Friday, 14 December 2012

Chiltern Writers

Welcome to my interview with Sandra Smith, from Chiltern Writers.


Hello Sandra, can you please tell us a bit about your writing group?
Chiltern Writers meets on the second Thursday of every month at 8pm in Wendover, Buckinghamshire. We’ll be celebrating our 25th anniversary in 2013.
Ooh, congratulations!  How many members, on average, does your group have?
We currently have 43 members. Visitors are always welcome to meetings.
Who are you and what is your role within the group?
I am the Chair. My main role is to assist the Committee (10 in total, including me) in fulfilling its functions by providing leadership and guidance and to ensure the smooth running of all CW meetings, both monthly members’ meetings and quarterly Committee meetings.
How are your sessions structured?
I  begin each monthly meeting with a welcome and sharing notices, eg members’ publishing successes. For at least 6 meetings we have speakers who give a 45 minute talk or workshop then answer questions. Another 4 meetings per year are manuscript evenings when we invite members / visitors to read out their work and receive constructive criticism from the rest of the group. The other 2 meetings are usually social events. We usually end each meeting with tea / coffee and informal chats.
Who have you had speak at your group?
They have included best selling authors, eg Carole Matthews; crime writers eg Zoe Sharpe; local newspaper group editors; magazine editors; poets, agents etc. 
What types of things do you cover in your group?
We try to cover all genres from short stories, novel writing, journalism, poetry, approaching editors / agents etc. 
What have been some of your most popular/successful activities?
The success of our meetings depends upon the ability of the speaker to deliver an engaging and useful talk, no matter their genre. Members want to go home at the end of the evening feeling they have learned something useful which will help them with their writing.
What genres do the members of your group write?
All sorts! We have published romantic novelists, poets, self published fantasy writers and self published crime writers, short story competitions winners, authors of children’s fiction, magazine features etc. Plus those who are still finding their way!
Have you ever written collectively as a group, such as producing an anthology?
To celebrate our 20th anniversary we published an anthology of members’ work. Also, a few years back, several of the group collaborated on a novel. It’s still in the bottom drawer at the moment.
Perhaps that could come out at the 25th anniversary.  What kind of support does your writing group provide for its writers?
We are a friendly, supportive group so meetings are an ideal way to chat and help motivate each other. Our manuscript evenings provide useful feedback. I send out a newsmail each month which includes details about courses, competitions etc. For the last 3 years I have organised annual short story and poetry competitions judged by published authors and with modest prizes. We also offer a critique service and bursaries.
What is the best piece of writing advice you've been given?
Don’t moan about not having a desk, or it being in the wrong place, covered in bills etc. You have a desk in your head so use it.
Or just work on the floor!  What is the best piece of writing advice you give?
Make time to write every day, if only 10 minutes.
Do members of the group get a chance to run/lead a session or part of a session?
Sometimes we ask a member to talk / run a workshop about their specific genre. 
Does your writing group have a website/blog/Twitter/Facebook?
How would someone go about joining your writing group?
You can just turn up to Wendover Library Room on any of the dates given on our website. If you prefer, you can contact us via the website first. 
Thank you very much Sandra.


  1. Hi Rebecca and Sandra

    Can't believe I've only just seen this! Great interview ladies, and as a member of Chiltern Writers I can back up what Sandra says about the support and fellowship of the Group, it's a great way to meet fellow writers, learn and generally support each other.

    1. Thank you for your comment, and I'm glad you liked the interview.