During the month of November the libraries of four Local Government Areas joined forces to present a project named “Write along the Highway”
In November 2012 the City of Armadale Libraries hosted a programme called National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) where aspiring writers are challenged to produce 50,000 words of a novel during the month. The library organised write-ins each weekend – writers coming together to write and encourage one another. This initiative proved very popular, with writers from all over the southern regions of Perth attending Armadale’s sessions.
Buoyed by the great response in 2012, the City of Armadale libraries decided to talk to a small number of libraries in the area with an eye to growing the programme as there seemed to be plenty of potential authors out there. After discussions with other LGAs we ended up with 4 libraries happy to join in the experiment of hosting NaNoWriMo as a group.
Participating Local Government Areas were:
Within a relatively short period of time – starting in June – a small group of people met regularly and decided to promote the joint effort with a reference to the highways that connect our communities: “Write along the Highway”.
In early October 2013, information evenings were held in the various participating libraries where interested people were able to find out what this project was all about and ask questions of both organisers and NaNoWriMo veterans. These sessions were very well attended and turned a number of interested people into active participants in the novel writing month.
Total attendance at information sessions: 65
The organising group put together a series of “Write-Ins” in their libraries during November with at least one library open for write-ins every day of the week except for Fridays. The ‘roster’ for the month was as follows:
- Monday: Gosnells
- Tuesday: Serpentine-Jarrahdale
- Wednesday & Thursday: Victoria Park
- Saturday & Sunday: Armadale & Gosnells
The total number of people attending write-ins during the month of November: 182
Both before and during November, the participating libraries organised events for participants of the novel writing month, as well as events for the wider community. The aim was to provide inspiration for writers by meeting with, and listening to the experiences and advice of professional novelists. Session content ranged from the theatrical presentation of book fragments to book launches; from discussions of how to write narrative to writing sessions for children.
The choice of offerings was as wide as the range of novels being written and nearly all events were well attended as well as much appreciated by the audiences. It should be noted that all these events were organised by individual libraries but promoted by all!
Total number of events held under the “Write along the Highway” banner: 23
Total number of attendees at these events: 539
As mentioned previously, events were organised by individual participating libraries. However, there was one joint event held on Friday 22 November where participating writers were invited to come together and celebrate a special “Write Night“.
From 7 to 11pm 27 writers attended the Lyal Richardson Hall at Gosnells where they were welcomed by live music performed by Tony M. The evening started with a writing industry panel (Ian Nicholls – editor, Elizabeth Bezant – writing coach, Cate Rocchi – publisher , David Buck – author – and Barbara Gurney – author) discussed “Where to from here with your writing” in front of an interested as well as “happy to ask questions” audience.
The remainder of the night was filled with keenly fought writing competitions and games which kept all participants both wide awake and productive. Food, coffee, tea and juice were available all night long and this service – provided by participating councils – was much appreciated!
Number of people attending “Write Night”: 27
For a first-time effort the project has delivered what it intended to do: promote National Novel Writing Month through the involvement of a group of libraries; promote the project by organising a large number of events to keep the participating writers inspired and the general library public aware of the project thru a wide variety of writing related events.
A ‘post mortem’ meeting of the organising committee was held on December 5th where events of the year as well as the actual ‘writing month’ were critically assessed in order to come to an even better outcome in 2014.
Jan Pedroli (City of Armadale)
Rebecca Laffar-Smith (NaNoWriMo representative)
Andrew Kelly (Town of Victoria Park)
Lisa Keys (Shire of Serpentine – Jarrahdale)
Louisa Loder (Shire of Serpentine – Jarrahdale)
Lizanne Fernandez (City of Gosnells)
10 December 2013