Peter Pan Moat Brae – Writing Activities

Café Stories

Every Wednesday afternoon you will find me at Peter Pan Moat Brae, the Scottish Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling, helping people write. In What’s Your Story we look at how to tell personal stories about life events in a way that will make people want to read them. I help participants work out what they want to say, and how to say it with exercises, questions, and prompts.

In The Write Way we look at how to describe experiences such as objects we encounter, places we visit, or live in, smells, people, tastes, and textures, in ways that help a reader experience them too.

Both activities are centred on exploration and fun. I’m pretty sure JM Barrie had fun writing Peter Pan, and feel that you, too, should enjoy the writing process.

“It’s no secret that the best place to write, in my opinion, is in a café. You don’t have to make your own coffee, you don’t have to feel like you’re in solitary confinement and if you have writer’s block, you can get up and walk to the next café while giving your batteries time to recharge and brain time to think.” – J.K Rowling

There’s something inherently romantic about writing in a café; Hemingway wrote his memoir, A moveable Feast, in La Closerie des Lilas, a café near his Paris home, turning the people he saw into characters. Sartre wrote Being and Nothingness in the Café de Flore, and zillions of other writers have taken their notebooks and pencils into café and away from the distractions of their homes to pen their stories and poems.

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A Jobbing Writer's Head Soup

A woman and her granddaughter walking on the path from Coldingham to St Abbs

I spent last summer almost entirely away from home. It all began with our wedding at St Abbs, took in our honeymoon on the Isle of Lewis and two family get togethers in the south of England, before concluding with a three week house-sit in London. That was a great summer, probably our best yet. And I thought there wasn’t a spud in a chip shop’s chance of this one getting close. I had hoped to get some funding for a visit to a small Scottish island to do the research my novel needs, but that was as far as my hopes went, then our children jumped in.

First up, a package arrived from my son, Bob, in the US. Inside was an apron and two notes, one on a vintage looking postcard from Glacier National Park, the other on a slip of paper. The postcard note wished me happy birthday and explained the apron. It’s from Bob and his wife Reg’s favourite breakfast spot, where they go most weekends with a group of friends they met on a trip to a comedy festival in Canada. The note said that they all have the aprons, and now I can be part of the gang. You’d think it couldn’t get better, but the second note said that as this was the year of our ‘Paper’ anniversary they thought they’d get us paper tickets to visit. Thus, at the end of August, Dave and I are going to America for three weeks! 

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