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Setting the Scene – 5 September 2018

Following the success of the summer Readarounds, Ayr Writers’ Club reconvened on 5 September 2018 at the usual spot in the Mercure Hotel to begin the 2018-19 season. Ayr Writers’ Club is now only two years from its Golden Anniversary, showing just how much we writers love getting together to inspire and learn – our members range from novice to published author, but one thing we all have in common is how much we still have to learn.

The first night brought new and long-standing members together as the Joint Presidents, Linda Brown and Gill Sherry, stood to introduce the Committee – the people who go above and beyond the call of duty to organise the new year of events. Each Committee member stood to tell the room a little about themselves and their role in the running of the Ayr Writers’ Club.

The Ayr Writers’ Club promises a programme of incredible opportunity and diversity. The events for the next year were broken down as Gill Sherry told us a little about the wide range of professional speakers who will be visiting the club, beginning on 19 September 2018, when David F Ross comes to talk about writing novels.

Linda Brown then took us through the workshops that will run throughout the year. Each workshop leader for the year (those in attendance) brought an enthusiasm to the room as they gave a brief overview of the content of their upcoming workshops. The first one of the year is Susan McVey’s tips on novel writing, with a chance to win a ‘Survival Kit’ – just what every novelist needs.

For the first time at AWC, a Dragon’s Pen night will be held, enabling novel writers to pitch their story ideas and plotlines to three (non-firebreathing, promise!) dragons.

To round off before tea-break, and the chance to buy new books, Linda Brown introduced the Competition Inspiration night that will occur near the end of the year and inspire members to keep writing over the summer, when we’ll be encouraged to write, attend workshops, compete in competitions and step outside our comfort zone.

And then we exercised our brains.

“I know her,” “who’s he?” and a hesitant “no, no, no,” were heard as teams identified what we thought were familiar faces and scribbled names on the quiz sheets handed round.

Fortified by cups of tea and coffee, heads were scratched, ideas whispered and exclamations of “oh, I know that,” were stifled. From a selection of first lines we discovered who reads picture books and children’s fiction, and which members have the classics on the tip of their tongue.

I then failed our team dismally by confidently muddling Bob Dylan with Kazuo Ishiguro: the former finally claimed his Nobel prize in 2017, but won it the year before. Such are the margins of loss and victory: but if you say it confidently your team members believe you – so it was their fault really.

In an attempt to redeem some credibility, I repeated a first-line proof I’d heard elsewhere that Charles Dickens was a journalist, “It was the Bicester Times, it was the Worcester Times.”

Yes, they groaned too – but we had got to know each other better.

And, as the year ahead progresses, this will no doubt continue.

Abigail Rutherford & Nigel Ward

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