I was invited back to run a workshop for a cohort of former students previously attending a site-specific writing programme that I devised for the community education programme at Norwich Cathedral. The group, now reformed as Ex-Cathedra, have continued with weekly meetings, and as part of their self-led programme they invite guest authors in twice a term to run a workshop. I was impressed by their continued commitment to the group and to their writing. There are many enemies of writing, not least time constraints. Many women in particular are sandwiched between care of children and elderly relatives, sometimes in different parts of the country, and most of us have to earn a living, working can exhaust us draining our creative pool. If we are lucky enough to make a living from our writing it is a meagre one that can dry up at any moment; famine being more common than feast. At times like these, belonging to a strong community of writers is heartening.
My writing family is a mixed one; I still have writer friends from my MA studies with whom I share work and ideas and East Anglian Writers, an organisation for authors in the region have regular meetings. We try out ideas on one another, drop in for coffee and unburden, with mini rants about the vagaries of the industry; we also flag up opportunities. I swap short stories with a fellow committee member and we critique one another’s writing.
Last week I met up with a poet, she teaches an off-radar poetry course at a local women’s centre, I met her on a day course at the Writers Centre in Norwich. We had come away from that day armed with an action plan and shared an update on our progress. I am continually re-energised by socialising with fellow writers and courses have a similarly uplifting affect. Writing is by necessity solitary and isolating. I enjoy spending time alone in my invented worlds, but I need to come up for air, inspiration and replenishment and I turn to my writing family for this.
Yesterday evening Paola Trimarco, East Anglian Writers West Anglia representative, set up a meeting in the Free Press Pub in Cambridge, where writers from different disciplines came to talk about writing, formed new links and discussed writing and teaching opportunities.
There are numerous poetry groups, reading groups and writers groups dotted around the country, listed below are some web addresses that you might find useful. If you are looking for your own supportive writing family or an off-radar group you could ask your Literature Officer, if you are lucky enough to have one, look out for notices in shop windows and see what is taking in place in pubs, church halls and back rooms and if there isn’t one in your area why not set up your own?
Courses and information for writers
Professionalorganisation for authors based in the eastern region
The Norwich Writers Circle – meet at The Assembly Rooms Norwich
Creative Arts East
Norwich Poetry Club
Unthank books/festival and courses
Café Writers, poetry and much more
National Association of Writers in Education
For arts professionals.