Ready to leave the garret?
OK… the vision of the impoverished writer scribbling away in a rat-infested garret is an out-of-date stereotype. But what remains true when you’ve dismissed the caricature is that the calling to write can mean lots of lonely hours. Yes, you can play your favourite tracks or have John Humphrys burbling in the background. You can stroke the cat, install a cappuccino machine, make sure you’ve got an endless supply of Everton mints, flirt on Facebook or make frequent and not always necessary visits to the post office. But when push comes to shove, it’s just you, the keyboard, the deadline and your untamed thoughts. Writing can be a solitary business.
It’s nearly 40 years since I started work as a trainee reporter on the Bristol Evening Post group, fresh out of school. Since then, I’ve accumulated a CV rich in writing and publishing experiences. I’ve ghost written several books, had some of my titles translated into Chinese and one into Japanese. I’ve had a novel published and countless articles in magazines and newspapers. I’ve been the editor of a mission magazine and several charity newsletters. I’ve birthed a Bible reading magazine and wept when it folded after 14 issues. I spent over 11 years as a commissioning editor with a major Christian publisher and launched at least a dozen first-time writers into print.
And I know that being a writer can be lonely to the point of desolation. Which is why for over 35 years I’ve been a member of the Association of Christian Writers and why I said ‘yes’ when I was asked to become chairman just over a year ago.
The fellowship of like-minded people is a wonderful thing. When I walk into a hall packed with writers at the start of a writers’ day, the buzz is amazing. We are all ages, all shapes and sizes, and have all kinds of writing experience or maybe none except the burning desire to put pen to paper. We are budding or actual crime writers, romantic novelists, poets, children’s writers. Mingling with us are editors or real live publishers – those magical people who can sometimes make dreams come true for some of the writers.
The Association of Christian Writers exists to offer fellowship, encouragement, training and inspiration to all kinds of writers or wannabe writers. You may write material that is gloriously Christian in content. Or you may write geography textbooks or science fiction or cookery books in which you’d be hard pushed to include anything about the gospel of Jesus Christ. But if you write and you are a Christian, then you are welcome in ACW. We know that even if your writing is not explicitly Christian, then it will implicitly bear the marks of the Master who is the Living Word, for you will want to do it to a standard of excellence that will honour him.
ACW runs two writers’ days in London every year in March and October and a weekend residential conference every other year in the summer as well as a growing number of regional events. ACW also coordinates about 35 area groups across the UK, groups of between half a dozen and 20 members who meet – some weekly, some monthly, some quarterly – to encourage one another, sharing their writing journeys. ACW sends members a quarterly magazine packed with fascinating and helpful articles and a monthly email newsletter of competition and publishing industry news, market opportunities and other ‘writerly’ snippets. Also on offer is prayer and manuscript criticism. But at the heart of all that ACW does is that buzz of sharing with others who love words. So get ready to leave the garret…
To find out more, go to www.christianwriters.org.uk
Association of Christian Writers