I can barely keep up with the number of places I’ve been too so far in my writerly roaming about the UK — Bath, Exeter, Plymouth, Manchester, London (three times so far), Penzance… Many places have been on a whim, guided at times by writing and music opportunities, and other times perhaps by childhood memories. For example, in Penzance I went to a place called Land’s End and peered out over the steep cliffs. It was like standing on the United Kingdom’s big toe and peering outwards. I’d last visited Land’s End when I was eleven.
But back to Manchester’s Crafty Writers’ Group — one of my special writing opportunities. It was my mother, would you believe (she is also a writer), who put me on to the group. She’d read one of the group member’s (Jayne Fallows) short stories in the UK writers’ mag Writers’ Forum. It was a terrific short story called The Worst Party Ever. Beneath the story, Writer’s Forum mentioned Jayne’s involvement in the Crafty Writers. Happily they have a website (see link below) and I was easily able to contact them.
I made it to the group the same day I exited from the writers’ retreat in Shropshire — going to the group straight from the train and pulling my wheelie luggage behind me. It did feel a bit of a whirlwind.
The group is making a shift from workshopping about the craft of writing to critiquing each other’s work. On the Saturday afternoon I was there, everybody was trying their hand at something different. And all the writing was very accomplished. I listened to everything from historical fiction to poetic prose to the structuring of a book on writing craft (this latter is the project of the groups’ convenor, Lorrie Porter).
I had the fortune to test-run the changes to the opening paragraphs of my own manuscript and received immediate feedback from everyone — which has allowed me to refine the opening words to Beneath the Surface (perhaps the most important words of any book). On the day, I also pulled out my camera and was rapt at their preparedness for a few photos, as you can see.
You can find out more about the Manchester Crafty Writers Group on their website here.
And here are a few more photos of marvellous Manchester (or ‘awesome Manchester’, as one nephew calls it)…
The library dates from 1653. Here’s a corridor you see as you first enter, where the monks lived (the librarians, I guess). I needed to be escorted in, but was then free to roam.
All change. A different kind of library — inside a Manchester record store. Manchester, of course, has given the world many great bands.
And here’s one I had to share with you, a famous Smiths location…
Finally, I leave you with a quote I saw in Manchester’s football museum that I believe equally applies to writing as football…