PWG is a rather small group, on Facebook it shows merely 24 members. Past and present members include authors from Romania, Russia, Germany, Serbia, Indonesia, China, Finland, Thailand, South Africa, as well as Canada, US, UK and Australia.
According to PWG chairman Paul, “People in Phuket come and go. The aim of our small group is to collaborate, to encourage, and to inspire each other to write. All you need is the spark of an idea and the effort to stick with it. Our main achievement has been to publish three books in four years, which is practically the speed of light – especially since running a writers group is much like herding cats.”
PWG’s founder, Anne O’Connell, a Canadian writer established this group in 2014 when she moved to Phuket and didn’t find any similar group to get involved.
She says, “Once our group began to gel, it also became a social gathering and eventually a ‘foodie’ group as well. PWG combined three of my favourite things: writing, good friends and good food.”
For Anne, she shared her writings and got solid, constructive feedback. She could also share her experience and expertise as a long-time writer and editor. It was a win-win. When the group decided to publish its first anthology, it became a wonderful group project where everyone pitched in toward the goal. For some PWG members it was their first time being published. It was very rewarding.
“Over the years, with sincere and passionate peer support, some members have published their own books. Monthly collaboration resulted in three self-published anthologies in English.” Paul tells me, “Volume I in 2014: An Anthology of Short Stories, Volume II in 2016: All over The Map short stories from the Phuket Island Writers, and Volume III in 2018: Observations on Modern Life with themes on love, death, music, food, and health.”
Tales are both fiction and non-fiction. Each story is filled with emotions and introspection that will keep you turning the pages. I hope that if books do have the power to bring people together, this one may work its magic.
More important than the books is how their members are inspired from this group.
Carol Taylor, a lovely British lady, an early member of PWG, told me, “I met great people and PWG gave me the inspiration to believe in myself and write.”
Over the monthly meetings, Carol received a lot great encouraging peer feedback. “I loved the writing exercises we did at each meeting and the round-robin feedback. It gave me confidence in my writing skills. And publishing the books was a great idea and again gave us local writers a platform.”
Though she moved to northern Thailand, she keeps her habit of writing. “Currently, I have a successful blog whose readership is growing, a regular weekly cooking column. My novel is in progress and I have a cookery book soon to be published this year.”
Carol believes success is to find the right thing to do and stick to it. “If it wasn't for the group's encouragement I would not be writing today. I would encourage anyone who loves to write to join a group like PWG. You’ll find a great mix of people with various skills who are happy to help and encourage you to become a better writer.”
During monthly meetings, PWG discuss subjects like writing styles, genres, plot creating, character designing and building, to how to choose a publishing agent. They do rotation writing practice, appointed subject writing, theme writing, distillation/reduction writing (write the same story with 500 words, then reduce to 100, 50, until 10 words). One could never imagine where an idea may lead. They also share and recommend books which change each member’s reading outlook.
AL Seth is an energetic Phuketian. He says, “I joined PWG to find like-minded aspiring writers and I got exactly that. I've spent over 10 years writing short stories, poetry and finished writing a novel alone. When I found out PWG exists (through Facebook search), I immediately jumped at the opportunity and was accepted right away.” AL says, “Being a PWG member quite literally changed my life. Having met fellow writers from all walks of life, I fell into great company, each of whom has great stories to tell, factual and fictitious. I found a real home among the PWG members. For the first time in my writing career, I found validation in my writing in the form of constructive criticism from my peers.”
After being a member for nearly two years, AL says he benefited greatly from PWG. “Writing, critiquing, discussions, exchange of ideas, blogging, presenting writing techniques, experimenting with themes and circumstances, challenging a writing genre, to name a few... each of which has allowed us to experiment and sharpen our writing and storytelling skills. There is no right or wrong answer, just a series of improvements within your own voice.” AL says “By presenting my Lovecraftian-horror stories to PWG and receiving critiques, I discovered where I could improve. I wouldn’t have improved without PWG. I owe them so much.”
AL went back to university in 2017, but being a prominent member of PWG, AL has never been more confident in experimenting with his writing. He believes it’s never too late to start writing and every moment is the right moment to write.
After all, as Mark Twain once said, “Writing is easy. All you have to do is to cross out the wrong words.”
Upon joining PWG, all members like to ask the new blood whether they can cook. Once a year, all members have a wonderful potluck to share and celebrate.
New members are always welcome at the monthly meetings.
Contact the Phuket Writers Group by amil at PhuketPenAndPan@gmail.com. All three of their books are available on Amazon.