Monday, 3 November 2014

A review of The Tough Room

Meghan Douglass-Eliss  is a young writer who was commended in our About competition. She and eleven other writers were awarded a place on The Tough Room workshop which was tutored by poet Hannah Walker and held at the Writers’ Centre Norwich last Monday. Here is Meghan’s review of the workshop, accompanied by photos taken on the day. More details about the commissioning competition, about our commended writers and four winners, can be found on our dedicated blog page ‘About comp’.

Hannah Walker & Deborah Arnander
“I imagine there are a whole array of women out there who have been writing for enjoyment since childhood, but have never taken the step towards casting their work into the abyss beyond the bedroom door; for me, entering the About competition was my first shuffle in this direction and winning a place on Hannah’s poetry workshop The Tough Room was a surprise boost. 

As a naturally introverted and shy person the first thing that hit me as I opened the door into the Writers’ Centre (which is the most adorable and friendly arts space I have ever been to) was a wave of warm relief: a room full of smiling women, their creative energy and lust for it hovering over them in a sort of beckoning halo. Here, I feel the need to point out how marvelous it was as a woman (sorry Gents) to have a group entirely composed of other women: I felt the atmosphere to be much softer and more inviting because of this. 
Sue Dean & Becky Demmen
The idea of the workshop was to build a relationship with one’s “inner critic”. As a newbie to the writing scene, and a total virgin to the concept of editing my work for publication I don’t believe I’d ever really given much thought to my inner critic. Going around the room, we all drew and explained our inner critics who mostly seemed to be a terrifying group of gigantic beasts lurking behind the beautiful women who so enthusiastically drew them; fears of not meeting expectations and being judged as “CRAP!” seem to manifest themselves as scrunched up papers on the floor, and long periods of writer’s block; meanwhile, I drew a little smiley face in the corner of the page with a flower stuck to its head.... I looked around me at these colourful confident women and wondered how dare these beasts be standing in the way of their creativity? Perhaps something I have yet to discover. 
Poppy Kleiser
Through the second part of the workshop where we began to critique each other’s work these beasts of literary abuse seemed to shrink away quite unnatural it is, at first, to nit pick at another writer’s work. However, once our trepidations melted away the result was a very constructive and inspiring look into the skill and inner voice that shapes writing from splattered paint on a canvas into a skilled and expressive portrait. For me, being around these women of such vast talent and ability has set ablaze the beacon of excitement for writing within me, and in doing so has cast away the anxiety and feelings of insufficiency that I used to associate with it. I feel so eager to develop my poetic voice, and must thank these fireworks of women for their inspiration to me! "

"My journey into the world of writing started before I can remember, I’ve always expressed myself through little stories and poems and I feel like it’s always been a part of me. I left school at 15 finding the rigid nature of the courses squashed my creative side, and have since been reading, writing and drawing in my own little secluded world. I’m starting now, to try and bring my work outside of my private head space and into the light."  - Meghan Douglass-Eliss

1 comment:

Sharon Eckman said...

Meghan, how lovely! It was so fantastic to meet you - and all the other writers at such an entertaining and galvanising workshop. And you are one of those beautiful talented women you describe :)