Welcome to my interview with Dave Feakes, from The Felixtowe Scribblers.
Hello Dave. Can you tell us a bit about your group?
The Felixstowe Scribblers, based in Felixstowe Library where we meet in the Room at The Top on the first and third Tuesday of each month – start time 7.30pm. Formed around 40 years ago (unable to substantiate the date though the group was formed by the Library though they have no input to our group nowadays.)
How many members does your group have?
A difficult one to answer! We have around fifty names on our email list, though we generally average around a dozen at meetings. There is no onus on members to attend every meeting so we have quite a ‘rolling’ type of attendance.
Who are you and what is your role within the group?
My name is Dave Feakes, currently chairman (or chairperson to be politically correct.) I have been a member since 1998 spending just over ten years as a hard-worked secretary until our current secretary, Barry Darnell, took over a couple of years back.
How are your sessions structured?
Our meetings are fairly diverse. Placing the onus on creative writing, every other meeting involves reading out the results of a one thousand word homework assignment set at the previous gathering for feedback. The topics are usually selected by one writer and can range from the mundane to the ridiculous! All in good fun though! Other meetings involve various genres, historical or geographical subjects whilst spread throughout the year we hold a number of four word creative writing sessions where four words are drawn out of hat. Then follows about thirty minutes to write a story to include those words. Finally, three times a year we hold an anonymous competition for attending members to win the Bill Budner Trophy in memory of one of our writers. Each story is read by an independent person and each entrant marks their favourites. The trophy, a cup, is engraved with the winner's name. Possibly the highlight in the calendar. Another meeting allows two writers to read out extracts from their ongoing work for in depth feedback.
What have been some of your most popular/successful activities?
Personally I favour three activities, these being the four word creative writing sessions, the in depth feedback on writers' ongoing work and the Bill Budner Trophy which I have been honoured to win three times.
Congratulations. I hope you're going to give someone else a chance to win it next time though! What genres do the members of your group write?
All homework subjects allow members to choose to write in a specific genre but I marvel how, from a one word subject, there can be such diversity. With a dozen writers you can guarantee a dozen different slants on the topic.
I guess that's one of the great things about a writing group; such diverse people meeting for a shared interest. Have you ever written collectively as a group, such as producing an anthology?
Yes. Our first attempt was last century (!) when a group of us wrote a stage play in a short space of time to meet an approaching deadline for a competition in Chelmsford. The play, ‘Kissagram’, did not win and has never been produced on stage but this was a good starting point.
We were asked to write a murder mystery for a local group who eventually decided against staging any production. The play, written by four of us, was called ‘The Crabby Arms Affair’.
We have produced two anthologies which were both self published and sell-outs the second with profits going to the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices.
Finally we were challenged to write a multipart ‘soap’ of around ten five minute episodes for Felixstowe TV. A team of four used an idea from every single member in producing a quirky script with a number of Scribblers acting alongside members from various amateur dramatic groups. The response of local businesses and celebrities was amazing and on a budget of nothing ‘The Lost Sock’ gained something of a cult internet status. Eventually all the episodes were drafted into a single DVD and we had a big screen première at the Spa Pavillion Felixstowe. It even had an airing on Sky TV – albeit on the Caravan Channel!Additionally we once took the opportunity for a regular slot on Ipswich Community Radio and even produced one show of our own. There are possibilities that there may be a future link with Felixstowe Radio.
Wow. All of those things sound amazing, and a lot of fun no doubt! What kind of support does your writing group provide for its writers?
We tend to give feedback and support for our members and do suggest that some work be sent to magazines for possible publication, others on how we, as a group, can see the possibilities of extending a 1,000 piece work into something longer.
Where do you get your ideas/writing prompts from?
Ideas are usually generated by the group in selecting a homework theme, sometimes it may be from a local or national event.
What is the best piece of writing advice you've been given?
Write regularly, each day if possible, and to get the words down on paper/computer. Just write. When the words have been exhausted then read over them, edit and tidy the work up.
What is the best piece of writing advice you give?
Find the best time of day to write, if possible somewhere quiet and away from outside influences. Then get your words down on paper. Tidy the work up and do a hard edit last of all.
Do you have guest speakers at your group?
No. We are a non profit making group and, until now, have had no membership fees, just a small donation to cover immediate costs. Bearing in mind the financial costs involved we have, regrettably voted against it. Currently Felixstowe Library are bringing in authors from time to time which gives our own group the ability to attend.
I've seen some brilliant writers at Lowestoft Library. Libraries are good places for these types of opportunities. Do members of the group get a chance to run/lead a session or part of a session?
Generally the meetings are led by the secretary but sometimes by committee members.
Does your writing group have a website/blog/Twitter/Facebook?
Yes we have a weblog which can be found at http://scribblers2010.blogspot.co.uk/
How would someone go about joining your writing group?
Simply come along to one of our meetings, or contact our secretary Barry at email@example.com or myself at firstname.lastname@example.org Details are on the weblog at http://scribblers2010.blogspot.co.uk/There is an annual membership fee of £25 or, for those wishing to pay on a meeting to meeting basis the cost will be £3. These fees are being raised to cover for the cost of hiring our meeting room.
Thank you very much, Dave.