HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Writing can be a solitary occupation. It can be challenging. A writer knows this and understands another writer, like no other can. Days might be spent living in other worlds, conjuring the perfect sentence. When writers unite, they instinctively bond and as mutual trust and respect grow, the writer’s group evolves.
Pencils and What-not is such a group.
Our name was chosen from a well-known quote by A. A. Milne:
“This writing business; pencils and what-not. Over-rated, if you ask me. Silly stuff. Nothing in it."
As Eeyore casts his gloomy eye over Winnie-the-Pooh's little instruction book, he beautifully captures the understated nature of writing, where writing is, in truth, the universal medium from which we make so many discoveries.
Perhaps there are some days when the Eeyore in all of us presides over our endeavours, but for the most part our perseverance is rewarded.
Chaired by Gill Johnson, we get together on the third Tuesday of each month, in the bay-windowed meeting room, to share our writings.
A set agenda is agreed upon, to include a technical writing segment set by Hilary Gregory and a ‘Spotlight’ session where members give feedback on work that has been circulated during the month. Proofing and continuity can be useful during the early drafts, as can suggestions to hone the writing, without infringing on the writer’s unique style.
The technical writing segments are both thought provoking and informative, with subjects ranging from innovative ways to harness metaphor, so that the reader is involved in working out the story from subtle clues within the prose, to using the subconscious mind to steer the development of plot outline and form. This technique frees the imagination, inspiring creative ideas, whilst delaying the critical voice, so that the more whimsical right-side brain can be heard.
Our competitions advisor, Kirsty Whittle, provides a list of portals and places where our writing can be sent, from magazines and on-line sites, to well-known nation-wide and global competitions.
A ‘buddying’ system, with a change-around every four months, was introduced so that we can also work more intimately. The groups are chosen at random by a draw, so that we can benefit from a range of view points. At each meeting the Buddy Group leaders report back, keeping us all up-to-date with progress.
During the Personal Development sessions, our host, Anne Ponsonby inspires us with her invaluable insights into fulfilling our aspirations and developing our talents. A brilliant way to plan and proceed with any project in life, is to start with a map.
‘Mind Mapping’, is a visual method of recording knowledge as it flows. It can be used during moments of writer’s block to brainstorm and locate specific areas in life which are prohibitive to progression. It’s also useful for evolving plots or writing a synopsis.
Finally, as with all good meetings there is always time for discussion and most importantly, tea ... and sometimes cake!
THE AIMS OF OUR GROUP
To provide a fair and resourceful environment for the mutual exchange of constructive criticism.
To glean honest appraisal, which recognises the authentic style of each individual, whilst encouraging their growth.
To find direction and focus when experiencing blocks and test out ideas for different material.
To support one another and encourage individual projects and goals.
Among us we have poets, playwrights, children’s story tellers, cookery writers, novelists and raconteurs of memoirs and past times.
We write for ourselves and each other, for our families and friends and, for some ... to reach a wider audience.
Pencils and What-not value the close, personal attention that we can give to each other’s writing. Membership is currently full.
If you are interested in writing and would like to learn more then please contact Basingstoke College of Technology, for Hilary Gregory's creative writing classes