Welcome to my interview with Alan Barnes from Scottie Writers.
Hello Alan. Can you tell us a bit about your writing group?
“Scottie Writers” in it’s present form has been in existence for the past Four years.The name of the group derives from the location in Liverpool but in no way limits where the members come from. Neither does it mean that our writing is limited to this area of Liverpool or indeed to Liverpool at all.We meet on a weekly basis each Wednesday from 6.30pm. to 8.30 pm. at the Silvestrian Centre, Silvester Street, Liverpool 5.(off Vauxhall Rd.)The group is open to anyone regardless of their level or skill.
How many members, on average, does your group have?
Membership fluctuates, but currently there are ten members.
Who are you and what is your role within the group?
I am the prime contact and secretary.
How are your sessions structured?
Each week one of the group picks a subject/topic/suggestion for the group to write about for the following week. (Because everyone has a life to lead this effectively gives you about two days to write.) The group is very much a “creative” writing group and so the scope for writing is limited only by one’s imagination. The following week we each read our stories/poems/essays, whatever form the individual writer may have chosen, and friendly criticism is given.Each session starts with a.o.b. which usually is information that may be of interest to the group.
What types of things do you cover in your group?
The range of writing can be anything, mostly short stories (life, SF., fantasy, observation, relationships, children’s, etc.) poems, essays, plays, excerpts from longer/continuing stories.
What have been some of your most popular/successful activities?
Both individually and collectively members have had plays performed, taken part in readings, read on local radio (BBC Radio Merseyside) a collaborative piece about the history/spirit of the River Mersey, and taken part in a collaboration with Liverpool Everyman/Playhouse theatres to devise and deliver a series of short monologues along by the locks of the Leeds Liverpool canal.We have quite a close relationship with Everyman/Playhouse theatres through their community outreach programme and attend workshops followed by the performance on quite a regular basis, which has proved to be very popular with the group.
What genres do the members of your group write?
Although there are one or two members who usually write humorous pieces, and another who favours poetry, the actual content or genre can vary vastly. The “style” of writing within the group is as individual as the members themselves, but there is also an element of influence that permeates between members.
Have you ever written collectively as a group, such as producing an anthology?
As mentioned above we have undertaken a couple of projects where we have written as a group, and with others.Although we would love to produce an Anthology as yet that still remains an ambition.
What kind of support does your writing group provide for its writers?
We are constantly in touch via e-mail, and we do offer as much support as we can. This may take the form of a read through of a play, or offering advice re construction etc.Each week too I bring information of competitions/events that may be of interest to members.
Where do you get your ideas/writing prompts from?
Prompts come from within the group in the main however there have been the odd occasion when prompts have come from elsewhere, for example working on a subject from an external source. How those prompts are then visualised is left to the individual.
What is the best piece of writing advice you've been given?
Write what you know.
What is the best piece of writing advice you give?
Write what and who you know, be observant and don’t shy away from detail.
Do you have guest speakers at your group?
We have had guests usually connected to a project we may be getting involved with. We have not as yet had guest writers, although we are currently arranging for a play-write to visit.
Do members of the group get a chance to run/lead a session or part of a session?
No. Although from time to time we do put one of the members “under the spotlight” where they have the opportunity to read several pieces and receive in depth criticism. These nights are occasional rather than regular. If a member has a play or whatever that requires taking over the entire evening we will always accommodate.
Does your writing group have a website/blog/Facebook/Twitter?
One of our members has recently set up a Facebook page on behalf of the group, however at this time it only contains examples of his writing - www.facebook.com/ScottieRoadWriters.
How would someone go about joining your writing group?
Thank you very much Alan.Normally contact has been made either because they have searched for a writing group and come across contact details on the “Fiction Garden” website, or by word of mouth.Once I have been contacted either by e-mail or phone the invitation is there to attend the next meeting.