Tales from the Treasurer – meeting held on 12th July 2017

The group were 8-strong at our most recent meeting and we had lively initial discussion about a few matters of business:

  • the need to find a new venue for our meetings – it was agreed to try the alcove in Queens Hotel for next meeting (if it is available – Rosie to confirm!) The group listed many other possibilities so we have lots of options to try!
  • the NW had been invited to take part in Dundee’s efforts to become European City of Culture in 2022.  Submissions were being requested for creative projects which would reflect Dundee’s cultural status and strong links with Europe.  It was agreed that the group would draft a submission ahead of the deadline which was 31st July.  Group will discuss at next meeting.
  • the bookmarks were in production and should be ready by end July.
  • the Law Hill poetry competition has launched – more info available on the Friends of Dundee Law facebook page.

Colin then chaired the discussion of various pieces of writing shared by members of the group:

  • Richard had written a quirky short story about time travel with the idea that time travellers might be nostalgic for the future rather than the past – a fabulous concept.  The piece was well received and included Richard’s usual excellent dialogue and unique ideas.
  • Roddie shared a short story which had previously been circulated to the group – he had done some major editing and was keen to get a second opinion.  The story focussed on a group of hardy rock climbers, an inexperienced group of wanabee climbers, some dodgy rope work followed by calamity and some missing teeth!  Everyone agreed that Roddie had much improved the pacing of the story and the change to the narrative voice.  Heated discussion ensued about the alleged misogyny of one of the main characters – a very provoking discussion about writing characters whose behaviour, you and your audience may not necessarily like!  Good luck to Roddie in his competition entry with this piece.
  • Aileen had written a 50 word poem inspired by her summer 2016 experience of having an Oor Wullie statue moving ever closer to her front door.  The group agreed that it was well constructed and a fine example of what can be a very tricky format to write in.
  • Colin shared the beginnings of a piece which he had been commissioned (yes that’s right, commissioned!) to write.  It was very engaging and featured a character experiencing some sort of ‘groundhog five minutes’ rather then a groundhog day!  But there was lots more to it than that, and small clues to the very observant reader that perhaps things were not quite the same each time.  We look forward to reading more of this character.
  • David shared a continuation of his short story about a guy’s visit to a graveyard to the resting place of a long-lost love.  A poignant piece with great dialogue and which, as ever, left us wanting to hear the next instalment.  David explained that this might form part of a larger piece containing a series of interlinked stories and characters.

As always it was a most enjoyable meeting featuring a weird and wonderful variety of work!

Reflections from the Rotating Chair

With huge thanks to Roddie for providing this write-up of our last meeting (31 August) – not only did he chair it…he took the notes as well!


The summer holiday season had taken its toll on attendance and we were down to just a fantastic five at our recent fortnightly meeting. However, there was plenty to discuss. Roddie had his turn in the chair.

Abby said that Creative Dundee’s Pecha Kucha (a multi-media talk/event) was fully booked for November but that there might be a slot available for Nethergate Writers in February 2017. We thought that a production, which would give snapshots of our work and what we do as a group, would be something worth putting together soon, in case a vacancy did come up in November through a cancellation. A pecha kucha consists of twenty slides, twenty seconds per slide and with a total time of six and a half minutes. It was decided that it would be useful for some of us to go to the November Pecha Kucha show and Abby and Rosie would look out for tickets.

Rosie said that our group membership of the Scottish Association of Writing Groups (SAW) had been accepted and an affiliation certificate had been received. SAW offered to send someone along to one of our meetings to explain more about the society. We thought that a date before Christmas would be good- as soon as a date for the AGM was established.

The AGM was provisionally set for the 17th of November. Fiona had made bookings for Oct 18 in 2F03, Nov 17 in 2F10 and Dec 12- 2F10. We were relieved to hear from Ray that he had been contacted by the Uni and informed that Zoe`s classes would indeed, restart in October.

Roddie passed round a copy of the soon to be released anthology of Dundee poetry “Seagate III” which is edited by Andy Jackson. We were pleased to see that works by five current or former Nethergate Writers were included. Roddie mentioned that his story set in a science lab had now appeared on Lablit.com.

Next item was competitions. Fiona mentioned that Creative Scotland had a call out for poetry about the Scottish coastline (deadline Oct 17). Roddie noted that the Templar Poetry folio competition closes on September 9th and submissions (poetry, prose, articles) for New Writing Scotland close at the end of September.

Dundee Rep are hosting a Hatch workshop on September 10 between 2-5 pm. The idea is to encourage collaboration between writers and the theatre. Roddie intended to go along and report back. The remaining business centred on publicity items for the group. Rosie had drafted up a flier for circulation and Abby kindly volunteered her husband`s graphical design skills to produce an A5 leaflet. The flier would direct readers to the website where Craig plans to put up a welcome notice. Abby suggested getting NW business cards made while Craig suggested bookmarks with details about NW. Rosie agreed to look into bookmark printing.

Rosie mentioned that she had been in touch with our old mentor and founder, Esther Read. Esther was delighted to hear that the group was still flourishing after her retirement. She also mentioned that some royalties had come in from Amazon ebook sales. The group then discussed the idea of making a short e-pamphlet with the delightfully salacious title “Fifty Shades of Tay” which could include fifty very short pieces or fifty, fifty –word poems. Fiona suggested making them stories and Abby suggested an upper size limit. The idea was that this would be available to download for free from Amazon, thus serving as a publicity tool. The group thought this could also be printed on paper to give out for publicity purposes – for example at the Dundee Literary Festival in Oct 2017.  This item would be brought back for further discussion at a future meeting.

Moving on to the reviewed work, there were two pieces, both on mountains, by Roddie.

The Old Man and the Mountain concerned the psychological need to climb and the physiological effects of doing so. It was liked by all. A suggestion was made that if the stanza which contained Scottish named peaks was removed, it might have a wider appeal.

The second piece A Fleet of Mountains Seen from Over Rosyth likened the mountains rising from the haar, to battleships steaming into the flat calm of the carse. Some issues raised over the poetic licence taken with geography, were constructively resolved by re-ordering a couple of lines.

The evening was concluded with a writing exercise which involved writing a start to a story using three different approaches- eg: using point of view, general events, dialogue or a variety of other devices. We read out our pieces and discovered how this approach not only advanced the plot/story line, but also suggested that some approaches made it easier to choose who the narrator should be.

Once again, a fun-filled, interesting evening. Next meeting will be on the 14th of September at 7 pm in 2S11.

The Engagement Party

Well I know for a fact that my sausage rolls would’ve been crisper than these ones. There’s not a thing I don’t know about making flaky pastry. By the taste of this sorry specimen, there’s a lot that Jean doesn’t know about making pastry.

“Oh Jean, I didn’t see you there, I’m just enjoying one of your delicious sausage rolls, did you make them yourself? You’ve certainly got the knack for pastry!”

Oh she didn’t stop, well probably for the best, I don’t think I could have said much more about that pastry. Where’s Bill got to now? I told him not to leave me on my own by the buffet, but look what he’s gone and done. I think I’ve already had seven cheese balls, and they aren’t even all that nice.

What do I do now though? Bill’s disappeared, and our Andrew’s glued to Sara’s side – that’s to be expected of course, and Bill did tell me, I do have to remember that its their party. You’d think he’d have time to come and chat to his old mum though.

Sara looks almost quite pretty tonight, but I don’t think that neckline works with her chin. I wonder if Andrew’s mentioned the wedding dress shopping expedition to her yet, I really feel I should be there, I’ve an eye for these things, and I mean I’ve been making curtains for years. Andrew looks so handsome though, he is quite a mix of me and Bill, luckily he got his height from my side, and all of his main features. He must be at least a foot taller than Sara. It still surprises me even now that I ended up marrying someone who was shorter than me. I’ve had to stick to flats all these years, think of the shoes that I’ve missed out on.

“Sara, you look beautiful, you’re positively glowing, let me give you a squeeze! Ooh yes off you go, I didn’t hear the door there, more guests I’m sure.”

Well they’ll practically have their house kitted out before they even get married, look at all these gifts, people do go over the top these days. But I wish you could have a proper look though, they’re not opening anything in front of us but I’d love to see. In my day, for the wedding anyway you had the ‘showing of the presents’ and I loved that. I remember my sister’s bedroom got turned into the viewing area, she was not best pleased, but I think it was just jealousy.

Sara mentioned something the other day about a wedding list, I mean a list where they tell you what they want, they’ve really got a cheek. And I think she said something about giving people the chance to buy a paving slab for the patio they’re planning to put in the garden, well I never, I mean how will you wrap that?


Rosie Baillie