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Nethergate Writers Meeting: 1900 hrs on 24th March 2021

Apologies: – Susan S, Rupert, Fiona and Abbie.

Present at the Zoom Meeting: – David C, David F, Sandra, Susan B, Roddie, Richard, Fraser.

Davie

Davie, a play by Sandra Anderson, was read out by Nethergate Writers after a little discussion about who would play who. David congratulated everyone for doing a good reading of the work. Comments had already been received through emails. Sandra explained she went to a theatre class where it was shown how she could develop her playwriting. Though well received there was a discussion about whether there were too many characters and too many scenes.

Roddie talked about the door slowing down the action and taking you off course a bit. It might be different seeing it on stage. David C wondered if the characters had enough to say with a fleshing out of some of the characters. Fraser said that it was all about the fact that they do not talk, and these kinds of relationships do not always work. Davie does not seem to value any of his relationships. Sandra said that it had been mentioned that there was too much swearing, but David C said it was the way people are. “You don’t know what it is like, I have always been a shagger,” said David referring to the character Davie.

Fraser thought the irony that when Davie gets dumped, he might have for once been telling the truth. Sandra said that the character Davie attracted people who were drawn to that type of person. The strong silent types are not what they seem. Sandra did not want him to have any redeeming features. Roddie suggested a less abrupt ending in which he might reminisce about where he went wrong in in his life. There could be two different aspects to this character and him having a conversation with himself could highlight that. You should never make your villains too beyond the pale, for example Davie could be portrayed as showing some remorse.

Fraser said that perhaps Davie’s attitude is the problem that he does not acknowledge the faults about himself. David C said a character should develop as the play progresses. What does Sandra want to do with the play it was wondered.  Sandra said that she has had it for some time and when she had her day at the Rep, they acted out parts of the play. David C said that you could ask Amy to cast an eye on it, and that you should hang on for a play competition next year. Sandra said that you should not give too much away but to reveal things as the play develops.

David F said that perhaps there were too many characters in the play and to concentrate on developing fewer people and cut down the number. He continued by saying that the letter box gives you a link and to use it more. It was noted that on page eight, Greg asks Davie out for lunch or even a coffee and yet Davie complains he is never in touch, which could be inconsistent. Roddie said that Davie has a chip on his shoulder. He only sees what he wants to see. Fraser concluded by saying to simplify, to bring out other aspects. Sandra thanked everyone for their comments.

Business

David C then moved to the business first thanking Roddie for the minutes. He asked those present if they wanted to raise any issues. There was an issue from Ray after David told him about further emendations to the Anthology after the printer had given it the once over. Ray wondered if it was just punctuation and grammar or anything more. Fraser confirmed that it was punctuation, spacing and spelling: that sort of thing and nothing else. Is it likely that the printer would take care of the spaces? Fraser said that people were working with the typesetter.

It was then asked if there was anything else from the minutes and there being none moved on, but not before David F, on a related issue posited that he found bookmarks a useful promotional device and found them handy in the publishing process and perhaps they could get some more bookmarks but including the website URL.  David C said he had 50 bookmarks and does not know if printer could make more. There was a general agreement that more should be made. David F found that slipping a bookmark inside a book was good publicity and reminded those present that it had a picture of the Tay and had been the heading strap of the original website. David C said he would take it forward.

David C brought up a PFT update. Susan B and Susan S were supposed to be up the following day but there had been no feedback. David F had not heard anything. Roddie said that Amy asked when he was available, but she has not been in touch since. David F asked about when and how it is presented. David C said when all recordings were done, they would all be put online at the same time, but there were no specific timings. What does it go on to, asked Susan? Onto the PFT website, replied David C, continuing that it would be a good question for Susan B and Susan S to ask. Fraser asked if there had been any thoughts about a press release. David C sent one and Abbie would raise it with Amy, but nothing has been heard. Work in conjunction with Amy, rather than doing something on our own, was the prevailing sentiment, although Fraser may raise the issue.

Subscriptions was another issue raised. Susan said nine people have paid. Others have complications for example lack of a computer and the libraries being closed was raised as an added instance of not even that public service being available. Susan will send out a reminder to everybody and thanked those who have contributed their subscription.

Any other business

Any other business and there being none, David C moved to the writing and other pieces to read out. The second part of Fraser’s work was the first one proffered, but he was disposed to other pieces being read out first and would see how things went.

Three Poems

So, it was to Roddie to read out the first of three poems, which was called Elemental.

That being done, Sandra was the first to comment saying that the poem is evocative with its use of colours. Susan liked the creative description of the Tay rail bridge. Roddie said that the sight of the sun going down was what drew his attention to the beautiful colours. David F wondered that suffused into a frieze of lemon green you needed a second green. Elaborating he said, in the movement of greens, lemon green followed by peppermint green in describing a gradation of greens, he did not know if a second green was necessary. Roddie replied that it can be good to avoid too much repetition. David C commented about the merging imagery, and not have any abruptness. David C like the transition from the passive observation to the more active sound world. Eager for a weekend of feasting; now you are talking.

Turning to his second poem, The Wishing Well, Roddie after commenting that he had had feedback about suggested changes commenced then to read it out.

David C asked for the last part to be repeated, which Roddie did, and it was Susan who was first to comment by making a point about its poignant ending. Propped was a better word than sitting was the opinion of David F to which Roddie replied that it was good to be rid of anything too mundane. Is this an old poem enquired Fraser? Yes, replied Roddie. Has it been twenty years since 9/11 pondered Fraser? David C wondered if the father musing on the son and future possibility and on a post 9/11 world. Did you want to refer to Covid instead of 9/11, asked Sandra. David C liked that it is so open and can picture the man musing about age having caught up on him and about his son growing up. It reminded him of Norman MacCaig, who invites the reader to free their imagination. Susan said that it does get you thinking, as there are many things you can take from the poem. Roddie thought that it is good to leave space for the reader to put his own dilemmas there. Sandra liked that there were lots of S sounds sibilance. David C thought that it was one of the best poems, with imagery and metaphor joining battle. Roddie said he would look into Fraser’s suggestions on post 9/11.

And now for something completely different, as Roddie read out his third poem called Jormungandr.

Fraser made the observation that when he moved to this part of Scotland, Scandinavian elements and Norse myths permeated the area. David C said that the poem is very visceral, citing the Ouroboros, a serpent with its tail in its own mouth. Psychological importance overlaid much of the Norse myth of Ragnarök, in which Thor and Co are involved in a great battle. Susan thought it was better read out than read. Fraser interposed to say that he could not find the poems that had been read out and Roddie said he would forward the three poems to him. Sandra offered to forward to Fraser but Roddie had by then already had them sent. Fraser said he would read them on his eReader. David C wondered about the second verse, the sea boils from your fury etc, Endless time moves instead of endlessly. Endlessly was Roddie’s reply. David C liked the imagery of phrases like ‘tectonic sloth.’ Asked about any more comments Fraser wondered about the Folklore deadline to which Roddie replied that it was the end of April, an answer that Fraser thanked him for.

Write and Right

Next up was David C who read out a short piece called Write and Right. The reading done and it was Susan who opened the discussion by saying that she did not see the ending coming, continuing that it was Interesting that the character did not want to be mentioned without her wheelchair. It is symbolic opined David C for it means that something intrinsic to the character should not be removed. What are the limits to writing stories, was the task David set himself, so he went for fairy tales, citing The Little Mermaid as an example, drawing attention to its psychological impact? Fraser remarked that he did not get what fairy stories like The Little Mermaid were about, and by way of illustration wondered why she did not spell out her situation to the prince. David C reflected that something of yourself has to be brought out and put on paper. Roddie added that what is history, but that which is written by the winners, referring, par example, to different historical perspectives on both the First and Second World Wars. David C tried to get across that there is a tension between the two characters as the two have he-said-she-said type of dialogue. Sandra asked if the title had to do with truth? David C replied that a play on words was the meaning of the title, with a conflation of the two same sounding words. He said it was good to clarify your thoughts onto paper and thanked everybody who gave a critique.

With fifteen minutes to go it was David C who wondered what should be read next and brought forward the business of whether the writing should be first and business next. As an example, how the meeting was conducted today, with the reading of the work first as a trial run, however it should be up to the secretary and the committee. David F said that it depended on the nature of the work and the business, and not to be a fixed undertaking. Let’s maintain flexibility, horses for courses, and see how things are going. David C said the agenda should decide how things should go.

The Wedding

Fraser read the first part of the wedding. By Susan S. The other parts were read out by Susan, Roddie and David F. The comments were as follows. David C said that it sounded absolutely incredible. Poetic, added Fraser. The detail, said David C, was awful but hypnotic. Fraser conjectured on how severed heads could change their expression when stakes are put through them. Roddie reflected that there was a lot in there, with a mastery of language as well as memorable images. Fraser said that one thing he liked about Susan S’s piece was the ambiguity and how it works in this story. Something almost cultlike was happening. David C thought the links to do with clan warfare, four and half centuries ago with fighting and everything was well put. The gory heads like rolling apples, heightens the awfulness, Fraser continued, to leave what can be left unsaid querying who the three brothers were. David C brought up the story of the MacGregors beheading some poor unfortunate and putting it on his sister’s table like some Ram’s head snuff mull. And what of the marriage? Fraser said it was a legacy of blood-stained history, which is put slap bang in the middle, not at the end.  David C wanted a point clarified, to which Fraser replied that the sheer blood-spattered days of clan warfare, marriages, curse and such are inextricably linked. David C wondered if we could mix up chronology in such a way and added that anymore feedback would probably be welcomed by Susan S.

Next Meeting

Who is doing the business for the next meeting was the final issue addressed. Fraser offered to do the chair and David F for minutes was also offered. David C then drew things to and end and wished both Susans good luck for their next day PFT event. David C said the session took an hour including preamble. Amy was very sympathetic and very helpful with discussing the piece and David Rankine was terrific at bringing his story alive.

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