I’ve wanted to expand my writing skillset for some time now. I’m comfortable with writing my short stories, flash fiction and haiku, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that my narrative creation goes down the same neural pathways, that I’ve made for myself a little story niche. It was with this in mind that I decided to join Ayr Writers’ Club.
I’ve been part of writing clubs before, but these consisted of informal feedback sessions where it wasn’t always clear that those giving feedback had read the submissions for that week. Ayr Writers’ Club has far more variety and structure to meetings, from club nights where members participate in writing games and exercises, through inputs from guest speakers, to awards nights and substantive feedback sessions.
I’ve really enjoyed the meetings so far, albeit they have been via Zoom due to social distancing. The writers are a friendly and engaging bunch and have a wealth of experience in writing, editing, and publishing. I really have been welcomed into what is an established group and it is a credit to the members that they convey that sense of welcome through webcams!
An aspect of the club that I really enjoy is the focus on competitions. There are ten club competitions throughout the year, judged by guest writers. These include contests for flash fiction, book reviews, drama scripts, non-fiction articles, and poetry. These have pushed me to go outwith my writing comfort zone – exactly what I was looking for when joining. There is also a real emphasis on quality. Members are encouraged to submit their work to Scottish Association of Writers competitions – a high bar to aim for and an excellent catalyst to improve attention to detail and quality in your writing.
I’ve really got a lot from my membership so far. The meetings and comradery are fantastic fun, the members knowledgeable and welcoming. I even had a stroke of luck when my review of Zadie Smith’s collection of essays ‘Feel Free’ won second prize in the book review competition. My take-home from this is that there are writing groups and then there are writing groups. AWC is the latter – great fun, well structured, and ambitious for its members.
Matthew Richardson is a writer of short stories. His work has featured in Gold Dust magazine, Literally Stories, Near to the Knuckle, McStorytellers, Penny Shorts, Soft Cartel, Whatever Keeps the Lights On, Flashback Fiction, and Shooter magazine. He is a doctoral student at the University of Dundee, a lucky husband, and a proud father.
Not necessarily in that order