Sunday, 27 January 2008

On trying to join a writers groups

Based here in Spain I have an internet based network which means no second eyes to read my work and no audience to practice on. So I had an idea; call me crazy but I decided to try and join a writer’s group. Crazy…Why? Well there’s some stigma attached; apparently writer’s groups are for sad lonely women with nothing better to do or wannabe writers who like to be told their work is great by everyone so they can pour out the same trite. Or so I’m told by a friend. So was she right? Well, she was wrong actually…

Based in a quiet hotel on the Estepona motorway, I was greeted by an American lady, Amy, whose details had been sent my way via email. As everyone arrived, there was not one sad old lady in sight. I was sat with a famous artist from the Costa coast, a lady whose book on climate change was about to be published, freelancers with articles and non-fiction in circulation, and many aspiring writers with great wit and stories to tell. All wannabe writers, including myself…that was the point!

It turned out I was amongst the most experienced which is opposite to whatI expected; this didn´t matter to me as we have something to learn from every scenario. I felt a little embarrassed by my introduction as I’d gone first. I’m very confident, and to me there’s nothing worse then accidentally putting others off. But the environment was supportive and Amy maintained an encouraging atmosphere, it was amazing how quickly everyone relaxed under this united desire to ´put black on white´. After everyone had revealed a bit about themselves and a date/time was agreed, I felt heavy of heart. My career was in the way (again) and I wouldn’t be able to attend.

As we did a free-flow exercise based on a postcard, the group turned from a band of shy adults embarrassed by the thought of reading, to a group where everyone shared. I felt an affinity with this scenario; my lack of audience making readings my greatest desire yet my weakest spot. As we enjoyed the different outlooks that the single prompt gave, my mindset changed. I’d had the chance to do a spot of writing, I’d met Amy who would have otherwise stayed yet another anonymous cyber face, and I’d got to read out to an audience. Plus, I got a spark of an idea for a short story which may well land me in another anthology…

I walked away with a smile. Everyone got something out of the introductory session that day. I eve arrived home to an email from Amy asking about my website and apologising for the timings not suiting. Well, no apology needed. I’ll keep in touch and if situations change, I may be able to go. If not, there’ll be something else that comes my way. It always does.

So, to the friend that thinks it’s sad to go to a writers group? Call me crazy if you like. At least everyone there is doing something towards their writing dream – whatever their dream may be. After all, if we stop dreaming, we might as well be dead. It´s obvious the Estepona writing group is going to be a fantastic place to hone writing skills and to bond with others with the same interest; I wish the group well, though I´m certain it´s not needed.


Mediterranean Views said...

Thanks for your positive words,Elizabeth. Glad you enjoyed the session! Amy

The Womble said...

Writing is a lonely profession. Sometimes we lose our voice in the fury of our thoughts. A shared group experience can help providee clarity and cohesion and save our sanity in the process.
Good luck finding another group.