Saturday, 29 December 2012

Greenacre Writers: Going Places. A roundup of 2012

2012 took off with our four groups meeting regularly and two workshops held at Trinity Church Centre. The first, Get Yourself A Reputation, took a new slant by focusing not on writing exercises, but encouraging new writers to create a digital presence, with plenty of practical advice. The second was a creative writing workshop for beginners as part of Trinity in May Arts Festival. Stimulating exercises encouraged the ideas and ink to flow.

Hard on the heels of the workshop was our first Literary Festival. From a barely formed idea, we decided to go for it! The venue was provided courtesy of the Trinity in May Arts Festival. The authors we approached, Paolo Hewitt, Andrew Bradford, Emily Benet and Lane Ashfeldt were very supportive and our members were keen to take open mic slots to showcase their work. In no time at all, we had a programme! Then we added another author, Alex Wheatle, because he was too good to refuse! We had an even better programme.

It was time to launch our second short story competition. Paolo Hewitt accepted our request to be the judge, so we were off. Thinking of digital presences, it was time to consider on-line submissions and payment for the competition so Rosie grappled with PayPal and got a new website up and running.

Our members’ successes have continued. Rosie Canning was selected as a judge for Chris Evans’ ‘500 word’ contest for young story writers in March. She was also busy writing her own flash fiction and had five stories long-listed or short-listed in competitions (Spilling Ink, The New Writer, Flash 500, The Yellow Room and The Word Hut). Lindsay Bamfield had a flash fiction piece short-listed in a competition held by BadLanguage, which was read out at a flash fiction event in Manchester on her behalf. Katie Alford won first prize in a competition for short stories in the manner of a nineteenth century author with A Matter of Timing, her Sherlock Holmes story and she won round three of the Dragon’s Keep story contest held by with The Fairy and the Princess. Linda Dell has been publicizing her latest novel, Earthscape, and Liz Goes marketed the third of her trilogy: The Not Quite English Teacher. (See links for Linda and Liz on our blog.)

Having always presented workshops together, Rosie and Lindsay both ventured into solo teaching: Rosie held a  Greenacre Writers ‘Plot’ workshop on our home-ground in Finchley while Lindsay was pleased to accept the offer to teach a specialist course ‘Getting Started in Fiction’ at the renowned Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in Derbyshire.

Two other GW members attended Swanwick as delegates, Liz Goes, one of Swanwick’s busy committee members was there for her 7th year while Helen Barbour returned for her second visit.

Helen succeeded in clambering off the slush pile. She sent her submission package for her first novel The A-Z of Normal to Lucas Alexander Whitely Ltd in March and Araminta Whitely asked to see the whole manuscript that same month. Although she did not take it on, she gave Helen some very complimentary feedback: ‘Your subject is spot on…the women’s fiction market looks for genuine portrayals of real-life issues. You write fluently and have a good ear for dialogue… I hope it is some encouragement that your novel caught our attention among the hundreds of unsolicited we have received so far this year.’ We are proud of Helen’s achievement and supporting her through some rewriting and further submissions.

Wendy Shillam graduated from Chichester, gaining her MA Creative Writing in October with a distinction for her thesis comprising the first 20 chapters of her novel Thinking Makes it So, which she is completing within one our Finish That Novel groups.

Greenacre Writers’ main aim has always been to support and encourage our members to become the best writers they can be, whether they are aiming for publication or not, and through our regular critiquing groups we have all learned from each other. Some of our members submitted short stories to our first anthology, which also featured winning entries from our first competition. We were delighted when it was short-listed in the NAWG competition. Rosie represented GW at the NAWG festival in Nottingham and accepted our certificate when we were awarded third prize.

In November we ran a creative writing workshop in the local, and now famous, Friern Barnet Community Library which hit headlines when, having been closed by the council in April, was re-opened by members of the Occupy movement along with local campaigners in September. A court case or two later, its future remains uncertain but we have all made the most of it while we can. While a number of our members have supported the library, Rosie and GW member, Keith Martin, have been closely involved with the campaign.

Greenacre Writers brought the year to a close with the announcement of the winners of our second short story competition. Congratulations to all who were long listed and especially our winners. We look forward to publishing these stories in our second anthology, which is just one of our many activities planned for 2013.

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