Sophie Dishman

Interview Follow Up: Holmeside Writers Group

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Holmeside Coffee

The Holmeside Writers Group began in February 2014 and has gone from strength to strength. The first meeting brought in 11 people and from then the group has grown increasingly. 

Sophie Dishman went along to the Second Draft meeting to interview members on Wednesday October 21.

The group meet twice a month and have many different creative individuals contributing.

Iain Rowan, the founder of Holmeside Writers said: “We’ve got poets, novelists, screenwriters, songwriters, people writing stand-up, people writing performance poetry – a whole mix of writers and a mix of experience as well”.

The group meets at Holmeside Coffee, a business that is described by Iain as a “cultural hub”. He talked to one of the owners – Joe and they discussed that there wasn’t many opportunities for people to become involved in organised writing groups in the Sunderland area.

From setting up the group, many of the members have become successful both personally and in their professional careers as writers. Some have won awards and competitions, whilst others have flourished in confidence.

Iain said: “Two years later they’re all still coming back and that for me is a real measure of success. Or you can look at how people have been doing…”.

“Getting placed 2nd in a national novel writing competition, winning awards for short films that they’ve workshopped the script with us and a whole host of people getting published for the first time…moving on to other projects…that’s a real success”.

Alan Parkinson came to the group last November, he said: I was struggling to write my second novel and finish it so I heard about the group and decided to come along to see how I find it”. Alan has since had another novel published and is currently working on his third.

Rachael Grieves said: “I feel as though the group encourages us to write more”. Louise Snowdon added to this, she said “this group does do a lot of writing.”.

Feedback and collaboration is a prominent part of Holmeside Writers. Tom Smith said: “We can all say when something’s not working. Critique really helps I think…everyone in the group is just so friendly”.

The writers group does have a professional but relaxed and informal atmosphere. Abigail Travers said “…It’s quite casual, it’s not like a class”.

Although there are challenges with the group, Ray Hopkins commented:

I think the word…writer and the job of being a writer is probably massively underestimated and the importance of it is massively overlooked. People don’t realise just how difficult it is and how hard it is to work at it”.

Alan Parkinson agreed, he said: “I had sort of a preconceived idea about what a writer’s group was like. I didn’t think I’d enjoy it and it was refreshing that fact that nearly every-body’s really normal and easy to get along with. A participant at the group agreed with this and said: [It’s]  kind of a community of like-minded or virtually like-minded people that you can talk to about you know various subjects that sometime’s it’s not something you can talk to others about”.

Jamie Richmond said: “I think that they push you to get beyond sort of boundaries in terms of writing…one of the things the writing group does is encourages you to take it a different way and try different situations and see what works best for you”.

The group meets on the first Wednesday and third Wednesday of every month between 6pm and 9pm. The first Wednesday is the First Draft meeting and the third Wednesday is the Second Draft. Everyone is welcome.

Holmeside Writers can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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