Creative Writing Group Leader: VALERIE TAMS
Valerie was born in Leicester at the end of WW2. When she was a toddler her parents moved to South Kensington then, when she was six, they moved to Twickenham where she eventually married and raised her two children. With her family she moved to Northamptonshire in 1974, where she lived until she retired in Cornwall at the end of 2016. She now lives with her German Shepherd Dog on the outskirts of Newquay.
Writing as a hobby ever since she was at school, Valerie used to write silly poems about her boyfriends and kept a very large page-a-day diary, recording anything interesting that happened. Sometimes she would share her poems and anecdotes with her classmates and English teacher, who said that she should be a journalist when she left school. She ignored her teacher’s advice and drifted into a bookkeeping job instead, following in her parents’ footsteps, and progressed to a Cost and Management Accountant. After she retired she started writing again for pleasure.
Valerie has been writing humorous verses most of her life: for weddings, special birthdays, funerals, leaving dos, in fact for any occasion when her family or friends needed to give a speech. Since she has retired she has produced several illustrated poetry books under her pseudonym of Jezebel Myschka, starting with her “Doggie Ditties” written as if her two dogs were talking to each other. Poems and short stories under that pseudonym have been published on several writing websites.
Being an avid blogger, Valerie has several blogs: her poetry and short stories blogs, a walking blog, a garden blog, a social group’s holiday blog, a recipe blog, her dog’s blog, her daughter’s life story blog and a pensioner’s moans and groans blog, to name but a few. She has also designed a few websites for herself and for her social groups.
Valerie has several books she is currently working on: a selection of her seasonal poems, a selection of her short stories, a murder mystery play, a romantic mystery novel and, for her family’s benefit, her memoirs.
Before she moved to Newquay, Valerie had belonged to Wellingborough U3A Creative Writing Group for several years. When she joined Newquay U3A there wasn’t a Creative Writing Group so she decided to start her own.
Our New Star Writer: GRET WOODASON
Gret had never thought of herself as a creative writer, but she had always enjoyed writing with a pen or pencil on lovely new paper or a writing pad. She still does but of course the Word Processor has taken over and of course it is so much quicker now to get one’s thoughts down and be able to remove them if you have second thoughts!
She had done most of her actual writing between 1991 and 2005 when she attended and enjoyed tremendously, many Ignatius Loyola Spirituality, Individual Guided Silent Retreats. Some just a weekend or a few days but many for ten days. During that time, you are assigned a Director who you meet with once a day, for about an hour, and with whom you share whatever you want to and discuss whatever scriptures they have subsequently given you to mediate on. Gret found this wonderful and enjoyed praying and meditating on the scriptures given her. She also spent a lot of time writing out the scriptures and imagining herself in the stories with Jesus, waiting to hear what He had to say to her. She wrote all this down and has many hardback books all with meditations she has been given over the years, which she has written about.
During this time her husband, John, became a pastor of a non-conformist chair and so Gret obviously became pastor’s wife. They were in this ministry for twenty years, 6 were part-time when John was at IBM and then 14 years full time. Many things happened during that period. Some good, some fantastic, some bad and some sad. During the latter part of that ministry Gret often felt that she would like to write a book about some of the amazing ways God dealt with situations and answered prayer. In 2005 John and Gret were blessed to be on a sabbatical and part of the three months was spent in a monastery near Rome. John was spending the time reading but Gret thought that it was the ideal time to write a book, if she was going to, and if she couldn’t write it while she was there, with no TV, or telephone and no friends nearby, then she would never mention it again. However, she thought she should write a short paragraph or two about herself and why she was writing the book. So, she started, and just could not stop. 60,000 words later and she hadn’t even met John! She read it through and cut out a lot, but she still had enough for a book!
When Gret returned home she sent it to her sister because the first part was all about their upbringing and schooling. Gillian, her sister, was amazed at what Gret had remembered and agreed it was correct. Gillian also had a shock when she read all that had happened to Gret in the following years. Happily married with children and a business she had no time really to know what was going on with the rest of the family. There were no recriminations from Gret’s point of view. As far as she was concerned, ‘that was life’. Anyway, John helped by adding photos and Gret got the book printed for herself and the family. A few friends found out about it and subsequently more were ordered and friends bought copies. It was called, ‘The First Thirty-Three Years’ for obvious reasons.
It still meant that the original book was still waiting to be written so Gret commenced it and with lots of written recordings in exercise books and also on the computer, made over the years, she has almost finished it, called the Second Thirty-Three Years’. However, when Gret became 66, it was when they moved down to Cornwall to start retirement, so her third book was commenced, the ‘Third Thirty-Three Years’, but of course she’s not sure when it will get finished!
In the meantime, when they lived in Bagshot, a dear friend, Wendy, kept encouraging Gret to go with her to Creative Writing at the local U3A. Gret had no time and just could not contemplate doing it. It was a luxury she could not afford, as far as time was concerned… Wendy was older than her and retired.
Sadly, she died a few years ago so she does not know that Gret is now a member of the Creative Writing Group in Newquay U3A. When Valerie Tams arrived at Newquay U3A she discovered there was not a Creative Writing Group so she tried to start one, but no-one was available or wanted to be part of it. However, a few months later a new member showed interest so Valerie actually decided to start the group. Gret thought she would go along to encourage her and also see what she could do. She was so surprised at what she was able to achieve, and she is loving it all. The homework is set, and they can do as much or as little as they please. Gret tries to do it all because she is astounded at what ‘rubbish’ comes out of her mind! The stories are good, according to Valerie and the poems aren’t bad either. It has released something in Gret and she LOVES IT ALL. Gret has thanked Valerie for her persistence in starting a Creative Writing Group because it has opened a whole new world for her. In Gret’s words, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart!”