Yesterday was the first meeting of the ICB’s writing group – Writers Inc.
I’ve wanted to join a writing group all the time we’ve been in France, I loved the one I went to in London, but there weren’t any writing groups in Bordeaux or reasonably near. So when the ICB was launched I decided that I’d better offer to start a writing group myself. This was a somewhat foolhardy decision as it’s 20 years since I’ve attended one, so my knowledge of writing groups is, to say the least, rusty.
Consequently the last week was spent frantically searching for ideas to keep a new group going for two hours, cut with blind fear that no-one was going to turn up and it was all going to be a horrible failure (several people have kindly informed me that another club tried to get a writing group going and it died rapidly. Almost worse was the worry that there would be several attendees who’d all be much better writers than me and would be wondering, ‘Why on earth does she think she’s equipped to run this?’
In the event there were three of us – small but enough to get discussions going (we should have been six but two couldn’t get back to Bordeaux on time and one was ill), and after the initial nervous few minutes I loved it. There was an English journalist, much more experienced than I am, who says she should be writing a novel and isn’t (I know the feeling) and a French member of the ICB who declared that for her, coming to a writing group was like going to the dentist, something she felt she ought to do. She’d have been better off thinking in terms of jumping in the deep end and seeing if she could swim. She proved, much to her surprise, that she can write. I think she also rather enjoyed it.
I certainly did. It was wonderful talking writing of course, but more importantly I’d forgotten how stimulating and what fun those short group exercises can be. Spending a minute writing down a list of things that you find boring, then four minutes writing about the activity you find the most boring is pretty joyless when you’re on your own. It’s quite different when you can laugh over how we all selected football and housework. In a group you can’t cheat and take an extra few minutes to polish up what you’ve written either, the time constraints mean you just have to get on with it and that’s very liberating, especially for someone who usually has a critic sitting on her shoulder croaking, ‘You can do better than that.’
Going home I had a distinct buzz of excitement, we need to grow and I’m sure we will, but as far as I’m concerned Writers Inc already hits exactly the right spots; it’s fun, it’s stimulating and it made me push myself a little. And you get to meet new people.
Roll on next month’s meeting!
NB. The illustration at the top is borrowed from Bo’s Cafe Life, the writing life seen through the eyes of an aspiring novelist. Well worth a look. And the mug comes from The Literary Gift Company, a favourite site.