I’m still waiting for A Great Voice to come from Above and say “You are official now. You can call yourself a writer.”
In spite of 36 years worth of writing and publishing I cringe when somebody introduces me as a writer.
But being someone who writes is no different than being someone who canoes. Or knits. Or tap dances. And nobody ever says “This is my friend Dot and she’s a knitter.”
Being introduced as a ‘writer’ makes me cringe. It places a yoke upon my shoulders which I am not sure I can carry.
Figuring out where we fit into the giant jigsaw of the Writing World is a tough one. The demands are great. The competition is stiff. And what I have discovered over the past 36 years is that the financial gains are pathetic. (I will never get that! Why have some illustrators made big money to accompany my own thousand word freelance newspaper articles that have often gone unpaid because of ‘difficult times in the industry?” Aren’t words the reason that people read newspapers?)
Enter the item that has been my solution.
I joined The Society of Women Writers And Journalists in Britain about thirty years ago. Take a look at their website ( www.swwj.co.uk) and you will see that their history in women’s journalism is rich indeed.
The Society began in 1894 with George Bernard Shaw as their first Speaker. Various Presidents down through the years have included literary luminaries in the persons of Joyce Grenfell, Nina Bawden, Lady Elizabeth Longford.
Their Annual General Meetings are held at The National Liberal Club in Whitehall London. The last speakers I heard at the AGM were the members of the family of the Late Jennifer Worth, the former SWWJ member who wrote the ‘Call The Midwife’ books based on her personal experiences. Another time the Late Sir John Mortimer was the Guest. The SWWJ post-meeting ‘tea’ makes what is served at Downton Abbey look like lunch at McDonald’s.
They hold wonderful contests for the membership. It gives opportunity for entrant’s writing to be judged by professionals. I one year won The Lady Violet Astor Silver Rosebowl Award for a published newspaper article. I wanted it because of its wonderful name.
Nowhere in Canada would there ever be an award with a name like that on it, nor the opportunity to win it unless you have achieved the heights in the industry. I’m happy to say that the Rosebowl has been inscribed with the names of all the past year’s winners and rests in the library at Chawton House (Jane Austen’s house) in England. Where else could that happen?
I’ve told you about the contests, the prizes and the tea (sandwiches, cream cakes, tarts, strawberries.) I must also mention the terrific online Women Writer’s magazine that is a part of the membership.
And now this is where you come in.
SWWJ is looking for new members. There are various levels of membership as you will see on their website. This group is also open now to men and to those of you who are involved in not only writing but in indexing, publishing and other areas within the ‘word’ industry.
Take a look at the website above and see where you fit. It will be well worth the subscription fee of fifty Pounds Sterling for UK members and forty Pounds Sterling for the rest of the world.
If you swim everyday I guess you’re a swimmer.
If you learned to cook at Cordon Bleu you’re a Gourmand.
If you write, that makes you a writer.
Those of us who do it regularly just know enough not to imbue it with glamour.
It’s like swimming lengths.
It’s disciplined work.
We need all the help we can get.
Judy Pollard Smith writes from Hamilton Ontario.