When life gives you lemons …

… make lemonade. When life gives you workshoppers … workshop!

Friday was an absolute blast. Yes, for those who care, I wore the red boots and the Armani red-stripe shirt. Yes, I did throw up for three days before hand, and didn’t sleep properly the whole of the previous week. Yes, it all went fine in the end.

I was delivering a workshop on Recession-Proof Writing in Oxford. We stayed at the Malmaison, which is the old Oxford prison, converted to rather nice rooms, like a cross between the TV series Porridge and a hotel suite. Quite bizarre in exactly the kind of way that appeals to me most. But I still didn’t manage to sleep.

Teaching, for me, is a privilege and a terror. As a profound recluse, I limit my teaching time and always try to teach something that pushes my boundaries, and the boundaries of the people I’m working with. This is because I couldn’t bear to lose a week of sleep over a mundane day’s teaching! But it’s also because I feel honoured that people will spend time listening to me, and I think it’s important to try and share with them something that they wouldn’t hear elsewhere – as a result, my workshops are quite different to those of other people. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes I fall off the tightrope and bruise my arse most royally. This time I didn’t. My thanks go to:

• Anna, whom I called Kate by mistake, because she looked like the young Kate O’Mara, whose drama-documentary series proposal had us all fascinated.
• Babs, for making us laugh with one of the funniest outlines for a series of novels ever. For steering me back to the station. For being ‘an absolute brick and a topping chum’ and she’ll know why that’s appropriate.
• Brian, for buying me a much-needed drink, for getting what the day was all about, and for immediately putting it into action! It’s great when a plan comes together …
• Iona, the perfect pitch-mistress, who came to learn and stayed to teach a masterclass in getting it right. Kudos.
• Jean, who paid me the immense compliment of signing up after she’d heard me describe the class, for steering this hapless idiot around Oxford and for being a brilliant convertor of other people’s ideas into concepts.
• Jenny, who waited until the very end of the day to share the most fascinating story ever; a really supportive workshopper. Such empathy should be celebrated.
• Liz, whose pitching skills and willingness to start things off were much appreciated. A real contributor.
• Neela, who play I really want to go and see and who asked quiet, cogent and illuminating questions that helped me express my ideas more clearly.
• Nick, for not being Maddy, but for producing a novel outline that went from good to stellar during the course of the day.
• Yvonne, for sharing a good luck story that gave me a teaching opportunity that every workshop facilitator dreams of, and whose byline will be seen in quality magazines very soon now.

Thank you all.

Labels: , , ,