Friends and Writers – Another Year

Around this time last year I wrote about my group of writerly friends here.  One year on, we still meet every few weeks, and – up until now at least – still in the same creaky, low-ceilinged hotel bar which is the closest to a geographical centre-point between our homes.  Although this seems set to change; the barman is grumpy, the food is variable (although the name above the door suggests it should be excellent) and the gaggles of wedding guests a little too rowdy for us.  We’ve become reluctant to continue dropping £100 or so into their coffers each time we get together.

So it’s one year on, and over two years since the start of our little group, which came about, if you’re interested, as a result of us having endured the waste of a day at a thoroughly uninspiring short writing course.   Little of the framework of our gatherings has changed in this time.  We still discuss our work, especially our challenges, both literary and logistical.  We still share things we’ve learned and sources we’ve found useful.  We still occasionally read to one another and every now and again we try a writing exercise.  We drink lots of coffee (and water…) and we share a meal.  And we still natter on for hours about all kinds of everything.

Our writing has progressed by varying degrees over that time – work, family and other claims on our time and energy are the inevitable excuse.  Our friendship too has grown.

It’s an incredible thing, to make new friends.  People mostly have busy, diverse lives; we’re mostly reticent when it comes to engaging with strangers.  So it’s not easy to connect and open the door to a friendship even when there’s a shared interest or passion at the heart of things.  I think it’s great to have people with whom to share my novice writing experience and my clunky output.  But it’s even more special that I’m able to do this on a foundation of friendship.  Ladies, you know who you are – thank you!

Friends and Writers

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.