West Street Writers – invitation to join

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Creative writing groups are strange and wonderful – key to their magic is their mix of minds and imaginings.  Keep the membership fresh and the stories never fade.

West Street Writers is a group in Farnham, on the Surrey/Hampshire border.  It meets weekly in the library of the old town’s museum.  The group is  always keen to have new members – enthusiast, beginner or expert – all standards are welcome.

West Street Writers, according to long-standing member Peter Rolls, is about:

“ .. opportunity, encouragement, feed-back – the writing and the ‘performing’ are a vital stimulus. Creative atmosphere – that’s the thing … It is never what you expect. Less easily defined is the chance of a weekly chat about writing (and many, many other) matters. You could probably call it ‘cultural exchange’, except that that is an off-putting, over-intellectual term.”

The key criteria for joining the group  are that:
  • you love writing;
  • you’re free on Friday mornings (10.00 – 12.00);
  • and you’re happy to give it a go.

The group membership changes weekly but the full complement would normally include: a veteran, and occasionally successful, competition entrant; an aspiring children’s writer; an ‘L’ plated journalist; and a couple of short story/song-writing enthusiasts.   Everyone is really a ‘try-anything’ – there each week for the enjoyment.   It makes for an unexpected mix – welcoming, never short of ideas and always hopeful that a gold-plated opportunity is about to stroll through the door.

Visitors are invited to the group every so often either to teach or to demonstrate their skills.  Over the last three years a performance poet has previewed with the group before his summer run of shows in Canada and at the Edinburgh Festival, and a creative writing teacher has also come in to up the homework rate and set new challenges.

A typical morning with the West Street Writers begins with ideas – conversation that may lead somewhere in particular … or it may not.  Leadership of the group rotates on a weekly basis.  It is the job of the leader to bring the room to order and to get the writing going.  If anyone has anything to read out to the group this is their chance.  Once the piece has been heard there will be discussion about the work – perhaps a few suggestions for changes.

Reading work out to strangers is probably the most daunting part of the session for a new member but it does become the most valuable.  The fine-tuning  is interactive and stimulating – it adds real value to hours of lonely rewriting.

Mid-way through the morning there is always a coffee break followed by more reading or else a task and usually some debate about the latest homework ideas set by the leader.   The two hours disappear in a rush.  You may not have done much writing in that time but you will know that your mind has had a good outing.

The only cost is room hire which, depending on the size of the group, is normally between £20 and £30 a term.

If you’re interested in joining West Street Writers please contact: pjrolls02@yahoo.co.uk to arrange a chance to meet the group with no obligation on either side.

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