I'm rather proud to say that I was the Secretary of West Sussex Writers for three years. During my time on the Committee I met many terrific writers of all genres and one of my favourite jobs was having dinner with best-selling crime writer Belinda Bauer. As one of the oldest and largest writing groups in the UK, West Sussex Writers is celebrating 80 years of existence. On Saturday 29 July I was lucky enough to have a ticket to their Writers' Day event in Worthing.
Alison MacLeod gave the key note address with a evocative journey of pictures and words through Sussex from 1937 to 2017 (see photo right). Alison later led a writing workshop - she's always so enthusiastic and inspiring that several of us asked her if she could develop an 'Alison MacLeod APP' so that when a writer is in need of a shot of her infinite energy they could conjure her up along with her motivational words of encouragement. (Someone really should develop this idea.)
Throughout the morning and afternoon there were also workshops led by: Stephanie Norgate, Melanie Whipman, Umi Simha, Clare Best and Julie Everton, covering poetry, prose, life writing and screenwriting. Over coffee and lunch there were plenty of opportunities to chat to other writers as well as the workshop leaders - it was all wonderfully informal. I caught up with many old friends and also someone I'd met recently at the Bath Flash Fiction Festival - she'd travelled all the way from Dorchester for the Writer's Day. Finally, at the end of the day there was a birthday cake to celebrate West Sussex Writers' 80th year.
Thanks to my recent win in the Commonwealth Short Story Prize I was considered one of the group's success stories and was absolutely delighted when Richard Buxton asked if I would cut the cake. As you can see from the photos below I had to try out the typewriter first - wasn't it a magnificent cake? (It tasted pretty good too!)
It was a nice touch that current members got in FREE for the whole day and non-members paid £22, which seemed exceedingly good value considering the quality of the speakers and the refreshments.
Big thanks must go to all the current Committee members who made the day possible. All your hard work paid off. Congratulations and here's to another 80 years of West Sussex Writers!