Had a weird experience yesterday when I ran a writing workshop and only one person turned up – and she was 40 minutes late! I’m quite accomplished at promoting my own writing events and I usually manage to drum up enough interest to make my workshops viable but, in this instance, I wasn’t responsible for marketing the workshop, and, for whatever reason, there was minimum take-up.
I’d done a lot of preparation (I do tend to over-plan for these sort of things), selecting and photocopying suitable poems and short fictions for the workshop and planning writing exercises. The floors of several rooms in my house were carpeted with sheets of A4 paper.
But I tamed the paperwork, packed my bag, boarded a train, arrived at the venue and set up my table.
Then I waited for someone to appear. Waited and waited. Looked out of the window..
noticed a man feeding some ducks and swans..
…went in search of a cup of tea. Someone is on their way, they said, but she’s running late. OK. Back to the empty room..
… waited. What to do in a quiet, warm, empty, comfortable (if basic) room, furnished with little more than a small pile of books? nothing to worry about, my fee was arranged in advance, regardless of how many people turned up – inevitably I might have to jig things around a little, with only one participant, but nothing too onerous to work out. So what could I do?
I read, of course, and it was wonderful. How could I have let myself forget how much I love reading? I’ve been so busy lately, planning and running writing workshops, marketing them, attending workshops as a participant myself, re-drafting and typing up poems for submissions, researching and subscribing to magazines, reading reviews and buying poetry books, as well as the usual stuff you have to do as a mother of a 13 and 12 year old, and wife of a 40something year old, and on top of that, the distractions that I allow myself to be drawn into, the comment threads on Facebook I’ve taken time to read, the “fascinating” articles chirping all over my twitter timeline. In all this busyness, I’d forgotten how much I need emptiness – an empty room, a distraction-free space, time alone to be with books, of poems in particular because poems are what I’m craving at the moment, to read and to write.
So that’s my plan for the next few weeks. I have three more workshops to deliver (apparently there are already bookings – hurray!) and, inbetween, whenever possible, I’m going to make time to find an empty room, sit quietly and read. I’ll try to write about it all here. But don’t expect anything too pacey! I’m going to take my time.
And, by the way, someone, an interesting and intelligent woman called Pam, did come to my workshop and she was lovely. What an enjoyable couple of hours we had, getting to know one another, reading through the poems and short fictions I’d selected for the workshop, talking about the writers’ techniques, sharing each other’s work, chatting about our lives and experiences. Luckily, Pam is mainly interested in writing poetry too, so we compared notes about work we did or didn’t enjoy, not always agreeing but we shared many of the same ideas. I would never have had the chance to get to know her if it had been a crowded workshop and I think we’ll stay in touch. So yesterday started off feeling quite weird, but ended on a cheerful note.
And now, off to search for an empty room….