The Writing Group is one of the founding groups of U3A East London and was inaugurated by Gavin Stewart in 2007 followed by Nancy Tietz who took over in 2013. Meetings are scheduled for the 4th Friday of every month except December. Ours has always been an Open Group meaning that members of U3A as well as non-members are always welcome. At each meeting we have a discussion on some aspect of writing and practice some timed writing (off-the-cuff) on a topic announced at the meeting. But the highlight is always reading the stories that have been written during the month to the rest of the group, gauging their reaction to them and taking heed of their reaction and listening to the criticism.
We have published 3 slim volumes, Tales of all Kinds 1 – 3 and read our stories at the local Umtiza Festival, at the U3A AGM, at Weavers Retirement Centre and look to expanding this service.
Throughout my career I have covered reams of foolscap and A4 in writings: minutes of meetings, notices, reports and letters ad infinitum, press releases, feature articles, obituaries and lecture notes for distance learning. I have even composed an illuminated address and written a brief inscription for an obscure monument.
When I retired and heard that Gavin Stewart, one time Professor of Journalism at Rhodes University, ex-editor of The Daily Dispatch and the man who coined the word ‘Festino’ for use in South African English, was going to run a course on writing for U3A East London, I promptly signed up.
My advice to anyone who wants to write is the same as that given by George Bernard Shaw, Steven King, Sinclair Lewis and Gavin Stewart when they were asked to conduct a course in creative writing;
“If you want to write just go home, sit down and write!”
Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. [Make up your own]
Never use a long word when a short one will do.
If it is possible to cut a word out always cut it out.
Never use the passive where you can use the active.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an English everyday equivalent.
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
A regular U3A Member
Attends from Feb to November
They do not hold horses
With lectures and Courses
But there’s little that they will remember
They had tried for ages. She smiled shyly at him. I can start knitting.
By Sheila Caswell
Bird in hand is good.
Two birds in bush is better
Bird in pot is best.
By Noreen Burton
A short, short story
“As long as you are here on this earth you will never have the jeep,” the vodka infused mother spat at her son Paul. “Never.”
She died a few months later. The jeep was bequeathed to some farming friends of hers who did not hesitate to sell it to Paul on his asking.
On the morning Paul was to take the jeep for transfer and registration of ownership he heard screeching outside.
“Where’s my Jeep? It was here earlier on.” The driveway gates were still locked and the jeep nowhere to be seen.
But there it was, bobbing in the swimming pool at the bottom of the garden, having carefully negotiated the lawn and three layers of deep terracing, taking with it his new music sound system and radio.
Paul sat on the roof of the bouncing jeep in the pool sipping his double vodka and coke and thought of his mother’s words:
“As long as you are here … never.”