Monday, 1 June 2009


On Saturday, Exeter Writers hosted an open afternoon for other writing groups in Devon. It was a jolly occasion and lots of tea and fairy cakes were consumed. Devon is the third largest county in England and it was good to see folk from as far away as Hartland and Barnstaple. Successes were shared and there were many interesting readings. It was a pleasure to be in the same room with so many people passionate about writing. 

I wonder if any research has been done into deafness within the writing profession. I am just about to start Deaf Sentence by David Lodge and on Saturday there was a frequent cry of speak up, I can't hear you! Admittedly, the acoustics were difficult and the majority of attendees must have been in possession of a bus pass but it also showed just how keen people were to listen. 

From my teaching experience I have gleaned that the best writers are often the best listeners too. A great deal of listening has to be done in class as students read their work out loud (another challenge) and while it is often entertaining, a huge amount of useful information is revealed for our delectation. Not just different ideas and content, but structural devices, use of tension and release, the effectiveness of repetition (that old chestnut) and varied syntax. Listening is a skill and can be honed. It rewards study. 

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