For over a year now (maybe two?) I’ve been going to a weekly writing group. Each Tuesday we meet at a pub, catch up on what’s happened in the past week, then sit in silence for an hour and just write. Some of us use laptops, some use tablets, and occasionally one of us is old school and just uses paper and a pen.
The group started on Meetup.com (obviously inspired by the Shut Up & Write! format) but went offline a while ago and became pretty much the same core group of people. The main reason this writing group appealed to me more than all the others I found online was the fact it didn’t require you to share your writing. So many other groups required that you read your work after each writing session, or pass it to someone else for feedback (with you also offering feedback on theirs).
There’s definitely a time and a place for feedback from other writers at writing groups, and I know a lot of writers find this format very helpful. But I wanted a writing group that felt more social than serious, more relaxed than structured, and more welcoming than intimidating. That’s exactly what I’ve found in the writing group I’m part of now, and I’m so grateful to have joined it!
Onto the reading: this year my writing group is aiming for a regular calendar of writing retreats and reading events. Wednesday 3 April saw us hold the first reading event of the year (their second since forming the group and the first since I joined).
Since I already had a work in progress, it was an easy decision to take part. When I had my book launch for Watching Cartoons with Boys I somehow managed to gloss over the reading (I made sure I got away with just reciting a paragraph!) so I was keen to practice my speaking.
Due to some last minute venue shuffling we found ourselves at a wine bar off Hardware Lane, crammed inside a cellar at the bottom of a spiral staircase. Among the walls of wine and a lovely, earthy smell (we were literally underground a.f.) I got to read out a new short story I’ve been working on.
After writing in silence together for so long it was great to hear everyone’s work! And there was such a lovely variety of stories on the night: I loved Dale’s on brand dystopian fiction, Chris’ convoluted protagonist’s monologue, Marta’s touching story about her family history, meeting Dan, and moving to Melbourne, Jane’s travel story, and Dan’s hilarious deconstruction of Harry Nilsson’s song ‘Coconut.’
With a big thanks to Marta and Dan for organising the whole event, to my writing group pals who shared their work on the night, to my friends Liam, Amy, Steve, David, Kelly, Julia and Jay for coming along to listen, and to David and Dale for taking these photos!