Minute of 26/01/23

Present: Mike, Colm, Roddie, Daniel, Sue, Richard

Apologies: David C, David F, Sandra, Suzanna, Rhoda

Roddie opened the meeting by asking Richard to read his poem called Chaos Rains. This a poem that rather plays fast and loose with the English language as the title alludes to and tends run away than towards anything that smacks of meaning. After the reading was completed the comments were as follows. Mike found the abundance of wordplay interesting. He also noted the apt use of a Mondegreen. This a figure of speech used for rhetorical effect that describes phrases especially in the lyrics of songs that lend themselves to being misheard or misinterpreted, leaving the listener to create their own sense. Usually this is not deliberate, yet rules are made if not to be broken at least to be flexed.

The minute taker thanks the group for their comments and then it is to Roddie to read out the next piece which is titled “When the Candyman Calls.”

The narrator in the story could be characterised as some kind of wise guy, who has written a book about drug smuggling that has become a big hit. Fame and adulation follow, and the prospect of a newspaper serialisation in the offing means he will be rolling in dough. It begins with the protagonist, who while soaking up the good life in Ibiza is brought up short when a message appears on his laptop. This message is from the antagonist of his novel “When the Candyman Calls,” named Pirate. Pirate is the guy who is in drugs business, though now supposedly imprisoned in a Caribbean hellhole. The narrator who is with his girlfriend, fears for his safety and thusly wants to mollify pirate. Roddie read out the second half of his piece adding that he sent the story round before Christmas and when the reading was concluded the comments were as follows.

The characters were well fleshed out and really well done said Sue, adding the over-the-top behaviour of the narrator made for an engaging read. Difference of his behaviour so over the top. There have already been comments from Mike, Rhoda and Suzanna, said Roddie. Mike asked a question, which concerned the issue of what Miguel was wanting? Roddie replied that he wants to congratulate him. Sue wondered if he had actually killed him, perhaps a guilty conscience? Another query from Mike in which he wonders why Davie makes a big deal about the serialisation, for if he was a drug runner surely this would be small beer. Roddie said he was only a small cog. The back stories don’t come out, suggests Mike, who was reminded when watching the film Pulp Fiction how the interspersal of some crazy conversations in a narrative add a little background without detracting from the story’s flow. Rounding off, Mike praised Roddie with his excellent phrasing, citing “the award crashes like an asteroid” as an example, and continued by complementing him on his use of similes and metaphors.

At this stage of the proceedings Colm’s video dropped from Zoom, being the sole representative of that internet platform.

Colm appears again and informs those present that the internet connection is not the best, so has decided to come to the meeting in person, explaining that he stays close by.

Reading complete, Roddie asks if there are any other comments. An arresting story said Daniel. Miguel is taking advantage of Davie’s fear, adds Mike. Roddie points out that it was written as a suspense with a twist. A very unlikeable character muses Mike. There being no further observations, Roddie thanked everybody for their input.

Mike was next to read out his work called “A Wriggle in Dundee.”

This is a creative piece of science fiction. We are in Dundee where an extra-terrestrial entity has arrived on earth and is inhabiting the area of sentience of various beings, plying its trade as a cosmological archivist. We find it first quartered in a water rat, whose need for food is being thwarted by the busy Riverside Drive where stands its source of nourishment, a well-known supermarket. This store seems overdue a visit from the FSA and perhaps one would be wise to give the edibles in question a wide berth. Deterred by traffic and memories of family tragedies concerning roadkill, the animal opts instead for someone feeding the birds with breadcrumbs, creating much anxiety from a surprised Bipedaler. The comments were as follows:

What a punk water rat, said Roddie, continuing with a commentary on the various events in the piece, including a knifing on a street and a dog on a walk. A few of the incidents in the story were inspired by actual events said Mike. Daniel said he was accosted by a guy on that particular street. It wasn’t outside the Campbelltown bar wondered Roddie? Daniel continued that he felt obliged to indulge the voluble assailant as he ranted on for about 25 minutes. Nothing happened but an odd conversation. Roddie remarked that Peddie street used to be a hippie hang out. Returning to Mike’s work, Sue thought the piece was an interesting concept. Roddie   remarked that Mike was very imaginative, and it was genius the way he describes things in the mindset of the rat. Seeing its sibling in red and black, describing from the rodent’s own mindset and how it sees things. Clever without being too staged. Mike read it out so well, painting a picture of the Riverside Drive that is very evocative said Sue. Mike said that Suzanna had already given him some feedback. How does the Wriggle know what a gull is but not a human, using the word bipedal instead, wondered Roddie? An obscure term for a blackbird might not be understood was the reply. Colm, who has only recently joined the grouped being perhaps the first person to attend the meeting both remotely and in person on the same day, wondered if you could describe entities such as blackbirds in nominative terms that could be more general in nature. Where does the space wriggle get it energy, said Roddie citing the second rule of thermodynamics, and proffering the concept that the parasite could use the energy of its host much like a Virus. That’s a really good idea said Sue. Mike thanked those that commented and commended their suggestions.

Turning to Colm, whose recent arrival was mentioned, it was wondered what area of writing took his interest. The reply was that Fantasy compositions are what he writes, though his themes are fairly adult in nature. Currently he is devoting his attention to the sixteenth chapter of a piece. Have you thought about new writer awards wondered Roddie? It’s a yearly competition. On offer are opportunities for mentoring, a writing retreat, marketing with openings in poetry, novels and plays. Scottish bookshop website. Interviews, marketing, competitions suggested Mike. Roddie continued with the idea to google opportunities such as competitions, before going back to the bookshop website where he added that there is a competition in June. There are also quite a few magazines that publish exerts of novels. Colm said he started writing when he was sixteen and wrote three chapters of three thousand words and then returned to writing six years later, to set down more chapters, completing it last year. It was getting it finished that was the hard part. Two or three characters in the work were changed entirely. Though the setting remained the same, several scenes were changed. That’s a lot of work said Mike. Colm went on to describe writing the draft quickly, then going back later with the first rewrite which changed it a lot. He could present a chapter and get some feedback offered Mike, but Colm replied that it was too complicated. Perhaps a synopsis might suffice said Mike, continuing that another group writer had also competed a novel. Colm said he would look at it and might send two thousand words by email. Roddie said that people could read and give comments, adding that reading at meetings usually involve short pieces of writing. Mike said that he would send a current membership list to Colm.

Moving on Roddie thought it would be good for Sue to give a summary of her story so that Colm could get some context. Sue concurred and proceeded to lay out the various characters, events and settings at the time of the Tay bridge disaster, stating further that the chapters don’t necessarily follow on from each other. Bringing the group up to speed with chapter ten and a character that has appeared before. This is Archibald Duncan, a well known lawyer, letting down the profession a little by consorting with an even older profession viz visiting a prostitute in Hilltown. Trouble never comes alone, and Elizabeth Duncan, his wife, loses her baby, all the signs are there of a marriage drifting apart. The name of this chapter is “Approach of a New Year.” Sue began to read out her piece and on completion the comments were as follows:

Daniel really enjoyed it and found it very believable though suggested that the social classes were too black and white. Sue replied that the Victorian era was more socially divided than today. Are they aware of their status, asked Colm? Yes, said Sue. Would they speak down to others says Colm and do they have servants? All good questions said Sue, who then went on to explain that though they would have the manners, viewpoints and attitudes in keeping with that time they still were essentially kind people. The characters are supposed to be middle class, but Mike thought they seemed more affluent than that, adding that perhaps they are more upper class. Daniel thought differently thinking middle class was fine and Colm agreed. Perhaps upper middle is a suitable compromise. In Britain, upper class referred to titled nobility, whereas rich ordinary people were still seen as middle-class thought Roddie, adding that family line was as important as class. Sue said that she would look at it again. These night ventures of Archibald were more telling than showing said Roddie, raising the-show-don’t-tell debate. There followed a general discussion on language and how in keeping with a particular time period it should be. Daniel wondered whether more archaic language should be used to reflect that age, though it was posited that a more contemporary style might be more relatable to the modern reader. In addition, how much of the scot’s vernacular should be utilised, views varied, though less is more was up there as a general consensus. Returning to the subject, Roddie wondered if snippets of conversation to date the story in the era concerned would be, instancing “The High Girders” by John Prebble, a story on a similar subject. Mike thought that it sounded in keeping with the time. Examples of phrases like “she had to get him to shed sodden clothes” were well put said Colm, though Roddie found the phrase “blood run cold” a bit of a cliche. “She lost any animosity towards him, but her emotions were in turmoil,” was perhaps better. Colm was bewildered why he confesses to going to a seedy brothel and then commences to rub it in with too much detail, yet at the same time saying to his wife that it makes him physically sick. Roddie thought that this reflected how tortured he was by what he had done. Mike found the lawyer a very distrustful character, and continued by asking what it was about this occasion that made him confess to his wife about his behaviour? Sue said that this was because at first, he did not want to return home, until a chance occurrence made him realise how pathetic he had been. This came about at the moment he started to strip off to jump into the river, for it was then that he was deterred from ending his life by a couple who happened upon the scene. The sequence in the pub with the violence in the last chapter was very good said Mike. Sue thought that there were things in her work that still needed to be addressed. Roddie said he had a book about the old worthies of Dundee, which was full of old fangled expressions. Sue said she had discussed before with George about using accents. The book Roddie was thinking of was written by a minister and he will see if he can find it. Informative points said Sue. Helpful comments.

There was a final discussion about Rhoda’s writing. Mike thought that she used her language very well. Daniel said he had read the full-length version but had trouble reading the cut down one because of his previous readings.

Any more business says Roddie. AGM will be held sometime in March.

The next meeting will be held on the 8th February on a Wednesday.

Meeting ended at 2100hrs.

Previous post Minute of 23/02/23
Next post Meet the Nethergate Writers