Sometimes fate introduces you to someone in a heartbeat. You don’t have time to cultivate an enduring friendship, but that person still leaves a lasting impression and that person for me was my creative inspiration, Barbara Large.
In June 2015, I found out that a Writer’s Weekend Workshop was about to take place on my doorstep. Barbara Large and Adrienne Dines of Creative Writing Matters were coming to Jersey to host a workshop at the Art’s Centre. I couldn’t believe my luck. It was a rare treat and a brilliant opportunity for aspiring Jersey writers to hone their craft.
I was feeling apprehensive about going to my first ever Writer’s Workshop. My writing output for the previous few years had been sporadic and I was looking for a creative push to get me back on track.
The first time I met Barbara Large, she hugged me. I hugged her back, wondering if she’d mistaken me with someone else. Maybe the apprehension I felt showed on my face… but that hug made me feel welcome and at ease.
I had gone to that workshop hoping to kick-start the creative flow. Ten days after my first meeting with Barbara and Adrienne, the flow had turned into rapids of salivating creative juices and I was several chapters in to the first draft of my first novel.
Barbara and Adrienne returned to Jersey together for another two years, but last year, Adrienne came on her own, due to Barbara’s failing health.
There were many heavy hearts within the writing community when they learned of the sad news of Barbara’s death on 4th March 2019. I don’t think it has sunk in with me, yet. I can still hear her soft, but firm voice in my head. ‘Get rid of everything ending in LY.’ ‘Eight revisions is not enough,’ but her comment that will stay with me forever which, due to her failing health, never happened, ‘Perhaps I could mentor you?’
I feel like I knew Barbara for a long time, because she had such a profound affect on me, and my writing. The truth is our only meetings took place over three weekend workshops, but it was long enough for her to sew the seeds of creative writing in my heart.
Barbara Large, MBE was the Founder, and for 34 years the Director, of the Winchester Writers’ Conference. She leaves hundreds of motivated writers in her wake, inspired by her passion to instil in her students that creative words matter.
She is missed by many, but especially those who, like me, were lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet and learn from her. She was a warm, caring person, with a wicked sense of humour, as well as a passionate and inspiring Creative Writing tutor.
Look, Barbara… no LY’s. Sending you love and hugs through the ethereal divide.