I enjoyed a creative writing workshop at the University of Derby last week. The assignment was to write a story in just 10 days, inspired by a photograph that you could find at the university’s library. I had already decided what kind of story I wanted to write before I even went to university – I wanted to write something that was unique to me. I enjoy being able to express myself through writing, and this workshop gave me the opportunity to do that. I had a specific image in mind when I came up with the idea for my story – a photograph of my late grandmother, who passed away when I was 15 years old, standing in front of a Christmas tree. I remember her face looking so happy, and I felt that I could capture that in my story.
My story is set in the 1950s, and the main character is named Enid Brooks. She is a writer who has just finished a book about the First World War, and she decides to take a bit of a rest before she writes the next one. When I was a child, my grandmother would always read me stories from Enid Brooks books, and I have always loved them. I wanted to bring that warmth and enjoyment back into my life through Enid’s eyes, and the creative writing workshop gave me the perfect excuse to do that.
The Value Of Short Stories
I have always enjoyed reading short stories. When I was 12 years old, I borrowed a book from the library that held 365 short stories by different authors. I was so inspired by that volume that I decided to write my own stories, which led me to studying English at university. There is a big value in short stories – they can be just as effective in entertaining and educating the reader as novels and long-form articles.
When it comes to creative writing, most people will tell you to just write what you feel. That is a wonderful guideline, but sometimes it can be difficult to just write what you feel – sometimes you need a little bit of inspiration. That is where the value of short stories comes in – you can borrow from real-life experience, but you can also be creative with the way you interpret what you have seen and heard. You can learn a lot from a short story, and in my opinion, they should not be overlooked when it comes to creative writing workshops.
The Importance Of Research
I was very fortunate that the photograph that I had chosen as the basis for my story was in a public domain image, which I was able to use without permission. I did have to give credit to the library at the University of Derby for allowing me to use the image, and I had to cite the source in my paper. But other than that, I was able to just write the story and not worry about rights or copyrights – it is very important to do your research before you pitch an idea for a story, especially if you are thinking about using images that might be copyrighted.
In the 1950s, the majority of homes did not have indoor toilets (at least not in the UK), so when my grandmother travelled abroad, she would always bring her own toilet kit with her. She would not want anyone to think that she was not comfortable in her own company, and she did not want to ruin the luxury of staying in a hotel by using their toilet. She would usually sit on the lid of the toilet, so when she was finished, she would put the lid down and flush. This habit has stuck with me, and even now, when I am in a hotel with a squat toilet, I will go for a walk outside if I need to use the loo – it is the little things in life that remind you of how fortunate you are to have a roof over your head and a toilet that you can use without fear of contracting an infection.
The Use Of Detail
One of the things that drew me to my grandmother was her love of storytelling. She would sit and spin tales for hours, getting the details just right. Even now, when I listen to my grandmother’s stories, I can feel myself transported back in time. I love listening to long, drawn-out stories, and I love seeing the attention to detail that she brings to her storytelling. She did not just have the story – she had the settings, and the characters, and the little details that brought them to life – the way she told the story was as good as the story itself.
I try to do the same as I tell my own stories. Even now, when I am writing this blog post, I am thinking about little details that I can add to make it more enjoyable for the reader. When I started my blog, I wanted to make sure that the posts were just as good as the stories that I had heard as a child. I want to make sure that the little kids out there who are reading my blog are learning something, and that the grownups reading it are having fun.
The Workshop Experience
The workshop that I attended last week was led by Kate Turkington, and I must admit, I was a little nervous at the beginning. All of a sudden, I was in front of an audience of people who had all been kind enough to waste their Saturday afternoon listening to me bumble my way through a 10-day creative writing task. But once I got over my nerves (and had finished my 10th and final draft of the story), I felt a sense of accomplishment that I had not felt since I was a child. The workshop ended, and I got to enjoy a lovely cuppa with my sweetheart, and I just wanted to give everyone in the room a big hug.
I want to thank Kate Turkington for leading the workshop and being so kind and patient towards a beginner like me. I learnt a lot in that 10-day timeframe, and I want to extend my thanks to the University of Derby’s English department for welcoming a virtual stranger into their fold. I learnt so much about myself in those 10 days, and I feel that my own writing has improved due to that self-discovery process.
I hope that I have inspired you to try out a creative writing workshop, or even just to write stories where you feel comfortable showing your work-in-progress to an audience. We all need a bit of inspiration now and again, and I think that the most effective way to find inspiration is from within yourself – you have lived a full life, seen and done things that others have not had the chance to experience, so why not use those stories to make the most out of your life experiences and bring joy and happiness into the world with your writing?