Several members of the writers’ groups do well under pressure. Calene Kruger (she of the
knitted mittens) can cut things particularly fine: she has been known to craft impressive
work in the car, five minutes before ringing my doorbell. Once, she produced her
homework half way through the morning. The idea came; she did some frantic scribbling
and cigarette puffing in the courtyard during the break and before her coffee had cooled
she had created a masterpiece. I don’t know how she does it.
There are others who have the ability to write flowing, coherent paragraphs on demand,
but the award for uninhibited, sustained, effortless writing has to go to Alison Snowdon,
pictured here reading her work to fellow writers, Pier Heynike and Carol Poolton.
Alison contacted me at the beginning of the year, wanting to write but uncertain of her
talent or where she should begin. Within weeks she had completed the creative writing
course, signed up for the prompt programme (she only had to pick one word per week, but
she did all of them) and stepped into a sudden vacancy in the Friday group.
She surprised and delighted everyone – not least, herself – with her immediate and almost
explosive productivity. She’s well on her way to completing the first draft of a novel, which
is spooling out in her mind’s eye faster than she can put words on the page. All I had to do
was open the door and stand back.
Time and again, I’ve found that writers who have had to postpone their creative expression
need very little from me. My main contribution is to give them permission to unlock their
long-buried potential, to encourage them to finally explore what they’ve always wanted to
Witnessing them finding their stride and growing in confidence gives me the biggest thrill.
My favourite days each month are the ones on which writers with diverse voices and
interests troop into my living room, aglow with completed pages, to settle down for a
couple of hours of shared creativity.
‘Everyone got coffee and muffins?’ I ask. ‘Okay, let’s begin. It’s story time.’