We’re in our third week of teaching London Lit Lab’s beginners’ course. How has it been? It’s been great! There’s been a lot of writing and learning going on, and not only among the students. I’ve had a few revelations myself. Here are some of the things I’ve discovered during the first throws of our beautiful little business’s existence.
Venue may not be everything, but it’s pretty damn important
We were so lucky to land Leila’s Café, which is simply beautiful. I mean simple and beautiful. Relaxed, too. She has lovely wooden tables, which we can arrange any which way we want, comfy padded benches, which means everyone can sit together at the same makeshift central table. Simple glass plates for cakes and biscuits, with their exotic heritage (we’ve so far had Spanish almond cake and Greek biscuits). There’s fancy Ceylon tea on tap. And everywhere you look there’s something lovely to rest your eyes on: a beautiful painting that a local regular donated; a selection of hand whittled spoons; shelves of interesting recipe books. All adding to the pool of inspiration for us writers. While setting up our first session, Zoe and I decided to push tables together and sit everyone side by side, to nurture a relaxed atmosphere, and discussion. It seems to work as words have been flowing, and our students are relaxed enough with each other to be sharing work already.
You can plan and plan all you want, but the mood of the day will take precedence
It’s not about following some kind of formula, copied out from a creative writing textbook. We don’t want predictable and dull. As good teachers, we want to encourage individuality and originality, and so we must aspire to these qualities ourselves. Of course, structure is important, but the direction in which that takes should also be directed by the group’s chemistry. It is a collaborative process, and we are all learning from each other. Be open, be alert, but above all be present.
There are a lot of talented people in the world
We have students from all walks of life and a range of professions, some of whom write and some who are with us because they have always wanted to write and never given themselves permission, but what is coming out of the class is some superb writing. Of course, it takes more than talent to complete a novel, or a story, even, but this is the perfect start.
I really like this gig
Yes, I do. This gig is good. I’m looking forward to the next one. http://www.londonlitlab.co.uk/?page_id=13