Ladies & Gentlemen, being Chairman of a large, active, virile organisation like the SAWC is quite an experience. Writers remind me in some ways of teachers, or actors. They are highly creative, often playing a part, often rather full of themselves, very often lonely in their endeavours, and usually doing a difficult job without receiving much praise. And the committee members of an organisation like this one have these qualities in abundance, plus other qualities, as I found.
For me the year under review started on 10 March 2018 at the Extra-Ordinary General Meeting, when I suddenly found myself as Chairman of this august writers’ body. Can you imagine being thrust without warning into a group of people who are so dedicated to their jobs as members of the committee that runs a writers’ circle? Fortunately I found that these people are also very easy to get on with.
When we get to the Election of office-bearers later on in this programme I shall have pleasure in introducing you individually to these people. As by now you may have realised, this report is mainly about people. But I must tell you that we are making big efforts to jack up our website. Without a dynamic website you are lost. We have arranged for Select Web to work on our website and to train one or more of our committee to keep the website looking good and showing the world what we do in the SAWC. People are what make the SAWC tick whether they are members or not.
At that first meeting, Joan Boyes, long-standing former member and committee member, spoke to us. At the Awards Luncheon on 24 March we dressed up as famous characters in books and Darryl Earl David was the speaker and Guest of Honour. On 21 April Thobela Ngidi addressed us. Then on 19 May our speaker was Dr Betty Govinden. On 23 June we were addressed by Dr B P Singh. On 21 July we were addressed by Gertrud Strauss.
The next item on our calendar was the one-day seminar at Augusta Country Estate, the topic being books in the Jekyll and Hyde genre. It was organised by Ginny Porter. The keynote speaker was Patrick Dutton, and other speakers included former Chair of the SAWC Brigitta Simpson, Ginny Porter and Derek Griffin.
At our next general meeting on 15 September Chris Hoare was our speaker. On 20 October our speaker was Sarita Mathur. On 17 November, finally we had Aakash Bramdeo, Editor of the Sunday Tribune as our guest speaker. During the year under review your committee, mainly Sylvia Garib, made extra efforts to get publicity for our activities in local newspapers. But this was often easier said than done.
Some newspaper editors find that a writers’ circle does not provide quite the sensational news that they seem to seek. But they are getting to know us better. It seems that the SAWC is fulfilling something of a watchdog role these days. One of our long-standing members, Janet Hurst-Nicholson, was in Mitchell Park when she noticed that the massive historical monument there was full of proofreading errors. She told me, I went there myself and confirmed that it was so.
I reported to the committee and wrote to the Sunday Tribune who published my article, being kind enough to mention the South African Writers’ Circle by name, though under the reporter’s by-line… Hmm. Yes. The result is unknown as yet. But it seems we are getting known. Which we want to be.
As a matter of interest, our maximum number of paid-up members during the year under review was 179, with 23% of them living so far afield that they can’t attend these meetings, making the journal Write Now all that more important.
We have decided to make an effort to attract younger people to join the SAWC. If you know of any younger people who might be interested in joining, please tell them to contact us. No slur on older members!
This report is about people. Without YOU people the SAWC would be nothing. We depend on you people to tell us what you are writing, how difficult you are finding it, – if that is so – and how well you are doing if you are having success. And what you are writing about. We want to know.
We depend on you to spread the word, to tell your friends about the SAWC. They don’t have to be successful writers. If they love reading and love the English language, then they will find a home here. Just as many of YOU have found a home here. Writing is Exciting! Thank you.