Welcome to my interview with Kathy Sharp from Weymouth Writing Matters.
Hello Kathy, can you please tell us a bit about your group?
Our writing group is called Weymouth Writing Matters. It was set up about 3 years ago, with funding, principally as a writing for health and well-being group. Many of the original members had health problems to deal with, but now it’s a mixed, small, supportive group. We meet fortnightly on Fridays at Weymouth Library, Weymouth, Dorset, from 10am to 1pm. Sessions are free and open to anyone.
How many members, on average, does your group have?
We are an informal group, so membership varies all the time, but on average from four to nine members attend most meetings.
Who are you and what is your role within the group?
My name is Kathy Sharp, and I was one of the founder members of the group. There is no formal leader – we are more of a co-operative – but I usually take on the role of contact person and let people know when meetings take place.
How are your sessions structured?
There is no fixed structure to sessions, but in general we begin by exchanging news on writing projects, events etc, and then move on to one or two writing exercises.
Do members of the group get a chance to run/lead a session or part of a session?
Anyone can suggest ideas for writing exercises. Sometimes we plan an exercise in advance, but as often as not, we decide on the spot what to write about.
What types of things do you cover in your group?
This tends to depend on the make-up of the group at any given time. We have looked at different types and styles of poetry, at character development and other fiction topics.
What have been some of your most popular/successful activities?
Popular activities have included using pictures or postcards as a starting point for writing; bringing in objects and including them in a story; creating random phrases and using them as story/poem titles.
Do you have guest speakers at your group?
We have not had guest speakers, until now, as the group has no membership fee, and thus no funds to pay a speaker. However, we have recently asked a published writer to come and tell us about her book, and this session will take place soon.
What genres do the members of your group write? Is there a lot of diversity with regards to your members’ writing?
The group contains poets, novelists, short story and article writers and a writer of children’s poetry, some published, some not.
Have you ever written collectively as a group, such as producing an anthology?
We tried this for the first time just before Christmas, producing a very simple 16-page booklet of Christmas-related writing, which we printed at home. We made about 65 copies, sold them all and made some money for the group. We are now working on a similar spring-inspired booklet.
What kind of support does your writing group provide for its writers?
We support each other in many ways, from helping with basic ideas, to providing information on writing competitions and opportunities, pooling information on preparing synopses, etc, and warnings about vanity publishing. We also belong to the Dorset Writers’ Network which holds regular events on writing topics. Anyone who attends an event brings information/useful contacts back to the group.
Where do you get your ideas/writing prompts for the group from?
From the Internet, from books, from other writing groups, and DWN events, as mentioned above. And sometimes just out of our own heads on the spot!
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve been given?
Of course you can write fiction (I thought I couldn’t)
What is the best piece of writing advice you give?
Don’t be afraid to try ‘difficult’ things. You’ll learn something new however imperfect the result.
Does your writing group have a website/blog/twitter/facebook?
Weymouth Writing Matters has its own Facebook page.
How would someone go about joining your writing group?
Enquire at Weymouth Library or email me firstname.lastname@example.org to find out the date of the next meeting. Anybody can join us.
Thank you very much Kathy.