SCWC Member: Ken Challenor
by Martin Veres
Ken Challenor, the former President of the Southern Highlands branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers, decided to retire from his long-held position this year. As an important SCWC member, we decided to ask him to share some of his thoughts about his time with the FAW, and writing in general.
Q: In the piece you wrote for the March edition of Writers Voice, you mentioned that, after you retired, you found that you finally had the time to pursue your desire for creative writing. How long had you entertained that idea, and had you done any sort of creative writing before joining the FAW?
I always felt comfortable writing business letters, reports for management and writing up lengthy case matters when I was an industrial officer, however there was no opportunity to spend time with creative writing given family and work commitments.
Q: Do you wish you had taken the time to write prior to your retirement? Or was it perhaps important for you to have those life experiences before you started putting pen to paper?
In retrospect, my life experiences have become a valuable source of material from which to draw when I finally began to write creatively. I would very much have enjoyed the activity of creative writing before retirement, but my thoughts were on earning an income and participating in family activities.
Q: You also wrote on the excellent achievements of the Southern Highlands FAW membership. Is there a particular highlight that stands out from the rest? Something you're especially proud of or want to bring to peoples' attention?
One of the most demanding activities a member can attempt is to write a novel. I am pleased to report that four of our members have published their novels so far. It takes a lot of time and effort to complete a novel so our membership can take inspiration from these successful members.
Q: What do you think about the state of literary culture and involvement in places like the Southern Highlands? How much has changed since you opened a branch of the FAW there?
We have just completed a writing competition for adults and school students living in Wingecarribee Shire. The response showed a good result from adults but very little interest from students, despite our members distributing entry forms to every school in the area.
Over the years we have had a membership as high as 30 members, and with the successful introduction of the Southern Highlands Writers Festivals I see a growing interest in creative writing, especially poetry. I feel that the use of computers by children in schools has not allowed them to exercise their creative writing abilities.
Q: As someone who's been involved with the FAW for the better part of two decades, is becoming a member something you would recommend to the aspiring (and even established) writers out there? Why?
The FAW provides a number of benefits for writers. Writing is a very solitary activity, and membership provides a source of friendship to give encouragement. Membership also provides feedback from experienced writers to assist in overcoming problems that writers encounter. Many enduring friendships have been made among some members. I would very much recommend the FAW as a centre of learning the art of creative writing and friendship for aspiring and established writers.
Q: And finally, what's next for you?
I will now have more time to write poetry and in particular short plays. The Melting Pot Theatre at Bundanoon run a series of Short Play performances during the year. I have had one play performed so far and aspire to submit more plays for performance.
I'd like to extend a big thank you to Ken for contributing to our blog, as well as congratulate him on the great work that he's done over the years.
Written by SCWC
Posted on April 24, 2017