There’s nothing quite like getting a book published. There’s nothing quite like a great writing group either, and when the two come together, it’s a very special event.
For the last few years. I’ve been the tutor-in-residence of a number of adult learning and community education creative writing classes. Several of these have come and gone – funding is always an issue and we lurch from term to term (the only flipside of a free-for-participants class) – but the OxPen Writers and the Gilmerton Writing Group have been around far longer than I’ve been tutoring.
The best thing about these classes is how truly diverse they turn out to be. We hear a lot about diversity in the writing and publishing world these days, but with so many of the major competitions requiring hefty entry fees, and so many creative writing courses and retreats incurring a big financial investment, I’m never sure how deep the diversity can truly be…But when all you need is a pen, paper (which can be supplied) and some enthusiasm to write – it doesn’t matter how well you do it as long as you enjoy it – then the classes are, I hope, genuinely open-access.
From play-writing (and ‘performing’) to short stories, to collaborative novels and to song-writing (well, we got the lyrics okay; watch this space for the music!) we’ve had a bash. The social side of this individual thing of writing can’t be underestimated either.
But, again, there’s nothing quite like publishing a book.
Both groups have achieved it: In 2015, Gilmerton Writers produced A Way With Words and last month, OxPen followed suit with Kaleidoscope; both are collections of poetry and short prose. The whole process, from initial ideas to writing, editing and proofreading – and public readings at their respective launches – has been carried out within the classes. The end results are entertaining and eclectic anthologies, with stories from authors at all stages of their writing careers. They are books to be proud of, books to be celebrated.
And that’s quite simply what I’m doing here.
PS Classes really are open to everyone, so get in touch if you’d like more information for next term. Fingers crossed for funding...