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Monday, 29 September 2014

Westgate Writers: Retrospective

For the last couple of months I've been working with the Westgate Writers, a group chaired by writer Steve Dearden. The brief was to explore the train station: people were recruited by an ad in the Metro but I bumped into the call-out online and accessed it that way. I jumped at the chance because the relocation of Wakefield Westgate station fascinated me as I passed the construction site last year each time I went into town. It became a habit with me to note how it was going (and, truthfully) criticise various aspects. Although I don't use the station daily, I travel to Sheffield a fair bit and the simple act of demolishing the old station buildings has thrown up a lot of thoughts and feelings. Coupled with the shininess of the new station, this little patch of land down the bottom of Wakefield centre proved to be fertile territory for fiction.

As with all these things, I didn't know what to expect from the group. But it turned out really well. There were six of us plus Steve, a nice size that worked well for the final performance slot. We had a little fun with writing activities involving prompt cards, song lyrics and idea dice but what really came out was the amount of work you could connect to the station, As a place where you're in transit, of course, many stories could be planted onto that location without growing organically. We did a little of that but, for the most part, our stories grew out of the station itself. At one point another member of the group said that I really didn't like the new station because I kept criticising the change. Well, I'm back and forth on it but I do miss the markers of the old decrepit buildings, the same way you miss anything that's been a part of your life for so many years.

Our work came together on Saturday. The first half of the event was Steve discussing his project 'Wake Lost Wake Found, details of which can be found here, which was fascinating. Then the Westgate Writers got up and presented our work in a manner that mimicked like the transience of the train station. I read out two little pieces which I was quite proud of and, I'm told, the event was a success.

Working with the Westgate Writers has been brilliant. Talking about writing and listening to work isn't something I've done much of since my MA and it's ridiculously beneficial to my writing process and confidence apparently. So thank you to Daniel, Gregg, Jim, Nigel and Stefan for being part of it and especially thanks to Steve Dearden for being such an excellent chair. It's been a pleasure to work with you all.

(My post-event drinks with a little green friend courtesy of a big not-green friend)

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