Last time, I spoke to you about the first couple meetings of my society that happened under my “presidency”, and the nerves and mild awkwardness that pervaded those meetings.
This week, we’re going to skip forward a little bit. Truth be told, much of the year as a society was enjoyable, but uneventful. We met on a 2 week cycle, and generally just relaxed; took an hour and thirty away from the stress of university and obligation to sit and talk about whatever was on our minds, occasionally with some writing thrown in. In the interests of maintaining the “creative writing” section of our title, I made the effort to hand out writing prompts after every meeting, making sure I at least completed them myself. I expected these to be unused, but they worked surprisingly well, and did increase the overall level of writing activity. It’s a practice I intended to carry on to the next year if I remained President, and given that I have, I’m just now getting my members accustomed to the idea.
Now secure in the fact I could afford it, I sent in my proposal to the SU
But, excluding that – nothing really happened. I had a grand plan for a competition, but I simply ran out of time to host it during first semester. But when I returned for second semester, I increased the scope of my competition, and set out to start a tradition- an annual university-wide writing competition. What I did not expect however, was the sheer amount of bureaucracy to overcome to accomplish such a thing. To begin with, I had to evidently set out the plan for the competition, which I did. One competition with two categories, one poetry, one prose; but based on the same short and simple prompts. There would be a winner and a runner up for each category, and each would win a small sum of money- say, £10 for the winner and half that for the runners up. To me, this posed no issue. As a society, we had not actually spent any of our money in years. Our venue is free to book, and we have no equipment required. So what was £30?
It was then that I realised that I didn’t actually know how much I had in the coffers. My Treasurer had not been available on the day of the Treasurer training, and therefore did not have access to our accounts. I had chosen not to push the issue because it wasn’t necessary, but now circumstances had changed. I asked him to speak to the Student Union about getting the training, and he readily agreed. It took nearly two months of badgering to get the SU to give him the training, but now we had access to the accounts.
Now secure in the fact I could afford it, I sent in my proposal to the SU. I was called it for a meeting, in which I was told I could proceed, but not without some changes. After being chastised for several things I had simply not considered, the SU agreed to simply give me some vouchers for prizes, as they were most displeased with the idea of a cash prize.
I made the effort to hand out writing prompts after every meeting, making sure I at least completed them myself. I expected these to be unused, but they worked surprisingly well, and did increase the overall level of writing activity
After some changes, and another meeting to agree on where I could advertise such a thing, the competition was on. The number of entries exceeded what i’d actually expected (I had no high hopes or delusions regarding potential interest), and me and my admin committee went through the entries and picked our winners over the Easter Break. I mailed out the prizes for the winners, and took a step back to reflect. The fact I intend to run that competition again tells me I enjoyed it, but I certainly didn’t feel that at the time. Cutting through red tape and jumping through hoops was a challenge I didn’t overly enjoy, but I know that developing those skills is something that will serve me well later in life.
If you’re involved in a society that could do something like this, I would recommend it. It was enriching; even if it was a pain in the derriere.
We are a new voice in digital publishing, a not-for-profit, volunteer-ran organisation looking to give additional opportunities to new and emerging writers.