Hastings Writers’ Club

AT our meeting on February 25 we welcomed Andrea Samuelson, one of our favourite external experts, to judge our Memoir writing competition. A former member of the group, Andrea is now a successful published author and teaches creative writing locally.

Her task this time was formidable. She had to read, analyse and comment individually on 23 entries – a record for one of our internal competitions.

In addition, as Andrea commented before announcing the winners, life writing is far harder than it looks.

We think it will be easy to write about ourselves, but, as most of us discovered, it is hard to bring our own ‘voices’ to life. Many of us had not tried life-writing before, and found the exercise opened doors to memories and feelings we may never have fully explored. As ever, Andrea’s sensitive and thoughtful feedback was both illuminating and instructive.

From a very strong field, the eventual winners were: in fourth place John Cole, with Memories of a Great White Dope, an account of his experiences in a tough American boxing gym. Third was Mike Walsh with the moving - and raunchy - The Wine of Life, describing his relationship with his elderly father. Richard Holdsworth was in second place with his piece about being an evacuee, The Scorecard, and the winner was Eileen Masters, with the vivid A Strange Place to Picnic, about her experiences in Afghanistan.

In addition to the competition feedback, we also heard about plans for a 2013 group anthology, with a focus on animal tales. Profits from this will be shared with selected charities. Members were asked to volunteer to help edit the new book.

The Hastings Writers’ Group meets fortnightly at the White Rock Hotel. Our current group anthology, Strandline, is now available at the Hastings Waterstones, in Priory Meadow.

If you are interested in joining the group (there is currently a waiting list), or in finding out more about our activities, please contact the membership secretary, Amanda Giles, on 01424 442707 or email membership.hwg@gmail.com. You can also visit our website at www.hastingswriters.co.uk.