Joy Carter, Vice Chancellor of the University of Winchester and Patron of Hampshire Writers’ Society headed a group of very special guests in attendance at the Gala Evening which brought the curtain down on an incredibly successful 2017-18 season. Her pleasure at introducing friends and colleagues, including the university’s Chancellor Alan Titchmarsh MBE, DL, HonFSE and Society President, Barbara Large, was palpable.
Members of the Society will know only too well of the troublesome few months that Barbara has faced and everyone’s delight at Barbara’s arrival into the auditorium was manifest by the first of two impromptu and prolonged standing ovations such is the love and esteem in which she is held by one and all.
Joy Carter and Alan Titchmarsh
Barbara spoke briefly and eloquently about her time in convalescence and (dare it be said?) somewhat predictably, she has busied herself with writing a new book containing recipes for health, recuperation and love.
Barbara Large with her soon-to-be-published book
When Barbara’s short address was complete the stage was handed over to Alan Titchmarsh who in his own inimitable way charmed and informed the audience in equal measure. His knowledge of teaching and learning and of the details and skills of creative writing are clear and extensive. One might be lulled into imagining that because Alan’s style of communication is so self-effacing this was just some other ‘ordinary Joe’ but by the end of his time on stage, it was obvious to all that here was a man of immense talent and huge experience with a wealth of knowledge to share. He did so generously and humbly.
Main Speaker: Lisa Jewell with John Miller
Lisa Jewell has written no less than 15 best sellers which isn’t bad for someone whose writing career started in order to try to win a tipsy holiday wager! As is so often the case creativity finds adversity to be fertile ground. Lisa, trapped in an untimely, toxic marriage eventually managed to escape and found herself enrolling in an adult education Creative Writing class.
From these difficult beginnings, she was to be found out of necessity writing in coffee shops and cafes and this remains her prefered working environment. To this day her daily writing routine revolves around forsaking her domestic setting for rather more anonymous surroundings where her next novel can take shape amongst the clink of teacups and pastry crumbs. Lisa never allows herself to ask for a Wi-Fi code preferring a strict regime so that her creative juices can flow unimpeded.
As her career has developed Lisa has found herself in the position of sometimes almost having to write to order – her publisher asks for creative output and Lisa obliges by producing riveting copy with or without the help of her muse. Waiting for higher inspiration is a luxury her hectic schedule simply can’t afford and neither is she precious about whether it’s characters or plots that drive her storylines. She’s happy to take whichever approach is working best for her at any given time. Espousing web connectivity whilst writing, Lisa identified that for her at least, modern technology can often be a double-edged sword. The research potential of the internet is unprecedented but so too are the distractions that can come with web-browsing. These distractions can often work to thwart writing progress, however, one traditional activity that all writers should embrace, Lisa advised, is the age-old bedrock of reading as much as possible.
Lisa’s talk was guided by the very capable and incisive John Miller who was able to tease out informative writing habits and revealing aspects of writing professionally throughout Lisa’s talk. One thing which Lisa has still yet to come completely to terms with are the occasional negative reviews which goes to show that even successful and experienced writers, like those just starting on their writing journey, are equally affected by reviews, good or bad.
Lisa’s latest novel hits the shelves on July 12th and for members of the Society, it will be a wonderful read in light of Lisa’s excellent address.
All images © Lexica Films