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Late September sun burned low and bright as members, and prospective members, gathered in the Mercure Hotel for the first night of AYR WRITERS’ new session.

Red name badges identified committee members who were ready to launch the 2022-23 programme, whilst four new members were also given name badges to aid dodgy memories!

This year’s president, Nigel Ward, welcomed us and provided a taste of the speaker’ nights and workshops he had lined up, for the months to come. Committee members were also introduced, and competition secretary, Fiona Atchison, followed up with information about the eleven chances members would have to enter competitions, writing in different genres, giving entrants the opportunity to gain valuable insights from adjudicators, who are all experts in their genres.

Next it was time to put pen – or pencil – to paper, or indeed compose a piece on a smartphone. Writing prompts were in the form of an eclectic selection of items strewn across a table, and the task was to choose a couple of disparate objects to use as the basis of a short narrative, naming the objects and creating characters and situations in which they might feature.

After twenty minutes of intense creativity, we broke for refreshments and had – so much missed during the lockdown years – a good natter with old friends, as well as the chance to chat to new faces.

As Blogger Bagger, I used my time approaching folk to encourage them to join the bloggers’ panel, this year. Happily, a number of people said ‘yes’! Thanks to them for their support.

With five extra minutes to brush up our impromptu writing after the tea break, it was then time to share our work. Six brave souls rose to the challenge, and we were entertained and intrigued by the results of their imaginations.

Having taken five minutes to explain my other committee roles, as Archivist and Media Liaison, Nigel took over and introduced the final part of the evening, where four members were invited to share recent pieces of work.

Damaris read two of her evocative poems, Matt read a piece called “The Road”, the genre of which he was having difficulty pinning down. Was it flash fiction, non-fiction or a prose poem? Whatever the label, it was a compelling piece. Next up, Maggie Bolton gave a fascinating and encouraging overview of how her membership of AYR WRITERS had given her the opportunity – and courage – to self-publish children’s picture books, and become an illustrator, a great advert for the benefits of joining AYR WRITERS.

Finally, it was my turn to share some writing, this time a short piece called “The Blue Office Chair”, based on a bizarre true experience from the summer months, which was just begging to be written about!

And suddenly it was 9.40pm and time to call it a night – and I hope everyone enjoyed the experience of being back together as much as I did!

Carolyn O’Hara

September 8th, 2022

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