In February 2018 a group of pupils from Manchester High School came to Tŷ Newydd for a residential creative writing course with writers Kim Moore and Hilda Sheehan. This blog, originally published on Manchester High School’s website is written by Annie from Year 10.
To begin with, we were thrown in straight at the deep end with flash fiction; a short, snappy, and sometimes funny way to write prose. After a little prompting, we were all happy to share our work and offer our thoughts and critique.
Over the week, we explored lots of interesting poems. That opened my eyes to the world of poetry beyond rhyming and Shakespeare’s sonnets. I thought we wrote some rather brilliant poems.
The short stories we penned were perhaps my favourite; we were shown the structure and from there, with a little guidance from our tutors, we crafted our own tales. They ranged from spine-chilling period pieces to stories encapsulating the harsh realities of greed in a vivid and mesmerising world. There was even a heart-wrenching tale of a plastic toy who just wanted to discover himself.
We had workshops every morning with our wonderful tutors, Kim Moore and Hilda Sheehan. Kim is an award winning poet, the most notable of her prizes being the Geoffrey Faber prize. Hilda is a surrealist poet and author whose poems ‘bristle with the stuff of life’.
We were also treated to a talk by Julia Forster, author of What a Way to Go. She spoke to us about the novel writing process and read excerpts from her book.
Naturally, we had a lot to learn from all of them.
It wasn’t all writing though! Mrs Ousey persuaded us into a very blustery beach walk that at times felt more like a Duke of Edinburgh expedition than a relaxing, writing retreat. Once we had dried off from the rather wet experience, we cooked some excellent food with the help of resident chef, Tony.
In the evenings, we reconvened in the comfortable prose library to relax by listening to poetry and creating our own nonsense poetry using random words. We held a Hunger Games style open mic night where we read our pieces.
At the end of the week, we compiled an anthology and all contributed some of our best work. We called it ‘Everyone Plagiarises the Dictionary’ after a memorable quote in a discussion we had. Overall, it was a week of brilliant writing, hilarity and even an impromptu yet passionate rendition of the school song! We will cherish the memories forever.