I am always amazed how my brain can compose a blog but when I try to put it on paper, nothing happens. When putting up my hand to write a blog for Week Eight of Tauranga Writers 50th Anniversary celebration it seemed so simple. I wrote it while mountain biking in the Redwood forest, and again while walking the Blue Lake and then once more while kayaking Lake Rotorua. But when I tried to get it from my head onto paper, it simply vanished!

Such is a writer’s life; moments of extreme creativity followed by a hollow void of nothingness. Some would say it is nothing to do with a creative mind but more to do with age. Time, it just ticks, ticks, ticks along.

Twenty years ago I joined Tauranga Writers, small group of women and one man gathered around the table of a Tauranga primary school staffroom. I was a tad hesitant, after teaching all day I had a built-in resistance to attending social gatherings in staffrooms at night. I’m still recovering from the fact that I got married in a school hall…. look how that turned out. Anyway, it was a most congenial group and I enjoyed the fact that we all had the opportunity to share our writing, and dreams. We were all so “nice” and encouraging. Constructive criticism didn’t exist. It was all about massaging egos.

Each month we were invited to record our published work in a school exercise book. Hardly anything was ever written. A few months after joining I had my first piece of work published. I was so excited. Duly congratulated, I wrote it in the book. A few weeks later I had another published. I soon stopped recording published work in the book. You see, it wasn’t that I was a better writer than everyone else, it was because I was the only one who was sending work away to be criticised, returned, rejected and sometimes accepted. Writers have to be brave, and believe in themselves.

Early in my writing career I sent an article and photos to Southern Skies, an inflight magazine. Colin Hogg, journalist, television producer and columnist for the Woman’s Weekly, was the editor at the time. I’ll never forget our conversation when he rang. “What’s this stuff you’ve sent me?” he said. “The photographs are great, but the article’s terrible. I’ll give you a week to find an angle and send me a decent story.” I was scared and humiliated. But, I wasn’t beaten. I set about researching mythical taniwha around New Zealand’s freshwater springs. The ensuing article “Cool Clear Water” was published numerous times over the years and also won a competition which allowed me to travel to Paua New Guinea to find more stories. I’m forever grateful for his honesty and brutality.

Over the years, I watched Tauranga Writers grow, largely due to the effort and dedication of Jenny Argante. Her visions, creativity and mentorship have lifted the Bay of Plenty writing world into a breeding ground for some of New Zealand’s most ‘up and coming’ writers. Happy 50th Tauranga Writers, you really have come of age.