My writers' group experience

Wednesday, 26 February 2014


My novel in old notepads

My "novel"

I've been 'working on' a novel for 10 years now but it tends to spend most of its time in my bedside drawer.

This year I resolved it was time to make some serious progress and join a writers' group for motivation. Yet somehow on the morning of the group I'm feeling strangely unenthusiastic.  All of a sudden it seems vitally important to clean the house and go to the gym. Plus I'm feeling slightly hungover and could really do with a lie-in.


The truth is I'm more than bit nervous about going along. I imagine the others as published authors typing away on whizzy laptops. Will they sneer at my collection of dog-eared notepads (one of which is Forever Friends) and light-weight chick lit story? 

Quite possibly so- but hey there's only one way to find out, so I chuck my pile of notepads and a biro in my bag and head to Bayswater. 

The writers' group, which has been running for several years, take place in the basement of a Starbucks every week so aspiring authors can work in companionable silence on their own projects. Settling down in a comfy seat with my latte, I'm relieved to see others also scribbling away in longhand.

After an hour of 'warming up' (read procrastinating) while Shazaming the background music, I spring into action and write three pages. Although not much, it's more than I would have done with the distractions of home. It's nice to look around and exchange understanding glances with my fellow scribes as we stare into space chewing our pens ponderingly.

We head to the pub where everyone is keen to know what I'm working on. I find myself mumbling dismissively that it's 'kind of a novel thing'. Admitting to writing a novel feels embarrassingly  pretentious and far too committal.
vintage typewriter

I want one of these

There are several people writing science fiction, one who's finished a young adult novel, a man writing a role-playing game and a woman who comes along for company while she does her studies.

When I confess my notepad shame, a man in his 20s jokes that at least I didn't bring a fountain pen. He looks shocked when I tell him we wrote all our schoolwork in fountain pen back in my day. I still remember the inky fingers and burst cartridges. Secretly I find the idea quite romantic. A quill and ink pot would be better I muse, or at least a typewriter... 

Leaving the pub several hours later, I'm encouraged by my writers' group experience and vow to return next weekend. If I continue at the pace of three pages a week, my novel could be finished in, oh, another ten years?
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