#amnotwriting days can be as useful as #amwriting days. Tuesday, for instance, I took half the day off to meet writer friends for lunch. We’ve known each other for years, having met through various writing classes and friends, and were part of a supportive writing group that met regularly for over a decade.
In recent years, having gone in different literary directions, we meet less often, but when we do get together it’s always inspiring, informative and fun. And whatever we talk about (the state of publishing, finding your audience, literary gossip) it always helps to talk to fellow writers, people that understand how hard it is to not only finish a novel, but to market it and make it discoverable. There are no easy answers, but there is comradeship, and that can fire you up for the writing days like today.
Writing is by its very nature a lonely business. Solitude helps. Somehow, at some point after spending time alone, the magic happens: words, paragraphs, chapters and novels finally emerge to do what they will.
As Anne Enright says in The Guardian’s Ten Rules for Writing Fiction, ‘The first 12 years are the worst. If you sit at your desk for 15 or 20 years, every day… it changes you… It makes you free.’
After a day spent home alone writing it’s good to meet with writer friends. These are people that understand what it’s like to start from scratch and go on to create an imagined world. They also write and rewrite until it works (and hopefully sings), and send out until there’s a positive response.
London literary event The Books that Built Me seemed like a good excuse to get together with writer friends Stephanie Zia and Jacqui Lofthouse.
Writer and playwright Samantha Ellis discussed the books that have had a major influence on who she is and in turn inspired her to write How to be a Heroine.
Her choices ranged from Henny Penny to Lace and personal favourite, Wuthering Heights – always worth revisiting. And more importantly, it was a good opportunity to celebrate the publication of Jacqui’s latest book, The Modigliani Girl. On a sadder note, I heard from another friend who has had to bow out of our writing group due to ill health. He’ll be missed.