Finding a voice - creative writing for women (text graphic)

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Angela's writing groups and classes are utterly professional yet are also warm and welcoming. I have been encouraged to write in ways that I did not dream of before I joined the group. The classes opened up my creativity in a very positive and dynamic way and they provided wonderful opportunities to develop myself. Angela is incredibly well read and brings to the group a mass of stimulating material; she suggests reading that is connected to your own personal writing and she encourages you to think clearly, imaginatively and broadly. She follows up each class with personal suggestions and comments. She is an amazing listener and her comments reflect the fact that she remembers and retains details from every class. I can't imagine that I would find a better forum for writing anywhere else.
Ruth Pickvance

I started going to Angela's classes in 2004. The beginner’s class provided me with a great overview of various techniques as well as incentives to find my own voice. The subsequent classes were the opportunity to meet great people who offered a wealth of feedback as well as encouragements to take my writing further. Being part of Angela's group feels like joining a big family rather than a writing group. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. A great experience.
Sophie Buchaillard

I really enjoyed myself! It allowed me to meet a great bunch of women. It spurred me to write and to think about things in different ways. It was great to share work and to try new ideas.  I also enjoyed flow writing. It went so quickly! I think it was really perfect for an introduction. A follow on course might focus more on building and sharing our work in different ways.
Rose Wilsher

For me, this has been a whole new experience.  I have never written for the joy of my imagination or the exercise of my wildest dreams!  Yes, this is a gift that could never have actually been wrapped up, packaged or donated because it holds a live event that brews within us all.  I have become much more romantic and creative since being on this course. I enjoyed the safety of being able to experiment with what are typically quite intimate musings. My only difficulty was the intensity of the meetings but I really cannot see any way around it.  We only had two hours each evening and all the homework has to take place around our usually busy lives. To be honest with you, I cannot see any way around that. Angela you handled all the potential pitfalls beautifully - like when some of us would start talking with each other and there were so many others still wanted to be listened to. Great course, I think you are a brilliant facilitator! I am sure that all future writers will love this course. When I was there I thought 'Hey, maybe the next brilliant writer is here but we just do not yet recognize her yet. 
Karen Leach

I really could not get into flow writing … I think I needed more free time to get used to the idea but I have now started as since the course finished I have actually stopped work permanently, and I will be much freer to write. The course helped me look at my writing more objectively. I felt challenged by the group, which is a good thing for every writer. There was great encouragement within the group for everyone’s writing. I was horrified when I realized Angela wanted us to write during the session but then was amazed at what I came out with. Ideas for stories I had never thought about before. I would encourage anyone interested in writing to do this course. 
Viv Fox

I feel that I have started to identify who I am as a writer and the style in which I enjoy writing. I have also found out areas where I am weak and need to address. I feel more confident about writing as I had never really done it before and would like to go on and develop and hopefully get published in the future. I really enjoyed meeting the other women on the course and hearing their thoughts and writing styles. The atmosphere was great and not at all intimidating. I also enjoyed hearing Angela's experiences and processes when she writes. It really helps to hear the perspective of a successful writer. The only drawback (if any) is that sometimes I felt that the exercises didn't help me personally as it was not a style or subject that I was comfortable with or interested in. Having said that, I do understand that the course has to be general enough to cater to all individuals taking part. Although this is a small criticism and not a major issue.
Kalee Thomas

I loved the course. It was great to meet other people who wanted to write. It gave me a framework for my writing and gave me so many ideas that I had never occurred to me. It has changed my perspective on how I can write. I also enjoyed the discipline of having to do something for each week. It was good to have feedback on our writing. I am used to have my academic writing looked over and amended so I enjoyed this aspect of the lessons. I enjoyed everything about the course. It was a treat to be there. The atmosphere in the class was lovely and I always felt free to read my stuff, to offer opinions and generally have a laugh. I thought that Angela’s teaching method was absolutely spot on – very gentle and non-judgmental but with just the right amount of guidance. It was all very democratic. There was nothing I disliked about the course. It has made me desperate to write. I would like to keep meeting with the girls (I think we have arranged to do this) so that we can continue the feedback. Angela worked very hard in giving us lots of ideas and lots of examples from other writers. She has an extensive knowledge of writing and her teaching really opened up my mind. For the size of the class (11 people) I think the lesson format was just right. Everyone had a chance to read their work and offer opinions. I think that the range of exercises suggested by Angela was fantastic. I was intrigued by all the different ideas and have begun to use most of these in helping me to write my own book.
Rachel Morris

Having enjoyed writing when I was younger, it's been something that I've wanted to take up again for some time, so the course has been a great starting point.  I really enjoyed the challenge and although I had difficulty keeping up with the assignments and setting aside time to give my full attention to the work, I feel that I've been able to bring what I learned away with me and hopefully carry on learning and building on the experience.  What I'm pleased about is that I feel the experience didn't end with the last session - that's to say, I still have lots of ideas, and also the valuable insights I gained from Angela's teaching and the other women's work, very much alive in my head. I think that the way Angela taught at just the right sort of pace, and had us all sharing our work with each other, was extremely effective in allowing it all to be absorbed. Since I did the course I'm much more critical about the stuff I read now - whether fiction or non-fiction. Quite often when I feel something hasn't worked, I'll automatically be analysing it and recognising the weaknesses,  and vice versa, if I've found a piece of writing particularly inspiring - what's made it great.  I recognise and appreciate different styles of writing much more now, too.  So I think that the course has really opened up my mind and I continue to learn from it. I enjoyed meeting the other women and the fact that everybody was so lovely, and it was interesting sharing the range of life experiences and opinions that, between us, we brought to the sessions.  I enjoyed the varied exercises that we were given and felt my brain was exercised into thinking about things in a different way. I came to the course with lots of inhibitions and found it quite difficult to share my work and open up, but the environment was extremely supportive and encouraging - couldn't have been more so and this was a great help. I'm very glad I did the course because the teaching was excellent and the company inspiring and encouraging. As I mentioned before, it's something that's stayed with me and I'm certain I can move on with my writing. I hope the group keeps in contact and that we do plan a further course/workshop at some point in the near future. 
Sian Grace

I find that writing can be a very solitary pursuit, so it's good to have opportunities to share writing and discuss ideas, doubts and the questions that are ever-present when writing, in a safe and supportive environment; Angela offers exactly this, whether in her beginners group, her follow-on group, or working with her one-to-one.

Although writing has always been a big part of my life, being a member of Angela's groups really opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that are screaming to be discovered and experimented with. Being a part of the group introduced a freedom in writing that I never knew existed; to keep the pen moving on the page, without stopping, without crossing out - this was new territory for me. And now I can't stop!

Being a member of the writing group has helped me to gain confidence in my writing, shed inhibitions, write six pages of drivel and say “OK - this is progress”. I've met some wonderful and inspirational women, whose voices and responses I continue to trust and respect to this day.

Angela herself has played a large and important part on my journey, its progression and continual learning; she has challenged me, encouraged me, advised me and helped me to see my own potential and for this I'll be forever grateful.
L. M. H. C

Two years ago, at the time of my fortieth birthday, I joined the beginner's group as a complete writing novice. After just one follow on group I decided to begin an MA in Creative Writing at Swansea University which I am just about to complete. I feel I have come so far in such a short time but would never have done so without Angela's encouragement. She drew material from me that I never knew was there and I was able to develop many of the ideas that were hatched in her workshops during the MA course. Now it is over I intend to return to Finding a Voice for a further dose of inspiration!
Vicky Matthews

I found the course to be incredibly stimulating. In an atmosphere that was relaxed and friendly I found myself sharing my deepest memories with women I hardly knew. I had been anxious about sharing my work but from the outset all my anxieties disappeared due to the warmth with which my writing was received.
Nasia Sarwar Skuse

I loved the classes - discovering the absolute joy in writing and learning from others is a wonderful thing. The support from Angela and those in the groups was always encouraging and has stayed with me.
Kate Vaughan

Participating in Angela’s writing courses is one of the best things I have done since I came to live in Cardiff three years ago. The beginners' course was full of interesting ideas and fun things to try out. It definitely tapped into the creative part of my mind and I began to dream and use my imagination more. It also affected me in a more intellectual way, as a reader, because it opened my eyes to the devices authors employ and has made the reading experience even more fulfilling.

Our beginners' group was a particularly close-knit and encouraging one and many of us have kept in touch and meet to talk about writing and our lives. The friendships that have developed through the writing group are very precious to me. I found it a very scary thing, to share something I have written, because it sometimes comes from such a deep place within me, but the safe, supportive atmosphere of the group makes it possible. It has been exciting to discover that people enjoy my writing and are interested in my stories and this realisation has given me confidence. The follow-on course is more serious and challenging, real work rather than playing at writing, but very worthwhile.
Rosanne

As most of us in the beginner's group were new to writing, Angela made it fun and stimulated our creativity by drawing on a wide range of topics for us to write about in each session. The thought of progressing to the next group when our work would be critiqued by our peers brought about a little writer's block! The reality was quite different. Angela created a 'safe' environment for us to explore each other's work and it was refreshing to have a critical and different voice read our work too. Critiquing other people's work also showed me how important it is to examine my own writing with a much 'harder' eye. I found encouragement to continue a particular writing project that if I had not been part of the group, would have remained on the shelf for many more months.
Diane Mitchell

Before I started the course, I had been writing for myself fairly intensely (albeit around the minor distractions of a full time job, family etc.) and joined up as much out of curiosity as anything else.

The group structure, the relaxed atmosphere, and the standard of tuition and encouragement Angela gave us all was exemplary. I discovered much about myself; I learnt so much through listening to the stories and styles of others; and yes I improved - dramatically.

I wanted to write in a style which would be both challenging and pleasing to me as an individual. In other words, I wanted to learn how to write something I would myself want to read. Of course I am not there yet, but at last I begin to see the possibilities. I have opened a new depth of understanding, and now, the more I write, the more I understand. That for me, has been priceless.
Pippa Bartolotti

Angela is an inspirational teacher who has not only shared with me the joy of writing and introduced me to literature I would not have otherwise discovered but has also encouraged me to connect with my imagination & discover my identity. She has given me the confidence to experiment with my work and find a sense of direction. For me writing has become an enjoyable part of my daily life.
Janet Sampson

For as long as I can remember, I harboured the desire to write, in fact I even felt like a writer. This was however, despite the fact that I was rarely brave enough to pick up a pen and try writing my words on paper. Instead, the desire lived itself out as a secret narrative on my world – an internal commentary that turned around and round upon itself.

By the time I had got to Angela’s groups in early 2002 it felt that I had created within me not a beautiful epic that was ready to spill itself out all over the page but a tightly woven ball of tangled stories and muddled images that no longer seemed real but distorted and frightening. Angela and her groups, little by little, enabled me the time and space to tease out this ball and to find and to nurture fresh images and new ideas. To turn this inner world into an outer reality was a risk. I risked feeling exposed and I risked not living up to the secret version I had of myself as writer. But Angela’s courses gave me permission to experiment, to happily mess it all up and then to try something new, all in an environment of unconditional support. This meant that I gradually came closer and closer got to knowing myself as creative individual and a very different writer to the contrived image that I had held onto until now.

After doing a 10 week Beginners course and a 10 week Follow-on course I went on to do an MA in The Practise and Teaching of Creative Writing at Cardiff University. I now teach my own creative writing workshops in Somerset and facilitate writing groups for adults with mental health problems. Angela’s guidance and support have been invaluable on this journey and she continues to be a dear friend and valued mentor.
Briony Goffin

It was my third winter in Cardiff when I decided to do something to improve my English. As I didn’t want to attend conventional classes I was so tempted when I read about this Creative Writing Course. It was completely different from what I had imagined: it was much much better. I wrote in English, learnt how to trigger my memories to produce texts and as a bonus I met a group of fantastic women, some of whom have become friends.
Isabel Rubio

I did the beginners course a number of years ago. Initially I did not feel confident that I could satisfy my desire to translate my inner dialogue into a form that was authentic for me and that would resonate for others. The course is structured in a non threatening way using a myriad of imaginative techniques to stimulate exploration and expansion. With the encouragement and feedback from Angela and the empathy and freedom from fellow beginners, I developed an embryonic optimism (faith) that I could make something happen on the page.

I have taken part in the follow-on groups for a several years now. Angela gives generously of her expertise, her humour, her insights to create an environment of permission and support. I am now working on a particular project and find the honest exchange of ideas has helped me to hone my writing; gaining from the different perspectives and understandings. I enjoy giving feedback to the other women re: their own writing and watching as it develops in shape and depth. It is a wonderful to witness the growing belief that we are all writers with something interesting to say and yet our somethings are usually very different.
Susan Rennie