Sunday, 12 March 2017

Why I Always Enjoy ACW Writers' Days

By Rosemary Johnson (ACW Competitions Manager) 

As a Committee member, I'm always allocated a job; with luck, I'm on the teas and coffees, as I was last Saturday (11 March 2017).  Doing refreshments provides me with the chance to chat to everybody and, this time, at St Luke’s Church, Birmingham, we had the use of a super kitchen, including a dishwasher.  On other such occasions, we’ve had wonderful conversations, about writing, about church and everything else, whilst washing up.  It’s good to feel the reinforcement of being amongst other Christian writers, living, as we do, in what our vicar, sadly, calls ‘the post-Christian world’, where so many creative people are put off being ‘religious’ because it’s so uncool.  The bookstall of members’ (printed) books is a good place to browse, to buy that novel you’ve always been on the point of ordering on Amazon (but never did), and also for selling your own works.

Our speaker last Saturday was Australian writer, speaker and broadcaster, Sheridan Voysey, who has hosted the Australian Christian radio show, Open House, and published many books, the latest of which is Resurrection Year, his very frank memoir about his own and his wife’s climb back from the disappointment of being unable to have children.  I believe every member of his audience was on the brink of tears as he described how he and his wife, Merryn, were set on this rollercoaster of… expectation… then disappointment… expectation… disappointment…  Then repeat every month for twelve years, which included attempts at IVF and adoption.  An experienced radio host, his delivery was perfect.
Sheridan went on to talk about author-drive book publicity (how to promote your book).  After lunch, during his session on the other aspect of his work, radio broadcasting and podcasting, he invited individuals to come up and be interviewed as authors.  As a scribbling teenager, being interviewed (preferably on prime-time television) as a proper author was my secret fantasy; I used to daydream about going on Parkinson and imagining that the great Yorkshireman would be non-plussed when I informed him, with a disgruntled teenage scowl, that I didn’t like cinema.  However, on this occasion, I let everybody else have their turn.
Writing memoir and radio/podcasting would not have been my chosen topic, because I don’t aspire to do either, but most of Sheridan’s address was relevant to all writers.  He advises us that the gold will be found in the ground beneath your feet.  In other words, we should use the raw materials of our own life for our writing - people, places, emotions, revelations - and that we need to be in the right place to write about them.  This has (already) distilled in my mind what I should next turn my attention to, once I’ve completed my historical novel about the Solidarity era.
The next ACW Writers’ Day is scheduled for Saturday, 8 July, in Newcastle. 
Don’t forget to enter our current competition – the joint ACW/Alfie Dog Crime Fiction Competition.  All you need to do is to write a crime story in 1200 words.  Entry is free to members.  The deadline - Tuesday, 18 April (Easter Tuesday) - is creeping closer and closer.  More information on the ACW website.

Rosemary Johnson has had many short stories published, in print and online, amongst other places, in Alfie Dog Fiction, The Copperfield Review, Circa and Every Day Fiction.  In real life, she is a part-time IT tutor, living in Suffolk with her husband and cat.  Her cat supports her writing by sitting on her keyboard and deleting large portions of text.


  1. An excellent post, Rosemary. I wish I could have been there, but this helped me gain something from the day. Sue

  2. Glad you found it helpful. See you at the next Writers Day perhaps.

  3. You're right to be concerned about creative people being put off being religious - but I'm equally concerned about all the religious people being put off being creative!

  4. I always enjoy the ACW days too, Rosemary, and this last one was no exception.