Word out; Read Ii

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 7, 2015 | Go to article overview

Word out; Read Ii


Byline: Lleucu Siencyn

LEASE accept my resignation. I don't want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member.

PSo Groucho Marx, pictured, famously wrote in a telegram to the private showbiz club, The Friars Club of Beverley Hills - a quote I first heard paraphrased in Woody Allen's classic film Annie Hall.

Many people are members of a club. We usually start young: Aelwyd yr Urdd, the Lego Club, Young Farmers' Club (YFC). I never joined the latter, although I would have loved to (all the cross-dressing and track racing!) - a country girl, I was never an actual a farmer, or related to one.

It was only years later did I learn that you didn't need keys to a strapping David Brown to join.

Over the last decade we've seen an incredible rise in book clubs. These vary enormously from the "why do people bring books to my wine club" type of gathering, to book clubs in prisons.

This phenomena of people actually meeting each other face-to-face to discuss literature has surely helped to keep the publishing economy afloat at a time of huge changes and challenges. Perhaps it's no coincidence that there has been a spike in popularity in these types of activities at the same time as the widespread dominance of social media (a massive "club" where nobody ever meets).

High-profile and populist media initiatives, such as the incredibly successful Richard and Judy Book Club, have directly affected book sales over the years, and have taken relatively obscure writers to household fame.

It seems readers are well catered for, but what about writers? Of all the art forms, writing is arguably the loneliest act.

Unless you're a performance poet, or are in-demand on the live literature circuit, you won't necessarily see anybody in a professional capacity while you're writing.

Writers also need advice, and not just on style and structure.

They might need advice on specific matters to do with their profession - contracts, copyright, intellectual property. If you're a best-selling writer you could probably afford your own hot-shot lawyer to negotiate your publishing deals. But the majority of working writers can't afford this luxury.

The Society of Authors (SoA) has been serving the professional writers for more than a century.

It is in effect a trade union for professional writers with more than 9,000 members, covering every kind of writing genre. Writers need to pay to join, but can access a broad range of services, from provision of training to legal representation and negotiations. …

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