Orkney Creative Links

Orkney Writing Community

There’s such richness in the landscape and the people here, such encouragement for any endeavour. I’ve found time for writing – even when it’s seemed quite impossible.

There’s silence enough for thinking and writing, and then there’s sharing and laughing. Writing is a serious business, but it must be regularly laughed at with friends or it could be a lonely occupation.


Stromness Writing Group

Every fortnight the Stromness Writing Group sallys-forth into  a new writing exercise. Over time, notebooks full of treasure and friendship build up. The record of my journeys, the mood and the weather as I drive towards Hoy are themselves a source of inspiration.

Critical feedback in a supportive atmosphere is for writing like manure to roses, and there is an abundance of all that and more. The group has published a number of books including ‘Come Sit at Our Table,’ a celebration of writing at the old Stromness Library. Meetings are currently being held using zoom with exercises posted on our facebook page.

The group contributed for several years to Living Orkney, Orkney’s monthly full-colour magazine. Writing Orkney contained poetry and prose written by the group from exercises or pieces being worked on individually. Sadly, Living Orkney produced its final magazine at the end of 2019.


Originally for eight to twelve year olds this group for young Orkney writers was set up by Amber Connolly and Alison Flett over six years ago. Wirdsmit is affiliated with the George Mackay Brown fellowship and funded through Orkney Islands Council Culture Fund.

Over the last two years I have been involved assisting and giving workshops and in 2019 took over from Amber Connolly as Programme Leader. Our sessions usually run in Stromness and Kirkwall Libraries and has also visited the Brownie cottage outside Orphir and Betty’s Reading Room in Tingwall.

Recently, Wirdsmit has successfully migrated its sessions to an on-line platform. There is a facebook page with details of my on-line workshops that is open to the public. Anyone on Orkney interested in the group or children’s workshops can contact me through the page.

Wirdsmit facebook link.

In 2016, money gifted by the family and friends of Margaret Bell Storr was given to the group to support outreach and development work. Margaret was a member of the Stromness Writing Group and a great enthusiast of Wirdsmit group. It is with pleasure that I was asked to edit the results of the children’s writing into a book, Word Ribbons. A fitting memorial to a generous friend.

In the past the older Wirdsmit group has been financially supported by the Clore Duffield Foundation to explore Orkney’s Literary Heritage and produced writing under the guidance of Alison Miller.

Wirdsmit has run workshops in partnership with the RSPB, even attempting writing at sea during Orkney Nature Week on the Hamnavoe. The groups has teamed up with RSPB volunteers and visited Cottisgarth and were lucky enough to see a cuckoo being chased like fury and the aerial displays of Hen Harriers. The group wrote about the cries of the birds and the minute details of landscape.

Story Club

For several years, I hosted a Story Club at St Andrew’s School. The focus was on story telling, voice and imagination. We developed stories to share with each other that incorporated group ideas and presented a tale about lost buttons to the whole school.


Orkney Storytelling Festival

The Orkney Storytelling Festival is organised by the Orkney Storytelling Trust. Each year a long weekend of oral storytelling takes place in different venues around the islands. The festival is open to all and brings together local storytellers and invited guests from all over the world. In 2016 the Stromness Writing Group was invited to take part in a session at St Mary’s Episcopal Church. New writing was shared and favourite stories told. More information about the festival and its events can be found on their facebook page.

Writing at an Orkney beach, Gabrielle Barnby, romance, mystery, scottish islands, books, The Oystercatcher Girl, The House with the lilac shutters
romance, books, mystery, Orkney, scottish islands, Gabrielle Barnby
The sun, Orkney, Gabrielle Barnby
romance, books, mystery, Orkney, scottish islands, Gabrielle Barnby
Story Club, Orkney, Scottish, Writing, Children, Schools, Gabrielle Barnby
Orkney Storytelling Festival, Kirkwall, Stromness, Gabrielle Barnby
Gabrielle Barnby