure there is a strong hook in the opening paragraph. Owls loved the dialogue and felt the story idea was strong enough to be a full novel, if this is the direction Keith wants to take it. Much enjoyed!

Nick shared a poem with Owls – ‘Seaside Daytrip Story’, brilliantly read by Liz. The poem was full of striking, arresting images; ‘Bleaching problems into the wave’s light blue gray / Girl in a red fleece blows pink bubblegum while pushing a pram / a drunk carrying a pub ashtray / shoddy and divine / leaving a ribbon of hope after the storm.’ Owls especially liked ‘segments of sea spray’. Nick explained it was set in Blackpool but could be any seaside town. And that his aim, as a poet was to take a few words to create an image; poetry’s what you leave out. Owls thoroughly enjoyed the striking images in the poem.

Alex rounded off the evening with an extract from his play, ‘Minus One’. It is an intense moment in the play where Julie is finally admitting to Greg that she’s been raped. The scene starts just after the cast has been discussing the Fritzl case. The scene freezes and the Greg steps forward to speak to the audience. Then into a memory scene. Owls found it very moving, and powerful, handling a difficult situation with skill. This play has been entered into the Bruntwood competition.

Another fantastic and varied evening.

Our next meeting is 18th July, and the evening will be our Jo Cowell Night!! This year we are having an inhouse competition for the best children’s story. So get scribbling and editing!!

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