A guest post by Kate Blackadder. Kate, who so excellently co-presents the more northern of our writing workshops, is a member of Edinburgh Writers’ Club, who this year celebrate 70 years. They’re having a bit of a do to mark the occasion and to launch their autumn programme, and have kindly included me on the guest list. Lovely. I hear there’ll be cake….
But I thought it would be good to let you hear from Kate herself about how beneficial a writing club can be for a member.
The traditional image persists of a writer as a lonely creature wielding a fountain pen in a badly lit garret. Jo March, the writing sister in Little Women, had a rat called Scrabble for company in her garret.
Some of that image still holds true.
Most writers don’t have ‘garrets’ (and hopefully not rats either) but they have to find a space for a laptop – a room of their own if they’re lucky, otherwise a corner somewhere in the home or perhaps a café table. Getting the words down is, as it has always been, a solitary and often agonising occupation – which is why it’s good to step out of the writing space occasionally.
A writers’ club, in my opinion, is the perfect place to do that. When I give presentations to would-be People’s Friend writers [booking form here, btw] I always say that I would not be a published writer if I had never joined Edinburgh Writers’ Club.
I got (and still get) useful feedback and encouragement from competition adjudicators and from other members, and inspiration from speakers in different genres – because writing is a subject you can never stop learning. But the biggest benefit, and pleasure, has been meeting others at various stages of their writing careers, to share their highs and lows and pool information, and to discuss (for example) how long a synopsis should be, with someone who understands the question.
Like the Edinburgh Festival, the Edinburgh Writers’ Club celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. There have been thousands of members over the years, in various venues across the city, and many have become published novelists, poets, playwrights and short-story and flash-fiction writers.
From 18th September 2017 the Club will meet in the access-friendly Hilton Grosvenor Hotel in Grosvenor Terrace. That date will be the first meeting of the new session and also a celebration of the Club’s birthday with members/new members and invited guests (and cake).
The programme for 2017-18 (and joining details) can be found on the Club’s website www.edinburghwritersclub.org.uk A certain Shirley Blair will be giving a workshop on dialogue on 9th October – just one of the treats in store in the coming year.
I should say, of course, that other writers’ clubs are available … Check out what is in your area – or start your own. Don’t stay lonely in your garret.