Anthologies and Writing Groups by Ann Evans


 Stories To Make You Smile is the new anthology put together by the Coventry Writers' Group. It's their fourth collection of members work. The first being Coventry Tales 1 which also took first place in an anthology competition, winning the group, I believe, £250. Then came Coventry Tales 2, and Christmas Tales, and now this one. As you'll gather from the title, it's a look at the lighter side of life with this collection.

Writing can be quite a solitary occupation so it's nice to meet up with fellow writers and work on a joint project such as an anthology. After writing our first a few years ago, we staged a performance at a local theatre, with wine and nibbles as an added incentive; and performed stories, plays and poetry to a full house. We've also done book signing events at the city centre library and in Waterstones.

Now that it's fairly easy to publish as print on demand, producing an anthology of members' work is a logical thing to do. It gives all the members a reason to get writing, it provides an option to learn about proof reading and editing, then of course there's the publishing and marketing side of things – so all good practice. And of course for some people having a story or poem published in an anthology, is the first thing they've ever had published, so gives them a huge boost.

Coventry Writers Group

Probably the best advice you can give anyone who is interested in writing, is to join a writing group.  I joined the Coventry Writers' Group back in the 1980s. Some good friendships have developed through the group, but of course people come and go and there's lots of old faces that stop coming for whatever reason, and you never see them again.

I'm pretty certain that the CWG began in the 1960s and we've met at a variety of different venues over that time. We now have the perfect venue. We meet in The Big Comfy Bookshop, which is set in a quirky 'village' of unusual and indepentant shops and little craft-type businesses. It lives up to its name with big comfy chairs and sofas, tables and coffee tables, and you can have wine, beer, tea and coffee and home made cake. It's also a hive for poetry performances and book signings. What could be more appropriate and inspiring than being surrounded by thousands of books as we chat about writing? 

Michael owner of the Big Comfy Bookshop

 Anyone else belong to a writing group? And do you fnd it useful?
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Chris Longmuir said…
Nice post, Ann, and I share your enthusiasm for writing groups. They are a great place to make friends, get crits of your work in a safe place, and all the rest. I'm a member of Angus Writers' Circle and I've been there from its conception so I'm a founder member and the only one who still regularly attends. I've found it of enormous value over the years.
misha said…
Writing groups have been essential to my development as a writer. First of all the feedback I get from Renegade Writers is vital. I've had to go home and scrap the first 30,000 words of a novel, re-write for the POV of the main character, or just tweak the odd sentence, but they have provided a service,for free, for which an editor would charge a fair amount of money. Plus you get encouragement and support, from people who really understand what you are going through.
Umberto Tosi said…
I swear by writing groups - formal or informal. I've started a few myself. Like restaurants and doctors, one should shop around to find the right fit for style and temperament. Good luck.
Fran B said…
Yes, been in one for nine years and started another one 2.5 years ago. I love seeing people gain in confidence and start to believe in themselves as writers. That's the best thing I have got out of the one I started. Before I retired from F/T work and started writing, I worked in community development and staff management. So I guess writing groups fill the 'empowering others' need for me.
The other group WAS very useful and motivating for about five years but now I have left them behind as I want to write snd publish my novels and they are still just enjoying it as a hobby and social occasion. But I have become fond of them and treat it as a day off when I go.
Ann Evans said…
Thank you for all your comments, it's great to see how writing groups have helped so many people, whether with practical help on honing the craft, or just as a social gathering, where everyone shares that same interest in writing. I keep trying to delve back into the past to find something online about our group's beginnings, to try and find an exact date, just for my own interest really. Cheers!
I think my favourite thing about writing groups is that it helps you to realise that you're not the only person who writes. I'm not really very good in groups generally, but I've theoretically been a member for some years of the local Edinburgh NaNoWriMo group, which meets once a week all the year round and more often during November. They don't do critiquing or anthologies or anything, just sit somewhere and write, so there is no pressure at all. Even when I don't go along, I know they're out there, and that's quite encouraging in itself!
I get a similar effect nowadays from living with my son, who sporadically also writes.

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