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Regular news and insight from our many poets, writers, educators and facilitators

13 May 2023

Posted by Robyn O'Mahony

What Lives Behind That Door?

What lives behind that door? Summer term is a-go!

On Saturday 13 th May our summer term of Junior and Young Writers workshops began with two fun-packed sessions. Twenty young people joined us for a morning spent exercising our imagination and exploring the worlds that can be brought to life with our words. We all felt a mixture of excitement, nervousness, and confidence at being together again to share our writing.

The theme of the day was doors, and the Junior Writers embraced it with aplomb. Around the room there was talk of Lucy walking through the wardrobe into Narnia and Harry discovering magical creatures behind the doors of Hogwarts. We started the session by sharing where we would choose to go if a door could open up to anywhere. It was a joy to hear the common thread was books – the group were keen to jump into a room of their favourite literature. Alongside literary dream-worlds, others wanted to ‘munch through cotton candy like a worm’ and frolic in long grass; escape to the sun-lit streets of Dubai; and meet magical creatures in faraway lands.

Jumping into the theme of the day, we talked about the different words we can use to describe doors. We explored colour, sound, texture; asked, where can a door open to? ‘A gate to impossible places’ was one among many glorious sentences. We looked at pictures of various doors and the group summarised them as decorative, cosy, chaotic, rocky, mossy, musty and dusty. Then, we got to free-writing!

Thinking about the senses, and encouraged to dive into their imaginations, the Junior Writers wrote about teleportation, drama and shifting emotions, mystical auras and, in one beautiful example, ‘A world unfound’.

Next up, our Young Writers embraced the day’s theme. But first, we went around the room and

welcomed each other back, sharing fun facts about ourselves. Some members of the group began the exercise thinking they had nothing to say, but their peers lifted them up and everyone ended having uncovered new things about themselves.

When asked to explore what lay behind their door, the group discovered crashing waves, wild horses, Amazonian rivers, talking turtles and ghost cities. Together, we read an excerpt from Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, and discussed how the author adds meaning to a seemingly un-important old door. While the group got to writing their stories, they were supported by one another. They discussed the language they wanted to use, worked out creative choices, and celebrated the words of others.

Before we said goodbye for the day, the Young Writers read their pieces. These worlds behind doors were truly magical. We saw ‘an ancient wildlife caused by corruption’, reverse gardens, cracked and crumbling floors, and neon signs that simply read: welcome to nowhere. There was a running theme of darkness, of trying to uncover what the world beyond the door in our imaginations holds.


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