Celebrating ten years with Colchester WriteNight

‘the town hosts a long-established, innovative and very healthy writing group – WriteNight…’ A.L. Kennedy

Ten years ago I discovered National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a challenge held every November to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. There were no meet-ups I could find in Colchester, so I visited a Chelmsford event and then decided to set one up myself. After desperately persuading/forcing Nick Barlow and Sonja Holmes to promise they would come along, I organised the first sessions with the help of the brilliant staff at 15 Queen Street. I was nervous that no-one would turn up on the 1st November. They did, and Colchester WriteNight was born.

Over the years we’ve moved homes, written shedloads – some of it published, and many brilliant guest speakers have crossed our various paths. We still have members who came to those first sessions, some wave from new locations, and new members who have joined us over time. We’ve continued to meet during the pandemic, experimenting with different online platforms and eventually deciding to produce an anthology, based on the theme Open Book, to mark our ten year anniversary. I managed to acquire some funding from Colchester Borough Council Creative Events Fund, which has helped finance this project.

After a themed writing event and Sue Dawes’ famous editing sessions, we brought the collection together, edited it, and Patrician Press published the anthology. It’s a work of quality and shows the standard of our members’ writing. I approached A.L. Kennedy who kindly offered to write an introduction, and some of our author guests and WriteNight friends provided us with great quotes.

With launches organised, dubious advertising underway (my reels…aargh) and NaNoWriMo 2021 in full swing (thanks Sue!), I look forward to what 2022 brings for Colchester WriteNight. (By the way, I’m the least likely person in the group to ever complete NaNo. Still, it doesn’t matter! I have writing friends!)

Thank you to all the brilliant contributors to the anthology: Sarah Armstrong, Sarah Bates Kendrick, Annie Bell, Penny Benedetti, Helen Chambers, Tim Gardiner, Phil Hurst, Wendy James, Jonathan King, Toni Peers, Mary Pullen Deacon, Clare Shaw, Doug Smith, Alice Violett and Katy Wimhurst. Thank you to all the members who come and take part in our monthly sessions.

Huge thanks to Sue Dawes – editor extraordinaire; Publisher Patricia Borlenghi at Patrician Press; A.L. Kennedy for the intro; Jo Coldwell, Liz Trenow, Nik Perring, Jane Lomas and Nikki Werenowska for kind quotes. Wendy Bailey thanks so much for the cover art. And thanks to Colchester Borough Council Creative Events Fund for funding support.

You can buy copies at Red Lion Books, Wivenhoe Books, Firstsite or from Patrician Press, or you can join us at our second launch event at Colchester Library, details tbc.

Contact us at colchesterwritenight@gmail.com to find out more, or join the mailing list for our quarterly newsletter. We’re on Facebook, Instagram @colchesterwritenight and Twitter @ColWriteNight

Witty, experimental, clever, thought-provoking and sometimes plain laugh-out-loud, this collection of short works is testament to the excellent Colchester WriteNight group…’ Liz Trenow, author

Book Review: Colchester WriteNight


colchester writenight

Colchester WriteNight is a monthly community event that offers members the opportunity to learn from guest speakers, write together, and share their work. The group has been running for ten years and decided to commemorate this anniversary by publishing a short prose collection, in collaboration with Patrician Press. The contributors are a mix of published and as yet unpublished authors (until now…) – members who accepted the invitation to contribute a piece that would fit the theme Open/Open Book. The editors’ choices provide an eclectic mix of short stories from writers honing their craft.

I found this book a tonic to read. On a personal note, when I first started writing I enjoyed creating short works of fiction inspired by weekly prompts put out by the editors at Yeah Write. After a year or so of taking part, and carefully considering the feedback given, it became clear to me…

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WriteNight — Helen Chambers – Writer

Helen Chambers on her visit to Colchester WriteNight last week – thanks so much Helen it was great to have you with us!

Colchester WriteNight meet on the fourth Monday of each month, 7.30pm, at FirstSite, Colchester. They are a ‘gathering of creative writers from all walks of life’ and are a talented, friendly and diverse bunch who write together, support each other’s writing and invite guest writers to speak.

via WriteNight — Helen Chambers – Writer


‘…this collection of stories, tales … displays a high level of literary ability, deep curiosity, and engaging self-awareness… The stories have a really mature clarity and plainness, a simplicity that’s never simplistic’

Glyn Maxwell

‘Powerful, subtle and ambitious stories which develop carefully from well-observed details into rich inhabitable worlds.’

Phil Terry

‘Emma’s stories are spare, in touch with the common world, while having a poetic and witty subtext. Her fiction retains its seeming lightness of tone, but often touches on the moral issues of the everyday and the subtleties of caring and loyalty. You feel that you are in company with a sharp intelligence, which has a calm goodness and a wry humour at its heart.’

Adrian May

‘Emma Kittle-Pey’s short story so poignantly highlights the gap between the haves and the have-nots, and was beautifully understated in its crisp yet ambiguous ending. It said so much (about the three/ four people) while saying so little. I loved it.’

Catherine Coldstream

Writing short stories with intention: an interview theshortstory.co.uk


I wanted to mention the great experience I had last year being interviewed by Katy Wimhurst from TheShortStory.co.uk.  Katy had read all the stories, and by that I mean all of Fat Maggie and Gold Adornments, and asked me about the writing and themes she noticed, and we chatted about others.

There were some that I wanted to explain, for example, Fat Maggie includes a series of linked animal tales, with *suggested* morals at the end. But there are other themes or issues I wanted to show running throughout. One of them was a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy in mental health and how that can be used negatively by others.

A theme in the Evening Shift series (another linked series in Fat Maggie) involves situations at work. And the inability to speak out when circumstances are unreasonable, because of economic necessity.

A third issue I’d mulled over was about sharing stories being political – understanding that we are not alone in the small world in which we may find ourselves, and the more we share the more we understand that our situation is political rather than personal…

You can read the interview here:

Short Story Interview: E K Pey

I’d love to discuss any thoughts you have.



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