In 2012 the Gilgandra Shire Library hosted a writing workshop and was delighted by the enthusiasm – another workshop soon after yielded the same strong turn-out and an enthusiasm for regular writing meet-ups. The Point Blank Writers’ Group was established and the group has been sharing stories ever since.
As a response to the interest in the Gilgandra community, the writing collective began as a Gilgandra Library program. Library Manager Liz McCutcheon says:
The library is the meeting place; library staff plan and promote the group, with Point Blank members providing the creativity and running the meetings. Point Blank is open to everyone and always welcomes new members. It has been an example of the way in which public libraries everywhere are responding to community need as places of equity and inclusion, and when they partner with community members to provide new opportunities for creativity and community development, they are a powerful resource. In this case, Point Blank Writer’s Group members and the library have partnered to develop a unique program that has enriched the lives of its members through the opportunity to learn new skills, make new friends and create new work.
The name Point Blank Writers’ Group comes from a story by founding member Janet Cheal:
As a child I had noticed that often when the newsreader spoke about the shooting that it happened at point blank range. I’d heard of Point Cook and Point Piper so I asked Dad
‘Why on earth do people even GO there?’
‘Where?’ he asked.
‘Point Blank!’ I said. ‘There’s always someone getting shot there!’
Dad roared with laughter and then explained what it really meant – I was only about eight years old.
More than sixty years later, at the first meeting of our Gilgandra Writer’s Group we were throwing around ideas for a name. Somehow the link between a blank page confronting a writer, meanings and misunderstandings of words, as well as our target of writing stories to share, seemed to coalesce as I shared my childhood story of a foolish misunderstanding with my ‘wordsmith’ friends.
And that is how we came to call ourselves the Point Blank Writer’s Group.
The group has its members lead workshops and as such the topis have been varied: writing for advertising and press releases, editing, submitting work for publication, various kinds of poetry, the elements of style, comedy writing and more. In 2016 the collective was ready for a new challenge, and at the suggestion of local artist Judy Shaloub, set about creating illustrations to accompany stories. This series of illustrated stories resulted in an exhibition at the Gilgandra Art Gallery and the group’s first anthology.
The Point Blank Writer’s Group has been inspired by two resources: Round Table Writing: a workbook for writers groups, edited by Erin Heffernan; and Round Table Magic: keeping the magic in your writing group, compiled by The Pencil Orchids Creative Writing Group et al.
Point Blank Writer’s Group welcomes questions and engagement from writers and readers – contact Liz McCutcheon at the Gilgandra Shire Library: firstname.lastname@example.org