It is Saturday afternoon in sunny Melbourne. The Allan McLean Hall is packed with people attending the launch of the ninth anthology by the Mordialloc Writers’ Group. Kingston Our City is also the celebration of twenty years of fortnightly workshopping stories.
The founder and organiser of the group is Mairi Neil and with the help of her two girls, Anne and Mary Jane (who designed the cover art) she has compiled, edited, formatted and published not only past anthologies but especially this latest one. This year Mordialloc Writers also dives into the digital age. Mairi has produced an ebook of Kingston Our City.
Every writer knows how important it is to belong to a like minded community where they receive constructive comments about their work. Many become firm friends, not just writing colleagues. They laugh, swap pre-loved books, discuss the writing and publishing industry, politics, the human condition and are working on the meaning of life.
Our community writing group has been meeting at the Mordialloc Neighbourhood House for twenty years and for our anniversary anthology we reflect on our relationship with the City of Kingston. We have reminisced about wartime precautions on Parkdale beach and the transformation of suburban streets by developers. We have reflected on the City of Kingston’s creation by negotiation and amalgamation, Patterson Lakes created by feats of engineering. There are snapshots of dances at Moorabbin Town Hall, surf lifesaving carnivals, Edithvale billycart shenanigans and cycling to school, the demise of horses and the rise of hoons, joyous beach weddings and sad farewells. Stories woven around everyday life and observations to trigger your own memories. Perhaps you’ll remember when the pace of life seemed slower and be grateful for improved services. As you enjoy this collection I’m sure you’ll come to the same conclusion as the writers – Kingston in Victoria Australia is indeed a great place to live.
In recognition of Mairi’s inspirational contribution two orchids in a pale green ceramic pot were presented by Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers and ‘Ambassador’ for Australian Literature.
We added two bunches of Singapore orchids to the two potted orchids, plus cellophane and purple ribbon. The result was a joy to behold.
Lisa Hill’s words below managed to convey what everyone in the hall wanted to say.
Lisa Hill: ANZlitlovers award winning blog
It’s lovely to be here today to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Mordialloc Writers’ Group and the publication of the 2015 Anthology. As a passionate advocate for Australian books and writing, I am always excited to be in the presence of authors and as I look about me I know that whether published or not, the writers here today are using their gifts to bring the Australian experience to life using the magic of words, and I salute them all.
But all of us here today know that the real magic behind the words on the page is a great lady, our mentor and friend, Mairi Neil. It was Mairi who started this group 20 years ago, and who has nourished it with her wisdom and skill for what is, for some of our younger writers, a lifetime. It is Mairi who does all the behind-the-scenes organising, from the complexity of applications for council funding, to bringing the tea and biscuits. It is Mairi who listens most acutely as we workshop our pieces of work, praising and encouraging, gently suggesting improvements, using her professional writing and editing skills to nurture each piece to fruition. It is Mairi who has supported some of us to professional publication and paid opportunities. It is her unfailing presence each week which is the stimulus for us to write more instead of giving up. It is Mairi who manages the anthologies from selection of the theme to the finished product, spending long hours editing our work so that it emerges triumphantly as a polished piece of writing for others to read and enjoy.
All those of us who know Mairi well know that these decades of voluntary work have all been accomplished at the expense of her own writing career and despite personal tragedy and confronting health problems that would have overwhelmed an ordinary person. Mairi’s courage and indefatigable spirit is an inspiration to all of us, and for once, I have to admit, that words fail me when I try to thank her for all that she means to us as individuals and to the community that she has enriched with all these years of patient, unsung and heroic work on our behalf.
Congratulations, Mairi, and thank you.
MORDIALLOC WRITERS’ GROUP
457 Main Mordialloc Victoria Aust
MEETING DATES FOR 2016
FEBRUARY 2nd 16th
MARCH 1st, 15th and 29th
APRIL 12th & 29th
MAY 10th & 24th
JUNE 14th & 28th
JULY 12th & 26th
AUGUST 9th & 23rd
SEPTEMBER 6th & 20th
OCTOBER 4th & 18th
NOVEMBER 1st & 15th
DECEMBER 13th 2016–Break for summer holidays