‘the sentence, the paragraph, the chapter/The journey has just begun…’
Last year the remarkable organisation Forward Assist approached Avril Joy and me
with a request to run a series of creative writing
workshops for military veterans – or ‘vets’ as we learned to call them. This
was to be an opportunity for vets to feel empowered through embark on or develop their existing original writing.
So, every Wednesday the last six weeks, we ran a writing workshop for a diverse group of individuals within a wide age range and a with a wide range of experience - much of it military.
Our workshops were deliberately challenging, direct and high powered – a combination of information, exhilaration and writing, always writing.
What emerged was an impressive variety of writing – dramatic, insightful, meticulous and often surprising, This exceptional group was outstanding in terms of its focus, determination and sense of purpose. I thought this might have had something to do with their common military background.,Clearly for our writers the workshops turned out to be a satisfying journey of increasing skill and insight into the writing process and into their own imaginations.
During the six weeks each writer developed and evolved in significant terms. My heartfelt hope is that every one of these vets will work on and hone his or her writing skills – reinforced, as we discussed by ‘reading as a writer’ – to the point of personal growth and public recognition.
So, David, Phil, Neil, Steve, Mike, Paul, Sarah and Jim, it was a joy to meet and work with you. I hope your writing proves to be a satisfying custom in your daily life and gives you and others great satisfaction in the future.
At our ‘last parade’ we had a read –around which showcased the writers’emerging confidence and power in the possibility that their own words can express their own diverse personalities, lives. attitudes, and imaginations in their won writing.
A very touching surprise on this last read around was Jim’s poem which very cleverly alludes to not to the people but the writing which everyone shared with with the group during these six weeks. Already an accomplished poet, Jim honoured all the group, including Avril and me, by paying tribute to our writing
Avril and I were moved to tears.
With Jim’s permission here is his poem.
Chapter and Verse
The writing group, ideas shared, laid out to grow
Seeds planted in this greenhouse Palace of words, Library
And here we heard the scream of delight as the ball hit
The back of the German net and of a monster
In the quick sand known as steel fairy
And how there was disappointment in the Bigg market
In a bigger suit and then we visited a dodgy pub with
Overgrown ashtrays and the warped mirror and then
The sudden noise of explosion on the Afghan plain
Then shown the pain of a fellow being crying in the loo
Sobbing deep and loud
Then we heard the eager anticipation and roar of the
And then to Gibraltar and I missed heard I thought it was
About lap top computers but no it was a mini PC
Then came the fashion show of yellow skirt and the cat walk
A chair and now
Out on the lake silently, mute we look back and see
A sprinkle of houses and I am given the puzzle of Strider
And this was all observed from OP seventy one
So that all in the group realise, know
That the sentence, the paragraph, the chapter
The journey has just begun.
(At this last meeting Avril and I were very touched to be presented with beautiful wooden pens crafted by Wooodcraft, a Vet group associated with Forward Assist..)