I have never been to a writing workshop before, so I had no real idea what to expect. Strange perhaps that I hadn't thought to ask, but knowing that it was organised by Hannah Lavery, and would be led by Appletree Writers' Writer in Residence, Sheree Mack, I guess I knew it would be fun, thought-provoking, challenging and supportive. I had also tried not to think about it too much, as I was fairly convinced that my 2 year son, currently going through a particularly grumpy, stubborn and clingy phase, would not acquiesce to being left in a crèche for the first time, and thereby scupper my chance of attending! I needn't have worried, apparently even he could see the crèche was going to be fun, or perhaps he figured I had earned this chance to step out of my hectic life for a couple of hours of me time!
So, children settled, we started the workshop with quick introductions, though Dunbar being as it is, many of us know each other already. Of course, we hadn't met Sheeree, but soon felt like she was an old friend. One of Sheree's themes was foreground and background, and I particularly liked her own background messages, sprinkled throughout the morning like hidden treasures: "we do not apologise", "don't compare yourself" , "if you don't feel it, don't do it" ... these gems of advice , given with Sheree's obvious confidence and sassy humour are exactly what you need to hear when you are dipping your toe into writing for the first time with all the self-consciousness that brings.
The theme of the workshop was fabric and the memories and associations that fabrics can evoke. I must admit this didn't set my pulse racing, but Sheree seemed to weave some sort of sorcery with her props and readings, which soon had everyone in the group recounting their stories; the everyday, the tragic, the funny, and the heatwarming. This layering of examples and ideas gave us the inspiration and confidence to attempt our own short pieces of writing before the time was up. It is a sign of how good the morning was that the 90 minutes passed so quickly, but despite this, we had achieved so much in that time. At the start, Sheree mentioned that spending 5 minutes writing down your thoughts can make you feel lighter. Well, by the end, I discovered that taking part in a writing workshop can make you feel taller.