I mentioned a little while ago that I’d be talking about my experiences as President of a Creative Writing Society at university. Consider this the first episode of sorts, where I’ll be talking about how I came to be involved with the society in the first place, before I became the President.
During the opening stages of first year, I, as well as many other of my contemporaries across the country, joined far too many societies. I didn’t quite go as overboard as some people did; I think I only ended up joining four in the end. But regardless of that, it was still too many for me to realistically attend, if only because I simply couldn’t deal with socialising every single night. The curse of being an introvert, eh?
As such, as the first semester progressed, I began to stop attending many of the societies I had joined. All but one. The one I continued to go to was the Creative Writing Society, run at the time by two third year students by the name of Tara and Jess. It was a very small society, with an active membership of about 10, and we met fortnightly in a local pub, rather than on campus. I’ve never been one for pubs myself on the whole, but I think it was this location, combined with the people who attended it, that really solidified my interest in the society. It produced a very casual atmosphere, where there was absolutely no pressure to perform, either socially or in a creative sense. If you had bought a piece of extract to share, it was a place to get helpful, constructive criticism, and if you hadn’t, well, it was just a social evening with like-minded people.
I honestly cannot say whether this effect was intentional on behalf of Tara and Jess, but irrespective of that, I’ve striven to preserve that atmosphere that so enraptured me. After all, for many of us, writing is a hobby. I never want to make my members feel pressured into writing; that’s the fastest way to ensure you don’t see someone’s full potential as a writer.
Truth be told, come the end of the year, my election to the Presidency was something of a farce. I was the only one of our members who ran for it – in fact, of the four committee positions available, we only had one candidate for each. Given that state of affairs, I was somewhat concerned for the future of the society, but in the nature of a serial procrastinator like myself, I decided I’d cross that bridge next year.
When I joined at the beginning of the year, I had no intention of becoming a committee member for any society. But as the year went on, and that back room in The Castle Grounds began to feel more and more like a second (or I guess, technically, third) home to me, I knew that I wanted to be involved in this. As I’m going through into my third year, I aspire to instill that same feeling into my own members, so that someone may succeed me.
If you run a society, or are thinking about doing so, I encourage you to remember that you can’t please everyone. All you have to do is please enough people, and the rest is simpler than you would think.