Independent Writing from an Independent Mind

Open discussion about writing and reading

Why I recently left the Bangkok Writers Guild

It was with great sadness but also a bit of relief that last week I resigned from the Bangkok Writers Guild. I left because the group had recently seemed to have taken a sharp turn from being an opportunity for writers of various backgrounds to meet, socialize and help one another along. To me it seemed to have turned into something else. A writers’ seminar.

It was never my intention for the group to become a “writers’ seminar”, nor was it the intention of any of the other long time members of the group. It was only meant to be a time for writers to meet and share the joys and frustrations of writing as well as to help writers on an informal basis when people needed advice and expertise about getting writing work, editing, publishing, self-publishing, make friends with other writers, etc. I never, ever envisioned that this group would become some kind of workshop, doling out assignments to the members.

I was amazed at how fast this transformation took place. I missed one meeting last October when I was on a business trip to the Middle East and Europe. After I returned I attended the November meeting to see that this format was faît accompli, seemingly being “run” by a new member of the group I’d never even seen before.

 Anyway, I’m not in for it and I never was. If I wanted “assignments” I’d enrol in a course. When I need someone’s editorial advice, as I often do, then I seek it out. I have my own stable of contacts who help me as I help them when they ask.

 Had I known that the group would so quickly have morphed into this shape I would have never taken over the organization of it.

Part of the reason that I am of two minds about leaving the group is because writing is a big part of my life. I am a monthly columnist in a major business magazine. I publish two professional newsletters. Over the past years I have written features for magazines in Europe, Asia and North America. I maintain ten (yes, ten) blogs, both professionally and personally. And I have published two non-fiction books. On top of all of this I travel a substantial amount of time. The very last thing I want or need is for a new comers in the writers’ group to be giving me a reading and critique assignments. The whole point of the group has been missed. And to be quite honest I have too much on my slate to get into any kind of political struggle over the nature of the group. I chose to expend my energy on more positive activities.

My good friend, C.Y. Gopinath, who is an excellent writer, has taken over the helm of the group in the meantime. He volunteered himself right away. To me that is a very good thing because it was Gopi who founded the group in the first place.

It is sad that people would want to turn an opportunity for writers to network into a seminar – whether they want to run it or whether they want to be part of the critiquing. I don’t say this because a seminar is a bad thing. I say it because I recommend that anyone who would like to make such a group into a classroom for getting free critiquing will most likely not go anywhere with the craft anyway. I recommend them to actually start their own seminar or enroll in a school for that. I was involved because I believed that we writers all had something to offer one another and could work on building a support network. I guess with writers it wasn’t meant to be. And I also feel that this is why so many of them, including many of the better writers, remain unread!

In the meantime, I received one very nasty mail from a member who chose to use illogic and foul language because I resigned. The guy is a real winner in life for sure. He would epitomize what we call back home a “nine month abortion”. Over the few years I was involved in the group we had many people come and go. In fact, Gopi himself was originally running the group and resigned. Nobody used foul language or chased up after him. D.F. Thompson was the second person to run the group before I took over and he also resigned. I am sure no one came at him with foul language either. And I have a right to resign if I feel that the group has moved in different directions or if I do not have enough time to carry out my responsibilities. So this complaint will remain to me like water off a duck’s back.

I do have a message for any of the writers who feel like I do concerning the direction of the Bangkok Writers Guild: Any of you who would like to meet socially in the format that I originally proposed let me know. I am still keen for this. But a seminar format with reading assignments? Not interested in the very least.

10 responses to “Why I recently left the Bangkok Writers Guild

  1. Derek Kent Sharron July 15, 2010 at 11:05 am

    I bounced from one site to another and arrived at this site concerning the Bangkok Writers’ Guild.

    My partner and I have a publishing company here, Bamboosinfonia with 45 books in English, French, German and Swedish. We also have a couple of Thai language learning DVDs.

    One of our authors mentioned it would be a good idea to form some form of a writer’s club, something informal, sharing ideas, etc.

    I thought the Bangkok Writers’ Guild, might be the place to join, but your message steers me in the other direction.

    Please let me know if there might be other members / former members of the Bangkok Writers’ Guild who might be interested in forming another club, as I could contact all of our authors and many would be happy to join.

    Thank you for your time,

    Derek Kent Sharron

  2. melissa November 19, 2010 at 12:38 am

    Yeah, I am interested in a networking group for writers, keep me posted!

  3. tanyakamon December 24, 2011 at 3:45 am

    I have been writing for many years and published too of course. I’m looking for a writers group. The Bangkok Women’s Writers Group were all about the egos of “blondes,” in other words expats. I felt out of place being a “local Thai.” Would like to network.

  4. Bangkok Bar June 4, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads
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    I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same results.

  5. oranswing December 10, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Interesting! As someone researching the lessons learned from writing groups in order to form my own, one question nags at me after reading: what would your picture of an ideal group look like, as in, what would they do together? Curious.

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  8. Lora McAlynn February 17, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    I would also be interested in the less formal/less seminar type format. I am glad I caught your post about this…was just about to join the BWG. I am most definitely not looking for a seminar, but more for exactly what you would be offering. Please keep me updated if this progresses into a writers group.

  9. charlestraveling December 14, 2016 at 3:14 am

    Thanks for these frank comments.
    I would like to meet and chat about publishing and the joy of writing.
    The question of how to move manuscripts from the drawer to the publisher is on my mind.

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