Who or What is WooA?

WooA… a recent member of this writing group asked me how the name came about:

WooA = Writers of OUR age. Apparently, when founding members were on an MA together, amongst much younger writers, they found themselves saying this on a regular basis and it stuck, sometimes the ‘our’ is not emphasised, and we refer to ourselves like this with muted irony.

WooA logo

WooA is where the second Arachne Press title, Stations originated – we used to meet in the Broca cafe just opposite Brockley Station, (I wrote such a lot of food-themed stories then!)

The Overground runs at the bottom of my garden. Before there was the Overground, there was only Southern, but trains went to London Bridge, Victoria and Charing Cross. With the advent of the Overground, the Charing Cross trains were lost, and with them, the possibility of an easy last train home from many favourite central London venues. There was lamenting, there were protests, there was a coffin carried on the very last train. It was epic.
Then there was the disruption: the endless sleepless nights while the track was relaid and the station lengthened and the trees on either side of the cutting massacred. (More protests).
There were the huffy, what use is it? conversations on rush-hour platforms, the disbelieving sneer when told the value of my home would increase, followed by the overcrowding, the noise
…and then there was the eating of words.
Because the Overground is wonderful. It cut ten minutes off my journey to work, it halved the time to get to all sorts of North London places I had given up going to: the King’s Head, the Union Chapel and the Estorick Collection. It made getting to the Geffrye Museum simple. It expanded my horizons. (I’m missing my horizons at the moment!)
I ate my words.

Mentioning this in passing at WooA as we settled for a twenty minute writing exercise, Rosalind said: we should write about the Overground. So we did.
From that twenty minutes blossomed the idea for an entire book, with a story for every station on our section of the line: Highbury & Islington to New Cross, Crystal Palace and West Croydon. So: thank you, Overground, and thank you, WooA.

Over the years, Arachne has published quite a few, although not all, of the shifting membership of WooA. And I continue to go to as many meetings as I can. At the moment these are online, and more frequent than normal, for the comfort of talking  – as much about not writing, at the moment, as anything anything else.

We have a few traditions, one of which is to hold a live lit event as part of Brockley Max, our local festival. Of course, that’s gone pfft, like a lot else, but a week ago(?) we got an email saying are you doing anything online that could be part of a virtual Brockley Max?

We weren’t – but – we don’t have a website/Facebook page, anything – well, we could – couldn’t we?
So we are.

open mind WooA

At the time and on the date that we would have been doing this live at the Talbot, Arachne Press is hosting WooA (including Arachne Authors, Bartle Sawbridge, Cherry Potts, Joan Taylor-Rowan, Carolyn Robertson and Neil Lawrence; plus Ruth Bradshaw and Innes Stanley) for Open Mind – an evening of  stories and poems.
So Friday 5th June at 7pm BST, join us on Facebook: Event / Actual video
or Youtube for Love, Loss, Lockdown, Protest, Playdates, Dancing and DINOSAURS.
*TRIGGER WARNING* reported violence between children about half way through (Neil Lawrence’s story).
Video will be available for a week thereafter on both platforms.

Hidden Corners for Brockley Max

Tonight, Friday 7th June, Arachne Press authors, Bartle Sawbridge and Cherry Potts are taking part in Hidden Corners, the WooA event for Brockley Max at the Talbot pub, corner of Tyrwhitt Road and Lewisham Way.

Two stories each, and a silly writing game after the interval. 7.30pm

bartle saf

Cherry and Julian small

#Arachne5 more thank yous

I’ve scheduled this to go live as we start our 5th Anniversary celebrations.

It’s a complex business starting and running a publishing house. People contribute crucial things at crucial moments and sometimes it isn’t until you look back you realise – if that hadn’t happened…

So thank you to all the people who do things without knowing and without being asked, or are so enthusiastic when asked I get over my own doubts and plough on – I’m bound to have missed someone, but here are most of the brilliant people who helped us get started and/or keep Arachne ticking over.

Bartle Sawbridge for introducing me to WooA Writing group something like eight years ago, giving me the structure to start taking my own writing seriously again, and for the rest of the members of WooA at the time, (Joan, Rosalind, David, Anna, Clare, Hilary) for being ace writers and getting me thinking (without saying anything to them) that we jointly needed a publisher, and also for introducing me to Liars’ League.

Liars’ League for being a bottomless cauldron of talent into which I dipped to find the writers for our first book, and especially thank you to Katy Darby for saying exactly the right thing when I approached her about it. If she hadn’t, this would have stayed a pipe dream, and also for co-editing and general cheerleading.

 

On the professional front, everyone at Inpress for not just doing what they set out to, in persuading bookshops to stock our books, but also providing all kinds of opportunities to explore the world of publishing through conferences and fairs made possible and affordable due to their bargaining chops.

Everyone at TJ International for producing such wonderful quality books in particular John Rance, for that first phone call (‘these are the questions you don’t know you need to ask us’) and being so approachable and reasonable and human!

Sabotage Reviews for the most reviews from any one source, and awarding us Best Anthology back in 2014. That plastic star thing is still sitting on the shelf above my desk.

All our Arachne Friends especially David, Jacquie, Pippa, Trefor, and Alison for their support.

Our supporters big and small on various crowdfunds especially Jonathan and Russell

and of course Arts Council England who have funded us twice.

And our authors and artists for coming up with inspired rewards for crowdfunds, especially Inua, Kevin Jill, Pippa and Jeremy.

On the maverick front…All the people who said YES when I came up with what felt like daft ideas, everyone at Lewisham Libraries (literally dozens of them, everyone has got involved and supported us), but particularly Alan Morrison, and Joan Redding (ex Lewisham, now at Carillion) who probably said yes (or more accurately, let’s do it) more than anyone in the known universe, and everyone at Better Libraries in Greenwich, particularly Rebecca Gediking (‘Of course we’ll open the Library at 7am on a Sunday’) and Debra Sullivan (‘This is what Libraries are for’), and many other libraries and librarians especially Gaynor Lynch Foley at RBKC. Greenwich University for a spectacular launch week for Outcome, especially Sarah Creech. Zoltan Abbot at Brockley Deli and Father Bates at St Hildas and Stuart Morriss at Misty Moon for hosting some pretty strange events without batting an eyelid. Dennis Harrison at Albion Beatnik for the most consistent hoster of events outside London. And of Course, V22 (Becca, Simon) for hosting tonight’s PARTY!

My dear friend Michele, who steps in and helps whenever she can and never flaps when things go pear-shaped.

All the other stepper-in-ers, especially Laura, Helen, Birgitta, Tessa, Judith, Catriona, Mark, Bartle, Stuart.

Another great friend, Muireann, for eagle-eyed proofing and cheeky margin comments, and regular company at supper on a Monday. Arachne would be a poorer item altogether without her.

Carrie and Wendy for batting ideas about, practical help with storage and logistics, and offering to be a formal advisory group.

Irena Hill for brilliant networking (she knows everyone) and idea thrashing.

Russell Potts (my dad) for vital help when needed, and telling me he’s proud.

And finally, just in case she thinks I haven’t noticed or don’t appreciate it, Alix, the best woman in the world, who comes to events she doesn’t want to come to (and doesn’t let it show), shares the driving on long hauls, fits holidays around festivals, sings with the choir, does front-of-house, staffs bookstalls and even reads for us. Arachne has a huge impact on her life, and wouldn’t exist if she wasn’t such a positive life force.

Here she is doing everything…

Deliver Me at Urban Myth for Brockley Max

The last of the outings for Shortest Day, Longest Night, Rosalind Stopps reads Deliver Me  at WooA’s Urban Myths evening at Brockley Max

 

Arachne Press does Brockley Max

Brockley Max is coming – and we are getting involved.

2nd June 7pm at the Talbot Pub in Brockley SE4 1QG, Arachne authors Bartle Sawbridge, Rosalind Stopps  and Cherry Potts join other writers from WooA (Writers of Our Age), Neil Lawrence, Anna Somerset and Hilary Dunn for Urban Myths. (the link says 7-7.30 that means 7 for 7.30, we aim to be there at least 2 hours.

You can join in with 100 words of your own urban myth, and get stuck in with the epic writing relay, which is definitely best experienced slightly sozzled.

On Sunday 4th June at 3.30, we join Vocal Chords Choir (who have supported Solstice Shorts Festival a couple of times) at their Songs of Protest gig at St Hilda’s Church SE23 1NL when actors Silas Hawkins and Carrie Cohen will read some of the poems from Liberty Tales to complement the songs.

Vocal Chords Sing Songs of Protest 4th May

© Ben Mueller-Brown benhasphotos.wordpress.com

Our final drop-in session is at Art In The Park Story-telling tent on Hilly Fields, on Saturday 10th June at 2.30, when Arachne stalwart Katy Darby will be reading our forthcoming younger children’s book, The Old Woman From Friuli by Ghillian Potts which is in the shops 6th June – you can buy direct from us NOW post free.