Monday, 15 October 2012

Notes from the Cavendish: Beginnings

The New Cavendish Club
The New Cavendish Club is a private members' club near Marble Arch. As a venue for a writing class, it was perfect - a bright, airy, spacious, quiet room in an elegant Georgian building with friendly, welcoming staff - and a world away from most adult education classrooms I've worked in.

I have just started teaching Writing for Children for The Complete Creative Writing Course on a temporary basis and as usual, before I actually arrived and met the group for the first time, I suffered my usual bout of apprehension and 'stage fright'. I've been teaching all my adult life, but the sense of nervous anticipation before I begin a new course never fades. Of course, I always tell myself it's the surge of adrenaline I need to deliver a 'good performance', but until I've looked the students in the eye, learned their names and established that they aren't likely to fall asleep or walk out - or bite! - the fear remains. And at least it means I never underestimate how scary it might be for some participants to read their work in front of a group for the first time.

Naturally enough in this first session, we looked at how to begin stories and engage readers from the very first line - with questions, strong emotions, tension - and writing what you know or love and/or for the market - with its different genres, age-ranges, word counts. Oh yes, and not forgetting the seemingly contradictory demands of literary and commercial fiction, and balancing original, high concept ideas with the latest trends...

I couldn't help dropping in one of my favourite quotes:

You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children. (Madeleine L'Engle)

1 comment:

  1. How exciting for you and for your students. Lucky them to have you as a tutor. PS Great quote. So important.