This week we surpassed ourselves with our baking because our old friend Heather Dyer who no longer lives in Bristol, joined us and it was more party than work.
But even with cakes and diary-free flapjacks, we still found time to hear each other’s news and talk about our work. This sharing of our ongoing stories and novels is crucially important to us. Writing is a very solitary experience and you can write for hours and hours and it can all be rubbish and you’d never know. You need a good, supportive group of fellow writers to laugh at what you’ve done and steer you kindly back on the right path. That’s what everyone did today and sometimes it’s hard to swallow (unlike the buns), but my group’s advice is always good and ‘they’ are always right. Those lovely little sensitive passages that you’ve so carefully composed, and which you think are tender and revealing are usually the first lines that have to go. This is a hard lesson to learn and is known as Murdering Your Darlings. If you love those lines a great deal, all the more likely they’ll have to be thrown out. Remember, if you think it’s the best line you’ve ever written and they, the group, tell you it isn’t, they are RIGHT.
Another fantastic advantage of being in our group is that we read a piece out loud. The moment you do this the flaws, inconsistencies and horrors jump out at you. How could I use the word ‘old’ six times in two paragraphs and never notice!? But if you aren’t lucky enough to have a friendly writing group and you do have an iMac, use the lovely Serena, she will read your work to you and you’ll hear your errors that way.
My latest book THE SPIN was the January book of the month at Chatterbooks and now, Hot Key Books and Chatterbooks Reading Agency have produce some fantastic reading ideas and activities for reading groups who read THE SPIN. You can download the activity pack from their Chatterbooks website.