Julian Williams urges budding writers to join the Guild
We’re a mixed bunch at the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain. Candidate Members like me and Full Members like a lot of you.
We’re successful, hopeful, trying, succeeding, struggling, fighting. We’re against the odds most of the time and some of the time one of us pops up with a great news story. That something we’ve created on a blank sheet of paper gets into production. Or print. Or on screen.
Mind you, half the time we’re probably viewed, we writers, as being mad as hatters. And half of that time we could well be!
But there’s one thing and one thing only that unites us, draws us together, protects us, gives us strength and a sense of unity, that is there for us when we need it most and that praises us when we deserve it most.
A parental hand. A guardian. A promoter of our truths and ways and thoughts.
I am, of course, referring to our very own Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.
And when I look at my membership card and think about why I have it and that I can hold it and it feels real. I feel protected, supported, encouraged, hopeful and energised.
I implore all budding writers to join the ranks of the established and take out a Candidate Membership. And be part of the team. Where you’ll never walk or write alone.
This article first appeared on Julian Williams's blog
Extracts from the speech given by the new Writers' Guild Chair, Roger Williams, at the AGM last week
I've been trying to remember of late when exactly I became a member of the Writers' Guild. I think it was 15 years ago. I was 22 years old and an early starter. Longstanding Guild member Sion Eirian was at a performance of one of my plays. Sion had his recruitment patter down to a fine art. He started by telling me how great my play was before sweeping in for the kill and asking me to join up. Flattery, in my case, really will get you anywhere.
The Wales branch met at that time in the back room of a rugby club in Cardiff on the third Wednesday of each month except August, when members would be at the National Eisteddfod, and December, when everyone would meet for a curry. It was at these committee meetings that I learnt about the business of being a writer. Contracts, negotiation, attendance fees, and the industry gossip. Individuals - often in competition with each other - coming together with the shared interest of helping one another.
This is fundamentally what the Guild is to me. Writers working together to get a better deal, to defend our rights and to campaign on issues that unite us.
I graduated from the smoky rugby club to being a representative on the Guild's Executive Council . Terrifying at first. I don't think I spoke for a year, but with time I found my feet and you'll be relieved to learn, I'm starting to get the hang of it.
So, I take over as Chair. Not an easy job when you remember whom I'm taking over from. Robert Taylor has done a tremendous amount for the Guild. He's overseen - with Bernie Corbett and the staff - a series of initiatives that have prepared our union for the future. The new BBC agreement, the establishment of Writers Digital Payments and the Writers Guild Foundation.
Thanks should also be paid to Rupert Creed, the outgoing treasurer, for his commitment to the Guild. I know the Guild is in a better shape now thanks to the work of these two men.
I lo ok forward to working with new treasurer Andy Walsh, new deputy chairs Ming Ho and Antony Pickthall and the. I also look forward to working with you because we ARE doing this together.
You've shown your commitment to the Guild by coming here today to the AGM and I encourage you to continue supporting our union in whatever way you can.
If you give a talk about your work, mention the Guild. Join Twitter and retweet the Guild's news stories. Persuade your colleagues to sign up. If you aren't on a Guild committee, join one. If you are on a committee, join another.
It is through dialogue and co-operation that the Guild is where it is today and long may it continue.
(Photo of Roger Williams by Warren Orchard Photography)
A report, some musings and some things to come, by Andy Walsh
An introduction by Anne Hogben
This event was the third successful gathering of members of the WGGB and Directors UK. The last one was held, along with producers from PACT and actors from Equity, at BAFTA during the London Film Festival last October. That was a different, more structured, type of event. All participants had to submit a proposal in writing in advance, about a project already in development so it was aimed at members of all four organisations, e.g. a writer with a script looking for a producer, a director looking for an actor, or a producer looking for a director so it can had a Speed Networking feel to it ('I am a … looking for a ….'). I was delighted to get several messages afterwards from Guild members who had attended telling me that their projects were moving on as a result of brief encounters made that evening. I hope we can organise something similar during the 2012 London Film Festival – running from 10–25 October. I’d welcome any suggestions from members about holding a similar event during the LFF.
Anne Hogben is Deputy General Secretary of the Writers' Guild
The Elizabethan alchemist and enigma Dr John Dee noted that by mixing writers with directors in a darkened room one could create gunpowder. Four hundred years later and the appearance of a writer’s name on a mobile phone leads to a moment of prescience…what is to follow for the next half hour will be war stories. ‘Director steals credit, plot ravaged and twisted beyond recognition and the swine never even bought a round.’
Most Writers’ Guild members have to submit an annual self-assessment tax return, and the final deadline for doing so is only a few days away – Tuesday 31 January 2012
You must file your return online by midnight on 31 January (you are already too late to send in a paper return). If you miss the deadline you will have to pay a £100 penalty even if you are only a day late and you have no tax to pay.
If you discover a last-minute tax query, as a Writers’ Guild member you have access to a free tax helpline operated by the Authors and Journalists Team at accountants HW Fisher & Company, who have many years’ experience of helping writers to minimise their tax liability.