On 28th November we held an extremely successful ‘new members’ evening. Prospective members were invited to come and see exactly what we do at the Hastings Writers Group. The event was very well attended and began with a lively period of introductions and discussion. Having been plied with nibbles and wine, the prospective new members were given a baptism of fire in the form of one of our most challenging, but most fun, writing exercises. Organised by our vice chair, Kate O’Hearn, the activity saw those present scribbling frantically for the 15 minutes allowed to create tales that all began with the same nervous wait in a restaurant to meet a blind date. The challenge of incorporating the random items Kate brought in led the stories in weird, wonderful and mostly comedic directions. Everyone coped admirably as they ingeniously managed to weave in a pirates eye-patch, a crocodile, two pocket watches, a pair of sun glasses, a toothbrush, hatpins and the characters from the 70s children’s TV show, The Banana Splits! Overall, it was a great evening that once again demonstrated the tremendous wealth of creative talent to be found in Hastings.
Wednesday, 16 November 2016
14th November brought the reading of the annual Catherine Cookson Cup competition entries. With no set theme, members’ made superb use of the freedom to showcase their talents to enthral, intrigue, surprise and amuse.
We met some interesting characters, including Triaton, a call centre worker by day and hypnotist, psychic and wannabe magister by night, and Cynthia, a transgender CIA operative. We also saw slices of life through reflections of experiences with elderly relatives, evil cousins and a dispute over a defaced family bible. We visited Manhattan for a snapshot of the experience of residents during the 9/11 terror attacks, and considered poverty and crime in distant lands. The reflections of a young soldier on the front line as he considered his paper round back home struck a poignant note. We were treated to a unique and comical insight into the world of twins and considered the anguish of a community living in fear of child killer. The entries will be judged by Jemima Forrester, a commissioning editor with many years of experience.
Thursday, 3 November 2016
On 31st October, Alan Judd, novelist and biographer, gave his feedback on our historic writing competition entries. He told us how the high standard of writing and interesting range of subjects made the selection of a top four extremely difficult. His positive comments and interesting anecdotes made for a very amusing and enjoyable meeting. First place went to Vicky Armstrong’s ‘And The Band Played On’. Alan Judd commented on the excellent use of local sources of information to create a fascinating view of life in Bexhill in 1916. In second place was ‘A Bluebell Among The Thorns’ by Sandra Daniels. This was judged to be a very well researched account of the life of Bluebell Klean, a celebrated classical composer and musician, and prize winning local sea angler. John Taylor was awarded third place for the ‘Warlingham Murder’, praised as a very effective account of a historical event that allowed the reader to make up their own mind about the outcome. In fourth place was ‘The Madness of Victorian Women’ by Godfrey Forder. This piece depicted some of the circumstances under which Victorian woman found themselves to be considered ‘mad’ and provided interesting descriptions of some of the usual treatments administered.