Thursday, October 12, 2017

From tiny seeds...Omega Writers grew – by Ruth Bonetti



Once upon a time, back in the past millennium, a publisher scattered seeds amongst Brisbane writers. Offering a free seminar–with lunch– to attract new authors, Open Book’s John Pfitzner was swamped by responses. Intrigued by familiar faces there I wondered: What if we got together on a regular basis to encourage and support each other? I sent an open invitation to meet in my garden and discuss.


This 1991 mustard seed of Omega Writers has rooted and bourgeoned strong branches.
A dozen in a monthly circle shared writing to encouraging nods. We photocopied a scissors and glue newsletter. Guest speakers enlightened but the prime focus was support.


Our recurring plaint: ‘How do we find a publisher?’ was answered. Publisher Rochelle Manners rose through our ranks, while other Christian houses faded.

In 1994 God gave another vision: performances to showcase members’ words coloured with dance, rap, my husband’s Brisbane Symphony Orchestra. Pro Hart sent paintings for an adjacent art exhibition. I illustrated my poem with a slide show in the dark ages before Power Point. Two performances Gallery attracted 1000 people. Nail biting? Yes. Faith? Yes.


In 2000, God sent another vision. Help people into print with an anthology Seasons of Giving. It came to pass. As did my energy.

Lyn Hurry took over. She and Anne Hamilton mounted another visionary exploit: Alpha2Omega Conference of Literary and Dramatic Arts drew authors across Australia, to present knowledge, experience and books across multiple rooms.

Next president Annie Hamilton urged authors to review each other’s books on Goodreads.com. Her visions initiated a digital magazine Zaphon, CALEB book awards and conferences.
STILL TIME! Apply NOW for Omega WritersConference in Sydney 27-29 October.
“A great place to get together with like-minded people for learning, sharing, networking and encouraging.” – Nola Passmore

Initially Omega’s only local writing group was based in Brisbane. but expanded to Toowoomba, Gold Coast, other capitals and New Zealand. Locally based and genre specific online writing groups budded.

President Simon Kennedy updated the website to small screen friendly with capacity to pay memberships, advertise and process events online–like Toowoomba Chapter’s caring, infectious annual weekend retreats and a Book Fair.

“Last year’s Book Fair was made possible with bookings done online and covering the event with insurance. We hope to repeat it in March 2018.”–Jeanette O’Hagan.

Enterprising and passionate Australian authors have produced quality books, ranging from children to school children and young adult, romance, historical novels, memoir, theology and devotionals, drama, poetry and illustrations. write in a wide range of genres, suitable for all your Christmas shopping–and Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day and birthdays.

They live similar lives to ours: snatching time to write between nursing the baby or toddler naps or home schooling teenagers or minding the grandchildren. Professionals juggle deadlines to cadge windows of writing time.

“Omega Writers has encouraged me to see my writing self as part of a bigger picture with a greater reach. One small puzzle piece does not a picture make. One brick does not a building make. But stacked and fitted together, we strengthen the integrity and impact of the Ministry of Christians as writers.”–Cathie Sercombe

 “I didn’t know I could write until I joined OMEGA. The friendship and nonjudgmental critiques give me confidence to develop my talents.” –Judy Rogers.

When output shrivels in desert times, groups like Omega Writers support and encourage. Branches online encourage many members (as well as Omega’s groups, CWDU has 935; Australasian Christian Writers 540).

We’re heartened and inspired to see how the Head Gardener nurtured small seeds sown in 1991 to a thriving community of Christian authors who are published or developing skills towards that goal, clear in their vision to use their God-given gifts to further the kingdom.

After a dozen publications in her primary field of music and performance practice, Ruth Bonetti was especially challenged by memoir/historical biography. She values support of Omega Writers friends to see into print her recent books "Midnight Sun to Southern Cross" and "Burn My Letters" (shortlisted for CALEB nonfiction award). 


Website: http://www.ruthbonetti.com/burn-my-letters/

14 comments:

  1. Wow Ruth! An inspiring story indeed. Thank you for sharing. 26 years on we see a growing thriving group of Christian writers in Australia. You can be pleased with yourself for following the Head Gardeners lead as we marvel at all the flowering plants all over the land, started off by this little shoot. Well done. And well done on your writing too.

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  2. Thanks Ruth for outlining the history of Omega Writers. It's wonderful to see how God can bless small beginnings, vision and faithfulness.

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  3. Yes, it's heartening for me to look back and see the amazing harvest, especially when desert patches seem dry.

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  4. I was at John Pfitzner's conference and enjoyed it a lot. It opened the door for me to write Songs in the Night after he read Jodie's Story. I was also at the first few Omega meetings and enjoyed but the timing clashed with church activities for me. Lyn was also in the writers group with me at my place. Lots of cross threading - not to mention Craig and Sharny. Interesting post, thanks!

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  5. Oh, that was a wonderful read! I never knew anything about Omega's beginnings. A seed plot, indeed. Thank you Ruth. At one conference a few years ago I remember sitting at a dinner and when I asked about your writing, (unaware you'd written so many books for musicians) modest you mentioned you hoped to write about personal history. Now you have seen that dream come to fruition with both books published. A wonderful achievement, girl!

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    1. Thanks, dear Rita. Sometimes we need to look back to realise how far we've journeyed. Still a little worn from the huge effort of seeing these books into print but I'm so grateful for support from the fraternity of authors. X

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  6. Thanks for telling us the history of Omega, Ruth. I knew what happened from Annie's presidency onwards, but didn't know what had happened prior to that. Good on you for planting those seeds and nurturing them. And performances attracting 1000 people? Wow. People laugh at me when I say, "Let's put on a show" :) It's interesting to see how it's morphed in different directions over the years as God has led. Looking forward to catching up with lots of friends in a couple of weeks' time :)

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    1. Well, nearly a thousand people attended over two nights, I might have an exact number in the files but no time to check. Could've written nealy 1000 but saved on word count. :)

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  7. Yes, we do go back so far, Jeanette, though I'd forgotten you were at the Open Book workshop, a few years ago I tried to contact John Pfitzer to tell him the impact that day made on so many people. And how many publications eventuated as a result.

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    1. I'd love to know how the Pfitzners are. They were so good to me in Adelaide and he was great to work with as my editor and publisher. I still quote him on CWD re prose writing. Btw, I was at that, was it 'Gallery'? - and really enjoyed. So- getting back, SongsITN was fruit of that day too. Great how well you have done and all of you.

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  8. What a beautifully laid out short history, Ruth. I am so encouraged by the thought that God was planting the seeds and working through willing, obedient vessels like yourself to establish the Omega Writers Network just as he was planting the seeds of my writing journey in me. The words of a lovely old hymn came to mind as being very appropriate:

    I do not know what lies ahead,
    The way I cannot see,
    But one stands near to be my guide,
    He'll show the way to me.

    I know who holds the future
    And He'll guide me with his hand
    With God things don't just happen,
    Everything by him is planned.
    So as I face tomorrow,
    With its problems large and small,
    I'll trust the God of miracles,
    Give to Him my all.

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  9. Thanks for sharing that inspiring story Ruth. It is wonderful to know the history of Omega Writers.

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  10. Thanks Ruth. It's great to see the history rolled out like that. The small seeds are evident. Looking forward to the times still to come.

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