I passed a delightful day yesterday in the company of two other budding novelists. We occupied a table in the corner of a creaky, low-ceilinged hotel bar surrounded by wedding guests and ramblers. Only the musky reek of a rain-soaked, sweaty Labrador threatened to intercept our pleasure.
We talked about our writing experiences, read excerpts of our work in progress to one another and critiqued as best we could, given our neophyte status. From that perspective, you could argue it was a case of ‘the blind leading the blind’. We have neither an MA in Creative Writing nor a published novel between us (yet). But we are all avid readers, so we have that experience at least to offer one another.
And we are friends, which trumps all the above.
That means that we neither smarm nor flatter one another without good reason; nor do we hold back if we have constructive observations to make. All this needs love, integrity and above all, trust, which has begun to build over the few times we’ve met up in this way over the last couple of years. Sometimes we pick a writing exercise from a book and rattle off a couple of hundred words on the spot. Always we chat about what’s been going on for us, how far we’ve got, what challenges we’ve overcome, what hinders progress. Sometimes we can help each other with advice or pointers towards a book or blog. At other times, we do as girls are wont to do – we empathise, endorse and encourage one another.
That’s the privilege of friendship, overlayed with the pleasure of the creative. I can’t think of many better ways to pass a rainy Saturday.