Invest in henchmen, buy some heavy duty weaponry and get a fluffy white cat to stroke inside a secret base.

Hang on. That’s the ‘Survive Brexit’ folder. Ahh, here’s the AGM news…

After hearing the results of the Flash Fiction competition (more on that later), we worked through the agenda and listened to the Treasurer’s Report that Brenda had produced. We’re still in a reasonably good financial position although around £100 down on last year; one of the things we need to look at is improving the number of competition entries, probably by better sharing of information on other online resources. The Newark Book Festival costs were generally one-offs so next year’s stand will be much cheaper to pull together. Further sales of Gobstoppers, Shrimps and Sour Monkeys will also help profits.

We all thanked Brenda for her time and effort as Treasurer and Competitions Secretary and hope that now she has stepped down she can find more time to write. We also wished Sue Vickers well as she recovers from another operation; we hope to see her and Andy in the near future once she’s back on her feet.

After a brief run-through of the highlights of the past twelve months (mainly the Book Festival and the anthology) the Chair’s Report looked at future challenges.

Firstly, to make the group more accessible and useful to online members and to those who can’t always make the scheduled meetings. Online forums and closed-groups on Facebook were discussed but I can add an update: we now have a Fosseway Forum attached to our website – see the Members Zone link on the menu. More details will be sent out later but please have a look and add your email to register.

We also need to hook up with any creative writing courses in the Newark area. The phrase “gatecrash” was used and I think that’s pretty accurate. We’ll assemble special SWAT teams and launch some raids on unsuspecting budding writers. I’ve got a list of when and where they’re happening so get ready to saddle up (Tuesday mornings 18 Sep to 23 Oct at Southwell Library; Thursday evenings 20 Sep to 25 Oct at The Grove Newark Academy; and Thursday afternoons 27 Sep to 25 Oct at Newark Library, with further courses beginning in November). We’ll need to have some printed material to hand out and probably the easiest thing is to utilise the copy on the website.

There are opportunities to make links with other groups, such as Nottingham Writers Studio, Writing East Midlands, Sleaford Hub and Play Group (the Robin Hood Theatre script writing group at Averham). The latter are currently accepting submissions of scripts but it may be tricky to produce a 100 minute play with at least four actors before the end of September, but it’s definitely something that members could look at for next year.

Fosseway Writers are also involved with the new Creative Newark project which is a central focal point for all things creative in the area. A recent meeting looked at the possibility of bringing the various arts & crafts groups and individuals together for a joint project and Fosseway will probably be in the thick of it.

Next year’s Book Festival will be 12-14 July and we need to mark it in our diaries so that we have a few members available to man the stand and chat to the timid Newark public and chivvy them into joining, or at least buying a book.

Talking of which, there seemed to be a general consensus that we ought to produce another book for next year’s festival. My suggestion is to avoid replicating a standard anthology but to go for a multi-author collaboration project with each chapter being a first person narrative and each character written by a specific author. We tentatively agreed that the setting would be a school reunion and that each chapter would focus on some kind of relationship angle between the protagonist and one of the other attendees. Encompassing the whole narrative would be some kind of murder (or two) because that’s what we seem to do best. And this is where the Fosseway Forum comes into play because it’s the ideal vehicle to share and collaborate. Once we have established our characters and begun to write some basic sequences, there (hopefully) will be some cross-pollination and the different characters and scenarios will bleed into each other whilst still retaining individual voices. Probably. It might not work but I think it’s definitely worth having a go. If you’re interested please sign up for access to the forum.

The final part of the Chair’s Report covered the Newark Castle Gatehouse Project which has applied for Heritage Lottery Funding to add a roof and floors to a significant part of the castle. They have got in touch to ask whether we would be interested in providing some kind of engagement activity to help promote the project and to provide information on our likely costs. Suggested ideas include competitions, readings/performances, a bespoke murder mystery event, and creative writing sessions with school groups.

Finally, we had some committee vacancies to fill and we’re delighted to welcome the following to positions of dubious power and influence:

  • Clair Robshaw – Programme Secretary and Social Media Assistant
  • Anne Howkins – Treasurer
  • Maria Dziedzan – Competitions Secretary

On a personal note, I’d like to finish by saying that this group is a valuable asset to Newark and the surrounding area, bringing people together to share the pain and frustration of trying to create written art – but also to share in the delight and wonder when one of our number blows us away with something sublime. But even if we’re not entirely happy with what we’ve achieved as individuals, we are still ‘doing’. All I can ask is that you keep coming, keep sharing and keep writing.


Nick Rowe, Chair

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