focus magazine February/March 2021 / New Zealand

Page 24

focus | LIFE

REACHING OUT

TO YOUNG WRITERS

NEARLY A DECADE AGO, LEE MURRAY AND PIPER MEJIA HAD A BRAINWAVE BASED ON A SOUND RATIONALE. BOTH ARE MEMBERS OF TAURANGA WRITERS, NEW ZEALAND’S LONGEST-RUNNING SELF-HELP GROUP FOR WRITERS. TW DOES WELL BY ITS MEMBERS, BUT YOU MUST BE 18 TO JOIN. SO HOW, THEY ASKED, CAN IT NURTURE THE UPCOMING GENERATION AND FULFIL FOR THEM ITS STATED MISSION OF ‘GETTING YOU STARTED AND GETTING YOU PUBLISHED’? Words JENNY ARGANTE

Jean Gilbert, Lee Murray and Piper Mejia

S

ome decisions were immediate. Though its hub is the Bay of Plenty, Piper and Lee wanted to encourage national access to YoungNZWriters (YNZW), by sharing online significant info, helpful hints, what’s on and, whenever possible, resources. Locally, young writers share and critique work-in-progress at meetings run by established writers,

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who also contribute to workshops and conventions. To bring in young writers on a national level, Lee and Piper settled on running an annual young writers’ competition leading to publication. This is nationwide, free to enter, and has two entry streams: one for intermediate (the Beyond series), the other for secondary school students (Write Off Line). The intention was to create a

genuine literary enterprise and ensure the youngsters who took part would learn by doing. For important as it is to get something satisfactory down on paper, such work needs to be edited, proofed and formatted in the process of turning a manuscript into a book. To that end, the authors of winning entries are mentored through all stages of production, and the covers of the two anthologies published annually are now