THE founding member of the Peninsula Writers’ Club, president Andrea Rowe, is stepping aside to pursue her own writing goals and let someone else lead the organisation.
Rowe reflected on the club’s successes and its future at its annual general meeting, where members discussed the joys of writing, the club’s future and the supportive and nurturing space it has provided to emerging and published authors of all ages.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the writers’ club has changed lives. The ability to put down thoughts, experiences and yearnings in print has been a lifeline for writers, especially during the isolation of COVID, when company and mental solace was in high demand.
One 93-year-old member who was a prize winner in last year’s Clunes poetry slam, told Rowe the club had “saved my life”.
Since forming in 2015, the writers’ club has been inviting writers of all ages and levels to be part of its vibrant community, and has evolved into an inclusive, welcoming and non-judgmental club for anyone with an inkling to tell a story.
The club became an incorporated non-profit four years ago and is the Mornington Peninsula’s largest writing group with a track record of published authors and industry recognition.
Rowe says memoirist Monica Dux noted that the club was the “most organised and focussed writers’ group” she had spoken to, while publishing powerhouse and director of Public Libraries Victoria Angela Savage also sang the club’s praise.
Savage said “a club like this is a rare thing, it’s to be valued and supported – I hope your community knows how good the PWC is. I am so incredibly impressed that this is a volunteer association and the professionalism in which you operate”.
Young adult author Lili Wilkinson’s interactions with the club have been equally inspiring. Wilkinson said she came away with a sense of joy that “in communities there are writers who celebrated and cheer each other on, instead of pulling each other apart”.
“You are a unique breed of writers’ clubs,” she told Rowe.
Literary legend Christos Tsiolkias (The In-between) told Rowe “I’d like to be invited some time too”.
The Peninsula Writers’ Club doesn’t just have the ear of the literary world, others have taken note of the cohesion and sense of fraternity it provides writers. The Mornington Peninsula Shire Council has partnered with the Mayor’s Writing Award competition and promoted club events. Bookstores have reached out for collaboration, and there has been an ongoing focus on connection, development and networking among the club’s members.
Over the club’s eight years, it has organised workshops and gatherings to link writers and the community, and to encourage people with a desire to tell a story to seek out some support.
Rowe says there is a workable mix of social elements and “shut up and write” days.
“We are thrilled that we are helping people shape their own pathways to a writing life – whether it’s keeping company with fellow writers or developing their skills, asking for help and sharing frustrations, and championing achievements and writing dreams,” she said.
The club has 144 members and over the past 11 months has delivered 25 literary gatherings and initiatives, all as a volunteer community organisation.
These events included monthly “write-ins” at Seawinds Community Hub (moving to Mornington Community House in 2024), nine NightWrites at Mount Martha, three writing, pitching and publishing masterclass workshops with Australian authors and a Bendigo Bank Southern Community Bank digital writer in residence financed program, now in its third year.
There is also an element of fun in the club’s calendar of events, with the annual Footpath Fiction – original works written on the footpath, now in its third year. This year the competition was renamed Stencilled Stories and 23 entries, and 20 candidates were selected to have works written on footpaths between Rye, Capel Sound and Rosebud shopping precincts.
Rowe said she was stepping down as club president at an exciting time in the club’s history.
“There is so much talent and desire to write out there, it’s been a pleasure to be part of the club’s evolution” she said.
Rowe said she was leaving the presidency in good hands, and the club committee was committed to the development and growth of all writers.