Meeting: 8th February

Before I get started with the usual chit-chat I have a couple of quick points to raise . . .

First of all I want to give a big thank you on behalf of the group to Kate Fawl and Benjamin Judge for attending the MadLab maintenance day on Sunday. MadLab is dependent on voluntary help like this, so it’s very much appreciated. You can have a look at what they helped out with over at the MadLab blog.

Next, I want to repeat a question I raised during last night’s meeting. Attendance at our writing group is free, with members invited to donate £1 or 50p per visit to help with MadLab’s funding (heating, lighting etc). MadLab are extremely grateful for our contributions but I’d like to see our donations making more of a difference when we hand over the cash. So I’m suggesting we open a PayPal account that members can voluntarily donate into and that we make larger, less frequent donations to MadLab perhaps once or twice a year.

What does everyone think?

Members who prefer to donate cash can continue doing so using the collection tins around MadLab. However members would have the option to alternatively make a donation using PayPal. Some members have even expressed an interest in making larger, less frequent donations–say once or twice a year–as this would be more convenient for them.

Important points to consider:

  • Donations will be received in the strictest confidence. The names of the individuals making a donation will never be made public.
  • A copy of the PayPal balance sheet will be made available on request to any current member. This balance sheet will show donation dates and amounts as well as withdrawal dates, amounts and destination (i.e. MadLab). The names of individuals making donations will be removed.
  • No refunds. This isn’t an attendance fee, it’s a donation.

I can’t think of anything else that might be considered important, but I’m sure I’ve probably missed something vital which is why I’m going to start a conversation thread going over at the Facebook group. If you don’t have access to Facebook and you have an opinion please drop me an email directly or via the contact form here on the website and I’ll make sure your voice is heard. I haven’t set up a PayPal account yet because I wanted feedback first and I also need to fiddle around with Google Apps adding email to the domain.

Get talking!

OK, on with the update from last night’s meeting. First of all an apology from me: no photo this month, I completely forgot! We had seven people attending including new member Pat. Hi Pat, we’re really looking forward to reading some of your work at a future meeting!

We had five pieces of work to discuss but after our chat about donations we ran a little tight on time and Rob decided to keep his chapter for the following meeting (also there may have been an issue with the version of the piece he submitted; please re-read the piece that he will re-submit into the DropBox).

Please be mindful of time when you’re offering your feedback. Our meetings are about 2.5 hours long. That might seem like a long time but with just five pieces of work to discuss and seven people attending each person has only 4 minutes to comment on each piece of work. This is nearer 3 minutes when we have seven pieces. I know which pieces attracted the most overrun (there was one in particular, and this can’t be the author’s fault by the way!) and I have an idea who’s tending to overrun with individual feedback as I’m keeping an eye on my watch. I’ll be honest that I share a hand in this, but can we all please try to keep an eye on the time at future meetings?

I certainly don’t want to hurry anyone and I don’t want to see the return of that annoying egg timer, but please don’t be offended if I drop you an email after a future meeting asking you to trim your feedback a little. Keep your feedback concise and to the point, prepare notes beforehand, focus on just three or four salient points, handover a paper copy with an extras. Make sure you note points raised by other people, but don’t elaborate further. And if you don’t have anything much to say other than “loved it except for the spelling mistake on page 3” then that’s fine. Don’t feel you have to pad!

OK, enough nagging! Seems this month’s meeting was all about novels which makes for an interesting change (perhaps another reason why we overran) so here we go . . .

  • Craig presented the sixth chapter from his novel Seven Souls. Plenty of positive feedback on atmosphere and research, especially the bar. Several people thought that the number of months bartered to the Dutch captain was just way too much. The ci shen still have plenty of fans but the Chinese hand-fan might have been a simile too far.
  • Guy presented the third chapter from his novel Hold the Line. Lots of people enjoyed the combat scene, especially the human-aircraft interface section. There was a little difference of opinion over the litany at the beginning and the scrolling heads-up text a-la Terminator. A big no to the eyebrows . . . or was that a no to the big eyebrows? I can’t read my own notes.
  • Eric presented the third chapter from his novel The Autumn Man. Everyone had something to say about Megan, our protagonist, with some people disliking her, others pitying her. A few people said they didn’t like the italicised flashback. Plenty of discussion around milk and incest. And another film quote: Possession but can someone tell me whether it was this one or that one?
  • Kate presented the sixth chapter from her novel Body of Dwaal. This piece prompted debates on a couple of topics: first of all the flashbacks (the main thread and another embedded inside this) and our protagonist’s escape from the prison cell (whether it was too easy, whether it would have been pre-planned or whether the attack on the Magister was necessary). Also: one Obi-Wan reference.

One last nag about formatting. Please include your name, title and page number on every page. You should probably get used to this anyway for submitting to magazines and agents.

Right. That’s it for this month. Thanks again to everyone for attending. See you again next month!

Next meeting: Wednesday 14th March, 7pm start as usual.

1 Comment

Filed under meeting

One response to “Meeting: 8th February

  1. Possession by Andrzej Zulawski

    This one !

    Good encouragement to ‘work things out’ for anyone having marital troubles.

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