Our writing circle has been in existence for thirty years. It has remained a vibrant, thriving group over this time with new writers coming and going to keep it current and dynamic. As the celebration plans for the 700 years since the Declaration of Arbroath started gearing up, there had been talk of celebrating our own anniversary with a new AWC anthology. Seeking support through the 2020 Angus Artist Fund, this idea was able to take wings and fly.
Deciding to have a book of writings, and actually getting that task achieved proved to be an involved process. We wanted all members to feel ownership of the project and included in the submission and decision making.
We saw ourselves gathered round our large meeting room table, sifting through submission and chatting through our choices etc ah well then there was Covid!!!
We continued to meet on Zoom (not all but many), we had a writing circle Messenger group and we set up a subcommittee anthology group on Messenger to act as a hub for information and discussion.
We set a strict timeline for things to happen, and who would handle what, when it came to first readings and first edits. We are lucky to have experienced writers across all writing disciplines; novels, short stories, articles, flash fiction, poetry. Each cluster was sent all the submissions in their field and between them they read thousands of words and coming back with choices and suggestions. This was a long process and we wanted to include as many of our writers` work as possible.
We will not go into all the methods we used to get to the final formatting and editing, suffice to say we stuck to our time table.
This book is to celebrate a number of things.
We had asked for the writings to be inspired by Scotland; to introduce us to Scotland and it’s landscapes through their eyes.
We wanted to celebrate our writing circle and the ongoing atmosphere of total support and its` ability to give wise, constructive criticism to each other. This way of working has helped many writers go onto lead professional writing lives, but to still value being part of the circle.
This strange year the group has especially demonstrated its resilience and care for each other as we met the challenges that Covid presented to us all. The ability to collaborate closely, even through our growing sense of Covid isolation, has proved how close we are as a working group.
The launch of the book had to be done differently too. A selection of readings was chosen to reflect the history and different landscapes of Angus in the Anthology.
The authors were recorded at a Zoom event especially arranged by the 2020+1 organising group. This was supplemented by filming of some of the readings in situ; Arbroath Abbey, Forfar Loch and an ancient dry stone dyke on an authors own land, going back for generations.
This was a first for many of the authors, and it was such a lovely thing to do in a year where events like these are made even more special against the backdrop of Covid.
The book as we speak is now at the printers, what a great sense of achievement we all feel at getting this done. We are grateful to the 2020 committee for giving us this opportunity to celebrate with them the Declaration of Arbroath.