Last week, the Informals’ writing session kicked off with an exercise sparked by an opening sentence from Mark: ‘Why am I stressed? I’m not actually accomplishing anything!’

As usual, our quick burst of writing  produced entirely different styles of text from each of us.  Goodness knows how the subconscious mind manages to throw up such ideas, but mine ended up being about a superhero stressing about the things he had to do (‘save the planet, bring about world peace’) but who couldn’t leave his flat because he’d lost his tights.

We then went on to an activity created by the poets Kerry Featherstone and Mark Goodwin and featured in ‘Words & Things‘ – a ‘resource box’ of creative writing activities inspired by objects and art.  The activity encourages you to return to a piece of writing and cut it back to only what’s absolutely essential – one or two phrases, perhaps, and removing some of the small words or adjectives.

We decided to be generous and allow ourselves 8 to 10 sentences from our ‘stress’ texts, using poetic licence to tweak them a little to make them ‘flow’.  There was some reluctance about the activity, I must admit, and people were sceptical that it would work. They needn’t have worried.

Here’s what survived of my superhero piece:

The stress feeds into itself,
more anxious and less
if you get my meaning.
The list of things I need,
hurtling towards the earth
in roughly 8 hours,
breaching security.
Unable to leave the apartment,
where hell has put my clean red tights.

Wimbledon Mike wrote a piece based on school days:

An Eye for an Eye

How can it be that everyone is stressed?
The 1950’s ‘never had it so good’.
By the 1960’s, everyone was socialist then.
The Cuffley Gang came by train
Caused stress, the mouth punch ‘for the heck of it.’
‘Boys will be boys’; Hertford could not handle it.
This sadistic boy; essentially stupid – his come-uppance?
Old Testament – an eye for an eye – eyeless and toothless people.

And finally, Jen Min’s piece:

“Oh, I could do that,” I said.
“There’s a lot involved,” she said.
“What if it rains?” said Mrs Peters.
Joe Bates offered to ask his mate for his marquee.
Perhaps we could all pile into the school hall?
“Not on my polished floors!” said Eileen the cleaner.
What if it rains?  What if it rains?
We usually invite the Scout Band.  Oh no,
What if it rains?

eye for an eye


Three Minute Football

And no, I’m not referring to the length of time we had believing England would be World Cup winners for 2014!

Last Thursday at The Informals writing session at the Library, I discovered my trusty egg timer at the bottom of my Writer’s Toolbox (in fact I squealed with delight, which is not really sensible for a woman of my years!)  So, for our third writing activity, we took the word ‘football’ as a creative stimulus and wrote for three minutes flat. As usual, I was astounded by (a) how much you can actually write in three minutes and (b) how each of us produced something entirely different to the others.

The group have kindly allowed me to share their writing with the world.  I should point out that though we’re a small group, several of our writers share the same fore-names, hence the unusual addition to some of them!

The first piece is by Sci-fi David:

Football – the beautiful game.
England won the World Cup,
Can we do it again?

Football – the ball gets kicked.
Are we gonna get back what we did in ’66?

Like David’s poem, the following piece by Artist Jenny looks back in time:

When I was young there was only one football in our cul-de-sac.  Michael across the road had an ancient leather ball with no inner inflatable.  His dad had lost both the bladder and the valve.  In desperation, Michael stuffed the ball with sheets of Radio Times and Picture Post.  Both girls and boys played but boy, was it heavy!

This one is the work of Alison the Viking:

The tall man stood at the front of the room, commanding the attention of everyone in it.  He delivered his patter like a well-practiced performer; the jokes, the eye-contact with everyone, the repeated inclusion of the pale guy in the front row – all techniques of the best act in a comedy club and not at all what you’d expect of the vice chancellor of a university, telling the story of how his design department was responsible for the World Cup football.

The last comment is from Rachael the Younger:

I open up the TV guide.  A plethora
of football-related programmes taint
the pixels of the screen.
It seems that these TV producers
are a lot more creative
than I gave them credit for.
Viva, Dave, half the BBC
and ITV are rammed
with 50 of the best this
and 50 of the worst that
and everything in between.
Looks like it’ll be another
afternoon of netflix for me.