I am never happier than when I’m the company of fellow u3a Creative Writers, on screen or in person, so I viewed the interruption of our usual meetings, by the Covid-19 pandemic, with considerable alarm but members rose to the challenge and we have not only maintained interest but attracted more writers.
Stroud and District is fortunate in having four groups. Each meets on a different Tuesday of the month, so the really greedy (like myself) can actually write for all four, creating a new item of work each week. There is no demarcation between poetry, prose or even plays. Members go where the spirit leads them.
There have been few actual meetings since March 2020 so all our activities have continued by keyboard. A list of topics is prepared in advance but it is not mandatory. Stroud is famous for attracting dissidents, and, as we are not governed by meeting-times, we need not fix length. We write as much as we please.
Each group has a leader but I am the harrier, the coercer, the muazzin; nagging until the stories appear. All items are sent to me, as coordinator; numbered, and sent out (by permission) on a one-a-day basis. Everyone can thus look forward to piece of original writing every day.
Fortunately, it is an unelected position so nobody has to shoulder the blame for putting me in my place. It’s easy for me. I’m addicted. I wrote the 200 words of Terms and Conditions on the back of a bus ticket because I think Creative Writing is much like playing the piano; you get better if you practice every day.
Numbers mean little in this context but I feel I must embroider the general impression with a few facts. Twenty-four members write regularly, six more receive daily stories but are seldom inspired to write. No matter, have you ever heard of an actor who didn’t prefer performing in front of a bigger audience?
During 2020 just short of 300 items came in. We celebrated by creating an anthology, ‘20/20 Vision’. It was all very diplomatic; the authors themselves chose 46 items, selecting which was their best work, and, thanks to technology, thirty-six copies were printed and delivered free to contributors and friends.
This was our second anthology, the last was in 2018. Once every other year seems to be often enough.
The collections provide a permanent record of what our u3a writers were up to at that a point in time. It also means that we all can say, in casual conversation, “Oh, I’m an author, been published, in a book.”
We all try to write something really good; which is about as difficult as tattooing text on a soap bubble. The one feature common to all great writers (excluding Shakespeare), is that they must appear unhappy. That we cannot do, so we shall just have to rub along, polish our pabulum ‘til it shines, and do our best!