Semester One in Review

The year started off with a highly successful Welcome Fair. Those who signed up to the Society were treated to a free book, courtesy of our friends at Angry Robot Books. Over the course of the two days, visitors helped collectively write two stories one word at a time. The results were interesting to say the least, with dinosaurs, Aphrodite, pandas and Transformers—and that was just the first story!

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A whiteboard containing a story written one word at a time that should concern everyone involved…

Our weekly Lit Circles have covered a variety of topics; from dialogue and setting to fantasy and crime. Members have enjoyed all manner of tasks and activities from classics such as word association, genre switch and consequences, to new tasks including image prompts, writing backwards and speed writing. Viking Direct kindly donated loads of stationery to the Society so we’re never short of pens and paper. Some writers polished up their pieces outside of the lit circles and posted them on our new and improved blog.

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A visual representation of the word association and task boards produced in each of the Lit Circles. The image took too long to make and still doesn’t match what I had in my head… But the Lit Circles they represent were great!

The Society hosts fortnightly critiquing sessions at Portland Coffee Co., where members read and give feedback on each other’s work. These critiques are a vital part of the writing process, whether you are writing with the aim to get published or just for fun and those who attended had very positive feedback about the session (and not just because of the discount coffee).

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The first Coffeeshop Critiques of the Semester

In addition to our regular sessions, we have hosted three brilliant guest speakers. The first was Dr Catrin Rutland; a scientist by day and writer by night, who spoke about writing and sending off short stories to magazines. Nottingham’s first Young Poet Laureate, Georgina Wilding gave an excellent talk about her journey and the current poetry scene. Finally, the Assistant Editor at Angry Robot Books, Lottie Llewelyn‑Wells, spoke to us about editing and publishing. Each of the speakers were extremely generous with their time and open to questions. Members can access recordings of Georgina’s and Lottie’s talks via our Facebook group.

Our usual writing space became a gameshow set for an afternoon, as two teams of members competed for the prestigious prize of a box of chocolates! Each round was inspired by a different gameshow: Who Wants to be a Millionaire, University Challenge, Countdown, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Mastermind and a hilarious game of Chinese Whisper Charades (inspired by a kid’s gameshow). The scoring system was deviously arbitrary, with surprise bonus points going to the teams who danced the best during Buzzcocks or spelled Russian names correctly. The scores on the doors at the end of the Gameshow meant ‘Waiting for Leilot’ beat ‘Yer a Quizzard Harry’ with 343 points to 320. A video showing the two teams playing Chinese Whisper Charades can be found on our Instagram. Can you work out which societies the two teams are acting out?

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The gameshow host excitedly pointing to tabulated numbers representing the successes and failures of two teams competing for a prize they left behind anyway

The big event of the Semester was the Murder Mystery, where members took on the roles of crazy characters devised by the committee to figure out who murdered the inventor of Time Travel, Professor Timothy Wimothy. Photos can be found on our public Facebook Page. But, as with all stories involving time travel, things weren’t as simple as expected. The surprise destruction of the time machine whilst everyone was distracted by the surprise death of a suspect meant a surprise fracture in the timelines leading to a surprise alternate ending with a new murderer, accomplice and even victim. Dun Dun Duuuun! Surprise!

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The Relation Map for the characters. Initial timeline murder and accomplice circled. Blue are supposed friends, red apparent enemies and black assumed neutrals. Y-direction represents where in time they are from. X-direction represents where they are placed horizontally on the whiteboard.
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Camille dying because her timeline is dilating, surrounded by the person who caused her death (glasses, grey shirt), a future and past version of her lover (green top/red hair, grey shirt brown hair), Andrew Lloyd Webber (red and white stripes) and his soon-to-be fiance (orange hat), a surprisingly violent professor (blue jumper, beard), a Russian spy pretending to be a drunk soccer mom (corner of head, near hat), someone good at maths (festive jumper, glasses), a deranged shell of a person broken by an experiment gone wrong (face between stripes and hat), and a packet of Skittles (Skittles). It’s how she would have wanted to go…

It wasn’t just the blog that was new and improved this year. Our magazine has been rebranded as Firelight under the guidance of our Editor. A digital copy of the first issue of Firelight can be found here, and physical copies can be found around the University and Nottingham city centre cafes and bookshops. A big thank you to all those who submitted to the magazine, and to Jennifer Peig for her wonderful cover illustration. Watch out for the second issue to be released in Semester 2. In addition to Firelight, members will soon be able to showcase their work to the world via our brand new podcast—details of which will be released soon.

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Issue One of Firelight taking pride of place in Waterstones (Bridlesmith Gate, Nottingham).

A big thank you to all our members for making this Semester a fun-filled success. The new semester will be full of all our usual activities, plus exciting events and socials. I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and wish you all the best in the New Year.

Matthew Bird
President of the Creative Writing Society

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