Creative writing has hardly ever been my forte, I am a journalist by trade and therefore try as best I may to stay within the limits of creativity as defined by the facts of the story as it is delivered or suggested by a source, so, it was a great pleasure some weeks ago to be invited to participate in a sit down and feedback session with the Bogotá Writers. I suppose these groups exist all over the place, but this was my first time participating in something of this nature and how exciting to know that something like this exists in Bogotá.
Perhaps what struck me most is that most of the group, at least it seemed to me, consisted mainly of Colombians all possessing an enthusiasm for writing in English. The Bogotá Writers group consists of eight individuals – all of them published authors – who share a desire to write, perhaps to enable them to be lifted away from the monotonous grind of Bogotá’s traffic or perhaps to facilitate an escape from the reality of the 9 to 5, although here it is more like 7 to 8!
There is the quirky self-proclaimed “professional geek” who seems to be inspired by the more sinister aspects of writing (you’ll have to buy the book), the author who was stifled in her youth by the glaring failures of the English schools system in weeding out an uninspired educator (you know who you are), the ubiquitous Irish writer (we’ve had her on Colombia Calling) and the incredibly well-travelled and well-informed academic amongst others. It’s an interesting group to say the least. In French you would call it a perfect métissage des cultures.
Arriving late (the first of my blunders with the group, “it was the traffic”) and then delivering a stumbling critique of one member’s story, I then started to find my feet in the rhythm and nature of what these literati do. Each couple of weeks members – who are chosen beforehand – are assigned to write a story which is then emailed with sufficient time to the rest so that they can share their thoughts in their sit down. additionally, each member has to participate in a writing exercise as well. Forgive me if I get this wrong but when I was invited the group exercise was a two-line story. It’s pretty hard if you think about it.
Anyway I was convinced after an evening with these open-minded people, who neither bristled nor wept in reaction to the stern critiquing of their work, that they would make for good fodder for an interview on Colombia Calling. I am happy with the result, it feels fresh, honest and enjoyable.
Oh! My second blunder? I had a computer meltdown the first time I recorded their interview. This is the second occasion that they have had to come round to record and for this, I bow my head in shame and beg forgiveness.