Not for the faint-hearted workshop No. 4

On Wednesday, Ellen and I held the fourth of our Not for the Faint Hearted Sessions. The aim is to write stories or poems inspired by images, with a short time limit. Once the time finishes, everyone takes turns to read some, or all, of what they've written. We have a rule that you aren't allowed to apologise for your work before reading. It might sound imposing, but the workshops are a relaxed, friendly event.

This time, Ellen tried an experiment in the second half. Rather than use a picture as the prompt, everyone was given a slice of cake, which they ate during the ten minutes. There were some fascinating stories in response to this strange prompt. We're hoping to do some more experiments in the future sessions.

We used creative commons images from flickr for the event. The photographs used were:

As usual, the delight was seeing how many different ideas emerged from the same image. It's a good exercise in latereal thinking, and it's very rare for someone to produce work that isn't fascinating or amusing. This time, I found it hard to settle in the first couple of rounds. In the first two minute session I wasted a minute, but managed to come up with something I liked for this image, from Dean Ayres:

Dressing Room Only

"The clowns gasped as the image was revealed to the court. No decent clown would let himself be seen making-up in public. The sentence was the worst available, beaten to death with squeaky rubber mallets. It took two days."

We also had an outbreak of limericks during the session including one a serious one from Graham Sutherland. It was surprising to hear a light form used in a different way. There's a lovely write-up of the session from Louise Halvarddson here, and a brief discussion from Tom Hume here.

Thanks once again to the skiff for hosting the event. Details of the next Not for the Faint Hearted event will follow soon. Meanwhile we're running the Brighton Creative Writing Sessions starting from tomorrow. Leave a comment if you'd like more information on that.

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