On Thursday evening the newly formed Oxford 2012 writer’scommunity convened for its second meeting at the Friends’ Meeting Room in St Giles. With a turnout of thirty five budding writers (guestimate) the meet was started by Zool, (the event’s organiser of Blackwells) who outlined the format for the evening, which was to be split into two halves. He explained that the first half was to be talk, by Author James Atterly and the second half was to comprise of a discussion about OXFORD 2012 and a mock critique.
The First Half - The Talk
James Atterly then spoke about publishing and his remarkable writing journey that he embarked upon whist penning Nocturne. Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight was written by James about his fascination and awe for the moon, and his quest to see the moon and the night sky in its raw honest beauty, away from the light pollution of the western world.
His journey took him through time, as he looked at the way the moon has influenced arts, culture and religions throughout history. In addition to this, his journey took a geographical turn as he travelled the world to experience the moon in different locations and cultures. Atterly’s anecdotes and readings were both engaging and engrossing, and made me (a dyslexic whose reading mostly comprises of YA and kids book) want to read the book. So there’s another welcome addition to my ever growing “To Be Read pile”.
After his talk he spoke more generally about writing; about grants and the difficulties of the transition to a full time author.
Atterly’s Top Writing Tip;
“A brain is like a dog. If you feed it a 5’O Clock every day, then it’ll be by its bowl at 5’O Clock every day. Your brain can be trained to write in the same way.”
After the inspiring talk by James, we stopped for an interval, a chance to wine and mingle. This small informal element of the evening gave all there the chance to meet other writers.
The Second half – Everything Else!
The second half of the evening started with a general discussion on the way that OXFORD 2012 is going to be run. And finally a mock critique where Zool read out an extract from an already publish novel and the critique was panelled by Cherry. This was an interesting and insightful experience, with much of the comments relating to writing style, and interesting all highlighting the same points. It also sparked a debate about the nature of critiquing itself, and that it can become a rather negative experience for the author. The answer to this was eloquently summarised by Dennis Hamley who said this…
“A good critique is always on the writers’ side.”
And Finally - An unexpected highlight of the evening…
We were treated to an impromptu recital of poetry by Dennis Hamley, who shared with us part of Browning's, Fra Lippo Lippi…
For, don't you mark, we're made so that we love
First when we see them painted, things we have passed
Perhaps a hundred times nor cared to see;
And so they are better painted, better to us,
Which is the same thing. Art was given for that.
God uses us to help each other so,
Lending our minds out .