What is the collcetive noun for a group of writers? Online Quill Cafe lists about 100. Where they come from I don’t know but I delight in the appropriateness of them. When read together, they tell the story of a writer’s life.
I like a syntax of writers best but I love others like an oxymoron , a blurb, a balderdash, a dedication, a gibberish, a foolishness, a procrastination, a revision, a rejection, a scribble, a slush, a synopsis and a twaddle of writers.
Which collective noun best described the writers at the Writers’ Day at Salisbury Literary Festival which I attended recently?
I chose this event which was held at at Sarum College, as it was a very nice venue and good value: 09.30-1700 with lunch for £65; and only an hour away by car from Calne. There were seven speakers including novelist Paul McVeigh on ‘Writing a killer first page’; Yvonne Battle-Felton on ‘Characters you can get your teeth into’; and Tariq Goddard, co-founder and publisher of Repeater Books. Top marks to all.
Grade 1 listed Sarum College, situated in the Cathedral Close, is ‘an ecumenical centre for Christian study and research where our passion is learning that nourishes the human spirit. Welcoming people of all faiths and none, we offer space and time for enquiring minds to grow in wisdom and courage’.
Salisbury’s Cathedral Close is the largest Cathedral Close in Britain, covering over 80 acres. Nearby properties include Arundells, home of Sir Edward Heath; Mompesson House, National Trust property; the Rifles Museum (housing the infantry regiments of Berkshire and Wiltshire collections), next door to Salisbury Museum – all a few hundred yards from our venue, with a wonderful Elziabeth Frink sculpture, Seated Man, near the entrance. A more relaxed Thinker than Rodin’s.
The talks were stimulating, the writing tasks interesting and the insider tips and comments from the publishers, particularly valuable. I was surprised though to hear an editor say, in response to a member of the audience who said that she was afraid to send her work out as she wasn’t very good at English – Oh, no, people shouldn’t be put off submitting work to publishers or agents even if their language skills aren’t very good. Editors will correct and knock the piece into shape. So, it’s great ideas, original voices and diversity which will catch the attention, it seems.
As someone who values good grammar and punctuation, I was taken aback. I love semi-colons and Oxford commas and subordinate clauses and gerunds – but then I was taught all this and I also spent 30 years in the classroom drumming this into kids. Shouldn’t we all try to be effective communicators? That means understanding how our language works and how best to express our thought and ideas, and having a range of tools at our disposal.
Can’t resist ending with this joke which has been widely retweeted: How do you comfort a grammar fanatic? You pat them on the back and say ‘Their, they’re, there.’