Whatever you want to learn finding a good teacher is more than half the battle. If you can find someone who is knowledgeable, can express themselves well, can inspire and encourage, and then sprinkle the lesson with humour, you have found gold. I found my gold when I went on a workshop with Margaret Graham. I had found her because her book on Creative Writing- Writing Awake the Dreamweaver – was featured in a writing magazine. She looked kind (she is), I liked the sound of her book. I sent off for a copy.
I did the exercises (they worked). I got in touch with her and discovered that she was teaching a weekend course in Winchester and I booked a place. That weekend session was enlightening, inspirational, fun and hard, hard work. She covered so much in those two and a half days and I use that knowledge every time write, making sure that I have stayed in the moment, have held back, have shown and not told. I have never forgotten her advice and it changed my writing forever. From that point onwards my fiction began to sell. She was generous with her time and her knowledge – not all teachers are.
She wrote another book. The Writers’ Springboard. If you want to write fiction short of long you need this book, if you struggle with show not tell, you need this book, if you have problems with plot, structure and tension, well, quite simply, you need this book. Margaret does not teach to impress with her knowledge, she teaches to encourage – but you have to put in the work.It’s like anything you do in life. It’s not reading things that transform you it’s the doing, it’s about putting the hours, learning, shaping, transforming.
My writing was transformed with Margaret’s help and advice, and I was so proud to share the floor with her on Saturday when we gave a short story workshop to raise funds for her charity, Words for the Wounded. As she talked of structure I was still taking notes, refreshing myself of her wise advice. She inspired me once again. I hope I managed to inspire people too. Now I need to get back to structuring my novel. Her words are ringing in my ears.