Members of the Paphos Writers’ Group belong for several reasons but there seems to be a recurrent theme:
"I came to the Paphos Writers’ Group with the ambition to write a novel. However, I soon found out there was more to it than being an incorrigible story teller with lots of ideas. The group encouraged me to develop techniques to commit to print the jumble in my head. With their inspiration and support, I have had my first novel, “The Last Olympiad,” published with a couple more on the way. I will always be grateful to the group and have set out to repay them: first by acting as group secretary for a couple of years and now as chairman. I have learned such a lot through tutorials as well as shared and hope I can pass this on by supporting others starting out as I did. Of course, there is always something new for me to learn as well." ~John Goodwin – Chair
"Since joining the group as a member I have gained confidence in writing through feedback from other members and exercises during and after the meetings. The writers’ group has given me the opportunity to experiment with techniques and various genres in a protected environment where everyone helps each other. I think this exposure and evaluation assists new writers to progress rapidly." ~Maurice Holloway – Deputy Chair
"I am a relatively new member of the Writers’ Group, about six months, and was introduced to it by a neighbour when I moved to Cyprus. Like so many people, I have always loved writing and had that novel biting at the back of my neck, yet I had allowed marriage, children and working full time to be my excuse for never sitting down and writing anything other than reports, minutes and oh yes, three riveting health and safety publications, with imagination being forbidden. PWG has given me confidence in my ability and the first 7,000 words of a novel are now down on paper, or at least on the screen! Trouble is another member’s work has just inspired me to write on a totally different subject and so a thousand words just had to flow at 2.15am the other morning. I feel through the interaction, exercises, tutorials, constructive critiques, (I hesitate to say criticism) and more than anything support, I will fulfil my dream. Already I feel more personally fulfilled and assured that I am able to string some words together, as three of my short pieces have already been voted on to the PWG website. Praise indeed." ~Nikki Burrows – Secretary
"I joined the Paphos Writers’ Group because I originally wanted to write a book about Cyprus. However, due to a lack of time for research, this project is ongoing now. In the meantime, I find it interesting to hone my writing skills, by interaction of the group members at their weekly meetings. Homework or an assignment is set on a different topic each week, which prompts us to learn about different genres, e.g. mystery, crime, romance, sci-fi, fantasy and so on.
Other homework themes have been that a word or sentence has been selected on which to write a short story, e.g. The Secret, Amateur Sleuths, The Storm etc. All these can be interpreted in the way the writer thinks fit. Poetry plays a part in our readings. Members write in different styles with different ‘voices’, all of which are interesting and educating.
The group is not a Creative Writers’ Lesson Group, but more of an interactive group with positive or negative critique on another member’s work. A word game can be beneficial too, since language evolves and word usage can change over the years. There are international members within the group, the working language of which is English. This also provides a different perspective when people write about their own experiences. Some write a travelogue, others about personal experiences in their work and lives abroad, e.g. China, Zambia, Cyprus, U.S., U.K. Overall the group is lively, and for those who are nervous about reading out their work, it provides a forum where people can learn to be more assertive and confident." ~Sue de Groot
"I had a novel planned in quite a lot of detail but had no real idea of how to write it. Hearing Sandy Sizmur talking to someone else about the PWG at a gardening group we both belonged to, I approached her about joining. She was very helpful and suggested I tried a meeting to see if it was what I wanted. She looked after me very well which eased my nerves at going into an established group of writers. I joined and acquired a mentor, Maurice Holloway, who gave me invaluable advice on writing. As a result my dialogue in particular, has improved tremendously. It was so stiff and stilted before as I had been used to writing reports and other very formal documents for a university. I’m constantly challenged to write in different genres as well as now finding that I can speed write! I would have cringed at the thought before and thought that I would never be able to do it. The group are very supportive: I receive critiques given in a constructive manner enabling me to learn all the time. There’s still a way to go but I’m currently writing two novels: “Payback Time” and “Brief Encounter.” Due to having guest speakers we learn from the experiences of others. I find the PWG inspiring and educational as well as having acquired friends. I now have the bug!" ~Annette S. Bielby
"I started to write my story “Abigail’s Rainbow” and knew I needed help. I have never thought of myself as a writer but after the loss of my daughter, Abigail, in a car accident in 2007 I was encouraged by a friend to share my story; to show others that what they feel while grieving is normal. But writing the words was not easy. I had no idea how to structure my writing, the layout or format that is expected of a book. I typed my emotions and feelings on my laptop, printed my journey and arrived at the Writers’ Group each week armed with my ramblings. The group very kindly let me read, cry and struggle on.
The group has been so supportive, encouraging and their critical feedback has been extremely helpful. I have learnt through tutorials: punctuation, grammar, where apostrophe’s should be and shouldn’t be along with many other tips and advice. The most helpful was probably learning how to write dialogue. I can honestly say I think it may have taken me a few years more to finish my book if it wasn’t for all the help and advice I received from the group. What a wonderful encouraging team everyone has been, thank you." ~Nicola Simpson
"When I first went to the Paphos Writers’ Group I had no idea how I would be greeted. I was entering into an unknown territory. How would all these writers react to me, and my stories, as I had suffered a lot of emotional and personal problems when first coming to Cyprus. However, my fear and apprehension were dispelled by a kind word and guiding hand from Sandy Sizmur, who told me of the procedures within the group to a fledgling writer such as I was.
Subsequently, due to encouragement, constructive criticism, and praise when necessary I found my writing improved immensely, and that I did not only want to write, but need to write. I was hooked. They gave me the discipline and confidence I needed to believe in myself. You have all been my renaissance. Thank you!" ~Dee Leigh
"I come along when I’m there (Cyprus) because I always find just meeting with other writers helps keep me motivated and interested in writing. I enjoy listening to other’s work (even if it’s not my genre) and I get useful, honest feedback on my own efforts when I need them. If I were there longer I’d enjoy joining in with some of the social activities and look forward to when I’ll be able to do so." ~Bob Barker
Do you belong to a writers' group? Which one? What do you get out of it?