Ten years old … in Venice

 In News, Newsletters

All About Writing celebrates its tenth anniversary this September, in the city which most symbolises how far we’ve come.

Here we are, mentoring our writers in the most romantic writing venue in the world, on our annual Venice Writing Retreat. It’s a far cry from where we started out, with one small group of participants around a dining room table, and a newly designed course.

It would be crazy if we weren’t proud of what we’ve achieved: a number of online and face to face courses in different cities, and workshops in three different countries. Not to mention the fact that thirty of our past participants have published books over the past six years.

But we’ve also been humbled by the sense of family which our participants have created around us, by their goodwill and passion to grow creativity – their own and that in the world.

Writing isn’t only about the achievements and accolades. We applaud those of our community who have published and won awards. But we’d like to celebrate those who write for writing’s sake.

Here in Venice, we’re with a group of people hungry to absorb the details around them, to feel their words form within them, in a private, wholly intimate process, and flow outward to become public, and enhance the world.

If you haven’t already, join us on our flagship course

We believe passionately in skills. You may be born with a particular talent for writing, you may have written, and read, a great deal. But whether you’re a newbie or more experienced, we guarantee the techniques we impart in our flagship course will make you a better writer.

Our Creative Writing Course will provide you with all the skills you need to write a book – fiction or creative non-fiction – and get you writing confidently in scenes. It will run through October and November online, and in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Can you teach creative writing? Of course you can, just as you can teach the techniques to make artists and musicians better than they thought they could be.  We’ve seen it work.

Through these ten years, we’ve honed and fine-tuned this course, using both our own hard-won experience, and the writing wisdom of some of the best writers in the world.

Join us online, on October 9 for ten weeks, or in Cape Town or Johannesburg on October 16 for eight weeks. We only take eight people in our face to face courses and they’re filling fast so, if you’re keen, speak now…

The advantage of the online course is that you can do it from anywhere, in your own time. You will still have the sense of being part of a group, since it’s run through our online forum. Face to face, of course, we can feed you and ply you with wine (if you’re so inclined). But whether you join us virtually or in person, you will receive personal feedback on every module.

News from our community

Mentoring participant Vernon Head has had his poems long-listed for this year’s Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award and anthology. Well done, Vernon.

One of our youngest community members, Aimee-Claire Smith, who started as a Creative Writing participant and has gone on to run our social media, has had an article published on death and grieving – at just 19.

And one of the people with us in Venice has started Where Women Write, a collation of photos of women’s writing spaces, be they writers of fiction, non-fiction, copy-writing or translation. “We want to show how women manage to balance their work and domestic lives, in any way, shape, or form.” Have a look and submit your pics to them.

Accolades where they’re due

We’d like to congratulate the winners of the August competition, which challenged you to write a scene set on or around water.

Our winner, who receives a token from an independent book store of her choice, Book Lounge in Cape Town, is Lauren Smith for her taut and enigmatic piece, which we found deeply compelling. The runner up is Ingrid Ross, for her portrait of a state of mind, filled with small domestic details which point outward to a larger reality.

We had a record number of excellent entries this month, so we have many special mentions: Penny Castle, Pamela Williams, Liz Dewing and Frankie Francis, who wrote from the perspective of a rabid jackal.

And lastly, you know you’ve been around a long time when members of your community are joined by their children. Richard and I pick the winners blind, so we certainly didn’t do this on purpose.

We were thrilled to discover that one of our special mentions was among our very first Creative Writing participants, Mandy Collins – and another, her daughter Samantha.

That’s a very auspicious outcome for our anniversary competition.

Click here to read the entries.

Our new competition celebrates you – our beloved writing community

Write a scene which includes reference both to a tenth anniversary and to Venice. You could choose to set it in Venice, or mention it in conversation. Your characters might be in the process of celebrating a tenth anniversary or simply anticipating one. The anniversary does not have to be of the marriage kind.

You will have six weeks to write and hone your entry, which should be no more than 300 words long. Deadline midnight 25 October. Paste your entry into the body of an email and send it to trish@allaboutwritingcourses.com

We’re offering a special prize this month: a place on our Ten Day Writing Workout in November, worth R950. This will provide you with the opportunity to develop a daily writing discipline, with daily comments and full feedback twice.

Writing Tips to help you write your scene:

  • Don’t start a scene by explaining where your characters are, or why and how they got there. Begin where things are happening. People are doing or saying things.
  • Don’t explain anything.
  • Don’t allow your dialogue to be unrelieved and “ping pong”. Intersperse it with the odd details from the environment, which will allow us to picture the world of your characters.
  • You also have at your disposal the way your character feels – bodily sensations as well as emotions – and what he or she thinks.
  • One last caution: allow thoughts to be scraps and let them be oblique and not too obvious. Don’t use them to explain things to the reader.

With my warmest regards from a sunny Venice,


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