Every other month or so, Harpenden Writers meet to read aloud their work in the round. It can be fresh off-the-cuff written over breakfast that morning, or an on-going project that’s hit a sticking point. It can be a piece of writing honed a while ago that fits the optional theme or it can be a published piece and therefore a cause for celebration. Constructive criticism is always available if required and indeed requested, but there’s no point-scoring. We are generally precise with our editing suggestions, well-meaning with our responses, and positive with other comments.
The writers group exists to encourage, support and inspire local aspiring or already successfully published poets, novelists, journalists, essayists, playwrights, lyricists – in fact, you name it. We’ve seen a great range of writers in our meetings over the last 20 years.
Much of our members’ best recent work is showcased in our recently published Anthology, available here. A group endeavour, spearheaded by our volunteer committee and the anthology project team, this book is testament to what we have built up between us over the two decades of our existence.
So, for this blogger thinking about the “builders” theme this month, I want to widen the definition. When I think of builders, I also think of construction. And when I think of what they can construct, it’s not only buildings and bridges and so forth that I picture, but it’s the environment created within and around such structures. By ‘environment’, I mean not just the practical utility but the aesthetic character of a space; what it feels like to be there; the aura and the atmosphere.
This brings me right back to Harpenden Writers and our mission to bring together those who want to write and those who enjoy thinking about it. With the aim of sharing and celebrating unique works built out of words, we have also constructed a safe, friendly and intellectually stimulating environment, conducive to this activity.
Most of the time, this environment we have constructed around our shared interest in creative writing is intangible. But when it does manifest itself as we gather at our monthly meetings, in the Friends’ Meeting House, in Harpenden, there’s no doubt that we’ve all been builders together in this rather special community.