Thursday, 9 July 2009

Arvon Calling, part 2 (See below for part 1)

Task 1
Do only gifted writers head off for Arvon? It certainly seemed like that on my recent Commercial Fiction course; everyone else was so darn talented. Now I have no qualms about reading my work to an audience, any old rubbish, if approached with the right voice and intonation, can be squeezed by as entertainment and I trusted my theatrical skills, honed by years of reading bedtime stories, would get me through the first task. When I finished reading out loud and looked about me, I felt a rush of relief, a few of my fellow students had been taken in, some even nodded appreciatively. Well I may have fooled a small number of my peers, but not those talented and charming assassins, Katie and Judy.

Following my first feedback I hung my head, the worst sort of failure, a female fiction writer unable to get a grip on her viewpoint. A woman who head-hops, constitutionally unable to imprint her reader on the main character, a heinous crime in popular fiction. I went into the next day with ‘Could do Better,’ weighing down my shoulders.

Judy in full flow.

Task 2.
Write about someone who is stuck in a lift for 6 hours with a person they don’t like. This time, despite severe misgivings at my stereotypical depiction of a teenage hoodie, a nice lady from the church and the perils of drinking too much tea, quite a few laughed and I perked up a bit for the next task.

Task 3.
Write a bad sex scene. A frisson of anxiety ran round the assembled novices.( Is frisson an o.k. word, I'm no longer sure) Our lone male, the alleged S&M pornographer from Edinburgh seemed calm enough, but I watched with interest as my female companions, almost to a woman, folded their arms and crossed their legs in the type of unison that would have done credit to a troupe of chorus girls. Arvon being an Internet free establishment, no one had been able to find out exactly what he dabbled in, but rumors are rife.

“Hmm! Pardon, You want us to write a sex scene badly?” I gawped. ‘Pulsating piston’ alliterating into mind.
Katie raised her eyes a little higher to heaven than strictly necessary, then Judy read out a scene I already knew, from ‘Blowing it.’ It’s good.

“Now, all you have to do is write a scene about bad sex, either funny or sad, but try to keep off the clich├ęs.” The last part was said with unnecessary emphasis in my direction, but it could have been me being touchy.

I completed my piece of writing that afternoon, keeping it serious and brief,
"A one night stand with a resulting pregnancy should do the trick.Get it all finished in a couple of paragraphs and a bit of dialogue. Best to get it over and done with quickly." Next day I maneuvered into a position where I’d be among the first to read and it passed off reasonably well. One or two other writers were serious, the rest hilarious. If you ever come across a timeless love scene involving intimate massage oil, passion in the sand dunes and something I won't mention, having the appearance of breaded haddock, I heard it first at Arvon, far too rude for a family friendly blog, probably not very funny the way I’m retelling, but hysterical at the time.

As for our man from Edinburgh, left till last he was surprisingly tame. Young lovers and a tryst in the heather and a nasty encounter with midges just outside Oban, so there were sighs of relief all round.
(I'll tell the final truth tomorrow)


ChrisH said...

Good stuff, I've been looking forwards to the next instalment. Judy, Katie - assassins? Katie's lovely and Judy - who I've never met but have had some email correspondence with - has a wicked sense of humour. I'm jealous - I bet that was great fun!

lampworkbeader said...

Both lovely women and very generous and helpful when it comes to advice. I learnt a lot in a very short space of time.

Maddie Grigg said...

Ooh, I do envy you. Always felt tempted to do an Arvon course but 1) lacked the confidence 2) lacked the money.
I look forward to reading more!

Angel Bluestocking said...

I have to say I'm reading these blogs and remembering that feeling of being 'out of my depth' so vividly. Everyone seemed so much better than me, (as well as younger than me.)

Do you know Lampie, all this is about is confidence. It is simply a matter of confidence. i'd say reading this far you've done very well actually. When I did the exercises at least two of them I had to opt out of - I couldn't come up with anything or went blank; or more often than not I didn't think the rest of the group would want to read what I'd written.
Going to read the final installment now.

Calico Kate said...

Great tasks and I would love to have been a fly on the wall if not a participant.