The main problem with people writing opinion pieces for a publication like The Isle of Thanet News is that they will inevitably write about what they are interested in. If they are politically campaigning, getting married, or walking marathons, there will be articles about it. For writers like myself, that means occasionally writing about writing.
The common cliché of a writer is someone sat in a shed, huddled over a typewriter, crafting their masterpiece. Admittedly, many great writers have been guilty of this, but there is much more to being a writer than people often realise. Just in Thanet there are some incredible opportunities for those who are interested in putting pen to paper (or fingertips to keys) and a wonderful community has developed locally. As a writer, there is a lot more to do than just write.
For example, last weekend I had the privilege of reading at the first ever Spoken Word stage at Margate Soul Festival, alongside some truly incredible poets. Whilst it is not for everyone, the chance to stand in front of a crowd of my peers and the public and perform poetry is something that, from time to time, I very much enjoy. The other performers and poets all were brilliant, and a huge amount of credit is due to Neanderthal Bard and Connor Sansby for organising it all.
A few weeks prior, I attended the Ramsgate Seadog Festival, celebrating the town’s maritime heritage and connection to the sea. I was able to see poet Sarah Tait reading her specially commissioned Seadog Chronicles poetry, which was a great experience.
As the act of writing is a relatively solitary pursuit, many authors and poets frequent these kinds of events to meet others and socialise. From published writers to hobbyists and those with just a passing interest, all are always welcome, as are readers or those who are just curious to explore.
Next week I will be going to the Margate Bookie, a local literary festival that has grown year-on-year. High profile authors will be in town delivering talks and running workshops, and local organisations like Thanet Writers are also getting involved to support the event.
Perhaps that is the difference between writing and being a writer, then. Writing, to paraphrase Hemingway, is sitting down at a typewriter and bleeding. Being a writer is that and so much more. In the past few years I have met some wonderful authors and poets, read my work aloud at events, performed on stage, been invited to all kinds of weird and wonderful events, and seen my writing in print. It is considerably more rewarding than Hemingway would have us believe, but perhaps that was his aim.
There are plenty of regular local events, from writing groups and journaling clubs, via poetry nights and performance workshops, to large-scale festivals and gatherings, and many of them can be found online.