Time to get our hands dirty!

Our outing this year, organised as efficiently as ever by Susan, was to Littlethorpe Potteries. Owner Mark Curtis told us a great deal about the history, culture and tradition of the potteries before demonstrating the old working machinery used by several generations of his family. Then we all gathered round the wheel to watch him throw a large pot, talking us through all the different stages as he worked the clay.

His wife Ruth then took over to add to what Mark had already said about drying and firing, after which she settled us down round a large table to have a go at making coil pots. Finishing or ‘fettling’, as Ruth put it, is her main area of expertise and she showed us various ways of decorating our new creations. We were all encouraged to add our initials so that we can have them back after firing.

Yesterday’s rain made conditions in the clay pit too hazardous for close inspection, but some of us walked across the fields to take a look from a safe distance before thanking Mark and Ruth for a very enjoyable and informative afternoon.

It remains to be seen what stories, poems and articles will be written as a result of this memorable visit.

Much more information about Littlethorpe Potteries can be found at www.littlethorpepotteries.co.uk

An evening with Jackie Buxton

Writer and teacher Jackie began by warning us that she had problems with hearing loss. She said she had a copy writing background and that she liked the longer story format. Her two published books are the self-help ‘Tea and Chemo’ (2015) and the novel ‘Glass Houses’ (2016).

Jackie then went on to describe how she had kept a diary from the age of 13 until at 23 she abruptly stopped. During that time she sometimes found herself using the prose writing to keep her sane, particularly after some serious adverse events in her life. She said that she found two benefits from writing – writing as therapy and writing providing a focus in an increasingly multi-tasking world.

After reading languages at university, Jackie worked for a while in charity fundraising. On being made redundant she decided to take a year to write a novel (which she did) and do freelance copy writing. During that time she had her first child, followed in due course by another. The writing had to stop when one of her very young children suffered a stroke. Although the child recovered, her childhood was very intense so Jackie found that no writing other than copy writing was possible. Nevertheless she was desperate to write. The turning point came when she went on an Arvon course and wrote 10,000 words. She never returned to the first novel, having realised that she had outgrown it.

Jackie then went on to describe how she had got the inspiration for ‘Glass Houses’ from a couple of real-life events. As a result of repeated rejections of the resulting novel, despite targeting her submissions, she chose to do a six-week on-line self-editing course which was very intensive but very helpful. In 2014, halfway through the massive rewrite/edit of the original manuscript which then followed, she got cancer which made the rewriting painfully slow. During that time she ran a blog about cancer and the information she gathered, trying to make it positive. Seeing an opportunity to turn the blog into a book she wrote a precis of what that book might contain and sent it off. At the same time she was submitting the revised ‘Glass Houses’. The result was a phone call saying that a publisher wished to publish both. Further books are in the pipeline although at this stage their precise fate is still uncertain.

After the tea break Jackie answered questions. Among other things she said that she was somewhere between a plotter and a ‘pantser’ although she usually started with a particular final scene in mind. Research can alter the initial plot.

At the end of the talk Sheila and Susan expressed the Group’s thanks to Jackie for what was a very interesting and informative talk.

RWG at the second Ripon Poetry Festival

Please join us at Thorpe Prebend House, High St Agnesgate at 3.30 p.m. on Sunday 14th October.

No booking required for this FREE event and everyone is welcome! We shall be showcasing the work of some of Ripon’s best poets.

Some of our members are also featured in the Festival Competition Anthology Launch, which will take place the previous evening from 7.30 p.m. in the Undercroft of Holy Trinity Church. £5/£3 entry.

Author Talk by Maggie Cobbett

A Blast from the Past 2018

Our adjudicator on this occasion was Chris Lloyd, Chief Feature Writer for ‘The Northern Echo’ and the ‘Darlington and Stockton Times’. Well used to reading and ‘marking’ other people’s writing, he stressed the importance of grammar, spelling, structure and style.

After giving a very detailed critique of each of the entries in turn, Chris announced the results as follows:

• 3rd – Malcolm Glasby with ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ – a family memoir, the title coming from the tune which played a part in the story
• 2nd – Peter Page with ‘History as Teacher’ – a look at how and why we should learn from history
• 1st – Janet Barclay with ‘The Rise and Fall of the West Gallery’ – an account of the galleries provided in churches for musicians accompanying services.

As Janet was not present, the second and third placed entries were read out before Chris was thanked by Susan (Competition Secretary) and given a token of our appreciation.

The photo above shows Janet being presented with the Mary Rawnsley trophy at the first possible opportunity after the adjudication.

Poetry trophy presented at last!

Susan received the trophy from Sheila last night. Scroll down for full details of the Poetry Competition adjudication.

Presentation of the President’s Cup

The President’s Cup is awarded annually to the member who has accrued the most points in our internal competitions.

The recipient this year was Maggie Cobbett. In the absence of the President, Chairman Sheila Whitfield made the presentation.

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Our friendly group meets once a fortnight in the Old Deanery on Minstergate, opposite Ripon Cathedral and is always open to new members from the Ripon area and beyond. Whether your interest is in poetry or prose, novels, short stories, plays, wacky humour, a more analytical style of writing, or just listening for the time being, you're very welcome.

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