This is the online home for the Nethergate Writers.
Here we’ll provide news of our meetings and events, and keep you updated with information on all our activites. We’ll also provide examples of our work, as well as some behind the scenes details to help you get to know the members of the group.
Dundee Rep, in association with the University of Dundee, launched a creative writing competition to accompany its ensemble production of “Deathtrap”, its first production of the year. It’s an ‘edge of your seat murder mystery play.’
The task was to write an original piece of fiction in no more than 500 words. The subject was writing about writing.
A very large entry was received, so it is gratifying that one of our Nethergate Writers is a prize winner. Craig A. Mudie was one of two runners up.
We’re delighted for him. It’s well-deserved. We’re also pleased that one of our Nethergate Writers has been recognised in this way.
Our AGM is on Wednesday 28th February at 7pm in Room 2S11 of the Dalhousie Building.
Existing and prospective members are all welcome to attend.
Aside from reports of our activities over the last year and the election of office bearers, we will also be looking at our plans for the year ahead, which promises to be a very exciting one for the group.
Present: Roddie, Richard, Craig, Ray, David F. and David C.
1. Fifty Shades…
The idea of hiring students to give layout proposals is still seen as a good one. It was agreed that we (NW) should make direct contact with an appropriate class, and ask for entries to a pictorial competition, and that we would select the one that best reflected our ideas. We agreed a payment of up to £150.
Craig will make contact and report back.
Layout. Craig made suggestions as to how the pieces might be ordered. He had divided them into 5 categories;
– areas outside Dundee
– specific to river and bridges
– old Dundee
– modern Dundee
Craig said that he would send round to all members his suggested ordering and get reactions
Roddie will contact Dundee Literary Festival to seek a slot in the next Festival.
Deadline. We hoped that April might be a realistic aim.
Outlets for selling: Discovery Point, Tourist Office, Watermill Aberfeldy, and others.
2. City of Culture bid.
General regret expressed at the decision to suspend participation (although feeling was pessimistic about a positive outcome to the review).
We will look again at our project to see if there is any mileage in going it alone. David C. to do this with another volunteer (any takers?)
This needs to be held by 11April at the latest (ie 15 months maximum since the last one.) D.C. will email the committee to set up a meeting in January to finalise date and agenda.
Roddie had circulated two pieces.
(a) Polarity of Horizons.
A powerful poem dealing with bi-polar and related issues. The sustained metaphor was particularly appreciated., and we had a good discussion about an image late in the second verse about musical chairs.
(b) Carpe Diem.
This is an elegiac eulogy, and a very effective one. Many recognisable human failings are alluded to:
“We would catch up , eventually,
And of course it doesn’t happen. The last line is also a summary of the themes:
“Time makes fools of us all.”
Here’s a short piece by one of our members, Fiona Pretswell, taken from a writing exercise we did in one of our recent classes.
Whatever The Weather
It’s a Wednesday morning. 10.13 am. Not quite tea break time and I’m bored. No customers since we opened. I look up from my spreadsheet. Angie is filing her nails as per usual. Neil has his head buried in his desk. Could there be an more obvious way to use your phone at work. I really hope it isn’t porn again and if it is that he’s got the sound turned down. Unlike the last time.
I stifle a yawn behind a smile and rearrange my business cards.
The shop darkens. I look up to check the lights but the darkness has come in from the window. The sky is now almost black and huge hailstones are bouncing off the pavement. I stand up and walk over to watch. It’s like the world has changed to monochrome. The high street is deserted, shoppers scurrying for the nearest shelter. Our bell rings, I turn towards the noise and an elderly couple enter, scattering hail as they shake themselves off.
“We’d like to book a holiday” he says.
“A cruise” she adds “a long one”.
I smile again.
“Yes of course. Please, take a seat. A window cabin, a balcony?”
The commission is clocking up in my head. This global warming is good for us – sometimes.
Here’s the third part of our occasional series of Q&As, where we get to know a little about the members of the Nethergate Writers.
This time, it’s our Chair, David Carson.
1. How long have you been a writer?
Most pen-to-paper activities are writing in its broadest sense. I’ve been doing that from an early age – letters, memos, papers on subjects connected with my work in education. But I’ve only been attempting serious imaginative writing since I retired a number of years ago.
2. Have you had anything published?
When I was about ten years old, I entered a competition run by a Glasgow newspaper. The task was to write a story about “my pet dog”. To my surprise, I won, and my wee story duly appeared in the paper. The thing is, I didn’t have a dog, or indeed a pet of any kind at that time. So maybe that’s where my interest in fiction began!
I’ve had stories in seven of the Nethergate Writers books, but since these are to all intents and purposes self-published, by the group, I’m not sure that they count.
3. Do you have a writing routine?
No, but I have a thinking one. I often drop off to sleep in bed going over possible plots and characters that could become stories. The problem is that I’ve usually forgotten them come the morning.
4. Who is your literary hero or heroine?
I particularly admire Alice Munro. I think she’s unsurpassed as a short story writer. I also enjoy any book about the outdoors – Robert McFarlane is a fantastic writer – and especially about Scotland and its mountains. Mountaineering in Scotland by W. H. Murray, and The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd are particular favourites that I read at least once a year.
I recently came across a trilogy of novels by Kent Haruf, and was bowled over. And I very much enjoy the novels of Helen Dunmore and Sebastian Barry.
5. Do you prefer working in a particular genre?
Apart from the occasional stab at poetry (usually with a blunt instrument!), I have only written short stories and, more often, bits of short stories.
6. Do you have any writing ambitions?
I keep hoping that practice will make, if not perfect, at least for an improving ability to create some memorable characters in interesting and unusual situations.
7. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
To give advice implies a degree of expertise – so I will limit myself to suggesting two things – to take notes of what you hear and see (and read) in your daily life and routine; and to not be intimidated by the blank sheet of paper in front of you. Write, then revise.
8. What are you reading at the moment?
Now that I have more time, I’m becoming a bit of a profligate reader. Apart from an almost daily dose of Ralph Storer’s many guides to the Scottish Munros, I’m enjoying The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, Herring Tales by Donald S. Murray, Ali Smith’s Girl Meets Boy and collected short stories entitled Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami. And also a memoir by the Australian author Tim Winton.
Our chair, David Carson, is back with his round-up of our jam-packed last meeting.
10 regulars Ray, Abby, Craig, David F., Sue, Roddie, Colin, Rosie, Aileen, David C. And we welcomed two new faces – Scott and Linden.
Apologies from Richard.
Abby in the chair
– venue for Zoe’s classes – Abby will email her for details.
– David C. to email Scott’s and Linden’s email addresses to group.
– we will meet next Wednesday 11 October, and Rosie will find a room and inform.
– congratulations to Roddie on his latest successes. In the Broughty Ferry poetry competition he gained joint second and a highly commended; he has also had a poem accepted by Lallans; and in Open Mouse.
3. Discussion of writing:
This was almost entirely devoted to 50 Shades pieces. It consisted of review of new pieces submitted in
the past fortnight. Authors will make the appropriate revisions.
4. Preparation for next week‘s meeting:
– members who have not produced much for 50 Shades are invited to submit some by next week.
– members who have produced 5 or 5 plus pieces to self select favourites
– Abbey will bring together all of the 50 worders to facilitate selection and editing (55 at the latest count, so bravo Abby!).
– subsequently, all members to review for balance, breadth and any obvious omissions.
5. Agenda for 11/10 to include:
– starting to identify the definites for publication.
– identifying gaps and suggesting remedial action.
– working out next steps and agreeing meetings as necessary.
Finally, there was time for David C’s graveyard story part 3 to get a brief outing, but no time for discussion.
Craig, our webmaster, gives us an update on our last meeting.
Eight of our members braved the downpour to make it along to our last meeting, and we had a very productive evening.
Firstly, we discussed the upcoming re-start of Zoe’s classes. We had been contacted by e-mail a couple of days prior to the meeting, and David C had replied on behalf of the group, discussing possible venue options. We are now awaiting a further response from Zoe.
Roddie also mentioned a class being held at the University on ‘The Business of Writing“. He has signed up for the first term, and thought it may be of interest to other group members, too.
The rest of the evening was almost entirely taken up with discussion of our proposed ‘Fifty Shades of Tay‘ publication. Abby had helpfully provided collated copies of all the submissions we have so far, and this included a number of new pieces – one from Fiona, two each from Abby, Craig, Susan and David C, three from David F and a whopping six from Roddie! Most were well received, with only minor amendments suggested, but a couple are likely to undergo greater revisions ahead of our next meeting. Abby agreed to collect together any changes or new pieces. We also all agreed to read back through the submissions we’ve had and try to identify any topics that we think should be covered but haven’t been so far. We also discussed the word count criteria, and agreed that a manual count should be carried out for all pieces, and that hyphenated words, words containing apostrophes and acronyms and initialisms will all be considered as single words.
Having covered all the short pieces, we rounded off the meeting by looking at the next part of David C’s story ‘You Told Me‘, which has taken a twist that even David said he hadn’t anticipated when he’d started out. We all look forward to seeing the completed work soon.
It was another packed evening, enjoyed by all who came along.