Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Clubs and Socs 2011

Today, the first years got their first taste at Clubs and Societies at my college, though there was a lot less space than usual. They recently renovated the canteen to separate it from the entrance, but that's given us a lot less room to put up tables and whatnot. We made do with what we had, and though it was a little squashed, we got by with it.

While the first years got to have a look at a lot of the older societies, like the soccer team, the GAA team, the Trad Soc (I think it was there again, this year!) and the History Soc, I was one of the people to set up a new society: a Writers' Soc. The apostrophe is intentional: this isn't just a society of writers, it's the society owned by writers. On the list of new societies this year, I was joined by: the Dancing Society, the Running Club, and the Tea Society. Yes, tea. They want to get people together to drink tea. Plain and simple.

I was in a tiny little table in the corner of the room with the Drama Soc representative (Pinkie). We competed over sign-ups, even though we're both on the Drama Soc and we're both running the Writers' Soc. We started a trend of people putting posters up behind us on the glass, while I shouted things like "We're cooler than we look!" See, I can act.

The fun part was when one of the new first years came up and said "I was hoping one of these would be set up", and proceeded to sign-up for the Writers' Soc. Fantastic.

Of course, a lot of people were curious about the Writers' Soc. We're new, it's understandable. We didn't even have anything to show them to say how frickin' awesome we really were, except for our plans for the society. I say we... I mean me. Like I said: competing with Pinkie. Everyone got the same answer:

  • We're going to put together a book of short stories and poetry by the students of the college
  • We're going to (hopefully) organise workshops for students
  • We're going on museum* visits
  • We're going to run a competition or two
  • We're going to set up an online magazine
The latter will be free. Entirely. The only thing it will require, aside from articles, is the time involved to run it and write it. I'll be setting it up on Wordpress, which will also help to show people how easy it is to do something like that themselves. I was considering an ad-based magazine, but that would be too tricky and it would mean adding to our already tight budget.

On that note, I spent last night and today emailing printers and museums for prices. I found a couple of printers in Ireland that I liked, but so far the cost of them is too high. The museums are also cheaper than I first anticipated, so that will be of a huge help to us in our budget. While I have no doubt that the Student Union will support a new society with absolutely nothing to show for itself, there's also a sense of having to be realistic about this: the soccer team need new jerseys (and have needed them for years), the Gaelic players keep stealing the jerseys they use, the History Soc wants to organise a potentially expensive trip and there are two other new societies this year that may or may not require a lot of money. Drama always needs enough for costumes, ISDA membership and stage requirements, and transport (of the set, cast and crew). The budget for everyone will be tight.

Hopefully, we're not asking for too much. I'd like to have a college-specific workshop, rather than go for free open-to-the-public workshops. I will need to inquire about what happens if our book actually makes a profit when it's printed, of course. Will we get to use that money ourselves for the society? Will it help us next year when we look for (at least) the same amount of funding? I would like to think so. Thankfully, the enthusiasm of the writers who really wanted to join the society seems to be a display of real interest in making it all work.

* Okay, time for a silly little mistake I made. You'll notice it's beside the word 'museum'. Somehow, I managed to spell it wrong on my little sheet to say what we're doing in the society. A lecturer pointed it out. I can spell museum. I always spell it correctly when I type. But I hand-wrote it, and suddenly my inner-editor went into NaNoWriMo mode and I didn't seem to care enough (at eleven at night) about correct spelling. So I messed it up (just the 'e' and 'u' the wrong way around). All I can say is... oops.

I'm really looking forward to getting this society going properly. Once I have the budget submitted, I'll be calling a get-together type meeting to see what people want to do, where their interests lie, and generally get to know them. My experience is that writers are awesome people, and that's not meant to be self-flattering. Every writer I've met has been interesting, relatively easy to get along with and they tend not to shy away from my somewhat confusing eccentricities. Would it be too weird to wear my Pizza John Green or NERD t-shirts to the first meeting?

One thing I can mention, of course, is that I have a lot of experience in this field. While I may not have a novel published, I have written a lot. I also set up an online writers' group when I was sixteen, which later produced a book of short stories for charity. I edited a poetry book for charity. I've been keeping a blog for over three years and I just launched a website. This is pretty much the type of things the society needs to launch properly: a neurotic, writing-obsessed oddball like myself. Yes, I realise that may sound like a weird way to describe myself, but you know what: I embrace this weirdness. Hopefully it'll help a few people follow their writing dreams!

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