I’m excited to let you know that I’m teaming up with brilliant poet Helen Sheppard to teach a workshop on writing about water. Taking place on Bristol’s Lightship from 10am to 3pm on Saturday 22nd October, the Writing on Water workshop will include writing prompts, generative exercises and an inspiration-gathering stroll on Bristol harbourside.
Tea, coffee and snacks will be provided. There will be time for lunch, and chat!
Why write about water?
I’ve been drawn to this mercurial, enigmatic element throughout my writing career, opening my debut short story collection Remember Me To The Bees with a story titled ‘Never seen the Sea’.
Fiction, non-fiction and poetry can all swim into watery themes, whether that’s to add atmosphere, provide a setting or build an evocative metaphor.
How do you write about water? Does it trickle? Surge? Roar?
Is it hungry? Foreboding? Volatile? Reflective? Tranquil?
Whether you write about a raindrop or an ocean, you can harness water as a powerful writing muse.
As a taster, here’s a splash from ‘Never seen the Sea’:
A triangle of blue sharper and brighter than the sky – that was the first of it. Then a tang in her throat like the savoury suck of a chip dipped in salt and vinegar. As she got closer, other sensations rang through her: a crack and crash like a glass falling and rolling and splintering again and again in a bathroom washbasin; a deep breath in, gasp out shuddering through the shore; the freshness of rain in the air, bursting against her skin from every direction possible.
And the triangle soared, spread out, transforming into a strip that hurtled all the way to the horizon, meeting the sky with a dazzle that forced her to glance away; a size too vast to comprehend; bigger than the confines of her mind could contain. But more than that was the endless movement, less like one vast thing than a mass of smaller things, heaving, jostling, vying for the surface yet never quite breaking through.
Who will be teaching you?
Judy Darley is a fiction writer, journalist and occasional poet from Bristol. Her fiction has been described as ‘shimmeringly strange’, possibly because she can’t stop writing about the infinite fallibilities of the human mind. Judy’s words have been published and performed on BBC radio and harbour walls, as well as in bookshops, museums, cafés, caves, pubs, a disused church and an artist’s studio. Judy is the author of three fiction collections: The Stairs Are a Snowcapped Mountain (Reflex Press), Sky Light Rain (Valley Press) and Remember Me To The Bees (Tangent Books). Find Judy at SkyLightRain.com and on Twitter as @JudyDarley.
Helen Sheppard is a Bristol-based writer and worked as a midwife. Her poetry explores themes of birth, health loss, and those whose voices are often unheard. Helen has performed her poetry at Milk Poetry, RTB, Torriano Meeting House and Harvard Medical School. Helen’s work has been published widely, including These are the Hands and Under the Radar magazine. Her debut poetry collection Fontanelle was published in 2021 by Burning Eye Books. Helen interviews extraordinary poets for her podcast Health Beat Poets. Find Helen on Twitter as HelenSheppard7 and on Instagram as helensheppard58.