I’ve finally done something I’ve been talking about doing for probably years and joined a writer’s group.
The Magnetic North meet in a pub in London every Monday (presuming enough people can attend that week). I decided after a sudden spur of enthusiasm (at work – maybe that’s why) that it was time. I googled groups in London and found one very close to my new flat. I emailed the co-ordinator and that’s it. I was added to the list, and tonight was my first attendance.
I was really scared going. I was going to have to read something I’d written out in front of people I didn’t know. Actually the fact I didn’t know them probably didn’t matter, it was the fact I was going to have to read some of my work. Out load. And get criticism. Ok, so it was just the reading out loud I was worried about. Oh, and commenting on other people’s work.
I’m not a good public speaker. In fact, I’m a terrible public speaker. To such an extent that if there are 5 people around listening to me, I go all red and nervous. Even if they’re people I know. But, despite this, I knew I had to join a group. My mum used to go to one (or many over the years) and found it really helpful. And you know what, just from one week, I think I will.
I read the end of the first chapter of Italian Infatuation – my Mills & Boon novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2009. The one that has sat on my computer since then, only resurrected last September for the polishing of the opening chapter for a competition.
Reading it out wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was 5th out of 6, so by the time I got to read I’d already said a few comments about other people’s work, so it wasn’t that bad. I stuttered a little over what I’d written, but I think that means that sentence didn’t flow well, rather than I was messing it up.
So the feedback. I was slightly worried about that as the other 5 members tonight were men. Ah. But I’d been told that there used to be a M&B author among them, so they knew about the style etc (although her series is Historical and mine is Romance – or whatever it’s called now – fluffy and comfy or something!). They had some really good comments. Negative comments which I found really useful.
But also some good positive comments. For instance they pretty much all said that they could sense the attraction between Diane and Giovanni – even though they’d not been together in that scene. Awesome. I always worry that I’m not all that good at building the attraction between them (one of my biggest things I feel I need to edit in the story is the amount of time they spend together – there’s just not enough) but apparently I did.
I said earlier I was also worried about giving advice before I went. But I managed quite well and the other writers seemed happy with what I said.
Fiction Friday definitely helped with today – having to showcase my work to an audience, then read and comment on other people’s stories. It’s almost like a writing group – but hiding behind a computer and a fake name (I’m sorry to say, but Newtowritinggirl isn’t my actual name!).
I do sometimes wish that the people who read my Fiction Friday pieces would give more negative comments as well as positive. I know when I’m commenting I tent to pick out the things I like and leave the negative bits out, because, well quite frankly, not many people give negative criticism. When I say negative, I don’t mean ‘I don’t like it’ (although I wouldn’t mind hearing that a bit – not everyone has the same taste – although saying that I prob would go and cry if someone said that – ha) I mean more, ‘X didn’t really work’ or ‘Y sounded a little unrealistic. But, I guess it is only the first draft of anything, and if the stories get taken anywhere, they’re going to get edited massively.
The other great thing about the group, is that it’s really given me the want to write again. As I was leaving someone asked if I’d be bringing the next chapter next time. I said it’s not ready for public viewing – but having this group might kick my ass a little to get it ready!
All in all, I had a really good night. I heard a poem, part of a game review, the beginning of one short story, and the end of another, and a clip from a novel; I got some great crit of my novel; and hopefully gave some too. I’m looking forward to next Monday already. Now there’s something I never thought I’d say.