A Community of Writers
There is a lot of talk about Twitter and other social media platforms being toxic spaces of spite, negativity and competition where writers are often done down through cruel reviewing or even blanking.
For me, Twitter has been a place of companionship and cooperation. A platform where I have found wonderful support from writers across the world who have given me the confidence and belief to keep on writing when things have been difficult and when I have sometimes felt isolated in my craft.
I sometimes ponder on the best word to describe a collection of writers, either virtual or real. A friendliness of writers? A family of writers? But perhaps a community of writers says it best, in that as writers we share common interest and goals.
I am so lucky to be part of many communities of writers, all of which have welcomed me into their hearts and given me the impetus to write. Among these is the creative writing department at Swansea University where I studied for both my MA and my PhD. Though I completed my PhD in early 2017, I am still made to feel welcome and am often invited to talk, or run a workshop. Additionally, there is always an open invite to be part of the regular monthly PhD candidates’ fora where I can continue to benefit from the cross-fertilisation of ideas that Swansea University has become globally recognised for. www.swansea.ac.uk
I have a very special affection for the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University too, in relation to their wonderful Manchester Fiction Prize which has recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. As part of the celebration I was invited to the gala prize-giving and spent a wonderful evening at Chetham’s Baronial Hall listening to this year’s finalists. Last year I’d been a finalist myself, and was delighted to be informed that I’d been invited back as ‘the most prolific longlisted (x8) and shortlisted (x1) in the history of the prize’. It was great to be among writers who had figured in the prize during the last ten years. The feeling of family was palpable. www.mmu.ac.uk/writingschool
I need to mention the wonderful ‘The Lonely Crowd’ edited by Jon Lavin too for the community of writers he puts on the page of this wonderful twice-yearly publication. Not only that, but he arranges for these writers to come together in the flesh at readings. I am fortunate to have shared the pages of issue 8 and issue 10 with a community of fabulous writers and met them too at John’s events in Swansea and Cardiff. www.the lonelycrowd.org
And then there’s the acclaimed Fish Publishing that produces an annual anthology of prize-winning entries to their competition and brings these writers together for a launch at the West Cork Literary Festival www.westcorkmusic.ie in Bantry Bay, Ireland in July every year. This was an unforgettable experience for me last year to meet Editor Clem Cairns and an array of award-winning writers from across the globe.www.fishpublishing.com
I can’t leave out the writers who are now friends, whom I’ve met at the fiction clinics run by the maestro of short story and novella and internationally recognised mentor, the Irish writer Claire Keegan. Once you’ve shared a weekend in the company of Claire Keegan and the workshop particpants, you know you are bonded for life. www.ckfictionclinic.com
Finally, I’d like to acknowledge the community of writers at Hay Writers At Work. I was privileged to be selected to be part of twenty Welsh writers who write in English and Welsh and share eleven inspirational days at the Hay Festival 2018 in their company and the company of a stellar list of authors, publishers and agents that the CPD bursary had put together for us. It was a one in a lifetime (it could be twice if I’m very lucky) experience for which I am so grateful. A group of the most local writers of the programme have kept meeting up in the spirit of mutual support encouraged by Hay Writers at Work and our aptly named ‘Writers Out West’ meet at junction 49 M4, as and when we can, to share the ups and downs of life as a writer.www.hayfestival.com/writers-at-work
To them all I say a big thank you. Diolch yn fawr!