Friday, February 27, 2009
the butcher's shop
Often I hear about literary events and tell myself, "I must go along to that" and then never do. But I keep hearing about it, and decide to go along purely out of my desire to satisfy myself that I'm not missing out on anything spectacular.
Last night, TS and I sipped G&T's in the fragrant Herb Garret of the Old Operating Theatre Museum (which TS had last been to as a school boy) and were then led into the auditorium for the February edition of BAD IDEA magazine's The Butcher's Shop. And as the evening progressed, with more G&Ts at interval, I realised that, indeed, I had been missing out on something spectacular!
I think I might have mentioned The Butcher's Shop earlier this year - ah yes, I have, in this post - wherein the basic idea is that guests submit short pieces to the editors in the week or so leading up to the event, and they are then dissected like the dusty Victorian medical artefacts we saw as we sipped our cucumber spiked G&Ts, or "butchered", taken apart flabby adjective after flabby adjective, monotonous detail deleted, unnecessary words wiped out. It's a real education on the craft of good and relevant writing. The two editors-in-chief even wear "blood" splattered aprons as they discuss the piece, red markers in hand.
This month's edition of The Butcher's Shop had a recession theme - all the pieces seemed to focus on the central character of the evil banker. In a entertaining respite from looking at the pieces themselves, they brought up a financial journalist from the audience, "nailed" him to a cardboard crucifix and we all got to fire our questions at this hypothetical banker. Great fun.
Later on there was also a competition where the editors had gathered a collection of quotes from the mouths of three famous (or infamous rather) moguls, and volunteers had to come up and match the mogul to his words. Spurred on with an excess of very good gin, I put my hand up, correctly guessed a quote by now the disgraced Fred Goodwin, and won a free copy of How Not To Write A Novel (which I'll of course review on Green Ink in due course!).
While on the subject of spoils, TS and I also walked away with a copy of the magazine each, a DVD of a collection of short documentaries entitled "The Art of Confession", and quite a few mini bottles of Hendrick's Gin, quite possibly the best gin on the planet. Pure alchemy.
I'll definitely be a regular at Bad Idea's Butcher's Shop from now on - not only was it terrific value for the ticket price, but it was exactly my idea of a fun night out - lots of bantering about topical issues, talking about writing, or what makes good writing more to the point, and getting lots of ideas, like how to turn one story into four saleable pieces, and even how to self publish your novel (hmm...depending on how my winning read goes, that might be an option for me, ha ha!)
Who knows, maybe my scared and quivering little piece of prose might be on the operating table next time....?
For more information on the next Butcher's Shop event, see Bad Idea's web site. Maybe I'll see you there!