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Support group for struggling writers who like wine

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Sian Blackmore, left, and Jo-Rena Davis are the hosts of Wine & Wordsmithy, a support group for writers (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

For anyone who is struggling to write a book, a poem or a blog, Sian Blackmore is offering help.

With her friend Jo-Rena Davis, she has carved out a safe space for writers in need of a kick to get them started. If that’s not enough, a curated selection of wine will be on hand for “Dutch courage”.

The idea came from the difficulty Ms Blackmore has had in completing a novel she has been working on for many years.

“It's about 95,000 words and inching towards the finish line,” she said. “Before I came here I had writing groups and support groups of my friends and I haven't found that community of writers in Bermuda. So that’s always been on my mind — the idea of creating a writers’ support group.”

The irony of it all was that she’d met “so many creative people” here looking for that type of support, said Ms Blackmore who runs a consultancy company, Small Fry PR.

“They have expressed that they wish they had time to write or could motivate themselves to write. So that was the initial germ of the idea.”

She talked it over with Ms Davis, a qualified specialist who offers tastings under the name Wine Diva.

“She’s so wonderful. She’s got a great passion for wine and she’s also a creative spirit,” Ms Blackmore said.

“We were thinking of things we could do together and I was explaining my process where sometimes when I have a [tough spot with my writing] I might need to have a glass or two of wine and then bash it out and edit it afterwards.

“We were talking about this and the idea just kind of came together: why don't we create an event where she does a tasting session but with a creative element.”

Sian Blackmore, left, and Jo-Rena Davis are the hosts of Wine & Wordsmithy, a support group for writers (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Their thought was that it would be “a creative space, a way for people to carve out time for themselves to write, but also a chance to be social”.

“It's not like we’ll lock you up in a cupboard and make you write for an hour and won’t let you out. It’s more supportive than that,” Ms Blackmore said.

They decided to call the group Wine & Wordsmithy. The first meeting takes place on October 13 at Milan Milan. Two wines from the Tuscan region will be served along with Italian-style nibbles.

“The whole event is two hours long. It’s going to start with a bit of an introduction where we have the first glass of wine. And then we're going to try doing writing prompts.

“One of them will be wine-related just to kind of get people writing anything; to get them warmed up, limbered up if it’s been a while. And then we’ll have a second wine and then another little challenge to get people to write.”

The group is open to all levels of writers at whatever stage they are at with their writing.

“There is no bar that you have to cross. If you've never written anything before and you just want to try writing a poem for the first time, go for it. We're there to support you. And at the end if they want to ask questions, they can because this is a space in which we encourage people to be collaborative and creative. No judgments.”

People can share what they have written or keep it to themselves, Ms Blackmore added.

“We laugh about this … millennials are special snowflakes. This is a safe space for people to write. They can share or they cannot share, but our hope is that they can embrace the creative atmosphere.

“And then at the end we will say, ‘OK, pour yourself a glass of whichever wine you like best and get on with it. No more excuses. If you have something you've been meaning to write for ages, get it going.”

All people need to bring is whatever they want to write with. Pen and paper, a laptop, even “quill and ink” will do.

Ms Blackmore stressed that she is not there to teach people about the writing process, just encourage them through it.

“No, that’s not my goal. My goal is to just get people into the habit of writing.”

The hope is to hold regular meetings. The pair are considering a Hallowe'en-themed one at the end of the month.

“We might decide to try and get someone involved who can tell us a bit more about the process of writing a book or submitting a book,” Ms Blackmore said. “But we are open to feedback because, obviously, this is our first session.

“We're hoping that we can find out from people what they liked about it. The idea is it should be a collaborative environment. Writing can often be very solitary. I think by introducing the wine and having Jo-Rena, who’s a fantastic host, to kind of bring it together through a shared experience will help make the writing feel like a shared experience as well — and also hopefully give everyone a bit of Dutch courage.”

• Wine & Wordsmithy will meet at Milan Milan at 5.30pm on Thursday, October 13. Tickets, $65, are available at www.ptix.bm

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Published October 06, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated October 07, 2022 at 5:07 am)

Support group for struggling writers who like wine

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