It was great to see so many faces – old and new – at our April 2016 meeting. One face that was particularly welcome was that of our own Bossy Cow! Her given name is Karen Wheatley – and she was the inspiration behind the formation of the Vale Royal Writers Group.
Way back in 2002, Karen nurtured our first baby steps when some of us joined her Creative Writing class at Sir John Deane’s in Northwich. She so inspired us that, at the end of her course, a handful of us joined together to form the VRWG. Initially, it was merely a means of mutual support because we didn’t feel ready to join the writing fraternity alone, but still wanted to continue to learn and develop our craft. However ….
Over the last fourteen years, the group has matured and expanded to the point where we are now all grown-up with a committee and an AGM (it’s tonight for those who want to be there!) and we have over thirty members. We also have a website and this Blog – which invites and welcomes comments from anyone who feels they have something to say. In addition to our monthly meetings (the first Monday of the month at the Blue Cap, Sandiway) the group has built up a calendar of regular and occasional events. VRWG has also evolved into a friendly and passionate writing community, which supports and celebrates all of the members in their joint and individual efforts and achievements.
As a group, we have been – and still are – very pro-active. In 2007, we produced our first anthology of prose and poetry – followed by a second in 2014. Each year, Tonia organises two highly successful and enjoyable Wordfests at the Blue Cap, while Joyce and Tom run equally popular workshops at the Gladstone Library – again, twice a year. Courtesy of Steph, we are currently involved in holding a series of funded workshops for aspiring writers and we hope to hold more of these in the future.
We also have our lighter side. On a sunny day in August we let our hair down and socialise in Bob and Carol’s lovely garden – ‘though Bob keeps us ‘on-message’ by organising fun writing games! An outdoor theatre trip and occasional visits to other writing-related events are also becoming regular features. Recently, a visit to Paphos Writers in Cyprus was enjoyed by everyone who went and a planned writing break in France next month will add to our European ventures!
We even have our own ‘preferred’ Charity, G.O.E.S. The Gambian Occasional Emergency Support benefits from the proceeds of some of our sales and raffles – and we are constantly surprised and humbled that so much can be done with so little.
Despite the surrounding activity, writing is still at the centre of all that we do. We now have a healthy complement of published writers (novels, poetry and short stories) as well as others who just enjoy sharing the sheer pleasure of writing. Some of the group are prolific writers, some just write when the muse awakens; all are welcomed with the same enthusiasm and treated with the same respect.
Today, we have come a long, long way from Karen’s introduction to this demanding, frustrating, rewarding and exhilarating obsession. On a personal note, I am delighted to belong to such a diverse and convivial group of fellow writers (I use the term loosely in my own case!), who often make me laugh and sometimes make me cry. I’ve made new friends, widened my horizons and learned so many things I didn’t know – including a few that made my hair stand on end.
See what you started, Karen? Thank you!