Kate McEwan is well known in Frome as a writer who champions writers. In 2012 she set up The Write Day, a monthly day retreat which brings together writers from across the South West. Since its inception, the retreat has built up a wide following from as far away as Devon, Dorset, West Somerset and Wales, and over the years highlighted the need for a more permanent place for writers to work. In 2018, Kate took over a small studio at the top of The Black Swan Arts Centre in Frome and converted it into a shared desk space. Kate describes The Write Place as ‘a not-for-profit community group for writers who would otherwise procrastinate on their own at home, or go slowly mad writing alone; a distraction-free writers’ refuge where everyone focuses on their own work in companionable silence, and productivity flows!’
Writers take out monthly membership, which gives them access to pre-booked desk-space, a small library, invitations to workshops and the monthly Wine & Words event where members come together to read their work out loud and receive feedback. Last year, TWP expanded, taking over an adjacent studio and turning it into a chat room where writers can socialise, grab a coffee, have lunch and talk about their work when not working.
Keeping costs low is essential. Kate is adamant that money should not be yet another obstacle to writers putting their work first, particularly for those writers with caring responsibilities. Membership is diverse. Some members are taking their first steps into poetry or prose, or working on memoirs, others are published authors working on their next novel, as well as academics writing PhDs, bloggers and journalists.
In recent months The Write Place has set up digital writing sessions – sharing the TWP model online. While this adaptation was made in response to Covid 19, Kate says they had been aware for some time, particularly from attendance at the Write Day, that they needed to find a way to extend their offer, ‘There are a lot of isolated writers out there looking for a supportive community, and we are working on ways to enable them to be part of The Write Place.’
In future months, The Write Place is seeking funding to enable it to reach out to more marginalised writers across rural areas of the South West, to respond to requests from members for writing classes and to focus on ways it can set up ongoing support systems for writers wanting to develop their work.
Kate McEwan has played with words most of her working life as a copywriter, proofreader, freelance writer, author of an historical guide called Ealing Walkabout, a newspaper sub-editor and graphic designer. Kate graduated from the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.