Way back in 2004 when I was a secret scribbler, I belonged to a writers' circle that met in the back room of a local Conservative club. It was a huge group of enthusiastic writers who had far more experience and writerly knowledge than I had, so I'd nervously trundle along each month clutching my latest piece ready to receive feedback. The group was so large that on many occasions I didn't get the chance to read aloud my tiny offering, but the evening was never wasted listening to the others, be it poets, aspiring authors or potential playwrights. It would provide a gem of creativity for me which I stole away and made good use of until the next gathering took place. Simply listening to the others 'fed me' something which I couldn't access from elsewhere in my life.
I attended for approximately eighteen months before my attendance wavered and ceased. I think I lost sight of what I gained from attending the group. I was caught up in the onslaught of receiving rejection after rejection from publishers, disappointment at not receiving group feedback for my offerings and probably in the mire wondering if I was chasing a non-sensical dream!
Roll forward to February 2022, with our covid hibernation over, I needed to return to social interaction. So, I returned to the fold after an absence of nearly two decades! There was a new venue, a reduced group of six, but three members who remembered me from all those years ago. Imagine how surprised I was! I hadn't taken anything to read, so took my seat and simply listened as they each read their offerings. In a flash, I knew what I'd been missing in recent years - the grass roots of creativity. The group didn't pry or make a fuss, as any new member is a bonus, but the organiser did ask, 'So you're still writing then?'
Last night was my fourth session. I chose not to read aloud from my current project, but enjoyed listening to ten other members reading an array of stories and poems. I did enter two anonymous entries for the groups' annual competitions, the short story and non-fiction categories, so I'll let you know how I get on when the results are received by the external judges.
Amidst the excitement of book nine being published and the copy edits for book ten being completed, I’ve been given the go ahead from my editor regarding two of the three books I pitched a few weeks.
So the official news is … I have a brand-new location to write about! It won't be easy waving goodbye to Shetland as it has filled my head every day since April 2019, but needs must. I’ve had a long weekend away from my desk in order to spring clean my mind and blow the cobwebs away, but this morning my new location can move in and take possession. Exciting, or what?
I’ve already started to write this project - a habit of mine prior to pitching; I like to feel the characters before I write a synopsis for the publishing team. From today, there is no going back, no changing my mind, but simply full steam ahead. My deadline is the beginning of October, so I have a summer of writing to bring a cast of characters to life.