June 7th, 2022Clunes Writers’ Group launches anthology
CLUNES Writers’ Group has published Unmasked: An Anthology.
Convenor Patsy Skinner said the book was started two years ago, with the idea that masks and restrictions would be a thing of the past within a year.
“Unfortunately, that became two years, and the book took two years to publish. The title has a double meaning, it is about coming out of restrictions but also about writers coming out because a lot of them were there for their first time in having something published.”
Patsy said the group, which has been in existence in different forms for about 20 years, had a theme or topic at each monthly meeting to prompt writers.
“So some of the stories or poems might be on a similar theme but the book has a series of different themes from prompts over those two years that we used to inspire people.
“We also find that even when we have a topic it is interesting how many people have a different take on it, a completely different perspective. Recently we had the word ‘luck’ and the ways people wrote about luck was really interesting.”
Patsy joined the group about five years ago after moving from Tasmania and at the time members mostly met in houses. They then moved to the Clunes RSL and when that became too small they moved again, this time to the Clunes Neighbourhood House. They are now in the Attitude building which offers disabled access and a more central location.
“That has really contributed to the group growing quite a lot in the past 12 months to two years. We have about 15 people, locals and also from Maryborough, Ballarat and Newstead, and have had some recent interest from the publishing of the anthology.”
Patsy said the group was a mixture of writers – some with experience, some just starting on the journey. A couple have self published, others have written for magazines, and some have completed biographies.
The group can be called on to offer gentle critique if asked, but generally does not do too much with feedback. “New writers in particular don’t want to be bombarded with suggestions so we only do it if people want feedback. And we give each person a chance to take the meeting so they can contribute with their own knowledge and genre. A poet might take a session on poems and poetry, someone else might talk about dialogue and others might be more experienced with short stories. The writing is very varied and it is important to give people a chance to express themselves.”
Patsy said the group very much came into its own during Covid, not only with support but keeping up good mental health and motivation.
“Some of our writers live on their own so it was great for them to be able to come along and share their writing. I have also seen more men come into the group which is fantastic. During breaks for a cuppa, they all seem to gather together and have a good chat.”
Patsy said a recent launch, pictured above, of the anthology had gone well with thanks to the Bendigo Bank, Hepburn Shire Council and Clunes Neighbourhood House. The book was printed by Ron Emerson in Maryborough and edited and typeset by one of the members, Judy Palmer, who runs a publishing group Harmony for Books.
And Patsy said a lot of time went into thinking about what should go on the back of the group’s first publication. “We all chatted and thought about it, and then one woman, who is in her 80s and can’t write anymore just said ‘what about this?’
“As wide as our landscape, as varied as our experiences, as rich as our delights, so here are our contributions for your enjoyment.”
“And we all said we would go with that.”
Unmasked: An Anthology is available from BOOM, the Clunes Neighbourhood House retail hub and Clunes’ Longview Meats. It is $25.
For information on the group contact Patsy Skinner on 0407 377 610.
Words: Donna Kelly | Image: Contributed