Newsletter May 2018

Dear Fellow Writers,

So Spring is – at last – sprung. Naturally that means (some of us) attending our customary one-day meeting in April at the Art Workers’ Guild in London. The weather certainly obliged as Wednesday the 25th was a gloriously sunny day, warm enough to take our sandwich lunches outside to the benches and lawns of Queen’s Square.

Our speakers that day shone brilliantly too. First up was Tim Albert, to tell us how he put together his memoir Mostly We had It Good (A Baby Boomer’s Journey) which was reviewed (enthusiastically) by me in the last issue of The Writer. You may be one of the many medics who remember him from the 1990s either for tutoring us on how to write effectively or as editor of the BMA News Review. Tim imparted much valuable advice on how to tackle writing a memoir and indeed other prose.

Christopher Fielden followed in the afternoon. He describes himself as a rock-band drummer turned writer who was born in the 1970s, which he said was “too long ago for my liking.” (I won’t be the only one to think of the 70s as being not so long ago!) He had many tips on writing, especially flash fiction and short stories, with an emphasis on the repeated editing needed to polish pieces into winners – as he has done himself several times. His comprehensive website lists the many writing competitions you can try your hand at, including those he runs, as well as examples of his work.

A full report on this most successful Spring conference will feature in the summer The Writer. Thanks are due to Mary Anderson for so splendidly organising it.

Congratulations (albeit somewhat belated ones) to Andrew Papanikitas on his winning the 2017 BMA writing competition with his “Speaking Truth to Power” entry, which you will be able to read in the next The Writer. Congratulations also to Jo Cannon, the runner-up in this same competition, who is also a SOMW member. Her “Dirty business” will also be published in our summer issue.

Right-up-to-date congratulations are due now to Richard Westcott for There They Live Much Longer, his masterly collection of twenty-two poems published just last month. A (glowing) review of this pamphlet – remarkable for its tackling the subject of suicide – will (you guessed it) appear in the next The Writer but of course you can buy it now, for £6. It’s printed by Indigo Dreams Publishing ISBN 978-1-910834-78-7.

As it happens this is part of the publishing group which will print future copies of The Writer, as Indigo Ross have taken over the Deltaprint business of Richard Payne on his retirement. Your committee has thanked Richard for his ever-diligent and highly professional service in printing our journal for many years.


Yet more congratulations too for the following prize-winners in our winter competition:


   Winner:               South of Forgiveness
by Catherine Harkness                                                  

   Runner-up:        Moving on by Chris Walker                                                   

   Commended:     Painting in Public by Jeanette Cayley
                             Tactical Visiting by Neil Wilson                


   Winner:                       One Boy and his Wolf by Julian Randall 

   Runner-up:                 Raya by Richard Cutler                           

   Highly Commended:   Scene through a Window by Chris Walker   


    Winner:                        Trevor by Teresa Black

    Runner-up:                  Ballad of the Stone Heads by Jeanette Cayley         

    Highly Commended:    He is on the Autistic Spectrum by Jeanette Cayley

    Commended:               Puppet on a String by Catherine Harkness               


Dates for your Diary 

May 31st is the deadline for submissions for the summer The Writer. Please email me – – with these, preferably with a Word attachment (or in the body of the email message). As you know, you can – within the laws of libel, plagiarism and copyright – send in prose and poetry of any genre. If you’re stuck for inspiration there’s always the Memorable Patient section, as you will surely have material for that and also for Going Places, as you must recall experiences worth recounting for that section too. (And that need not be concerning exotic destinations!)

July 23rd to 28th sees the Medical Arts Society (  exhibit (for sale) at the Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole St, Marylebone, London W1G OAE. Only members can exhibit but entry to view is open to the public, from 10-5 every day but 10-1pm on the final day. For more information contact “our” Jeanette Cayley via or phone 01993 878893 or 07774 186335.

October 26th to 28th for our Autumn conference, with a return to the Skiddaw Hotel in central Keswick CA21 5BL Tel 017687 72071 on the theme of “writing about our own personal experiences of health and illness”. This is being organised by the indefatigable Dorothy Crowther who has already sorted rates at the hotel for us. The cost for dinner, bed and breakfast will be £85 per person per night, with the first five singles at that rate and a £20 supplement thereafter for singles. When booking, mention Dorothy and the SOMW. The costs and content of the conference itself are yet to be decided.


Happy scribbling/typewriting!                                       Neil Wilson