November Newsletter: Raising a glass to our community
Fifteen years ago, I idly said to my friend, Richard (probably over a glass of wine), “You know what, we should start doing something together – something that uses both our skills.”
That might have been the beginning and end of All About Writing, had it not been for Trish who sighed and said, “You two couldn’t organise a piss-up in a winery.” And she took us in hand.
I’m not sure what I imagined we’d become, in the early days of face-to-face courses over our dining room tables, but I could never have guessed that, in our fifteenth year, our community would stretch across the globe, and that we’d be running retreats and workshops in Venice, Croatian Istria, Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, Stow-on-the-Wold in the UK, and Barrydale in the Karoo, South Africa.
I’m deeply grateful to my two partners, for never allowing our friendship to flag, my partner Fred de Vries for joining in, adding his skills and becoming our first associate, and to our other associates, Michele Rowe and Joanne Hichens, for joining us so enthusiastically and lending us their skills and passion. Thanks also to Pam Hemingway for her patience and kindness, and my daughter, Emma Hutton, for her creative ideas and keenness both to learn and to teach us.
Mostly, I’m grateful to you, for being there. We could never have kept on going, particularly over the Covid years, had it not been for your loyalty, friendship and joy in writing. Celebrating our anniversary in Venice, we raised a glass to you, our community. We love you guys.
Here’s another perspective on the pebble that Josie dropped in the pond all those years ago…
Fifteen years ago, give or take a few weeks, she called and said, “Would you be interested in teaching a bunch of English professors how to write?” The call was irresistible. That initial weekend turned into our first experiment in teaching a class of our own the rudiments of creative writing. When it became obvious that we lacked the skills required to rustle up clients, Trish offered to do so on our behalf. And so our partnership was established.
Teaching is, as I discovered, the best way to learn and so, whatever skills we’ve helped our many clients cultivate, they’ve helped me develop a whole range of my own, and for that, if for nothing else, I will be forever grateful.
But I’m also grateful (to put it mildly) for the opportunities these years have created: the friendships they’ve helped incubate, and the books they’ve yielded (over fifty of them).
And, of course, I’ve loved working with Trish, with Josie – and with you. So, let me flourish that invisible glass of prosecco and wish us all many more years.
Black Friday is upon us again, and our writing year is winding down. But we want you to start the new writing year with a bang.
We are offering you a massive 50% off our 30 Day Writing Bootcamp, designed to develop your writing discipline and hone your writing skills.
We invite you to join us on this thirty-day community challenge, starting on 3 January 2023. It offers you space to explore yourself creatively with no pressure, to interact with and get support from like minded writers, and to join weekly motivational Zoom sessions with Jo-Anne or Richard.
Some writing tips as our gift to you
- We all know the most difficult part of writing is getting started. Click here for our tips on how to stop procrastinating and start writing.
- In November many writers are undertaking the NaNoWriMo challenge to write fifty thousand words in just 30 days. It’s a huge challenge that can easily leave you feeling stuck and overwhelmed. Here are our eight tips to help you get there.
- Once you have completed the seemingly insurmountable task of finishing your first draft, you begin the tedious and painful task of editing. Here is our editing checklist to make this task a little bit easier.
All About Writing would not be the success that it is if it were not for our amazing community. We are always proud to see what our community members achieve and would like to highlight some of there recent achievements.
Jan Glazewski Launched his memoir Blood & Silver which tells an incredible story of family and survival.
Eva Mazza launched the much anticipated final installment of her “sex-trilogy”, Sex, Lies and Alibis, following the success of the bestsellers Sex, Lies & Stellenbosch and its sequel, Sex, Lies, Declassified.
Kat’s Venice and Istria report
It was a luxury to have unscheduled time in Venice to wander and ponder and tickle the creative parts of me. The morning schedule with lively communal breakfasts, lessons, and mentor meetings worked very well. Our group meshed remarkably well and we had interesting discussions. As the only American, I found some of the political talk over meals to be puzzling but oddly similar. While a diversion, our excursions were interesting and thoughtfully executed to give us additional experiences and bonding opportunities.
Read the rest of Kat’s reflection on her time in Venice and Istria with us here
And here are the results of our August/ September Flash Fiction Challenge
Here’s what we asked you to do for our August/September flash fiction challenge: Write a scene in which a long-held secret is revealed. Show us the consequences of this revelation and your character’s responses to it.
We had a lovely variety of responses, from the macabre to the laugh-out-funny.
Because it is beautifully written, and because the subtext is so suggestive, just a wisp – we’d love to know whether you picked up on it! – we’re giving first prize to Sandy Lee for her study in subtlety. You’ll need to read it carefully, and give due weight to all the clues that Sandy provides. Congratulations, Sandy, you win a a literary assessment of 5000 words worth R2750/£150 or a voucher to the same value to use on one of our courses or programmes.
Our list of runners up begins with Mitzi Bunce-van Rooyen’s Gut Punch, which ends with an exquisite twist of the knife in the narrator’s open wound.
Daryl Boswell’s gleeful celebration of a secret kept wins him a place on the podium.
Helen Niven plays on the worldwide tendency to polarised politics in her piece.
Linda Ravenhill’s character’s secret is one that can only be revealed in the rather chilly confines of the autopsy room.
And, finally, Lynn Joffe’s piece ends with a line as chilling as any mortuary: “That’s when the real police rocked up.”
Well done to all of you – and, of course, all the others who rolled up their sleeves and tried their hand at it. Read all the winning entries here.
And don’t forget to enter the current flash fiction challenge, which you’ll find here. Deadline midnight 30 November.
We also encourage you to enter the Short.Sharp.Stories Competition.
Short.Sharp.Stories invites you to write a short story of between 3000 and 5000 words reflecting or inspired by their relevant and exciting theme: Fluid is the freedom to be. Submit your entry before midnight, 15 December 2022. More information here
Jo-Anne and Richard