Last night I attended the first meeting for 2013 of my writers’ group. I’ve been a member now for nearly five years and it has been wonderful experience, each meeting stretching me as a writer. For the first time in the group’s eight year existence, we changed venue to a nearby country location, namely, Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills, rather than near the city CBD. As it turns out, this location is far more central to the majority of members; we just didn’t realise how many of us lived away from the city.
I’ve been an active member of several writers’ groups in the last five years. Over the last few years I’ve even jointly helped to run one. I’ve found that being a member of such a group has many beneficial spin-offs. Some of the benefits as I see it are as follows:
- A sense of belonging – writing can be such a lonely business.
- A place to safely share your work with fellow writers.
- A place to safely share in the struggles of being a writer, and getting mutual support.
- A place to receive honest and constructive critiquing of your writing. (If your group doesn’t do this, it might be time to set down some rules of conduct – or leave the group.)
- A place of encouragement in a world where trying to get writing published can be very discouraging.
- A place to be challenged and encouraged to write more, and perhaps in a genre one would normally not write.
My advice to all my readers is to seek out a writers’ group near where you live. And if you can’t find one, start one, perhaps coordinating it through your local library, or writing a letter to or article for the local newspaper, or even getting an interview spot on local radio.
I don’t get too many opportunities to watch sport on television these days but when I do I am often inspired by the efforts of elite athletes.
Over the last week I have been watching the television coverage of some of the events in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. These games, like the Olympics, are held every four years in a country belonging to the Commonwealth of Nations. The countries involved include Australia, England, Wales, Scotland, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and many of the other countries that once made up the British Empire. The Commonwealth Games are often referred to as The Friendly Games with a much more relaxed approach to the event. Competition in the field and pool are still fiercely competitive despite this friendliness, and many records, including world records, are broken.
It is pleasing to me that a country like Australia with a relatively small population base does so well in these and other games. During the last Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006 Australian athletes won more gold medals than the next four best countries combined. The trend this time is going the same way again though host nation India is having a big impact on the results.
During any games events there are many outstanding athletic achievements. Several competitors have already gained three or four gold medals with still five days of competition to go. One effort, however, stands out for me. Australian swimmer Ben Austin is not a household name even here in Australia. A few days ago he won a gold medal in the 100 meter freestyle event. His time would have won every gold medal in this event up to the 1974 Commonwealth Games.
So what, you ask?
Ben happens to have only one arm.
Ben swims in the EAD events. EAD stands for Elite Athletes with a Disability. His classification is S8 (above elbow amputee). His times are not all that far behind swimmers with two arms. What an achievement. And how inspirational is that achievement?
What has this got to do with writing? Too often writers – me included – grumble when things go wrong, a story is not developing as we’d like it, we have a headache, a poem gets rejected by a publisher or some other minor inconvenience and we feel like giving up. It is times like this we need to remember the Bens of this world. He has achieved great things despite having only one arm. And what about theswimmer in the last Paralympics who won the hearts of so many because he swam the length of the pool with NO arms?
Don’t give up – Good writing.