Thursday, 21 July 2011

Creative Writing Workshop at Greycoats Hospital

Is she happy or not?
To the pleasant streets of Victoria today, for an intense Creative Writing Workshop at Greycoats Hospital school. The school is a large, ancient and pleasant building very near to Victoria Station. It's a girls' school, and I (having arrived late, and slightly flummoxed) was talking to four groups (one after the other) about the basic structuring of writing a story. It was exhausting, but also exhilarating. I talked about the importance of sources - for me the Titian painting of Ariadne and Bacchus as a major point of inspiration for The Liberators. The girls impressed me with their mythological knowledge of Theseus and the Minotaur, and also of myriad other subjects including Romeo (and Gnomeo) and Juliet. Influences as diverse as Slumdog Millionaire, Cinderella and Pygmalion came up (the latter causing some to burst into a rendition of Eliza Doolittle the pop singer). We also talked about how inspiration can be found in the most mundane things - a dead pigeon, a postbox - and the supreme importance of plot and believable characters, as well as the necessity of figures of speech, and the girls came up with some lovely similes. I hope that they took a lot away from the event - in terms of the need for structure, rigour and hard work in the business of writing - and I would like to extend my thanks to the school for the warm welcome I received, and especially to Melissa Hanbury for inviting me.

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