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That first Friday,  I remember arriving to a warm welcome from Sue, the friendly group facilitator,  and the sound of much laughter and chatter from the other half dozen or so participants.  I was quickly introduced and soon integrated into the exchange of news and views which,  I subsequently discovered,  is very much an integral part of the proceedings.  So much so that it invariably takes a little gentle persuasion from Sue to get the group to do some actual writing!

In order to achieve this Sue always has a number of tricks up her sleeve designed to stimulate ideas and spark interest as well as to actually engage with the mechanisms and protocols of prose writing.  At that first session,  Sue asked us to choose an item from several she had placed on the table.  We were going to write whatever the object inspired us to do for a short period and then,  if we chose to,  we could read out what we had written.  I stared blankly at the first crisp,  white page in my newly purchased notebook whilst all around me could be heard the sound of pencils travelling speedily across paper.  I’d better make a start.

Before I knew it,  the time was up and I had a scant half page of words in front of me.  I have absolutely no recollection of what I wrote, but I do vividly recall my hands sweating and heart racing as I shyly asked to be the first to read out my scribbling so that I could “get it over with”.  The group listened and nodded kindly,  made a few encouraging comments and it was swiftly on to the next person.  I had survived and, moreover, actually found it an entirely painless and surprisingly pleasant experience!

The other contributions were as colourful and varied as the group members themselves – some regulars and residents, some “swallows” like myself,  here for the winter and returning to the UK in Spring. Some holiday makers and occasional visitors,  male and female,  of all ages, backgrounds,  interests and experiences.  Not everyone chose to share their work but that was fine – no pressure to do so was either given or received.

Since then,  I have lost count of the number of fantastic Fridays I have shared with the group.  I look forward to each and every one and I have many great memories;  I’ve made friends and met interesting, inspiring and fun loving people.  The venue has now moved to Sue’s own cosy apartment where she keeps us plied with lashings of her great coffee and biscuits as well as equally vast helpings of humour and enthusiasm.

Over time,  and with the encouragement of Sue and the other group members,  I have learned not to get too uptight about putting pen to paper but rather to just “have a go”- make a start and just let the ideas flow naturally.  My efforts vary but often,  from a tentative beginning,  a story and/or character can quickly take on a life of its own.

More than anything else,  I have come to appreciate that although you may not know where it is going at the start, like all good adventures, a piece of writing is a journey worth embarking on for its own sake and to see where it may ultimately take you.  So, my message to anyone living in or near Costa Teguise is to make the first step towards a new adventure – come along on Friday mornings and join in the fun – you never know where it may lead.  Some members past and present have been encouraged to submit their writing to publications and publishers and one or two have subsequently seen their work in print.  Sue and the gang often say I should have a go at getting into print myself.  If I can ever stop my palms sweating and my heart racing at the very notion of it,  I might just do that one day.

Blog 24 Title: Sandie Johnson writes…. Tags:Creative Writing,Practice,StartingPoints,Attracting New members

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