A writer friend of mine used to talk about people wanting ‘to have been’ writers, rather than simply ‘wanting to be’them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   What they aspired to was sitting on sofas in chats shows, not to facing down the blank page and getting a job done. It’s a persuasive argument, and one with more than a hint of good examples in it! Earlier this week someone described The Writers Quarter, and in particular its workshops, as being for ‘would-be’ writers. I was apoplectic. The clue is in the name The Writers Quarter. It’s for writers. I can’t share with you what I hit my ‘bitbox 2015’ – the file where I dump writing till I find somewhere for it go – with: I don’t know what cleaning products you have in house. Suffice it to say, I find the term patronising, and I try to avoid it. You’re a writer, in my book, from the moment you put pen to parchment, pencil to paper, or finger to keyboard, however badly.

Here’s what I might say about The Writers Quarter, with or without an apostrophe.

            Borderlines, Carlisle Book Festival draws nearer, and with it The Writers Quarter…not just for ‘would-be-wanna-be-could-be-should-be-mighta-bin & aren’t-being’ writers, but just for writers, and their readers – for am-being-will-be & already have-been writers, for published, private, public and unseen writers, for practising, practised, and made perfect writers (who’ll be very few); for you, me, he and she writers, and for exceptionally talented other Great Apes, who might have put digit to keypad, or stylus to tablet….

There’s a lot to tackle: what about Crichton Writers Flash Fiction Forum (Saturday 5th, lunchtime in the Fratry), where you can bring along and try out your up-to-500-word fictions and join in a debate about what flash fiction, might, could, ought, should, is, has or will be. Then bring ‘em along to our evening celebration at The Fratry, when David Gaffney will be revealing the winners of our L’al Crack Flash Fiction competition…among other delights!

If you are, aren’t, pretend to be or want to be a ‘would-be’ writer, why not come along to one of our workshops, and be an actual writer instead? We have a wonderful ‘would-be’ range of actual writers to engage with you, from the poet Josephine Dickinson to the military historian John Sadler; from the poet, playwright and short story writer (and a few etceteras) Vivien Jones(on writing ‘would-be’ memoir) to the successfully self-publishing Ruth Sutton. Carlisle Writers Group will be looking at the ‘would-be’ short story (Sunday 6th Sept at the Cathedral), and Marilyn Messenger – in the Border Galleries at Tullie House, on the Saturday afternoon (5th Sept) – will be encouraging you to engage with antique letters as a source of stories and inspiration.

There’s a chance too, to hear Martyn Halsall, Poetry in the Cathedral (Sunday), Marian Veevers, on Crime writing from archive sources, Janet Queen on Writing the Landscape (both in the Cathedral, Saturday 5th),  and David Kinsella on self-publishing online (Tullie House, Sunday), and Sue Fox & Irene Sanderson (Book Building, at Tullie House on the Saturday). Tom Harper will be leading a thriller writing workshop at the Crown & Mitre on the Saturday morning. What’s not to like? What’s not to do? And, also  on the Saturday, we shall have, for ONE DAY ONLY, a pop-up bookshop for local writers in the Cathedral grounds, courtesy of the Facets of Fiction Writers Workshop (and friends). – if you want details of how to get involved with the pop-up as a writer, e-mail BHDandMe at brindleyhd@aol.com

You can find the full Borderlines programme here: http://www.borderlinescarlisle.co.uk

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