Welcome To Our Website

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.

World Poetry Day 2018

Here’s a piece for World Poetry Day 2018 from one of our members, Roddie McKenzie.

Mind and Poem

I am the man,
the poem lives in me,
impressions of wondrous
things that I see,
fished out
by the neural net of my mind.
With paper and pen,
this beauty
I bind.

I am the mind, the poem is I,
the crystallised thought
that will never die.
Distilled from centuries of fermented thought.
I am the spirit,
folk should have sought.

I am the man, the poem, the soul.
created in flesh for an immortal role.
I am Malkuth, beginning and end
I am Kether, the cosmic diadem.

Roddie McKenzie, 1972 (tweeked March20th 2018).

New AGM Date

Following its postponement last week due to the snow, our AGM has now been rescheduled, and will be held on Monday 12th March at 7pm in Room 2S11 of the Dalhousie Building.
Our Chair, David Carson, has promised ‘interest and entertainment – guaranteed’, so we do hope you can make it along next week.

AGM Postponed

AGM Postponed – 28th February 2018


Due to the current bad weather and the forecast of more to come today, the committee has unanimously decided to postpone tonight’s scheduled AGM.

Further details of the rescheduled date will be available as soon as possible.

A Nethergate Writer’s Success.

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.

Further details can be found here – http://www.dundeerep.co.uk/article/writing-competition-celebrates-first-dundee-rep-ensemble-show-of-the-year

David Carson
Chair, NW

Meet the Nethergate Writers – Fiona Pretswell

This is the fourth of our occasional series of Q&As, to help you get to know a little about the members of the Nethergate Writers.

This time, it’s our Secretary, Fiona Pretswell.

1. How long have you been a writer?
I wrote as a young teenager then not again for years. Started again about 7 years ago.

2. Have you had anything published?
Four stories in the Nethergate Writers anthologies and a story in one of the Dundee Writes publications.

3. Do you have a writing routine?
No. I write whenever I can but don’t get much time to do so.

4. Who is your literary hero or heroine?
Charlotte Bronte for creating one of the best woman in literature in Jane Eyre.

5. Do you prefer working in a particular genre?
I usually start as chick lit but end up with death and destruction.

6. Do you have any writing ambitions?
I would love to write a crime novel.

7. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Get a notebook and start writing down stuff that you find interesting. Overheard conversations or news stories that spark and idea.

8. What are you reading at the moment?
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Nethergate Writers Meeting – 29th November 2017 – Minutes


Present: Roddie, Richard, Craig, Ray, David F. and David C.

1. Business.

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
– transport
– 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?)

3. AGM.

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.

2. Writing.

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,
No worries”

And of course it doesn’t happen. The last line is also a summary of the themes:
“Time makes fools of us all.”

David C. 2 December 2017

Whatever The Weather

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.


Ah I think. Where fools rush in.

Meet the Nethergate Writers – David Carson

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.

David, hard at work.

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.

Chattering From The Chair – 4th October 2017

Our chair, David Carson, is back with his round-up of our jam-packed last meeting.

1. Present:

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

2. Business:
– 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.