Opening Night at Ayr Writers’ Club

After a summer that defied the Trades Descriptions Act, Ayr Writers’ Club reconvened for its 2015-16 season on Wednesday 9th September. The venue was a new one – the Mercure Hotel in Ayr. And amongst the faces were new ones and old ones (sorry, I mean, more long-standing members, of course!). But unlike the summer, this club does exactly what it says on the tin. The energy for writing provided by Nigel Ward, brandishing the President’s gavel for the first time, and all our speakers, was palpable. For myself, the summer was wet, but writing – after the death of my father – was a drought. Five minutes into the meeting, however, a strange thing started happening. I found my pen moving across the page. For the first time in months, I was scribbling ideas for articles, stories, poems.
Nigel outlined the programme for the year, making it sound like a tin of sweeties with a difference – they are all the big purple ones! Thereafter, club members Ann Burnett, James Rose and Sheila Grant told us why they write and gave us a flavour of what Ayr Writers has done for them. Carolyn O’Hara provided a wonderful expressive performance of her short story recently accepted for publication in Fiction Feast. And we heard from Kirsty Wyllie about the symbiotic relationship between her faith and her writing.
Even the tea break was wonderful – such a hubbub of writing talk, old friends reacquainting and new friends being made. During the ensuing second part of the evening, I intervened briefly with a note about my poetry workshop coming up on 23rd September – if there’s something about poetry that you want me to cover, please let me know. Linda Brown then read her immensely moving piece about her mother’s sideboard, Jennifer West outlined the competition programme, kicking off with the Book Review competition, deadline 23rd September, and Fiona McFadzean told us about the annual feast that is the Scottish Association of Writers Conference, taking place over the weekend of 18th – 20th March 2016. James Rose – emphasising the importance to writers of reading – told us about a new club initiative whereby club members can bring along to meetings the books they have read along with a postcard-sized review, for the delight and edification of other members. And almost finally, Fiona Aitchison, committee member for media liaison, told us of her fruitful discussions with the features editor of the Ayr Advertiser, who has offered the Club a weekly column. Very exciting; watch that space!
And absolutely finally, we did some writing! Kicking off the club’s early theme of ‘A sense of place’, we wrote about a place we went over the summer. Ah, the silence of pens flying across paper! And then some sharing of our words to finish off the evening.
Phew! Who would have thought so much could be packed into a 2 hour meeting. I hope that everyone attending – whether seasoned published writer or complete newbie – felt the power of the sheer enthusiasm for writing, and disappeared into the night burning with the confidence to say ‘My name is …… and I am a writer.’
On Wednesday 16th September 2015 our first speaker, Bernard MacLaverty is with us at the Mercure Hotel.
Alison Craig

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